“Come on, Felix; just go for a walk with me. It’s nice outside,” Oscar said as he turned down the volume on his neighbor’s TV.
“Don’t want to, and you can leave anytime,” Felix growled, continuing to flip channels. He scowled his unshaven face, scratched one bare foot against the other, and wiped ketchup on his coffee-stained undershirt and boxers.
“Have you heard from your daughter?” Oscar asked, picking up trash around the room.
“Nope, she’s mad because I won’t go visit or be in the same house with that tattooed husband of hers. She finally quit calling. Good riddance and don’t let the door hit you on your way out,” Felix said, never taking his eyes off the TV.
“You've got to get out of this house,” Oscar said. “Listen, just because you retired doesn’t mean you have to get old. I know it’s a tough time, but it’s just a season. You can make it what you want it. You've got to start by getting out of that chair, man. I know you miss Rita, but it’s been two years since she passed. You still have a lot of life left in you.”
“What I’ve got is a nosy, busy-body neighbor who won’t leave me the heck alone. Now get out! You hear me? Don’t ever come back!” Felix shouted.
“Ok, well, maybe tomorrow,” Oscar said and headed for the door. He turned back to say something else, but changed his mind and breathed a prayer for Felix, then closed the door.
“I just want to be left alone,” Felix thought. He turned up the volume on the TV so that he couldn’t hear his heart screaming at him. Interaction with people put his ragged emotions close to the surface and he couldn’t have that.
"Early retirement my eye, useless is more like it. They had to go all technology on me. Rita barely cold in her grave before Susie runs off with that tattooed, nose-ringed hoodlum. Rita…Rita…" His best friend, the hundreds of channels on his TV, helped numb his heartbreak. He turned his attention to the zombie box and clicked himself into oblivion.
“Breaking news from KQEN: Neighbors in Queens called the city waterworks to report a broken line that was gushing water from a home in their neighborhood. Workers entered the home to discover the dead body of an elderly man. He was in his recliner, his mummified hand still holding the remote control. His surprised neighbors claim he was a reclusive curmudgeon who did not welcome company. His devastated daughter, who lives just down the street, says that he refused to see her. Forensics indicate that the man has been dead for approximately 13 months. The television was still on and the volume blaring.”
Felix woke up with a start. Oscar was shaking him.
“Felix. Wake up. Are you alright, Buddy?” Oscar gave his face a gentle slap.
“I’m not dead?” Felix asked. He looked at the remote control in his hand. He dropped it on the floor as if it were a rattlesnake. Oscar picked it up and turned off the TV.
“Dead? No, of course not, but I was beginning to get a little worried. Are you alright?” Oscar asked.
“Yes, I think so.” Felix stood up and stretched just to see if he could feel his body. “I’m not dead!” he exclaimed. Oscar was astonished and was sure he’d never seen Felix smile before.
“So, you up for that walk today?” Oscar asked.
“Yes!” Felix shouted, nearly jumping out of his socks. “But first…” he began, picked up the heavy flashlight on the table next to his chair, and hurled it at the TV, shattering the glass into pieces. “Now, let’s go.”
Oscar’s dropped jaw and dumbstruck expression made Felix laugh out loud. “Well, are we going or not? Come on old man,” Felix said.
“Ok, but you might want to put on some pants.”
They both laughed at that, and Felix took a step toward a new season. Oscar taught him to golf, which felt better in his hands than the remote control.
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