Puppeteering

Laila was a mindless parrot.

“It’s supposed to rain tomorrow,” she said as I walked in through the side door.

This was the one piece of information she retained from the evening news. Before the end of the night, she would repeat it to me five more times.

“Make sure to take an umbrella with you in the morning,” she continued. “The weather is not going to be so good Thursday. Don’t forget to dress properly for the rain.”

It was as if she had these associative bits of banal wisdom, she instinctively dispensed with each of life’s commonplace happenings. Rain => Take an umbrella, Hunger => Better eat something, Fatigued => Get some sleep.

“Will do,” I replied and proceeded towards the stairs.

I didn’t have time to deal with her postulating antics tonight. My neck hurts and a shooting pain has overtaken the top of my head. I needed a rocks glass of scotch and two Percocet, stat.

I went into the study, grabbed a bottle and a glass and headed towards the desk. I removed my glasses, and rested my balding head in the palms of my sweaty hands. Before long, I was blankly staring into a portrait of Laila’s family from her youth.

The artificial grins of those suspended in emulsion frighten me. Their only hope for change is to fade with age.

“Dinner’s ready,” she shouted from the mezzanine. “Come down now. I hope you aren’t drinking.”

“Yes dear.”

I screwed the cap back on the bottle. My plasticine spine bent once again.

I took a pill, placed it in my pocket as a precautionary measure and headed towards the stairs once again. I wasn’t even halfway down when I noticed she was stirring the lokshen and had begun a conversation with me before I even arrived.

She was lamenting the downfall of newspapers and she assumed I heard every word of it.

“It’s swim or die,” I responded to no particular statement as I took my seat at the table. “Times change. Technology changes. Mediums change. The way people communicate changes. That’s how it goes. If these publications couldn’t see the need to keep up with the times, it’s their loss. The world moves around you. You need to keep your head up, or else you’re going to get blindsided. Tradition means nothing anymore.”

“I just like newspapers is all,” she replied as she repositioned her chair, folder her legs and rested her chin to her clenched hand.

“The industry has been slowly disappearing for years,” I continued. “The old-fashioned paperboy that stood on the corners and shouted the headlines lost his job when the television news began stealing the print audience, anyway. Now the internet has captured the attention of the print and television audiences. Even the modern-day bike-riding paperboy can’t keep up with the instant gratification of real-time online updates. Nowadays, people can even interact with the journalists.”

Her attention began to wane as she fidgeted in her chair. I took off the kid gloves.

“What’s bad is that these modern illiterati often consider themselves to be journalists,” I opined. “I can’t help but laugh when I think of the 21st century version press members hanging out at seedy bars. Can’t you just picture the chubby, unshaven men with messy hair and argyle sweaters sitting in posh clubs, discussing the events of the day and donning one updated vestige of yesteryear, the green visors with a tag that reads “BLOGGER” in big, bold letters.”

She ate as I spoke my mind. She collected her dish and mentioned tomorrow’s forecast. I cracked my neck and said, “Good to know. Thanks.”