Book of Oppositions | Pocket Full of Mumbles |


This world is one big game of "Go"-- Black against White, Light against Darkness --and we all have a choice to make: Do we war FOR the Light?

...or against it?

"Mr. Burroughs Gets it Right" ..:Chapter One:..

After years of drudgery in a bucolic, middle of the road existence, Frank Burroughs decided one morning to kill himself. He thought long and hard on the method by which he would see the deed done, but none seemed especially noteworthy. Guns were too messy, and so done! Slit his wrists? Why, most people survived that, so why bother? Besides, it too was messy. He thought of rope and wondered if he might not hang himself, but the thought of struggling and kicking about reminded him of flies snared on flypaper. Pills? Too easy! And then he thought of drinking himself to death, but sadly, realized that wouldn’t work either. His low tolerance for alcohol would put him fast asleep before he could do much damage, and the thought of dying in a car wreck? God, how ghastly! And given the
chance he might kill someone else in the process killed the idea all together. No. If he was going to kill himself, the method must be singularly unique.

This struggle went on for quite some time until one evening an ad came over the television that caught his attention.

"Love life got you down? Does your better half wish you understood them better? How about your job? Do you feel out of the loop? Do you need an edge? Then the Psiron M just might be the answer!"

Hey, now. What’s this? He thought, and leaned in to the television.

"...That’s right folks, for a mere pittance, you can be an EMPATH! Think how your relationships will benefit by actually FEELING the emotions of those close to you. Know what your lover REALLY thinks of you, and knowing, at long last, what pushes HER buttons!

"With your newly installed M chip, you will have the edge you need to succeed in business. Anticipate your clients needs..."

That’s it! He thought. That is how I shall do it! And forthwith recorded the number into his palm crystal.

The following Wednesday he arrived at Psiron Labs at his appointed time of eight-thirty, sharp. There were quite a few drab, long-faced souls in the waiting room also awaiting their interview with doctors Hedly and Havsram. "I can’t believe I’m sitting here with all these losers," Frank muttered.

When he had made his appointment he’d been informed that not everyone who applied would receive the M chip. Certain behavioral types were to be excluded for safety’s sake. After all, it wouldn’t do to have obsessive-compulsive’s collapsing in seizures in public, or sociopath’s running amok in the general population. No, only those who were deemed moderately to excessively normal would be allowed to continue on with the treatment.

And the price! Half a year’s salary! It was a good thing he was a frugal man! A vegetarian by force of common sense-- all those ghastly diseases associated with meat, not to mention the price! He had banked most of what he earned over the years hoping to buy into a retirement home when he reached retirement, but that was decades off, and moot, now that he had decided to kill himself.

When finally he was ushered into the examination room he had just about lost his resolve, but the room to which he was led intrigued him. It was a stark white room, empty of everything save the chair on which he sat. No pastoral images hung on the walls. No diplomas or credos.

He sat for a long while looking about, but realizing there really wasn’t anything to look at, he closed his eyes and waited; patience personified. After all, the chip was worth the wait. With it he would put an end to his boring existence. The trick would be to find that special someone who would unwittingly help him. It would have to be someone so utterly miserable -- yet unwilling to end their own life -- in desperate need of a friendly ear. Oh, and yes, his would be the friendliest.

At long last, a thin, nondescript man entered the white room. He was of an average height and his features quite unremarkable.

"Good afternoon, Mister Burroughs."

"Uh..." Frank began with confusion written across his brow, "it’s morning still, isn’t it?"

"Yes. Quite." Said the unremarkable man, who proceeded to introduce himself.

"I am Dr. Rastabula, an associate of doctors Hedly and Havsram. I am going to ask you ten questions to which you will answer yes or no. I will then ask you to look at one ink blot and describe to me what it is you see within the image, and what emotions it brings to mind. Do you understand? Yes? Good! Then let us begin."

How odd! Burroughs thought.

"Have you ever been treated for addictive behaviors?"

"No." To which Rastabula scratched notes upon his clipboard.

"During which month do you find you are happiest?" He asked.


"Not August?"

"Is that one of the questions?"


"Oh. No, June it is."

"Hmm. Very well. Do you prefer giving presents to receiving them?"



"Do I prefer giving presents to receiving them?"

"Yes. That’s the question."

"Then yes, I do."

"But which do you prefer, Mr. Burroughs."

"See here, Doctor. You said to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’."

"Right, right." Dr. Rastabula harrumphed. "So I did."

"Very well then," he continued. "If you could afford to keep a pet, and were able to acquire permission from the ministry of wildlife, would you choose a dog, cat, or parrot?"

"No. Yes. No."

"I see." Dr. Rastabula muttered, and again scribbled on his clipboard.

"What are you writing, Doctor?"

"That you are being a most difficult subject, Mr. Burroughs." Rastabula sighed.

"Most difficult indeed."

"See here, doctor!" Burroughs objected. "It was you as said I should answer your beastly questions with a simple yes or no!"

"Mr. Burroughs," sighed Rastabula yet again, pushing his plain glasses back up the bridge of his plain nose. "Please exercise sense enough to know when a simple yes or no will not do. Shall we continue? Are you ready?"

"Quite." Replied the fuming Burroughs.

"Now. How many prescriptions are you currently taking?"


"Are you sure?"

"Is that one of the questions?"

"No. Very well. Next question. To your left is a glass. Please tell me whether it is half full or half empty."

Burroughs looked to his left and saw the small white block of a table upon which sat a glass of water. "Oh, my," he said. "That wasn’t there before," then cocked his head and thought a moment.

"Actually," he said at last. "It’s both."


"I said it’s both, Doctor."

"It can’t be both." Growled the doctor through clenched teeth. "It must be one or the other."

"No, it mustn’t." Smiled Burroughs.

"For the purpose of this examination you must choose one or the other."

"Then I choose ‘fully half-empty’."

"Very well!" Snarled Rastabula. And his pen moved furiously across his clipboard.

"Have you ever contemplated Murder or, better yet, Suicide?" Rastabula’s eyes distended themselves from their sockets and twitched.

"Murder? No. Suicide?" and he paused and looked down to study his nails. "No."

"You’re Lying!" Shouted the doctor, spittle flying from his mouth.

"I am not!" Returned Burroughs, straightening in his chair, with an air of indignation."

"Yes you are!" Rastabula shouted again, half rising from his chair. "You answered ‘no’ immediately after saying the word ‘murder’, but paused and looked down and to the left before answering to ‘suicide’! You sir, are a liar!"

"I don’t know what you are babbling on about, but I’ve had just about enough of you, Rastabula!" Burroughs shouted back, half rising from his seat as well.

"Of course you don’t! You’re an…!"

"Doctor Rastubula?" came a woman’s voice from nowhere. Both stopped and stood straight up.

"Yes?" The doctor asked the voice.

"Doctor Hedly says you are taking far too long. Please hurry."

Doctor Rastabula smoothed his ordinary smock, gripped his clipboard with whitened knuckles, and smiled to the disembodied voice.

"Yes, of course." He said. He took his seat and gestured for Mr. Burroughs to do the same.

Once seated, the doctor said, "Just three more questions Mr. Burroughs, and then the Ink Blot. Ready? How often do you think about death?"

Mr. Burroughs looked down at his palms.

"There you go again." The doctor sighed.


"Never mind. Just answer the question. How often do you think about death?"

"At least once a day."

"Are you sure?"

"Is that…?"

"No. Continuing on, Have you or anyone in your immediate family ever been treated, by a physician, for any psychological disorder?"


"I find that rather hard to believe." Rastabula muttered under his breath, and scribbled lengthily upon the clipboard.


"Last question, Mr. Burroughs." Smiled Rastabula. "Why do you wish to be an empath?"

Mr. Burroughs thought a moment, preparing his prepared speech.

"Well. You see. It’s like this. In my line of work it pays to be ahead of the game. And I feel as though if I had an edge and knew ahead of time what the competition was up to I could..."

"Mr. Burroughs," Rastabula interrupted. "It is not a telepathy chip. It’s an empath chip. Empath. Do you understand the difference?"

"Of course I do!" said Burroughs a bit insulted. "It’s emotions. But didn’t you know emotions often say more than words? It is the Primal Language of the soul, and it speaks volumes more than mere words."

"Yes. Well. I see you do. Very well then, lets have a look at the Ink Blot, shall we?"

"Now, Mr. Burroughs," he said. "The object here is to allow your subconscious to do all the work. First impressions are very important here. So, when I turn this placard over, please describe what it is you see." Rastabula pulled a stiff placard from the back of his clipboard and held it before him. "Ready?" he asked.
He turned it over and revealed the black smear. It was an odd yet strangely ordinary blot of ink, its left half the mirror of its right. Mr. Burroughs leaned in and rested his chin in his hands.

"Hmmm." He said.

"First impressions, Mr. Burroughs," quipped the doctor. "What do you see?"

Burroughs cocked his head and sighed. "Why, aside from the obvious," he said at last, "it's my mother’s tea set. All tarnished, of course because of all the black in there, but it’s definitely her tea set."

"Your Mother’s Tea set!" Shouted the doctor in disbelief.

"Yes." Burroughs sighed wistfully. "She’d have a fit if she could see her tea set in such a state, God bless her soul, but she makes the best pot o..."

"That’s quite enough from you, you pathetic little man!" Rastabula’s eyes began to bulge from their sockets again. "How, on God’s green earth you managed to make it to..." and he stopped to consult his clipboard... "Forty four." He sneered. "I can’t..." Then he paused and mentally drew back in his eyes. Burroughs was steamed, but sat quietly. It is almost over, he kept reminding himself.

"Mr. Burroughs," the doctor said at last in a soft voice. "What is wrong with you?"


"Yes, wrong." He said through clenched teetch while removing his glasses and pinching the bridge of his ordinary nose.

"Most people see cars, bunnies, spilt milk, female genitalia or reproductive systems!!! BUT THEY NEVER SEE THEIR MOTHER’S TEA SETS!!!"

..:Chapter Two:..

Frank Burroughs wasn’t always so fastidious; of course it was his mothers influence. Frank's father had never been around much after forty-three, seeing as how he never made it back from the implosion fields of northern Lebanon. "What a beastly business, this war and such!" Began the litany of Frank’s mother, pre-ambling the rambling that, without fail, soon ensued the moment the last syllable was uttered. And there was Frank, nodding in all the right places, and sighing his silent agreement, daintily sipping his tea with any number of Ima Burroughs’ friends, each one as blue haired as the next. So without the influence of a father figure-- Uncle Mortimer didn’t count, being a barfly and all --he was left to be raised by women who knew nothing of raising men.

Eileen-Nana’s only child was Frank’s own mother, and a good woman by all accounts, but she too had no idea what to do with young Frank after Mr. Burroughs failed to return home alive, or in one piece. But it was the general consensus that Uncle Mortimer should be left out all together

"Beastly business."

The implant had taken only a matter of minutes to install. The software-- Frank’s brain --needed time to adjust and so it was a week before the doctors, Messer’s Havsram and Hedley themselves, dared to fire it up.

The procedure was simple enough. The tiny screw at the back of Frank’s head was adjusted using a common screwdriver. The level to which it was set was determined by a series of street beggars brought in to accost Frank for money. The emotional exchange between Frank and the assorted collection of drunks, winos and all-around ne’er do wells, was to be collected through a jack beneath the screw, installed for just that purpose. Frank’s disgust as well as his attackers penniless mewlings, would then be recorded and used to calibrate the Psiron M.

The worst part of the whole affair was the soldering.

"It’s got to be locked into position, Mr. Burroughs." Explained Dr. Havsram.

"By soldering?!" exclaimed Frank rather worriedly.

"Come now, Mr. Burroughs." Soothed Dr. Hedley. "We’ve done this at least a dozen times, and not once has anyone complained, or sued."

"And that’s supposed to make me feel better?"

In the end they soldered it down good, with only one slip.

"You said it wouldn’t hurt!" Frank bellowed.

"No, Mr. Burroughs, said Dr. Havsram, "We said we’ve performed the procedure a dozen times."

"Thirteen, actually." Added Dr. Hedley with a quick smile.

A nurse appeared and handed Dr. Havsram a clipboard. "Ahh," he said with pleasure. "And now for the rules..."


Hope you found my unfinished tale humorous. Levity on this final night of 2006 is what's in order; there's been quite enough of the other stuff, and it's time to put THAT geezer to bed!

Happy New Year everyone!

posted by Eric Ashley @ 10:00 PM,


On January 1, 2007 at 12:57 AM, Anonymous MSU gal said...

it's good read and quite entertaining. definitely worth finishing.

BTW thanks for being my first of comment that is.
Happy New Year!

On January 1, 2007 at 1:00 AM, Anonymous Eric said...

LOLOLOL! You're quite welcome, and thank you for your kind and generous critique.


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