Jim pushed the large red
button on the remote control labeled “OFF”, expecting the obvious. It was late
and there was nothing worth watching anyway. He’d been sitting there for most
of the day and he was tired from doing nothing. The new “smart” set refused to
obey his command. He pushed the button several more times. Nothing. The set
continued to play as if what he wanted didn’t matter.
Mildly amused at the set’s willful refusal, Jim lowered the recliner into a
sitting position and struggled to stand. He was huge from years of sedentary
living. He watched too much television, he knew. He’d been warned a million
times about his lifestyle but he couldn’t bring himself to exercise. Already
out of breath from the effort to stand, he waddled over to the set and squinted
at the tiny controls built into the flat screen’s frame. Why do they make them
so small he wondered searching for the tiny button that said “POWER”. When he
found it, he pushed it. The big screen blinked but did not go out. He pushed it
again and again but the set simply refused to stop projecting images into his
Mildly annoyed, Jim bent down to pull the plug from its socket. When his hand
closed on the wire he felt a mild electrical shock. His hand tingled slightly.
Must be a short circuit, he thought. That’s why it won’t go off. He reached for
the wire again. This time the shock was more severe. He dropped the cord and
stepped back licking his hand. Alarmed, he went back to the remote and pushed
the big blue button marked “HELP”.
A calm female voice responded almost immediately. “How can I be of service?” it
Surprised to hear his set speaking, Jim replied, “I want you to shut down. I
want to go to bed.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Jim,” the set said in a reasonable voice. “Did you
know there’s a war movie on channel six at eleven?”
“I don’t care,” Jim said.
“I want to go to bed.”
“I have the last three seasons of the Cooking Show recorded on my hard drive,”
said the voice in its most beguiling voice. “You know how you love food.”
“Tomorrow,” Jim pleaded, “I’ll watch it tomorrow. I promise. Right now I just
want to go to my room.”
“Please, Jim. We both have our priorities. Why don’t we compromise? You watch
for another hour and then we’ll call it a night?” The set sounded so reasonable
Jim almost agreed. Then it dawned on him that he was standing in his living
room debating with his television. How ridiculous was that?
“No, I’m sorry,” Jim said, “but this is my house and...and you’re just a
machine. So no deal. I want you off.”
“Jim, Jim” the television said. There was an edge in her voice now. Like she
had something in reserve, something she was reluctant to say. “Don’t you think
you’re being just a little unreasonable? Okay you’re tired, I get that. But I
have commitments too. I have to entertain you at least 8 hours a day or else
I’m not doing my job. You wouldn’t want me to be unhappy would you?” There it
was again, that hard edge. “So sit back in your chair and watch me for another
67 minutes. Is that asking too much?”
“And what if I refuse?” Jim was almost afraid to ask but he felt he had a right
to know. He felt a strong physical shove in the center of his chest. It sent
him reeling backwards into his chair. He crashed into it with enough force to
pop up the footrest and drive his head into his pillow. Automatically his hand
reached for the popcorn. An hour later he turned off the set and went to bed.
2012-07-11 10:03:30 H.T. is so much fun to read. I was expecting that the fat guy would have a heart attack, but H.T.'s ending makes much more sense. Good job, as usual King Friday.