The Second Television
On the day the first television arrived, all the families in the village stood outside their houses waiting. The news of the Georgevski’s television had spread through the village the week before, and it had everyone curious. That night the Georgevski’s house glowed as they enjoyed what the villagers all called “a gift from God.”
“Turn it up Nikola,” shouted one of his classmates. Nikola twisted the knob on the box that had all the boys from class in his living room. They had asked to come over and watch television - and Nikola, being the kid who got picked last in soccer and pretty much fell short every year like February - welcomed the popularity. Nikola was very short and quite chubby. His short brown hair was neat and his puffy cheeks and sharp nose held up his circular, black wire glasses. Nikola was enjoying himself until he noticed his twin brother Meche and sidekick Blagun were the only two who weren’t there.
It was 3:15 in the afternoon on a Friday – Meche and Blagun stood alone as they looked down the path. Every day the kids in grade seven would meet after school at exactly 3:10 to play football on the field down the street.
“They must be at my house, watching my television.” Meche’s face turned dark red as he gripped his football.
Blagun looked over at his friend. “You think your brother let them over?”
Meche nodded, eyes glazed over as he scanned the crisp, golden field. A towering scarecrow stared at him.
“Maybe we should go to your house and check it out?”
Meche didn’t respond, he just stared back at the scarecrow, it was a no brainer - everyone was at his house.
The next morning, Meche and Nikola had been sent out to play. They were outside the village boundaries, standing on the edge of the road throwing rocks into a pond. Nikola turned to his brother beside him, his oldest rival. Meche was nearly a head taller, his blonde hair flopped about as he walked and his long, slender body flowed with grace. Meche stopped and gave Nikola what their mom called the "troll face."
“Don’t invite the class over anymore; otherwise no one will play football with me and Blagun.” Nikola liked that the boys in his class wanted to be his friend and for once in his life decided to stand up for himself. With his back to the pond he pushed Meche with both hands. Meche fell backwards as he tripped on the edge of the road. His neck whipped back and he was knocked unconscious. Nikola lost balance and tripped on a rock, falling backwards into the pond. He grabbed his twisted leg and thrashed about in the water until he passed out. Meche lay motionless across the road. Because of the tussle, they had not noticed the rumbling engine of whatever oil-powered demon approached them.
Angelko bopped up and down as his rusted red van tore up the dirt road. He had been driving for seven hours to deliver one television that sat on the seat behind him. He had made the same drive three days prior and was pushing his van to the limit in order to get back home quickly. He was a small man, short hair and full beard, a mix of black and grey like television static. He gripped the black leather steering wheel as his teal eyes surveyed the dirt road ahead. Angelko kept a picture of his brother’s son hanging from the rear-view mirror; the boy’s parents died in a motorcycle accident. The boy’s grandmother watched him while Angelko was on the road. Angelko managed to feed his mother and brother’s son with whatever money he could make from deliveries. He sped around a corner. The tall row of dark green trees that had been blocking the sun ended on this turn. The sun shone directly in his eyes. He quickly pulled a flip-down mirror to block it and as he regained vision - a black figure in his path! He hit the brake like he was trying to smash his foot through the floor of the car but the truck slid forward along the dirt road.
Angelko jumped out the truck to discover a young boy’s body on the ground. Angelko dropped to his knees, casting a shadow over the body, and looked up to the sky as he muttered prayers. He wrapped the body in a blanket and placed it on the ground in his back seat. He hopped in the driver’s seat and stared at the picture of his brother’s son for a few moments, then continued down the road.
The sun stretched over the mountain to give the village its brightest day in years. Everyone sat outside their houses waiting like they had with the last television, but this time they waited in anticipation - this television was for the town’s community center.
As the truck approached the villagers erupted in applause, kids ran beside the truck cheering, smacking its sides; even some of the adults tried to get in on the fun. The parade escorted the truck to its destination, where they had prepared a lovely spread of food and drink for the driver.
Angelko inched along the dirt road in his truck, ignoring the cheering villagers who surrounded him. When he reached the community center and got out of the truck, he did not look at any of the villagers. He ignored them and their offerings and simply took the television out of the back of his truck, locked the doors, and headed into the community center. The villagers all went home to eat lunch… this afternoon they would watch television.
After receiving his pay, he headed out of the village much faster than he had arrived. The streets were empty. He sped down the dirt road, passing the houses one by one as he watched the blurry montage of a perfect family out the driver’s side window.
Angelko stopped where he had hit the boy; deep tire treads marked the spot. He unwrapped the body and tossed it into the pond beside him. When Meche’s body collided with the water, a loud clap could be heard over the truck’s puttering engine. Angelko left. He could focus on one boy again, the one whose picture dangled from his rear-view mirror.
As Meche’s body sank to the bottom of the brown pond, he was greeted by his rival and they rested side by side. If the first television in the village was a gift from god, then the second one was a gift from his rival below.