The Paralyzed Man, His Platypus, God, a Confirmation Bias and a Mysterious Bird, A Poem by Chris Russell

My platypus was dancing with Barbara Walters. “You’re serious,” I said. “At least I can,” he said. He sat back on the couch and changed the channel. I wheeled into the living room and pulled up beside him. “Can I have the remote?” I said. He clicked it. “No,” he said. “You’ve had it all morning,” I said. “The morning isn’t over yet,” he said. “You’ve had it for a long time,” I said. “Duration is relative,” he said. I heaved myself sideways onto the couch and got most of myself on it. I tried to knock it out of his hand but my platypus had always been faster than I was. I pulled my legs over the arm of the couch and rolled off of it. “Leave anything behind?” he said. “Why do you have to do that?” I said. He went tight. “Our life has been hell, since you lost the use of your legs. I blame you for our unhappiness,” he said. “We used to have great adventures,” I said. “No, but they were better than this,” he said. “If that ceramic hippo hadn’t landed on me, we wouldn’t be in this position,” I said. “It’s your responsibility to expect the unexpected,” he said. “How was I supposed to know the tornado had hippo statues in it and that it would aim one at me?” I said. He threw the remote at me and it hit me in the forehead. “Exactly,” he said. “That wasn’t fair,” I said. “Life isn’t fair,” he said. “I didn’t even see it coming,” I said. “Went right by you,” he said. “I’m not Nostradamus,” I said. “Chaos is everywhere and we’re all just puppets in the Muppet show, ready to collide into each other at any moment and splatter like fly vomit,” he said. “You paint a vivid picture,” I said. “I’m a platypus. God took a bunch of animals in his hand and rolled them all together, then threw them against a giant wall, and the fragments of that splattering became what we now know to be the platypus species,” he said. “I miss this,” I said. “Amidst, what?” he said. “I miss our back and forth” I said. “You would,” he said. “What do you mean by that?” I said. He flippered me. “I will slap you again,” he said. “No you won’t,” I said. He slapped me. “Exactly,” he said. “I will be able to use my legs again,” I said. “Get right up and walk to the park,” he said. “Rip up the sidewalk,” I said. I crawled to the front door. “Let me help you with that,” he said. He opened the door. I got up and ran out into the blinding sunshine. I jumped over the cars and landed in the park with a thump. When the dust settled, I looked up and jumped as high as I could. When I saw God, I slowed down and stood on a cloud. He was playing marbles. “I knew it,” I said. “You know everything,” he said. “Can I ask you a question?” I said. “No,” he said. “I just did,” I said. “That doesn’t count,” he said. “Says who?” I said. I grabbed a hunk of cloud and threw it at him. “I love you more than anything in the world,” he said. I air kicked him. “I’m going back down to earth,” I said. “You never left it,” he said. “You know my platypus?” I said. “I am your platypus,” he said. “You’re not messing with my head, God. I’m blowing this popsicle stand,” I said. He stood in my way. “I don’t think so,” he said. “Okay,” I said. “You’ve accepted this is where you’re meant to be,” he said. “Yes,” I said. “Your heart is open,” he said. “Wide,” I said. “As wide as the sky is high,” he said. “Is my father here,” I said. “No, he never made it,” he said. “I thought heaven took everybody, ever since Jesus,” I said. “This isn’t heaven,” he said. “It sure looks like heaven,” I said. “It looks like whatever you want it to look like,” he said. I started to cry. The world seemed bigger and smaller, simultaneously. It was going to be a beautiful and confusing day. A bird flew by and waved. “What’s up, Rick,” it said. “Who was that?” I said. “I can’t tell you,” he said. “Confidential,” I said. “Extremely,” he said. “If you told me you’d have to kill me,” I said. “Exactly,” he said.

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