TV Was a Friend and an Enemy

After his mother passed, the boy who claimed he was mine became addicted to tragedy. The wifely woman said we had no choice, but I think she was happy to let him stay with us. She said the choice thing for my benefit. The boy liked to watch the obits. That’s what the news had become since they’d started competing with Fox. The boy didn’t know what obits meant; he just liked to watch death in general. It was what his mother and he had watched in the hospital. I understood: she’d wanted to know she was not alone. It was normal to “know” things you couldn’t. The boy would watch the obits and then relate the worst to the wifely woman and me over dinner. Try drinking anything as a five-year-old says a woman bled to death after reaching into a garbage disposal. This was the class of death his mother had had to compete with. “You want to adopt that?” I said when the boy said a man had tried to lawn mow his brother’s back hair. The wifely woman said, “Don’t say the a-word.” I didn’t think the boy knew what I meant, but it was true he was a genius at context.

Matthew Salesses was born in Korea. He is the author of The Last Repatriate (Nouvella, forthcoming) and two chapbooks, Our Island of Epidemics (PANK) and We Will Take What We Can Get (Publishing Genius). He is the fiction editor and a columnist for the Good Men Project.