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"The Little Brown Bottle"

Rulan Spinkter was losing interest. 

His gaze wandered out the window 
even during the goriest parts of the 6 o'clock News. 
Beauty and nature were okay, 
but they didn't rouse him from his apathy. 
TV violence wasn't as much fun as it used to be. 

His wife said this to him: 
"The Viagra must be growing mildew by now." 

He didn't believe in happy endings, 
and didn't worry about bad ones. 
He was a lump of cells 
taking up space that could be used for parking. 

He read the obituaries, 
looking through the death notices for people he didn't like. 
He felt let down when they didn't accommodate. 

Rulan wondered idly 
how long he might live... 
not that it mattered. 

He knew he was going nuts, 
but it was too much trouble to think about it. 
The top button on his pants was open 
and he didn't shave much any more. 

A television commercial came on 
and told him to ask his doctor about some pill. 
He wasn't sick, 
but he didn't feel great either. 

Anyway, he already had some pills upstairs, 
but he didn't know what they were for 
or where they came from. 

He got the pill bottle open, 
cursing at the child-proof cap. 
They were yellow and about the size of aspirin, 
and seemed to glow a little. 
He thought "What the hell." 
and swallowed a handful. 

An hour later he was jogging toward town, 
looking for excitement... 
an illegal grin on his face. 

He bought a new convertible, 
put his new baseball cap on sideways, 
buttoned up his pants, 
and roared down Main Street, 
singing songs of questionable taste. 
That's when he noticed the patrol car flashing behind him. 
He stepped on the gas. 

Thirty-seven police cars were pursuing him on the Interstate. 
They were going ninety-three miles an hour, 
when Rulan and his convertible vanished. 

The head cop barked "Spread out." into his radio: 
That's what police are trained to say 
when perps disappear into thin air. 

Rulan was never seen again 
except on Dateline, and 60 Minutes, 
where he was the Mystery of the Week. 

His wife was going through his things for The Good Will, 
when she found a little brown pill bottle. 
The label was dirty and unreadable, 
but the pills had a funny Day-Glo look. 

The label was too dirty to read, 
so she spit on a Kleenex 
and rubbed it until the letters became clear. 

These words were printed on the label: 
"Do not ask your doctor. 
Take a chance." 

She tossed the bottle into the pocket of an old jacket, 
and put all of Rulan's stuff into the Good Will box at the mall. 

Later that night, 
Quince Duckworthy, a homeless wino, 
found some free pills in a pile of old clothes, 
and soon became a successful motivational speaker. 
The theme of his Duckworthy Self-Improvement Program was this: 
"Take a chance." 

Backstage, before each speech, 
he took a funny looking pill 
from a bottle that never got empty. 

Copyright  2003, 2005 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.


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