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Universal Laws

by

Michael A. Nielsen

While 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 legible writing.

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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