Gerald sat half asleep on a sofa, his puffy face lit up by the light of the TV. It was the fourth quarter of Monday Night football. He wasn’t alert enough to know the down, the score, or the teams. His glassy eyes reflected the mad scampering of tiny bodies.
He’d overeaten unhealthy food again, a solo tradition on Mondays during football season. On the coffee table pressed into his knees were two broken nachos on a plate ringed by five empty brown bottles of beer. His snoring drowned out the call of the game. Hours passed. The remote had long since fallen from his right hand and now rested buttons up on the sofa.
It was well past midnight when Gerald was joined by the other living soul in the house, Max, an old and large mix breed dog that looked more like a bear than a long-haired shepherd. The dog had been asleep in the next room—it didn’t care for TV.
Max eyed the remaining space on the sofa. It would be an effort to get up there, but the reward was a very soft cushion. He didn’t see that well anymore—the remote blended in with the gray haze of the night. But he smelled the chips and cleaned the plate before the made the journey to the sofa. With a struggle he plopped down next to Gerald, right on the remote that was pushed down into the gap between the cushions. The TV station that had been on was suddenly replaced with a station Gerald didn’t know existed. The switch changed his life.
It was one of the ministry shows where a man in a shiny suit walks around stage shouting. The camera closed in on the perspiration covering the preacher’s face just as Gerald came to. The beer-induced fog was still heavy. He didn’t recognize the TV, or the room he was in. He was a weak captive to the words coming from this large face.
“If you stop drinking tonight, you will find the way tomorrow.”
Gerald looked at the bottles backlight by the preacher’s face on the TV. Then, Max licked his neck.
Next Monday Gerald sat in his usual spot with a tuna fish sandwich and a glass of milk. He hadn’t had a drink in a week.