Niles Stromdahl’s consciousness emerged from a six pack slumber on the
La-Z-Boy. Calloused hands gripped the arms on the fabric chair, his rough
fingers tracing hints of orange thread that snaked in and out of the Sears
pattern. Several colors were utilized within the woven design, but amidst a
brown backdrop the orange stuck out the most. Though Niles had never admitted
it to anyone, he loved the orange thread for its audacity to be bold.
His body and chair creaked in unison as they moved upright. Whichever entity
was responsible for the vertical maneuver could never be determined. He hurt
every day, but that was what the six pack of Hamm’s was for.
Mrs. Stromdahl had said that Hamm’s would make him hurt the next morning. And
if he hurt so much why didn’t he go see Doctor Zimmerman? Niles made sure that
was the last time she asked. Not that he wanted to, but that’s what was
expected of men like him in the Iron Range.
It wasn’t that he enjoyed Hamm’s either. That was the funny thing. His vision
slowly adjusted, bringing the room into focus, particularly the TV sitting in
front of him on a too tiny plastic table. If you could even call it a table,
Niles mused, observing the cheap China-made square legs that supported the TV.
It was an abomination in engineering, but Mrs. Stromdahl had picked it up at a
rummage sale and that was that. Despite, as Niles had pointed out to her, that
the mere act of picking up the table caused the four square legs to fall out.
“Well don’t pick up a table unless you’re gonna move it,” Mrs. Stromdahl said.
That was that.
The cheap legs weren’t causing the bunny ears to act up, as much as Niles
wanted to fault them. They neither added nor detracted to the reception. They
merely supported the screen that broadcasted the confusion before him.
Surely, he thought, it’s that light in the front yard casting its glow on the
glass. His face, mouth open, reflected on the TV. He cocked his head in dumb
He was on TV. A tilt of his head brought an avalanche of reception troubles and
from behind the black and white blizzard, his face set into motion.