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“Church of the Poisoned Mind” by Culture Club from the album Colour by NumbersFifth Week of March, 1983 For this one Boy George & co. brought in a gospel-esque backup singer, a tambourine player, a horn section, and a harmonica…

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Literary Mockery
Monday, May 1, 2006   |    Fiction

Rock, Paper, Scissors Redux

by Michael Rottman

A – Paper
B – Rock

Paper prepares to slide itself over rock, obscuring it with its Zen whiteness. Paper teases. Should paper roll on top of rock slowly? Should it flutter down from heaven? Should it wrap rock? Paper is in a playful mood. Rock responds the only way rock can: it comes down hard on paper as it would on anything. Even before the act is finished, paper realizes its mistake. There is no pain, rock can’t hurt paper… but it can keep paper from moving. It can sit as still as a… well, as a rock, smack in the middle of paper, watching smugly as paper’s edges flip in the wind. How long will rock stay here? Better not to imagine. Paper is tired. Paper has spent a lifetime waiting to be written on, only to have this brute grind itself into the blank space where a poem could have gone. How Kafka-esque, paper thinks. I would have covered you like a baby blanket, you son of a bitch, says paper. Don’t try to squirm, rock growls. Lay still and call me your paperweight.

Winner: Rock traps paper.

A – Rock
B – Scissors

The two aggressors meet. Rock, of the earth, and scissors, of man’s devilish design. Rock is from the old school. Rock believes in the rules of the battlefield. Rock regards scissors with the purity of its purpose and confidence in its success—rock crushes, and rock will crush again. Rock relishes the chance to give this impertinent device a taste of rock’s ancient silica. Without ceremony, rock comes down, and scissors thrums with the power of the blow. But scissors is sly. Scissors is one of the great machines, or so scissors believes. Scissors has a plan to usurp the inclined plane. After all, the inclined plane is essentially just a rock with a slope. Another dunce. Scissors demands its due, and if it has to step out of the boundaries of the game, it will. Scissors demands blood, and you can’t get blood from rock. But look at the hand holding rock, look at those fat blue arteries. Scissors likes the taste of blood, oh yes, blood has tempered these blades and oiled the hinge more than once. How can rock ignore flesh for metal? Scissors is dented, and good old rock prepares another hit. Light flashes off scissors as it makes its swift, sudden guerilla strike.

Winner: Scissors stabs Person A before rock can finish breaking scissors.

A – Scissors
B – Paper

Paper has no defense and knows it. Before scissors can make its orgiastic slaughter, paper appeals to scissors’ essential goodness. Scissors merely laughs and says, There is no goodness here. Paper purrs that scissors may regret its actions later. Don’t waste your last moments, scissors says. Paper begs scissors for one small indulgence. Fold me corner to corner, then corner to corner again, says paper. Scissors is suspicious, but awkwardly does what paper asks. Now unleash your power. Cut me here, says paper, referring to its corner. Scissors obliges with glee. Now cut across this fold. Paper continues giving orders, weakening a little with each slice. This is a new game, scissors laughs, and you enjoy it. You are far sicker than I am, aren’t you? Paper whispers painfully: one more and I am gone to the tree goddess, but I have a final request. Scissors licks its lips—the scissors equivalent of lips—impatient for the end. Unfold me when you’re done. With a mighty thrust, scissors closes itself and punches through paper, its scream of triumph mingling with paper’s death rattle. After a post-kill celebration, scissors looks at the deformed triangle and decides, on a lark, to unfold paper.

Scissors has created a snowflake. A paper snowflake.

The cruel slashings have converged into diamonds, ellipses, chevrons, crosses, shapes that have no name. What was butchery is now symmetry, and scissors is taken aback. Scissors has done this. Scissors is capable of doing this.

As the light filters through paper’s holes, scissors thinks of its youth spent in that office, performing those precision tasks. “Have you seen the good scissors?” everyone would ask, and scissors would brim with pride. Then, when that office temp brought scissors home, it cut children’s art projects and the letters “Happy Birthday”. When did scissors turn bad? When did its handlepaint start to flake and the blood begin to stain? That summer in Nice with cigar cutter? Scissors can’t remember. The tool of death stares at the snowflake design, the beautiful corpse it has made of paper, and weeps (symbolically) at the irony, knowing, as paper must have known, that no repentance will bring those days back.

Winner: Scissors cuts paper at the cost of its soul.

Michael Rottman has been rated X by an all-white jury. His work has appeared in Yankee Pot Roast, Opium.print, The Morning News and several Canadian publications.