matilda had spent a good part of the morning getting the stains off the kitchen table, but now mister e was spilling coffee on it again.
“careful there, mister e,” matilda said, but he ignored her and continued his exposition to professor s.
“but why stop there?,” mister e was saying. “bob is walking down the street and sees a house on fire. he rushes in and saves little joey, who grows up to be a serial killer.
when joey is on death row his cause is taken up by leslie, a dedicated opponent of the death penalty.
leslie is so devoted to joey’s and other similar cases that she declines to marry brad, who wishes more of her time and attention.
if leslie and brad had married, they would have produced sammy, who would have discovered a cure for cirrhosis of the liver, thus greatly stimulating the consumption of alcoholic beverages worldwide, with what results i leave to your imagination.
leslie succeeds in getting joey off death row, so enraging phil that he runs for governor on a platform of rigid enforcement of the death penalty. during his campaign he meets adele, and they marry and have three children.
the two oldest children are twins, don and dylan, who grow up to dedicate their lives, respectively, to the elimination of nuclear power and the repeal of same-sex marriage.
one day dylan is passing out leaflets on the street when along comes barry, who shoots and kills her.
this prevents dylan from giving birth to tracy, who would have discovered a way to power interstellar vehicles… which in turn would lead the human race into a quick oblivion when intergalactic treaties lead them into interstellar war…
and all because bob saw the house on fire and decided to be a hero. i think you get my drift…”
matilda was mister e’s daytime caretaker. professor s was brought over most afternoons by his caretaker, jerry.
matilda and jerry had come to an agreement where they took turns watching both charges on alternate afternoons, so that the other caretaker could take off and go to a movie or take a walk in the park.
the two old men would spend the afternoons drinking coffee and eating doughnuts and pie and ring dings, and talking.
sometimes the conversations turned on such subjects as the relative merits of jimi hendrix and jeff beck, or sergio leone and sam peckinpah, but mostly they discussed time, and eternity, and the permutations of history and reality.
they did not always respond directly to each other’s utterances, and now professor s went off on his own tangent.
“the idea of physical permutation without the disturbance of essence is so foreign to the modern scientific mind as not to merit discussion, but it its the very basis of human perception.
that a human - be it a king, a shepherd girl, or an escaped convict - should suddenly be transformed into a bird, a head of cabbage, or a cigarette lighter - and still be a king , a shepherd girl…”
matilda , who was leaning against the kitchen sink, took her phone out of her pocket to check the time and professor s, noticing this, stopped.
“who are you calling?” he asked. although he had been made to understand that people carried little devices in their pockets that they used as telephones, professor s could never remember that they used these same devices to tell the time, eliminating the need for wristwatches and pocket watches.
“i was just seeing what time it was, professor,” matilda explained. she showed him her phone with its digital display.
“oh, of course, of course..” professor s turned back to mister e and resumed his discourse.
matilda turned and looked out the window. the day was overcast, and it looked like it might rain.
she decided to go out and grab a smoke before it was time to change their diapers.