~ a short story

“So I have this theory…”

Kire was talking before he was thinking again. Sitting on a bench where the horizon of the park’s grassy edges met Sidler Street, the one-sided conversation met its fulcrum. The sun battered onto him and silhouetted him into an illusory view. Only his voice, and the outline of his lively animations shorn of all expressive minutia, could be witnessed. He’d been talking about his mundane week, his wasteful leisures and stresses alike, bored even with his own words up until the latest salvo. As usual, the revelation was a non-sequitur. He wiped the whole of his face with his hand, a tic unleashed under extreme excitement, his hair ruffled further into mess.

“It goes like this. Still testing it, still working it out. That’s why it is a theory…”

Another theory. I didn’t say anything though, not yet. The dude’s words were coming out with unstoppable anticipation.

“And it’s a theory about my theories…” he continued.

What? He must’ve seen the confusion. Kire put up his hands, softened his tone. A couple walked past. My eyes were drawn by a frisbee on the periphery. A golden dog chased it. What day was it again? For so many people to be at the park… I was tired myself. A long week. My defenses were down. Bring it on, Kire. Gimme the latest dose of your bullshit.

“It’s about proof!” Kire blurted. “It’s about turning theory into law. Finally. Maybe a little redemption. Eh?” He paused, trying to drum interest from out of me. Drawn away from the sunny park’s populace, my eyes fell back to his greying form as the midday sun became shrouded. So he does understand how hare-brained he sounds…

“It’s this: Every time I come up with a theory… For example, my recent theory about birds.”

I shook my head, reflecting a failure to recall the bird theory. He’d had several avian theories. I never remembered any of them.

“That they are ancient beings!” Kire waited again, then groaned dramatically. “Ancient beings. As old as gods, and potentially as powerful, too. That have not only watched humanity grow and evolve from out of the primordial soup of deepest Time upon this planet, but they have allowed us to do so…”

Kire readjusted his bottom upon the bench, moving to the edge, fixing his posture, raising the volume of his voice even further. It was happening again. Kire was becoming impatient, more forceful, less hinged

“Anyway, it doesn’t matter… The theory. It’s this: The act of creating any new theory instantly and irrevocably proves — or disproves — one of my other theories, one of my previous ones.”

My eyes glazed and my head remained motionless, neither nodding or shaking, neither blinking nor speaking.

“But I never know which one it will be!” Kire said, his arms out wide. “And my catalogue is so big now. So many to choose from! … For example!” he declared once more, “my rat problem.”

I chuckled, I knew this one. Truly crazy shit. Just pure nonsense in the form of words formulating half-baked thoughts from out of a drug-addled brain that no one could ever, ever take seriously. An actually disturbing idea that I wished I had not heard him say, so as to be delinquent in my duty by not actively helping him seek out professional help for the sake of his insane theory’s effects upon his reality and his long-term mental health.

“For the longest time now, I believed there were rats living within my walls,” Kire explained. “A widespread infestation within my studio space, if not the whole of my apartment. A whole colony of the lil’ fuckers crawling within the walls, always just beyond my perceiving verifications. They’d steal my food, shit in my laundry, chew through wires and clothing… Well, turns out the other day, when I was taking a shit and cookin’ up another theory… A dumb one … uh what was it? Oh yeah! Giraffes are not real. They’re a hoax perpetrated by select members of the United States Shadow Congress — the USSC. They kept at it for decades, and for reasons unknown, but executed all this time quite effectively! People absolutely love the big long necks!”

I nodded. They do. I did.

Kire clapped his hands together. “As soon as I finished with that theorization, I heard a clattering within my kitchen. And then a rumbling. Then, the sound of chirps. Hundreds. Thousands. I rose from my toilet in a sprint, unwiped. My breeches spent and my heart racing. Kicking in my kitchen doorway, what do you think I find?”

I waited in anxious anticipation.

“Fuckin’ rats! Dozens of them, scurrying and dancing and singing their nasty little collective song, all sprawling onto my linoleum, pouring from out of a hole in the wall. I did not scream though! I rejoiced, for I recalled it! This meant that my new theory about my old theories, about my theories being proven or disproven by the generation of new theories was confirmed! It meant that — ”

Kire stopped his ramble. My hands were up and my eyes closed. He’d lost me. I was exhausted. Too many theories.

I tried to work it out for a moment. The new fake-giraffe theory turned the rats-in-the-walls theory into law. Got it.

“Why are all of them about animals?” I finally asked after further considerations inside of the pregnant paused between us. The sounds from park around us stilled as I awaited Kire’s answer to my simple question.

I heard him sigh. When I opened my eyes, I saw the dejection in his face. The shadows were gone. Tears were already flowing down his face from the slight bubbling at the edges of his eyelids. The man was in despair.

“Guess that’s another theory confirmed…” he croaked.

“Which one?” I asked.

“That you were tired of hearing about my theories.”

Kire rose and began to stalk away, hands in pockets and shoulders hunched in defeat. I sat on the bench and watched him go, uncertain of his theorization or what I should say.

Do I wish for an end to his theories? I wondered. To our friendship? Truly, our conversations — the essential components of our companionship — were based in the theories.

I think it dependsSome are just so damn stupid.

Just then, a small bluebird landed upon the other edge of the bench. It squeaked and hopped in an about-face to me. I watched it cock its head, assessing me with a flew blinks from its small little orbs the makeup of an abyss. Brazen sunlight gleamed off of its azure coat of feathers. Its tiny blades at the ends of its toes dug into the fraying wood on the bench. It stopped its hopping and stared, a banal stillness to its form startling me into an intense focus. I did not move a muscle, entranced by its strangely purposeful behavior. That pupilless pair of peepers seemed to scan me, up and down, repeatedly returning to my face, my chest, my waist, boring there with its smooth little head cocked and then arighted in processions. At the last, the bluebird blinked, puffed its chest and spread its wings into a grand gesture. It nodded its beak down ever so slightly, so conscientiously… at me, and then took flight with all haste, high into the winding branches of a nearby oak and then out of sight, directly into the path of the sun. My eyes could not follow the creature any further.

I took a deep breath, confounded by the profundity of the encounter, speechless to its import, and ultimately gracious for it befalling me. For reasons I could not name, I felt honored, as though I had just taken advantage of a powerful opportunity…

It depends on the theory, I finished my previous consideration concerning my fellow. Slapping my hands upon my knees and with a spring in my step, I chased after Kire. Eager to hear more of his stupid theories, and to eventually have each of them consummated and annihilated in equal measure, I called out to him.

Over the path of the two friends, gliding due north together in cogent formation, a half dozen bluebirds flocked. And watched. ~