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December 6, 2012 | Fiction

Your Gedanken Collection

Kenton K Yee

Your Gedanken Collection photo

You win the Nobel Prize for the photoelectric effect but your relativity theory is what makes you famous. Paparazzi camp out in front of the Institute when colleagues gather to celebrate your seventy-second birthday. The Institute Director Emeritus and his coquettish wife offer you a lift home. You wedge between them, grateful for an opportunity to exchange body heat with the wife, whom you've splashed with sideways glances since her student days.

Just as the chauffeur ignites the engine, a man in a fedora and trench coat hoists a black box outside the wife’s window.  The box sports a round glass nose and a protruding glazed eyeball. If it’s a camera, it’s the mechanical kind—not the digital kind that utilizes your photoelectric effect.  (Digital cameras would not be sold during your lifetime.)

Hoping to delight the wife, you thrust your tongue at the box and wag it.

The eyeball flashes. 

Bright motes prick your retinas.

Boom! 

The wife gasps.

You grimace, then smile when you think you hear her stifle a giggle. Sparkles dazzle your vision for the remainder of the ride, during which the Director bores himself, you, and, most of all, his wife with appropriate sounds.

Newspapers around the world publish the colorless photo of the august May-December couple and the pointy-tongued celebrity between them, two minor moons flanking a flaring sun.

When you look at the photo you see-from left to right - a haughty horse, a panting puppy, and a sublime siren. Oy! You request a print from the wire service and crop away the horse.

You'd love to preserve for posterity the cropped portrait of you and her, an item at last. But the sun and its orbitals would never understand. So you cut her out and circulate the lonely panting puppy. The siren? You file her image in your gedanken collection.

Over half a century after your death, the poster of the panting puppy, freed of physical encumbrances, continues to flirt.

 

 

image: Jac Jemc


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