By J. W. Wright

Art peered at the television set. It seemed strange to him; all of this newfangled color

He pondered over what he was watching and thought he had seen it before, but he couldn’t remember. It seemed to him that it was some sort of show based on devil worship or something, starring this creepy monster that possessed children and made them count and sing. The children called this creature “Elmo”. 

Art sighed at this nonsense, cursed at it, and got up. He shambled over to the television set, searching frantically for the button to power it off. He completely ignored the fact that there was a perfectly good remote laying around.

Art looked around him at his surroundings, all of the other elderly folks were sleeping... or dead. He couldn’t tell. He could never tell anymore. Deciding that maybe he should go get something to eat, so that he might not die from hunger, Art reached into his pocket. He pulled out a half eaten bag of M&M’s. The regular chocolate ones, not those damned peanut ones... those were just wrong as far as he was concerned.  

Looking down into his hand at the M&M’s, the feelings of seclusion started to dawn on him. His son loved M&M’s. He really missed his son, and he wished he had never said the things he said to his son in the past, but it was too late. Nothing could change that now, he could only hope that his son would forgive him. Art hated being alone. He hated failing as a father.

Growing very sad, Art could feel the tears welling in his eyes. He decided to walk to his room to take a break from everything. Perhaps there he could cry to himself, in peace. Not like it would matter if anyone saw him anyway. It’s not like he had a reputation to uphold, and no one ever came to visit him. Still, he figured he could at least go there and get away from everyone. Maybe something there could take his mind off of his son. 

Opening up the door to his room, Art glanced quickly around, searching for something. Then, he spotted it. It was the diary that he kept, sitting neatly on his night stand. This diary was important to him because it contained many different stories of his memories about the war. He then realized it also contained many different stories about his son. Still, he had to do something, and he decided he would just skip all the “sad stuff” about his son and go right to his old war stories.

Thumbing through his diary, he came upon a story where this one time his old buddy they used to call “Wombat” got wounded in combat. He flashed back and he had very vivid memories; he could see the scene unfold before his eyes. In one horrible moment, Art could remember! He could smell the jet fuel. He could feel the heat of the battlefield... he could hear the gunfire! But most of all, he could see it. See the horrible scene replaying in his head over and over. He slammed the book shut, throwing it on the floor. “GOD DAMN YOU!” he yelled, “DAMN THE WAR, DAMN THIS NURSING HOME, DAMN MY LIFE!” Art was growing furious with rage. All of this commotion had attracted some of the nurses, who rushed in to help him.

The nurses calmed him down and told him to relax. They always helped him relax. Maybe it was because he thought they were such sexy ladies. Maybe it was just because he knew he could trust they would make him feel better. Either way, he calmed down and they laid him in his bed so he could rest.

A few minutes later, Art was screaming again, wondering why he was laying in his bed. He had forgotten about the whole incident from before. He demanded to know where his dinner was. Swiftly enough, the platter was brought before him, it was the same nasty crap as usual. A salisbury steak, some green beans and a white potato that always tasted like it was rotten. Art could almost gag at the thought of it, and just decided it was better if he didn’t eat anything. Maybe playing a game of chess would be the best thing for him right now. He decided to look for his friend Ben, old Ben always loved a good game of chess!

Where was Ben at anyway? Art decided to go look for him, maybe he was in his room. That sounded like a good idea, so Art set about walking towards the room where Ben stayed.

Art didn’t bother knocking, Ben and himself had a great relationship, so they just let themselves into one another’s room, and they even had the key. Art walked into Ben’s room, and... what he saw was not Ben. Art stared at the plump old woman who was knitting something. When she saw Art she said “Oh, hello Timmy, won’t you be a good sport and help grandma with her sweater? I’m making it for my kitty, Mr. Whiskers!” Art stared in shock for a few seconds before yelling “WHERE IN THE HELL IS BEN? WHO ARE YOU AND HOW DID YOU GET IN THIS ROOM?” This did not go over too well, as this fat old woman started shrieking... shrieking like some sort of fat disgusting banshee, Art decided. He ran out of the room as fast as an old man could go, yelling curses the whole time.

By this time the nurses had caught wind of Art and his escapade again, and talked to him about Ben. They explained to him, for the fifth time this week, that Ben was dead. Ben was very dead, and would not be coming back to play chess with him. Ever again. This news made Art cry, this was new news to him, no one ever told him this before. He couldn’t remember. He didn’t believe it anyway. Ben couldn’t be dead. If Ben was dead, who was going to tell the funny jokes then? Art loved the one with the igloo, the seal, and... something about farting. It was funny... but he couldn’t remember the punchline. Cursing at himself for not knowing the jokes, and crying from the news about Ben, Art walked back to his room. Well, he would have walked, but the more accurate word is escorted. He was escorted back to his room.

Arriving back at his room, Art glanced around for something to do. He looked and saw the old National Geographic in the corner. The one with the African Baobab tree on the cover. That was a good one, wasn’t it? Art couldn’t remember. He picked up the magazine, took one look at it and threw it back in the corner. He couldn’t be bothered to read that trash, maybe the television would be a better alternative.

Art flipped on the television, the television’s light flickering in the dimly lit room that Art now inhabited. The high pitched shrieking of that demon monster “Elmo” came back into his ears. “DAMN YOU ELMO!” shouted Art. Not even wasting a moment to turn off the TV, Art shambled out of the room.

“I can’t stand watching this devil worship crap anymore, I think I’ll go find Ben for a nice game of chess.”