Montreal-based publishing entity Metatron is guest editing Everyday Genius this month. We'll be featuring excerpts from our new fall catalog as well as Canadian writers we like. Today's author is inventive Toronto-based writer Stephen Thomas.
Three Jokes: Presidential graves, The miracle, Mister death
Ramón’s father takes the whole family on a trip in the 1978 Mustang, and, in the uncomfortably-cramped back seat, Ramón diagrams sentences from As i lay dying.
The journalist on the radio is talking about a famous criminal. That segment ends, and Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love” comes on, singing love, love, love, love, crazy love.
Ramón sets down his book and looks out the window. The mountainous country of Virginia slides along its track into Ramón’s past. Suddenly Ramón wishes very deeply that he had done something, like the famous criminal, to which he could confess to his family, because it is only when you fail someone utterly and miserably, he once heard his aunt say, that you are finally free.
He can not imagine how free he will one day be.
But we know, don’t we?
A person is seized by the seeming intractability of aloneness, and the physical world grinds to a halt.
Though her body is paralyzed, Ashley is still able to look around: a middle-aged man in a café window with his coffee spoon frozen mid-stir; a car unmoving in traffic with its windshield wipers paused mid-wipe—everything has been halted mid-act.
A spherical raindrop is suspended in the air very close to Ashley’s face, and Ashley can see a tiny reflection of herself, upside-down, in it.
“It’s a miracle,” thinks Ashley, fighting back tears. She thinks of her many years of procrastination, and of how the gods have repeatedly granted her further periods of grace, all of which she has wasted. It is time now to recognize the nature of the universe to which I belong, she thinks. Use the time you have, or it will be gone.
The raindrop in front of her face resumes its descent, the noise of the city re-enters her consciousness, and Ashley becomes aware, once again, that time is passing.
A blue-eyed boy and four other people are sitting around forgetting their personal tragedies. The blue-eyed boy says something honest. Everyone turns and looks at him. He feels incredible.
“How do you like me now?” the blue-eyed boy asks Mister Death.
Mister Death turns its blue face to the reader and says “No one will ever say to you You there. Why don’t you tell us what you think? It’s up to you to step into the limelight, even if you walk around with a normal amount of self-hate and suck a bit at whatever.”
Stephen Thomas lives in Toronto. His work can be found in Fanzine, Little Brother, The Millions, Hobart, The Puritan, Joyland and elsewhere. His website is located here.