Charlie, a shoe salesman, jumped out of bed, startled that it was already 8:30. His United Airlines Flight was scheduled for 10:22. Now he didn’t even have time for breakfast. He had set the alarm for 7 but had forgotten to hit the button to activate it, perhaps an unconscious omission reflecting how much he dreaded the trip. Nonetheless, he felt compelled to be present when the divorce was finalized in Los Angeles, where Zelda had found employment after they had separated several months ago. Of course, he had been hurt and angry when she said, “I want to be as far away from you as possible,” and went to LA after eight years of marriage. But then after a short pause, and with tears, she had asked, “Will you ever come to LA?”
“Maybe…I don’t know…it depends on…,” he had said, stumbling for what he meant, as always.
“On what?” she asked, “It depends on what?” His ambivalence drove her crazy. Did he even love her? Maybe…she wasn’t sure…sometimes…it depended on…what?
He retreated within himself, not sure what to say. But he had no difficulty about what to think.
Why does she go to LA to be as far from me as possible and, at the same time, wonder whether I would visit her? And she calls me indecisive!
This promised to be a most terrible day. Maybe. Maybe not. It depended. On what?
Charlie arrived at the airport at 9: 25, close to the requisite hour before departure. He hurried to the ticket counter anxious to trade his window seat for an aisle seat in the emergency exit row to have extra legroom. Comfort was a matter of inches for super-big Charlie. He had been lucky to get a reservation in economy class. They had suggested that a better seat might become available due to last-minute cancellations. He went to the back of the line.
Nothing exists until it does – jobs, marriage – divorce, he thought. Nothing ever is certain. That’s just the way life is – fragile, conflicted in possibilities, outcomes a roll of the dice. Maybe this…maybe that…it depends on…on what? Could anyone blame me for living life as it is – uncertain? Zelda wanted distance from me, but then wonders if I’ll visit her. What does that mean?
Naturally, he wanted more legroom and space on the plane. Being six-foot-seven would be fine for a basketball player, but it wasn’t for a shoe salesman. He had even developed painful back spasms by bending down so low tying shoelaces for indecisive customers. Did they want the black shoes or the brown ones, boots or sneakers? The world was too small for him: entering or leaving a car was difficult, he had to watch his head going through doorways, and his clothes had to be custom made, even, ironically, his shoes, since he needed size 16, extra wide.
By 9:40 the line to the ticket agent had hardly budged.
Relax, he told himself in vain, since such self-encouragement seldom worked. He also had to urinate, a recurring urge when he was nervous. The idea of flying went straight to his bladder. The ghost of a close friend killed in a helicopter crash while on vacation in Hawaii haunted him.
I’m no bird, he thought. Nothing wrong with ‘good ole terra firma’.
The agent behind the counter, looking very official in her uniform complete with cap and two medals (he couldn’t imagine what heroic act led to these), had a vacant, unhurried look that made him want to shake some life into her. Was she a robot? They were in vogue. She reminded him of the cashier holding his change in her hand suspended halfway across the counter while chit-chatting with a fellow employee before handing him the money with a vapid smile, “Here you are, dear. Have a nice day.”
Can’t that woman speed it up? I’ll miss my plane. She’s like a mechanical toy whose battery has run low.
Charlie checked the time again. 9:57.
If only he could stop making his life an exercise in constraint without agency, as Zelda had said repeatedly.
The line bumped up a notch and he kicked his carry-on suitcase a few inches closer to the front. Three minutes later he reached the counter and did his best to hide his frustration. “I would like to exchange my window seat on Flight 618 to Los Angeles for an aisle seat in the emergency row, or at least for a regular aisle seat somewhere on the plane?”
“Sorry. No emergency exit or aisle seats left. Ticket please.”
Charlie handed her his ticket.
“Your window seat is no longer available. You’re required to check-in at least 20 minutes before flight time to confirm your reservation, and the plane departs in 15 minutes. Let me see what’s available, if anything.”
“I can’t believe this,” he sputtered. “I have been waiting in line for over half an hour. Are you saying I can’t get on this flight?”
She ignored his complaining.
“Only two seats left on the plane. Seat 33B is still available. You’re very lucky. Here you are.” She handed him the boarding pass. “Better hurry, they’re boarding now.”
I wish I could stamp on her toes.
“LAST CALL FOR UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT 618,” announced a digital voice piped throughout the airport from the great above.
He arrived at the gate winded from rushing as a family with three children were boarding first-class. The youngest, an approximately five-year-old girl wearing a safari-like hat with an orange feather, dragged a filthy stuffed elephant along the ground with a rope around its neck.
She ought to be dragged along with her pet, thought Charlie, whose mood was plummeting.
“ROWS 30 TO 35 MAY BOARD NOW,” said the official.
When Charlie entered the place, he saw the strangled elephant comfortably placed on the huge armrest next to the little zookeeper. Her mother was sipping apple juice on the seat beside her, oblivious to the passengers trudging single file towards the economy class section. The privileged first-class passengers looked so isolated that Charlie had a transient sense of pity for them before he came to his senses.
Charlie waited behind a grotesquely fat woman trying to wiggle her way to seat 31F by the window. The middle and aisle seats were overflowing with obese flesh, a male in the middle and a female on the end.
Thank goodness I don’t have to sit between them!
Charlie proceeded past her, his bulky carry-on suitcase in his left hand and his briefcase in his right.
“Ouch,” yelled the startled gentleman in seat 32C as Charlie’s carry-on crashed against the gentleman’s shoulder.
“Sorry,” apologized Charlie, turning towards the injured passenger, which caused his briefcase to plow into the chest of the woman in seat 31D on the other side of the aisle.
“Y I K E S!!” she exclaimed.
“Hey, buster, be careful,” said her protective husband.
“I said I was sorry,” answered Charlie, distinctly annoyed. As he turned the other way, the man in 32C ducked to avoid injury. It didn’t help. Bang, the carry-on weapon whacked the back of his head,
“Can’t you be more careful, sir?” The passenger rubbed his head.
“Oops, sorry again. I’ll just put my carry-on in the overhead compartment,” said Charlie.
Assholes, he muttered to himself, although understanding their frustration.
The luggage compartment above row 33 didn’t have enough open space for his suitcase. As he moved things around to make room, one of the smaller items tumbled down on the innocent victim below.
“Sorry again,” he apologized.
With one desperate push, Charlie jammed his carry-on into the overhead compartment and closed the lid. He heard a collective sigh of relief from the passengers as he collapsed onto seat 33B.
Trapped in his seat, he felt his microcosm close in on him. He slid his briefcase under the seat in front of him, further limiting the luxury of stretching his legs even slightly. He tried to place his left arm on the thin divider between seats but the pot-bellied gentleman with an open collar and short sleeves sitting next to the window had already claimed the armrest and was riveted to his magazine. Charlie nudged the intruding elbow, but the gentleman’s bushy eyebrows seemed to shield his brain. The passenger paid no attention to Charlie’s existence.
Charlie turned to his right, seeking more forgiving ground. A thin woman in her mid-forties wearing a navy-blue suit trimmed in white and studded with a line of brass buttons, military style. Her smile revealed gums with a greenish hue, which appeared natural, not colored by food she might have eaten recently.
Maybe it’s her toothpaste, he speculated.
“Hello,” she said in a high-pitched voice, which seemed to leak from her tiny nostrils. It was not only the disproportional smallness of her nose that struck Charlie, who was acutely sensitive to size, but it was the mustache of fine purplish hairs. This unique iridescent fur was disconcerting, so Charlie tried to block her nose and upper lip from his sight, leaving a dark hole in the middle of her face. His gaze traveled north and stopped at her eyes under pencil-thin, plucked brows. Miss Technicolor’s intense stare suggested a woman with a mission. The relatively soft creases extending from the corners of her eyes when she smiled did little to soften the determined look of her black pupils surrounded by a steely gray iris. As for her hair, it was cropped just below her ears, dyed light brown, straight and featureless.
“Hello to you too,” answered Charlie, as he shuffled, searching for a few extra inches.
Charlie checked his watch; it was thirty minutes past the scheduled departure time. Trickles of sweat dribbled down his forehead. He tried to cool off by twisting the vent above him, but apparently it didn’t work until the plane was in the air.
“THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING,” boomed an authoritative voice from the loudspeaker. “THE CONTROL TOWER HAS DELAYED OUR TAKE-OFF DUE TO AN INCOMING WEATHER FRONT. IT SHOULD PASS SOON. MAKE YOURSELVES COMFORTABLE.”
Comfortable! Who’s he kidding? mumbled Charlie, feeling claustrophobic.
“Excuse me?” asked Miss Nasal.
“Nothing. We are delayed, that’s all,” answered Charlie.
“Happens all the time. I travel a lot. As Vice-President of Atwell Robotics, I go all over the world. It’s nuts and bolts, really. Figure out what people need and create a robot to do it for them,” she volunteered with a flash of green.
“Robots? Really?” responded Charlie, silently wishing he had one to streamline his life.
“My name is Wilson, like the tennis racket. I still beat my kids, all three of them. Of course, the oldest is only eleven. I always beat my husband, in tennis that is. Ha ha! Linda Wilson. What’s your name?”
“Charlie Singer, although I am not musical. I do like music, but this stream of notes coming from the loudspeaker is driving me nuts. Why do they always broadcast music of some sort? In restaurants, waiting rooms, airplanes. Noise, noise, noise. We’re so bombarded with noise that quiet is like an apocalypse. Sorry for the outburst. Don’t know what got into me,” said Charlie, his face flushed in embarrassment. “I guess I’m not being too quiet myself. Sometimes …Ouch!! The guy in front on me just reclined his seat.”
“You tall guys have a problem. It’s great being five feet. I feel I’m in a living room here. Love this tune.” Linda’s head bobbed back and forth with tiny, rhythmic motions. “It reminds me of my cheerleading days in good old Wilson High. Isn’t it a coincidence, Linda Wilson graduating from Wilson High? That’s one of the reasons I didn’t adopt my husband’s name. I loved high school…had a great time… was student body secretary in my senior year. Didn’t want to be the class president. The secretary established the rules; the president just strutted around flaunting power. Who wants that? Once we get off the ground, I’ll tell you about…blah, blah, blah.”
Charlie tuned her out as his chest started tightening, desperation filling the cracks between the neurons.
How could I have lapsed so stupidly into talking to this little warrior? I violated the third law of aerodynamics: all verbal actions have an opposite and equal reaction.
Charlie glanced at the fat gentleman to his left, still hooked on the magazine with his elbow firmly rooted on their common armrest.
No getting through here. This guy is a professional at airplane survival.
Charlie didn’t know where to put his left arm. He reached down to his briefcase under the seat in front of him to get his book of short stories. Perhaps Linda would shut up if he was reading and the gentleman might move his arm.
“…and then Cathy said that twirling is better than bouncing, more challenging and if you gain a few pounds, it really doesn’t show, and so I told Larry that if he switches with Susan…”
She was talking to the woman across the aisle. Charlie’s frustration level was challenging his threshold of sanity.
Not able to reach his briefcase, he thought, Maybe, if I let my right arm dangle and swing slightly it will cause my shoulder to separate a tiny bit, perhaps just enough to reach it.
He tried this and his fingertips felt the brief casse, but his arm was going numb, and his shoulder was beginning to throb.
“…so, I decided to take the exam, even if Tom said not to, because, well, it’s critical to make a good impression, and my father had told me that to succeed it’s necessary to…”
Oh, my god! Can’t she shut up?
“Excuse me,” he said, politely. “Would you mind reaching my briefcase and handing it to me? Never mind, I think I got it now.” He opened it with a quick motion from his wrist and removed the book with renewed hope. Optimism is great, even if it has little to do with the outcome.
The plane was still on the ground.
This was indeed a most terrible, horrible day.
A brilliant streak of lightning followed by a loud clap of thunder preceded torrential rain that pounded the window. He closed his eyes seeking a moment of peace.
When Charlie opened his eyes, the gentleman on his left had his eyes closed and still claimed the armrest. Linda Wilson was straightening her skirt and not talking for a change. The sun peeking through the clouds brightened the cramped quarters in the plane.
“WE HAVE FINALLY BEEN GIVEN THE GO-AHEAD TO TAKE-OFF. THE STORM HAS PASSED TO THE EAST AND WE ARE NUMBER 23 IN LINE. IT WILL BE ANOTHER 20 MINUTES UNTIL WE LEAVE,” announced the captain to his captives.
Finally, thought Charlie. For some reason, he felt less claustrophobic when the plane was flying.
Within minutes after take-off, the seat in front of Charlie reclined further, increasing the pressure against his knees.
I can’t stand this anymore!! I can’t move, I can’t think. Take it easy. I’ll close my eyes. That doesn’t work. I’m not tired, It’s the middle of the day. I don’t want to close my eyes. I just want to move. Maybe I’ll have a go at those short stories, step into another world.
Charlie opened the book at random and started reading “The Circus Dancers” by an author he had never heard of, but after re-reading the first paragraph three times and still not knowing what it said he accepted that reading wasn’t going to work. He closed the book. His row-mate on the left was comfortably snoozing; his bare arm covered with black hairs still claimed the armrest between them. Linda Wilson was paging through a fashion magazine and fidgeting with an indefinable excess. Charlie’s mouth felt dry.
Linda made a call on the plane phone on the back of the seat in front of her.
“Hello, Maggie, this is Linda. Guess where I am, 30,000 feet in the air on my way to L.A., hey that rhymes….”.
Charlie cringed and tried to block Linda’s nasal voice.
Audible space gone too! There are so many types of space – audible space, visual space, empty space, internal space, wasted space! I CAN’T MOVE, MY LEGS ARE PINNED, MY LEFT ARM FEELS PARALYZED. I’M TRAPPED BETWEEN A WOMAN WITH SPACE IN HER HEAD AND A MAN AS RESPONSIVE AS A MUSHROOM.
This was a most terrible, horrible day .
He rang for the flight attendant, who appeared quickly.
“How can I help you, sir?” she asked, as she leaned over and reset the call button.
“Water,” begged Charlie. “Could you please bring me a glass of water?”
“Certainly. I will be back in a minute.”
Charlie checked the time: 11:55. He had not set his watch to California time yet. His mouth felt drier and drier. He waited.
What could possibly take so long to bring a lousy glass of water?
After what seemed like half an hour, the flight attendant reappeared with the water.
“Thank you,” acknowledged Charlie, as he looked at his watch again. 11:57, a rather short thirty minutes.
Suddenly a heavy sigh to Charlie’s left, and then a miracle. The armrest was free!
“…and so, Maggie, I guess that’s about it. I think the deal will go through…oh, wait, did I tell you about Sam? You won’t believe what happened! He told Larry that Susan slept with Bill. Can you believe that? Bill! Who would have thought…?”
Charlie sipped the cool water, and for a fleeting moment he felt that everything was okay. Suddenly an air pocket and the frightening sensation of dropping. Charlie’s fingers grabbed the edge of the armrests and pulled up to hold the plane in the air.
Oh my god, a new space – suction space!
He thought of Zelda’s explanation of why some people are not scared of flying. “No imagination,” she had said. “They’re not brave, just incapable of imagining the precarious truth of the situation.”
Lack of imagination was not Charlie’s problem. He saw the plane falling until it crashed on some mountain peak.
I wonder if I would feel anything as I splatter on the ground and my head crumbles into mush, my brain squished, and my bones fragmented into a million pieces.
Charlie tried to imagine what it would feel like to be dead. He stopped breathing, remained absolutely still, and closed his eyes. It didn’t work. Little black floaters raced across the inside of his eyes and his knees hurt. That wasn’t dead!
Bang! The plane hit a solid wall of air, recovering from another small air pocket. He was sweating, scared, trembling actually, while the mushroom on the left remained calm, and the talking machine on the right kept the words flowing, “…we just hit an air pocket, Maggie, wow! It was exciting, anyhow, as I was saying…”.
Charlie released his iron grip on the armrests since both of his fore arms had cramped. His whole body was tense.
He tried to stretch his legs, but the briefcase was an impediment.
I must get out of this seat. I must. I want to smash the window and be ejected into all that luxurious space outside. Stop it! Don’t be ridiculous. The aisle, I’ve got to get to the aisle. I’ll do it. I’ll go to the bathroom. First a sip of water.
When he reached for his water, he realized that his pants were soaking, and the glass was on its side, empty, on the retractable table in front of his seat.
Oh, shit. People will think that the air pocket scared me so much that I peed in my pants. No. How will anyone know that I was scared?
Determined to get out of his boxed-in quarters and go to the bathroom, he managed to lift his leg over Linda and lunged into the aisle, catching himself on the back of the seat directly in front of him.
“Sorry,” said Charlie to the surprised woman in the seat.
She glanced at him and shook her head just enough to piss Charlie off.
Never mind, he thought, I’m free at last.
The aisle felt like the Sahara Desert – endless space, breathing room, and free knees. Then he saw the flight attendant wheeling her food and drink cart down the aisle. She was heading directly for him. He sidestepped into the row next to him but after landing on the passenger’s barefoot and putting up with the inevitable protest that followed, he returned to the aisle in the line of fire. No choice but to squeeze by the cart. When the cart was almost past, Charlie’s untucked shirt caught hold of the handle of the coffee container. The flight attendant gave a quick jerk to free the cart and the hot coffee pot was thrown to the ground, spraying its contents on the passengers and painfully drenching Charlie.
“Ouch, that’s hot!” he exclaimed.
“Hey, what’s going on here, I’m soaked,” complained a woman with coffee on her blouse.
Other coffee victims grumbled as well. But there was one exception, bless his kind soul.
“Oops,” he said with no trace of anger.
“So sorry,” said Charlie.
“That’s quite all right. It’ll dry. Are you ok?” he asked the flight attendant. “And you, sir? Don’t worry, accidents do happen.”
Charlie felt like hugging this messenger from Heaven, this saint, this person of reason and kindness. His voice was gentle, understanding, hopeful. The unfortunate incident, which Charlie thought was no one’s fault, had a soothing effect on him. He wasn’t pinned in anymore, and he was understood by a complete stranger. Charlie made momentary eye contact with the kind gentleman, who dried his wet sleeve with a handkerchief.
A handkerchief! Can you imagine a handkerchief in today’s world? Such a useful, completely non-programmable thing, and it’s not even disposable. How old-fashioned! How delightful!
The gentleman appeared to be in his late sixties, had a full head of silver hair, an angular nose, high cheekbones, and a tie decorated with purple flying elephants. He smiled, then chuckled. Charlie nodded acknowledgment.
He’s so calm and nonjudgmental, thought Charlie. I wish I could be like him.
After a brief bathroom session, Charlie made his way back to his middle seat, exchanging smiles with his new acquaintance with the purple elephants as he passed by. He climbed over Linda’s leg and inadvertently bumped the arm of the gentleman by the window, who was engrossed again in reading a magazine, unaware of his environment.
Talking of robots, he qualifies!
Charlie plopped down into his designated slot and closed his eyes, feeling a warmth within that conquered the chilly air of the plane. He edged his left arm towards the armrest, opened his left eye to confirm that his arm was really on the divider between the seats, and then touched his arm to make sure that he wasn’t hallucinating. The hairy arm of the gentleman was on his lap. Charlie closed his eye again, satisfied he had scored a private victory.
Charlie succumbed to a wave of sleep. The support of the airplane seemed to melt away slowly, giving him a sense of drifting gently downward into a pool of soft nothingness. Such peace. He didn’t even feel compelled to move his legs, despite the fact that the seat in front of him still pressed on his knees, pinning them to his chair. His body was delightfully numb. As his grip on consciousness slid away, he denied gravity and lost orientation, with no distinction between up and down.
Charlie’s late parents, two married grown-up sons and a daughter, four grandchildren, his sister, a poet who remained single and obsessed with Emily Dickinson, and his beloved mutt, Sloppy, a birthday gift from his parents when he was a teenager, all appeared in his sleeping mind. Each had a different colored dot on their forehead for identification, almost like a computer filing system. They remained glued in place as he continued to move ahead, as if each anchored his past without limiting his journey forward.
Where was Zelda? What color dot would she have on her forehead? Why wasn’t she there?
As Charlie continued to travel through the universe, a new faint light appeared in the distance – a lovely, lonely dot, which glowed faintly with a soothing color he had never seen before. The dot – a mere speck – clearly a woman – brightened as he approached it. The dot was on her chin, not her forehead, as if she belonged in a different file.
“Hello,” she said. “It’s time to stop feeling constraint when you have the agency to be free, you silly boy. How many times do I have to say that?”
Gentle music in the background didn’t annoy him as it usually did.
Suddenly, a stranger splattered with coffee stains appeared with smiling eyes that poured warmth and a tie with purple flying elephants.
“I’m so sorry,” said Charlie to the gentleman.
“Why would you be sorry, you sweet man?”
“The coffee. It’s my fault. It was an accident.”
“I don’t understand,” said the stranger. “My instructions say, ‘always feel good about everything’. I love coffee. Thank you.”
“You’re the only one who is civil,” said Charlie. “The man by the window acts as if I didn’t exist, the thin woman on the aisle blabbers constantly without making sense, and the flight attendant barges into me with her cart as if it’s my fault.”
“Oh, I think you’re funny. Too bad about the way you look at life. Who programmed you?”
Charlie looked at Zelda, still next to him. “What’s he saying? Who programmed me?”
“Programs can be changed, you know,” the gentleman continued, “with a few clicks here and there.”
“Sir, please raise your seat, we’re landing now, sir. Sir, do you hear me?” said the flight attendant, shaking his shoulder.
“What? Where am I? Landing?” mumbled Charlie, wiping the sweat off his brow.
“We’re here. Love these flights. Does my hair look all right?” asked Linda Wilson, green gums flashing and purple fuzz glistening below her freshly powdered nose. The perfume was overpowering, but had an allure that Charlie appreciated. She looked more appealing than before.
Charlie’s silent traveling companion on his left spoke for the first time. “Nice being with you,” he said.
“Same here,” responded Charlie, surprised to hear the mushroom’s voice. “Are you here on vacation or business, or coming home?”
“Pleasure,” answered the gentleman. “Life should be pleasure.”
“What do you do?” asked Charlie.
“I’m a doctor. I study emotional problems.”
“Really,” said Charlie. “That’s very important.”
“I think so,” the man answered. “If you don’t mind my saying so, you looked quite uncomfortable on the trip. I sensed a bit of a mess on the inside, if you pardon my directness. May I give you my card?”
Charlie did not know how to respond. Was this guy for real?
“Sure,” he said.
The gentleman handed Charlie his business card, ending their dialogue.
“Good-bye,” chirped Linda Wilson, as she bounced down the aisle towards the exit.
“Good-bye,” said Charlie. He had grown quite fond of her.
Charlie gathered his briefcase from under the seat and retrieved his carry-on suitcase from the overhead compartment. They seemed so harmless now. How could they ever have been such a problem before?
When Charlie was out of the airplane, he glanced at the business card.
Dr. Jeffrey Barker
Bring in a Pest, Pick up an Angel
Charlie smiled and looked for the trash can.
Charlie appeared at the courthouse early the next day. Only Zelda was present. She was wearing the pretty pink dress he had given her for her birthday a few years ago. She looked best in pink.
“Hi, Zelda,” he said, surprised at how attractive she was and how much he liked seeing her again.
The mind is so adaptable, he thought. It’s constantly in the present. Does the past even exist?
“Hi,” she answered, pleasantly.
He had missed her smile, which he noted resembled that of the gentleman with the purple flying elephants.
“You know, I was thinking…,” he said.
“Me too…,” she said, “I wonder…maybe…what if?” she stammered, self-consciously, like on their first date.
“So do I…,” he said, looking sheepish. “Do you know anything about robots?”
“Robots? No. Nothing.” She looked confused.
“They’re becoming important these days,” he said. “People love them if they are programmed right,” he said, thinking of his dream.
“Really?” she asked. “Robots?”
“Yeah. For sure,” he said.
“My lawyer is kind of like a robot,” she said, and laughed. “He just says the predictable in a monotone, as if he didn’t care about anything. He’s a real bore.”
“But if they’re programmed correctly,” Charlie continued, “robots, that is, not lawyers, can be caring and not a bore at all.”
“Really,” she said, this time as fact rather than a question.
“Apparently, they can be programmed to have…agency…to be wonderful, and kind, to be able to adapt to anything you want.”
Zelda scrunched her brow and smiled at the same time, bewildered, yet curious at the same time.
“I have an idea,” he said. “Let’s leave a note that we’ve changed our minds. I need a new laptop computer. Want to come and buy one with me?”
This wasn’t a terrible, horrible day. Not at all.
Twenty-five years later, Charlie and Zelda became rich selling their innovative robots called ‘the purple flying elephant’, which had personalities that were easily customized with a few clicks here and there. They were wonderful creatures, more loyal than pet dogs, and made their owners as happy, as happy as Charlie and Zelda were with each other in their long marriage.
Joram Piatigorsky is a prominent molecular biologist and eye researcher, major Inuit art collector and writer, and son of renowned cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and Jacqueline de Rothschild. He is the author of the book Gene Sharing and Evolution, novels Jellyfish Have Eyes, Roger’s Thought Particles, a memoir The Speed of Dark, short story collections The Open Door, and Notes Going Underground, and a collection of essays Truth and Fantasy. His books have been translated into Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Serbian. To learn more: joramp.com