“There’s gotta be something better than this…” (Sweet Charity, 1966)
I woke up this morning wishing I could somehow break through in my writing, but knowing that I couldn’t, so I wrote this instead.
Two men are walking along a trail. Their names are “COMPLAINIVUS” and “ACCEPTIVUS”. These Latinized allusions to their characters are not their actual names, but are meant to suggest that this story takes place in the far distant past. In truth, this story takes place in the far distanter past that that, in fact, eons ago, before people had names, it was just “Hey, Big Nose!” or “Yo! Curvy Girl!” Consider them then as appelational bookmarks that say, “Wayyyyy back there.” It is apparently the best I can do.
Okay, so COMPLAINIVUS and ACCEPTIVUS are trekking along the trail.
COMPLAINIVUS: Man! This is taking forever!
ACCEPTIVUS: It seems like the same time it normally takes us to get to the meadow. Mind you, we did have an ample breakfast this morning; it could easily be weighing us down. (CHUCKLING TO HIMSELF) Or “wheying” us down, since, in fact, we had whey for breakfast.
C: “Vaguely humorous”, without rising to “actually funny.”
A: You’re tough. You didn’t even crack a smile last night when Clumsivus accidentally sat on an acorn.
C: I’m in a grouchy mood.
A: What’s wrong?
C: Life. “Life” is wrong.
A: What do you mean?
C: Haven’t you noticed? It’s always the same!
A: I don’t know. You know those big things that used to eat us? It seems like there’s less of them these days. Not that we killed them. They seem to be going away by themselves.
C: That is hardly a hopeful sign.
A: Why not?
C: If they can, we can.
A: There you go again. Always seeing the worst in things.
C: I can’t help it. I have imagination. It swings both ways.
A: For you, more one way than the other.
C: Harumph! Which should not be mistaken for agreement. (THEN) Imagination, I have plenty of. What I don’t have is a “Breakthrough Idea!”
A: Like what?
C: Okay. Every day, we walk to where the herd is, right?
A: Which, by the way, itself is different. I don’t know about you, but I much prefer herding to hunting and gathering. Sometimes, there was nothing to hunt and gather; you’d come home empty. The herd, on the other hand, is always there.
C: Yes. But it takes us forever to get to it!
A: It used to take longer. Which brings up another recent innovation: Foot coverings. Remember? We used to walk on this trail barefoot, and every few steps, it was “Ow! I stepped on a pine needle!” “Ow! A splinter!” We’d have to stop every five minutes to pull something out! Then one day, Nikevus came up with foot coverings – and Boom! – it’s like we’re walking on air!
C: (SARDONCIALLY) Hooray for Nikevus – Hero of “Painless Perambulation.” The distance to the herd, however, is still the same. As is the time that’s required to cover that distance. You know why that is?
C: Because we’re still walking! Can you believe it? People have been walking places for millions of years! Longer, maybe. All that time, and nothing new has come up to get us places faster!
A: We could jog a little.
C: A temporary solution. Before you know it, you’re back to walking, and after the exertion of jogging, you’re walking slower than ever! On average, you get there at exactly the same time!
A: But you feel morally superior. You got there. But you’ve also worked out.
C: I just wish there was some way to speed it all up. Can you imagine if there were a superior means of transportation?
A: Remember after we won that war, we had slaves, and we made them carry us everywhere? “The Piggyback Patrol”? Those were the days, weren’t they?
C: That’s not what I’m talking about. And, if you’ll recall, over time, their legs got stronger and our legs got weaker. So when they ran away, we couldn’t catch them.
A: Man, they were speedy! Fast animals stopped to look at them.
C: Now there’s a possibility. Fast animals.
A: What about fast animals?
C: I don’t know, what if we could ride them?
A: You mean, climb onto their backs and have them take us places?
A: That would be wonderful. There’s only one problem.
C: What’s that?
A: Climbing onto their backs in the first place. You’ve seen what happens with those fast animals. You go near them, and they run away. And you can’t catch them because…you know…
ACCEPTIVUS AND COMPLAINIVUS (TOGETHER): …fast animals!
C: So we’re stuck then. Taking the same time, to walk the same distance. Forever!
A: You know what I’ve found that seems to make things go faster?
C: What’s that?
C: What, “Hi ho, hi ho”?
C: I hate that song!
A: Fine, then. We shall proceed in the silent company of our thoughts, mine, upbeat and cheerful, yours, dissatisfied and morose.
COMPLAINIVUS AND ACCEPTIVUS CONTINUE ON WITHOUT TALKING. SUDDENLY, IN A BLUR, A FELLOW CLANSMAN, “INVENTIVUS” RACES BY, HIS MUSCULAR LEGS ASTRIDE A GALLOPING ANIMAL, WHICH WILL LATER BE IDENTIFIED AS A HORSE.
IF “COMPLAINIVUS” AND “ACCEPTIVUS” HAD BEEN CHEWING GUM AT THE TIME – AND FOR ALL WE KNOW THEY MIGHT HAVE BEEN – IT WOULD HAVE FALLEN FROM THEIR MOUTHS, AS THEY DROPPED OPEN IN UTTERLY STARTLED AND ASTONISHED AMAZEMENT.
(TO BE CONTINUED)