canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

Door Number Three

by Michael Twist

There was once a man who was a great thinker. He thought day and night of wise and lofty thoughts, and his ideas were second to none. In fact, there was no other person in the world who had thoughts like his. Nobody. That was how wise he was, and if anyone dared dispute his wise disposition, he would painstakingly descend the steps of his thoughts and broaden their minds.

For the most part, he would sit alone in his book filled apartment, thinking wise thoughts, because he had no friends to speak of. Indeed, his deeper thoughts passed the boundaries of perception, swimming the sky, and often could not be understood despite much scholarly study by many doctorate students and tenured professors.

He did get quite lonely, but thinking took up so much of his time that he didn’t really have time for frivolous distractions.

One day as he sat pondering the teachings of Buddha, the landlord came knocking on his door.

“Where is the rent, great thinker?” he asked. “What? Don’t great thinkers live rent free?” “No no no, great thinker, you must be out of your mind. You’ll have to write me a cheque. Nobody lives for free.”

And so grudgingly the great thinker brought out his chequebook and wrote a cheque for the sum of seven hundred dollars rent, which had been due four days ago.

He then thought of a spider on the ceiling. Later, the cure for cancer crossed his mind. Yes, the cure for cancer. It was quite simple, really, but he didn’t get to writing it all down. An hour later, he thought of a way to travel to Jupiter. Space travel was a specialty of his. And then, quite inexplicably, he thought of his neighbor. A beautiful woman who lived down the hallway in room number three. Actually, he thought quite often of her recently, and it bothered him. Another day he was comparing the existentialist philosophies of Sartre and Camus when a taxman came knocking on his door.

“Where are your taxes from last year, great thinker?” “What? Don’t great thinkers live tax free?” “Ha ha ha, great thinker, don’t make me laugh. Those concessions we give to rich people. People in high places who think only of making money no matter how many people they hurt deserve our respect. Of course big business deserves tax breaks too, because they are building our economy. Providing jobs for the likes of me and you. You have to pay tax so that we may spend it on our debt.”

And so grudgingly, the great thinker took out his chequebook again, and wrote a cheque for the sum of two thousand dollars in back taxes. This made the taxman very happy, and he left without a problem. He later thought of the way a flower blooms. And then he thought of the ocean, but not its chemical composition, which was odd. And while he was pondering Plato instead of Aristotle, the woman from number three passed by his door and he tripped on his Camus and Sartre books in his attempt to meet her and say “hello.” She did not hear him and continued to her door, carrying groceries and a glossy magazine. Maybe, he thought, he could impress her with his vast knowledge.

He was just about to leave his library to visit her when a large shadow covered him. The shadow belonged to a huge businessman who was knocking on his door.

“Where is my money, great thinker?” he asked, cracking his knuckles.

This was no ordinary businessman. He was muscle bound and had a very large head. The great thinker thought he might be very smart.

“You owe ten thousand,” said the businessman, whose face was getting red.

The great thinker thought very hard but could not come up with anything to say to the businessman.

“If you don’t give me the money now, I’m going to have to beat the shit out of you. You think you’re smart, but you’re dumb if you don’t have the ten grand.”

Soon the great thinker was afraid for his life, and thought he might have made a poor investment decision.

And so, shivering, the great thinker wrote out a cheque for the sum of ten thousand dollars even though he only had three dollars left in his bank account.

“If this cheque bounces then you’re a dead man,” affirmed the businessman, and he grabbed the great thinker’s head and punched him, to prove his point.

The great thinker thought about the businessman when he was gone, and decided that this was not a place he wanted to stay anymore. The eye swelled up badly, and it was painful to touch. Nobody appreciated great thinkers.

He thought about Einstein and what happened to his theories, the race to make something destructive. He thought about Socrates drinking poison and philosopher poverty. He thought about existentialist philosophy, about just existing, and nihilism that nothing exists.

He looked in the mirror at his eye, which was covered in a mass of purple and blue. It would make it hard to read his books, thought the great thinker sadly.

Then he thought of door number three, and all his knowledge seemed instantly useless.

“Hello, you may have heard of me. I’m a great thinker.”

“Hi. Well go think then, I’m busy.”

She was indeed reading her magazine, which to her seemed very important. Perhaps as important as his thinking was to him.

“Do you think much?” he asked her.

She turned to him, full of anger.

“Look, my boyfriend’s coming over in a few minutes. You’d better get out of here if you want to live.”

He took the advice, abandoning the books and the unwanted visitors to his door. He moved away without leaving a forwarding address. His thoughts were no longer of Plato and Aristotle. He abandoned thinking altogether, in fact, as many had before him. He took a job at a lumber mill and is now making twelve dollars an hour so that he may survive. When he gets home at night he tries to clear his mind by staring at the ceiling, which blocks his access to the infinite beyond of the sky.

Michael Twist's first collection of poetry "Here & Now" was published in 1998 by Jellyfish Communications. He has published in Maelstrom, The Peak Newspaper, and Two Chairs Magazine. In 2001, he published Highs and Lows: A Personal Approach to Living with Diabetes, which takes a much-needed unconventional approach to living with diabetes. He lives in British Columbia.







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