A Shorter Story (Than Is Needed Right Now)

Gratian awoke early one morning to find his slippers had gone missing. So his feet were cold the whole of the morning, and there weren’t any soles beneath his feet when he went outside to get the paper. So he stepped on a pebble that was unknowingly-to-him in the walkway, and there became a drop of blood upon the ball of one of his toes.

He didn’t mind the pain, because it wasn’t so much. And he didn’t mind the blood, for it left him only slightly, and clotted easily. He was in generally good health.

Gratian got his paper- this much should be known. Even though he didn’t have his slippers, he still was able to get the paper. That is important. The distinction between who is able to get their paper in the morning and who is not is one of the most basic of those to be made. If you are one to look out your window in the afternoon, and see newspapers on your neighbor’s lawn, I – as the author of this story – want you to know that you may want to go check on them.

When Gratian sat down to read the paper he was able to get even though he didn’t have his slippers, he noticed something on the front page. He noticed it right away, in fact. Right away, he noticed that a headline was printed much larger than all of the other headlines. He thought this was interesting because, to him, there is much news and much of it must have been equally as important as the headline that was printed so much larger.

He read the headline sixteen times before he read it- if you know what I mean. When his mind finally wrapped itself around the words on the page, he spoke it out loud: “Where Is The News These Days?” He said it a few times. He put the paper down.

He opened his computer to look up some news. It was easier this way. The paper cost him money. There was also always the chance that he wouldn’t be able to find his slippers in the morning, and he’d hurt himself in a small little way, and he might come back inside not being able to read anything because of his distraction at one of the headlines being bigger than everything else.

He searched “news” on his favorite search engine. He noticed that certain news was at the top of the search. And other certain news was nowhere to be found; like the headline he found on the top of the paper he went outside to get that morning.

He closed his computer. He took out his favorite book. He opened it. He read the whole thing; put it back on his shelf. He didn’t remember what the story was about, but he did remember that he liked the story quite a bit.

He lighted a cigarette at the end of a long day, and went inside of his own mind, looking for truth. He saw before his mind’s eye, the color indigo. He shook his mind. He repeated a mantra to himself: the sound of a vacuum cleaner. He again shook his mind. He put on his headphones and scrolled through his favorite songs. He landed on one that usually made him smile. He didn’t smile. He took off his headphones. He put away all of his things. He closed his eyes. And couldn’t sleep.

He smoked a pipe. He still couldn’t sleep.

He sat down to his typewriter to write a story. This is that story.

It began:

Once upon a time in a land of free people, who were ironically shackled in invisible wrist clamps, there was a man name Gratian who couldn’t help himself. He had ideas too grand to be explained, but tried to explain them all the time anyway. His biggest idea was based on a theory he remembered, but never heard about anywhere. His biggest regret was never being able to go back in time and never say some ideas out loud.

Gratian sat back and smoked a cigarette. He was pleased with his opening paragraph.

He got up from his typewriter, lifted it up, and threw it out of his window.

In other words, if you look outside your window in the morning and see a typewriter on your neighbor’s front lawn, I – as the author of this story – want you to know that you may want to go check on them.

Either way, Gratian remains unsure where to get his news. And regardless as to where he gets it, he will feel the effects of what is happening on Earth at any given time, because that seems to be the way the collected unconscious works. And the more bizarre the occurrences of mankind become, the more bizarre a single mind will seem when it sees things others cannot.

But the next morning rose from the East – as always – and Gratian opened his eyes to greet the day. He tossed his legs over the side of the bed, and directly into his slippers.

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