“A widow walks into a bar. Wait no. Hold on. Let me start over again,” Chet stammers. Bright lights burn his eyes as if mocking his failed joke. Chet hears a single, drawn out “boo” come from the back of the room. That’s probably fine, that joke might have been offensive anyways. People shift uneasily. Sweat falls off of him. His comedy routine is not going well. Classic first-timer botch job. Good thing he wasn’t a barber. He thought he was ready for this. His nerves got the best of him. Now he is paying for the discomfort he is causing in dehydration. He didn’t bring water up with him. He is going to die up there. He hopes to God that he dies up there.
“Get off the stage!” the same man who booed at him yells. Chet stutters something and walks off stage with his head hung down in shame. Stepping away from the bright lights, the faces of the audience come into view. Awkward looks and eyes darting away fill Chet’s vision. No one can look at him. He walks towards the back of the bar, where a fat drunk man sits, laughing hysterically. Fat Man waves him over and gestures to an open seat.
“What a set, you killed it up there!” Fat Man says.
“You booed me off stage.”
“Correct. You killed comedy up there, somebody had to get you off stage before you started murdering the crowd too.”
“Hey, it was your first time. Ease into it, you’ll get it.”
The fat man, Jove, twists in his seat. He manages to roll out of the booth and make his way to the bar. He reappears minutes later with drinks. Chet drinks his so quickly they may as well have never existed. Music plays now in the bar. The stage stands empty, just a mic stand and stool. The bright lights are still up, bathing the stage in an unnatural heat. Chet stares at it for too long, unable to forgive himself for betraying comedy so horribly.
Jove is the fattest man in our solar system, but he really knows how to inspire people. He can hit them with a thunderbolt of inspiration whenever he wants. Chet knows this about Jove. He just needs to get him talking, eventually he’ll come up with gold. The gas giant sips his drink with mirth. Always the happy fat man.
“I practiced this so much, I thought I was ready.”
“You were gonna go with the widow joke, huh?”
“I thought the widow joke was killer.”
“It’s not. At all.”
“I don’t see you up there doing this.”
“Yeah, but I just saw you up there, and you should not have been. Cut the widow joke out. There’s a widow right over there. You think she wants to hear that?”
“Everybody is offended by something.”
It’s that time, the bar starts to close down. The bright lights turn off, hiding the mic and stool. Chet looks for them in the darkness, wondering if he will sit there ever again. The gods seemed to be condemning him to a life of anti-comedy. They never helped when he really needed it. Chet and Jove stand up and make their way for the exit. Jove stops Chet.
“I have something for you. A good luck charm.”
“You have got to be kidding me.”
“Come on, take it.”
Jove reaches into his pocket and pulls out a round object. Chet takes it and sees what it is. He almost drops it immediately. Its a glass eye.
“What the heck dude.”
“I stole it from somebody. It’s all-seeing.”
“It can see all things past, present, and future.”
“Do you…. do you want me to replace it with one of my eyes?”
Jove reaches into his other pocket and produces an exact-o knife.
“We can do this right now.”
“Uhhhh… I don’t know how comfortable I am with this man.”
“You want to be some god of comedy, and yet you won’t make the necessary sacrifices.”
Chet shifted uncomfortably. Jove was right. He was expecting gold without putting any effort in. How much did he really need both eyes anyway? Plus this glass eye can see all things. Seems like a decent trade-off. The bar wenches were cleaning now. Chet and Jove were in the way, but they didn’t move. Jove was holding the knife delicately. Maybe this was the lightning bolt of inspiration Chet needed. He wasn’t expecting it to be a lightning bolt of getting his eye removed and replaced with an all-seeing glass eye.
“Shoot. Alright, I’m in. Lets do it.”
“Put it in man, lets do it, lets get all-seeing.”
“You’re kidding me right?”
Fat Jove started laughing so hard he fell over. He was rolling around like the ball cackling. For a fat man his laugh could get fairly high pitched. Bar people moved around him trying to clean.
“It’s a joke dude! You honestly thought I was serious?”
“You’re a jerk.”
“You were going to let me cut your eye out! What the hell!”
Chet swiftly exited the bar. Anger swelled over. He was ready to beat someone up. Jove followed him into the night. The street was busy with people and cars. The black night sat above them calmly. A street light shone on Chet. It glinted off something in his hand. He opened his palm and looked at the glass eye. The brown eye stared at him unblinkingly.
“You were ready to let me cut out your eye man. I’m losing it right now.”
“Why can’t you just be serious about this for once. I need some genuine advice.”
“Maybe you’re being too serious about it, this is comedy after all.”
Chet pocketed the glass eye and looked up at the street light, considering what Jove said. It was a little too bright. He started to sweat a little.
“Tell the widow joke.”