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Fiction

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender, a white-and-grey rabbit, asks,

ㅤ“Why the long face?”

ㅤ“What did you just say?” The horse replies.

ㅤ“Oh, it’s a joke, because of your-”

ㅤ“Oh no, I’ve heard it before. It’s just that the long face is a genetic condition, and I don’t really like rabbits I’ve never met making jokes about it.” There is a moment of silence. The rabbit picks up a glass.

ㅤ“So… would you like a drink?”

ㅤ“Yeah, thanks.” The horse sits down at the bar. “Sorry about that, it’s been a long day.”

ㅤ“No, no, it’s my fault. That was bang out of order.”

ㅤ“Really, I want to apologise,” the horse insists.

ㅤ“Alright mate, I appreciate that,” the rabbit says, placing a vodka tonic on the bar. “That one’s on the house.”

ㅤ“Cheers.” The horse took a long drink. “God knows I need it today.”

ㅤA frog walks into a bar. He sees a horse with a drink in his hand. The frog walks up to the bartender. “Alright buddy? Could I get a pint of-” 

ㅤ“Why the long face?” The bartender says, cutting him off. The frog stares at him for a moment.

ㅤ“Sorry, what was that?”

ㅤ“Why the long face?” The bartender repeats.

ㅤ“I’m not sure what you mean.” The rabbit just looks at him. The horse, who has been watching the exchange, turns to the bartender.

ㅤ“Are you feeling alright, pal?” The rabbit frowns.

ㅤ“Yes, I think so. I’m not sure why I said that, I just felt like I had to.” The horse and the frog exchange a worried look. The rabbit shakes his head and faces the frog. “What can I get you?”

ㅤ“Pint of Carlsberg, if you could.” The bartender pours the drink and places it in front of the frog, who also sits down. The horse hasn’t said anything in a while. He is replaying the interaction between the other two in his head. The rabbit notices.

ㅤ“Something on your mind?” He asks the horse.

ㅤ“Well… there is, actually. When I came in, you asked me ‘why the long face?’”

ㅤ“Yes.”

​ㅤ“A horse joke, a tired and cliche one, but a horse joke nonetheless.”

ㅤ“Sure.”

ㅤ“So why would you ask the same question of a frog?” The rabbit looks at the frog, who smiles back at him.

ㅤ“I don’t know. I say it to everyone who comes in here.”

ㅤ“Really?” The horse continues. “Did you say it to the person who came in before me?” The rabbit thinks for a moment, and his nose twitches.

ㅤ“I really couldn’t say. I can’t remember for the life of me what I was doing before you came in.” The horse points with a hoof towards a moth who is playing pool at a nearby table.

ㅤ“Did you ask him, when he came in?” The rabbit looks at the moth for a while, his nose twitches some more, and he frowns.

ㅤ“He didn’t come in, he’s always here.”

ㅤ“Well he must have walked through the door at some point, man. What time did you open?”

ㅤ“We’re always open.”

​​ㅤ“And he was here when your shift started?”

ㅤ“I don’t work shifts.”

ㅤ“So then what time did you arrive? Before lunch?” The horse is on his feet, pointing at the bartender with one hoof.

ㅤ“I- I- I-” The rabbit stammers. “I don’t know.” He is close to tears. The frog interjects with a laugh.

ㅤ“Come on, old chap, don’t give our friend a hard time.” The horse turns to the frog.

ㅤ“Where did you come from?” The horse demands. The frog looks taken aback.

ㅤ“How do you mean?”

ㅤ“Before you came to this bar, where were you?”

ㅤ“I was golfing.”

ㅤ“With whom?”

ㅤ“With a fly of course. I always golf with flies.”

ㅤ“And was there anything particularly amusing or humourous about your outing?”

ㅤ“Now you mention it, there was, actually.” The frog chuckles at the memory. “We were having a grand old time. Hardly stopped laughing through eighteen holes.” The horse’s eyes dart from one companion to the other, his mane flicking from side to side.

ㅤ“Does none of this seem odd to either of you? That a frog would play golf with a fly? Or that we are all now sitting in a bar that never closes?” He slams his drink down on the bar between the two creatures. “I put this to you: How can the same kind of glass be comfortably held by a horse’s hoof, a rabbit’s foot, and a frog’s webbed hand?” 

ㅤThe three animals sit in silence for a moment. In the background, patrons shoot pool, throw darts, and clink glasses. The jukebox whirs and switches records.

ㅤ“Are we…” The rabbit swallows hard. “Are we in a joke?” The rabbit asks, his nose and whiskers twitching more than ever.

ㅤ“That is the reality that I have been considering,” the horse replies, sitting back down. “A joke, a gag, a knee-slapper, whatever you want to call it. I can’t explain how, but I think we have somehow broken free from the format of the joke as it was originally meant to be told.”

ㅤ“Yes, that sounds right,” says the frog, gripping his pint glass.

ㅤ“There is one thing I’m concerned about,” the horse continued. “Right now, there’s nothing even remotely funny about this situation. I wager we are reaching the outer bounds of even the most absurdist humour.” The horse looks at the other two with a grim expression. “Bad jokes don’t get told. If the joke were never told, then we would never exist.” The rabbit and the frog look back at him with wide eyes.

ㅤ“That’s my working theory. However, I think perhaps there could be a way out of it. If we know what the joke is supposed to be, then we can recreate it.” He turns to the frog. “I think you should head back to the golf course, see if you can find a spare fly around. If there aren’t any, a toad could work too.” The frog nods in agreement. He cleans the dregs from his pint glass with one flick of his tongue and stands to address the two creatures.

ㅤ“Good luck chaps, I wish you all the best.” With that, he tips his cap to them and disappears through the door. The horse turns to the rabbit.

ㅤ“Don’t be nervous, just do what feels natural. I’ll leave the bar, then come back again. You remember the line, right?” The rabbit nods. The horse stands and pushes his glass towards the rabbit. “Best to make a fresh one I think.” Then the horse turns and makes his way out onto the street. The rabbit is alone for just a moment.

ㅤA horse walks into a bar.

January 07, 2022 11:02

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2 comments

Alex Sultan
22:10 Jan 07, 2022

Good take on the joke. I laughed - I liked how you broke it into multiple scenes, and the dialogue is fitting. Nice work

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S. Thomson
11:19 Jan 08, 2022

Thank you Alex! This story isn't really like anything I have written before, and the more comedic style is still something I'm working on so I really appreciate you reading and giving feedback.

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