A short story based upon, if somewhat loosely, a tale from The Twilight Zone.
Note: This is my take on a short, short story; a brief tale, if you will. It’s also my take on where my imagination lead me following a dream. This is our brief tale on life’s perspectives from a can on a shelf in a grocery store in the French Quarter in New Orleans . . . as told from The Twilight Zone. Submitted as a tribute in memory and in honor of the late Rod Serling, whom I regret I never got the chance to meet. Maybe someday.
A French Quarter Tale: The Can
The corner store. The neighborhood grocery. Every town has one, except there’s no town quite like this one. There’s no store quite like this one. It befits its neighborhood, however. Both are quaint, old and, like the city, both have history.
Some would say colorful. Some, macabre.
By all appearances, this quaint neighborhood grocery store is not unlike many others. The shop owner is friendly, if not a bit surly at times. He stocks a small but ample variety of goods in keeping the interests of his neighbors in mind.
However, this is no ordinary neighborhood grocery. Shelf life, for some items at least, can seem to last longer than the items would like. Whilst sitting on the shelf and being on display, what goes through their minds?
Oh, come now, you say; they’re inanimate objects, they have no minds. Well . . .
Our tale centers around an everyday object in an everyday place; however, this object can’t see; it can only experience and sense. What it “sees” is hazy, blurry. It can sort of “hear” but it’s not sure what the sounds are or from whence they come. It doesn’t know where it is or even what it is. It only knows it is content and happy to be wherever it may be, peering out through some hazy blanket of blur as the world passes by.
“There’s that blasted ringing, again! For some reason, every time I hear that, a voice says ‘Hello’. A form of greeting?”
“Why can’t I move? Am I supposed to move? How long have I been here, wherever I am? I don’t seem to have any connotation of time or even what form I’m in. I don’t know why but I sense there are others around and beside me. Are we all the same?”
“Why do I have so many questions? Am I even supposed to “think,” whatever that is. Why is everything blurry? I get a feeling I’m inside somewhere. Wait, I see movement in front of me, but there’s something between me and the movement. ”
“What are those objects? They move in both directions, and some even stop and look toward me. Then they move on by. Why?”
“Whoa, what’s that? I’m moving! I’m being lifted off this shelf-thing. I, I’m being turned on my side. Hmmmm, I didn’t know I had sides. What’s happening to me?!”
“It’s blurry. Some figure is right in front of me and, whoa, I’m being put back on this shelf-thing. Why? What did I do? This figure in front of me seems to be picking up something next to me. But, wait. The figure takes it, emits a sound and drops it in some sort of carrying device. Why it and not me?!”
“Though I can’t quite make it out, there appears to be another figure pressing up against something and looking in. What is that? Wait, it appears to be looking right at me. Should I feel nervous, even though I don’t know what nervous is?
“Wonder what it’s like on the other side of that something? There appears to be lots of movement beyond me, in both directions.”
“There’s that ringing again. And the ‘Hello.’ Am I imagining all this? I dunno. Wait, now I think I see more figures slowing down in front of me. They both have those carrying devices like before.”
“Oh, boy, here we go again! I’m being picked up, turned on my side . . . and, nothing. What’s going on? ”
“Whooooaaaaa! I’m airborne. I’m upside down, then right side up, then . . . OUCH! I seem to have left my shelf-thing. Now, I think I’m on my side. Could it be I somehow landed in this figure’s carrying device?”
“WOW, what a different sensation!
As an aside, our can is now experiencing a sensation it has not “felt” in some time; not since it was first shipped to the store, unpacked and carried to the “shelf-thing”. It doesn’t know how long it’s been in the store nor where it’s next destination will be.
“What’s happening to me? I feel like I’m moving, yet I’m in close quarters with other objects all around me.”
“Wait, what’s that? I sense that I’m in a different type surrounding than before. There are a lot more blurry figures all around. Is this “outside,” wherever that is? I don’t know what I’m feeling but my sides are getting warmer, and things seem to be, uh, brighter?”
“Where are we going? I demand to know! Put me down this instant!”
“What’s this? We seem to have arrived somewhere. There are more blurry figures but I think we’re inside some other place now.”
“Ah, finally, my colleagues and I are getting out of this contraption. Whoa, here I am again, airborne!”
“‘Umph!’ rough landing, there. Okay, I don’t recognize this place but there seems to be a lot of activity here. Good. Maybe I can acquaint myself with some of the others who made this jaunt with me.”
“Wait, I’m getting dizzy, I’m going upside down. What’s happening to me? Gaaa!”
“I’m being shaken. Whoa, this is not good. I, I’m losing something. Oh, my, it appears to be what I’ve been holding inside me all this time. What is that? I can just barely make it out; it’s blurry but it appears to be . . . Ahhhhhhh!”
“I’m airborne again, twisting end over end; getting dizzy and lightheaded. Now, what. All has stopped. I’m not moving. Everything is dark. I feel funny. I don’t like this.”
“‘OUCH!’ What the . . . something just landed on top of me. Where am I? Hello, anyone there? Hello . . .?”
The hustle and bustle goes on. The blurry figures continue with their appointed tasks. This kitchen, you see, is busy getting orders ready to serve their demanding customers. A variety of culinary delights are being prepared with ingredients from all over the city. Even though fresh vegetables and fruit are a vital part of this kitchen, every once in awhile, canned goods are utilized in a mix of seasoning. Simple but tasty.
Our subject in this tale has involuntarily offered up its flavorful contents to please the palate of a waiting and hungry patron. Its journey has ended as it now rests among others experiencing a similar fate: The darkness of despair, which some of us would refer to as a garbage heap.
Postscript: This brief tale is offered up to the everyday shoppers, consumers and others who go about their daily lives perhaps pondering if this is all that life presents. The curious among us may pursue, but we suggest one simply enjoy what some may deem merely an imaginative tale from the perspective of a can in the French Quarter . . . as told from The Twilight Zone.