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art by Justine McGreevy

Wrong World

You can see now, Doctor, that I'm not insane. It's all a mistake. Right, I was naked and screaming and it took two cops to wrestle me down but that was a reaction to what happened. Anybody would've acted the same. You can understand that. Right? Once you know the whole story, you'll see.
Look, Saturday I turned thirty. Thirty years and I had nothing much, did nothing much, was nothing much. I'm even an orphan. I'm a cashier at a supermarket. Slide the item over the barcode reader, ding, ring it up, ding, swipe the card (debit or credit?), ding ding ding. Great life, right? I live alone in a one bedroom. No friends, no girl, nothing. I put all my money in a savings account that pays near zero percent interest.
But I read a lot. Science, theoretical physics. You know, about relativity and quantum mechanics and stuff like that. Not the real technical ones with all that math--I always got a D in math--but the ones that explained it for regular people, "interested laymen." Well, a couple books explained string theory and branes and that and one shows that the best explanation for quantum weirdness is the fact that there are millions upon millions of parallel universes. It's true. And each time you choose you create another path in another universe. So if you choose the left fork in a road, there is a universe in which you choose the right. See? I mean, at first it seems crazy but the guy--he's a big time theoretical physicist at a big time college, Columbia in New York City--says that's the only explanation that works. Imagine what that means. Like when I went up to Marilou--she's a cashier too--and asked her out and she snorted and laughed--well, there is a universe where she said yes and she went out with me and then she came to my place and... Well, you get the idea.
So I saw my whole existence as not just my dumb life here but as a gigantic nearly infinite tree of happenings, of all possible worlds. I tell you it expands your mind to see, not life, but Existence. So the day I turned thirty I said to myself: "In some world I'm rich and go around draped with beautiful sexy women, so why not live there?" So I walked off the job, walked away from ding ding ding and all those items backing up and women yelling about their milk and cereal and detergent and diapers and the price of this and that and all that. I went and took all my money out, all fifteen thousand sixteen dollars and seventy-seven cents, and got in my four-year-old Hyundai and drove over to the riverboat casino.
I didn't know any card games or dice or stuff like that. But I had seen roulette in movies on TV and so I got five thousand dollars in chips and I went to a wheel where the limit was one thousand a bet. And I put a thousand on 17 because that's my lucky number and I lost. But I didn't worry because I knew I had to win. But I lost again and again and I got more chips and then when I was about finished 17 hit! Then I tried 23 and it hit. Then 11 hit. And I won over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. I told them I wanted cash, but they said I had to take a check and there was some IRS stuff I had to sign. But I did get twenty thousand in cash and I told them I'd be back the next night.
I went to the bar there and ordered a vodka martini and this great looking redhead with breasts nearly falling out of her dress smiled at me and the next thing we were drinking together and I asked her if she wanted to go with me and she said yes and in my car she was all over me and let me squeeze her breasts. It got really hot. So I pulled into the motel down the road and got a room and in no time she was undressing me. I was standing there naked and she hadn't even taken off her shoes when there was a knock on the door. She rushed to open it and this big bald guy came in, and before I could say or do a thing, he hit me in the gut. I went straight down. They took my wallet and the check and all my money and my clothes.
I got up and ran after them but they were already pulling out in a big black car. I didn't have my keys so I didn't know what to do. I couldn't let them get away. I ran after them. I chased them down the highway. I yelled, I screamed, I tried to signal cars to stop and help me, and finally two cop cars showed up. But they tried to arrest me. They wouldn't listen. I tried to explain I'd been robbed. I explained about the universes and how this was the wrong one but...
Well, here I am. You see, doctor, I'm not crazy. It's all a mistake. This is just the wrong universe.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, May 10th, 2012

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