Thursday, December 20, 2012


Cliff stood up and wiped the sweat off his brow. The midday sun was high in the sky and beating down mercilessly. A slight, occasional breeze offered some comfort, but it was definitely weather more appealing to plants than humans.
            Not that this bothered Cliff at all. He had invested hours upon hours into his garden. Without the sun to foster growth, where was the return on his investment?
            He laughed at himself as these thoughts went through his head. All these years retired, and he still had that corporate mindset. That didn’t really matter anymore.
            What mattered to him now was the sandwich he looked forward to the most everyday, a grilled cheese with bacon. And a bowl of tomato soup. And a tall glass of fresh squeezed lemonade. Ever since Cliff was five years old, when his mother first taught him how to make one, it had been his favorite sandwich. Sometimes he did without the soup, and sometimes he had some potato chips. Other times he would brew some sweet tea or maybe even make an uptown. But he always had a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich whenever he could choose his lunch. Being retired meant that was pretty much everyday.
            A shrill cry shattered his daydreams of the impending feast.
“Clifford!” came a distant yell. His wife came running out of the house, tears running down her face.
            “Oh, Cliff! Oh, Cliff! It’s just horrible!” she started sobbing intensely.
            “Maggie, calm down. Tell me what’s happening.” After forty plus years of marriage he knew better than to automatically assume the worse. He always thought she could’ve had a great career as a soap opera star.
            “Oh they just announced it on the news.” She broke down sobbing again.
            “What, Margaret? What did they announce on the news?” It was beginning to seem like she might actually have a legitimate concern.
            “They’re all going to die.” She returned to bawling. This time she blew her nose. “Come inside, it’s on every channel.”
            Following her inside, Cliff was stunned by the announcement from the news caster.
            “Scientists now predict that the asteroid’s projected path will, in the next 72 hours, give it a 45% chance of impacting the Earth, with a 74% chance that the impact will be somewhere in the Pacific. This is up greatly from initial estimates made two years ago of a 32% chance of impacting the planet.”
            “And?” Cliff said incredulously. “This is exactly why we live on a ridge top in the Appalachians—no tsunamis, no tornados, no earthquakes, no floods, no volcanoes, no killer bees, no tropical diseases. Well, I am surprised, but not that much.”
            “What are you saying?” Maggie stammered in disbelief.
            “What? They’ve known about this asteroid for a few decades now. They’ve known it had a one-in-three chance of hitting the planet as recently as two years ago. And now people only have three days to evacuate? I hope they crucify all the politicians who blocked legislation that could have possibly prevented this.”
            “How can you say that, Cliff?”
            “Easy. If those kinds of percentages were batting averages, in a game mind you where no one is dying and is played for recreation and entertainment, they would easily drop several hundred million and think it was a ‘good investment’. Spend billions on the same kinds of odds to save tens, if not hundreds of millions of lives? They treat that like a waste of money.”
            Maggie stared at him silently, unsure of how to respond.
            “Well, whatever. If the world’s gonna end, I am definitely going to have myself a bacon and grilled cheese sandwich.” With that he walked away, leaving his wife to listen to the recycled news cast.

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