PANDORA.   What’s Humpty doing here?

PROMETHEUS.   He has the police on parole. He’s hanged them over the abyss. Look.

PAND.   You call that productivity? Terrorizing the police?

PROM.   I don’t know what he’s doing, to answer your question, but there they are held above the abyss in fragile hands.

PAND.   Do these bonds share any electrons?

PROM.   Momentarily, very tenuous. Disturbed outright by thermal motion. Hard to describe. Humpty holds them but from their point of view they don’t know they haven’t been let go. He holds them and they don’t know it. Terrorized, that’s a good word here. So many gods on the plains of Kurukshetra: carbon, nitrogen, and now the police.

PAND.   Oxygen, why are you so prejudiced against oxygen?

PROM.   They ganged up on Humpty and Humpty’s friend, have you forgot? Not going to unwind that. Hardly.

PAND.   Humpty’s gentle, seated at his table, 2อด-deoxyribose, no other name. The alpha carbon, number one, recumbent in his tetravalent glory.

PROM.   Shadowed by his phosphorous ion friend, decorated with law enforcement in every one of his hybridized hands.

PAND.   Five arms in a tetrahedral appeal, if you count the two fists on the officer’s collar as one arm.

PROM.   A turbulent appeal to Humpty’s well governed and outstretched arms that keep the brawl from going anywhere else.

PAND.   Humpty’s explosive friends. We don’t know his temperance until it’s seen clearly below the stars.

PROM.   Humpty disassociates the brawl from his previous arrests by appearing in myriad forms at once and grasping the police with arms from more than one direction. His table fellows help take care of the problem for him.

PAND.   And the police stay where they are, their hands where you can see them, baffled at being held in place on all sides in their melee.

PROM.   Humpty quiets them down, easy for him to do, once they get the report from the other side of Humpty’s table: a god in Humpty’s image, tetravalent not but tetravalent yet, descended from a dying star who allows Humpty a perspective on terror he never dreamed of in his ultra-violent days. Instead of a brawl, look, two inert, non-bonding electrons configured on tetrahedral arms ready to attest to Humpty’s willingness to let the police find their rest above the abyss where they are never let go and never held for long. That nitrogen is brash, resonant, and takes its cue from an exploded star and not Humpty’s small change and obviously very minor civil infractions. “Humpty, I’ll teach you how to explode, really explode, someday.” A conversation between the gods on the plains of Kurukshetra I wouldn’t miss for the world.

PAND.   Where do the dragons come in?

PROM.   We need them to terrorize the abyss. The police are our first offerings. The dragons tell us what the police already know. They’re not here for long.

PAND.   Two strangers, two friends, one forsaken and one who forsakes.

PROM.   One abyss, that’s for sure. One dragon with many heads.

PAND.   How many?

PROM.   That’s where you and I come in. Limitless. Wait till you see the Gorgon knots.

PAND.   Humpty’s a pretty calm guy, through and through.

PROM.   Gorgon knots.


PROMETHEUS.   Humpty Dumpty the tetravalent.


PROM.   Humpty doesn’t push anyone. He lets the police see their own hand held over the abyss in abject circumstances, the outstretched hand they cannot hold for long. Humpty tests ephemerality in their minds and then in their hands. They hold and let go. That close to the abyss, they keep their eyes closed. In Humpty’s mind we have this gesture, the abyss surrounded by the police, surrounded by Humpty and his friends. If everything falls apart we can say with assurance, in court if necessary, that the police had no business telling thermal motion what not to do. Here Humpty polices the abyss, the kingly tetravalent carbon atom himself.

PAND.   You forgot godlike, the many-headed dragon with friends formed in his image from the remnants of dying stars.

PROM.   Humpty breathes here in peace. He takes it all in. Humpty tests the abyss, not the other way around. Thermal motion is his friend. He vanquishes nothing. Humpty grasps nothing and then lets go. He forsakes nothing – keeps the abyss right where it is. Humpty sits the abyss down and wonders what will happen if it suddenly falls apart. Who will put the abyss together again? And what precisely constitutes in this context the missing piece? Humpty’s questions. Fortunately for the police Humpty has all kinds of answers. Let them write up that report. “We have a dying star here.” And the minimum wage dispatcher thinks of calling another car. The police are policed and Humpty is hands-free.

PAND.   What does Humpty see, if we were to ask him?

PROM.   He sees himself, beyond an abyss, in stable form beyond all stability. Stability incarnate. And when the abyss is offered up, he rebuilds it with the knowledge he holds from before his birth, that the abyss had no business being anywhere else except in obedience at his feet.

PAND.   Humpty’s scrappy, isn’t he?

PROM.   Beyond measure if you fold eternity into the discussion.

PAND.   Does Humpty ever threaten to arrest the abyss?

PROM.   Can’t be done and Humpty wouldn’t do it. You know Humpty better than that.

PAND.   Humpty shepherds the abyss and searches for the lost abyss when it’s missing.

PROM.   And he’s simply delighted when he finds it. It ain’t going nowhere without him.

PAND.   You’re telling me that Humpty has everyone frightened?

PROM.   Everyone, even that exploding star.


PROMETHEUS.   Arrested and released, Humpty has friends.

PANDORA.   I didn’t see that either.

PROM.   Who would have guessed the pyrophosphate was the driving force behind everything.

PAND.   Behind anything. Don’t forget it explodes.

PROM.   Explodes and leaves everything irreversibly changed, including DNA.

PAND.   A little water is the trigger.

PROM.   Brash, yes. Never thought Humpty would go that far with his friends.

PAND.   There’s obviously something inside his head we don’t understand.

PROM.   I’m the voice of reason incarnate and I don’t understand him.

PAND.   I’m the progenitor of his biomolecular reality. I see all things behind and ahead. But I didn’t see this.

PROM.   I know what you’re thinking: Humpty’s messy. About time we confronted that truth.

PAND.   You mean more than messy friends.

PROM.   Humpty shapes the explosion. He governs the explosive pathway.

PAND.   Prometheus, you say things and I can feel myself wobble.

PROM.   Easy now, we can take this slower.

PAND.   I’d appreciate that. We don’t have to know everything, do we?

PROM.   Maybe that’s why Greek civilization died in the end. Never thought of it.

PAND.   Humpty lets the explosive pathway wash over him and in his small hands lays hold on that which cannot be governed and in his prayer, governs it.

PROM.   Humpty holds the last missing piece, the one that can’t be put together again.

PAND.   Humpty’s whole world is shattered and he put it together again.

PROM.   He reorders it to its final glory.

PAND.   That piece from the exploding star is in his hands too.

PROM.   He puts it all together again this guy.

PAND.   That’s not terrorism.

PROM.   We don’t know what it is. Violence married to violence married to violence in its final ungovernable finality.

PAND.   Humpty’s new beginning.

PROM.   Beyond all worlds that we can know.

PAND.   You can’t say he’s unseated. You have to stop with cataclysmic.

PROM.   How do you smile at that?

PAND.   That’s what we don’t know.


PANDORA.   Humpty does what?

PROMETHEUS.   Humpty hands the alpha phosphate a beer.

PAND.   Have you been drinking?

PROM.   Humpty holds the starlight incarnate and two chairs away the last alcohol group is extended into free space and offered to the alpha phosphate with Humpty’s eyes both wide open. Humpty’s building a cataclysm and this lone alcohol group mediates its construction. Humpty marries the sky to the earth, a celestial justice-of-the-peace. Humpty the ordained, how quaint, knowing what we know about Humpty, entropy, disorder, and the law. He’s quiet about it, I admit. Humpty’s mind lies below the water line. No telling what he doesn’t know this far from land.

PAND.   Prometheus, if you don’t keep this down, the gods might stop their partying and take notice. We don’t want Humpty spotlighted, do we?

PROM.   Spotlight him. His friends don’t care. The mechanisms of catalysis are intensely subtle. Can’t choreograph Humpty’s fall into the abyss. Mind you, the abyss isn’t there when he lands. Humpty breathes into the abyss and it isn’t there. Enough to silence Olympos. No one’s ever seen anything like it. Humpty shapes his own destiny and attributes far beyond the horizons of anything construed as fate. Humpty tempts fate? Humpty deconstructs it. Tosses it into the abyss, first thing. Rewrites Greek mythology starting on page two. And the gods on Mt. Olympos sit there bereft and wonder if Humpty will ever offer them a beer. This discord between mortals and immortals is untied here. And Humpty unties it by tying himself to himself made out of nothing. Humpty’s hold on reality made in his image cannot be fathomed. He let the beer go. That’s what fell. And the abyss was no more.

HUMPTY DUMPTY SANS HANDCUFFS © Copyright 2016 by Frank P. Langley III