Friday, February 18, 2011

Down With Einstein!

By John McDonnell

Larry was eating breakfast in the kitchen one day when Horst, Willow's very large, hairy, tattooed boyfriend burst in the back door with tears running down his face.

"She's gone!" he said, plopping into the chair next to Larry and covering his bearded face with his hands.

Larry was in the form of a First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, complete with a white uniform with gold trim and brass buttons, and a fancy hat with feathers on it.

"Tut, tut,” he said. “Ships sail all the time. There'll be another one before long."

"I'm not talking about a ship!" Horst said. "I mean Willow. She's gone."

"What?" Dolores said, coming into the kitchen. "Willow's gone? Where is my daughter?”

"It's that crazy cult she joined," Horst said, sobbing. "She's off on a protest march for it."

"Blasted cults," Larry said. "Just when you think you have life all figured out, here comes a cult to bally well upset everything. They ought to keelhaul every one of them."

"What is she protesting?" Dolores said.

"Einstein," Horst said.

"I knew a Freddie Einstein as a young girl," Edna said, waltzing into the kitchen in a gauzy white nightgown. "He was quite the dancer. Father didn't like him because he drove a Stutz Bearcat and always wanted to get me into the rumble seat."

"No, no," Horst said. "It's Albert Einstein. The relativity guy. Willow's cult thinks that Einstein was an agent of Satan. All this stuff about Time being relative, they say it's evil. People spend too much time thinking about time travel and black holes, they say."

"What ho!" Larry said. "On my ship we have a rule: ‘Beware of southern winds and black holes!’”

"But you’re always time traveling," Dolores said. "You must use Einstein's theories to do that."

"Rummy thing, Time," Larry said. "Always making you feel late for something. Had my way, I'd rather do without it."

"Promptness is such a tedious thing," Edna said. "What’s the point of always being on time? I’ve never understood why everyone gets so upset about it."

"Don't you understand?" Horst wailed. "She's gone. She's left me. I want her back!" He collapsed in tears, his heavy body shaking with every sob. He was crying on Larry's shoulder. It was not a pretty sight, and it put you mind of a large sea animal struggling to digest a meal.

"Buck up, man," Larry said, pushing him away. "You're wrinkling my uniform. Oh, bother, I'll go see if I can do something.” There was a shimmering in the air, and Larry vanished.

"Do you think that ever makes him dizzy?" Edna asked. Nobody answered her.

In seconds Larry was back, holding Willow over his shoulder. He dumped her on the floor and she came up screeching.

"How dare you!" she spluttered. She was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue, and she had a sign saying, ‘Down with Relativity!’. “Take me back this instant!"

"I can't," Larry said. "That instant is gone."

"Take me back NOW!"

"‘Now’ is such a relative term," Larry said. "It’s hard to fathom isn’t it? I bally well can’t figure it out."

"It's like trying to nail Jello to a wall," Edna said. "Not something you want to try on your mother’s Louis 14th wallpaper, let me tell you."

"Baby, come back to me," Horst said, his large arms outstretched to Willow.

"Down with Einstein!" Willow said.

"It's okay," Horst said, coming over and putting his arms around her. "I can live with that. He doesn't have to mean anything in our lives, babe. He's nothing to me. Albert who? See, I forgot him already!"

"Well, maybe you're right," Willow said. "It was cold on the picket line. I was freezing!" She snuggled closer to Horst. "Let's go in the other room and turn on the artificial fireplace."

"Well, that was interesting," Edna said, watching them leave. "I think protest is a good thing, generally speaking. My mother used to protest everything. Of course, she thought calculus was immoral, you know. She used an abacus.”

"I'm going back to bed," Dolores said, shaking her head. "My brain is tired already, and it's only 10:00 in the morning."

"Rummy thing, Time," Larry said. "If it weren't that you need it to figure out when your tea is ready, I'd as soon the blasted thing wasn't invented."