Snappy Does It
by Mehi Loveski
Vermin, by Mehi Loveski
Performed by Chris Herron
It came without warning. As I was groping for change to pay tram fare, I realized I’d left my cell phone at home. Bummer! I snapped my fingers. This gesture of mine expresses a whole spectrum of emotions – from delight to intense annoyance. Maybe that’s why my friends called me Snappy. About ten minutes passed but the tram stood still. I looked around, annoyed, and saw that, indeed, all traffic had stopped, too. Just what I needed a half-hour before the sitting of the department! The old cow would surely start moaning about my “attitude”. The other passengers seemed to have given up to the inevitable. Motionless, patient figures. In fact, everything was strangely quiet. And – how could I have missed it? – not a sound. The whole fucking world was standing perfectly still! The man sitting before me was holding a bottle of beer halfway to his mouth. He looked very much like the wax figure of Charlie Manson from Madame Tussauds. I disengaged the bottle and took a sip – the man didn’t seem to mind, his hand still in midair. I drank the rest of the beer in one big gulp and put the bottle back where it had been – as if into a glass-holder. Holy shit! Something had immobilized everybody and everything but myself! I snapped my fingers in bewilderment and suddenly things went into motion again. The tram started rolling, Charlie Manson put the bottle to his mouth only to find it was empty, the conductor announced the next stop… That was how I discovered my supernatural power.
Come to think of it, I had been obsessed with time or rather with finding loopholes in its allegedly burglarproof fabric for years. And to think somebody up there had heard my prayers! How on earth had that happened? But no, I wouldn’t even try to explain things logically – for fear of losing my magic gift along with my sanity. Whoever had done this to me knew what they were doing and I should just take things as they were. I remembered what my roommate at the university dorm said while we debated the topic. In my mind’s eye, I could see him on an old sofa with bookshelves hanging threateningly above, a joint in his hand. “Even if by some improbable fluke you acquired ability to stop time, Snappy,” he said broodingly, “you’d have a huge price to pay, for no human can enjoy that kind of power for free.” – “What the heck!” I laughed nonchalantly. “We’ll all be burning in hell! Why would I care if in some remote future my furnace will be heated a bit more generously than yours?”
The problem of retribution never bothered me. What mattered, though, was that I finally understood why all my previous attempts to deal with time had failed. Once I had gathered all the clocks at home – a dozen of them! – in a pile on my desk and made them stop their countdown business by either removing batteries or holding the hands still. I then switched off the telephone and sealed the windows up with black adhesive tape with the intention to be lost in timelessness – only to hear, when the pile collapsed, the irate neighbor’s voice: “What the fuck are you doing there at two in the morning?” Sometimes I wonder, though, if that really happened. Anyway, now I knew that you can’t stop time without stopping all physical motion. And I could easily do that by just snapping my fingers!
That day I didn’t have to worry about being late. After I did the trick again – hopeful it would work, fingers crossed – everything stopped as before. I got off the tram and drove one of the cars that stood on the road to the college. Leaving the car and the motionless driver – now in the passenger seat – I went up the stairs to the familiar door. The room was only half full, with the head of the department still in her little cubicle – in the middle of a mute act of chewing out another hapless victim of higher education (“The History of the English language is not a subject to be treated lightly if you aspire to become a language specialist!…”). The rest of the department were waiting for the monthly get-together in postures of various incompletion. A good-looking French teaching assistant was leaning over a fashion magazine. I went up to her and pulled up her skirt. She was wearing black strings and the sight of her tight little ass aroused my masculinity. I looked around. The professor of Latin, a fat prick, who always complained about smoking in the room, stood nearby, scowling at the full ashtray in front of him. I reached out and put a few butts in the prig’s mouth. Suddenly there was a dull thud. I froze. Slowly, my heart pounding, I looked down and saw the magazine my assiduous assistant had been reading. It was lying on the floor having apparently slipped off the desk. In the silence that reigned the sound of the damn thing falling had been like a gunshot. I half expected the spell would be broken and I would be caught at it, but nobody seemed to be in the least perturbed. My interest in the pretty ass lost, I left the mademoiselle and went into the glass cubicle where the old bitch was glaring sadistically at her quarry. On her desk I spotted what looked like notes for her endless introductory speech: “… and though being quite liberal in regard to such matters, I cannot approve of the growing tendency to underestimate the importance of academic…” I rolled the sheets into a tube and shoved them down her stiff back. The clock on the wall showed ten minutes before the shit should hit the fan. I kicked the door open and went out. Goodbye and good riddance!
The little restaurant where I chose to celebrate the end of my academic career was just a couple of blocks from the college. I “switched on” and while the waiter took his time to serve, I nearly burst into laughing imagining what happened in the department room the moment the rolling door let me inside the restaurant. I feasted heartily that night and when eventually drowsiness overcame me, I slept right there on the couch – hardly remembering to snap my limp fingers to “switch off”. When I woke up, it took me some time to remember where I was. The silence was so complete it seemed unbearable. I turned on some music and had lunch in the kitchen amidst the unsmiling chefs standing solemnly over their cooling pots and pans. Lunch, I chuckled, for it was still midnight and a party would have been in full swing had I not interfered. I opened the fridge and took a bottle of beer. It was surprisingly cold. Maybe things didn’t take my interference seriously and continued their secret life, hoping it was only a temporary intrusion into the normal order of existence. As I went out into the street, I tried to remember my roommate’s name: Ticker? Tricker? Trickster? One of the signs of mid-life crisis is that your memory starts to play tricks on you. Around me, life went on as usual, noisy, fussy, unmindful of my power. By the entrance to the underground, a blind musician with a guitar was singing an old Chambers Brothers song: “…the time has come there’s no place to run, I might get burned up by the sun but I had my fun.” Damn! Could my friend’s name be Chambers? Anyway, I didn’t think I’d had my fun yet. There sure had to be more of a good time before “the day of reckoning”. I stood there listening and sipping beer until the man started packing. I tossed a handful of bills I’d borrowed from the restaurant into his guitar-case and walked on, brushing past the late-night fun-seekers. The brightly lit facades of hotels and restaurants seemed to be vying for my attention with the promise of wild saturnalian celebration, free of charge. All in good time, I thought, feeling too tired and strangely unsettled to take up the invitation. Suddenly I was longing to get back home. Despite the late hour, the traffic was quite heavy and I had to “switch off” to cross the busy road. Just as I was passing in front of a huge truck looming over me with its chrome bulk, I remembered: Trucker! John Trucker was the name of my well-meaning friend! I raised my hand triumphantly and snapped the fingers.