Category Archives: joe and keppler

Joe and Keppler Go to the Park

“How do you feel about going to the park, Joe?” asked Keppler. Keppler was really asking a rhetorical question. He knew Keppler felt good about going to the park. Joe knew this, and laughed. Before long, they were walking down the road.

“Watch out for cars, Joe.” said Keppler, supervisingly. Joe watched accordingly.

Keppler got excited a few times when he saw what believed to be the park, but which were actually, in the following order, an ice cream stand, a Pepsi can and a golf cart. Finally, they arrived at the park. Joe was unusually excited. He ran, laughing, off to his favorgite area while Keppler sat down to read.

After a few hours, Kepler had finished Goodnight Moon and Joe had dug many holes and staked out the fort. Keppler, unaware that Joe had slipped into full-on combat mode, foolishly called his name. There would have been a burst of gunfire, but since Joe didn’t have a gun, he just walked out to Keppler.

“Boy, you look like you’d shoot me if you had a gun,” said Keppler.

Joe didn’t laugh, but he did shake his head. Keppler removed his head from Joe’s jaws and smiled.

“I’m ready to go home.” said Keppler. “This has been a plot-heavy day.”

Joe agreed, his head full of memories of battles past and those yet to come.

Joe and Keppler Meet the Robot

On Friday, Joe and Keppler went to the museum to meet a robot.

“This robot isn’t what I expected.” said Keppler. Joe appeared to agree. The robot was three feet tall, not very shiny, and didn’t appear to be equipped with any weaponry at all.

“Robot? Are you on?”

The robot made a buzzing sound and looked up. It looked very sad, for a robot. Its eyes started flashing. I expected that, thought Joe, since they are lights.

“I AM AWAKE.” said the robot. Keppler covered his ears. Joe couldn’t.

“I am so sorry,” said the robot. “Caps Lock was on.”

Joe and Keppler both had a good laugh over that. It had happened to them before.

“It makes me feel sad when that happens.” said the robot. Its voice sounded sad, even though it was modulated and monotone. It sounded like a microwave.

“Is it true that robots think in numbers?” asked Keppler.

“It is true,” said the robot, “and that makes me even sadder.”

Joe had heard of depressed robots, but never a sad one.

“Why does it make you sad?” asked Keppler.

“Because thinking in numbers is dull,” said the robot. “It’s reductive. I can’t think of a dog, or a lizard, or a boy. I have to think of a 0010011, a 1111100, and a 0000011 + 01101111. It’s like looking at people through an x-ray machine, except instead of their skeletal structure, you can only see their molecules. Everything, to me, is only what it is made of: numbers. There are no things in my world–only equations and proofs.”

Something about the way the robot sounded when he said this made Keppler laugh. This, of course, made Joe laugh as well. They left the museum and walked towards the soda shop.

“That robot’s name was Hector.” said Keppler.

“Or maybe it was 01010101.” squealed Joe.

Joe and Keppler and the Very Long Story

Joe and Keppler and the Very Long Story

It had been six days since Grandpa Jim had begun his story. His stories were always lengthy. Joe thought this might be because Grandpa preferred telling stories to living life, now that he was ninety-seven.

“And then we walked through the door, and what do you think we saw?”

Grandpa paused here. In the past, Keppler had wondered if refusing to say “I don’t know” or “What?” would halt the storytelling mid-stream, but it turned out not to be true. If he said nothing, Grandpa would eventually sigh, run his fingers through his hair and begin a new, different story. Ever since the that happened, Keppler had always answered quickly.

“What did you see, Grandpa Jim?”

“We saw sixteen Nazis!”

He paused for effect.

“But, as you remember, this was 1982, so they weren’t real Nazis. I asked Bill, ‘Where did these Nazis come from?’ and he said, ‘This is a film. It’s Schindler’s List. You watched it yesterday.’ That answered my second question which was going to be, ‘Why are these Nazis in a box?'”

Keppler thought Grandpa’s stories were likely not true. They were too fantastical. They took place at many different points in history–from the Civil War to Vietnam–and different places–one had taken place inside Jack Bishop’s liver, although even Grandpa had admitted that one was more symbolic than anything.

Keppler had to remain awake for the entire story. Grandpa would have been very offended if he had fallen asleep or wandered off, and Keppler had no wish to offend Grandpa, who wasn’t getting any younger. Joe, on the other hand, had learned the secret of dozing during the inessential parts–which were usually signified by the phrases, “That reminds me…” and “Carthage McCullum always said…”–and waking up just before essential plot points–preceded by a deep, raspy breath or a slight yelp–were unveiled. Of course, Grandpa didn’t care if Joe slept, but Joe didn’t want to miss it all. Grandpa wasn’t getting any younger.

Grandpa make a high pitched sound and Joe awoke.

“And that’s how the Indians got what they deserved.”

Keppler told Grandpa that he’d really enjoyed the story. On the way home, he asked Keppler why every story had to end with the Indians getting what they deserved, but, of course, Joe didn’t answer.

Joe and Keppler Go to the Movies

“Want to go see a movie, Joe?” Keppler asked.

“Of course I do.” replied Keppler.

“Ok. What do you want to see?”

“Something with space aliens, maybe.”

“Sounds good.”

Keppler and Joe walked downtown to the theater. There were six movies playing: a Western, starring Jack Bishop, a romance, starring Debbie Terry, a biopic of Gregory Hines, an action movie starring a Frenchman, and a movie called ‘The Planet Beyond the Planet’. It looked like it would have aliens.

“Two for ‘The Planet Beyond the Planet.” Keppler said to the man in the ticket booth. The man at the booth, whose name was Todd, gave him one ticket.

“I asked for two!” said Keppler.

“Only humans can see ‘The Planet Beyond the Planet, sir.” Todd sounded apologetic. He looked at Joe but Joe didn’t look back.

“What about the other movies?” asked Keppler.

“They’re all humans only except the romance.”

“Is the romance any good?”

“I’m not sure animals would enjoy it. It made me cry.”

Keppler and Joe walked out of earshot of Todd.

“What do you think, Joe?” asked Keppler.

“It doesn’t sound like my sort of thing. I wanted aliens.” said Joe.

Keppler nodded. He’d wanted aliens too.

Joe and Keppler Take a Walk

Keppler walked across the barren wasteland, then stopped to wipe his shoes before he went inside.

Joe looked at him funny.

“That’s a weird thing to do,” he said.

Keppler wiped his other sole, and they walked inside.
Once inside, he made himself a cup of tea and sat at the window. Joe climbed up into Keppler’s lap and fell asleep. Keppler just looked out the window. The wispy clouds were drifting across what was left of the sun. Another hazy day.

Joe woke up and went into the kitchen to get a bite to eat, and Keppler followed him. He scratched behind Joe’s ears while he ate, and remembered what it was like before everything happened.

Nighttime came. There were no lights to turn out, so Keppler and Joe laid down when it grew too dark to really see. They kept each other warm.

“Keppler?” said Joe.

Keppler grunted.

“I’m glad you attempt to maintain a sense of civility and normalcy, even though the world as we know it is drawing to an end, and everyone we’ve ever known or cared about has either died or been obliterated.”

But Keppler was already asleep.