Juxtaposed or, Ring Ring Hello (a short story)

When Xander sat down for breakfast, he had only a few things on his plate: six eggs, nineteen cherries, four powdered donuts, and a piece of toast cut diagonally and smothered with margarine. He was a hungry man, so he tended to try and eat as much all at once as he could, and at least three times daily. Some may say this is just too much. They’d be correct some days, and incorrect other times.

What time is it? thought Xander.

It was early morning, and he’d slept alright. However, he woke with a slight headache, like maybe he had gotten drunk last night, and maybe not. He didn’t completely mind, mind you. He did, indeed, at least enjoy his dreamless sleep.

So, over breakfast he sat staring down at his food. He wasn’t sure what to eat first and how many. So he went for the eggs because he was sure that those would be gross if gotten cold. He ate them very very quickly. All six of them…down to the crumbs he licked off the white porcelain. And then feeling a bit squeamish, he went looking for his keys.

He found them inside of his jacket pocket. However, once he’d found them, he’d forgotten why he needed them in the first place. And so he put them back.

He sat down again above his plate of food, now consisting of nineteen cherries, four powdered donuts, and a piece of toast cut diagonally and smothered with margarine. This is disgusting, he thought. And so he got up and went over to the window, looking out at the sky and wondering what was up there today. What is a happy sky? Or a distant sky? Or not a sky at all? He shook his head slowly and went back down to sit over his breakfast.

Xander was a quiet man. He hadn’t spoken in months. He’d taken no vow, of course, but still hadn’t spoken. He wondered why.
He stopped wondering.
He knew.

He went back to sit over his breakfast. “This is disgusting!” he exclaimed. All of a sudden, he heard a phone ring somewhere. He wasn’t sure from where because there was no phone and he had no neighbors. He did have a pad of paper, so he wrote it down that a bell rang, and the time it happened. “It might mean something some day,” he said, even though “something” and “some day” are the two most vague and ridiculous concepts known to humankind.

He put his pen down and ate his donuts. And now he was thirsty, so he went to the bathroom, and while doing so dipped a paper cup into the tank at the back of his toilet.

He came back to sit down above his breakfast. Leering, he mashed up the cherries until they were a pulpy mess of juice and skins, and separated them from their pits before topping his toast with the remnants. He sat looking down at what he’d made, nodding to nothing and to no one. Then, he took a bite. He was reminded that he didn’t care for the taste of cherry, so he spit it out. And ended putting the rest of his breakfast in the garbage.

A bell rang again.

“Hello?!” bellowed Xander.

“Good morning, may I speak with Xander?”

“This is he, ye old bat!”

“Good morning, Mr. Xander. Before we continue, will you please confirm your date of birth?”

“October?”

“Yes, thank you. And then of course the date and year. As birthdays go.”

Xander wondered for a moment. He couldn’t remember, so he looked down at his toes and counted them.

“Tenth.”

There was a pause before, “And the year, Mr. Xander. The year you were born.”

Xander thought for a moment about how old he was, but suddenly wasn’t too sure. So he thought about what he’d had for breakfast, and fixed the numbers into a year. “1946 and a piece of toast cut diagonally. No!! Scratch that! I’m 85! I’m 85!”

The voice on the other end of no telephone seemed to smile to itself. “Thank you, Mr. Xander. How can I help you today?”

“You called me, ye old fidget strip!”

“Yes. I’m calling today because you may already be prequalified for-”

“I don’t know any!”

“-a dream vacation. And if you don’t know by now…”

Xander suddenly jumped for joy. He went downstairs to his workroom and began to put together some knobs and switches. A few moments later, the telephone had been invented. Some time later, it was reinvented and subsequently destroyed over some time later. “Some day, I wonder what else might happen to the telephone,” said Xander. So he fixed a bell to the receiver, hoping for help when it did.

**

Of course, this isn’t quite how any of this happened.
That much should go without saying.
But a joke is a joke which has made me to laugh.
And if you’re not funny, you’re fallow.
Unless you’re too sad.
Or too yellow.

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