from Truth in Advertising
A short, balding man who hates the opera is attending one. His sister,
who is in the company, is singing an aria. Suddenly jealous, the man
improvises a plan to deflect the audience's attention to himself.
He walks calmly onto the stage, takes the microphone
and announces that the state's lottery jackpot is forty million dollars.
Seized by uncontrollable avarice, the audience rises as one
and rushes out to buy lottery tickets. The man smirks cynically,
pleased to see proof of what he had always suspected: that greed
would triumph over the pretentiousness of art. He remains on stage
overlooking the empty seats, contemplating the satisfying power
his few and simple words had had on so many.
In the meantime, his sister has run off in humiliation,
while the rest of the cast is struck dumb by the man's effrontery.
A minute later, the patrons, having discovered the lottery payout that week
is to be a mere two million, storms back into the theatre, incensed,
intent on giving the exaggerator a sound thrashing or worse.
Desperate to forestall his impending doom, with a cohort
of Wagnerian extras as a backdrop, the man bursts pleadingly into song.
The Evils of Drink
A man who is an alcoholic has disembarked from a plane
and is about to leave the airport. He sees a car service driver
holding up a sign with a doctor's name on it. Impetuously,
the man presents himself to the driver as that doctor, hoping
the car will be a limousine and have a bar as part of its amenities.
It is and does. Strangely, of the wide variety of beverages available,
the man chooses to drink only the most common brand of light beer.
He drinks quickly and has consumed enough to become
fairly inebriated by the time the car arrives at the hospital,
where it seems he is expected to perform brain surgery; that is,
after he has paid the driver eighty dollars, which he does not have.
The situation quickly becomes awkward. By the time the real doctor
arrives by taxi an hour later, the patient has died.
In prison, the man makes a vow that he will never drink
that brand of light beer again.
The Pathfinder has again come to that section
in the narrow cliffside road
where it has to drive over the colossal letters of its own name
deeply incised in the stone, bumping down and up,
straining the suspension while moving carefully along
over the autobiographical roadway: from the I to the F,
and then across the H and the T, inching onto the edge of the A,
toward the perilous gap on the other side,
the hollowed-out space below the bulge of the P
into which the left front wheel will drop once more
and send the car plummeting into the bottomless canyon below
and at this point the vehicle awakens, its cold engine shuddering
in the silent showroom, beads of moisture covering the hood,
the sales staff gone home for the night,
the stars twinkling over the beckoning mountains.