THIS JUST IN
The couple sit in their living room, as they have done for years, decades even, enjoying the contrived intimacy of separate easy chairs and they are staring at the television screen without expression. On the screen an energetic young man in a Northface coat thrusts a microphone into the faces of two young, African-American women. The young man is eager, loud and boisterous; the young women look tired, but anxious to help. They talk over each other to answer the young man's questions about a fire that continues to flame within sight. The fire that is burning their home down.
The husband seems annoyed. "Look at them." is all he says
His wife nods. "More kids that don't bother going to school. No one talks the right way no more."
"And all they want is to be on television."
And the couple watches the news just like this, for nearly an hour, their commentary a series of grunts and snorts and an occasional laugh. The news program processes with eerie predictability; the Middle East, a young girl's disappearance, Congress, labor strikes, stock market up. The husband doesn't say anything, but he thinks that this ritual progression brings to mind the order of the Sunday Mass, the comfort of routine.
The wife slides into sleep during the sports summary. She has never understood sports and the trivial nightly prattle about teams, players, coaches, games. The husband sees her eyes close. He listens to the sports segment for a couple of minutes and then pushes the remote button to shut off the television. The night is done.
The silence rouses the wife. She yawns and looks to her husband, both of them ready for bed. The husband says, "Tomorrow, we need to do something, something different."
The wife is not sure what this means. "You want to go to Atlantic City?"
"No, no." he says. "We need to do something we've never done before."
Her eyes brighten. "Well, good. Okay, let's adopt a highway!"