The Trick

by Ron

“The trick.” Larry said, “To killing a fly, is understanding exactly how it flies.”

His hands were poised, about a foot apart, just above the surface of the darkly varnished, wooden bar table, where his potential victim was parked, waist deep in a puddle of spilled beer. Larry looked as if he were preparing to pray – but had yet to bring his palms together.


His date was a long-haired brunette named Sue, who was majoring in chemistry. If you’d been in college in this year of 1975, it seemed like every third girl you met was named Sue.

“Larry. You’re not going to kill it, are you?”

“It’s a matter of physics.” He said, ignoring her question.

“Anyone want another round?”

Tim Duff dropped three green bottles of Genesee Cream Ale onto the table with a hard clank and sat down. Incredibly, the fly did not move.

Nor did Sue.

“Larry? Hello?”

“What is he doing?” Said Tim, “The fly thing?”

“Larry!” Sue said, loud enough that students at nearby tables in The Rathskeller looked over. “It is a living, breathing thing. Why do you want to kill it?”

Frozen in place, hands still hovering above the fly, he said nothing.

Tim drank some beer and tipped the bottle at his roommate.

“Sue, unlike Larry here, killing is not my thing. I’m more of a lover.”

Her eyes shifted to him for a moment, but then right back to Larry.

“Do you think this is going to impress me in some way? She said. Soft this time.

For the first time in several minutes, Larry looked away from the fly, though he kept his hands in position.

“Sue. It’s a fly. An insect. You probably killed thousands with your windshield the last time you drove home for Spring Break. You crushed bugs just walking here this fine Spring day.

“But that wasn’t intentional...” She protested.

“What about mosquitoes? I’ll bet you’ve swatted your share of them over the years?

“Yea, well. But that’s different, too. I mean, I wasn’t just setting out to prove some weird point or just kill for the thrill of it.”

“And that makes a difference?”

“Yes, it does. It’s about the intent. And what you’re thinking. And why you want to do it.”

“I think he wants to prove that he will never, ever, manage to have a girlfriend.” Tim said.

Larry smiled. “What I find really interesting is that, as of now, I haven’t done anything. The fly is still there. He’s happy. Oblivious. Content. Probably a little tipsy. All I’ve done is to suggest that eliminating him would be relatively simple.”

“Button it up, Larry,” Said Tim, “You’re not helping your case any.”

“I don’t think I have a case.”

“Did you just start taking Philosphy 101 or something? I thought you were a bio major?”

Larry smiled at Sue’s question and returned his gaze to his tiny prey.

“No,” He said, “I’m studying whether one can plant a plastic bug on a table and watch it develop into a night of unmitigated passion in someone’s dorm room…”

“My god,” She said, standing quickly. “You are a complete and utter jerk.”

She turned and left without another word, but as she did, her purse knocked into the edge of the table.

The fly took off, straight up as expected, and with a swift smack, Larry brought his hands together.

“Missed.” He said.

“Maybe it’s not just physics.” Tim said.

“Maybe not.” Larry agreed. “Maybe not.”

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