by Brandon McNulty

Tim’s dad steered him to the safest part of the living room. He stood surrounded by bulletproof windows, flameproof furniture, rubber lamps, an imitation fireplace, and a flat screen TV bolted onto a plastic stand with cushioned edges. As soon as Tim’s butt hit the hardwood floor, his dad plopped down on their non-allergenic couch and grabbed the remote. Dad pointed it at Tim first, then the TV.

A nonviolent cartoon lit the screen. Pink birds chirped broken English and sang about brushing their teeth. Tim was too old for this. He leaned back and stretched until Dad warned him about lying beneath the ceiling fan—you never knew when all forty steel bolts could pop loose. Better safe than sawed up.

Dad smiled at Tim before burying his crooked nose and bloodshot eyes in a newspaper. Pages flipped, birds sang, the afternoon disappeared.

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