Thy Bill Be Done

- This is Doctor Sawyer.
- Yes I have a billing issue.
- Let me connect you to Billing.
- Billing connected me to you.  Billing said you might be able to explain things to me.  My billing issue is complicated.
- I'm really not comfortable discussing the Billing System.
- But the Billing System sent me a bill for services I never received.  I've never even visited your office.  But I just got this enormous bill.
- Name?
- Watkins.  Kevin.
- You're right.  I have no record of you ever visiting this office. 
- The Billing System must have screwed up.
- Please don't speak that way about the Billing System.
- Fine.  But I don't have to pay it, do I?
- Of course you have to pay it.  You were sent a bill, weren't you?
- For medical services I never received.  I haven't been to a doctor in years.  I don't have health insurance.
- That's probably why it's such a big bill.
- But I shouldn't have been billed for anything.  You just said I've never been to your office.
- But the Billing System has declared that you have.
- The Billing System is wrong.
- Please choose your words carefully.
- I just want this dealt with.
- Look, I don't know how the Billing System works, and I would never presume to know. The Billing System has a plan for us that we could never comprehend. What you think is a mistake could be a small section of a grand tapestry of billing that goes back for years and years, and will continue far into the future.
- A tapestry?
- A plan.  One that is infinitely greater than its parts.
- So my receiving this bill is part of a larger plan.  One that I could never understand.
- Not until the Billing System decides the time is right to reveal itself to a benighted mankind.
- And if I am a part of this larger plan, my life must not be a meaningless assemblage of humiliating moments that will end as randomly as it began?
- That's right.
- So all I have to do is pay the bill and my life will have a purpose.
- Small price to pay, I'd say.
- Will you take a credit card?
- However the bill says to do it, just do that.  Trying to pay any other way might anger the Billing System.
- It says you only accept payment in male offspring.  Will you take daughters?
- Male offspring only, I'm afraid.
- I only have daughters.
- Let me connect you to Billing.


Bob Powers is the author of several humor books, including The Werewolf's Guide To Life and Happy Cruelty Day. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.