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May We Use Your Loo?

Your humble coëditor, Josh Abraham, will be directing an independent feature film. It’s called American Standard, and will star these extraoridnarily talented, funny, beautiful people. But we need places in which to put them! In The Can Production is seeking…

Questions for Discussion

by Joseph Rogers

1. In the Cannon Beach wedding scene, Joseph is already foreshadowing not-so-happy endings. “We kissed. Everyone released colorful kites into the sky, the wind taking them where it wanted. None of the barefoot guests knew how to operate a kite but they steered with those attached strings nonetheless. Soon one kite would wind up all tangled together with another and both would dive urgently into the sand” (p. 41). How does Joseph ever expect things to work out if he’s going to be such a melodramatic something-something his whole life? Discuss…

The Adventures of Dr. Squat: “Aunt Linda, You’re a Pig”

by Michael Fahy

Aunt Linda’s Hindenberg rear end was so big that it would be easier to jump over her than it would be to try and walk around. She was married to Uncle Freddie. Once, when we were up north fishing, he…

Powerful Stories Made Impotent by the Introduction of Cellphones

by Justin Kahn

Antigone Creon: Since my decision has been thus reversed, I who imprisoned Antigone shall myself be present to release her. I’m just going to call ahead. (Takes out cellphone.) Antigone? Greetings. Listen I’ve been thinking about the relationship of…

Polish Fact

Local long-form name:
Rzeczpospolita Polska
(The Republic of Poland)

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Monday, November 7, 2005   |    Fiction

Scientific Study Finds That Chickens Think about the Future

by Raleigh Drennon

Chickens do not just live in the present, but can anticipate the future and demonstrate self-control, something previously attributed only to humans and other primates, according to a recent study.

Discovery News

So, what are you thinking about the future right now, Mr. Chicken? Do you think the future includes me whacking your head off with an axe? ’Cuz it does, and I plan to do it just as soon as you stop circling and dodging and trying to peck my eyes out. Yeah, I mean you, rooster. Don’t even pretend I’m talking to someone else. There’s no reason to look over there. That’s a goat. The goat’s not holding an axe. What you need to look at is right here in front of you, the guy with the overalls. And the axe. And the huge lump on his head. Thanks for that, by the way. You’re gonna pay for it, big time. In the very near future. Which I know you’re thinking about.

’Cuz guess what? I read something very interesting in a science magazine about the chicken brain. An organ you will very shortly and abruptly lack. The look in your beady, blank dark eye tells me you’re surprised I can read. Or is it that you suddenly foresee a much different future for yourself? A future wherein you and your head occupy two different locations. Yes, it is all so obvious to me now. The rake positioned conveniently and precisely on the front porch, where I was sure to step on it, smacking myself in the face with the handle. Or the sack of horseshoes that fell on my head. What foresight that took! The sack delicately balanced on the barn beam, waiting for the slightest vibration to topple it from its perch. The advance planning! Every contingency considered. Brilliant. I’ll give you that.

Yes, it all makes sense. The pieces are settling into place. Unlike you, whose pieces soon will be scattered about the farmyard in quite a haphazard fashion. Do you see that in your mental crystal ball? ’Cuz it’s a-coming. You can’t keep that tractor between you and me forever.

Oh, don’t look so depressed. Just because you’ve set unrealistic goals for the future doesn’t mean you can’t change them. For instance, if I were you, I’d focus on short-term goals. Extremely short-term. Now, my goals are pretty much right on course, and I’d say I’m about 15 seconds away from achieving them. So buck up, rooster! There’s always tomorrow. Oh, sorry, not for you. ’Cuz what does your future hold? The same thing I hold. Heh-heh. This axe. It was inevitable, really.

Raleigh Drennon is an advertising executive, if that isn't bad enough. He has stories in The Big Jewel and upcoming in Opium, but this story is equally fine. In the 90s, he spent time as a writer for an N.P.R.-funded radio comedy show called "The Imagination Workshop," which indeed felt very much like a workshop, but lacked imagination.