The monkey wears a suit complete with bow-tie and wingtips. Should he open that last door?

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"We are dreams wherein dreams may go." He shifted in his seat a bit, and cast his gaze across the still, placid waters of the bay beyond the window. "We are temporary and slight.

"All this," he intoned flatly, his hand become a wand to sweep in all that was the city, "Is illusion. Carefully crafted illusion. It is a lie of magnificence. It is a deception of superiority. It says, brick upon brick, girder upon girder, circuit upon circuit, that the sum of humanity has become a number of itself. That we are well advanced beyond the confines of our primordial jungles and plains. That we are no longer animals, but have evolved into a higher state of being. The state of human being.

"Yet, as measured on a cosmic scale, all this seeming structure and direction, all this... sheer effort, seems nothing more than a pitiful insect's chirp in the night. A gasp of the evolutionary bog. An abrupt beginning and an anxious end.

"One brush of the heavens must inevitably see it all undone, as has happened in the past. So I say we are slight. We are temporary." He reached for a steaming cup of tea and cooled it with his tepid words. "And the individual, the basic unit of the collective 'we', is more temporary still. The existence of the individual is but a microbe's brief interlude among the otherwise inanimate objects of this universe. What matter the birth and death of a single person when compared to the birth and death of a star? And what import the birth and death of star in the face of a galaxy's conception and demise? And what of the galaxy, but one of countless that populate the untold void? And what of the void, itself? How many have been or will be? What are we, this collective 'we' I mean, but a transient disturbance within a transient reality? What effect, our greatest efforts?"

He sipped his tea. I stirred mine with an uninterested spoon and tried to wrap my mind about the confines of all time and matter in the universe, failing miserably.

"Today I am," he breathed, "Tomorrow I am not. Inevitably."

Beyond the plate glass that was the entire western wall of the cafe, I watched a brilliant sun sparkle in reflection atop a gently rolling sea, and tried to imagine the sun in death, the waters in absolute final retreat. I tried to see the universe as he apparently envisioned it, a single thing, vast to the verge of imagination, filled with unquantifiable futility, indefinable insignificance. I struggled to become the individual, the basic unit of the collective 'we' and seem a microbe amid the boundless void. But was unable, really, to succeed. Unable or, somehow, unwilling.

"In many ways, this simple, absolute truth is terrifying. I see it in your face now. As plainly as I see that you would like to summarily dismiss the notion, and cannot. How can an understanding of something so impossibly huge be so simple? And why should it be so brutally dismissive of all that we are and ever may become? Surely, you hope, as I once hoped, there MUST be a purpose in it all. A purpose so high that none have yet glimpsed its summit. A cause so vast that its boundaries are but primordial mysteries and midnight superstition. Well, I tell you now; there IS a cause more vast, a purpose higher. And it resides plainly before you, within the very fabric of your existence. This cause is not a subtle whisper to hiss from shadows on rare occasion, rather it is a veritable din within your thoughts, a constant voice that demands of you daily. You listen, yet you deny. We all do, I think, save perhaps for a handful of pure lunatics and career felons.

"There it is now! The absolute truth, shouting at you from what Freud called the id, and your societal hand-slapping drowning it out from the galleries of the ego. What? A mystery? You heard nothing? Your own mental herald, and I know it better than you?" He finished his tea with a smug grin, and turned to admire the shapely, bouncing buttocks of a lovely young woman in a short skirt as she strutted past, on her way to a shadowed table in the company of a man twice her age. I, myself, had admired these same buttocks in turn only moments earlier. "And there, you see, my own ego and id at war." He chuckled, and turned back to face the sprawled cityscape across the bay. "The truth is, I fear, that we are but hairless apes on a short cerebral leash.

"If not for a threat of shame or sanction, if not for the reality of our prison systems and possibly the specter of that woman's brother pounding us to a pulp, either of us might have been compelled to snatch her across this table, yank her panties down around her ankles and give her the high, hard one, so to speak. Yet we did not. For all the same reasons, we find it difficult to believe that existence holds no more import than the satisfactions of today, that the higher cause so many blind men seek with eyes wide shut is the simple propagation of our species and nothing further. Animals live this truth without question and are apparently content. We live the question without truth, and are obviously discontent."

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That Last Door Standing Wide Open