To Laugh And Laugh Not, Part 2.

Steve looked at Tony. “What do you mean?”

“Well, Ian was having thoughts of your head getting pounded by the hydraulic hammer press, so why not think of him in an equally unpleasant predicament?”

“Like what?”

“Just let your mind wander,” Tony suggested. “You’ll come up with something.”

After a moment of silence and concentrating, Steve’s face suddenly lit up with a smile as he let out a chuckle. “I think I got it.”

“What did you come up with?”

“I’m imagining Ian with an air hose in his mouth that’s inflating his head like a balloon.”

Tony smiled and chuckled softly. “That’s a good one. I’m sure Ian would love to hear all about it.”

“Thanks, Tony,” Steve said, getting up to go back inside. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

As Steve reentered the bar, he saw Ian seated at their table, his back slouched in shame as he continued staring at his iced tea. “Okay Ian,” Steve announced, “I’m ready to continue the game.”

“You feeling better?” Ian asked softly.

“Yes, thanks to Tony,” Steve replied. “While you were moping at the table, Tony actually came out to talk to me and offer me words of comfort, something you should’ve done, but gee, let me guess, I’m thinking you were more focused on that hydraulic hammer press pounding my head.”

Ian slowly rose and returned to the pool table without saying a word. He picked up his cue stick and asked, “So whose turn is it?”

“It’s still my turn, “Steve said. “Remember? I was trying to concentrate on my shot when you started laughing, and now I know why.”

Steve aimed his cue stick at the next ball he planned to sink and prepared his next shot.

Pound, pound, pound…

Ian began laughing softly to himself while looking away from the pool table so Steve couldn’t see his face. Steve proceeded with his shot while knowing full well that Ian was back to laughing at his funny thoughts, but this time, though, Steve was ready.

“Missed,” Steve sighed as he watched the 2-ball miss the pocket. Now it was Ian’s turn.

Ian walked up to the pool table and scanned it for any shots he could make. Once he spotted a ball to sink, he prepared his shot and was ready to shoot. Steve began imagine Ian with the air hose inflating his head and began to laugh.

“Steve!” Ian yelled. “I’m trying to concentrate here!”

Ian’s head was getting bigger and bigger….

Steve couldn’t stop laughing, and this only infuriated Ian further.

“STOP LAUGHING!” Ian roared.

Immediately Steve stopped laughing but the thoughts couldn’t leave his mind. He stifled himself as he watched Ian line up the cue ball with the ball he was planning to sink. Just as Ian was ready to shoot the cue ball…

Ian’s head was now so big that his eyeballs became as big as beach balls.

Steve suddenly roared with laughter as Ian threw down his cue stick in frustration. Ian then stormed up to Steve to confront him face to face.

“Why are you laughing when I’m trying to concentrate?” Ian hissed.

“Sorry,” Steve giggled. “I’m just having funny thoughts.”

“What about?”

“You.”

“ME?” Ian yelled. “Just thinking of me makes you laugh?”

“Well no,” Steve explained, trying hard not to laugh. “But when there’s an air hose in your mouth inflating your head like a balloon, MAN, IT’S TOO MUCH!”

“YOU REALLY THINK THAT’S FUNNY?”

“Oh yeah!” Steve yelled back. “It’s just as funny as my head getting pounded by a hydraulic hammer press!”

“You know what?” Ian yelled. “I’m going to just stand here and keep imagining your head getting pounded by the press!”

“And I’m going to stand here and imagine your head getting bigger and bigger!”

“Fine!”

“FINE!”

And so Ian and Steve stood there with angry faces, quietly staring at each other as their thoughts raged inside their heads.

Pound, pound, pound…

Ian’s head getting bigger and bigger…

Pound, pound, pound…

Bigger and bigger…

Pound, pound, pound…

Bigger and bigger…

Suddenly the hydraulic hammer press smashed itself to bits and collapsed in a pile of metal on the floor of Ian’s mind.

Ian’s head was now so big that it popped with a loud bang, leaving behind nothing but empty space in Steve’s thoughts.

“What happened?” Steve asked as his thoughts faded.

“I just imagined the hydraulic hammer press smashing itself to pieces. I can’t imagine it anymore.” Ian said.

“And I just imagined your head popping. Hard to imagine anything else after that.” Steve added.

“So we’re done with our funny thoughts?” Ian asked.

“I believe we are,” Steve replied. “Maybe that was the only way to get rid of them.”

“I hear you,” Ian said, returning to the pool table to resume his turn. “Now let’s see if we can finish this game.”

As Tony stood behind the counter watching Ian and Steve finish their game without any further interruptions, his own mind began to wander.

There they were, Ian and Steve, inside the ring, ready to fight it out for the world boxing championship. Steve threw a punch at Ian’s head, causing Ian’s neck to stretch several feet before snapping back to its normal size. Ian responded with a punch that briefly stretched Steve’s neck the same way, and so the fight continued with punches and stretching necks…

Tony let out a loud laugh that distracted both Ian and Steve from their game.

“What’s so funny, Tony?” Steve asked.

“Sorry,” Tony replied. “Funny thoughts.”

“SHUT UP!” Ian and Steve both yelled.

FIN

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