Rabbit ears were adjusted south. The old man kept playing with them. Moving the antennae north and northwest then southwest before sticking to the south. Still couldn’t get a good picture. Blury lines ran across the small black and white TV. Voices were heard over static. He had a hard time making out what the two were talking about. It was Dean Martin talking to John Wayne. Some kind of western movie on the late show. The old man popped open another beer. Boy sat on the couch; laughing.
What’s so funny, the old man said.
Nothing. Nothing at all.
Doesn’t seem that way. Something got a hold of you, the father said to the son. Are you laughing at me, or, the TV?
Just laughing. That’s all. Just laughing, the boy said. How old is that television set? he asked, getting up and walking towards the ice box. You only got three beers left, he said. Didn’t you go to the store today? Of course not.
You know. You could’ve gone too. I went last time. A real pain, the old man said. Carrying all those bags on the bus. You never offer to help do you? boy opened his beer beside the old man’s ear. That’s real cute isn’t it? You got beer all over the side of my face. How about a little respect. Would it hurt you to be appreciative?
Yes. Of all that I’ve given you.
A place to stay. To lay your head. Christ didn’t even have that. Wandered around all those years; preaching.
It was three years pop. His ministry was for three years. Then they crucified him.
I know the story, the old man said. I used to tell it to you. You don’t appreciate that either.
The crucifixion. Sacrifice for mankind. You’ve got some kind of twisted mind about it. You’re a non-believer.
It’s a fairytale pop. That whole book is filled with fairytales. Supposed lessons for life, he laughed.
What do you think happens when you die?
You die. They bury you or burn you. Nothing. We go back to being nothing. Just a speck of dust, boy got up to adjust the antennae. What? You think we go to some place with golden streets. Mansions, the old man nodded his head. That’s very American of you dad. You think they have a big shopping mall up there too? they looked at each other for a second or two. Boy went back to playing with the antennae. You want some kind of reward. That’s what you want. For all this misery here on earth, you want some kind of reward.
I said, that’s enough.
You say you worship Jesus, but, you’re expecting a reward. Totally missing the point. Hell, I’m an atheist and I get that.
The whole purpose of Christianity. Pretty easy philosophy. Just believe. Accept Christ as you lord and savior.
You don’t know the first thing about it. Think you’re real smart. I believe, he said. I believe. And, I’ll get my mansion on a street of gold.
The two sat there till morning came. They sat quietly. Didn’t say a word. Just looked at the TV with lines running across it.