The Olive Garden Path of Forking Spoons

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“You get a soup with that,” the waitress said.
                “Gnocchi.” Japheth Brown kept his eyes on the Sweet’N Low. His waitress, Daphne, paid no attention to the perplexed look on the seventeen-year-old’s face. Had Japheth been wholly present in the moment, he may have wondered why.
                He may have even resented her for it.
                “Cool shirt,” Daphne said as she left.
                Japheth glanced down to see what he was wearing. The plain white T-shirt read: “The Many-Worlds Hypothesis Is Only a Theory.” He smiled for a moment before his attention was drawn back to the table setting. Daphne hadn’t forgotten to remove the upturned wineglasses, but she had neglected to take the three remaining bundles of silverware.
                He unwrapped them all.
                Japheth ignored the knives and forks and focused on the spoons. He sat the first one in front of him. The bulbous end pointed away. He then placed a second spoon’s depressed end into the recess of the first at a forty-five-degree angle. This second spoon pointed to his left.
                Next he placed the third spoon so that it mirrored the first—a family tree of cutlery.
                The fourth spoon began to form the first couplet off the second spoon. He hoped Daphne would hurry back with his soup, and a new spoon, when a thought occurred to him …
                “I’ll take the minestrone,” Japheth said. The waitress nodded and walked off. Japheth was annoyed that she didn’t seem concerned that he was upset. She could have at least said something about his shirt. It was usually a hit.
                Then he noticed the silverware.
                “Minestrone,” Japheth grunted. Before Daphne could reply, a man across the room began to choke. Japheth leapt from his chair and cleared the man’s airways. With a scratchy voice the man said, “Went down the wrong pipe.” The man then introduced himself as Richard Dawkins and added, “Cool shirt.”
                The famed evolutionary biologist took care of Japheth’s meal, and Japheth felt glad to be given the opportunity to be heroic toward someone he considered a hero. He wondered what his life would have looked like had he ordered
                “Gnocchi,” Japheth said. Daphne slapped him.
                Through tears Japheth said he didn’t care.
                “I’ll have a salad. With a vinaigrette,” Japheth said and squeezed the hand resting next to his.
                “’llIay avehay oupsay.”
                “The potato soup with the rabbit crumbles, please.”
                Japheth’s phone rang. The voice on the other end told him to watch his back.
                An angel of the Lord told Japheth that he was with child and that “this time they’ll have to buy the whole virgin thing.”
                Japheth noticed a lone puzzle piece tucked in with the Splenda. It was the one he was looking for.
                Daphne shot Japheth.
                Japheth shot Daphne.
                The manager asked if everything was okay here.
                An intense heat consumed the restaurant. The sun had exploded.
                The Flying Spaghetti Monster ripped the ceiling off the Olive Garden and took vengeance for the slaughter of his children.
                A teapot on the other side of the moon laughed, and in a giant intake of breath, an infinite supply of Japheths exhaled the word rubbish. All of them in fact, except for those that never existed and except for those who did exist but in a world where the word rubbish didn’t. And also excepting the many worlds in which Japheth had died before he reached seventeen. Except for those in which he died before he reached seventeen but also in which the dead could speak. And love lasted forever. And somewhere, someone watched over him, granting him the gift of speech beyond death, someone who relished the chance to give glimpses. 
              The waitress brought out the soup, and an infinite supply of Japheths looked at many variations of gnocchi—though a slightly less infinite supply than all possible Japheths—and saw that it ought to be good.

About the Author: 
D. M. Dunn is an editor by trade and an armchair quantum physicist by choice. (And label only.) His greatest literary claim to fame is a 2012 Dishonorable Mention in the Bulwer-Lytton contest for bad first lines.

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