A Little Blip

Mark lie lazily supine, daydreaming on his sofa. He considered and reconsidered a jagged split of ceiling plaster above him. "Cosecants are so tasty," he mused. "Maybe I should invent Nepal," he mused. But what he remarked instead was, "It was you who threw it into the river."

Karen retorted, "I can't believe you're saying this."

Karen lounged in the near recliner, snickering at Mark's idleness, playfully delectafying her own with the dissolving of one bonbon after another upon her tongue, with the stroking of Mummy, their electrically restless kitten, to an uncharacteristically static purr. "You're so wrong," she snorted archly. And in plumped another bonbon. After a muffled suck she adduced further, "You got the tetanus shot."

Mark rebutted, "Just because I waded in after it, doesn't mean I threw it into the river."

"I would have gone in after my own frisbee."

"If you keep insisting on this I'll check the blip," Mark challenged.

"The blip wasn't around yet."

"Yeah, it was. Outdoors. Just not inside. As long as we've had individual coordinates beacons the blip's been around. That's where the beacons came from."


Karen unconsciously fingered the beacon in her left wrist. She looked to be taking her own pulse. She glanced through the window. Mummy sprang off the recliner.

"Humph," she repeated.

"I'm right," Mark stated.

"We were on the Everblip that long ago?"

"Look, I'll show you."

And the split in the ceiling was now just a split in the ceiling.

Mark rose from the sofa. Confidently his slippers shuffled him to the blip arena. He sat in the chair above it. Confidently his retina registered his beacon id. He spoke into the air. "Find," he spoke. And, in the next instant, Mark not only sat in the chair above the blip arena, but also in the chair projected onto the stage of the blip arena. And Karen not only lounged on the recliner behind Mark, but also in the light field there before him. The blip had become a mirror, three-dimensional, projecting onto its holographic stage the origins of its own transmission--the living room of Mark and Karen.

Mark turned to the nearest blip eye and gave it a campy beckon. Karen chuckled. She twisted from the recliner to join him.

"History" Mark commanded. And a blue and white cloud of alphanumerics resolved, dispersing the projected living room.

"There were just no interior shots yet," Mark informed.

Karen leaned now against Mark's shoulder.

"What year was that?" he asked.

"Well, we were in Boston so it had to be '24 or '25," Karen offered. "Try '24. And it was summer and not long before school so try August. And it was a weekend, remember? The emergency room at General was crowded. Say, Saturday."

Mark indicated the first Saturday of August '24. "Resolve," he ordered. Three holographic stills clarified, each displaying a time. Mark indicated the first and set it in motion. He and Karen squinted then at the necessary absurdity of packing groceries back and forth from a car. They watched, too, Mark's lackadaisical stroll to a nearby cafe. Not until the third Saturday did they find themselves mounting a spacious plot of lawn that banked the Charles River. Karen carried a fuchsia object in that record.

"That was a pretty good guess," Mark granted, looking up over his shoulder.

"Alright, expert," Karen urged. "Let's see who threw the frisbee into the river."

Mark zoomed the playback.

Then, through the grass, footfalls scuffing, trample trample, and a body leaps, and a grip snatches a fuchsia object, and a twist then, stumble, but...an athletic form--Karen's--finds its balance, saves its fall, proves yet again its agility and grace. Thrilled clapping erupts, the hoots of its frisbee coach and lover, Mark.

"Fantastic," he calls. "Grasshopper," he calls. Then he hoofs to her. "Fantastic," he repeats, panting. Karen and Mark fall to the ground. "Grasshopper!" he insists. "Shit!" They sweat together on the lawn, resting on their elbows, speechless with the fun of their sport.

Late summer sun burns. River flows fast. The bank stands high, just-cropped, green, redolent. The Longfellow bridge carols the ditties of weekend traffic.

Already they are on their feet.

Mark demonstrates:

"You stand facing into the wind," he says. "You throw the frisbee kind of hard but at a sharpish upward angle. The wind lifts it and it falls back toward you. When it's windy you can play alone this way."


Karen watches.

"Like this."

Mark long-arms the disc into a wind billowing off the river. The disc rises to the wind. It floats. The disc turns from the wind. It skews. The disc drifts then, loses heart, drops into the water.

"Flump," the frisbee says.

"Ha!" Karen chokes.

And, "What'd you do that for?" jests a red-facing Mark. "Shucks," he says. "Well, it was your first try."

Mark kicks off his sandals.

As he squishes down into the mud to fetch the frisbee, Karen teases, "Expert!"

The clashing tempers roused Mark and Karen to companionable chuckles. "I love this part," Karen confessed sheepishly. But Mark agreed: "Me, too."

A room-sized blip record, they watched, of Mark blurting comic epithets at Karen, of Karen returning withering barbs to Mark. This was Mark's mid-life crisis. They revisited this particular dispute occasionally for its entertainment value. The era lie long past. Mark and Karen could sit unmoved by its holographic furies. They spectated, the crowding footrests of their recliners breaking even the blip field's margins.

"Coco mint?" a pasty-mouthed Mark offered Karen. He placed a heaping tray between them. He guffawed. He pointed at his hair style in the blip.

"My, oh, my, yes," Karen delighted. She lipped a sweet. She teased, jovially, "I could still wear that skirt, you know."

"Ha!" Mark objected. "Stay plump. I like it."


"I'm sick of cleaning up after your parasitic cat," bawled the blip Mark. "He's just an emotional crutch! He's just an emotional crutch!" Mark's arms flapped bonelessly, irrational.

"Oh, look at Mummy," the elder Karen now urged, exhaling breath of coco mint. "Poor darling."

"Long dead," Mark noted, sucking.

The blip projected both Mark's and Karen's records of this skirmish. So Mummy's scat from the flailing Mark appeared in Mark's playback; his streak over the threshold of the utility room crossed both Mark's and Karen's holographs, while only Karen's showed the cat's invertebrate squeeze beneath the armchair.

The blip Karen fumed and muttered on that armchair. "He satisfies me in a way you obviously cannot," she counterstroked.

"Oooh," the elder Mark now said. "Gelded."

The blip Mark spoiled then for the conflict's climax. But, speechless he found himself before Karen's icy smirk. Red-faced, he lunged away, through the door. Mark's blip record showed his rage-drunk trip and stumble from the cottage to the sedan. Karen's blip record showed her cold stride to Mark's bureau; her deliberate drawing from it of his most prized cigars; her mechanical shredding of them into the cat box.

"Splendid times, those," the elder Mark now said to his wife.

"Yes, they were."

"Wanna watch something kinky? From even earlier?"

Karen chirped. She chid Mark with a lopsided look, one mock prude. Then, vampishly, "You naughty, naughty man," she drawled.

And, over asphalt, footfalls scuffling, trample trample, and a body leaps Mark, and a steel blade rings against a second steel blade, and a duck then, stumble, and the heroic blip actors swash over Mark. They tumble around his recliner. They duel about him. Mark moves not. Mark reclines.

The blip field engulfs Mark now, immerses him. He imbibes its action from all sides. And a heroine recalls to Mark a youthful Karen suddenly. And Mark twists suddenly at the hook of loneliness. And "Halt," Mark utters.

The blip heroes stall.

The blip heroine stalls.

And Mark squints at her playful smirk.

"History," Mark coughs.

And the holograph darkens. And the alphanumerics gather. And, after a protracted silence, a random date Mark selects, setting in motion a record from ten years previous.

Next to his recliner then appears two more recliners within the blip field. Upon the recliner to Mark's immediate left lounged Karen, his dead wife. Upon the recliner to Karen's immediate left lounged himself, but ten years younger. Mark studies the couple for a moment. The blip Mark and Karen chuckle before an earlier model of the blip. Just outside the blip's light field, they chuckle, crowding it even with their footrests.

"Ah," the elder Mark says, "Shucks."

Mark coughs. Weakly but needfully then Mark speaks. After a protracted silence, Mark pronounces a random date twenty years previous to that just viewed. The blip responds.

Next to his recliner then appears two more recliners within the blip field. Upon the recliner to Mark's immediate left lounged Karen, his dead wife. Upon the recliner to her immediate left lounged himself, but thirty years younger. Mark studies the couple for a moment. The blip Mark and Karen chuckle near a much earlier model of the blip. Just over an old blip arena, they chuckle, looking down over an old blip arena.

"Ah," Mark says. And he glances out the window. And he feels a little sick. "Shucks."

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John Dishwasher

A Little Blip