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My friend Jonah sent me the above text. It led — ineluctably — to the following:

Today we acknowledge the passing of Walter Stanley Gates, one of the most scandal-plagued individuals in American history.

Born in 1948 in Walnut Grove, GA, Gates was a mischievous child who spent much of his youth in and out of juvenile detention. It was only when he discovered his natural aptitude for athletics (while outrunning the entire Walnut Grove police force during a shoplifting spree) that young Gates managed to find some direction. …

“Is your life worth more than a bee’s?”

Every semester, Professor Morton opened his Intro to Philosophy class with this question. He’d been doing it for so long — had it really been 27 years? — that he knew exactly how the discussion would play out.

Knee-jerk exceptionalism of the “human lives are worth way more than bugs” variety would be delivered by the backwards-hat frat bro, this year occupying the middle seat in the back row. The request for clarification — as in, “What exactly do you mean by ‘worth’? Whose terms?” — would come from the mousey blonde in the front row with everything on her desk arranged at right angles. …

“Is there room for two at this table for three?”

That was how Ben introduced himself to Laurel. Except “introduced” is the wrong word. The library was crowded that day and Laurel was sitting in the middle seat at a long table with three available spots, the best table in the entire library, the one overlooking Alpine Park across the street, the table with the six-plug power strip tacked to the wall above the table’s surface for easy access, the table where two of the three hard-backed chairs had seat cushions.

Laurel was, as previously noted, sitting in the middle seat of an otherwise unoccupied table and had, as was not previously noted, her shit spread out everywhere. She was, without question, hogging the table, daring anyone who came along to try and annex a third of her ill-gotten real estate. When Ben rounded the corner of the “Technology | Self-Help | Religion” shelf and came upon this scene of wanton aggrandizement, it rankled him. …

Ryan Edmonson

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