Merde! A story in 600 words.
Tant pis. J’ai perdu.
I’ve got to say it was a tough writing prompt. The challenge? Write a story of less than 600 words, where one of the Characters tells a joke and one of them cries. I lost and rightfully so. Here is the winner and what i submitted:
“Awaiting the punchline”
It was set to be the joke of the ages; the joke of our time and he was going to tell it.
Confident and at the pinnacle of his success, he stood before the stands of a grand arena, where the minds of 80,000 quivered on the delicate edge of absurdity.
As he scanned the crowd his skin flushed and glistened under the beaming heat of the spotlights. His blood, infused with the adrenaline of power, coursed through the narrow paths of his veins.
He had a ballooning face, a face said to have been sculpted by the hands of a clown. He wore a suit two sizes too small and trotted around the stage like an oversized penguin.
Periodically he would stop at the right moments; for it was all about the moment; that moment, when multitudes would merge under the faithful narrative of his words; clinging on desperately on the climb up to the punch line. Indeed, it was when all that seemed to be true, wasn’t. He, the comedian, the artist, would bask among the glorious vibrations of thunderous laughter; vibrations of agreement; vibrations of understanding and misunderstanding.
“Yeah, I’m fat,” he said as he tilted his head forward; his eyes bulging like the surface of a frying egg. The crowd shook with laughter; bodies buckled, arms rose and fell in a wave of sanctimonious praise. He had them, he thought, it was nearing.
As the darks of their eyes followed him across the stage, the electric rhythm of his pulse rose violently within his overburdened body. The stage shimmered with an hour’s worth of sweat.
At this point, the hues of his face neared an eggplant purple under the scathing lights of the stage. He thought this is it; the final joke and the final exit. He knew that it would be revered, retold and remixed for generations to come.
“I was in a bar one night sipping on my beer, when I see a Jehovah’s Witness, a librarian and a computer walking in. Yeah I thought the same thing. What is a Jehovah’s Witness doing in a bar?” The audience laughed.
Then, the queer lightness and heaviness of the heart, strained with expectation, seized him with a violent thump of imminence. It was coming, his moment; their moment. He swallowed painfully and said:
“So the Jehovah’s Witness turned to the computer and said: ‘my followers are turning away from God and turning to you.’ Then the librarian looks at the computer and said: ‘my patrons are putting down their books and turning to you.’”
He suddenly clutched at his breast and said: “Then the computer says, “the internet…the internet…’”
His eyes sunk into his inflated face, he looked at his waiting audience and flopped over onto the stage.
The crowd stood there, eyes glossed over with tears, susurrations of confusion in the dark; bereft of resolution, of reason. They stood there in their chaos, forever awaiting the punch line