It was another one of those times when Luke became conscious in another dimension, and he didn’t enjoy it. He had been on a beach in his shorts and t-shirt, drinking a cold beer and it had been the summer of 2013. Now it was 1924 and he was trussed up in some pseudo-ceremonial/military garb that itched furiously, and there was a perennially pleasant man to his left holding up a small ornate box. In it, Luke presumed, another gold medal, obviously meant for him. It was not conceit which made him sure of this; it was simply that it kept happening, in different dimensions and times. The pleasant fellow was simply his assigned psychic prefect, from centuries previous – he knew your history and he gave you medals, or dressings down.
Some things never changed. Yes, it was 1924, and another dimension, but things looked similar to earth, and a horrible brass band was belting out something heavy enough to crush all musicality. Honoured, among others, he could see at least three people to his right, a man and two women, who jauntily displayed their chest medals. For them, things had not yet got deathly boring.
“So what’s this one in aid of?” he asked wearily. A large pizza and a case of Corona would have been preferable by far. The prefect, who wore a golden doctorate gown, smiled.
“Well, you can’t win them all, but the good things do add up, dimension by dimension. You’ve done some good things during your dimensional peregrinations.”
“I damn well wish I’d never learned how.”
“You didn’t learn, exactly. It came upon you as it does for most, like a bad cold that never leaves.”
“You put that well. And here I am again, suffering the effects.”
“Ah, but it all adds up in karma. Or did you forget, karma functions between all dimensions? Killing that frog with a rock in 1974 was a minor case of bad karma.”
“Not for the frog” Luke admitted. “I truly do feel sorry about that one.”
“Well, the frog forgave you and came back again.”
The marching band was still bleating and bashing, so he tried another tack.
“So, if I’m getting a medal, I must have done something significantly good.”
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you?”
“Uhhh, yes.” The unpredictability, or the fact that he might be wrong irked him. He wanted beer and pizza even more.
“And you did. If only in this dimension. We tried to get you to do the same in other dimensions but you fucked up. Let’s say your intuition was not always up to the task”
“So what did I do?” Luke was so surprised by the prefect’s language that he wasn’t sure what the question was aimed at, the good or the bad.
You were in art school, Vienna, lunch time. Your wife had made you a banana sandwich.”
“I hated them. Still do. The bread gets all soggy and…”
“… and the banana turns brown… we know. You must have told a dozen people in the dimensions in which bananas grow.”
The old man shifted the small box to his left hand. “So it was lunch time and you were sitting next to this rather nasty artist named Schickelgruber who you had played a part in accepting to the art school. A ragged chap…”
“Yes, I remember. Geez, who wouldn’t, knowing what we know. If he’d had a sense of humour he might have taken Chaplin’s place. I know they laughed at him at the school, for his hair, his moustache, his ratty clothes.”
“But you didn’t laugh, did you?”
“True, but I didn’t do very well. Must be some bad karma attached in this dimension anyway….”
“For giving him a banana sandwich?”
“I hated it. And I didn’t like him much. I thought they both stunk, so I gave Schickelgruber the banana sandwich.”
“Which he ate in a hurry, choked on, and died.”
“Which is bad, right? After all, he was just a mediocre artist. He could have lived harmlessly.”
“He nevertheless still wanted to rule the world. That fact rules every one of his dimensions, even now. Your choking him on a rotting banana sandwich saved this dimension a horrific world war, but not all.”
The prefect presented the ornate box. “Sorry to say, your future karma is always to be linked with Schickelgruber/Hitler’s.”
“He refused to forgive you this one mishap. He’s an infinitely paranoid, vengeful man, and now he has glued you to himself through petty hatred.”
Luke considered. “Well, a medal might buy a case of beer back in 2013. Fuck Shickelgruber.”
The prefect opened the box and presented it to him. Inside sat a rotting banana sandwich and a scrawled note from Hitler. “Banana sandwich, 1; World War, 2. And so on.”
“Huh?” said Luke.
“Hitler’s little joke. You’ll be seeing him again. So look sharp,” said the prefect.