May 19 2008 / by Jason
Category: Information Year: Beyond Rating: 6 Hot
By Jason M. Vaughn
The world was rocked this morning by the death of America’s first “immortal,” Madeline Marie Samms, who had only three months ago reached her 175th birthday. At around 6:45 a.m., a piano was accidentally dropped on her head as she stepped out of her first-floor Wyandotte County apartment on her way to the market. The irony is that she had once credited this daily walk as the biggest reason for her longevity. It was even more important, she had felt, than her nightly pink-lemonade-flavored telomerase cocktail, her weekly stem-cell injections, and her numerous casual-sex encounters.
“People can’t go a measly few blocks to get their organics?” she’d once wondered, incredulously shaking her head. “They gotta have ‘em delivered by one of those good-for-nothin’ robots? What’s this world comin’ to? That’s what I wanna know. ‘Cause them robots are kinda scary, if you ask me. I mean, why do their eyes have to be red like that? Why does one of their hands always have to be a claw hand? Why on earth do they gotta have a laser saw hangin’ off their shoulder at all times? For God sakes,” she continued, “what do they need teeth for? And just why do those teeth have to be all pointy, like shark teeth? You know, one of them things tried to help me across the street one time. I had to beat him off with my purse. Thought I was bein’ attacked.” (cont.)
“He said his name was Dan and “may I assist you?” but he looked more like the Devil than any ‘Dan’ I ever saw. And I’ve known a Dan or two in my time, believe it or not. This one Dan I knew had real pretty blue eyes, and he wouldn’t’ve hurt a flea.”
Her untimely death has led many to believe that society may be using the word “immortality” a bit loosely. Perhaps one of the piano movers, Ron Tisdale, put it best when, only minutes after he and his co-worker dropped the piano, he said: “I saw her down there, you know, as the piano was falling, but I honestly didn’t even think to yell ‘Look out below!’ I guess I figured the piano was just gonna bounce right off her, or somethin’. I mean, she’s that immortal lady, isn’t she? Shouldn’t it have bounced right off her, or somethin’?”
His co-worker, who has chosen to remain nameless, added thoughtfully: “That piano’s gonna have to be replaced. And what’ll keep us from droppin’ the next one on somebody’s head? You know, with all the technology they got nowadays, you wouldn’t think we’d still be usin’ just ropes and pulleys.”
Neither one of the piano movers answered when they were asked: “Why do you guys use ‘just ropes and pulleys’?” They looked away, and Ron began to whistle self-consciously. After a minute or two, Ron’s co-worker looked down at his bare wrist, as if checking the time. “Hell” he admitted, “I don’t have a watch.” He then looked away again and also began to whistle.
Later, Ron said, “I tell you what—-if we ever drop another one, I’ll be sure and remember to yell ‘Look out below!’ Or maybe even just ‘Look out!’ Even if no one’s down there.”
“Just ‘Hey!’ might be enough, even,” said his co-worker, “when you think about it.”
“Yeah,” Ron agreed, “you’re prob’ly right. But, you know, from now on maybe instead of tryin’ to remember what we’re gonna yell, we should focus all our attention on not droppin’ anymore pianos.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” Ron’s co-worker said. ‘Cause no matter what we yell, it’s just gonna make ‘em look up, and by then it’ll prob’ly be too late.”
Well, I suppose none of us can really know until it happens. But you can all rest assured that, if it does happen, you’ll hear about it first from The Kansas City Star…unless it happens to you. Be careful out there, Immortals.
I’m Samuel Drexler, and you’ve just been Cerebro’d.