Schrodinger's Cat
by B. Fins
I am a lab rat squeaking at my own hallucination. I am seated at a restaurant and the man across the table has drawn the room's collective attention. His rant is directed at me but his animation has distracted others from their daily dining routine. Hey, look at us. I feel like I’m living in a fishbowl. I need to look away. I glance out the window. Outside. Outside things happen; people happen. Inside, there are just the muted, monochromatic tones of a BBC production: mahogany bar, maroon curtains, and plenty of dark grey and blue suits. Of course, the sky is grey as well. Boring, repetitive life, productivity. His sharp words snap me out of my daydreaming.

"Don't you see? Evolution man, evolution. Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe. Look at us, just look, we're just monkeys. The earth is our rock, man, like it's up there floating in space and we're on it. Look, we're just piles of cells lost on a rock in space."

I'm right there with him. Space monkeys. Floating around in our space suits. Eating bananas, too. Fuck it. You can't pick fleas off a monkey's back if he's wearing a space suit. I look around. Everyone's wearing suits, everyone but the space monkey. We're all space monkeys now, but I don't want to be a space monkey. I don't want to be in this fishbowl. This isn't real. This isn't happening. I am a lab rat who has been given psychotropic drugs and is now under observation. No. This is real. I look back at the space monkey. He's all wild eyes and disturbing words. I want him to be nothing. I want him to be hollow. I want his words to be empty and his soul filled with inaction. He's not finished. He talks and I feel cramped by all the advertising jingles ingrained in my head through years of exposure to droning and repetitive advertisements convincing me to buy something no one needs.

"Who are you? Where did you come from? See. Where are you going? You're nothing. Transient and transparent, you're just traveling along on this rock. You go where it goes. Does that make you good? Do you make life? No. It just so happens you're the first animal to do more than just think you're better than the rest." Now he is the Gotama Buddha and I am nothing. He's not like the statues, he's smaller, rougher. I've forgotten about the fishbowl. It doesn't matter. I am nothing. I know nothing, the two of us are empty headed space monkeys. So this is enlightenment. Still he talks, and I listen. We are two nonexistent space monkeys floating on a rocky island in the Milky Way. True peace. He is transparent. By observing something, you change it. Is there a cat in the box? I put one in there, but if I look, I give it existence through observation. I can see his brain. It is not a cat. It is millions of mitochondria screaming to be released from cell wall prisons. It is an ant farm. He says something about the futility of life, as if I knew.

"You know, life is the nearly two-dimensional form nearly full of sand, full of tunnels and hundreds of thousands of crawling, marching, working ants."

I see that ant farm. I see more than he does. For I am nothing. But what he didn't see was that the ant farm was on the edge of a counter, some counter, any counter, and it was rocking back and forth. Not violently, just rocking, alone. The ant farm is on its edge, the edge of everything, the counter, the flat world. There it was, in the most pristine of silences, a speck of dust, magnified a million times in my mind's eye.

So, this is the sound of a thousand braking tires screeching to a halt.

Time continues. The speck falls slowly on the wrong side of the ant farm at the wrong time. The ant farm begins to fall. If you scream in space, your lungs are ripped out through your mouth and no sound comes out. Then silence lifted its veil. He was no longer the Gotama Buddha. He was my father walking on feet he couldn't feel after years of diabetes. He was Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now, Bela Fleck's Cosmic Hippo, more than a space monkey now, he is everything. I looked at everything and it saw me, then everything turned to nothing and I am just a lab rat squeaking at my own hallucination.

Posted by: B. Fins

Prose (December 21st, 2004)