Thursday, February 14, 2008


by Thomas

A tall, homely woman worked in an investment firm. She was socially awkward. A co-worker from another department, a fund manager who was not bad looking, thought he could get an easy date. He was too busy to court a real sexy woman, he told himself, the kind that require lots of money and buttering up. “This lady will be a cinch,” he said to himself with some pride in his shrewdness. He sat next to the homely woman in the company cafeteria.

"I was on the debating team in college," he said, not knowing what might impress the woman but unwilling to offer something better from his arsenal of wit and experience. He didn’t think it would take much more.

The woman, who had large eyes made even larger by coke bottle glasses, smiled uncomfortably but didn't ask the man to leave. She had been listening to him brag about his accomplishments for two weeks, saying almost nothing herself. He tried to get a reaction from her.

"So, what about you?" he said. "What can you do?" He felt he had her in his grip now, that soon she would do anything he wanted.

"I can do this," she said. She held out her hand, palm side up, made a clenched fist, and then opened her hand. There was a plastic fork in her hand.

"Er, wow. A fork.” The male co-worker was quite thrown by the fork. He had not planned on a miracle. “How did you do that?"

"I believe," she said, without any affectation. She used the fork to finish her lunch.

He was embarrassed. Reassessing his overtures in light of this new development, he saw that he was perhaps underbidding. He hoped to work the fork into his pitch.

"Can you show me how to do that?" he asked.

"Yes," she said. But after several tries and no success, the man became quite frustrated. He flipped his palm open aggressively several more times, until it got sore.

The woman stared and shrugged.

"What is faith?" he finally asked. She leaned over and whispered in his ear. He listened uncomprehendingly, trying to look agreeable. "Oh," he said, "you don't say?" He hoped he could fake it somehow, if not to get a date then to at least save face.

She looked at him blankly. He couldn’t tell if she saw he didn’t get it.

Suddenly her visage spun about in bright light. He stood back from the table and beheld the woman. Her solemn, bespectacled face shone a brilliant white, her figure that of a plain, but tender madonna. In a moment her dowdy sweater became radiant, her frizzy hair a flowing garment. In her chest, there was a golden fork twisting her heart. There was a little blood, but it looked so beautiful. There was music in the silence, a choir of voiceless cherubims.

In a flash, they were again in the lunchroom. The tall homely woman gave the man the plastic fork, smiled in a forced, toothy way and excused herself. She had to get back to work.

The co-worker decided to visit a financial consultant.

On the top of the building, in a large hall filled with swarming traders and computer screens, the floor littered with paper, an old man sat in a large fancy swivel chair in the center of activity. The man approached the chair from behind.

The financial consultant swiveled about, shafts of figures streaming upwards and across the screens mounted high about the vaulted room. The man had not spoken before the financial consultant inquired from his chair. "Do you love her?" he boomed, presaging his question. The man was doubly frightened to see that the financial consultant was blind.

"Yes," said the man, surprised at his own words. He meant to say that he hoped to get a date or something, but his calculation was thrown off in the presence of a higher fiscal authority.

"This stock is no good," said the financial consultant, his unseeing eyes rolling about slowly in his head in different directions. "Top heavy investment for unverifiable future returns – the fork market is saturated and there’ll be no one to bail you out - there is no turnaround potential with this one!"

The man considered the financial consultants words, but was still troubled. He had hoped to make a killing. "What if fork futures are undervalued?" he said to himself as he tapped away behind his computer.

On a whim, he went to visit a priest. He looked very familiar. He told him about the girl, his scheme and the fork.

"I want to join your religion," said the man.

"It’s expensive," said the old priest, who was also blind. "I will have to remove certain organs." There was a pause. Then the priest added, "Besides, how can you be sure that if you get religion that you will get the girl?"

"I believe," said the man, surprising himself.

"Ok," said the priest. And the man was initiated into the religion. The operation involved intangible elements, but was otherwise quick and painless. Afterwards, the priest wouldn't tell him what part of his body he had removed. The man felt lighter afterwards, though. He couldn't see anything missing. "It must be a mystery religion," he thought.

He went to work and everybody looked strange to him. Some were taller, others shorter. One man was now wearing a mask while another young man looked much older, his body wrapped in chains. His boss had flowers coming out of his head. He was quite disoriented, but no one seemed to notice. He had trouble getting into his chair and later in the bathroom he had to get a stool to see himself in the mirror. He discovered that he was a now a child. His clothes didn't fit him anymore. He looked for scars from the operation, but he could only see the same scars from the time before he got religion.

He approached the woman at lunchtime and she looked like a madonna all the time now, light streaming from her fingers as she typed at her cubicle. Like a schoolgirl she winked at him knowingly, as if to say "Shhhh! Don't tell anyone."

At lunch he forgot to ask the woman on a date. The feeling that he had forgotten something faded as the two talked about paper airplanes, their favorite movies and financial subjects indiscriminately intermixed. They giggled quietly, eating lunch with plastic forks that had come to them from another world.

"So," the man says, "you mean nobody can see us? We're invisible?"

"More or less," said the woman. "Do you like it?"

"Yes," said the man, who suddenly remembered what he had been trying to remember.

"Do I ever get to find out what was removed in the operation?"

"Sure," said the woman. She paused for a minute and then smiled wide. "Your eyes. You're blind now. I suppose that's why you don't know already."

1 comment:

Corriette said...

Wow Thomas -- I like your stories. But I always did think you had a great talent for writing.

They're like parables from which I need to learn, only I'm not quite sure what that would be right now.

Maybe later, when I grow up and I'll have become a wise person.