One writer's experiment to tackle any subject his friends come up with.

The Last Baloney Sandwich. Ever.

A story about the last Baloney sandwich ever made in all of mankind’s history.

Doctor Steve threw the lab doors open, his legs pumping with ambition. “I’ve got to have more mustard!” His lab techs Tommy and Sally shook their heads knowingly. Another desperate attempt, doomed to failure. No matter Steve’s days of education, his hours of trials and errors, everyone around Steve recognized the futility of his efforts. He ran through the kitchen and struggled with the magnetic seal on the cold storage door. He snarled and shook his small fist at the logo. “Curse you, Frigidaire!” Then, whirling around, “Tommy! Get over here and help me with this!”

Tommy glanced over his research materials at Sally. Bright, wax-colored charts and renderings decorated the papers strewn between them. Sally rolled her eyes and tipped her head in Dr. Steve’s direction. She’d fallen in love with Steve last Summer when he’d rolled onto the block with his big plans and bigger personality, but the outbursts came part and parcel with him, and she was glad for once it wasn’t her assistance that was demanded. Tommy rose from the carpet, tossing a Sharpie to the floor. “Darn it, Steve, you’ve got us grinding away at your pipe dream – Sally and I have looked at this from every angle – there’s just no way you’re going to bring it back! You need to let it go!”

Steve was defiant, his arms flailing, hands lost in the long, flapping sleeves of his labcoat. “Never! Everybody said I was crazy to launch Sputnik Two last month! They said it would never leave the ground!”

“But it-”

“Did it, Tommy? Tell me!”

“Well, yeah, techni-”

“That’s right! You were there when I put all the naysayers to shame!” Steve was practically foaming at the mouth now. “That one moment of glory made it all worthwhile!”

“I know, Steve, but this isn’t rocket science – it’s way more complicated! We’re lacking the basic ingredients!”

“Nonsense! And I told you: It’s ‘Doctor Steve!”

Tommy ran a hand through his mouse-brown hair, and acknowledged the feeling that he was destined to repeat forever the nervous habit he’d started when he’d gotten gum stuck there last Halloween. “Listen, Doctor Steve, You’re asking the impossible. Ms. Hardwick disposed of most of the components when we lost power last week.”

Dr. Steve sighed, and for a moment defeat seemed to creep into his small frame. The rolling blackouts had cost them all dearly. But why, with so much at stake, had the foolish woman not provided some sort of backup plan? A styrofoam cooler, some dry ice, anything?

But then he recalled the savory tang, that wondrous blend of comfortably mild meatstuffs. He had heard it described as bland, but regarded the thought as heresy. Here was satisfaction and pleasure within the grasp of five fingers, so much joy to be had in sixteen square inches of sustenance – eighteen if the crusts were left on.

He reveled in the memory, and rebelled against loss. “I won’t let you kill my dream!” he shouted, returning to his struggle with the almond-colored door.

Tommy considered assisting the dream-crazed doctor, but kept his distance. He felt shame for standing witness to this display of misplaced, fruitless devotion.

Finally, with one Converse planted firmly against the neighboring particle-board cabinetry, the doctor unseated the vexing door with a violent heave. He turned a wide-eyed grin at his two doubtful assistants as he wiped his brow. “Now we make history!” he shouted, plunging into the frigid confines of the modest, humming monolith.

Sally and Tommy waited with bated breath as the doctor’s mutterings slowed, then escalated from behind the insulated door. They heard the pathetic shuffling of the few items they knew to be stored within, and their unease grew.

Finally Sally could stand it no more. “Steve, Ms. Hardwick hasn’t been able to restock yet this week,” she ventured, trying to keep her voice calm. “She said-”

“There’s nothing! Nothing!” Doctor Steve emerged, his head wreathed in fog, his face set in disbelief.

Glancing at Sally, a change overcame Tommy, and he interjected without mercy. “I told you we didn’t have anything, Steve.” He looked to Sally again. “Come on Sally. This is getting old.”

But Sally’s attention was fully on Steve, whose eyes had gone wide with epiphany.

He broke the silence with a whisper. “It’s so simple!” he uttered, and began throwing wide the cabinet doors. “We don’t need refrigeration at all. I’m sure the compounds are close enough – it should work. Aha!” He thrust his arm in among cans and jars of various sizes and labels, and removed a small rectangular tin. Sally smiled tentatively, and Tommy sneered derisively, as Steve peeled back the metal lid and smelled the processed contents within. Quickly he moved to cut and spread the material onto a slice from the starched white loaf that had laid waiting on the counter all morning. He folded the concoction in half and took a cautious bite.

And winced in revulsion. This was a farce no amount of mustard could restore. He slowly placed the offending wad of food on the counter and allowed his shoulders to sink. Sally rushed to him as Tommy threw up his arms and left the room.

Alone at last, Sally stood in front of Steve and took his right hand. “I’m sorry, Steve. You did your best.”

Steve’s eyes remained on the ground, and his hand seemed ignorant of her touch. “Whole lotta good it did. It’s all been for nothing.”

“You know, some things can never be as good as we expect them to be, or even remember them to be. Even if you get the perfect ingredients again someday, it will probably never compare to that last baloney sandwich.”

Steve shifted and looked up. His mild chagrin was a visible improvement. “Maybe you’re right.”

Sally smiled, pleased to be able to offer relief to her beloved, but more pleased at his quick response to her guidance. There was hope here after all. “The way I see it is, we should be thankful that our memories are so good to us, always improving on our life when we can’t go back and prove them wrong.”

Steve responded with a distracted nod. “Yeah I guess so. Hey, I managed to salvage most of the debris around the launch site last week. Wanna go over the blueprints with me for Sputnik Three?”



Copyright Cole Bennett, all rights reserved



7 Comments to “11/3/11-STAN ROSENBAUM”

  1. Cole Bennett says:

    Thanks, Stan! I knew you would not disappoint! So many questions: what was it like? Why was it the last? How are baloney sandwiches different in the future? What political and socio-economic events preceded this finality? :D

  2. Stan Rosenbaum says:

    LOL Perfect!

  3. Cole Bennett says:

    Thanks Stan. I thought you’d like it. I obviously didn’t take a literal interpretation, but went with the fun idea of how it might feel like the last baloney sandwich to a kid. I started having visions of “Calvin and Hobbes” and the great cartoon “Home Movies” as I was writing it. It was a fun space to spend a few hours.

  4. Stan Rosenbaum says:

    Well I think you did a fine job.

  5. Pat Bennett says:

    Poor Steve. Poor “all of us.” Why do our memories paint such rosey pictures of the past? Interesting thought…

  6. Adam Gillett says:

    If only Invader ZIM were there to help poor Steve. Bolognius Maximus!

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