[ToC]

 

THREE JOKES

Steve Thomas

DEAD BABIES

Four dead babies and a pregnant rat are propped up against a discarded blender next to a rusty dumpster in a dark alley at night. The pregnant rat is also dead. Ten feet away, a man in a clown suit is sat up against the alley's brick wall. The man is unemployed, has no permanent dwelling, and is addicted to alcohol. A rat's snout pokes out from his pant cuff and swivels at the four dead babies. An explosion of metal like something going wrong in a factory makes the cuff rat dart out from its cuff and race toward the dark end of the alley. Another explosion shakes the pavement under the scurrying rat's tented paws, and we hear shouts from several open windows in the buildings that face the alley. The man in the clown suit's eyeballs rotate 40° behind his white-painted eyelids. His forehead is promontoryish. His hair is green. If you look, you can see that the glass part of the blender is cracked and missing a piece, but the metal blades inside are undamaged and clean. Another explosion sets off the car alarms of every car on the block. A siren that couldn't be more than a hundred feet away pierces the air and is getting closer. None of the dead babies' bodies are in any way mutilated, though they are all stiff and naked. Their physical attitudes suggest the natural conclusion of a fruitful melée among equals. The proximity of the dead pregnant rat is probably a coincidence. The lights of the city are reflected in the clouds above.


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ETHNIC JOKE

An African-American girl and an East Indian girl walk into an Italian restaurant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It's 4:30 in the afternoon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and all the chairs are upside-down on the tables because the restaurant is closing early for the holiday, but the booths at the side are still open. The two girls come sit down at the booth in front of X, who is Hispanic, but they get up after only a second and go order and then wait for their food outside. One of them has left her phone on the booth's table and it starts ringing. Out on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, through the restaurant's tinted plate-glass window, X can see them talking. The Indian girl breaks into a little dance, and the African-American girl is laughing. They're probably eighteen or nineteen, they look like freshmen. The African-American girl sees X watching her. X doesn't look away and neither does she. The Indian girl keeps telling her story and dancing, and the African-American girl keeps holding X's gaze. When X walks out the African-American girl is in the driver's seat of the car and the Indian girl is sitting on the car's hood with her back against the windshield and her knees up, and the two girls are talking through the open driver's side window. The Indian girl is saying "I have so many options right now. I could do anything."


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KNOCK KNOCK

SALLY 1

     Knock knock.
     Who's there.
     That which you fear most.
     That which you fear most, who?
     That which you fear most, Weingartner.


SALLY 2

     Knock knock.
     Who's there.
     That which you fear most.
     That which you fear most, who?
     That which you fear most because of a previous experience you had with the same thing or something similar enough that it's still really scary.


SALLY 3

     Knock knock.
     Who's there.
     Do you remember the way she danced when she was happy, in the kitchen on Cartwright Street. She would look up at you and kind of hop from one foot to the other and just beam at you. Right now she is hopping and beaming in such a manner for another man. They are in a kitchen and he is taking a medium-sized metal pot off a hook above the sink, preparing to boil something. She is naked to the waist. He is fully-clothed. Together they have a son, now four years old. The boy can walk and is capable of what she once called ‘the miracle of language'. He is beginning to be his own person. Pray you never meet this boy.
     Do you remember the way she danced when she was happy, in the kitchen on Cartwright Street. She would look up at you and kind of hop from one foot to the other and just beam at you. Right now she is hopping and beaming in such a manner for another man. They are in a kitchen and he is taking a medium-sized metal pot off a hook above the sink, preparing to boil something. She is naked to the waist. He is fully-clothed. Together they have a son, now four years old. The boy can walk and is capable of what she once called ‘the miracle of language'. He is beginning to be his own person. Pray you never meet this boy, who?
     Do you remember the way she danced when she was happy, in the kitchen on Cartwright Street. She would look up at you and kind of hop from one foot to the other and just beam at you. Right now she is hopping and beaming in such a manner for another man. They are in a kitchen and he is taking a medium-sized metal pot off a hook above the sink, preparing to boil something. She is naked to the waist. He is fully-clothed. Together they have a son, now four years old. The boy can walk and is capable of what she once called ‘the miracle of language'. He is beginning to be his own person. Pray you never meet this boy. He is at your door. On his lips is a secret that will bring you to the worst, most painful kind of tears.

 

 

 


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These jokes are from a series of jokes I’ve been writing since a word from a Kushner play ("pissant") and sort-of two characters from a Roth novel appeared and did things to each other in a desert in my mind while I was riding my bike on Gene Stallings Avenue, near my apartment.