Courage

Courage

Theodore Lewiston served two tours in Afghanistan, where he was awarded a Commendation Medal but more more importantly earned the respect and gratitude of his unit for fearlessly engaging camel spiders.

Returning home, Theodore found work as a security guard that from time to time required him to be big and scary, sometimes towards people who were bigger or scarier than he. Just as with the camel spiders, he showed a cool exterior while adrenaline surged through his veins, his not-insignificant fear hidden behind a cool gaze and steady voice.

Nobody ever asked him but he liked to imagine someone–a grandchild, perhaps–looking at his various citations and asking him about courage. What was the hardest thing you ever did? Or, “What was the most courageous?” Nobody would ever ask it that. “What was the scariest thing you ever did?”

He had a ready answer, one that would seem characteristically calm and cool but would reveal itself in time to be profound true, he thought.

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On reports that bumblebees have emotions

On reports that bumblebees have emotions

A few months ago I became suddenly very fascinated by the question of whether or not we could ever attribute consciousness to a non-human. In the case of my story, the subject in question was a computer-generated little girl named Ada, but really it could have been about anything, an animal or a space alien or a hacked Roomba. The larger point is that no matter how hard we try we can only understand the world around us through our own context. Even then it is difficult. I don’t understand people who disagree with my beliefs, for example. And even though I should obviously know better, I can’t always wrap my mind around the idea that the people I see have internal lives that are kept secret from me, or that they even exist when they are outside of my frame of view.

I know that they exist, though, and that they have separate internal beings known only to themselves because I exist when they aren’t around, and I have thoughts, even complete carefully-constructed worlds, that nobody around me even suspects.

Because it is true with me, and I am human, I can assume it is true with them. But what about other things? Like bumblebees, for example?

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The Merciful Death of Antonette Charles

The Merciful Death of Antonette Charles

The Blue Line was one of only two things known to connect Thurman University with Kannady Chicken on North Third Street. The line’s University stop had an entrance directly at the front gates of the university. The stairwell was actually integrated into the design of the marble gates, from which attractive wings stretched out to surround and perhaps partly conceal the stairs. Most students actually used the back entrance to the subway, which spilled out in front of the larger but less attractive west gate and closer to College Hill’s commercial strip, but the main gate was symbolic of the university as a whole.

The Kellerman Avenue stop (which was actually on Ann Street, one block west of Kellerman) had a single entrance, which was in front of Kannady Chicken. Generally speaking, the less said of Kannady Chicken the better. Not so much a neighborhood institution as it was merely a thing that inexplicably existed in a neighborhood that itself only barely existed, Kannady served up edible fried foods, mostly but not exclusively chicken-based. The business depended on the fact that sometimes people came out of the subway hungry, and since the food at Kannady wasn’t any worse than anything else in this part of town it was just as good a choice as any. But make no mistake, nobody ever in the business’s history made a special trip to go to Kannady. It was just there, and so people went. Often enough that it stayed in business.

The other thing that connected Thurman University and Kannady Chicken is that Antonette Charles was a sophomore at Thurman, studying anthropology, and lived with her mother in the apartment two stories above Kannady. (Not, blessedly, the apartment directly above–everything she owned would smell like poorly-fried chicken if she had. She knew this for a fact because her neighbors, who invariably broke their leases every few months and were replaced, always sooner or later smelled like chicken.)

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