He turned on the television to find anchors engaged in the everlasting search for the world’s bad stuff, compiling a log of people doing harm to one another, nature’s fury wreaking havoc on innocents, death and destruction both accidental and intentional, and, of course, members of the ruling class throwing insults, half-truths and outright lies at one another.
“How can you tell he’s lying? His lips are moving,” one liar shouted.
“She wouldn’t know the truth if it bit her in the nose,” sneered another.
An explosion and fire in a country half the world away. A mother drives herself and two children into a lake 500 miles from here. Random shootings and rioting in the streets 750 miles away. A gruesome vivisection 1,003 miles from downtown.
The anchor raised his hand toward the camera and said, “With pandemic news, economic shutdowns, and partisan battles, you might be thinking, ‘Things can’t possibly get any worse.’ Well, brace yourself for what’s next. After the break, balanced coverage of last night’s incident in the southern part of the state that some are calling the most brutal they’ve seen in many years — and why the owner of this small business in Timbuktu says he’s calling it quits. Stay with us.”
“No!” he shouted back at the television. He turned it off and looked out the window. “What’s wrong with people, Maude? When we were kids you didn’t have all this going on.”
“Oh, yes, we did, Ted,” Maude said. “There’ve always been wars and rumors of wars, and people who hated each other, and there’s always going to be. It’s in the Bible even, isn’t it?”
“We didn’t have TV telling us all the time, like this,” Ted said. “Even the good news is bad. ‘The economy is booming, but it could get worse any time now,’ that’s what they say, I’m telling ya.”
“Let’s keep the TV off and just live our lives, then,” Maude said.
Over the next month or so, Ted and Maude came and went as they pleased, enjoying each other’s company, sunrises and sunsets, and the changing of the seasons. Sometimes they found themselves in a rainstorm without an umbrella, but otherwise they didn’t miss the litany of horror, hate and mayhem hanging over everyone else, every morning and night for years.
Saying “happily” may be a stretch, but they lived calmly and serenely ever after.
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