Cecil the Jailer looks in on the prison cell. The prisoner, Bernard, has his hands upon a single stone in the cell wall. Bernard is crying.
The stone is sad.
“What are you doing?” asks Cecil.
“I am sharing a transcendent love with this stone,” sniffles Bernard.
Cecil narrows his eyes. “One of those cursed loves? Are you divided by the cruel destiny that made you a man, and it a stone?”
His tone reveals that he disdains lithophiliacs.
“It is platonic,” says Bernard.
“That is well.”
There is a brief silence.
“But why are you crying, then?” Cecil asks.
“The stone is sad,” says cunning Bernard.
Cecil’s sympathies are roused.
“It was my thought,” says Bernard, “that as love is a great transformational force, I could use it to dig a tunnel.”
“A tunnel of love,” Cecil clarifies.
“Exactly. I shed the scales from my eyes. I tried to recognize that the stone and I are one being—one unitary force, a machine powered by the great throbbing engine of universal love. I declared that I would defeat this prison not with discord but with harmony!”
Cecil frowns. “And how did the stone greet this impassioned declaration?”
“It told me that it could not move.”
“It could not move.”
“Once, it had arms and legs, like I,” says Bernard. “It had a heart and a mind. It ran and played. But then it overslept and became a stone.”
“It did not employ an alarm?”
“It did,” clarifies Bernard. “But it hit the snooze button repeatedly.”
“That is a tactical error,” concedes Cecil.
“Agreed,” says Bernard. “And now it is sad.”
“I too am sad.”
“You could bring your clock radio,” says cunning Bernard. “You could play its alarm to the stone. Then it would jolt awake.”
Cecil is cruel. He shakes his head.
“I cannot,” he says. “Should I wake the stone, then it will join with you in a moment of transcendent love. You will flee together.”
“Would that really be so wrong?” says Bernard.
“You are not a man of fidelity, Bernard. Can you deny that you would abandon it and break its heart?”
Bernard’s mouth works. Then finally he sighs. He sulks over to his cot and sits down. He mourns, “You have seen through my scheme in its entirety.”
The stone is, if possible, even sadder than before.