“The Genius” by Philip Theibert

It was known for quite a while that Willis B. Smith was a genius. When he walked the hallways at Big Phone, people would whisper, “Look there goes Willis B. Smith, the genius.”
And Willis B. Smith needed no business cards. But if he did have business cards, they would have featured a light bulb powered by a perpetual motion machine. What else could you put on a genius’ card?

Willis B. Smith never really talked to anyone. He wasn’t the type of guy you could hang with by the water cooler and say, “How about those Yankees.” It would seem out of place, like discussing bowling with Einstein.

No one ever instigated a conversation with Willis B. Smith; not even to venture, “Nice day isn’t it?” Willis B. Smith appeared content with his thoughts and discontent with conversation. Willis B. Smith only talked at the Big Meeting held every year. There, Willis B. Smith, genius, enjoyed showing off his latest creations.

In fact, it was at the big meeting of Big Phone that Willis B. Smith’s reputation was about to be firmly cemented. He stood in the spotlight and held up the latest Big Phone product, which, being a genius, he had invented. It was the Genius Phone, a step ahead of the Smart Phone.

He put the phone through its paces to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the audience. No more small screens on phones. Hit a button and the screen floated in space in front of you. Yes! Willis B. Smith had invented a phone that could also double as a big screen TV. Who cared if it pissed people off when you watched the Phone/Big Screen on the bus! You could sit there and watch big screen TV from anywhere.

But Willis B. Smith, being of course, Willis B. Smith and a genius, didn’t stop there. He pushed a button and a banana appeared n front of him. This was not a picture of a banana; it was no visual illusion, but an actual banana. He grabbed the banana out of the air, peeled it and ate it. Willis B. Smith had invented the ultimate app: The Snack App. It was amazing – no, astonishing. Push the Snack App button and candy bars, and fruits and cookies and Twinkies would appear in front of you – reach out and grab what you want.

Willis B. Smith further astonished his audience. Willis B. Smith announced that the Snack App was just the beginning. In the future, the Genius II phone would feature a meal app, where a meal would appear. Imagine that – steak and potatoes complemented by a glass of red wine -just by pushing the meal app button. A lesser man might have stopped there. But not Willis B. Smith, who, by the way, was a genius. He pushed a button and a red glow appeared. Willis B. Smith ran the red glow over his body and, well this was beyond astonishing, this went beyond amazing, this crossed entirely through Stupendous Land, in fact, splenderific, might be the only adjective to describe what the audience saw next.

As he ran the red glow over his body, the audience didn’t see Willis B. Smith standing on stage with his glasses and scraggly beard and rumpled hair and rumpled shirt. They saw the inner workings of Willis B. Smith. They could see his organs beating and thumping and processing and doing what organs do. The audience gasped. A cell phone that was a body scanner. And just when the audience thought it was over, Willis B. Smith announced that this phone, this Genius Phone, could predict when you were going to die.

Yes, Willis B. Smith, explained in his high, thin voice that after the phone scanned your body, it could take all the variables ranging from the condition of your liver to the condition of the libido and predict the day, date and time you were going to die, as your body continued its current rate of decay. Then, Willis B. Smith, calmly placed the cell phone against his face, and shaved.
This phone could also be used for personal hygiene. What couldn’t this Genius Phone do? The audience sat there quietly. They were in the presence of Wilis B. Smith – THE GENIUS!

Way in the back, a little man raised his hand. And Willis B. Smith, the genius, in his crowning moment of genius glory, condescended to take the little man’s question.

“Can you show us how it can make a phone call?” the little man asked.

They say it was one of the saddest sights they have ever seen. The glow around Wills B. Smith seemed to dim. He seemed to shrink and in his sad little scuffed shoes and in his sad little rumpled clothes, Willis B. Smith shuffled off stage.

Now, there are rumors that he might have moved to Montana and lived in a shack and spent the rest of his days sending off obscure scientific articles to obscure scientific journals, signing them, Willis B. Smith, former genius. Nobody knows for sure, but we all do know that Willis B. Smith had invented the cell phone that could not make a single phone call.

Profile: Philip Theibert

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