By Brett Hainley
Barry Wilson was entirely unremarkable. He was average height, of average build, with eyes and grayish-brown hair that was probably thinning a little, but not dramatically. He stood at the exact center of every possible demographic. He was white, but had ethnic blood in his ancestry. He worked a clerical job for a corporation that made things and sold other things. If any woman could be reasonably expected to remember him as soon as her back was turned, his wife would probably be middle-height with mousey brown hair. It wasn’t even as if he was invisible, like those people who seem to slip beneath notice until they do something and everyone’s surprised they were even there. Barry was simply unremarkable, like a number two pencil, or a golf ball.
The only place where he even stood out at all was that he had always been somewhat gassy. Most of the time, he would relieve the pressure through silent burps and the occasional poot, but there were times, depending on what he had eaten, when he would release a truly heroic belch or tragically comic fart. It was at one of these times, while watching a moderately popular series and farting loudly enough that he had to change the volume on the show, the Barry came up with his plan. He would become famous for his gassiness.
He decided he would belch the entire US Constitution and all twenty-four Amendments. This meant training. He set himself a dietary regimen of nothing but radishes and unsweetened citrus drinks. He found that orange juice produced the best tone, but that he got more volume from a punch made of orange, lemon, and grapefruit juices. Adding lime seemed to extend the time of the belch.
Sadly, he couldn’t stand the pressure. The amount of gas necessary just to recite the preamble and most of Article One was so great that Barry thought he was going to die, and his plan seemed to die.
When life closes a door, however, it opens a window. Barry decided that life needed to open a big window, because he was going to create the longest, loudest fart in history. This fart, he decided, was going to be titanic. This would be a fart that could be used to warn ships during fog. This would be The Great Wind!
For weeks, he ate noting but broccoli and American cheese, and every few days he would test to see if his theory was working. Somehow, the media got wind of his plan, and he was invited to present the Great Wind at an outdoor stadium downtown, in front of a host of spectators and honored guests.
The big day finally arrived; Barry would be opening for an aging punk band on their fifth reunion tour. The three surviving members, each worth billions (one was a successful conservative talk show host), were glad to have the Great Wind kick off their tour, to show their fans they were still edgy. Barry stood on the stage. This was his time. People would know him!
He closed his eyes and…passed gas.
He passed gas for a long time, in silence. He was still passing gas when the band came out and shooed him away so they could play their set. Luckily, there was a mild breeze. Barry was still passing gas when the show ended and through the bus ride home. He passed gas for seven hours and thirteen minutes, but no one was really aware except him. He had done something truly remarkable, but no one knew; no one really remembered that he had tried.
When it was done, as he sat in his living room, watching an ubiquitous show in syndication, he sighed, and said, “Excuse me.”