Can opener for the brain

(tale of paranoia and writer's block)

And so Toby went to an appliance store. He asked the sales associate for a can opener - explaining that he needed to get out the good stuff in his brain.

The shopgirl on the floor dismissed the merchandise with a wave; ‘None of these work on humans,’ she said, ‘you’ll have to get an MRI.’

‘Are you sure about that?’ he asked, incredulous; ‘I know lots of people who have can openers; they open lots of things: beans, peaches, tuna, even pasta sauce...’

The shopgirl shook her head. ‘Listen buddy,' she said, 'a can opener is for light metallic cylinders—it doesn’t cut skull tissue.’

A brief silence. She repeated, ‘MRIs work better, trust me.’

'What’s that?’ he asked. Toby did not trust her, but was curious nonetheless.

‘Well, I’m not an expert,’ she looked at his face and eyes, ‘but you sure look like you need medical attention.’

He went to the library and researched what an MRI was; it was ‘magnetic resonance imaging.’ The doctors put people in big coffins and looked inside their brains. It took almost a year to get one. ‘It must be pretty dangerous,’ he said to his pet goldfish Annabelle, who lived in his apartment.

He was frightened about the MRI, and so was Annabelle, who looked puffier than usual. That’s how he could tell she was frightened — the puffiness.

‘Poor Annabelle, I’ll have to put you on a diet and some exercise. Tomorrow I shall take you jogging.’ So the next day he put Annabelle in a plastic bag full of water, and the two of them went out for a run. It was a refreshing jog, but he was still worried about how to get an MRI. 'Oh Annabelle,' he said, 'what shall I do?'

Not trusting the local doctors, he went to a foreign land for advice. But the doctors there didn’t speak English, so he had to learn to speak like them just to explain his problem. When the doctors finally understood what he wanted, they swore at him, hands gesticulating wildly: ‘No one can just open up their head and profit from their ideas!’ they laughed in their strange hissing language. ‘It takes years of other people’s crap, hard work, and pointless struggle.’ Toby noticed their breath stunk of coffee and cigarettes, and their skin was wrinkled. He was getting demoralized.

Back at home, he took out a classified ad. It read:

‘Wanted: a way to scoop thoughts out of my brain. Can’t afford much, interesting trades considered. No scoundrels please.’

He didn’t trust scoundrels at all, not after a man tried to steal his bike while he was locking it to a post, on his way to do shopping. ‘That man who tried to steal from me was a horrible person,’ he reminded himself; ‘I must not trust any charlatans with my brain.’

For a while no answered his advertisement, and Toby became quite sad. He took long walks, and began to despair about being able to access his own head.

Then he had an idea:

‘I know! This will solve my dilemma!'

(and that's when I wrote the story. unfinished of course and by necessity...)

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