The Telly

     It was a stupid accident; a combination of an over inflated ego and downright carelessness. Jenny was good about it; about the fact that I'll be laid up for some months with a badly shattered leg, and an arm broken in three places. The doctor of course advised me to have lots of rest, which was rather ironic, since in reality I had little choice. Jenny decided to rent our first floor apartment out on a short term lease which she had no difficulty in doing due to her being a successful real estate broker, and so we have moved into this old house which is really quite a nice place, with polished floorboards, bay windows and lots of trees everywhere. The garden is wholly overgrown and I can hardly see the wooden shed at the bottom of the garden through the tangle of greenery, but I like it here, it is a world onto itself where one can imagine living in another era, like Victorian England in those romance novels Jenny sometimes reads.
     The living room is very spacious with a high ceiling and a tall wooden mantelpiece surrounds a cavernous fireplace, and all I can see through the bay windows are trees and shrubbery. The strangest aspect of the living room however would have to be the television, which the previous tenants had left behind, it is a huge wooden affair which must weigh a ton, and it can only be described as ugly, not the sort of ugliness that one would associate with 'bad taste' but more like a sinister evil ugliness that comes to mind when one thinks of gargoyles or ancient headstones in wind lashed cemeteries.
The legs emulate that of some sort of reptile and end in four sets of vicious looking talons which mercilessly grip and bite into the carpet, and around its huge screen there are tiny detailed carvings of skulls and tortured faces . I tell you, its a horror to behold. I suggested to Jenny that we remove it because it is such an eyesore but she just laughed and said, "dear, think of it as a curiosity and a conversation piece, besides I find it rather cute, don't you?" Since I am incapable of removing it myself, it remains there, and I'm almost sure it has taken on an air of smugness.
     Jenny has gone to work and I have gone against the doctor's advise to rest my still rather painful limbs. I neglected to mention that I am a session musician, but it takes little imagination to understand that those days are over, at least for the meantime. Still, I tried to play my guitar this morning but I soon despaired because my painful, clumsy fingers would only produce laboured and disjointed passages. I guess the doctor is right, nothing for it but to rest. Of course, the upside of all this is I have a much earned holiday from all the political wrangling of the music business and those late nights of carrying heavy equipment in and out of studios. Yet I feel vaguely depressed. Perhaps it is the fact that I'm all alone in this room with nothing special to do except read or look at the furniture or out the window. Jenny does not seem to understand my growing depression and she is often away overnight on business trips; something that didn't bother me when I was working late nights before this silly accident. She means well and always pecks me on the cheek before going off to work and she usually makes some well intended remark about 'her little invalid being permanently plastered.' I try and tell her that my problem is related to not being able to practise my music, but she says that I need rest away from all of that. She has always looked at my music as a "little hobby" and tolerated it as a personality trait rather than something that has taken years of practise and dedication, but I do love her, so I don't make a fuss over her views.
     I have just done something rather strange, which has caused me some initial trepidation. I have switched on that hideous old television, and it works! Somehow I expected it not to produce even a glimmer of a picture, or if total honesty were called for, I half insanely expected devils to appear on the screen. No devils, just plain old daytime television; 'Donahue,' albeit in black and white. I guess daytime television is not as bad as they say, in fact it is quite interesting; the talk shows with overweight loud Americans condemning drug dealers whilst they themselves are permanently stoned on valium. I don't mind the soapies either, with that badly timed, bland acting which has an appeal all of its own. I'm starting to feel better already and I have taken to partaking in a 'smoke' to enhance my days.
     Yesterday the television went 'on the blink' and the picture turned sideways so that Donahue was talking to the ceiling and Coke-a-Cola surfers disappeared off the bottom of the screen and soapy lovers made love hanging upside down like a pair of bats.
Today, however, the picture vanished altogether only to be replaced by a visual static which resembles an electronic equivalent of pins and needles, more strangely still, there are flecks of red throughout it which disturbs me because black an white televisions cannot produce colour of any kind.. I am beginning to feel afraid because I sense that the television is somehow behaving like it has a mind of its own, yet I feel strangely fascinated by the electronic fuzziness on the screen as patterns sparkle and explode in a monochrome and red holocaust. Some times if I stare long enough there are new patterns under the static; disturbing visions of some hellish factory where colossal cog wheels with frightfully sharp teeth mesh and grind and squeal metallically. Worse still, the red flecks are more concentrated between the teeth of these terrible things. Of course I don't tell Jenny because I fear she will think me to be going insane. Lately I have been watching television well into the early winter evenings and as the darkness closes around me the picture becomes sharper by contrast which allows me to better immerse myself into the blizzard of static which now seems to fill the whole room.
      Jenny sometimes comes home early but her car pulling into the driveway is always the warning for me to switch it off and pretend I am having a nap. Sometimes I try to tell her about what I am seeing in that awful television but how can I explain? It is beginning to take such a hold of me that I am truly at a loss as what to do to break the spell. Today the most horrific thing happened. I was looking at that hellish factory that I mentioned before and a figure walked straight up to the screen, it was a man with the most woeful and anguished face anyone could imagine. He had a heinous chain wrapped across his face and arms which was pulled so tightly that his features were disfigured and hardly recognisable as human. The chain had minute barbs which tore his flesh and caused red blood to flow down over his face and body. I could see why the chain was so tight, it trailed out behind him and into those cogwheels and they were pulling him in, link by link, towards their grinding horror. He spoke. It was a demand voiced in the vernacular of the damned; tortured and hateful. "save me or come with me". Then he was gone, replaced by the deathly roar of static.
     Tonight I am sitting in the room paralysed by fear unable to get out of this chair, I cannot look away from the thing anymore, the wind outside is roaring through the trees and everything outside is rattling and banging. Somewhere around the house branches are knocking against the wall and the gate is being thrown back and fourth clattering and squeaking. I know the thing has moved. I am not stupid . I saw its clawed leg take one step and then another. I can hear its grotesque wooden claws pull out bits of the carpet as it moves. I know what must be done, it is simple. I am going to rescue that man. I am crawling towards the thing now, the plaster on my leg is dragging behind but that is not going to stop me. I am right up against the screen and the man is in there, he is almost at the meshing cogwheels, the chain's last few links are pulled tight, he is screaming and so am I. My screams seem so distant and hardly mine at all. I smash the screen somehow and glass is flying everywhere tearing chunks out of the wall and my face. Now there is a black void full of silvery shards. I cannot see him but I know he is in there because I can hear him screaming, his blood is everywhere as I desperately push my head and shoulders further into the void grabbing wires and valves trying to find him. I can hear Jenny talking in the background, she seems so calm, how can she be so calm? She has always been that way, she is on the phone calling for someone to come and help us find the man.

John Magee