1019 … 1114 … The Old Man

She said, “The bulb in this lamp is burned out.”

The old man said, “I’ll go down to the basement and get another.”

When he stepped out onto the porch the security light came on … The air was cold on his T-shirted arms … He stepped out onto the public steps … seven steep ones … leading to the lower level of his house … He stepped into a cavelike room … It stretched across the entire front of the house … The back wall was bedrock … At the far end there was a lighted puppet in a window that didn’t quite make it around the corner past the bathroom … He walked all the way across to the other end and reached up into a box where lightbulbs were stored … haphazardly … all kinds … He grasped a four bulb sleeve …

There was a rattle … less than a second … then the strike … right on top of his wrist … he jerked his hand back but he knew it was too late … he still grasped the four bulb sleeve …

He grabbed a piece of rope and tied it securely just above his elbow keeping the tension by pulling back his head with the rope in his teeth … He reached down with his other hand and picked up the four bulb sleeve with a single bulb in it … he crossed to the window where the puppet that was lit was and could see that the bulb was a sixty-watter … that’s what the bulb he took out was … perfect.

Things were getting blurry as he came out of the down under and up the seven steep public steps onto his porch and into his kitchen … He barely managed to support himself as he crossed the kitchen and into the living room where she was watching TV … He extended the bulb to her … “Here.” he managed to say as he collapsed, unconscious on the floor.

She looked at the bulb … “It’s not two-way … We need a two-way.”

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