Home » Flash Fiction » 52 Flashes of Fiction: Week 16 – TEE VEE

52 Flashes of Fiction: Week 16 – TEE VEE

No one was crying, which was odd for a funeral. You could hear a speck of dust fall onto the coffin for like half an hour straight after the guy finished reading Shea’s suicide note to the congregation. I don’t think I spoke to anyone for the rest of the day. It was kindof a total mind warp for everyone.

I guess the important thing to mention about Shea was that he loved his job- loved it. He was a pediatric nurse in some ritzy hospital and he really did have a way with kids. Some might’ve said he had too much of a way with them because a couple of months ago he got slammed with this ridiculous lawsuit from some little girl’s family who alleged that he’d done a bit more than administer her shots, if you get me. The thing blew up and even though eventually he was proven innocent, it pretty much ruined him. They couldn’t fire him over the lawsuit but they could lay him off for his decreased interest in work- coming in late, fudging up paperwork, making snarky comments to patients. With his reputation already tarnished he just didn’t seem to care much anymore.

I remember him telling me that one of the other nurses had given him a subscription to Netflix as sortof a “sorry you’re getting laid off” gift.

“Sure, who needs a job, right? Now I’ll finally get a chance to catch up on all that damn TEE VEE I’ve been missing out on while I’ve been busy, y’know, saving lives.” Always that lovely sarcasm.

We didn’t see him for a while after that. Actually, I never saw him again until the funeral when they read his suicide note. I always felt kindof bad for the guy, but this was a whole other level of realization he had smacked us with. It’s one thing to feel sorry for someone but not really believe that they didn’t have any other choice or escape, and it’s quite another to wonder if every one of their last unsettling words is true-

Darlene,

Thanks for the Netflix subscription. Really, it was a great thing to do for somebody who just got axed from the job they loved, the job they spent their entire life pursuing. To basically tell them to kick back and don’t even worry about it. I want you to know that it did not go unappreciated or unused – I watched all of it. Literally every single thing in Netflix’s catalog, I watched it. I couldn’t sleep much after what happened, y’know?

Every time someone would call to check on me, I would tell them I’ve been catching up on ____ TV show or watching some movies from ____ decade. That seems to make people happy, to know that you’re not just sitting around moping, but that you’re actually doing something productive. They always say the same thing- “You’ll have to let me know how it is.”

I’m writing this to let you know how it is. You can learn a lot about life alongside Laura Ingalls Wilder and Bart Simpson and Dr. Huxtable and Barney and Donnie Darko and The Grinch and Jim Halpert and Frodo and Katniss and a whole bunch of housewives and a couple of FBI squads and a few judges and some talking animals and even just six hours of a log burning in a fireplace.

You want to know how it is? It sucks. Every single character in every single TV show or movie or commercial or cartoon is saying the same thing: “I don’t know how life works. I’m trying to figure it out but I don’t understand.” The shmaltzy, feel-good shows will try to give you some moral or lesson at the end, and the deep, psychological ones will leave you with a maybe or an intense question to ponder, and the real dark ones will leave you just feeling like crap because they don’t even try to cover up the fact that there are NO ANSWERS. Life doesn’t make sense because there aren’t any rules to make things fair or logical. You can have your whole life ruined by some shit little girl who’s afraid of needles and your coworker gives you a Netflix gift card so you can take a load off and stare at a screen to learn that every creative endeavor in the entire universe was trying to prove itself relevant, just like you were.

And in the end they failed because when you die it’s all gone and meaningless anyway. And after your funeral, the best you can hope for, is that when anybody asks what happened to you, they’ll say “there was nothing good on TV.”

Sincerely,
Shea

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