The Theory of Relativity
The twelfth Dotty story by Russell Rosander
Reality is a hard thing to define. If you look at it closely, it dissolves into billions of atoms, spinning in space like little solar systems, just pure energy and nothing solid.
It only seems to be what we call real when compared to the imagination. Somehow, that seems even less definable. In the end, perhaps it´s all illusion, but what is this thing I call me? Who is the one who imagines; who is seeing the illusion? Is it all just some kinda trick?
I was out on the patio one afternoon, when I saw Dotty, my imaginary wife, reclinin´ on a soft, fluffy cloud, diftin´ by overhead. Then, she rose up and floated gently down into the chair across from mine.
“Whacha doin´?” she asked.
“Nothin´ out of the ordinary. Just writin´.” I answered.
“Ya know,” she asked, “I´ve always wondered . Do you suppose that he writes the same things as you?”
“Well, the guy who´s writing this story, of course.”
“I´m the guy writing this story. We´re the same person…aren´t we?”
“If you say so. I´m just wonderin´ if what he writes in the real world is the same as what you write in the imaginary one.”
The question confounded me. How the hell was I supposed to answer a question like that. Of course, the character is the story is the same person who´s writing the story. Then I thought, “Well, wait a minute. Who is writing it? How could a person know? Was my character writing the story or was I?”
“Maybe my brain´s not highly enough developed to answer a squishy question like that. I always thought we were the same person, that I just visit the imagination while you and Charley and Moonbeam are permanent residents.”
“I just wondered ´cause when we go on adventures, he keeps writin´ while you play.”
“Well, he……. You know what Dotty? Let´s talk about somethin´ else that´s less confussin´.”
“If you say so.”
Whenever Dotty says “If you say so,” it´s always a clear indication that she doesn´t believe a word of it. I suppose, havin´ an imaginary wife might seem a little weird to some people, but so what? Everybody´s a little weird in one way or another. I doubt if there is such a thing as normal. It seems, these days, that just about everybody has some sorta “syndrome” or “complex” or whatever you want to call it. That he and me are the same person, just seems sorta obvious to me. Why would she not believe me? Have I ever told her a lie? Oh, there´ve been times that I´ve said something that wasn´t true, but it was usually because I believed it was true at the time and didn´t know it wasn´t. Maybe my syndrome was tryin´ to be honest all the time; still tryin´ to be a good boy for my mama. That didn´t make it a bad thing to be though. There are a lot of reasons to try to be as honest as possible.
I looked up from my reverie and Dotty was gone. There was a mosquito sittin´ on my right pinky, poised for a poke. I swatted with my left, but I was too slow. My left jab never was that good. “Well, if the mosquitoes had found me, I might as well go inside,” I thought. So I got up and headed for the trailer door. Maybe I would work on a Sudoku. At least that was a sort of puzzle I could solve.
I opened the door and was just about blasted into a dozen back-flips off the steps. I peeked back in and saw that my little dining room area had been expanded to about six times the size of the whole dang trailer. There was an old black and white TV in the corner, blastin´ away at full volume. There was a throng of kids sprawled out on the rug in front of it in various impossible positions. The floor was littered with popcorn, Cheerios and army men. Then I noticed that all the children were kids I know, or have known. Some were buds of mine when I was eight or nine years old. And there were my brothers, Scott and Ken, as little kids. My own kids, Tai and Faith were there too, and then there was Charley and Moonbeam, curled up on an, old, thread bare couch with anti-macassars on it under an old framed print of an old woman feeding duck by a pond that used to hang in my grandfather´s house.
The TV was flippin´ through programs at lightnin´ speed. Old cartoons and comedies, like the “Honeymooners” and “I love Lucy”. Cowboy shows too and Tarzan yodelin´ through the trees in the jungle. “What the hell, Dotty?” “He he he HEY HEE….., he he he HEY HEE…..,” Woody Woodpecker laughed.
“I would appreciate it if you didn´t cuss in front of the children! You´ll set a bad example!” Dotty yelled over the cacophony of screaming and laughing children and the over amped TV.
“But, What……?” I asked.
“It´s a surprise birthday party for you,” she yelled. “We´ve got German chocolate cake and Neapolitan ice cream too!”
“But my birthday isn´t until June. This is January.”
“You mean it used to be January.” Dotty answered.
“What. The month or my birthday?” I asked.
“Take your pick.”
Woody Woodpecker´s manic laugh was still assaultin´ my ears. “He he he HEY HE…..!”
“Turn it down!” I yelled. “Where´s the clicker?”
“These old things didn´t have clickers.” She said, and then it was quiet. The whole tableaux froze in mid moment..
“I thought you´d be surprised.” She said.
“Well, I am. It was just a little chaotic and overwhelmin´ is all.”
The room turned back to normal. Dotty was sittin´ calmly at the table in my ordinary dining room space. “Normal” I thought. “I guess normal is a pretty relative term. “Good Gawd, Dotty? What the hell is goin´on?”
“Oh, just wanted to show you sumpthin.”
“But what´s a weird flashback like that got to do with anything?
“Weird? I thought it was pretty normal.”
“Normal?” I said. But then she was gone. I sat down and suddenly realized I had no interest in doin´ a Sudoku. I looked around the room. There was my guitar, leanin´ against a shelf. There was the clutter on my table. There were the books from Beer Bob´s Book Exchange, sittin´ on a book shelf. All pretty ordinary. “Normal – Ordinary – reality.” I guess pretty relative words. Just whatever you get used to. “Hmmm. I wonder if I´m still sixty-six?” I thought.
Maybe weird is just whatever happens so suddenly we don´t have time to get used to it. Changes that seem bizarre and un-real because they don´t fit in the ordinary. Well, here I am, sittin´ at my table writing again and it seems pretty ordinary and real. Come to think of it, there have been times in my life when the chaos and confusion of childhood was familiar. It seemed normal enough at the time as well, but now, it was just an old memory, and here I was peacefully sittin´ at my table writin´. My real self too! “Well, let´s see here now: new paragraph – indent- capitol letter M-I-C-K-E-Y, M-O-U-……Damn you, Walt Disney! What have you done to me!”
The next morning, I was out waterin´ the garden. The sun had only been up for an hour and it was shapin´ up to be a fine, warm, winter´s day in Mexico. I stuck my thumb over the end of the cut off hose to make a spray and wet down a bunch of seedlings. Cosmos, Zinnias, Four-O´clocks and others from seed a friend brought down from up north. Then I moved on to the main garden. Beautiful, wild, blue sweet peas, hibiscus´s palms that woulda been in pots up north, colorful rubber plants, several types of birds-of-paradise and more. What could be more real than all this vividity. I felt cool drips of water, runnin´ down my arm, off my elbow and onto my sandaled toes.
Suddenly, there was Dotty and Charley in bathing suits and Moonbeam snappin´ at the spray. “Squirt us wog!” they yelled and I did. They were laughin´ and jumpin´ around it the spray, havin´ fun. What could be more real than this! Hmmmmmm.
Then, in a flash, the next thing ya know, we´re all in a canoe, driftin´ into some rapids. Dotty in front, Charley in the middle, Moonbeam on the bow with his tongue hangin´ out, and me in the back, holdin´ a paddle instead of a garden hose. I glanced around. Where were we? Looks like -Salmon River, in Idaho. I haven´t been here in years! Then I noticed everyone was wearin´ life jackets but me. “Hey Dotty! Where´s…….” Just then, we slid down a funnel of water and into the spray. “Whooo Wheee!” they were yellin´. Then, we flew up in the air and came down with a jolt and we were off…racin´ on the waves. I was holdin´ on for dear life. We spun and twisted and flew though the air, and then, we were tippin´on a swell besides a big rock. The next thing ya know, we were tumblin´ in the water until we reached the end of the rapids and the water got calm again.
I blew water out my nose and looked around. There was Charley, swimmin´ like a fish, pullin´ the canoe towards shore with Moonbeam dog-paddlin´ behind. Dotty was on the shore wringin´ the water out of her hair. I headed for them and, soon, we were all on the shore, drippin´ in the sunshine.
“Dang, Dotty! You outta give a person a little warnin´ before takin´ ´em on a trip like this.”
“Me?” she said, “I didn´t write this into the story. Didn´t you?”
“Well, well,…..I musta.” I said in a puzzled voice. “Who else coulda done it?” But I didn´t remember writin´ a word of it.
“How come you guys had life jackets and I didn´t?” I asked her.
“I don´t know. Maybe it´s ´cause your real and we´re imaginary. We could drown in the imagination ´cause this is our real world. Technically, you´re not really even here.” She said. Ouch, that stung. “Nice spot, ain´t it?” she added.
I looked about. The sun was goin´ down over the rim of the canyon wall. An eagle was glidin´ high in the sky above us. Charley was buildin´ a campfire in front of a tent next to the overturned canoe. “Damn!” I thought. “If I´m not really here, I sure wanna be.”
After we had our fill of marshmallows and hot dogs and singin´ around the fire, we all climbed into our sleepin´ bags and went to sleep. I layed awake for a while, listenin´ to the coyotes howl thinkin´ how wonderful it was.
When I awoke again, I found myself still standing in the garden, waterin´ the cantaloupes. “So it was just a day-dream after all.” I said to myself. “Sure seemed real……weird.” Well, there are a lotta `Twilight Zone´ moments when you hung out with Dotty. Maybe my syndrome is just an overactive imagination.
I went inside and fixed myself a bacon, lettuce and tomata sandwich with a little avocado thrown in and sat down to eat it in silence.
After lunch, I took my guitar outside and plucked around a bit. “Loney Tunes” I thought “Why did I always feel a little nutty whenever I hung out with Dotty, Charley and Moonbeam?” Wasn´t it normal to have an imagination? Wasn´t it an ordinary and important part of the human make up?”
Just then, Charley rode up on his bicycle with Moonbeam trailin´ behind. Dotty suddenly appeared sittin´ in a chair clappin´ her hands. “Nice tune you´re noodlin´ there wog!” “Thanks for the canoe trip!” beamed Charley.
“What?” I asked. “Oh that. But it was nothin´ Charley, just a day-dream. Completely imaginary.”
“Of course it was! What else would it be? Real?,” asked Charley. “I don´t even believe in reality!”
Dotty frowned at me. “Wog, do you remember the birthday party?”
“Sure, but that was….”
Dotty finished for me. “Your imagination tryin´to show you sumpthin that played a big role in makin´ you who you are.”
“Naw, it was just part of a story I´m writin´.”
“Really? When did you write that part, before or after?”
“Well, I musta wrote it……well, …..how else…..?”
“HE wrote it wog!” and with that, they all disappeared.
I sat there, holdin´ my guitar. “What the heck?” I said to myself as I leaned it up against the table. I sat there for awhile, thinkin´ about the whole business. It was sorta like a Sudoku puzzle where you´re stuck. There are a lotta empty squares and you can´t figure out what numbers go in ´em. Then I heard Dotty´s voice. “A two goes in that one,” and a square lights up in my brain. I put a two there, but I´m still stuck. Then I heard a sigh. “Did that come from me?” I asked out loud.
I sat there tryin´ to figure it out. Back to the original question: “Was he, me? Who´s writin´ these stories anyway?”
Finally, I gave up and headed for the door of the old ´71 Landyacht. I looked at the painting I had painted of Dotty on the door, with a mirror pointin´ back a me from her hand and another on her forehead with other shards all over it. I opened the door and looked in. “Yikes! There was somebody there, sittin´ in my chair!” It was sorta a Goldilocks déjà-vous, ´cept I wasn´t a bear. I looked in closer. Then he turned and looked out as he was lookin´ straight through me.
IT WAS ME!!! “He didn´t even notice me! What a pickle. Where was I gonna live tonight!” ran through my head.
I turned around and walked away. Past the garden and down the road , then I stopped and just stood there starin´ at nothin´. I don´t know how long I stood there, but after a while, I had to pee.
I pulled down my zipper and started goin and kept starin´ into the nothingness, tryin´to make sense of it.
Then. I felt somethin´, so I looked down. It was then that it registered. I finally got it!
I WAS PEEIN´ ON MY OWN FOOT!!!!