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As he looked down at his sleeping wife of 25 years, feeling both attraction and revulsion, Henry began to think about the role habit had come to play in both their lives.
Henry would have liked to attend his high school’s first-annual biennial ten year reunion, but he couldn’t figure out when to go.
In the war against terrorism, Henry’s weapon of choice was sleep, and plenty of it.
Henry couldn’t actually remember the last time he’d said what was on his mind.
“Fear the ruse,” Henry would whisper each night into his wife’s ear while she slept, trying hard to ignore their dog’s cold stare.
It dawned on Henry one morning that finding a duck in his city had become easier than finding an innocent little girl; the call girl, lying in bed next to him, agreed.
“Well if you really want the truth,” Henry told the bartender, “I think I miss seeing the perfectly folded sheets in the linen closet more than I actually miss Susan.”
“This looks like a quiet little place for a set of sheets to slip into for an ice-cold beer,” thought the folded sheets, who’d slipped from Henry’s linen closet several months earlier without Henry’s knowledge, and had hidden away in the coat closet, nearest the back door of the house, lying quietly behind a pair of bowling ball carrying cases (hadn’t Susan taken her bowling ball when she moved out? thought the sheets, but not for long, since it only brought up the whole painful business of being left behind, which wasn’t something that the folded sheets was anxious to explore, lying there in the dark, at least not something it’d want to think about while hidden behind a couple of bowling balls, which smelled of cigarette smoke (no doubt second-hand smoke from the bowling alley (the folded sheets tried to breathe shallowly, which was hard to do, considering the excitement of having escaped the linen closet and the very idea that they were on their way somewhere - who knew where! - and hoped that when they got there - wherever that might be! - that the smoky smell wouldn’t have soaked in too deeply, certainly not more than a decent washing and refolding wouldn’t take care of)), while it’d waited for both the courage and the right moment to slip out of the house unnoticed, which had been only this afternoon, and which two bus rides and a short walk later, had brought them to the front door of the quiet-looking little tavern which the sheets now passed through, just in time to catch a glimpse of the surprise on Henry’s face (which the folded sheets mistook as surprise at seeing his own missing sheets show up at the very bar he happened to be at during working hours, but was, in fact, the lingering surprise of having watched a woman pull an AK47 from somewhere out of her bra), the final flash of the cocktail waitress’ bra before her shirt snapped back into place (which was rather nicely crisp and freshly pressed, thought the folded sheets), and finally the site of the assault rifle being fired (an AK47, the folded sheets observed, having seen one in action on more than one occasion while watching movies on the bedroom television), but not the sound of it being fired (since folded sheets, as everyone knows, have no ears), which might have forewarned the sheets (might, I say here, because as everyone also knows, sheets, in spite of what they might bear witness to in the bedroom, still remain rather unworldly and naive) of the inherent danger, nay, the foolishness, of walking into a small bar in the middle of the afternoon while an assault rifle is being fired, but which of course, being earless, the folded sheets didn’t hear, causing them to walk straight into the path of a single stray bullet, which ripped through several layers of crisp folds, dropping the sheets to the floor in an undignified heap.
In a small Oregon town, tucked amongst the cedars along the base of a snow-capped mountain, lives a boy named Henry who hasn’t grown or aged a day past ten for 99 years.
As the afternoon wore on, Henry became more and more convinced that everyone else in the office had been replaced with a robot—and not even the good kind of robots, the ones that boost productivity and enjoy doing repetitive tasks: no, these robots were lazier than Henry’s human coworkers had been.
“Well,” Henry’s wife said as the doctors and nurses went about their business, “if you had taken the toaster to a repairman the way I suggested, you wouldn’t be in this situation at all.”
“Damn winter,” Henry said as pee splattered off the thin sheet of ice that had formed in his toilet.
“Yes, I understand you’d like to see more diligence,” Henry told his boss, “but I like to think you’re referring to the late 17th century French carrosse de diligence, and that what you’re telling me is that you want me to become the company’s ‘coach of speed’, which if I’m reading this right, and I think I am, Mr. Nichols, is that you want me to coach the company softball team this summer, which of course I’ll be happy to do.
The band of creditors forced their way past security and into the room, just as the lid of Henry’s cryogenic freezing container was being closed; “Everyone, into these empty containers,” the lead creditor shouted, “we’ll follow him!”
Growing old reminded Henry of sledding as a child, especially the cold toes part.
It was at precisely 6:01 a.m. on a Saturday morning when Henry decided his life needed more direction, which was, coincidentally, also the exact same time that he realized there was no coffee in the house.
“Let’s try another one,” the hermit told Henry, shaking the letter in his face and motioning for him to keep driving, “there’s no romance at this post office either.”
Henry was undoubtedly the world’s most honest counterfeiter, telling his bank to go ahead and proceed with their planned foreclosure on his house, since he’d run out of ink the night before and wouldn’t be able to print up near enough 100’s to make his payment deadline.
“I have no regrets about Turning Japanese [link removed],” Henry told his boss, “other than my lips will no longer be in synch with the words, although come to think of it, yours never have been either.”
“I wouldn’t call it an obsession,” Henry told his fiancée as he loaded the shovels into the trunk, “but more of a hobby.”
Although the whole robot sex industry continued to grow and flourish, Henry still preferred his sex the old-fashioned way - seldom.
As Henry cast his penny into the fountain, he wished that once—just once!—he would be the subject of a sentence that didn’t make him sound deviant or pathetic or both.
Everyone had a very nice time at Henry’s birthday party—everyone except Henry, that is.
As Henry turned morosely away from the fountain he noticed a little girl run into the street chasing after a bright yellow ball, he turned back only to see a large truck jack-knifing across the street towards her and, without stopping to think of his own life, he leapt boldly across the road, swept up the girl, rolled both of them safely under the truck and came to a stop in front of what appeared to be her terrified, wealthy-looking and grateful parents, who exclaimed “you saved our Jasmine, how can we ever repay you?!”
Looking back, Kathy remembered clearly holding no rancor for her baby brother; it simply happened that she had been interested in where toilet water goes after it leaves the tank, and she felt sure that little Henry could take a peek down there and report back to her.
“I have just the thing,” Henry said, popping in the disk.
Imaginary Henry might tell you that he and I are alike, he might even say that we’re the same person, but I assure you, it is not at all true.
“It’s funny,” Henry said to his wife, not realizing he was about to alter his own future, “but I just now realized that filing that tax extension makes me feel better than our Monday sex.”
“If you can stop telling us for one second about being hit by a bus on your way to work this morning,” said Henry’s boss, “perhaps you’d like to explain why you’re late for this meeting?”
The first time Henry fell out of a plane, it literally scared the crap right out of him, but then he woke up and realized it had all been just a dream (well, the falling out of the airplane part, anyway).
Henry mostly hung out with Scrine because the big rusty bird was on the featured ExpressionEngine site list, which Henry mistook for fame.
Henry was jolted awake when a pair of oak trees held him down on the bed, and a third carved its initials into his forehead, shouting, “How do you like it?”
Henry was surprised to find himself thinking less and less about her tattoo.
Henry was almost positive that the world had tumbled off of its axis the moment he discovered the new Scrine wiki.
“I suppose if I was more of a finger-pointer I’d be blaming myself for the layoffs,” Henry’s boss told everyone at the meeting, “so let’s just all be happy that that’s not true.”
What worried Henry was not that he dreamt of smiling people, but that when he woke up, realized he couldn’t trust them.
The electronics in place, the baby monitor on, and the big stick and duct tape ready by the back door, Henry’s trap was finally ready.
Henry temporarily lost control of his car as the unidentified ceramic projectile smashed through his window and bounced off his forehead.
Hooting loudly as he scrambled out of the shower, Henry again wished that somebody would invent a device that would alert him when the hot water was about to run out.
“Instead of me trying to explain this whole mess anymore,” Henry told the IRS auditor, “let’s play Lord of the Rings; I’ll be the the age of dwarves and you can be the Eye of Sauron.”
Henry finally had to acknowledge that greeting everybody with ‘Good Morning’, no matter what time of day or night, did not charm people as much as it had when he was eleven.
The potatoes watched Henry as they boiled, thinking only of revenge.
“Curse that bird!” shouted Henry, shaking his sabre at the sky.
“This doesn’t make any sense at all,” Henry murmered to the bartender, “The government agent said to me, ‘don’t fight us, we’ll have our pound of flesh before this is over,’ but when I pulled up my shirt and told him I could spare him at least ten pounds, he ordered me out of his office and said I’d better come up with cash, fast.”
Percy didn’t want to fight, but it seemed to be the only way he was going to get his hands on Henry’s buffalo wig.
Henry slowly stirred the pot of happiness, hoping he’d followed the recipe properly, so that he’d end up with that thick, chewy, rich-tasting, taffy-like emotion he could chew on all day.
When Judy denied the fact that she took things too literally, Henry gently reminded her of the time she over-reacted when he’d told her how he wanted to pamper her.
Henry’s plan to have his sick friend Bob sneeze on his IRS papers before he gave them to the taxman may or may not have gotten the taxman sick, but it definitely turned into instant bad karma when Henry caught Bob’s cold.
“And have him eavesdropping on our every conversation,” Henry told his wife, “thanks but no thanks, we will not be naming that puppy Milhouse, and that’s final.”
Checking his email, Henry thought Erections Like Steel!!!! sounded promising, until, that is, he thought about rust, and being the sensible man that he was, reluctantly hit the delete key.
Due to a high propensity for divorce coupled with great enthusiasm for marriage among his relations, Henry had an astounding total of twelve grandmothers, all of whom, by a sad coincidence (but after many happy, healthy years!), passed away during the same semester—but try getting a math teacher to believe that!
Try as he might, Henry could convince none of his coworkers to refer to him as The Juggernaut, with the exception of Stu in accounting, which everyone knew didn’t really count.
Henry didn’t know what to think of all the new cars.
Henry feared his best ideas somehow drained out from his head while he slept, pooling in the back of his neck until finally he would sweat them out onto his pillow, which was always cold and damp when he woke up in the morning.
Henry wasn’t sure what to think when the Apple Valley Liars Club president welcomed him to the club.
After the unfortunate running with scissors accident, Mr. Cornelius Jones no longer found it necessary to employ an eyeglass attendant, and Henry unexpectedly found himself out of work.
Much to Henry’s surprise, his wife was as hard to give away as a bucket of zucchini.
As Henry tumbled head over heels, the air rushing by faster and faster as he passed through the clouds—up, down, he couldn’t tell—and their wet, cold dew leapt onto him, clinging to his skin and clothes, he realized just how easy stepping off of the precipice of enlightenment had been, and even though he had not a single clue where he was going or what awaited him at the end of his tumble—if indeed there was an end, or if indeed it was really he that tumbled and not the world around him, although at this point he somehow knew instinctively that it mattered very little—he closed his eyes, smiling, arms folded lightly across his chest as the roar of the universe gradually faded, lower and dimmer until finally all that Henry could hear was the warm silent welcome of his return home.
When the walls first took on their mirror-like glow, allowing Henry to see his own reflection in just about any direction he happened to turn, he thought it amusing, a novelty of sorts, and he walked around the house looking at himself at every turn from every angle; but when the floors and ceilings took on that reflective quality, and then the couch and chairs and other furniture, the dishes and books and carpet beneath his feet began to reflect, he grew scared that he’d be lost forever, disappearing in some endless picture of himself, and he struggled for a way out, crawling on hands and knees as he bumped into all those things now lost to him, searching the reflection of his own frantic eyes for the door.
“I went to three different gas stations, just to make sure I was getting the freshest pies,” Henry said as he defended himself against the entire rest of the family, “and this is the thanks I get?”
Since Thanksgiving comes but once a year, Henry always forgot from the last time that eating most of the crackling turkey skin results in indigestion of monumental proportions.
Henry’s life felt like the flapping sound of his car’s retreads - that moment just as the rubber pulls free and all hell breaks loose.
The ducks, with a slightly mad glint in their eyes, marched onward not looking to the left, not looking to the right - and not daring to look at Becky or the Tall Man who both, in their own ways made strange things happen - however, as they went by, I saw one sneak a peek at Henry.
Only one word came to mind when I woke up and discovered my robot underwear were missing - Henry!
Henry was a sensible man, and as far as he was concerned, the word quiver referred to archery, and nothing else.
With Jimmy the Quirk hot on his heels—wearing the monkey mask, no less!—Henry hit the gas pedal hard.
Henry refused to admit he’d gained weight, and instead chose to believe in the “Weak Crotch Conspiracy”, which as anyone in-the-know can tell you, is a secret ploy invented by the blue jeans industry to increase sales, wherein every single jeans company has agreed to use only the weakest of denim in and around the crotch area of men’s jeans, particularly on waist sizes 38 and up.
Some say Henry disappeared one night on his personal blimp, but others say he’s just hiding in the basement from his wife.
Confronted, Henry denied knowing the call girl, but was soon caught in his lie when the topic of ducks came up.
“I’m sorry,” the genie told Henry, “but you can’t be a Jedi knight and a disco king at the same time; it just doesn’t work that way.”
“Woman,” Henry told his wife, “you’re disrupting some important work in zero momentum time travel with that racket, now stop vacuuming and get away from my chair.”
In honor of his sore muscles, Henry’s bones operated at half-mast the entire morning.
As a child, Henry’s demons would often come to the door and ask his mom if he could come outside and wrestle.
Henry’s garlic smell overpowered Gollum’s rotting marsh odor.
Henry strode boldly into the radio station (well, he liked to think it was bold striding) and shouted through the stocking concealing his face, ‘give me all of your music and no one will get hurt’.
As things turned out, Henry’s horoscope mistress turned out to have her head in the stars.
Although they were slightly outnumbered, Henry and Bob thought they could take the three—Henry would fight that wormy, good-for-nuthin’ Truth, Bob would roll up his sleeves and go nose-to-nose with that self-righteous bastard Justice, and American Way, if things went as Henry and Bob imagined, would just stay out of the fight because, well, it was American Way—but when Truth and Justice’s sad little overweight friend wandered off three minutes into the scuffle, only to return hefting an old, dented up aluminum baseball bat, the two men weren’t quite so sure.
“No, I won’t go cycling,” Henry told his wife, reminding her for what seemed like the thousandth time that they’d never be able to outrun Godzilla on bikes, and that just because they lived in Toledo was no reason they shouldn’t live cautious lives.
As Bob stared worriedly at the flames licking up towards the edge of the precipice, Henry showed up with a couple of weiners and two sticks, one of which he proffered to Bob.
All watched over by billionaires of loving grace, Henry emptied the change from his underwear drawer and went grocery shopping.
What I want to know is; does Keith celebrate his birthday in conjunction with Bob and Henry (and are dinosaurs involved)?
As they pinned his entry number on his shirt, Henry tried to recall actually signing up for the 1000 mile seatless bike ride, but drew a blank.
Henry was shocked to learn he’d wasted four long years researching fondness when Ruth, his lab assistant, informed him that it was absence that made the heart grow fonder, and not abstinence, although this did prove once and for all that doctors should never test theories on themselves.
Henry believed in hand delivering bad news.
According to the diary kept by Henry during the climb, it was Emilio who left early on that day in search of breakfast gravy, and not Henry, who opted to stay behind and worry.
“I’m sorry, Henry, but your health insurance plan does not cover cases of pre-existing gondolaism.
Henry taught the ferrets to sleep inside his slippers so that when he woke up in the morning and slipped out of bed, his feet would have something instantly warm to slip into; the musky ferret smell also happened to break his wife of her irritating foot fetish, which he’d never enjoyed one bit.
“You may have run out of things to say,” the doctor told Henry, “but the fact that your tongue hasn’t fallen out yet leads me to believe you’ll eventually have a full recovery.”
Henry’s defense to the charges—which would result in death by decapitation if he was found guilty—were primarily a plea for clemency because he would have no place to hang his many hats in the afterlife and besides, he had recently gotten a haircut that he liked very much.
Every morning Henry carefully rewound his sanity rubberband.
Secretly, Henry called them his Barbie girls, on account of how easily they lost their heads.
Just knowing that in a parallel universe he nearly died due to some sort of “involvement” in the girl on girl action was more than enough excitement for Henry for one day.
Arriving home after 9, Henry couldn’t believe the phone company hadn’t also cut off his Internet service; slackers!
“I don’t trust lawyers,” Henry told his friend, “but only because of their bathroom habits.”
Whenever he scrubbed his powder-burned feet, Henry would wonder if circus life had been his best choice.
When he accidently bumped into the Devil on the train, Henry apologized profusely, going as far as to compliment the Devil on his fresh smelling breath; the Devil accepted Henry’s apology and compliments, but assured him that “back home, my breath is much worse.”
Getting the howitzer out of the attic was proving to be much harder than Henry had hoped.
“The demise of the American sentence can be traced back nearly 60 years,” Henry told his editor, “so yes, I do think it’s unfair of you to say I was the one who got the ball rolling.”
Having just realized that a dream vacacation is hardly the same thing as dreaming of vacation, Henry had no choice but to ban the use of prepositions in his home.
Henry realized that the development of colorful expletives lagged far behind modern day computer technology, but not until his favorite computer suddenly went black and wouldn’t restart.
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