The man who crossed Whimsy Avenue

A man was walking along, deep in thought, lost in worries about this and that and another thing, when suddenly he realized he had stumbled into a wonderland.

Everything was bright colors and magic buses and this can’t be real, but it was real enough and whimsically nonsensical.

“You there!” cried a friendly enough looking police officer. “Why are you dressed so drably? Why aren’t you smiling? Are you quite all right?”

“I’m not sure,” said the man. “Where is this?”

“Ah, it’s another one,” the officer said gently. “You were walking along all worried, right?”

“I don’t see how that’s anyone’s —“

“Right, right, right,” smiled the officer. “That’s absolutely correct, it’s not my business. Well enough. You just didn’t notice you’d crossed Whimsy Avenue. No worries, you’re going to be fine, move along.”

And the officer walked away. Now the man looked around and saw that, no matter where he looked, he saw something impossibly amazing.

“Here now, watch where you’re going,” said a cat with a cockney accent in a tuxedo.

“Woof,” said a friendly dog who sniffed at his hand and looked around for balls.

Above, the sky was orange — not the majestic orange of a setting sun, but the orange of an orange (you know, the fruit) or construction paper.

“I can show you the way to Normal,” huffed a gray-haired woman in glasses, “but you won’t like it there, not ever again.”

And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It seemed the woman had been a tense old thing until one day she happened upon Whimsy Avenue — although she found some people called it Whimsy Street, for some reason — and she never looked back, although she did still tend to fuss about.

“Don’t mind me, I’m just an old fuss bucket. No harm intended,” she would tell people.

There may be some tales to tell about the man and the fussy gray-haired woman on Whimsy Avenue, if I can find my way back there myself …

What does it mean

“What does this mean?” she asked, paging through page after page.

“It’s a book, a journal of some sort,” mansplained her companion.

“That’s obvious,” she said, rolling her eyes. “But what does it mean?”

“It means he was arrogant enough to write down his thoughts and ideas for a posterity that doesn’t care one whit,” he said.

“Or he wanted to record his thoughts and ideas in hopes his future self would understand and remember and know what to do with them,” she said more optimistically.

“Maybe that’s why anybody writes anything: In hopes the people of the future will remember and understand and know what to do,” he said.

“That makes a kind of sense,” she said.

“Of course it does,” he said smugly. “I said it.”

She laughed at that, and he liked the sound of her laugh, and they set the old book aside and kept walking, a step ahead of where they had been before they found the book.

she fingerpaints too

let me tell you friend i am not entirely sure i can get away with this but they say it’s arty to do everything in lower case and i maybe can get away with claiming some incoherent kind of something is high art.

do ya know what i mean, huh? you know what i mean?

who would think such a thing, i sez, but then the art critic with the times says what an amazing bit of whatever this is, and 

oh, yeah, another thing the hoity toit likes is cutting off a paragraph in mid-sentence

And neglecting punc. chew. ay. shun. dont ya no.

how long can this go on, she asked, and he said as long as you like because i ain’t going nowhere unless you is. at that she turned on her heel and said

yes, this is art — what else would it be? and rested her ample case. 

Bones of a story

© Nejron |

Somewhere out there, a song was being played, children were dancing, and dogs were contentedly chewing on bones.

Our hero was pensive. She had been planning and waiting, and waiting and planning, and waiting to plan, and planning to wait, and finally the wait was over.

“Today, we act,” she told her small cadre of followers — no, “companions” would be a better word, or “colleagues.” These were good people but not willing to follow as much as they were willing to cooperate with the plan and collaborate, each for their own reasons, and then go their separate ways — well, except for that one with the gleam in his eye, who was not at all interested in separating when this was done. That was all right; she enjoyed the way they fit together, and their separation was always unwelcome.

And so, they all agreed to act that day.

When it was over, they celebrated, but not with an overwhelming joy, because the battle had taken one of their own, a victory made somber by the loss. Was she relieved that she had survived, and the handsome one with the gleam in his eye? Of course, and she felt a hint of shame that she thought, “At least it was that loss, not this one.”

Still, as they held each other that night, they pledged together that the loss would not be in vain, and they would work to ensure the day’s victory was a lasting one. It was the best they could do.

Art for its sake

There was this seagull. It soared above it all, looking down on the rest of us, and we gaped in awe at the way it glided on the air currents when all the time it was scheming ways to take the food from our mouths.

“It was a metaphor for the soaring political hacks that feed on sheep in the night,” he mansplained.

“You think I don’t know that?” she scoffed and took another sip of the expensive wine they were sharing.

“I’m sorry, you’re right, I’m everything you say that I am,” he said stiffly.

The moon loomed over them like a concerned parent, and over the fence a chihuahua barked like a coonhound on 78.

The howls echoed through the neighborhood, and they were ours. 

Suddenly everything changed, but it took years.

+ + + + +

“People always make the mistake of thinking art is created for them. But really, art is a private language for sophisticates to congratulate themselves on their superiority to the rest of the world. As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.” — Calvin, aka Bill Watterson

While the clocks tocked

The wind chimes outside the window protested melodiously as the November wind continued to crash them against each other. The white-haired bearded man pried open his laptop and started to type, as the clock on the left ticked on the backbeat of the clock on the right.

“I should rage against this insane world and the psychopaths trying to ruin it and run it,” the old man said, not at all as ashamed of describing himself in the third person as he should be. “The problem is, I’m in a good mood. I should be tired and dragging myself to bed, but I don’t feel like sleeping. Not yet.”

What was he waiting for? He started at the stuffed snowman smiling down at him behind sunglasses and considered the question. What, indeed, was he waiting for?

“Don’t know, don’t care,” he finally decided. “Tired of waiting. Here I go.”

But go where, he wondered?

“Does it matter? A body in motion tends to stay in motion, and so this body needs to keep moving, don’t you think?” he cried, to no one in particular because no one in particular was the only other person in the room — the only other person, that is, unless you consider a 16-month-old dog a person.

This day had, in fact, marked the 16-month anniversary of the dog’s birth, so she was a few hours into the 17th month of her life. She lay in an adequate imitation of a bear rug on the floor just outside the office where he typed furiously into the night.

“There you go again with the rage and the ‘furiously,’” he muttered. “I’m not angry at all, although by all rights maybe I should be. The problem is, the only person I should be angry at is myself.”

He pondered the years he thought about saving money toward retirement but always had something else to spend his money on. He thought about his youthful resolution never to buy anything on credit and the pride he felt when he finally dug out of the monstrous hole of debt that had laid him low for literal decades.

“Yeah, but was I smart enough to roll the monthly debt payments into monthly savings payment once the cards were paid off? Nooooo,” he groaned. “I was such an idiot.”

Still, however, he could not bring himself to get angry or bemoan his fate.

“I’m in too good a mood. So sue me,” he said to no one in particular, who continued not to respond.

He looked back up at the snowman again. “You got a problem, Frosty? Why you looking at me like that?”

The snowman smiled back ominously.

“Never, ever call me Frosty again,” it said.

“Ooooh, I’m scared,” the old man said, not at all afraid, although something nagged at him that he ought to be.

All of a sudden, he lost his train of thought, yawned, and considered the time.

“You know, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to get some sleep after all,” he said.

Somewhere in the house, a cat meowed. The wind chimes rang all night. And the snowman kept smiling.

A long, long time

© Jaysi |

“This isn’t the way I imagined it,” George Turner said, looking out the window at the blackness. “Are we even moving?”

Yolanda Xenophilius looked at a computer screen. “Yep.”

“There’s no way to tell for sure. Do you see any movement out there?”

“George,” she said. “We’re still going 10,833 kilometers per hour. We’re still going 3 kilometers per second. Just chill.”

“This isn’t the way I imagined it,” Turner said.

Behind them, a snort.

“You watched too many space movies when you were a kid, George,” Jason O’Toole snorted. “You know they put those moving stars in the windows so you could tell the model starships were in motion, right? Real space doesn’t look like that.”

“Of course I knew,” Turner said, sourly. “That’s not what I meant.”

They lapsed back into silence for a few minutes. Then Sally Ripley, sitting next to O’Toole, started to sing softly.

“Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids,” she sang. “In fact, it’s cold as hell.”

“NOT. FUNNY,” Turner growled, but his crew mates grinned. “Come on, Sally, stop singing that.”

“OK, what would you rather hear?” she said, then began to hum. “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer …”

That one didn’t get quite as much of a guffaw, so she trailed off around 96.

“Are we there yet?” said O’Toole.

It was Xenophilius’ turn to scowl, but there was something inauthentic about the scowl.

“Don’t make me come back there,” she said, and this time even Turner laughed.

They lapsed back into silence for another few minutes. Then Ripley said, “Anyone up for a movie?” They had thousands of choices in the digitized library.

“How about ‘Waiting for Godot’?” O’Toole said, and then, “What? Too soon?”

They settled on the film that won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2036. Afterward, they all agreed the Academy was comprised of loons.

“I do think the pelican scene was hysterical,” Xenophilius said. “But otherwise …”

“I know, right?” Turner said, but at least he had forgotten his malaise. They grabbed another movie from ’36, one that had only been nominated in a couple of technical categories, and had a lot more fun.

When they returned to Earth, they were frequently told they were heroes and so lucky to have been chosen for humanity’s first mission to Mars.

“Frankly, I liked the book a lot better,” Turner would say.