Chris Dudley Stars In: A Happy House Has a Vacant Master

Chris Dudley grumbled and stood up from the couch. The old Teledyne giggled at him with its archaic HORIZ and VERT as he adjusted the antennae. The screen door whistled a monotone tune from the constant breeze. Autumn is good for song.

Chris Dudley sits back down and finishes his Salisbury Steak Hungry Man dinner. His fork bangs against the aluminum trey forming a beat to the wind-skirl coming through the screen door that is hanging off its rusted hinges. He sometimes wonders if he actually forgets to repair the door or that he forgets to care about repairing the door. "What's the difference," he thinks.

The wife is in the kitchen. She is playing solitaire with red-backed cards. She had blue-backed cards, but the print on the front was too small for her. The red-backed cards have bigger print. Now she doesn't have to wear her glasses. She thinks she's less attractive in them. She has never bothered to ask anyone.

The dog gets up from the wife's feet and enters the living room where Chris Dudley has fallen into a dreamless sleep. The dog looks up at him and tilts his head. Slight whistling sounds are coming from his nose making a pleasing harmonic with the evermore gusty breeze outside. The dog barks at the high frequency of the sound and Chris Dudley is startled awake. His upper body flings itself into an apoplectic ballet while his foot kicks over the aluminum tray that contains the remnant of his Salisbury Steak onto the floor. How long had he been asleep? Had he even been asleep? He'd prefer to remember being asleep as opposed to the idea of being asleep.

A dull thud comes from the kitchen. Chris Dudley stands up from the old couch with its third (or was it the fourth?) slipcover. The color was always brown; always brown. He walks into the kitchen to find the wife standing over a rubber-headed mallet on the floor. This is must have been the thud he heard. Why was there a mallet on the floor?

Chris Dudley looks at the wife. The wife looks at him.

"Chris," she says putting on her glasses, "do you think I look less attractive in glasses?"

"No," he lies,

"Are you lying?" she asks.

"No," he lies.

"Okay," she says while turning around.

The mallet sits in the middle of the dirty dyer's-broom linoleum floor. Chris Dudley hears the wife quietly crying. She must have known he was lying.

"For Christ's Sake," he mutters as he picks up the mallet.