Go On, Please

by David Erlewine

When asked how he was doing, the old man, rotten with cancer, said, "Bring me one of Stanley Milgram�s heirs. Then I'll be better."

The social worker, short and pimply, dialed her cell phone.  

"He proved the Holocaust could happen anywhere.  His obedience to authority experiments proved that two out of every three people � across class, gender, and ethnic lines � will murder when instructed."  The words fell out of the old man's mouth.  "I could also use some water."

The social worker laughed and said something into her cell phone, handing him a glass of water.  After a few sips, he cleared his throat.  �On December 20, 1984, I confronted �Stan the Man.�  I told him the experiments ruined my dad, how knowing he was a murderer made it hard for him to put on a tie, take out the trash, tell his ever fattening wife she looked fine.�

The social worker said something into her phone, something the old man couldn�t quite make out.  

�Anyways, shoeless � house rules � I rubbed my feet against the carpet, building up some nice static electricity, and then with my middle finger tapped the fleshy overhang of his nose.  He got all big-eyed, started clutching his chest."  The old man shook his head.  "I'd always planned to have a heart attack if assaulted, so I thought he was faking, even when he fell down. I kept looking down at him, holding out my hand, telling him to stop faking, that I was just messing around with him, that I wasn�t there to hurt him.�

The old man reached for the social worker�s small hand but couldn�t grab it.  She laughed into the phone. 


She looked at him.  �What?  What do you need, sir?�

�If you want to help, if you want me to get some help, then get me some closure before they box me up, let his heirs know how and why he died.  Let me �"

The old man's roommate, a real ninny named Saul, awoke from his own snores and screamed, �They're stealing from me!�

The social worker nodded at the old man.  �Get some rest.  I need to see some other folks.� 

�No,� the old man said.  �His heirs should know he wanted to prove the Holocaust could never happen here.  At Yale, he wanted to set the standard, quickly show Americans would never keep shocking someone just because a lab-coated Milgram told them to.  Then he planned to fly to Germany, show those lemmings would do whatever he said.� 

The old man sipped the last of his water.  �Imagine how old Stanley felt testing those first 40 New Havenites, seeing 37 of them administer what they thought were 450 deadly volts of electricity to an innocent man.�  He shook his head. 

The social worker typed something on her phone, likely sending a text. 

�You know what Milgram told them every time they objected or pleaded with him to let them stop shocking?�

The woman must have gotten a funny reply from her phone.  She was laughing, punching more buttons. 

The old man shrugged.  �We must continue.  Go on, please.�

BIO: David Erlewine's stories appear in Thieves Jargon, FRiGG, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Pedestal, and many other wonderful places.  He edits flash for JMWW.  He has been obsessed with Stanley Milgram's obedience experiments for far too long.  He blogs at http://www.whizbyfiction.blogspot.com/.