Librarian of Alexandria

I: The Orchestra Whose Instruments Are Inaudibly Out Of Tune, or, The Librarian of Alexandria

"I once owned thirty-seven acres of land," the stranger told me over a glass of warm whiskey. "Thirty-seven! Can you imagine it?"

"I can try," I told him. "You want me to try?"

"Try," he said. "Go ahead and just try."

I tried. "No, I can't imagine it."

"It was all because of the old Postmaster General. Remember Mr. Malü Peabody? He saw my land one day. He said, 'Mr. Doctor-Mister, you've got a mighty fine parcel of land there,' he said, and I said, 'You're right, Mr. Malü Peabody. I got this land ten years ago in a bar bet over which lizard would eat a fly first.' I said, 'We had to find some lizards first, which was quite a problem, let me tell you.' I said, 'We found three, but we needed four, and by the time we found the fourth, the second one had died, so we needed to find a fifth one to replace that, and then by the time—'"

"I did it," I said.

"Did what?"

"Imagined it. All thirty-seven acres. I imagined it all." I shrugged. "It wasn't that great."

He swigged his whiskey, all in one bristly motion, and he looked me in the eye, and he said, "Fuck you," and left.