KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Micro-Play: 441 words

Pardon Me

by Jack Cooper

Two men in their 60s sit next to each other in a bar, sipping beers.

HARVEY: Pardon me, how old are you?

JAMES: What, is this a survey?

HARVEY: No, I’m just wondering. If you’re 60, you’re doing great. If you’re 50, I don’t want to know about it.

JAMES: Jesus. What if I’m 40?

HARVEY: Well, I’m sorry, then.

JAMES: Sorry for what?

HARVEY: Sorry I asked.

JAMES: What, because I’d look pathetic for 40?

HARVEY: No, you’d need, I don’t know, some help maybe.

JAMES: Like a face transplant?

HARVEY: If it would make you happier.

JAMES: What if I’m 70?

HARVEY: Then, I want to know your secret.

JAMES: If I’m 40, you change my face. If I’m 70, you’re my best buddy. Talk about pathetic.

HARVEY: I never said I was your buddy.

JAMES: So, who gets to know your secrets?

HARVEY: Usually my wife, but I didn’t tell her.

JAMES: Tell her what?

HARVEY: That I have...

JAMES: That you have...

HARVEY: Lou Gehrig’s Syndrome.

JAMES: Lou Gehrig’s! Man! How rough is that? You just find out?

HARVEY: Pretty much.

JAMES: It’s genetic, right? Totally inherited.


JAMES: So, you didn’t actually have to know my secret.

HARVEY: No, I didn’t.

JAMES: And it didn’t matter if I was 40 or 70.


JAMES: You just wanted to tell somebody your secret.

HARVEY: My wife was sick and I couldn’t, you know, find the right...then she passed.

JAMES: Oh, no. Jesus.

HARVEY: I’ve seen you here a couple of times. You looked like a decent guy. Sorry. Sorry I asked.

JAMES: What about a support group? I mean, they have them for French fry addiction, I think.

HARVEY: I went to one. Some people were already losing it. I felt sick.

JAMES: Name’s James. I’m 65, by the way. What’s yours?

HARVEY: You look good, for 65. Harvey.

JAMES: But not for 40.

HARVEY: Not in your dreams, old man.

JAMES: Thanks. How about 50?

HARVEY: No! And now that I know you’re 65, you can’t be anything else.

JAMES: What if I lied?

HARVEY: You didn’t.

JAMES: You’re right, I didn’t. Getting old sucks, actually.

HARVEY: Hey, I’d trade places if you were 80. I’m 62. I’m going to die in five years, a bag of twitching muscles, barely able to breathe or swallow, and age will have nothing to do with it.

JAMES: Probably a good thing you didn’t tell your wife.

HARVEY: No kidding? You actually think that?

JAMES: Well, yeah. I mean, would it have made her happier?

JAMES signals the bartender for another round as the curtain falls.


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