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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More 3minutefictions

Really we are more like musicians or dancers, performing to order.” was the thought that went through Anthony’s head just before it hit the curb. He’d been out on a big night with the boys. Drank way too much. Mouth far too open. Words way too poorly chosen. The bottle that struck him in the jaw was full of beer. So now he tasted teeth. and blood and beer all mixed together with shards of glass, followed very quickly by nothing much.

The curb had cured him of all that had preceded it. It had cured mostly everyone, as Anthony had been a prick all night, even before the grog saturated his personality, making him a Technicolor dickhead.

He not only fancied himself a secret poet, but he was actually poetical. I mean, to have a genuine moment near the very face of death, to have only that moment to consider everything and to come out with something like “dancers, performing to order.” Who does that? Not normal people. Not his people.

The very last thing he saw were car headlights. They were turning sideways. Dazzling. Then he had a very clear image of the gutter. There were two candy wrappers in the gutter. One was a Mounds. One was an Almond Joy. There was a sheen of water in the gutter. And a very little tuft of grass growing in the expansion joint in the cement.

Then he heard that hollow sound of a coconut hitting concrete. It was the sound that pulled him back from thinking about his place in life, the existential machinations of fate. He was just starting to think something along the lines of “ouch, that’s gonna hurt.” when he totally lost consciousness.

For the next three days he was dead to the world. The doctors kept him in an induced coma, waiting for the swelling to subside. On day four he sort-of woke up.

But there were several unusual things about his re-awakening:

1: He was convinced that he was being held against his will on a cruise boat. He was also accompanied by a talking file cabinet.
2. Lucky for him the file cabinet could understand both German and English because Anthony could no longer speak or understand English. He could only speak and understand German.

This unusual set of symptoms garnered him some extraordinary attention from specialists. There was no name for it, well, no name for the file cabinet thing. Apparently there are a small number of people who acquire language or accents as a result of brain injury. It's called Dysprosody, or in the German: Überanderungendesprachcharaktersalsbegleiterscheinungaphasicherstörungen.

As time went on Anthony and Gunter( the name of the file cabinet, as it turned out) became good friends and even entered into a sexual relationship. Come to find out, a third articulation of his accident was that Anthony’s sexual orientation had also changed to something called file-cabinet-ophilia, or in the German: Aktenschrankliebe. As near as I can tell, German is the only language which has a word for this.

Anthony learned to be discrete with his disorder and landed himself a job at Office Works. He topped sales that year and became Sales-Staff Of The Year 2011. He'd managed an annual sales of office furniture that topped all other sales-staff combined in his region. What Office Works didn't know was that he'd had his friends come in to purchase furniture for him. He had been funnelling most of his earnings into buying a collection of file cabinets. They were quickly filling up the rooms, hallways, attic and basement of his house.

Gunter feigned non-jealousy (there is a word for feigned non-jealousy in German, but I don't know it.) But secretly , he was planning his revenge.


Rodrigo Rosenberg knew that he was about to die. He'd spent the previous day in a far corner of the garden. It was his favourite spot to settle in these later years. Not too much sun. Green. Ferns all around. Peace, tranquillity. It was a place to while away, to consider thoughtfully. Sparkles of flying insects tracing blurry arcs through the air. Down the garden was a place where a gentleman of a certain age could linger with bits of food on his chin, scratch himself periodically, belch, and fart to an appreciative audience. You could do all of this down the garden and retain your dignity. But as evening came, so came the cold. And with the cold some pain which Mr. Rosenberg wore just over his eyes. In the furrow of his brow.

We helped him back inside that night. We all knew what was going on. We knew where his head was at. And, what's more, he knew we knew. That night for dinner Mr. Rosenberg was treated to the finest grill of ground beef he could chew. He had a specially prepared dish of chocolate mousse for dessert and, oddly enough, some beer. He'd never been much for drink, but on this occasion, when offered, he was tempted toward a tipple.

It’s hard to measure or know what his life had meant. I’m not sure this is the type of thing he thought about down the garden, or in his chair. There was a wisdom in his eyes. It seems to me that there was a lot going on back there. There were things we never knew about – well, he never told us anyway. Where was he during the war? What were things like before he was adopted? Who were his great loves? He wasn’t the sort to portray that asking would yield much, so we never asked. He never volunteered. And so we’ll lose all that. And something of this old soul he’ll take to the grave. We’ll never know.

Stubborn? Recalcitrant? Sure. And somewhat messy, smelly, grumpy, forgetful too. But at the same time, selfless, affectionate and downright cuddly, the big galoof. It’s going to be a world with the gauzy filter off when he goes. Just the crisp lines of light, and the brittle reality of a house full of mildly neurotic post-moderns. With the passing of Mr. Rosenberg we’ll lose something of the time when barrels were made by hand, of oak, and rings of iron heated over a fire. And those barrels were filled with brandy. And that brandy was used to warm hearts and dislodge frozen people from their little caves of snow.

The next morning Mr. Rosenberg wandered out the back door slowly. He went down the garden and Mr. Rosenberg lay down amongst the ferns and died. He was as simple and elegant as his death. He was our faithful companion. He was a St. Bernard of the highest character. And he will be surely and painfully missed.

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