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"I’ve always watched it. Me and a billion others. TV babies. People too young to remember a world without tv. People who were born into it. Our numbers are growing larger every day. Pretty soon, there won’t be anyone who remembers that other world..."

stay
fiction by kurt eisenlohr


I sleep fourteen hours a day and eat nothing but chocolate. Drink a sea of coffee. But it doesn’t help. Nothing keeps me awake these days. Which is odd, because I’ve been an insomniac most of my life. Used to watch tv all night. Wait for the morning to come. For the fear to pass. There was a brief period of time when I was neither sleepy nor an insomniac. That time no longer exists…I still have a tv. Not that it works anymore. Loose wire, blown tube. Who knows? I can’t say I’ve ever understood machines. The how and why of the way things work.

I haven’t stopped looking at it, though In the afternoon, I’ll sit on the couch and see myself reflected fish-eyed in the glass. See myself there on the couch. See my living room, the floor, the ceiling, three of the four walls. Coffee table piled high with unopened mail, old vacation photos, half-read books; ash tray overflowing with cigarette butts; the foil of Hershey’s Kisses blown around like shrapnel. Me in the center of it all, this catastrophe. I can look at that thing for hours. That person there. I’m always amazed that it’s me. How can that be me? Sometimes I’ll crawl across the floor for a closer look. Yeah that’s me alright. My show. My situation…Sometimes I think I must have mono. Or maybe cancer. Some sort of cancer.

I’ve never much cared for what they show on tv. But for as long as I can remember there’s always been one around. And I’ve always watched it. Me and a billion others. TV babies. People too young to remember a world without tv. People who were born into it. Our numbers are growing larger every day. Pretty soon, there won’t be anyone who remembers that other world.

My wife is a TV baby. But she tells me she doesn’t own one anymore. And that she doesn’t miss it.

This one doesn’t even work. But I can’t bring myself to drag it to the dumpster. That would be a form of suicide now wouldn’t it? Nothing left to reflect me. My living room. Couch. Coffee table. Nothing left to tell me who and where I am. What I am…Then a gain, that might be good. Might be just what I need. But I would feel more alone, I think. Might lose sight of myself altogether. I need to be reminded, you see.

So the tv stays.

The tv stays even after all else has vanished. Me and the tv, we stay. Broken or not, we stay.


Kurt Eisenlohr is a painter, writer and bartender living in Portland, Oregon. In addition to illustrations contributed to all issues of Smokebox his poetry and fiction has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including Asylum, Verbal Abuse, River Styx, Another Chicago Magazine, Cokefish, Decoy, Way Station, and STOVEPiPER. His chapbook, Under Hand and Over Bone was published by Alpha Beat Press in 1994. His art has been shown in many galleries and is featured on the Future Tense Books web site. More stories and art can be viewed in the Smokebox Archives or at Kurt's excellent blog Easy To Use.


©2004 Kurt Eisenlohr
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uncredited images used are for journalistic purposes only