At the pneumatic zoo of synthesis, animals explode into other animals. Sometimes they exchange themselves one-to-one. Sometimes they form whole families, swarms, or even herds. A family of mice becomes a single garter snake. A woodchuck becomes a pangolin. An elephant becomes a herd of Jersey cows. You ask how it works. A machine creates a powerful vacuum. The animal enters and is both collapsed and expanded. It steps back into normal pressure in whatever form it wishes. A horse becomes a dragon. A chimera becomes a family of skunks. A zebra slips out of its stripes and becomes a camel. You wonder if it would work with humans. We know it does: that fat pink male attorney used to be a postcard bathing beauty. An old woman became a set of newborn twins. But beware. Our former President stepped into the vacuum and exploded into an army of cockroaches. Now they’re busy chewing on Brooklyn. So don’t attempt it, although we could enter together and perhaps emerge as a unicorn, ready for a prince to ride.
Something ugly about this dinner. Maybe the fish-face staring up at me. Maybe the deep-fat-fried bull testicles. Maybe the stinging nettle salad. Maybe the hog’s blood wine. I lean into my food with what I hope is an enthusiastic smirk. I don’t know the people who invited me to dinner. They look rich, but serving live ants, big red ones, for hors d’oeuvres didn’t win my friendship. I suppose they mean well but discussing over food the war crimes their grandfather committed in the Second World War doesn’t win me over, either. Not that they care. I think they invited me because they saw my photo in the paper and thought I must be a local celebrity, since the article was neither a wedding announcement nor an obituary. Although I didn’t see the paper, I assume it was reporting my arrest for throwing a pie at our First Selectman at town meeting. I missed him but caught the Second Selectman square in the kisser. The police chief laughed and laughed until I nailed him with a pie, too. Now I’m out on bail and we’re having pie for dessert. With a hoot and holler my hosts fling pies at each other and at me. I duck, but the third or fourth thrown pie smacks me full-face and at last I realize why they invited me: for my sense of play. I grab a couple of pies and soon we’re all dripping cream and custard, normal food at last.
Alien spacecraft spangle the dusk. I often see them hovering in the corners of my eyes. This evening there are more than usual. Maybe this is an invasion. Usually it’s an evasion, which is why many refuse to believe that anyone would fly from the other side of the galaxy to peer at our little civilization. But then I don’t know where they come from. Maybe as nearby as the dark side of the moon. Although its lack of atmosphere suggests otherwise. Sometimes the aliens deplane in my back yard and poke around my garden like oversized rabbits. Since I don’t grow vegetables, they nibble daylilies and phlox, Maybe flowers are their preferred diet. I don’t mind their little depredations, and the scorch marks left by their craft don’t offend me. I just hope they don’t accidentally spark a fire. Some dark night when I hear them muttering in the foliage I’ll step outside with a camera and catch them in the act. Then everyone will have to believe. Of course other people see them, too, but many mistake them for members of competing but earthly political parties. I know better. They’re too polite, and their appetite for flowers doesn’t chime with the lust for power that engages our ruling class.