Morty Silberman looked like shit. I told him so. Pale as a piece of pickled herring. Lines and probes around him like a trussed-up kosher chicken.
“I feel like shit,” he tells me.
“Everybody in here must feel like shit,” I say.
“Did I tell you,” he says, “when the nurse was prepping me for surgery, she said to me, ‘You know, you’re pretty lucky. You got that crease in your earlobe.’ So I say to her, ‘And…?’ And she says to me, ‘And… most people with an earlobe crease like that show up a little too late downstairs with tag on their toe.’ No joke.”
So I say to him, “Morty, she tells you this while you’re lying there with angina like an anvil on your chest and one MI already in the can, and who knows what else is coming next? For what? To boost your spirits?”
“Exactly. So I ask Claire to get Nurse Ratshit out of my face and find out what she’s talking about. And next thing, when I wake up two days ago, Claire says, ‘How’s the crease today?’ like I wasn’t already dreaming of dancing earlobe creases carrying sloshing body bags like those brooms carrying the buckets of water in that Disney movie where Mickey Mouse is wearing the sorcerer’s hat and conducting an orchestra in the cosmos.”
I tell him I have like a sub-zero clue as to what he’s talking about. “What crease in what cosmos?”
And he tells me that some bogus study found that an earlobe crease like his is a sign of a coronary waiting to happen, as if this was some known-known scientific fact.
And I say, “If it’s so well-known, why’d they wait to tell you this when you’re lying on a table like a meatloaf with a white sheet covering your cold and clammy behind?”
Well, needless to say, neither of us could answer that one. But then he starts talking about the universe and how he thinks maybe there is more going on than we think there is, and that when he was in the ICU he started thinking about spirituality and the universe and quarks and things I never heard him say before.
Of course, I think he’s just not getting enough blood flow to his brain and that’s when he says, “All of a sudden it hit me, like I’m walking down a flight of stairs and I think I have one more step and I put my foot out and there’s no more step and the adrenaline crushes my nuts like a garlic clove, and then stuff I never thought about before starts making sense like my mind is opening up on the ceiling while I can see my sad sorry ass still in the Stryker S3 bed down there.”
“You know me,” he says, “I am totally deity-free, I don’t believe in any of that crap, like when my cousin Elaine says she was once an Egyptian princess, or a bus driver in Poughkeepsie, or whatever. But, don’t you ever think that there’s some shit out there, like gravity or electromagnetism, before they figured out what they were, and maybe we can’t see it or feel it until somebody gives it a name?”
“Like, you ever hear of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle? Or Schrödinger’s cat? No, I didn’t think so. But let me tell you, it all makes sense to me. Like a new kind of spiritual reality. Those electrons and positrons or whatever, from way back in the beginning of everything, are the same ones in you and me and everything else, but we can’t see them or know where they’re going because they could be a wave or a particle or both at the same time and they could be in one part of the universe or in another. And I mean the same one at exactly the same time could be here and there and in both places at the same time but we can only see it in one of them”
I don’t know much but I do know that doesn’t add up. “And the cat?” I say?
“Yeah, the cat! So this guy Schrödinger thinks, what if you seal a cat in a box with a radioactive device that may or may not go off within an hour, and either kills the cat or doesn’t. So there’s this 50% chance the cat is alive and a 50% chance it’s dead. You with me? The cat logically exists in two different, equally probable, states at one time, but with a 100% probability of it being alive-and-dead in the instant before you open the box. But when you open the box it is in only one of them and you never get to see the cat when it’s in both.”
And now I’m thinking, like you must be, ‘I’ll have what he’s having.’ But he’s clearly not finished.
“Well,” he says, “here’s where it gets ‘do-do-do-do’ spiritual. Not only can electrons simultaneously be in two different places at the same time, like in an atom in Nurse Ratshit’s brain and one in a moon rock in Alpha Centauri, but if something changes the spin of the one in Ratshit, then its twin, the one in Alpha Centauri, instantaneously, by some mysterious entanglement, twenty-five-point-seven trillion miles away, changes in exactly the same way. Boom! Can you possible explain that?”
Obviously, I can’t.
I say, “You mean all the electrons or bozotrons, or whatever in the whole universe, are entangled, like you say, with one another. And we, you and me, are connected to every other particle in the whole universe?
“That’s it. That is totally it,” he says. “How much more beyond ‘because the bible tells me so’ can anything be? How much more spiritual can anything be? C’mon man, you get it don’t you? Something that is so elemental that it existed in the nothing at the beginning of everything is still here now, right? You’re damn right we’re all connected, all made from the very same bits of electrons and photons, leptons, and muons, and morons.
“Never mind,” he says.
I’m ready to go but just to be sure, I say, “So… you think that Nurse Ratshit may have been onto something?”
“Who knows?’ he says, “All I know is I love you, man!”