by David Leese

The television – which is 4:3 and NOT 16:9 – a paltry 18 inches and NOT remotely HD, is on and he’s lying in the same bed he has had since he was six or seven years old. The bed frame has worn down in the most important places so it pops or quietly squeals when Garret makes even the slightest transfer of weight, even when he shifts from one butt cheek to the other or leans over to hunt for the remote on the cluttered, carpeted floor. America’s Funniest Home Videos is on and a young boy is being pulled by a lawn mower, a prosumer grade gasoline powered type, and everyone is laughing hysterically. Garret is the only one that can see the obvious: there is a potentially impending disaster, and he is so afraid that his suspicion will soon be ratified.

The host with his witty, banal commentary eggs the studio audience to keep on laughing and they do, while Garret stirs in his noisy bed, stunned by the threat. Undoubtedly the lawn mower is equipped with some sort of safety mechanism – it doesn’t look shabby or otherwise dangerous. This lawn mower probably wouldn’t malfunction under normal operation by a teenager or adult, someone who has at least flipped through the instruction manual. But this kid keeps getting dragged by the thing, and his Dad keeps filming while his Mom keeps laughing, along with the host and the audience. Garret notes that the kid doesn’t seem too scared; this bothers him too. The kid isn’t calling to his parents for help. He seems to have accepted the matter and is simply holding on, hoping the lawn mower will soon get tired of dragging him around the lawn that didn’t look like it even needed mowing in the first place.

But Garret sees the very real possibility: the lawn mower could flip over any millisecond now, the blades could slice through the young boy’s generic striped golf shirt, tear the skin off his back, and fatally penetrate his vitals. Garret assumes that the boy’s death grip on the lawn mower’s handle would sustain itself throughout this sudden horrifying situation – likely, that’s all that would be left of him. Would this persuade his parents to put down the fucking video camera? Garret searches for the remote, his upper body leaning out towards the floor. He finds it quickly, but the show has already cut to commercial and all he can hear is the diminutive squeal of his bed.