Jim Siergey: Plenty of Nothing

April 23rd, 2021

Out in the frigid vastness of outer space existed a planet that was made entirely of ice. The inhabitants of this planet ate nothing but ice and where they got the ice to subsist on came from the planet itself. Despite the fact that their population was small and they didn’t need much to sustain themselves, they were slowly eating away their planet and they knew it. However, this fact did not worry them because they felt that it would be a long time before the disastrous effects of their dietary destruction would become noticeable.The future could wait. They were hungry now.

Mike loved to play football. The fact that he was big and solid and hard to move aside worked in his favor in being positioned as a lineman. He played all four years on his high school team. He wasn’t a starter but he would get in for a few plays now and then as a second stringer. He even made the football team in college. Again, he wasn’t a starter. In fact, he was more of a third-stringer. He realized that his chances to get on the field in an actual game were pretty slim but he never missed a workout or a practice and felt that his doggedness and determination would pay off some day. However, he never left the bench during his freshman, sophomore or junior year. He felt in his heart that he would get his chance during his senior year. His three straight years of doggedness and determination would earn him the respect of his coach. Once again, he showed up for every practice, every workout and every scrimmage. He boisterously cheered his team on from the sidelines. Ultimately, the final game of the season came about. Mike suited up, carefully buckling on his pads and climbing into his uniform. He applied eye black to his cheeks to keep off the glare, affixed his mouth guard over his teeth, pulled on his helmet and with the rest of his teammates, ran roaring out onto the field. The first half ended with him never moving from the bench. The second half will be my chance, he thought to himself. The third quarter ended and his uniform remained as clean as it did when the game began. The fourth quarter started and he anxiously waited for the coach’s gesture for him to run onto the field.  The minutes ticked away. With one eye on the game and the other on his coach, Mike remained optimistic as he waited with bated breath for his chance to enter the game. Maybe Coach will insert me for the final seconds, Mike mused. Maybe, maybe the last play.  The game-ending gun sounded and on the bench Mike slumped forward as if the gun shot was aimed at him.

Inspiration had struck Fenton Cargill. He sauntered to his writing desk and sat down. He laced his fingers, stretched out his arms and smiled in grimacing joy as he counted out the knuckle cracks and pops.  Eight, nine, and then ten.  He unlocked his fingers and shook them by his sides.  He was ready to begin.  He reached up to flick on the gooseneck lamp and….nothing happened.  Click, click, clickety click and still…no light.  Fenton reached in and unscrewed the long-dead light bulb.  Finding no wastebasket at hand–what did happen to that wastebasket?, he mused–he opened a desk drawer and deposited the dormant bulb next to an empty Sprite can and a pile of Bazooka Joe comics which were carefully paper-clipped together and resting safely beneath some orange peels.  Fenton sat back, placed his hand upon his chin, letting his index finger curl atop his upper lip as he furrowed his brow and contemplated where he could look to find a light bulb.  Minutes ticked by and no imaginary light bulb appeared above Fenton’s cranium to direct him to where an actual light bulb could be found. Several more minutes elapsed and the light bulb of initial inspiration also burned out leaving Fenton with freshly developed hunger pangs and just a hint of a headache.


Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Roger & Me


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