Monday, April 18, 2005

Two stories that make no sense.

Today’s entry is rather long, but having remembered these two stories I just have to tell them. I promise you that, taken together, they make no sense in an entirely different way.

Please imagine that we are back in the 1950’s in some provincial Italian city. The city fathers have decided on an immense rebuilding program to spruce up the government center, and they receive several bids. One bid - the highest - fascinates them. More than a million bricks will be needed for the entire project. This oldtime contractor undertakes to estimate exactly how many bricks will be needed. If he is wrong: the city need pay him nothing.
Well, they accept his bid. An enormous pile of bricks is delivered to the site. As work progresses, people gather to watch the pile diminish. On the last day of construction there is great excitement. The old contractor, his head covered by a broad hat, stands apart observing. A mason climbs up to cement a final brick in place.

One brick remains of the pile. One excess brick. The contractor walks slowly forward, picks up the brick, examines it, and sadly tosses it over his left shoulder.

A train departs. It’s a hot day and things are not going well in the stuffy third class seating. A woman holds a crying babe. A man directly across from her smokes a cigar, blowing the smoke into the child’s and the mother’s face.
After awhile someone opens a window but this has little effect. The smoke swirls at the child. The mother begs the man to put out his cigar. He refuses.

Suddenly the woman snatches the cigar and tosses it out the window. For a moment, all is immobile; but then the man grabs the baby and throws IT out the window.
Pandemonium ensues. The emergency brake is pulled, but the train comes only slowly to a halt. A search party is organized to see what’s become of the baby. They walk back down the track, peering into the distance, confused by the heat-distorted air rising off the tracks.

In the distance, they see a very large dog.
The dog is coming towards them.
It has something in its mouth.
In terror, they strain to see what’s in the dog’s mouth. They surge forward. The dog continues toward them. And then: they can see what’s in the dog’s mouth:

It’s the brick.

No comments: