Feeding the fish? said Pablo. Yes, said Blurtso, from the edge of the river, there must have been a dozen people doing it. You mean “fishing,” said Pablo. Fishing? said Blurtso. Yes, said Pablo, they have a hook on the end of their line which they bait with something tasty, and they try to get the fish to bite it. The hook? said Blurtso. Yes, said Pablo, so it will push through the lip of the fish and they can pull it to shore. That’s not very nice, said Blurtso. What if you did it without a hook? Without a hook? said Pablo. Yes, said Blurtso, just put some food on the line and throw it in the stream so the fish can eat. Well, said Pablo, you wouldn’t catch anything, but you’d probably make a lot of friends.
And the people gathered before him and said, “Blurtso of the sacred space, teach us.” And Blurtso replied, “Teach us?” And the people echoed, “Teach us.” And Blurtso replied, “Teach what?” And the people explained, “We do not love all who are among us. We do not love all others. And we are ashamed.” And Blurtso replied, “What will thou doest when thou seest a tempest in the offing?” And the people replied, “We shall seek shelter.” And Blurtso said, “And what will thou doest when thou encounterest danger in thine path?” And the people replied, “We shall pursue a new path.” And Blurtso said, “And what will thou doest when thine well of poison smellest?” And the people replied, “Drink we shall not.” And Blurtso said, “Just as with nature thou wouldst, so with one another thou shouldst. For each one of thou, in beingst thineself, is for some other a storm, a danger, or a poison. And another for thou shallst be these same things too. So feelest not ashamedst that thou revelst not in the company of all, but rather recognizest the right to existest of the poison, the danger, and the storm, and rejoicest in the natural wisdom that wouldst lead thou unto safety and keepest thou from harm.”
What’s the matter? said Alex. I’m worried, said Blurtso. Why? said Alex. Because I have to speak at Commencement. But you’re not graduating, said Alex. I know, said Blurtso, but my scholarship requires I make an appearance, and the president wants me to give the opening prayer. The opening prayer? said Alex. Yes, said Blurtso, and I don’t know what to say. Well, said Alex, you’ve got to mention god, of course. God? said Blurtso. You mean the great donkey in the sky? Yes, said Alex, and no, because you can’t give preference to one god over another. You mean I have to mention all the gods? said Blurtso. How do I do that? It’s tricky, said Alex. What if I don’t mention any? No, said Alex, that won’t do…
Let us pray, said Blurtso, Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god… let’s see… where was I?… oh yes… oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, ad Infinitum… amen.
Hello, said Blurtso. Hello, said the devil. Come in, said Blurtso. Thank you, said the devil. I wasn’t sure you’d come, said Blurtso. I wasn’t sure you’d be here, said the devil. Here I am, said Blurtso. And I, said the devil. The bet is, said Blurtso, to see who can eat the most pumpkin pies. Yes, said the devil. And if I win? said Blurtso. You will have an endless supply of pumpkin pies. And if I lose? said Blurtso. You will relinquish your soul. Very well, said Blurtso, shall we begin with the pie on the table? Yes, said the devil, that looks like a perfectly good pie. Would you like to go first? asked Blurtso. No, said the devil, I wouldn’t dream of it. Very well, said Blurtso, sitting down to the pie. Blurtso cut the pie, slowly, into six equal slices, then proceeded to eat them, one by one, relishing every pumpkin-filled bite. When he finished he licked the tin and pushed it toward the devil. That’s enough for me, said Blurtso. Only one? said the devil, that’s no competition at all. Perhaps, said Blurtso. O.k., said the devil, now it’s my turn. Go ahead, said Blurtso. Where’s my pie? asked the devil. I’m sorry, said Blurtso, I ate the last one.