We Shouldn’t Have Electrified Gerald

(With apologies to Donald Barthelme)

Friends, we came together to tackle problem that simply needed solving. Something had to be done. And sometimes, as they say, desperate measures are required for desperate times. Out of all the solutions we came up with – Gary’s pulley method, John’s algorithm, Carol’s ambitious nanotechnology plan – electrifying Gerald seemed to be our best hope for a solution. Yet I can’t help but feel that it may have been a mistake.

It’s upsetting for all of us to see him like this, with his hair all standing on end and that creepy distant look in his eyes. But it’s important we don’t find ourselves distracted by the question of who to blame. I know I speak for all of us when I say that it was not in a spirit of malice that we proceeded to pump such a dangerous amount of electricity into Gerald. We only wanted this problem solved. Something had to be done. I’m sure when he comes around he’ll understand that we did not take the decision lightly. And once his family have calmed down and stopped threatening to sue us they will likely come to the same conclusion.

But even so we must now accept that not only have we caused severe injury to our dear friend Gerald – we have done so in vain. The problem still remains unsolved.

This was the worst possible outcome.

The science behind hooking Gerald up to the national grid seemed sound enough. The sums were checked and checked again by the very best mathematicians and electrical engineers we have available. The equipment was tested thoroughly – we have a whole laboratory full of badly singed orangutans to attest to that. There wasn’t anything else we could have done. We simply couldn’t have known in advance that the electrification of Gerald would prove to be completely pointless.

That said, standing here watching him twitch in such an unsettling manner, I’m forced to admit that we perhaps should not have gone ahead with the plan. Even the potential reward of finally solving this problem once and for all was not enough to justify the risks to Gerald’s health. But we can’t unshock him. What’s done is done. Together we have made an error and together we must live with the consequences. All we can do now is agree to say, in one voice, “Never Again.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I only say this because the idea of subjecting me to potentially fatal levels of radiation has been floated as a possible solution to the problem. I’ll admit that I’m not overly keen on that course of action. I’ve never suffered radiation poisoning before but I have heard that it can be quite unpleasant. And I’d be lying if I said the words, “potentially fatal” didn’t fill me with a slight sense of trepidation. I may have left myself open to accusations of hypocrisy, seeing as I was the one to suggest the sending several thousand volts of electricity through Gerald’s system in the first place, but hindsight is, as they say, 20-20. Now that we’ve witnessed how it has affected the poor chap it seems to me that we should not push further with another plan that may harm a member of our team.

I mean, look at him. He’s still got smoke coming from the bits of skin where his eyebrows were. That can’t be healthy.

Instead I suggest we go back to the drawing board to find another solution. This problem isn’t going to go away. Something must be done. Perhaps I was unduly critical of the motorised contraption that Brian designed. I’m sorry for questioning your intelligence and parentage, Brian. And having had time to mull them over I’d quite like to revisit Cathleen’s theories on gene splicing as a solution – as controversial and deeply sinister as they are.

But please: not the radiation. I’m begging you. Something must be done, I agree. But there has to be a better way. Are we absolutely sure there’s no merit to the idea of setting George on fire?


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