Saturday, March 21, 2009

"GERALD" (2003) FROM MAYBE WAVY

Few grapes know how to add or subtract, but Gerald was quite unlike most grapes in this respect.

“One cow upon the hill, two in the valley,” he would say as he crested the hill on his morning walk to the store. “That makes three.”

The cow upon the hill seemed to know that he was
being counted, as if by telepathy, and so he gazed
lovingly upon Gerald the Grape and smiled.

Gerald smiled, too. But he was not noticing the telepathic cow on the hill. He was considering three friendly things instead: pencils, dollars, and subtraction.

“I need to buy three pencils at the store in order to write my autobiography,” said Gerald, “the store sells them at a fair rate of 12¢ for three. Since I have a quarter, how much money will I have left over once I have purchased four?” he asked, almost rhetorically, to the silence of the hill and cow, as if to hone his skills as a teacher, which is a profession he was considering lately, more for the sheer pleasure of sharing his knowledge of figures rather than to make money, although he did fancy the idea of owning a row boat or perhaps his own cow.
.
Gerald continued to contemplate the problem he had made up all by himself. By now he, Gerald, was close to the gas station where the friendly gas station attendant, Harold, would greet Gerald with a friendly “Hello” or sometimes “How is the addition and subtraction going?” which Gerald, who was thoughtful, inevitably answered in the same fashion: “Splendidly, I suppose,” which was a very sensible answer, since addition and subtraction are always usually going the same way, and since we can never really suppose how well things are going in general, nor what might happen next, particularly in this world, which has become rather unpredictably topsy-turvy of late.

I mean, think about it: did you imagine this morning that by this evening you would be reading a story about a grape that adds and subtracts with a friend named Harold who was a very friendly gas station attendant? Even if you had, would you have imagined that the grape could walk, or that the story would end like this?

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