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Vonnegut In My Living Room

Updated: Apr 12, 2018

by Wick Fields Last night I woke to find Kurt Vonnegut sitting in my living room, smoking, his long frame slouching at the end of my couch. "You're dead," I said. "I know," he responded flatly. "I've come to tell you something. I've traveled a long way," he went on. "There are strange things up there. Things you'd never imagine." "Oh? I said. "Yes. There are aliens. Let's get that out of the way, straight out. They're a lot like us, but better," he said, extinguishing his cigarette in an empty Coke can on the coffee table. "And they've got tiny heads and enormous chests. That's where their brains are, in their chests. And their whole bodies glow when you touch them," he continued as my grogginess faded. This was no dream. "Is there a god then?" I asked. "They won't say," he said. "I've asked every one of them I can, and they just point to their chests and mumble something about Abraham Lincoln. They're big fans of the Dave Clark Five for some reason." "Why me?" I asked. "Why have you come to me?" "I dunno, I just kind of landed here," he answered. "Your couch is a bit saggy, by the way." "I'm working on it," I said apologetically. "Oh I'm not complaining. I'm done with all that," he replied, grinning. "So... it's all worth it then? Our troubles down here?" I asked, a warmness swelling in me. "For some, I suppose. There aren't many of us up there. I've seen Mohammad Ali a couple of times. He's always in the ring, shadow boxing, but in slow motion. It's beautiful. And Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are there too, and always dancing. I can watch them for eons. Oh, and Isaac Newton. He's there. Though I think he's still a bit confused by the aliens and their minuscule heads." "And the rest of the dead, they went the other direction?" I asked anxiously. "They tell me they got sent back. They have to correct their mistakes. The only condition is they have to swap races and sexes each time. Though if you really screw up they send you to Tulsa for some reason." "What about serial killers and pedophiles? They go to Tulsa?" I asked. "Oh no, they get thrown down black holes. The aliens don't tolerate violence. They say our programming is missing some numbers, but humans have to figure that out for themselves. That's why you have medicine. To lengthen your life span so folks have a little more time to get it right. Thirty-five years, they found, was really only long enough for humans to identify there was a problem, then they died of the clap."

At this point he began to slowly become less and less, as if he was dissolving. "Well, that's my cue," he said, standing. "What am I supposed to do with this information?" I asked. "Why go out and spread the gospel, of course," he said. "But people will think I'm a lunatic," I told him. "Maybe that's why you got sent back, to get over your vanity," he said extending his dissolving hand, which I tentatively shook. "I'll let you in on a little secret," he said, beginning to glow, "it's all vanity," then he disappeared entirely.

I stood there motionless for a few seconds before approaching the Coke can.

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