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Le son De - Short Story by Jim Meirose

Doctor Sax sat waiting for Stannie with four and a half minutes to go. Idly he sat watching the fast ping-pong game his apprehension regarding this lesson had conjured to distract him. Identical faceless players volleyed the ball super-intensely so that it could not be seen even as a blur, but only as nothing at all. The super-speedy ping-pong paddles driving this phenomenon necessarily vanished from view as well and in moments the players themselves realized they had been playing so well that the point had been reached where the game had been played so perfectly that it had reached a level of perfection beyond the maximum a ping-pong game could ever be, so; since they had played the game completely out of existence, they dropped their arms, stepped away, and, there being no further reason for a ping-pong table to be present in the Sax music studio, they folded up the unused table and stowed it back into Doc Sax’s imagination then without a word they too followed in behind the table, but—the ping-pong ball and the ping-pong paddles slowed and reappeared in midair and fell to the floor in the dead center of the perfectly square throw rug, at the exact instant that a knock came at the door, the latch clicked open, and there stood Stannie the SaxMan dragging his big black sax bag heavily behind—even as Doc Sax marveled at the rip in something—space and time or time and space or probably something else entirely—Stannie cried out across his large Hello, swung the sax bag over onto his chair, and pointed to the paddles and ball.

Like ping-pong, Doc? Who you been playing with? How were you playing with no table? I would think that with no table it would be ridiculous to watch and probably nearly impossible to play. Do you think there’s anybody anyplace who can play ping-pong with no table? And, what makes it even more improbable is, there’d have to be two such unbelievably talented players. Impossible has to be must be probably is, impossible. Nobody has ever and nobody ever will play ping-pong with no table keeping the ball constantly in the air with no bounces allowed—I mean I’m assuming there would be no bounces allowed. If there were, well then, it would not be so special. But, on the other hand, it may be about half as special because it would probably be harder to bounce back and forth off the floor. Gosh. This is quite complicated. What do you think, Doc? Huh? Looks like a real scorcher—eh, Mrs. Johnson? Huh, hah, hey—funny joke! But—no, no, no—I just got this on my mind today, ‘cause—on How it’s Made yesterday—hey you know that show, eh? How it’s Made? Or is it How’s it Made? I don’t—no but anyway, it’s funny I should walk in here right when you got your balls and paddles out yah balls and paddles paddles and balls hiccup hic—they were showing now billiard balls no tennis balls no bowling balls no what were we talking about oh yes oh yeah there there are well I mean there it is that ping-pong ball—though they called them table tennis balls—is there a difference between table tennis and ping-pong and also this brings forth also as do all things many questions is there table-pong or ping-tennis is there ping-table-tennis-pong or ping tennis-table-pong or table ping-pong-tennis—hey Saxie—you tutor my Mousie-catdog boy in math, tell me oh tell me how many different ways can we arrange the words table, tennis, ping, and pong? Do you know the answer Doc Sax the know-it-all of all trades, and really only good at about a dozen or three huh? Eh—okay tell me the answer. Let’s see you know your math or don’t know your math no matter how you slice it, my slice-o-buddha’s-belly-man, this is a sweet language this anglasye-o. So answer.

The answer is twenty-four. That is actually grammar school level math.

Very good, very so—you must indeed be a know-it-all. So see, let’s do it; Ping-pong-table-tennis? No, no. I feel, my dear Agatha, that one is much too simple. Like a head-on collision. Simple, fast, and, quite honestly, almost always deadly. Yes, yes, yes—please bear with us. No no no no, for all intents and purposes that may as well be your real name dear. Your concern is unimportant and if time allows we will discuss it later. The next please. Ping-pong-tennis-table. Sounds like a piece of furniture named by someone whose second language is English. Ping-table-pong-tennis. Sorry, no—hearing it is like hitting a large pothole. Ping-table-tennis-pong. No, no—sounds like a misnamed seventies computer game. Ping-tennis-pong-table. Sounds like some piece of ridiculously overcomplicated unusable furniture; but, hey, look; Ping-tennis—hey, that’s got potential! Ping-tennis. Let’s come back to that. Ping-tennis-table-pong. Sorry but you can’t volley a whole table back and forth. First the legs will bust off and then, worse. Pong-ping-table-tennis. Simply sounds obscene. Tried it twice more and it still does. Pong-ping-tennis-table. Sounds like the name of some defective product no one should buy. Pong-table-ping-tennis. This has promise. A bit more cerebral than ping-tennis, but—also longer. Sixty of the one and fifty-five of the other. Let’s come back. Pong-table-tennis-ping. Sorry, but ping is not a thing. What’s a ping what’s a ping? I can hear the herd starting to low now. Pong-tennis-ping-Table. Singy-singy-pingy-singy. Pong-tennis-table-ping. That is clearly a type of ping. How many more types of ping are there, class? One—there’s table-ping-pong-tennis, but, oh, sorry, wrong answer. That is a type of tennis, not of ping. Okay, if you want to play that game, Master Struble; how many more types of tennis, class? One—table-ping-tennis-pong—oh, no, ut, oh shreikloud shreiklouder shriekloudest. Gerald Struble himself threw us this monkey wrench of a knucklebusting stripped-off bolthead down in a tight spot which allows even the most experienced mechanic no real leverage to speak of and on top of that allows the comfortable use of only the left hand, which is; that is not a type of ping or of tennis but is a type of pong. Adjectives fight to be nouns and nouns fight to be adjectives but—at all times the adjectives are in the majority, as in there’s way more of us pawns than you kings, so watch it; so—you, Master Roald Tennision—go to the board and diagram that sentence. I saw you sleeping. So now you must be punished. Go up there’s plenty of chalk and I have got all day. Slap on this super-pink dunce cap and call me in the morning. In the meantime, class, look away from Roald and look back at me. Table-pong-ping-tennis—a deer, a female deer—table-pong-tennis-ping—a drop of golden sun—table-tennis-ping-pong—a name I call myself—table-tennis-pong-ping—a long long way to run—tennis-ping-pong-table—a needle pulling thread—tennis-ping-table-pong—a note to follow so—tennis-pong-ping-table—a drink with jam and bread—tennis-pong-table-ping—that will bring us back to—tennis-table-ping-pong—do oh—tennis-table-pong-ping—oh oh—see, Doc Sax, that was the way to open up the lesson. Not the way you do but from now on the way I do. Or the way he does. Or them and they do. Your flapping dying flatfish of a grease-ball’s favorite game is nearly over. I am no Vasco De Gama but I have discovered the real essence of you. What you mean to teach teaches nothing in the end. You teach to teach but who taught you, Sax? Who taught you? What overblown fool sees themselves as competent to teach the teachers to go on to teach more teachers teachers will exponentially expand like old rabbit-dom and in the end after all the mouse traps have been set I want to be the one to drop the golf ball. I suppose I will go elsewhere, then, to have my remaining bidding done. And probably at a slashed clean through price. Let’s throw over this game of ping-tennis. Yah ping-tennis. That’s what it ought to have been called all along. Mucus-mouth’s green scum’s been weeks behind his ear. For the love of God, Montressor! My my, that’s a ring to it mon! For the love of God of God of God and of God, Montressors and Montresseers. That scum’s been weeks behind his ear. Go clean the cat up.


Jim Meirose’s short work has appeared in numerous venues. He has published several novels as well, including the upcoming “Understanding Franklin Thompson” (JEF pubs ’18) and “Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer” (Optional Books ’18). Info: www.jimmeirose.com

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