Just about the time I finished reading about the Lisping Barista taking a bath, the door to the Epiphany Cafe opened and another customer walked in to get a cup of coffee. The identity of this person is unimportant. It could have been anyone. The important thing was that he brought two others in with him: a Stone and a Fly. The Stone had somehow gotten into his shoe and was irritating his foot. The first thing he did, even before he got his coffee, was to take off his shoe and empty the Stone out. The Fly flew in when he opened the door and irritated him by buzzing around his head. Both the Stone and the Fly were irritants, one at each end of this man’s body; but, in both cases, when he dumped out his shoe and shooed away the Fly, he gave them no more thought, as if they had never existed.
The Stone was not concerned that he was ignored. He had existed far longer than the man and would continue to exist on this earth long after the man was moldering in the grave. The Stone was a typical example of a schist from the Bronson Hill Anticlinorium, consisting of micas, chlorite, talc, hornblende, and graphite all smushed together and baked deep within the furnace of the earth. Magma had forced our Stone upward, just as a pimple is formed, till it became exposed to the weathering effects of water, wind, glaciers, the roots of trees, and the treads of road construction machinery. It was then that the Stone broke free of the rock that formed it and became an individual that can fit within a hapless man’s shoe. All this took lots of time, but the Stone had plenty of time, for it measured its life in eons, rather than decades; and the time it spent within the man’s shoe, to the Stone, was less than an instant.
To the man, the Stone had been bothering his foot for what seemed to be forever. It wasn’t forever, of course, not for the man, still less than for the Stone. In fact, the Stone might have had a better claim to being bothered by the man’s foot overhead, the sole of his shoe, underneath, and the smell all around. We assume that stones are insensible to such things only because we don’t sense their reactions; but they could very well be reacting, as strongly as we, but in stone time. We, existing in human time, don’t have the patience to listen to stones. It’s like when you visit your grandfather after he has a stroke. He takes so long to form the words, you figure he has nothing to say.
The Stone had plenty to say, if anyone would listen. He had seen a lot and understood mysteries that elude the most rigorous scientists. He knew, for instance, the cause of the Moodus Noises. They were, in fact, the voices of other stones, brothers of his, who had together formed a righteous rock group and sang songs that spoke to the depths of our stone’s soul. They got him. They were the real deal, man; authentic expressions of his own experience.
The Fly, for her part, flew through the cafe with as much solemnity as if she were royalty; which she was, in fact; although none of the humans present recognized her majesty, much less her sovereignty. It’s true that all the humans who happened to be at the Epiphany Cafe at that time were Americans and had as much use for royalty as they did for the metric system, but that’s not why they failed to bow and scrape at the fly’s dignified entrance. They thought she was just a fly.
While the Stone existed in stone time, the Fly buzzed around in fly time. It all came down to the fact that a stone has plenty of time and a fly doesn’t. This Fly, for instance, would fly around the cafe until closing time, smack itself silly on the plate glass window, feed on muffin crumb that had fallen to the floor a week ago, have sex in the air with her courtiers, lay her eggs on a moldy cookie, and rest in state by the time the cafe opened the next day. One day is not a lot of time by our standards, and it’s an instant according to the Stone; but, to the Fly, it’s a lifetime. Perhaps that’s why humans have so much trouble swatting flies, for the action of a swat must take, to a fly, the better part of a year; which is plenty of time for a fly to put in its thirty-day notice, contract with the movers, and vacate its lodgings on the back of your neck before your clumsy and sluggardly swat ever gets near him.
Time, to the humans at the Epiphany Cafe was far more variable. Human time never gets as slow as stone time, nor as quick as fly time, but it can go fast or slow according to circumstances. If you ask a toddler to wait five minutes, you’re asking her to forsake a large portion of her life and she will rightfully have a cow; but five minutes to an eighty-year old is barely enough time for a nap. This accounts for the dissimilarity in attitude and behavior.
We humans are also graced with a kind of variable transmission that shifts our sense of time according to the load placed on the engine. The Lisping Barista, for instance, since her bath, had been experiencing time somewhat as a fly does. There have been so many events crammed into a short period that a single full day seemed to go on forever. Her journal, as I read on, documented that she did indeed get evicted by her roommate and she slept that night in her car. As we will see, time will continue to labor in first gear as she experiences one catastrophe after another.
The Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat experienced time more like the Stone. This was because he was stuck in a kind of Groundhog Day-like reiteration of events. Despite being quite well traveled through these broad United States, he never seemed to get anywhere. The entire past ten years, or so, was devoted to the single annoyance of these pesky ghosts. They buzzed around him like a fly. They irritated him like a stone in his shoe. He just about had enough and was dedicated to doing whatever it took to be rid of them.
The Weather Beaten Man in a Cowboy Hat was the next to arrive at the Epiphany Cafe following the man with the Stone in his shoe and the Fly. He ignored the Lisping Barista and didn’t even get a cup of coffee. He went straight to the Therapist Emeritus, intent on telling his story.