Thurs., April 5, 42 A.B.
The call came in at 5:36 this morning.
"I think I've just eaten the moon."
Usually I don't answer the phone - least of all at 5:36 in the morning. But this morning I actually answered it with both hands. I don't know why.
"Did you hear me? The MOON!"
I recognized the voice. Well, most of it, anyway. It belonged to my imaginary friend, Hans.
"Why don't you say something? Don't you care?! Don't you know what this MEANS?!"
It had been a long time since I'd heard from Hans. Yet here I was, suddenly hearing from him again. It always seems odd to me, how something or someone can be utterly absent from our lives for minutes, weeks - even months and years - and then suddenly, hey, here that something or someone is again. Makes you wonder why they ever bothered leaving in the first place. Especially since staying put saves one the trouble of having to return.
"Is there anybody on this line?!"
I considered the question. I certainly seemed to be on something, and the line seemed as good a guess as any. But if Hans couldn't tell I was on the line, was I really? He certainly seemed to want me to be on the line, and yet, had we been face-to-face and I was the one expressing the desire for him to be on the line - any line - he probably would have taken it as an insult, just as he always had back in our high school days. As if distance alone granted us the right to want things on the line rather than in our face....
I doubt that you've eaten the moon, Hans. That's what I said, anyway, as I idly stared at the crowbar I had carefully pre-positioned next to my phone just in case I ever needed help getting the receiver to separate from the base.
"I think I did! Or at least might have. As near as I can tell, I was reaching for the last piece of kuchen and I accidentally grabbed the moon instead!"
If the moon were as edible as kuchen, someone would have eaten it long ago, I said, wondering if the mauve color of my crowbar had gone out of style while I wasn't paying attention.
"You mean I might have just eaten a regurgitated moon??"
I mean to say that there's no sense getting your over-educated Germanic bowels in an uproar until someone files a missing earth satellite report, I said.
"But I can't be expected to wait for that! What if no one notices the moon is missing? What if I actually DID eat it and its natural rotation is ripping my stomach to shreds even as we speak?! Time is of the essence in these situations! Do you hear? ZEIT IST VOM WESENTLICHEN!!!"
IF the moon is missing, I assured Hans, someone somewhere will notice. In fact, they've probably already noticed. Maybe not here, since the moon might have stumbled below the horizon hours ago, but certainly somewhere. Australia, for example. Perhaps we ought to call someone in Australia and ask them if they're missing a moon.
I would think that almost anyone we choose at random will be able to tell us what we need to know.
"But even if almost anyone could tell us, why would they? What's in it for them?!"
Well, we could offer to tell them something in exchange. Maybe they've been wondering if our part of the world really gets weather. We certainly could set their mind at ease about that. Or maybe they've always been curious about water in the Northern Hemisphere. Is it really wet? Is it ever wetter than wet? Really, Hans - the possibilities are endless.
"If people in Australia are that curious, they're going to want to know who we are and why we're calling with such a question. If we tell them the truth - if we tell them that I believe I have just accidentally consumed earth's one and only moon - they'll hang up on us. I know it! That's what you or I would do, after all. Anyone capable of accidentally eating the moon is certainly capable of eating us, too. Better to break off all contact with such a person as quickly as we can!"
Look, here's what we'll do, I tried to reason with my friend. We'll call an Australian up at random and imply that we're astronomers - professional astronomers. And that we need them to help us locate the moon as soon as possible for professional reasons. Put that way, I'm sure 97 people out of 102 will be eager to help.
"And what if they ask why we 'professionals' can't locate the moon without their help?"
We'll just tell them that our observatory is on the fritz.
"And the repairman can't make it out until a week from Tuesday??"
"Ok. Ok.... I'm going to hang up now and make that call... ok?"
Excellent idea, Hans. Excellent idea.
"Will you FedEx me some ipecac while I do so?"
You're going to be fine, Hans. Just try to visualize the Sea of Tranquillity in your mind's eye and not your tum-tum and relax.
"Sure - IF my liver hasn't already metabolized it!"
You're being silly, Hans. Silly beyond belief. Now call Australia!
There was silence on the other end of the line. Then I heard Hans fumbling with his crowbar, followed by our being disconnected, and I knew everything was going to be alright.
At least for me, anyway, as I cut the wires to my phone's ringer, then drifted back to sleep....
(© Immediately after being separated from the pulp and seeds by the bare-handed DJ Birtcher)
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