Friday, July 07, 2006


He invented a teakettle with jaws powered by industrial strength titanium springs and a tiny electric motor. This kettle could chew up tealeaves and spit them out into an attached, chrome-plated miniature spittoon. Maybe the spittoon would be sold separately—he hadn’t figured things out that far. Actually, he hadn’t quite invented the atomic, self-chewing, teakettle yet either. So far it was only a vision he had, while waking up this morning in his basement apartment. Feet and the lower halves of legs were moving by the window above his bed—actually only a mattress on the floor. And a few small dogs—their whole bodies visible. One of them even paused to piss on the glass of his wndow.

None of this had anything to do with tea or teakettles, but the mind is a mysterious thing.

He was an inventor, or would be once he invented something. He went to the bathroom and shaved with a disposable razor that was several months passed its reasonable life expectancy. He cut himself in several places, dotted the places with torn-off corners of toilet paper.

“I am inventor,” he told his bloody, tissued self in the bathroom mirror. This was empowering. This was self-actualizing. This attached industrial strength titanium springs to his soul, his heart or his sense of self-worth. He had read a book once about this sort of thing.

He brushed his teeth and spit and imagined another invention—a tooth brush that did all the work, moving up and down the surface of the teeth by some mechanism or another, a tiny powerful motor, maybe the brushes even spinning too, getting all the difficult to reach parts… Oh yeah. They already had those. What was he thinking?

After that, he dressed and went upstairs to the front door. He forgot to take the tissue off and several school girls walking by laughed at him. He did not realize his mistake until he was at his bus stop and man in a dark suit who was waiting for the same bus pointed it out to him.

He brushed the pieces of tissue away—they were dry now, like crumbs with a fluffy edge and said: “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” the man said and the bus came. They both got on and found a seat near the back. They sat together, and the inventor wondered if people would think they were friends. He did not know the man. He had not seen him at the bus stop before. But the inventor started to like the idea of being mistaken for his friend and as the bus ride went on he leaned closer and closer toward the stranger.


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