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Monday, June 25, 2007

The Silence of the Doughnuts

The Silence of the Doughnuts
(As read by Orson Welles)

Orson sat there at the table, looking at them in all their glazed innocence. They lie on the table, on a bright bone china plate festooned with blue lilies, golden buttercups, and a never-ending circle of ivy. He had taken care to stack them into a crude pyramid, being ever so careful not to brush off as much as a crumb of sweet sugar from their delicate skin. He watched them, gazing out over his massive girth, his eyes slowly filling with wonder as he beheld this tantalizing sight.

He had bought them at the local Krispy Kreme earlier, although it had taken every single bit of energy he could muster to shamble his six-foot, one and one-half-inch, four hundred pound body the half a block to the doughnut shop. He slid sideways through the doors and slowly approached the counter.

"Give me a dozen of your finest glazed!" he growled at the short, vaguely attractive, blonde doughnut woman behind the counter. She smiled vapidly, did a small, insincere curtsy, and dove her head into the magical doughnut case to retrieve the shining trophies.

She handed him the box and the change from the twenty he'd slapped on the counter, not so much out of anger or impatience as from general weariness.

"Come again," she chirped as he slowly navigated the front door. He looked back at her, ran two thick fingers through his graying beard and said, "I'll be back when I'm ready, you doughnut tart!"

The journey back seemed twice as long. It always does, because the anticipation of gaining the prize is only half as titillating as the feeling of holding the mystical green and white box under your arm, knowing that inside were twelve of the sweetest morsels known to consumerist civilization. He held in his heavy mitts treasure that would drive some men to fateful distraction. Cops would mercilessly beat jaywalkers, just to get to them. Homer Simpson would've killed him, Marge, Maggie, Lisa, and gutted Bart alive for them. He clutched them, but not so strongly as to bruise the luscious pastries inside.

And now, here they were, sitting on the table, stacked with as much geometric precision as his tired, massive fingers could muster.

This was always the most difficult part. Should he eat them one at a time, every so often, letting them gently wash over him the day or two before they became stale? Should he devour them in a single sitting, becoming dangerously intoxicated with their sugary, bleached flour and hydrogenated vegetable oils? Or, just perhaps, should he resist the awful temptation of these wicked, circular, artery-blocking devils, as his doctor repeatedly warned him to, and settle for the healthful benefits of a fine Paul Masson wine, sipped in temperate moderation?

He looked at them again. Their perfect circularity reminded him of wide, staring eyes. They were not ordinary eyes. They were not the slightly closed eyes of the jaded, grass-mowing, middle-class suburbanites that he passed on his trek to the shop. They were not the olive-shaped, longing eyes of the bikini-clad young woman, staring past him and at the young delivery man across the street, as she slowly tanned in the sweltering July sun.

These were eyes without lids, without pupils, without souls behind them. They were wide, uncaring, soulless, sugar-encrusted, eyes. They were windows into the dark and empty recesses of his own soul. They gazed at him and he at them in an endless, over-sweetned circle of energy, like a videocamera pointed at a monitor displaying the image that the videocamera is actually taping and getting that really annoying repeated effect. You know what I mean.

That wasn't the worst of it though. In the back of his mind, just over the hum of the central air and the light whirr of the oscillating fan in a corner of the kitchen, he thought he could hear singing. "Do doughnuts have voices?" he asked himself. He laughed out loud at the thought of it, but his laugh was followed by the same eerie sound. There were voices in the room. They were calling to him, calling him by name and crying for him to embrace them in all their nectareous fullness. They sang like sirens, small, round, toothsome mermaids without tails or heads or really any part of what you would find on a mermaid, including the ridiculous sea-shell bras.

He tried to resist. He tried to think of something else, to turn away from the sugar-glazed temptresses.

"Ignore them!" he thought, desperately. "Turn away from their hell of glaze and sweet-bready caloric torments disguised as sugary delights! Embrace life!" he muttered to himself. "Embrace a life without doughnuts!"

He turned to the nearby refrigerator. He reached out and easily opened the door. In truth, he had chosen a home with a kitchen so small that he could sit at the table in the centre of it and reach the fridge, the stove, and the table without so much as inching towards the edge of his chair or even fully extending his arm. He reached into the refrigerator and, momentarily refreshed and strengthed by the jolt of cool air enveloping his arm, grabbed at the first thing he could get his hands on.

Unfortunately, it was a jumbo pizza, with pepperoni, sausage, olives, anchovies and extra-cheese. He harriedly pushed it back into the door, desperate for something healthful, for something worthwhile to free him from the purgatory of the doughnuts. His brow beaded in sweat, he clasped his hand around something made of cold glass and he drew it from the fridge. It was a large jar of kosher dill pickles.

He sat it on the table besides the doughnuts. He tried to look at only the jar, as though it were the only thing in the room. He concentrated on the condensation forming on the jar, then on the briny cucumbers inside. It was to no avail. The neatly stacked doughnuts hovered brightly in the background, plain to see and drawing his vision to their tempting, crusty booty. "Damn my superior sense of mise'-en-scene!" he thundered, and held his head in his hands, sweat gathering between his gargantuan fingers. In the background, the doughnuts continued to mercilessly sing, to endlessly torment him with their lure.

It was then that he suddenly saw a way out. He realized that there was only one hope, only one chance. He must destroy that which tormented him. He quickly thought of how to do it.

"Toss them to the floor?"

No, no, he was a firm advocate of the three-second rule, and in a moment of weakness might snatch them up again and in a frenzy of hunger devour them and any lint on the untidy kitchen floor.

"Dump them into the rubbish-disposal?"

This was also too risky. It would take too long, leaving him precariously exposed to the temptation of scarfing down a doughnut or two, perhaps triggering an avalanche of doughnut devouring. Plus, the disposal might throw up crumbs and hit him in the mouth, driving him insane with the fleeting taste of the lost morsels.

His mind was a torrent of desperate, quicksilver thoughts, all backed by the incessant sound of the doughnuts' pleading chorus. The room seemed to swirl around him and the doughnuts as he sat there, torn between morbid desire and reasonable dietary planning.

His heart was racing now. The song of the doughnuts reached a crescendo. He raised a massive hand over them.

"I'll crush you, then!" he cried, over the doughnuts chorale. "I'll crush you, my cruiller antagonists!"

This last, awful pun surprised him. Despite himself, he laughed out loud. At first it was a blurt of laughter, but then it began to flow out of him like a happy river. He laughed and laughed and laughed. He chortled and guffawed, chuckled and howled in belly-aching laughter. Then, to his amazement, the awful singing of the doughnuts gently vanished back into the whirr of air-conditioning.

He sat there, his hand looming over the doughnuts, and thought at how absurd his situation was. "They're just pastries! They can't stare at me! They don't have voices or sing!"

He laughed again. He began to wonder if it had all been some fever-dream brought on by his anticipation of a sweet, midday snack, or perhaps the torrid imaginings of a body, weary from a trudging half-block pilgrimage to the doughnut shop.

He suddenly realized that he was very tired. This thought amused him also, but then it began to steadily and rapidly panic him, as he suddenly realized that he was so weary that he could not withdraw his hand from above the donuts. Not only that, but his massive paw was steadily dropping, from exhaustion, towards the glazed pyramid below. In horror, straining to redirect his hand, he watched it unremittingly gather speed, summoned by the antipathetic clutch of gravity, until it finally crashed into the doughntus, crushing and scattering them into unrecognisable pulp and crumbs, across the kitchen table and unto the floor.

No three-second rule would save them. They were obliterated into inedible nothingness. They were gone... destroyed. He sat there, looking at the sugary desolation with immense sadness. Then, in the back of his mind again, he could hear the voices from before, but there was no song for him now. They were not calling him, nor tempting him with sweet music.

The doughnuts were screaming.

He sat in shock, his ears full of this new terrible noise. He looked again at the awful disaster before him. A tear gently tricked down his enormous cheek and into his grey, sweaty beard. He shuddered at the dissonant shrieking that echoed through his troubled head.

Finally, after a seeming age, it ended. There was nothing but silence ...fearful, penetrating silence. He sat there for a long while, his eyes misty and his hand unpleasantly caked with doughnut muck. Then, with dreadful resolve, he at last did the only thing left to him, the one remaining thing he knew he must do.

He ate the entire jar of pickles.
And the pizza, too.


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