Flash Gordon, home from the terrible emptiness of space, has to make up stories for fear of worldwide despair. ‘It’s beautiful, Dale,’ he says. ‘Martians are intelligent beings, Professor.’ ‘Suddenly, Mr President, I understood the meaning of existence.’

To his friend Buck, who drops by once all the insufferable parades are over, he says: ‘Emptiness on such a scale staggers the mind, Buck.’ His voice seems to emerge from that emptiness. Dale brings them coffee and homemade peanut butter cookies, Flash’s favorites when he’s back on Earth, and she and Buck exchange worried glances. ‘Yeah, I know, buster,’ says Buck, ‘but you gotta get such notions outta your conk. Ain’t good for it nor not for the bowels neither, take it from me. Focus on the quiet things. Putter about the house. Plant some roses. Get back out on the golf course, bring your handicap down.’

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Brother | State of Mind