Apr 012002

I couldn’t sleep Sunday night; my head was full of questions, and I hadn’t even written my column yet.

Walking through deserted Old Town at 3 a.m., I noticed an inviting glow coming from one of the bars. The door of the bar was wide open, so I went inside.

The glow was coming from a Ms. Packman machine. The arcade game was the only light in the place and the screen was hypnotically flashing “1 credit, 1 credit, 1 credit.” As a youth I used to rip Ms. Packman up, so I decided to see if I still had some of the magic left.

One thousand; 10,000; 100,000; 1 million.

As my score began to skyrocket, I realized I was in the zone: I was dancing between ghosts, chompin’ dots like an addict and inhaling every piece of fruit. I quickly surpassed the high score – without dying once.

Then it got weird.

The game suddenly shut off, and a short black man dressed in a sleek suit appeared at the doorway. His hair was wavy and big, and he had a huge smile on his face /_” it was Sammy Davis Jr.

“What’s happening, baby,” he said.

I was confused: “What could this possibly have to do with my column?” I asked my brain, but with little resolve. Sammy kept smiling at me kind of cock-mouthed, but I felt comfortable and unusually sober for this type of experience.

“I’m not from what you call ‘Earth,'” he said to me while lighting a cigarette and sitting down on a barstool. “In my solar system, we have been observing and studying life on Earth for hundreds of years, but not until recently have we been able to contact humans without destroying them.”

“What do you want from me Mr. Davis?” I said.

“First of all, I’m not Sammy Davis Jr. I just chose his body shape because I always enjoyed his work. If you saw me how others- my brothers- see me, I would be so beautiful to you that you would never be able to look at another human again. And what I want from you is some answers.”

“What are the questions?”

“I’ll be honest. I’m trying to win a bet whether humans are inherently good or evil. It’s kinda like an ongoing drama for us to watch you guys. I mean a lot of the time you’re beautiful: making music, playing baseball, laughing, swimming in the ocean, trying to talk to animals.

“But you also kill each other for reasons other than food or self defense, destroy your own planet and almost every action of humans is selfish.”

“What did you bet on?”

“I bet on good and got your equivalent of 700-1 odds.”

“A sucker bet.”

“I’m sad you feel that way Zeb, because you’re my only shot to win /_” you’re the Chosen One.”

“Why me? Because I got the high score on Ms. Packman, right?”

“No. We just rigged that to laugh at you ’cause you thought you were actually playing. The best part was when you said to yourself, ‘I’m in the zone.’ You were actually picked because you share our passion for Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.”

“Just ask me the question already.”

“Who would win in a Poker game between George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden?”

I had to think about this one for a while.

“Whoever had the best hand I guess.”

“Wrong. Whoever can cheat the best.”

“So what does this mean, are we good or evil?”

“The only thing for sure is you’re real damn naA_ve. And that column of yours, it isn’t gonna make any sense to any man. That’s the breaks kid.”

Zeb’s column appears every Tuesday. He can not prove that this encounter actually took place. He’s been feverish and insanely sober with mono lately, but he’s never dreamed about Sammy Davis Jr. before.

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