The Wrong Address

Fragments from an Australasian Life





OK, here’s the latest offer. For $999 we can remake you on a 3D printer. Money back guarantee. Are there any details you’d like to change? A nose, a knee, or perhaps some detail of fate? Well, not yet available by Internet order, but surely it will come (just have faith in the Russian programmer who made possible, and the Nigerian gentleman with the marketing rights). So how will you choose?  

If you had asked me at most times in the last fifty years, offered to let me push the big red re-set button on living life over again, I would have hesitated in confusion. Perhaps that’s why I am still a poor man. But born in a lucky country at a time of peace (more or less), ugly but healthy, aware of the desperate lives in less fortunate places, only a fool would not want to count his lucky stars and pause before gambling on another throw of the cosmic dice. 

Sometime in the last few years I passed a red traffic light that suddenly loomed out of the mist without warning. The sign underneath it said “Welcome to Retirement Land. Game Over. No Exit From This Territory. You Are Now Harmless and Useless. Have A Nice Sunset”. It was true. The mist cleared, the warm sun came out, they gave me a pittance to live on and gently suggested that it was silly to work now. I looked around, then looked back at the race I hadn’t known I’d been running. Now it was clear. Life was supposed to be over by regulation. Wasn’t I decently happy? Well, not altogether. Where was that big red re-set button? Just having one shot at a very short race whose shortness you don’t know about at the time seemed kind of unfair. Dammit, I’d just learned a few useful things and it was game over, the official story said. Come to think of it, there were a dozen lives in parallel universes which I’d like to have a shot at before picking a final one for posterity. To hell with the official story! 

So now it is over to you. Maybe we’ve been born an aeon too early (before the necessary 3D printers). Or maybe an asteroid impact tomorrow will blow this human game to smithereens anyway. Personally, I’ll never know about it. The tale on offer in “The Wrong Address” is a fragment of a fragment, written in bad verse about a character who means nothing to you anyway. It was fun to write the bad verse, and fun to wonder whether such an ordinary life could hold any kind of mirror up to all those other folk crawling between heaven and earth in this corner of the Milky Way. What do you think?


Thorold May