Packer’s new computer was waiting for him when he got home from school. It was in a big cardboard box with big, authoritative writing on it: CAREFUL. THIS COMPUTER IS MEANT TO BE USED BY EXPERIENCE USERS ONLY. Packer feverishly ripped open the box and heaved it up onto his desk with a thud. “Come look at my new computer,” he shouted to his mom. She came into his room, gave it a quick once-over and told him, “Wow. That sure looks like a fancy thing-a-ma-jiggy.”
She then glanced around his dirty room and shook her head reproachfully but left the room without saying anything more. He didn’t hesitate setting his computer up. Once it was ready Packer began typing away furiously, punching the buttons with a zeal and a flourish that Picasso himself would admire. He had the machine humming and churning out information and solutions that had him amazed. Within just minutes the mathematical equation of the Big Bang was presented and the secret behind Mona Lisa’s smile was revealed. “Mom, this is incredible!” He yelled to the other room. A faint, “that’s great, dear,” reverberated back.
Packer scowled down the hallway in the direction of his mother and stood up to close the door. He quickly returned to the computer and typed a new directive. Instantaneously a woman appeared on his screen wearing nothing but a man’s tie, she was moaning savagely and looking directly at the camera. Packer panicked and quickly shut down the power, the woman disappearing to silent black.
He stood up and cupped his ear to the door but only the blare of his mother’s television set could be heard down the hall. He powered back on and after a series of technical phrases were punched in Packer’s computer returned the results of this year’s World Series three months in advance. “That’s going to be useful,” he remarked and wrote down the score on a post-it and stuck it to the wall.
Hours went by, the sun sunk and the blue sky darkened black. His mom stopped by only to remind him to pick up his room and then left to inhabit the other side of the house. She refused to watch what this new computer could do, although Packer begged, because Gray’s Anatomy was on in the other room and she doesn’t have TiVo like Packer’s father does. “Where is he when you need to show off your new toy, huh? Nowhere to be found!”
After she closed the door behind her Packer ran a few applications that made him king of a small island in the Indian Ocean, (just south of Thailand) and gave him a sexy tuft of chest hair that he always wanted. It seemed like this computer could do anything…
“This was the best idea ever!” Packer proclaimed out loud after he personally changed the giant television screen in Time’s Square from a CNN newscast to a Youtube video of an overweight woman falling off of a playground swing. The woman lands on her backside and her dress comes up revealing two fat, jiggly legs. Packer bellowed with laughter and then began composing an email to every living resident of Canada. ‘Why is Canada so cold?’ It began.
It’s an understatement to say that Packer was pleased with his purchase. He worked through the summer hauling metal pipes up a steep hill where a mall was being built on the outskirts of town. His uncle paid him under the table, telling him that it was so Packer wouldn’t have to pay taxes and they both wouldn’t have to worry about pesky child labor laws. “Hard work makes you a man. Don’t worry about your back, you have plenty of time to complain about a bad back when you’re older,” his uncle lectured. Finally when Packer had enough for a computer he found one that was cheap enough and sent away for it. It arrived a day before Packer sent in the check — proving the ad correct when it claimed to be offering a one time ‘super unbelievable computer for the modern man. This machine can think for you.’
Packer liked the idea of that: being a modern man.
Midnight came and went and Packer never emerged from his room to brush his teeth or wash his face. He was too engrossed in the miracles his computer was delivering to take a break. When there was too much stuff in his room, he went to a site that made your room grow in minutes and just like that Packer had twice the space he had before. His bed was nearly thirty feet away and he could barely hear his bird Lawrence in its cage. Packer could now work his miracle machine twice as hard. He got to work changing the world.
It was late. The floorboards squeaked as his mother approached his door, knocking gently in her pink, fuzzy slippers. “Honey, are you still awake,” she asked. A blue light was visible underneath the doorway and she could hear the buzzing of Packer’s computer. “Packer, it’s almost four in the morning and I swore I just heard the squealing of a gibbon. Do you have a gibbon in there?”
When she heard no reply she decided to see what he was up to. The door was pushed open revealing an assortment of fantastical sights. There was a trapeze troupe swinging from his ceiling. His bird Lawrence was speaking arabic to an Egyptian mummy. Miniature miners were digging for gold on a plastic Matterhorn while a choo-choo train circled its base. Her eyes widened to hub caps as she gazed at the miners. They turned and waved at her, being very real and very small, they were pleased to see a woman after so many months alone with just men. Where Packer’s bed had once stood was a long hallway with priceless treasures lining the way to a very distant blindingly white light. She got the impression this is the hallway the newly deceased walk on their way to St. Peter. She had no interest in traveling that way. “Packer, are you in here? Why did you make such a mess?” She hollered.
A jaguar jumped out from behind a Dutch windmill and almost scared his mother out of her robe, but then when it began reciting the most beautiful love poem to her she relaxed. “Do you know where my son is?” She interrupted the jaguar, growing impatient now. “My loveliest of rose, your son has ventured to Xanadu and won’t be back for quite some time. Let’s not be bothered with him and unwind on my velvet branch instead. I love to lay about with my legs dangling below, you know,” the jaguar purred. She contemplated the large cat’s velvet branch but decided that was out of the question. “Well, when he comes back can you please remind him that he needs to pick up his room! Look at this mess. Is that an empty pizza box from Tuesday? Christ! I don’t know what comes over that boy sometimes!”
Packer’s mother slammed the door behind her and the shaking of the wall caused a trapeze artist to miss the bar and fall to the floor, breaking a leg. The jaguar looked out through the window, contemplating the yellow moon while it licked a lone paw. “What loneliness we’re capable of,” it mused, it’s fur shinning like a silverfish, its lambent, waxy eyes dancing in the blue light. “What a mess this life is. All we do is consume and lay siege.”
The big cat looked around laconically and belched. A small piece of Packer’s flesh flew from its mouth and fell to the floor where it lay next to the empty pizza box that inflamed his mother’s ire. The computer continued working its miracles. His mother reached her room where she laid her head on her pillow and wistfully thought of Doctor McDreamy. Somewhere in the Indian Ocean an island kingdom was mourning the loss of their king.