Getting the Can

Everything was just so. There were tables laid out with body parts and one table with brains. It was Josh’s job to put everything together and have a set of functioning humans for the show in an hour. He knew if he put the pieces together incorrectly the thing wouldn’t work and there’d be one less human walking out on stage. He started with the toes, attaching them to feet where they clicked into place like magnets. He wore a headlamp and thick, round glasses. When Marcie came in he almost had a full body going. We’re on in thirty-five minutes, she said, looking at her phone. I am aware of that fact, he said quietly, not looking up.

I’m seeing one body not even done yet, she said, picking up a brain from the table and turning it over in her hand. The first one always takes the longest, Josh said. He clicked the brain into the skull. See, look. He plopped the frontal bone and the parietal bone on top of the head and clicked them all together.

It has no eyes, she said.

I’m getting to the eyes! He picked out two matching eyes from the eye table and tapped them into place. The body suddenly came to life. Hello, nice to meet you! he said to Josh. Josh looked at Marcie and grinned.

Well, you’ve got nine more, Marcie said before leaving the room. Josh went and turned up the music. New York Hardcore always made him work faster. Can I help you? the newly assembled human asked.

No… Uh… Just stand over there, Josh said. The new human complied. He stood by the wall naked, watching Josh work. Before long Josh had a second one ready, a woman this time. Now go stand over by your friend, he said to her.

That’s not my friend, she replied.

Okay, I just mean that guy. Stand over by that guy.

I don’t like that guy, she said. Josh stared at her. What’s not to like? he said. He was just born –just like you! But she wouldn’t budge, standing a few feet from Josh, naked like the first one. Okay, okay, Josh said. Just let me focus. I’m running out of time.

How much time do you have?

Josh checked his phone. Sixteen minutes! If I don’t stay focused I’m going to screw this up so please—

You’ll never make it.

Josh glared at her, then pressed ahead. Soon a third stood in front of him and he clicked the ears on. Oh, hello there, the new girl said.

Okay please stand over there by him while I finish the rest of you, Josh said.

Why can’t I stand here, with her?

What’s wrong with that guy? said Josh. Just stand over there!

Why doesn’t she have to?

Listen, all of you, just stand in one place, you’re distracting the fuck out of me!

Can I turn this music down?


Geez, sorry. What’s with him?

He’s been like this the whole time, the first girl said. Then Marcie appeared at the door and looked in. That’s what I thought. Just give me what you have, she said.

Look, here’s another one, Josh said, fitting two arms onto another male.

That’s not the right head for that body.

Yes it is.

No it’s not. Just give me the others. Do they have names?

Not yet. You can do the honors.

Okay, Human One, Human Two and Human Three come with me. The naked people followed her out through the door toward the stage. When she was gone the new one turned to Josh. Is my head wrong? he asked Josh. Josh stopped working and stared at the body and head combination. No, she’s smoking crack. Quick, you might still make it! He pointed to the door. The new guy went out. Josh looked at the time on his phone. Fuck! FUCK!

He dropped down onto the couch. He stared blankly at a half-assembled human in front of him. Need help with that? Josh turned to see the fourth human in the doorway. They wouldn’t let me on stage, he said. Show already started.

The fourth walked over to the half-assembled body and began adding body parts to it: ribcage over the lungs, pectoral muscles over the ribcage. How do you know how to do that? Josh asked.

I just do.

Josh watched as the fourth assembled six more humans perfectly, in record time. The newly finished naked humans conferred over by the soda machine. The fourth walked back and stood over Josh. Since it’s too late for us to go out on stage we’re just going to go, the fourth said. Then all seven filed out the door, heading to the elevators.

Josh sat there. He reached up and turned off the music. It had started bumming him out. Then he lay back on the couch, putting his feet up. He lay there staring at the ceiling, wondering how long it would take for someone from head office to come down and give him the can. He glanced over at the table. There was a single eyeball staring at him. How could they forget that? he asked himself. And then he started laughing. He was still laughing when Marcie came in and told him to get his stuff and clear out. Even down on the subway, cardboard box in his lap, he continued to laugh. The sour expressions of the other subway passengers struck him as hilarious and he erupted in loud guffaws that made his eyes water. When he arrived at his stop he wasn’t laughing anymore but he still had a big smile on his face. With a spring to his step he pushed out through the turnstile and ran up the stairs into the light.



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7 thoughts on “Getting the Can

  1. Aubergina

    LOL. I really really love this post. Well-written. I wished I could have one or two of those ..hmm..humanoids (?) so that they can help me with my laundry and cook my dinners while I dream of stories to write.

  2. Tom Lisowski Post author

    Thanks Aubergina! I think you’re on to something! We may even be able to get these humanoids to write stories for us!

  3. Dom

    Twisted! Can I please order one humanoid to give me a foot rub, two more to cook my meals, and another five for undisclosed purposes

    Dom x

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