There was a flash of light and the soothing blue was suddenly there, banishing the darkness. “Look at that! I told you it would work. You mad, bro?” The victory cry was full of youthful energy that was still in the early beginnings of being ground down by the steady attrition of Father Time and Mother Bad Decisions.
“Right. Congratulations. Maybe some museum will want that thing, because it sure as Hell ain’t worth shit to us.” Here was the final destination to the erosion of enthusiasm, the voice of wisdom and experience that says “no” to just about everything and ends up being right far too fucking often.
“Yeah, you mad.” A broad smile spread across chiseled features that fell short of renaissance humanism’s perfection of man but were still worthy of admiration, a credible effort sculpted by a talented amateur. His pale blue eyes gazed into the screen of much deeper blue with a sudden and surprising intensity, impaling the ancient television, searing through it. “I’ll find a use for it, just you watch. You’re just jealous of my mad ‘rounging skills, that’s all.”
“There’s a real future in picking through garbage. That’s for sure.” The older man rose from the badly battered couch with some difficulty, pressing withered hands into the walls for stability, joints worn to the nub by empty pursuits loudly protesting this new verticality. Pain competed with annoyance beneath a camouflage of gray stubble and deep wrinkles. The Herculean struggle completed he let his arms fall to his sides where they dangled uselessly, like dead animals hanging in the window of a butcher’s shop. “I already sent the petition to the National Television Insurance while you were out. We’ll get a replacement in a few days and there won’t be room for that damn artifact.” Glassy gray eyes scanned from one side the apartment to the other. It was little more than a glorified corridor and even he could walk from one end to the other in a few heartbeats.
“You’re a damn artifact Ellerby, but I still haven’t tossed your goofy old ass.” The younger man muttered the reply without breaking the willful gaze into the electronic equivalent of existential oblivion. “Not that they’d let me.”
The two men had been assigned to a term of five years together in their last “Fair and Dignified Housing” lottery. As members of Unprotected Class A they had done about as well in the blind draw as could be reasonably hoped for, although neither man would ever admit that.
“You keep playing with that thing. See what it gets you. Foolishness.”