The Writers Voice
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Michael A. Nielsen
pondering some strange manuscripts in the basement
of the Salt Lake Library, I came across a fragile
piece of parchment dating back to 1984. It was
folded in many places, having a permanent crease
down the very center. I opened it as if it were a
new book awaiting my perusal.
Laying it out on the table and looking about to
make sure the local street dwellers were not aware
of my new found treasure, I began to read, starting
with the title.
"A Universal Law." Immediately I was intrigued, my
heart quickening as I tried to decipher the barely
After roughly a half hour, I had finished the whole
of the manuscript, there was dead silence about me,
the stacks of novels staring down at me as if
hulking monoliths on the Easter Island. I stared
back, the contents of what I just read almost
baffling even my imagination. I would test the
hypothesis tonight, in the comforts of my own house
around the designated hour. It would work.
My next stop was at the local Albertsons. I chained
my bicycle outside and slinging my backpack over
one shoulder, I pulled the wad of cash from my
pocket and began to finger through it as I walked
past the automatic doors into the entry area.
$12.58. It would have to do.
Walking down the fruit and vegetable section, I
found the first ingredients to my recipe, a fine
ripe guava and a sack of potatoes. All I really
needed was the gunny sack, but I figured I would
have to pay for the potatoes either way. A few more
aisles down, I came across the beer. The parchment
spoke of Old Milwaukee and I figured I would stick
to it exactly.
The checker had me pull out my ID, a sign next to
the register stating, "We ID anyone under 32." As
if 32 was some type of magical number or something.
Like how could they tell if someone looked 31?
Anyway, I passed easily, having hit the big 21
about 4 years earlier, and grabbing my bike from
the unpainted bar outside, I quickly pedaled the
three blocks back to my house.
My roommate, Jack, was nowhere to be found, yet the
house reeked of his latest meal. Soiled dishes and
utensils littered the brown carpet floor, and piled
amongst them, facing the doorway, sat the cover to
some movie. The box was so completely beat to death
that the only word I could make out was "Waitress."
I picked my way to the basement door and carefully
walked down the steps, pulling the chain to the
light at the bottom. I cleared a spot on the table
and laid out my sack of goods, spreading the
parchment on the floor beside me.
"While wearing a blue shirt..." it read, and I
smiled because I was already wearing one, "Take an
empty gunny sack and place an unblemished guava
inside of it. Now tie a knot in the sack and hold
it in your left hand. While saying, ĎSee Jeff, Iíve
got your stupid hamster right here!í pop open an
Old Milwaukee and down it in one breath. Your inner
most desires will come true."
I poured the potatoes across the floor and placed
the guava ever so delicately in the folds of the
sack before tying a knot. I figured I should
probably stand because it didnít seem too likely
that a man would proclaim he had slain another
manís hamster while casually sipping a beer on the
couch. It was more of a "I shall stand and shout
its death" type situation.
I slung the
sack about my shoulder and fingering the can of
beer, I pulled back the tab and spoke the
prescribed words and then silenced myself with the
cool liquid refreshment. The last bit of beer slid
down my throat with a resounding "Glug." I crunched
the can with one hand and awaited the outcome.
Within seconds a plate of chicken appeared on the
table, its barbecue basted skin steaming in the
cool temperature of the basement. I looked in
wonder and then, dropping the sack on the couch, I
partook of the pleasant fowl, licking the sauce
from my fingers after completely picking every bit
of succulent flesh from the little bones. It was
the finest morsel of food I had ever tasted or
would ever taste in the future. Needless to say, I
attempted the universal law again, only to find
after much frustration that a new guava and gunny
sack must be used for each plate of chicken. The
price of the sack of potatoes and the guava alone
was more than a new chicken and barbecue sauce. Yet
I found after a few days that I craved the
universal chicken and before long, my fridge was
filled with fresh guava fruit and my pantry
overcrowded with sacks that served more purpose
than just holding potatoes.
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