Thursday, January 26, 2017

Short Story - Allure of the Laserdisc

Allure of the Laserdisc
Words: 1007
The allure of the laserdisc was too much. Every day after school Eric would weave a path that took him between the aged brick buildings downtown to Archie’s Electronics. He would stare between the painted letters on the window at the gleaming black box in the window with the shiny discs lying nearby. Some days he’d even go inside, but it just didn’t look as mesmerizing as when he was staring through that inch thick glass.

Eric wasn’t sure why he even wanted it. He just did. It had some strange pull on his senses. He didn’t care about the movies. It was something about that machine. He wanted to own something technologically beyond. He’d stare at the gleaming black plastic case and imagine the space aged technology hiding inside. Only NASA could create a laserdisc machine. It was the best of the best, offering unparalleled quality. It was the future.

“Laserdisc, board the train to the future?” Eric asked. “Wait, no. Laserdisc, your ticket to the future.” He looked to his best friend Paul for a verdict.
Paul shook his head. “You need to convince them based on what it can do for them, not you.”
Eric sighed, trying to come up with another slogan. He hopped off the blue picnic table and began walking winding circles in Eric’s yard.
“Do your parents watch movies?”
Eric tilted his head as he searched for an answer. “Sometimes I guess.”
“They have to like going to the movies, right. Everybody…” Paul started.
Eric’s face lit up, as he turned to face Paul. “I’ve got it.” He paused for effect. “Laserdisc, bring the theater to your living room.”
“That’s not bad, but is a slogan going to do it? You can’t be a commercial. They've got to feel it.”
“Yeah, they’re going to know it’s just for me. That’ won’t work.” Eric shook his head.
“Parents always see through that, but you can’t overstate enough how this is good for the whole family. Tell them how before you know it kids are all grown up, and this could be meaningful family time.”
“Family time. For me, them, and even Julie. That’s good.” Eric thought for a second. “Laserdisc, bring the family…”
“Stop.” Paul threw his hand ups. “No more slogans. You’ve got to make it feel like you mean it.”

The right moment was critical. Eric had hoped tonight would be it. They were going to eat dinner together as a family. He thought about offering to set the table, but didn’t want to overdo it. He had to ease into it just right, but by the time the food had hit the table, dad still wasn’t home. He ended up being late without calling which started a fight as soon as he walked in the door. After that ended nobody said anything. The resolution was an awkward silence during what was left of dinner, nothing but forks clattering and teeth grinding.

When the teacher wasn’t looking Eric would sketch the laserdisc player in the margins of his notebook. He’d draw the sharp angle of the logo, adding a lens flare for effect. He could just imagine the day he’d get to go to the store and bring it home. The whole family would gather on the couch and watch. Maybe they’d even have popcorn. They would be so happy.

Eric skipped going to Archie’s tonight. This could be it. He reached the driveway but didn’t see his mom’s car.
“Hey Julie?” He asked as he entered the house and dropped his backpack. He didn’t hear a response. “Where’s mom?”
“She’s out for the night. Just us tonight.” His dad responded. Kevin nodded, brows furrowed. They ate macaroni and cheese, but it didn’t taste as good as when his mom made it.

Paul found Eric in the hallway. “Did you do it? Did you ask?”
Eric shook his head dejected, “No. It’s got to be the right moment.”
“I thought last night was it?” Paul stopped at his locker.
“I need to lay the right foundation. I need to get them to desire the laser too.” Eric replied.
“Desire the laser?” Paul squinted at Eric. “I thought we decided to get rid of the tag lines.”
A wry smile crossed Eric’s face. “It’s got freakin’ lasers man! How cool is that?”
The bell rang signaling the start of the day.
Eric and Paul started walking to homeroom. “You know, my dad says the discs weigh a pound.” Paul held his hands up, intimating the size of a trash can lid rather than a disc.
“That’s the price you pay for quality.” Eric responded.

Dinner was awkward again. Eric didn’t even ask where dad was. Last time he asked his mom didn’t even say anything. She just got up and left.
Right before bedtime, dad got home. He could hear his parents talking in the kitchen but couldn’t make out any words from in front of the television.
“Hey Eric, Julie? I’ve got something for you guys.” His dad said. Eric and Julie were eager to see what was in the bag. Eric couldn’t believe it when his dad pulled out the laserdisc. It wasn’t just any laserdisc, it was the one in the window, the one he’d been watching. How did he know Eric wondered. He had yet to even work up the courage to mention it.

Moments later Eric’s eyes reveled in the colors exploding on screen. The sound filled the room. It was a glorious multimedia experience. He remained mesmerized, just a couple of feet from the screen. It was everything he had hoped it would be.
He didn’t hear his parents arguing in the kitchen in hushed tones. His mom criticized his dad for buying an extravagant gift, using it as a way to manipulate the children and turn them against her. Like this was going to be her fault.
The unheard words of his dad reminded her the separation was her idea. 

Eric was entranced by the space age technology. It would never fail, it would never become outdated. It would last forever.
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