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(en) Daybreak #3 - Story about TV

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://free.freespeech.org/mn/daybreak!/article8.html)
Date Wed, 20 Nov 2002 05:04:33 -0500 (EST)


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Every door in the office seems to be slamming simultaneously,
biting into the walls, sending invisible clouds of dust straight down
the throats of the people in ties and skirts who walked hurriedly
between the cardboard cubicles, coughing phlegm into their
hands.

A man sat by the window looking blankly at the dirty streets
teeming with other people, also hurrying and coughing and
hugging themselves so tightly against the cold that even their eyes
seemed to have sunk further into their skulls and become
unreachable.

The man played a game sometimes on his way to work. Trying to
see if he could catch someone¹s gaze and hold it, daring the magic
that always seemed to exist in movies to show itself in this dirty
real world. It never did. That was really the only time he spent
outside, the walk from his apartment to his car, from the car to
work and back again. Feeling hunted by all the noise and stress of
the street, the crazy people starving and mumbling to themselves,
the yuppies dieting and mumbling into their cellular headsets.

Even when he got home, and fled from the dark parking lot into
the orange and green hallways, looking like vomit but smelling
like curry, he felt unease. The usual routine was to take a shower,
wash off all the shit of the day; the boss at work, the weariness he
felt in his body, the sickness in his gut from the rushed lunch of
saltines, peanut butter, and beef jerky. The cat was curled up on
the couch, comically snuggled against the Doberman who kicked
his legs against the fabric and emitted a half muted bark as he
dreamt. The man thought that it sounded like a bark of joy, and
imagined the dog chasing rabbits through the woods, but the dog
was really thinking about the big rats in the basement and the
walls.

The man sat down in the leather chair, brown and worn away by
use and cigarettes stubbed out in the slippery fabric. The TV was
on. It was always on, he told himself it was to keep prowlers away,
but it helped him to sleep at night to hear another human voice as
he fought insomnia wrapped in the sheets that were filthy because
no one else ever needed to see them.

The TV played a show about a couple that lived together in New
York, he wondered why they never seemed to work or sleep. He
changed the channel. The news came on. Terrorist attacks killed
25 people in a nightclub in Tel Aviv. The army responded by
bulldozing an entire city block of the refugee camps. People were
still inside. The screen flashed to a demonstration in another part
of the occupied territories, a boy with a slingshot in his hand threw
a stone at approaching tanks, the camera showed his friends, 12
or 13, carrying his blood soaked body away, a bullet straight
through his eye. The man looked at the TV, wishing it would
hurry to the entertainment section, to hear about other peoples
perfect lives, and laugh when the famous people didn¹t really live
like in the movies either.

The phone rang. It was someone trying to convince him that he¹d
won a trip to Jamaica. He hung up without responding. And
switched the ringer off. The boy was gone from the TV, in his
place a wailing family of Arabs, in their place a wailing family of
Israelis, in their place the President promising us a better life,
even when he knew and hoped nothing would ever change. The
images changed, replaced by drastically more disturbing ones.
Someone¹s grandpa dying alone in a hospital whose last wish is to
be a millionaire asking for all the school kids in the state to send
him a dollar. A women beaten and raped while running in the
park.

The man knew what obscenity was. It was this world. A world of
obscene humor and bloody bloody reality, of powerful and
powerless, of those who hoard life and those who have it stolen
from them. A world of needless suffering has to be the worst
torture, he thought. Existence had somehow been reduced from a
complex web of feelings and experiences, of joy and love and
desire and adventure, to a numbing routine of slaving for someone
else 8 hrs and day, and trying to sleep it off before the next day
came.

The news images seemed to meld together. The lonely old woman
who survived on cat food until she was imprisoned, the black kids
that got shot by stray bullets from a cop car, the black teenager
who got shot on purpose from a cop car. The little Palestinian boy
with a hole through his forehead. The man started to cry. To
weep, making noises and stringing spit across his hand. Falling to
his knees and burying his head in his dogs¹ coat. The TV muted.
The images ended. A bouncy ad played for laundry detergent. The
news came back on, he cowered, the dogs¹ wet fur against his
face. The TV anchors greet him like friends, and on came a story
about a dog that had rescued a family from a fire. The governor
was giving him a medal. The doorbell rang. It was a box, some
little blue pills. Feeling hunted again, the man rushed to the
faucet, and swallowed twice the normal dose, blinked his eyes, sat
down, and turned back to the show about the couple in the perfect
world.

The dog in the corner kicked his legs again. The old woman
eating cat food opened another can. The wars raged, children were
mutilated, people starved while rich people wasted, cops shot
people, politicians lied, armies bombed. People were sad and
desperate but numb, and all was right in the world.


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