Wednesday, January 9, 2013

When Television Ends by G. Arthur Brown

There’s nothing on television, especially when it’s off.  My television is always off now that there’s no power.  Aggie is bored.

“Make something happen, Daddy!”

I grab my screwdriver and go to work on the set.  It’s not like we are going to be plugging back in.  The parts I can’t get out with the screw driver, I pull out with pliers or knock out with a hammer.  Until all that is left is a box with a clear glass screen.  Now I can do some puppet shows.  Aggie should like that.

But I’ll level with you.  This television really isn’t big enough for a good puppet show.  My puppets, likewise, are not made for a stage this small.  But I do have a large window in the front of my house and plenty of spare lumber. 

Construction on a big television-set-style stage takes over a week, but that’s because I frequently stop to eat cheese.  Aggie also needs assistance from time to time, being only four years old.  There’s only so much food I can put in her bowl at a time before it just goes bad.  I get the giant set finished by Thursday night, must see TV.  All the neighbors gather round to peer in my window that is now a screen. 

I’ve made the backdrop look like a coral reef.  But I hadn’t thought that through at all, and I don’t have any puppets that really make sense on the seabed. 

“Just pretend this clown is a clown fish!” I shout before I begin.

I enact a very poor rendition of Finding Nemo, without most of the jokes because I’ve forgotten them.  They never find Nemo in my version.  I’d decided it would be better if he is eaten by a killer whale, played by a polar bear puppet that I call Mokito.  The audience is really touched.  There’s not a dry eye in the, well, I was going to say house, but they are in fact in my front yard.  My yard is full of wet eyes.

Luckily there is a theater critic in the audience.  He approaches me after the show, holding a torch to light his way because it is dark at this point, and I remove my puppets to shake his hand.  Then he fiddles with his mustache and says, “I can’t say the script was good, but your casting decisions were tremendously bold. I really think you managed to poignantly lampoon the military-industrial complex when you had the mermaid rape the crab.  In honor of your success, I’m giving you a hickey.”  As he sucks on my throat, I think that this will be awkward to explain to people.  They will look at my neck and see what looks like the marks of a night of passion, then I will have to vigorously explain to them that it is, in fact, an award bestowed upon me for my successful puppet show.  I have ten different puppets!

Once the critic relinquishes his suction upon me, he totters off awkwardly into the night.  Bearing a lantern with green glass that gives an eerie glow, the local schoolmarm approaches me shortly thereafter and suggests I come to the single-room schoolhouse and do a puppet show to educate the children about the dangers of swallowing bees.  “They can sting your stomach,” she reminds me.  It had been some time since I’d seen a puppet show about not swallowing bees, and I had frankly forgotten the risks. I tell her that they will have to come to my house, because I would never be able to get a giant television set into that small building. She agrees and compliments me on my hickey and offers to show me her tits.  But I am a gentleman, so I never look upon the female form unclothed.  I tell her to meet me behind the milk barn in an hour wearing a burlap sack to obscure her naughty bits.  She rushes off at a gallop, and I call after her, “For I am a gentleman!”

Then I remember that I’ve forgotten all about Aggie.  I had put her in the oven three hours ago.  Surely she is overdone at this point. 

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