A Short Exercise

Old damn screen.

When I was at the Mt. San Antonio Writer’s Conference last year, I took a few workshops when I didn’t present. This piece came from a headline furnished by the presenter: we had to write about a man that had shot his television, and himself.

Flicker.

Tinny voices talk.

Old damn screen there. Like him. Black box.

Sounds like his wife, now dead; she used to talk that way. Small little voice, like this. Hard to hear through static air. Grey paint, once avocado, peels slowly as if a lethargic primate tugged furtively at night. Years ago his wife bought the color. Floral painting above the ugly talking box.

Electric signals cascade down from the center of his head. Motion. Legs kick out, robotic. He rises, creaking from the yellowed brown-speckled sofa chair.

Soft sunlight breaks through cloud, momentarily brightening the room. Books, newspapers, magazines strewn over crushed and stale brown patterned carpet.

He reaches into a glass case for the small, weighty black metallic object. It fits snugly in his large hand. He has made a decision.

Hand trembles as it lifts, past small saucers and cups, miniature crystalline horses and crumbling sand castles.

He turns. Metallic static voices still weave stories in the still air. Fires, babies in parks, lovely weekend ahead.

Click.

Glass explodes outwards, shards cutting grey paint, bleeding through the curtain of age, covering the floor with minuscule melted silicon dioxide.

Click. Again. Accident.

Piercing blooms of pain tendril to the mainframe mind, fire coursing, singeing, from his leg. Voice rattles the window as he cries out. Blood sprayed like oil stains.

Flicker.

Darkness and blissful silence.

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