Anthony Anguish
Author: Will Berry


This is a story of desperation and understanding at Eternity's Door.

     "Well, Peter, what have you brought before me today?"

     "Your Eminence, today is Earth day..."

     "Oh, Earth. A most quarrelsome planet. An evolution of irritability and irrationality. They believe they are the only fish in the cosmic sea. Such arrogance is uncomprehending to me, Peter."

     "Yes, Your Eminence, now, to continue, I have one special case that I would like to talk to you about."

     "Continue, please...."

     "We have a new arrival whose name is William Pale, but he refuses to use that name. He wants to be called Anthony Anguish."

     "Interesting, Peter. Perhaps you had better give me the entire dossier on Mr. Pale."

     "Anthony Anguish, Your Eminence. I must abide by his wishes."

     "And so you shall, Peter. After all, we are a complete service entity for mind and body. Continue."

     "William Pale, a.k.a., Anthony Anguish, age 67, United States resident, reason for death: suicide. No living wife or partner, two children both living 1500 miles away having no contact with him. Lived alone, few friends. His economic condition was very meager, to say the least. A rather nondescript man to most and yet...."

     "Yet, what, Peter?"

     "Well, his suicide note would indicate a rather high degree of intelligence, Your Eminence, which gives us a clue to the man."

     "Read me that note then, Peter."

     Yes, Your Eminence. I quote:

          'I have picked my way through life's
          So long a time, too long a time,
          And I am now defenseless,
          I am without shield,
          It becomes necessary to establish
          the necessary parameter,
          Now completing my diameter,
          I must end it now, at once,
          I welcome the prescribed peace
          of death's release.'

     "Well, Peter, Mr. Anguish had a soul, he had the quiet gift of poetry. Without making moral judgements, was he a religious man?"

     "No, Your Eminence, not in the accepted sense. He was buried as a pauper with no one in attendance, not even a cleric."

     "What was the instrument of his suicide, Peter?"

     "He put an old pistol that he owned into his right ear and fired. His head was blown apart, of course."

     "Dear, dear. I assume that he has been sent to the Reconstruction Room to ma ke him as he was."

     "Therein lies the problem, Your Eminence. He refuses to accept anything resembling his 67 year-old head and he does not wish to be outfitted with his evolved brain, either. He wants to be changed. He wants another head and brain. Someone else's, but he does not want to be the way he was on Earth. So he just lies upon the cot in the Reconstruction Room and communicates with me through the form of telepathy."

     "Well, Peter, we just cannot have him go through eternity without his head. It's just not the way it is done here. Have you told him this?"

     "Of course, Your Eminence."


     "Mr. Anguish has given me the following reason. He states that his head and his brain, along with the rest of his body, he was in very poor health by the way...."


     "As I say, Mr. Anguish has indicated that he does not want to go through eternity with his former head and brain. The body, yes, but the rest of him, no. Now the reason he has given me is that he never smiled when he was William Pale. His face would not smile because his brain would not direct him to do so. He just scowled at his world, day after day. Which is why he obliterated his head no doubt. Now he wants another face, another brain, he wants to smile and to laugh and to find a joy here that he had never experienced on Earth."

     "And in doing that, he can get rid of his name of Anthony Anguish and become William Pale again, I assume."

     "No, Your Eminence, he is rather taken with the name of Anthony Anguish and he would like to keep it. Probably he believes that the name gives him distinction."

     "I see, so all our Mr. Anguish wants is a complete make-over. Well, that's rather stretching it even for this place, Peter, do you not agree?"

     "Yes, Your Eminence....and no, Your Eminence. You see, I have communicated with Mr. Anguish at some length and I can readily understand and empathize with his existence on Earth, which, to say the least, was a total personal disaster."

     "Yes, which would seem to be in concert with the rest of the planet during his time. Or at any time in that troubled place, for that matter. Peter, has Mr. Anguish given you an indication of who he would like to look like, and who he would like to sound like, and to laugh like?"

     "Well, he would like to appear as one of the great comedians on Earth. This is what he longs for, to make everyone laugh. He saw a comedian on television before he died. I believe that comedian's name was Happy Henny Hendleman. Mr. Anguish would like to appear as Mr. Hendleman...."

     "...with brain to match..."

     "Yes, Your Eminence, with brain to match. A comedian's brain."

     "How old is this Happy Henny Hendleman, Peter?"

     "Oh, I would say he is in his 20's."

     "So, with any luck, we could do the match now and Mr. Anguish would be set for perhaps 50 or 60 years."

     "And after that, Your Eminence? What happens when Happy Henny Hendleman comes here and finds Anthony Anguish as his double?"

     "We will just have to worry about that at that time, Peter. They say that everyone on Earth has a double, after all. I mean, it is not outside the realm of possibility, now is it?"

     "No, Your Eminence, it is not. After all, as you say, we are a full service entity. Who knows? Perhaps the two of them could team up some day as comedy twins, Happy Henny and Anthony. Comedy does have its own license."

     "Indeed. Now, Peter, Mr. Anguish needs to talk to someone from his own planet and from approximately his own era to help him sort things out. He needs to be taught the value of humor before he can make others laugh and then, of course, to have the ability to laugh at himself. Who would you recommend for Mr. Anguish, Peter?"

     "I have noted that the name Groucho has crept into our communications from time to time."

     "Excellent. As a matter of fact, see if all the brothers would be available. After all, if Mr. Anguish is going to become Happy Henny Hendleman who better than they to help him along? And see if Margaret Dumont would be available too. I cannot imagine the brothers working without Margaret Dumont, you see."

     "I shall attend to it, Your Eminence. And now, if you will excuse me, I am off to the Reconstruction Room to visit and confer with Anthony Anguish. It should be a joyous conference."

     "Yes, Peter, it should. Is there anyone else that we need to talk about today?"

     "I would say, that from Earth alone, probably not more than a million people or so. We seem to have more incoming from Earth than we used to have."

     "I need to allot you more time for Earth, Peter. Their 20th century alone far exceeded even our direst predictions. You know, a few million here, a few million there, it always adds up."

     "Yes, Your Eminence."


Comments on this poem/writing:

Meridian ( -- Sunday, March 14 2004, 11:13 pm

Enjoyed that story!!!!!!!!!

Darn, this is good Will!
Name:                                           Remember Me

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