by Alexander Michael Ziperovich
A Short Story
“…the old man would ever have.” Almost arching his prepubescent back up toward the ceilinged sky, the child breathed in Hemingway’s finale. “Get back to the Abacus. Now, Charles.” He glanced sidelong at the horrid teal wall with the crooked spines of the books. “I’m just putting away my ultimate division scenario arithmetic, Ms. Apple.” He had adjusted the room so that he might read a short story, here Hemingway, over by String Theory, Ezekiel, by addition/substraction he kept the Koran.
The Abacus was a wretched teal bubble stick with which Charlie never would have been exposed despite his extreme calculative abilities, which he could perform in his heart, if not for his father and his mother’s docility toward his father’s hatred for art. “The only art you’ll ever have boy, is the art of selling paint for cash.” It was a wretched time to be alive. It always was. He imagined himself languishing in the desert outside Cairo building pyramids and tombs with massive rock and—. “Back to work.” The Abacus slid into his hand like a snake and he gazed at it lovingly for the sake of Ms. Apple.
He took the Abacus to his corner of the nearly shrill room full of the pain of children being forced out of art into death. As was customary for him and Abacus Hour he turned inward and faced the corner that was his that day at the Academy for the Righteous Arts and Splendors. “Georgina, I need your string theory proposal in two and a half minutes, you’ve had three days by golly!”
He gingerly worked the Abacus with his small, nimble fingers and pried it in half so that a small Papyrus scroll rolled tight fell into his torso. He unrolled the ten foot document about seven inches and his fingers hurt and he knew what arthritis was and he glanced at that horrible wall covering the heavens and asked why, again. “The Beauty and Solace of Man Lie in The Struggle to Achieve the Freedom of Paranoia from The Reality of The Beasts of Servitude…”
Ms. Apple was staring into his physical cave where he was reading his scroll that he had created based on the diseased ideas the Academy suggested he was experiencing due to a strong and difficult to pry open codependency with his mother and the world above the teal. They suggested aversion therapy based on Pavlovian and B.F. Skinner models.
“No.” He knew he would be forced to burn it himself. He had worked on the transcription from only his mind in the fashion of Dumas forever.
“Bring in the slavery bucket!”
All the children immediately turned inward, angst, pain, and humorous sadness on their faces apparent as the color of their scorched eyes. Charlie moved to the middle of the chamber.
“THE SLAVERY BUCKET!” The children chanted once, twice, thrice.
A black crockpot filled with gasoline that supported a single, tiny, white candle appeared.
Charlie fell face first into the drum of gasoline right before the commencement of the Slavery and the entire Academy was burnt from the very innermost sanctum.
Charles incinerated the split Abacus and smiled, burning in flames.
Art or nothing.