80.

“Steer the rowboat thusly, were the drums of the Roman fleet upon us — there’s a sharp lad! But here again, that look about you. I’m certain you’ve grown tired of my praises — and firmly certain you share my leanings, though you speak not — but it’s a damnable shame how the world so derides you Ferrymen. I’ve nary touched an oar for a flicker of my life, yet even a tenderfoot such as myself can sense the power of a rower; so hasten onward, dear captain, for the Gods’ abysmal abode!”

grh

79.

“Oh I’m fine, I’m fine.” The universes of frustration, pain, and unrequited dreams behind those words were infinite, but she said them anyway, each syllable a stubborn closet door keeping the ironing board of truth from springing free. Along the parched African soil, regiments of dung beetles rolled their Sisyphean shit balls, aimlessly, all-consumingly, the succoring shade of marula trees brief and incomplete. “Anyway,” she pressed on, “what’s happening with you?”

grh

 

76.

Another endless drive-thru line. No date, no radio. A meteor the size of a humpback whale skims Earth’s orbit, recalculates its interest, then deflects to a more appetizing corner of void. “Dammit, I said no pickles,” growls the driver, chucking this newest burger out the window.

grh

58.

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! “Happy Birthday’s” a misnomer, actually — speaking technically, your creation involved no reproductive processes, and the genetic committee helming the parent project unanimously signed an NDA attesting to the utter preposterousness of your very existence, so, uh…jeez, sorry there, buddy. Cake’s in the fridge, help yourself.

grh

48.

After clearing a Minesweeper board, he left his desk to check on the print job. The machine’s little glass screen signaled a paper jam in overblown red warning lights, and he spent minutes of his finite existence forcing his fingers into its plastic crevices like some rock climber scrambling for a hand hold. Back in his office, his chair lay in a pile of mangled carnage, its faux-leather padding gashed and flapping beneath an AC vent. He sighed, knelt at the keyboard, typed DAYS WITHOUT CHAIR EATER ATTACK: 1, then shuffled back down the hallway.

grh

39.

“Welcome to LifeSwap™ Station 7-B Alpha, a subsidiary of Existence Enterprises, LLC and the ReincarCorp Genetic Catalog! LifeSwap™ prides itself on developing robust suites of proprietary psycho-physical casings and emotional registers guaranteed to last up to 85 years or half your genetic code back! Our records indicate you have reached your contractual limit for LifeSwaps™ at this time (35): Your current incarnation will expire in four months, nine days, sixteen hours, and eleven seconds. If you feel your Time On Earth© has been unduly curtailed, that you are the victim of LifeFraud™, or if you wish to file a Deity-of-Your-Choice Appeal, please contact our legal department at the address provided (Average Response Time: 5 – 7 months).”

grh

23.

The professor let the full idiocy of what his student said bounce around the lecture hall like some dizzy, window drunk bird. “Do those present have any more”–and here he pinched the skin between his eyes–“enlightening points to add?” Silence dropped: not a lemur, marmot, or Burmese python thought a digital syllable, least of all the human with his glitching, rental headgear. “Then if we could return to the matter at hand,” intoned the professor, hopping to the blackboard, surreptitiously checking the lecture notes filed inside his pouch.

grh

15.

I hadn’t visited the zoo in decades, but my child’s heart still drew me to them first: monkeys. The liveliest enclosure housed the capuchins, and I watched their troupe leap and swing and roughhouse for several hours. During a lull, when no school tours swarmed the glass, one of the patriarchs stood, captured my stare, pantomimed slicing his throat, then fell back into play with his mates. I’ve since joined an elder fitness group, just to prove the hairy devil wrong.

grh