The Joke

by Lawrence Peters © 2002

He could hear them coming up the hill now, the first curious people, spectators and scientists, but he could not even think of them now, and certainly not speak to them. Not now. Maybe never. What could he say? And then the enormity of what "They" said, what "They" had told him, washed over him again.

He'd cooked dinner, did the dishes, found the beer and the remote, then blam! White lights. The everyday sounds muffled. Pulled somewhere somehow. He lay on a table, bright lights in his eyes. There were others, many and both kinds, us and "Them". It was peaceful despite the hubbub. But suddenly they were shaking him, waking him.

"You go."

All he could think of was, "Why?"

"They" looked at each other, then one said, "Problem."

That had made him sit up.

"Am I sick? Is there something wrong with me? Am I going to die?"

The taller one said, slowly for "Them", "No. No body problem. You ok." He looked towards the other.

"Mind problem."

He roared off the table. "What, am I not smart enough for you, is that it? You bastards."

"They" said 'you bastards' a couple of times a couple of ways and then stopped.

"No, no, no. You not crazy. We test body. Good. Then mind. Also good. But you no funny."

"What the hell do you mean 'no funny'?"

"They" stood in silence and looked at each other, then "They" looked at him.

"Tell joke," the tall one said knowingly.


"No 'chicken/road', no 'knock, knock', no 'elephant', ok?"

"A joke."

"They" stared patiently at him, and waited.

He tried. He really tried. But he was, as a friend had once pointed out, truly the "Black Hole of Comedy"; condemned forever to hear the best jokes, but doomed never to repeat them...

So "They" left him on a hill, not far from the house, amid a great sound and light show. Very flashy. "They'd" seen all the movies, knew their audience and so knew what was to be expected of them.

"They" left him to tell the world that the world's unfunniest man had the world's biggest joke played on him. And worse.

Even the universe always has time and room for just another laugh. And that's not always funny.

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