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The Little Oops Named Ker Plop by Richard Seltzer

Copyright 1976 Richard Seltzer

This story originally appeared in the collection Now & Then and Other Tales from Ome. You can buy that book from Amazon.com

Once beneath a space there was an oops named Ker Plop. She had fallen all the way down through that vast empty space and had landed in the middle of nowhere.

Before she fell, her father, Mr. Plop, had warned her, "Remember, you're just an oops."

"What's an oops?" she asked.

"Well, when you aren't somebody, and you aren't anybody, and just one false step and you could become nobody, you're just an oops."

"Just an oops?"

"Just an oops. And you have to watch your step if you want to get anywhere."

"What's anywhere, Daddy?"

"Why anywhere's just down the street from somewhere, and everybody who's somebody lives somewhere."

"I don't understand, Daddy."

"Well, of course not. How could you? You're not anywhere yet. But any day now, any day, your chance may come. Just watch your step though. Watch your step, or you'll fall, Ker Plop, right down to the middle of nowhere."

She asked her mother, "What will my chance look like? I don't want to miss him. It would be awful to miss him. But how will I know him when I see him?"

"He'll come riding up on a white horse, and he'll be the handsomest man you've ever seen. And you'll hear bells ringing and feel a tingling up and down your spine."

"Did your chance ever come, Mommy?"

"No, he must have gotten lost somewhere."

"You mean sometimes you never have a chance?"

"Yes, sometimes he just never appears. But anytime he might. And you have to be ready or he'll just pass you by."

"That sounds awfully unfair."

"Yes, but what can an oops do? Just watch your step, like your father said; or you'll not only miss your chance, you'll end up in the middle of nowhere."

Then one day somebody drove up to her and started talking. He must have been somebody to have such a shiny new sports car, and he spoke like a somebody. When her parents talked, they were always hopeful but uncertain. It was always, "anywhere," "anybody," "anything," and it might happen "anytime." All these "any's" were just beyond their reach. Now this stranger talked about "somewhere," "somebody," "something," and "sometime" it might happen. He had control over the people and things of his world. And he could decide when the "sometime" would be when whatever he wanted would happen.

Maybe he was her chance. His name was Chauncey, and he was very handsome.

She got into the car with him, and off they drove.

Round and round they went. They went around together for the longest time. And Ker Plop got so dizzy she didn't know if maybe she was hearing bells and feeling tingles. And she had no idea how far they had gone, though it did feel like they hadn't really gone anywhere.

"When are you really going to take me away? And we'll go somewhere and do something?" she asked.

"Sometime. Just don't worry your pretty little head about it."

They kept going around together, around and around, until Ker Plop got so dizzy she slipped and fell.

"Can't you see I'm hurt?" she asked. "Take me somewhere, anywhere, Chauncey, quick."

"Look, kid, how can I take you anywhere? You're just a nobody."

And Chauncey drove off and left her there, and she went falling all the way down, till she landed in the middle of nowhere.

"Help!" she called.

And nobody came.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"I fell all the way down, and now I'm in the middle of nowhere."

"There's nothing to worry about. Nothing at all. You've got a few bruises and a scratch on the knee there. But it'll all clear up in no time."

The nobody's name was Norris. He was a cute little guy who could do all sorts of things. He could build a house or make a funny face. "There's nothing to it," he'd say.

He didn't wait around saying, "Any day now, any day." He didn't keep putting things off saying, "I'll get around to it sometime." No, he always said, "There's no time like the present."

And together they didn't worry about getting anywhere or meeting somebody. And they didn't have to worry about ending up nowhere.

Soon they felt like they had everything they ever wanted. And they loved everybody, and everybody loved them. And they were at home everywhere.

Just the little oops named Ker Plop and the nobody named Norris.

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