Winter 2007

Table of Contents - Vol. III, No. 4


Poetry    Essays    Fiction    Book Reviews

Fred Longworth


Making It Plane

I was late, in one hell of a hurry. Barely out of my driveway, I ran over a Scottie dog.

I shouldn’t let on about the crunching sound it made, like smashing a bag of potato chips into a studio microphone. And really, I should keep mum about the popping sound as I ran over the head, loud as an earth-sized balloon speared by the tail of a comet.

But I must tell you – before the first ant crawled up to feast, the corpse was surrounded by a huge crowd of mathematicians.

“Flat,” said one.

“Very flat,” said another.

“Very, very flat,” said a third.

In minutes, all of them chimed in, and they were starting on a second round. I could tell they were trapped in an n+1, n+2 . . . n+p iterative sequence, so I interrupted.

“I just ran over a friggin’ dog. Show some compassion.”

“Compassion,” said one.

“Lots of compassion,” said another.

“Lots and lots of compassion,” said a third.

Lucky for me, the fourth mathematician broke the pattern. He pointed toward the victim and explained that I had inadvertently created a perfect plane, with infinite X and Y dimensions and no discernible thickness. It looked like ordinary roadkill to me – but who was I to argue with this council of assembled genius?

Suddenly a band appeared and began to play Time Is on My Side by the Rolling Stones. Workmen constructed a stage out of lines and vectors held together by the strong force. A man in a tux appeared with an enormous medal. After he pinned it on me, a cheer rippled across the crowd in a flawless wave function.

Finally, a crew of grad students began to roll up the plane so they could take it to the Math Museum and put it on display.

“This will take an infinite amount of time, Mr. Distinguished Motorist,” the fourth mathematician said. “You don’t have to stick around.”

“I wasn’t planning to,” I replied. “I’m in a hurry.”


© Fred Longworth

Poetry    Essays    Fiction    Book Reviews

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