All Day Breakfast
Typically, Tony would awaken to a series of visual and auditory hallucinations. But this morning was unusual, and Tony awoke to nothing but the desolate whir of his $10 plastic fan. His plastic fan was affixed to a clothes hanger via a clip. The clothes hanger, in turn, hung from a metal bar that served no function besides being somewhere to hang clothes hangers and other knickknacks of similar composition.
Tony would like to think that without him, there would have never been a plastic fan affixed to his clothes hanger. The clothes hanger would have remained bare. Then Tony becomes upset with himself for being so solipsistic. Surely someone else would have occupied the space if not him. Surely someone else would have been adept enough at lateral thinking to hang a plastic fan from a clothes hanger.
Everything in Room was labeled "Tony", which was ridiculous, because not everything in Room was Tony. In fact, most of it wasn't. Tony occupied less than 1/10th of Room’s volume on a good day, so it was really more Room’s Tony than Tony’s Room.
Further, Room's Tony spent most of his time outside of Room. The plastic fan affixed to the clothes hanger spent significantly more time in Room than Tony did. Tony's average time spent in Room per 24 hours was 11 and Plastic Fan’s was a resounding 23 (Tony would occasionally take it out on a walk). This time disparity, among other reasons, was why Room and Plastic Fan were much better friends than Room and Tony could ever be.
Room speaks: "I like having you around, Tony."
Tony replies: "Thanks, I like being around."
Tony drinks a Red Bull, opens Room's door and looks out into what appears to be a rainforest. It isn't a rainforest, of course, but the morning hallucinations have finally kicked in, and the sober city streets look an awful lot like a rainforest to Tony. The Red Bull also seems to have gone down the “wrong pipe”, causing Tony’s lungs to feel revitalized instead of his stomach. Tony stares out at the rainforest for several more moments, it smells suspiciously of urine. The term CONCRETE JUNGLE comes to Tony’s mind, but it is not relevant here, as Tony sees no concrete, only jungle (rainforest, actually). Tony doesn’t know that jungles and rainforests are certainly not the same thing, but we do. We know that rainforests have significantly more wide open spaces than jungles, making them easier to traverse. This distinction is of little consequence to Tony, and he stumbles out of Room to explore.
Room sighs and allows whatever analogue it has for a mind to wander. It wonders if it has ever been high before. It decides that it probably has.
Plastic Fan Affixed to A Clothes Hanger speaks: "Do you think that Tony will bring me anything to eat?"
Room replies: "Probably, it's the first Sunday of the month."
Plastic Fan: "That's true."
Room: "Have you ever been high?"
Plastic Fan: "Sure, lots of times."
Room: "What's it like?"
Plastic Fan: "Sometimes it makes me feel like I'm a piece of a puzzle. Sometimes I'm a really important piece of a really bad puzzle, and other times I'm a really unimportant piece of a really good puzzle. I'm not sure which I prefer."
Room: "Isn’t every piece of a puzzle important?"
Plastic Fan: “Extra ones aren’t, and neither are missing ones.”
Room: “Wouldn’t the missing ones be the most important?”
Plastic Fan: “You would think so, but no, they aren’t.”
Room: “Oh, okay.”
Room and Plastic Fan sit in silence for several hours after their exchange. It should be noted that the way they perceive time is significantly different than the way someone like Tony might perceive it. Tony’s perception of reality is skewed by his own mortality- it isn’t very poetic. Room and Plastic Fan, being immortal entities, also have skewed perceptions of reality, which isn’t very poetic either. All of this to say that for entities which live as long as Rooms do, several hours elapsing feels like a brief pause.
Plastic Fan speaks: “Can you sing to me?”
Room replies: “Sure.”
Now, there are some more cultural nuances here that must be explained for the sake of clarity and coherence. The means of communication between a Room and a Plastic Fan Affixed to a Clothes Hanger transcend human perception, and often even human conception. It is a medium that we simply cannot fully understand. Our best scientists have shown that what Plastic Fan and Room refer to as “song” is a phenomenon completely undetectable by the human ear. It produces waves quite like sound waves, but the waves are so much shorter that they are unlike anything that people would categorize as sound. The waves produced by Room’s song are much closer to waves we have labeled “micro waves”, and we use them to heat up leftover food and incriminating evidence, among other things.
As the song progresses and intensifies, Room begins to increase significantly in heat, and after some time the decrepit night table by Room’s bed bursts into flames.
Night Table speaks: “Fuck!”
Unfortunately, Plastic Fan is enjoying Room’s song too much to notice Night Table’s spontaneous combustion, and is also mildly aroused since Tony has left it turned on (only at a 2, and not a 3, so the Fan was keeping it in its proverbial pants for now).
By the time the two friends realize that Room is slowly becoming engulfed in fire, there isn’t much that can be done. Plastic Fan laments that it is only at a 2 and not a 3. Perhaps a 3 would have been able to blow out the fire. Plastic fan curses Tony and his rainforest expedition.
Room remains silent, and is promptly pierced by some new waves. These waves are longer than Room’s song waves, and humans would classify them as sound, not as heat. It’s the wail of traffic, and an Emergency Respondent in the distance– the regal Fire Truck.
The Fire Truck, still some distance away, delivers a monologue:
“I am accosted by beings who cross streets
Without fear, and those who leave the final
Morsel of a meal as libation. Beats
of glorious Restraint- justly banal.
(Santiago Ramón y Cajal).
Eating once full is a choice of one’s own,
I have seen “want to be” harbored and grown.
I have witnessed a man become a child,
I have seen a woman become a man.
We have all heard a simple melody
Resonating through our skulls, chipping
At the borders as it ricochets
To and fro.
A simple tune with simple words: wrestling
With bears and other such endeavors. I've
Smiled with an outstretched arm and accepted
A flyer from an activist, before
Promptly disposing of it, never to
Know what (he or she) were being active about.
I am accosted by beings who herd
Signals and information.
Shepherds of the mind- nodes, and cogs, and heaps.
I've felt the laughter of
Ensembles due to sad, sad comedians,
Seen groups of the homeless arguing about sports,
Known the rush of a dopaminergic pathway.
I've indulged in theory, and fought for nothing.
We've tended to gardens of thyme and mint
And never had them
Spoiled by insects, because we are better than that.
We transcend and embody,
Project ourselves across endless astral planes,
Permeate the best laid
Plans and never lead astray- possessing
Stray, haphazard outlets, lightening shimmers thunder flies.
We'd learn if we made a mistake, and smile with our eyes.”
Short(er) Fiction Vol. 3 is a collection of Blasted Tree original short stories.
ISBN [Digital]: 978-1-987906-14-1
Cover Design by Kyle Flemmer - Cover Image by Bernd Liebers
Feature Image by Public Domain Archive