NEW TV

by Kaye George

 

If Beaufort didn’t hitch those pants up, someone was going to be embarrassed. The problem is, Mary thought, it wouldn’t be him.

 

She tore her eyes from his butt-crack and studied the display of flat screens on the wall, wonderin how the hell Bo thought they’d afford one.

 

“Don’t you worry, Mare,” he’d said, pullin the pickup into a space almost big enough. “We’re gonna be rollin in it soon.”

 

She’d tried not to bang the paint offn the edge of the door, but she nicked it climbin down to the wet pavement. It’d just rained and the streets were steamy in the late afternoon sun, West Texas hot.

 

Bo had knocked her upside the head for that.

 

“Later, babe.” He winked and swatted her bottom, clad in pink leopard-print stretch pants, Beauregard’s favorites.

 

She’d followed him into Walmart, seething. But she would never let him see beneath her bland smile, to the place inside where she, not him, ruled her life.

 

“This’n here looks good.” Bo pointed to the biggest screen on the wall.

 

“You outta yer mind? Where would we put it?”

 

“We could get ridda that stupid knick-knack thing takin up half a wall in the livin room.”

 

“Those knick-knacks are all I have left of my mama.” Her chin trembled.

 

Bo sneered. “This plasma here’ll do. You should always take the demo.”

 

He unhooked it and reeled under the unexpected weight. Mary held her breath as he staggered a couple steps, but regained his balance.

 

Mary blew a breath of frustration. If that damn TV killed Bo, she’d wouldn’ta minded all that much.

 

At the checkout counter he made the employees hunt up the remote and stuff that went with the demo, ignoring pleas to take a boxed set.

 

“Yeah,” he sneered. “Then I don’t know if it’ll work. If it ain’t fer sale, don’t put it out.”

 

He got the accessories, charged it on Mary’s card, and bullied someone into carrying it out.

 

Mary sat in the truck while he rearranged the TV, propped on its side instead of layin flat like the Walmart guys said.

 

Bo whistled drivin out of the lot. “Now don’t worry ‘bout payin for this, babe. The boys ‘n’ me got a poker game tomorrow. I’ll whip their asses.”

 

But, heading out of town, his mood darkened with the sky. Fat raindrops splashed down. He stepped on the pedal. The screen bounced.

He made a wild swing onto the dirt road that led to their singlewide. The screen whacked the side of the bed. Mary sat still, waitin for Bo’s temper to erupt, but she didn’t hear any glass break and Bo appeared calm.

 

The rain was peltin down by the time they pulled up. She considered runnin into the trailer to keep dry, but was curious what Bo was goin to do about his soakin wet brand new, unboxed flat screen plasma TV. That was on her credit card. That he was going to pay for with a poker win.

 

Mary jumped down and walked to the passenger side of the pickup bed.

 

Bo slammed the tailgate down, cussin through the thunder and the lightning that was beginning to shoot acrost the sky. He jumped into the bed and wrestled the screen upright. Scooted it to the edge of the tailgate.

 

“Get over here! Hold this while I get down.”

 

Mary picked her way through the mud and struggled to hold the thing while Bo thumped down beside her.

 

“Now get up there and help me get this fuckin thing into the house!” Like this whole thing was her fault. Mary’s mind spun as she slipped in the mud walking around him. Her pink pants were damp and dirty.

 

He held the thing while she got into the bed and behind the screen.

 

He had a wobbly hold, standing, waiting for her to…what? Lift it? Slide it toward him?

 

“What the hell you waitin for, bitch?” he yelled. “Push it over here!”

 

Okay. She pushed with all her might. The screen slid over the wet truck bed. Went airborne. Knocked Bo down, into the mud. The screen seemed to hover for a moment, then smacked down on top of him.

 

Bo groaned. Glass shattered. Mary waited for Bo’s scream, or his curses.

 

Silence.

 

She crawled to the edge of the tailgate and peered over the edge.

 

Bo was out. She got down and approached, still waiting for him to leap up and swat her. A flash of lightning showed blood spreading beneath him. And a shard of glass in his neck. His open eyes stared, sightless.

 

Mary went inside to towel off and call 911, confident Bo could never be revived.

 

She just had to deal with that damn charge on her credit card.

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