Sisyphus descends a spiral staircase connecting heaven to hell. He’d been demoted at his job and now tasked with lugging a square boulder up and down the steps. Along the way, he encounters the ghost of Virgil who remarks that his situation had taken an abysmal turn. Sisyphus inquired if his situation was truly more futile than before. The task remained endless, yet rest proved monotonous for nothing would change and he’d lapse into ennui. Virgil guffawed and then gifted Sisyphus a clock so that he’d suffer equally in mind, body, and spirit.
Poppy stood motionless by the Cabernet collection. Empty bottles and cigarettes stubs littered the flat that was once a lively studio. Her next victim, a former gambler who had stowed himself away in witness protection, dozed off this fine rainy Sunday. He’ll take his last swig tonight, just like all the rest who drew too deeply from her vines and entangled. She was now his best friend… his only friend for that matter when the days ceased to start, life’s currents spiraled nowhere. One last swig she bubbled and extended her hands from the eddies. They were met in kind.
The Delphic oracle prophesied that a great pestilence would sweep over the land, cleansing it of all the weak and the corrupt. To hide the pronouncement from the masses, the Grecian king appeased the soothsayer with sacrifices of his most prized possessions each year. The stakes crossed the line however when the oracle wished to see the king’s stallion. Outright refusal would not suffice and so a plan was actuated to replace the steed with a lesser stock. Manes were trimmed, muzzles cleanly waxed, and calves embronzed to imitate the true prize. On the day of the offering, the king unveiled the nigh indistinguishable impostor to the gasps of the court. The priestess starred for a hard minute before replying face in palm.
“I thought it taller and nobler, but I see now its dense backside. A blind ass would have done better.”
Her mordant wit flew over everyone’s heads.
A priest traveled abroad to seek an answer to an age-old question… what is the good in life? Along the way, he encounters a bard, a grandmaster, and a doctor in a tavern. When inquired, the bard pined about love blossomed and then lost, the grandmaster dramatized his rise and fall from power, the doctor lamented on duty and suffering. The priest quoted a passage from God but the three laughed it off. That night, the bard dreamt of risqué encounters with men, the grandmaster of bloody pieces on a chess board, the doctor of fevered patients in nooses. Sunday morning dawned and the three men attended confessionals, each pouring their hearts out. The priest nodded and forgave each of their sin, accepting an indulgence for their penances. After the service, all parties left and continued along their merry ways. The priest took off his collar and donned a tie.
Foolish was the fish who leapt from water to land.
Its school followed suit and perished in the shallows.
Until one in a million breathed first air.
And life began anew.
Lucifer meets with Adam in a dream. Outside the gates of Eden, the devil transforms into a rabbit and tempts the boy to follow. Adam complies and enters paradise. However, there was nothing idyllic about the garden. Nature had been reduced to a ribbon farm with every species of plant and animal perfectly arrayed, cataloged. Adam asks the rabbit why he’d been shown this. Lucifer transforms back into an angel and offers a lighter in one hand, a shovel in the other. Unable to choose, Adam wakes up in his capsule. Terra-forming mars was turning out to be a drudgery.
The Buddha happened upon a starving beggar. Offering a parcel of bread, the vagrant instead absconds with the entire loaf. The next night, the Buddha returned to find two beggars in the same spot. He offers another loaf but they fight over the right proportions. On the third night, four beggars demanded their share. The Buddha splits a loaf into four equal parts but the small portions lead to discontent. On the fourth and final night, eight beggars awaited their free handouts. The Buddha leaves a sack of flour on the ground with some water. The octet spills the cup as they devoured the sack and left retching.
Weight: An old shepherd tugged on the ropes that had bonded with his waist. Daisy-chained were an ashen woman, boy, and girl, presumably his family. They had sullen looks and a world-weariness of those who had lost their home. Together they scaled a pass that spiraled up and down a mountain to an uplifting tune that went nowhere.
Lightness: A pit-bull grew up tied to an oak tree. His world was a nine-foot circle of dirt, acorns, and taunting squirrels. Having given up on escape, he fell into a deep slumber and dreamed of the pearly gates. A voice told him to come forth, but he couldn’t. The clouds turned dark and erupted with rage. The smell of burnt ash then woke him up. Tugging at his leash for the first time in years, he found it slack.
A grasshopper ambled towards a road’s edge. Looking both ways, he saw neither car nor cyclist approaching and decided to cross. Half-way in, a thought struck the creature that his kind never explored the path to see where it led. A simple ninety-degree turn would do… As he lollygagged under the open sun, a bird swooped down and ate him.
Jack: “So I tricked the devil into paying my tabs.”
Jon: “Oh. How’d you do that?”
Jack: “Satin agreed to a drinking match. My eternal soul if I lose. Ten extra years if I win. Half-way in, I slipped a note to the bartender.”
Jon: “What was on it?”
Jack: “An unsigned IOU from hell.”
Jon: “Damn, how’d he take it?”
Jack: “He started mixing holy water.”
Inspired from the original stingy Jack myth!