by Richard Brautigan
In the fall of that year the cans were good and flew straight. After we went down in the car towards the coast we stopped at the inn and bought a whole chicken with a loaf of bread and made sandwiches. The wine had been stolen by young men in the night from the next village. They gave us beer in cans. We stopped at the bridge and walked down the hill with the sandwiches and cans and we placed the cans in the cold stream water. After we ate, the cans of beer were cold and we drank the beer. It was refreshing to drink the cold beer when the weather was warm. The taste was metallic and cheap but the coldness was refreshing. When the cans were empty and the food had been eaten we kicked the cans and nothing was the same. Winter came. It brought the sadness suddenly and it was as if a young person had died for no reason. In the end everyone made friends again but the cans never flew as they did when we were young, and we continued to kick cans and watch them twirl over in the air and listen to the clank and remember.
An excerpt from the fabled unfinished manuscript, The Last Clank.
“There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own. However, nothing dispirits, and nothing seems worth while disputing. He bolts down all events, all creeds, and beliefs, and persuasions, all hard things visible and invisible, never mind how knobby; as an ostrich of potent digestion gobbles down bullets and gun flints. And as for small difficulties and worryings, prospects of sudden disaster, peril of life and limb; all these, and death itself, seem to him only sly, good-natured hits, and jolly punches in the side bestowed by the unseen and unaccountable old joke. That odd sort of wayward mood I am speaking of, comes over a man only in some time of extreme tribulation; it comes in the very midst of his earnestness, so that what just before might have seemed to him a thing most momentous, now seems but a part of the general joke.” – Melville, Moby Dick