The Great Red Spot by Jim Meirose
Jim Meirose’s short work has appeared in numerous venues. His published books include Understanding Franklin Thompson (JEF pubs (2018)), Sunday Dinner With Father Dwyer(Scarlet Leaf Press (2018)), and Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection (Adelaide Books (2018)). www.jimmeirose.com.
Doctor Sax, the private math tutor, was having issues with his last student of the day.
Oh. You need to hear the question again, Mouse? Okay—here—consider the sequence five, eight, eleven, fourteen, and seventeen. What is the fiftieth number in this sequence?
Wait, wait, Doctor, sighed Mouse, shaking his head. Please tell me one more time. Why do we have to go over these—what you call—sequencing problems?
They’re in the curriculum, son. But, stop. Think. Do not question. Just give me the answer.
Please, wait. I want to know why first. I can kind of see normal arithmetic and even some algebra as something someday useful. Tell me why this line of questioning is needed. I won’t go further until you convince me this is worth learning.
Doctor Sax reached around into his left back-butt pants-sack and pulled out a phone.
Mouse, here’s the best reason. You learn it or I will call your Father. Then I will give you the phone and you can convince him to continue to pay me thousands of dollars to teach you to be more of a childish defiant asshole than you were before you met me. Not to mention the side-benefit of allowing you to pile up layer upon layer of stupidity on yourself, which, if I do nothing to stop you, will harden and become irrevocably permanent. Shall I call?
Mouse caught the phone in his gaze. The question from Sax implied time to think through to pop out the right answer had also been granted. Cry foul cry foul, if time not granted—if Sax fouls out this will be over—time to think is here on this silver platter and the thinking involves projecting the stepwise chain of block-on-block towerbuilt futures growing ahead and wavebreaking away the previous horrors laid down in the last pass of the loop Mousie had rotated to at and past here but he must not know no not know or creation itself will be blasted back in the dark and a new future will be exposed and this over and over and over until inevitably a future is peeled back the final one required to be looped around to and which must be irreversibly and painfully fatal. Nothing no nothing can’t be nothing and there it is the answer Father’s fist shaking Father’s sounds pounding too primitive to be words just as once in a memory or what have you inevitable newspaper edition will claim some animal gorilla ape of some kind whining canine feline or mouse or even the assorted long thick table leg shaped voicerod is imagined by the next newshound in the sequence to actually be sentient and speak actual words that actually seem to be intelligent; words like Mouse you will never ever learn math, or, Mouse you will never ever cast out your inner stupidity generating innerdemon but no those will not appear until the next millennium so can’t know that was just a random spark and for years not for years, the nail of Mousie’s right index finger has grown out in two halves why why why no one knows that’s an unanswerable question if you ask me, Mr. Rayburn, just like why Jupiter sports that great red spot why do they ask why at times of boredom when the science game is slow do they ask these questions that have no answers and even so who the hell cares what the great red spot is anyway; but the answer to why should Sax not call Father is simple just is, so Mouse said simply, No, don’t call my Father. He will be pissed. So, the answer to your question is exactly one hundred and fifty-two! So. What’s next?