Story a day, Day 13: The Smartest Guy in Town

Story a day for 30 days. Prompt is about Einstein’s last words being lost because the nurse didn’t speak German:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,866292-1,00.html

The smartest guy in our town really was very smart, maybe not by your standards, but smart and intelligent are two different things, and in our little community, nobody knew how get things done better than him.

He was born in our town, in the house furthest up the hill, but he came to prominence when he invented the two-lane road.  Many people owned bicycles in our town, and while we were polite, there were a lot of head own accidents and ensuing arguments about who should have gone which way.

After one argument ended in a slashed tire and a bloody hand (she’d missed the face and punched the offending bicycle rider in the helmet), the whole town decided to have a meeting about it.  We spent all evening in the meaning, and came up with a solution:  if you were riding and saw another approaching rider, you should shout which way you wanted side you wanted either “right!” or “left!  Several people in town had never needed to learn “right” vs. “left”, so we decided to hold several classes to teach them.

Exhausted but happy, we all piled out of the town hall to see Bob, the smartest guy in town, painting a thick, pink line down the middle of the road.  He explain that you should always stick to the right side of the street.  Everyone was very impressed, and we asked him to teach the class on “right” vs. “left,” as Bob was clearly the smartest guy in town.Steve, formerly the smartest guy, didn’t even sulk, saying he could recognize great genius.

Bob did many great things for our town.  When a child was hurt trying to climb a roof for a lost frisbee, Bob suggested we put nets over every street.  When we had a problem with people tripping on side walk cracks at night, Bob suggested we put candles in the cracks so people could see them.  When the café around the corner wasn’t doing as well as the café near the post office, Bob invented the concept of advertisement, and put a sign with a picture of a cup of coffee and an arrow on the corner. Business boomed, and soon our whole town was choked with arrows and signs and promises, many of them not even pretty, as there were a lot of plumbers in our town.  When this happened, Bob got out his old pink paint and started doodling on the signs, thus bringing “graffiti” to our town.

He was the first to have a computer, a printer, an electric lawnmower. He invented a bicycle trailer, clear glasses, and did a great robot impression.  Bob taught all the high schoolers about prom after reading it in a magazine, and explained the specifics of the pullout method, which he’d learned was one way to prevent pregnancy.

The smartest guy in town spent most of his time in the café around the corner reading magazines he had sent to him.  Bob was the only one who got the New York Times, and what’s more, the only one capable of understanding it.  Terrorists, climate change, abortion, were all concepts we didn’t fear before he taught us.  As soon as he experimented on his own house, he taught us how to best seal our homes against nuclear explosions with tape and plastic.

This was when he was already very old, and relied on someone pulling him around in a bicycle trailer, and he warned us a great many threats, some of them were of words that we’d never heard, and coming from places like Mexico, and China.

One afternoon, while repainting the pink divider, he collapsed, and we carried him into the townhall.  He was dying.  Everyone in town was very upset and worried, and it was decided to keep him there.  He spoke little, explained how we should repaint the line.  Finally, he grew very quiet, his voice very faint.

Just before he closed his eyes for the final time, we all crowded around him, listening to his ragged breath, waiting for for him to say anything–and then the breath just stopped. He was dead.

Did anyone hear what he said? People asked.  What did he say?  What did he say?  Did you hear him?  We all started arguing about who should have been more quiet and what words he said.  Some people swore they heard him, while others wondered why he didn’t say anything, theorizing that he must have been keeping some great secret from us that would frighten us too much.

Steve, formerly the smartest guy in the room, quietly suggested that maybe he just didn’t have anything to say, which just confirmed to everyone that he wasn’t so smart.

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About Big Adam

A NYC doorman, a community organizer, wannabe ape, sometimes blogger, sometimes writer, always crossword puzzle incompleter, I will ride bicycles with your papa, dance Bhangra with your mama, take you on dates that cost nada.
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