The One-Eyed God
The family gathered in the living room for their evening worship. As always, Jason’s uncle Tom spoke the invocation to their one-eyed god:
“Oh SONY, hear our plea: be a light in our darkness, that you may return your light to our darkness. Awake, O SONY, and guide us as you did of old.” He ended the invocation with a snicker.
Jason gazed into the nothingness of SONY’s face, barely remembering when it last filled the living room with colorful images, before darkness filled the world. He was five then, seventeen now. His dad often said they were better off without “that idiot box,” yet come evening he sat in worship with the rest of the family. Jason’s mind, as usual, went wandering during worship time. Maribeth was… he’d begun to wonder if he really wanted her as his girlfriend, especially since this afternoon.
He’d been sitting on the sandy creek bank fishing, hoping to put a couple trout on the dinner table, when Heather Scott came walking upstream on the far bank. As suited anyone hiking the brush, she wore a loose shirt and sturdy jeans with boots, hiding a newly ripe figure.
“Hey, Jason! Catching any?” She swung an empty basket.
“Not yet. What’s up?”
“Just lookin’ for cress. You see any on that side?”
“I think there’s some here.”
“Good! Can I cross over? Where’s your line?”
“Don’t cross here, it’s too deep. Go a little ways upstream and you’ll see a place to cross. If you’re lucky, you won’t get your boots wet.”
“Okay!” She skipped upstream. She was fourteen, skipping was still allowed.
Staring at SONY’s blank screen, Jason guessed things would have been different if that trout hadn’t grabbed his hook just as Heather approached. She saw his fishing rod bend and ran to him, watching him reel it in. It was a perfect size, too: big enough to keep, not so big that he’d have to throw it back. She sat down next to him while he was distracted putting the fish in the creel.
“Ha, I’m good luck for you,” she said. Jason gasped; now he had to kiss her to keep the luck she gave him. In retrospect, maybe she’d played him like he played the trout. He thought, I can give her a quick peck on the cheek, no problem. Heather had other ideas, though: she wrapped her arms around him and locked her lips on his; in his moment of surprise, she unbalanced him. He fell back, with her on top.
What Heather lacked in experience (not that Jason was an expert), she made up in enthusiasm… and after a second, Jason decided he liked it. He embraced her and rolled her to his right, away from the fishing gear, so they were side by side.
A pillow caught him across the head, pulling him back into the living room. “Stop moaning,” his mom whispered.
Jason flushed, but nodded. He watched the blank screen and remembered.
“Maybe we shouldn’t,” he told Heather.
“I don’t think it bothers you much,” she grinned.
“You started it.”
“I guess.” She sat up and tugged his arm; he sat up and she scooted alongside him. “Well, I won’t tell. Are you taking Maribeth Collins to the Summer Day fiesta?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I asked her, but she’s all maybe and I’m not sure and I’ll think about it.” He made a sour face.
“That ain’t right. Dad says say yes or no, and have done. If you asked me, I’d say yes. You’d have to talk to Dad though, he says I can’t have no skulking-around boyfriend.”
A rumbling noise: Uncle Tom snored, then jerked up and looked around before refocusing on the black glass that was SONY’s eye. Jason did likewise.
They got up; Heather found her cress before coming back and kissing him once more, but quick. “Thanks,” she said, wiggling her basket.
“Yeah. Thanks for the luck.” He grinned, then his second fish took the bait.
After worship, Jason hurried at the dishes; it was his evening to wash. “You must wanna go somewhere,” said his mother. “That Maribeth girl?”
“No. Not her.”
“Good. She’s just stringing you along.” She smiled. “Go do what you need to. I’ll finish this up.”
Jason found Mr. Scott fixing his old ethanol tractor, Heather passing him tools. She looked up and grinned. Her dad gave him a curious look.
“Can I ask you something, Mr. Scott?”
“I don’t have no extra work.”
“It ain’t that.”
“You want something to drink?” asked Heather. They both nodded and she sauntered up the yard to the house.
“Bring him what I’m having!” Mr. Scott yelled. To Jason, “What brings you then?”
“Um… Mr. Scott, I want to take Heather to the fiesta tomorrow. Is that okay?”
The farmer looked him over. “You don’t run the rabbit around the tree. I like that. You ask her yet?”
“No, but she said she’d say yes if I did.”
Mr. Scott reached into his tractor. “Damn fuel filter again.” After a minute, he pulled it out. “That’s Heather, she gets right to the point too. Well, consider all the my-precious-daughter sh– junk said. You know that spiel, right? Yeah. I mean it all, even if I don’t say it. Understand?”
Jason stood thinking for a moment. “Yessir. I think I do.”
“Good. Now your dad and me know each other, and whatever gets back to one will get back to the other. Right? Right. Well, here comes Heather. You walk her down to the mailbox and ask her. It’s a big deal, gettin’ asked to the fiesta, even if you know what she’s gonna say.” He grinned. “Then you walk her back up here and we’ll drink a toast.”
Jason came home, and saw the glint of SONY’s single eye in the dim light. He placed a hand on its dusty curved top. “Thanks.”