Lonely heart cable guy gets off work and goes home to his motel room,
eats, watches TV, turns it up to escape the sounds around him. He eats a
burger, the same as the night before. It would be difficult for him to
remember three days earlier were it not for the fact that four days
earlier something memorable happened. The kind of thing though that he
won’t remember in a month or so, too lost in the noise of what’s
He watches Mr. Goodness, a rerun. He can’t take it anymore. He screams
into his pillow. He goes in search of an ATM. He’ll need cash. This
situation is temporary, he reminds himself. His real house is being
decontaminated. But he’s reminded, always, of the power of infestation.
If only he could harness that power, manifest it, become who was meant
to be in the world! The power of infestation. A festival of life in a
temple of sacrifice. Feasting into pure rhythm within a field of
insectoid magnetism. This would be an apotheosis. An infiltrated hunger.
She returns to the motel where she lives and works, breathes and sleeps
deeply. She turns on the TV.
Mr. Goodness is a show about a wannabe motivational speaker named
Johnald Donathan Rainbow. (His name is the result of a mix-up at the
hospital when he was born, he explains every episode; letters/characters
switched at birth, the running gag.) And see the thing about Johnald is
he can’t help it, he just wants to help people … only problem is, he
can’t help himself!!! The show is about his struggle to help himself
help others. Hilarity ensues. It fits him perfectly, though, the name.
She goes out to get something to eat and returns to her living
situation. Soon there will be another knock on her door. She has the
money. She sips a diet coke and vodka and waits. Her burger gets cold.
She’ll need to take it just a while longer. Her inner life needs to be
controlled for now. She likes knowing the burger is there. She pretends
she will eat it. That things will be different. They will, she knows,
when she’s ready. Things will change. She’ll know when that is because
she’ll be ready for the changes. Life isn’t so bad if you just stay in
the margins and make sure those margins stay put. Like by not thinking
She turns up the TV and drinks some more diet coke and vodka from the
plastic bottle the vodka came in, the kind she always gets because it
reminds her of something, the label does. It’s the episode where Johnald
helps a rehab addict quit rehab in exchange for help in getting over his
fear of human touch and germs. It’s a pretty dumb show but it helps.
Something about it makes you feel hopeful. Maybe because you forget
about what makes hope go away for a while. You really want him to
Cable guy has so much to give! But he has nowhere to put it. It?
Himself. His attention, his presence, his consideration, his moods. By
day he works to ensure people can sit in front of their televisions.
Most television watching is about escape. From what? Inconvenience.
Chaos. Disintegration. His job is to ensure convenience. To make sure
power works through the right channels. Convenience, meaning to come
together. Inconveniences are things coming apart, going separate.
He does not consider these things. A job is a job, it says nothing about
him essentially. Sometimes he fantasizes that he could install a device
so that he could watch the people whose cable he has installed. Or that
they could see him. With so much to give and nowhere to put it he, to
keep from exploding, must reduce what he has to give. It is hard to keep
it together. Often overwhelming and he can’t take it, all that he has to
give. He gets vertigo sometimes and then can’t remember what happened.
It’s as if the contingencies of life were conspiring to put static in
his head, the kind of problem he is paid to fix, that he can’t fix for
himself. He is mired in a kind of inconvenience. The sounds around him
are the worst part about being in this motel room. The temptations he
can ignore he cannot here ignore. He’ll just be quick this time.
Standard lonely guy stuff like imagining who is watching the same show
and being able to be with them somehow. He doesn’t have a great
imagination just a great yearning to share something that he cannot and
so must work to have less to share so that he doesn’t explode, become
fully inconvenient to the world and himself. You do what you have to.
And you make sure it’s not too real to hurt you. He gives her the money.
What people will take for money and what money is taken for is what
gives definition to its power. Money, totally corrupting and totally
divine in its reasoning. What is one willing to sacrifice? This payment
for a debt. He makes a sacrifice. Incubated in the kind of isolation
that leads to alien modes of thought. Anything to get through the day.
If only these two could meet in order to discover the inner mystery as
seen from without. To taste the other’s digestion. It would take a
miracle. But miracles happen every day. But only really to other people.
That one episode where Mr. Rainbow has to take care of both of his
parents who divorced as a kid and then always hated on each other to
Johnald but then they, now both widowers and old, both get into
accidents at the same time and have to move in with Johnald. And they
end up falling in love with each other all over again, a miracle worked
because their only child had to take care of them both once they
couldn’t take care of themselves, sacrificing a lot of his own happiness
in the meantime, ensuing in hilarity. His parents humbled enough to see
each other and unified by what they had made together. They lived in
But this is just not the life they could have. No miracles, no temporary
lapses in the vigilance of the actual to let a joyful noise enter to
catalyze a happy ending. Too many fatal things have already happened.
So, it’s not a possibility. That they could live in something resembling
an episode of a show about hope. Despite the fact that this version of
life has infected them with a desire for it to be so, for a fairytale
ending to be, just once upon a time, theirs, for them; for that
redemption to grace the past with meaning and context. And this is the
worst part of the infection. You can deny it only until you are claimed
by the symptoms to act. Wanting the impossible, stuck in the
contaminated actual, compelled, by any means available, to get through
Chase Dayton lives in Texas with himself and others.