Bertha’s trying to change the channel and get back to the Sox game but the dog is barking and she keeps pressing the wrong buttons on the remote, all the buttons that don’t really do anything—or maybe she has the wrong remote, there are so many nowadays. Her dog, Bud, is smart enough not to bark or even look at the television normally, but not smart enough to ignore it when other dogs or animals of any kind appear on TV.
Bertha and Bud have been drinking beer all afternoon. That’s how Bertha describes anything she might be up to around the house. When her daughter called earlier to check in, she said, “Bud and I are having a six-pack and watching the Sox. Talk to you later.” Then there was a commercial and she switched over to another game, one of the teams she hopes will lose so the Sox can have a shot at the pennant, except this other team isn’t exactly losing, just trading the occasional run like in one of those deadlocked European soccer matches.
The commercial must be over, which means it’s time to get back to the Sox, but Bud won’t stop yelping at that dog on television with the baseball cap solicitously clinging to his head, and he gets so excited that he almost knocks over one of the beer bottles on the coffee table. Bertha snaps the remote like a fly swatter, as though the motion would magically affect a change in channel. Then the dog on television stops moving, and Bud stops barking, and the house is quiet except for the gentle sea of crowd noise transmitted from some other city, and the announcers’ casual inter-moment chatter.
A few heavy raindrops knock hesitantly on the porch roof, and a cool heavy breeze fills the room. Then the daylight disappears and the picture on the suddenly brighter TV contrasts more than anything else in the room. Bud and she are alone in the dark, staring at a strange lady and her dog. She’d been frantic to get rid of that station because she could sense something like this coming on, just like she’d known it was going to rain.
Picture: Kristin Sage Rockerman
Fiction: David Varno