The Change


Henry gently pats dirt around a hungry little fern he brought home from work today.  He sets it up on the windowsill, where he told them he would, so they could use it as the transmitter.  He hums a few bars of "When the Saints Go Marching In."  He takes his dinner from the oven—just macaroni and cheese bubbling up in the corners and smelling like his mother used to make it—cozies up in his recliner and turns on the television, loud.
      It doesn't matter to Henry anymore that Mr. Foss has a gun safe crowded with big rifles and sleek, deadly wheel guns right next door.  Henry's days of peering through the curtains and eyeballing the room where the safe is kept, are over.  Yes sir, over.
      Now when he bothers to look out the curtain at all, he no longer has to turn down the television to hear what Mr. Foss, with his cruel un-neighborly ways, might be saying loud enough for Henry to hear.  Nope.  No more of Mr. Foss plotting to steal Henry's land, or rubbing in the way things are with Lucinda.  Now he can come and go from his new job at the nursery—one he fully intends to keep—without having to rush home several times a day to monitor Mr. Foss.  Doesn't have to check his ceiling and phones for bugs, doesn't have to tie thin plastic lengths of fishing wire across doors to see if Mr. Foss has been inside again.
      This change has amazed him, honestly.  When he ordered the implant, he hadn't expected such great results.  Such calm, such confidence in the order of all things.  And now he doesn't have to take his mother's advice of checking himself into some anger management program.  He doesn't even have to feel ashamed of the restraining order that Mr. Foss put out on him.  There is nothing to be restrained from anymore.  Since the change, he's forgiven Mr. Foss for calling him a crazy, sick moron.  He's forgiven Mr. Foss, with his perpetually muddy boots from working around pigs and cows all day, for his filth.  He's forgiven Mr. Foss for marrying Lucinda, whom Henry had gone steady with in the fifth grade, and whom he knew one day would be his own wife.
      With his television up as loud as he wants, Henry doesn't have to hear anything unpleasant.  When the Kandarians come with their arsenal of other-wordly weapons—things that incinerate and dissolve atoms, ones that suck carbon right out of whatever they touch, those that turn solid matter into liquid—he won't have to hear Mr. Foss's screams of terror, or Lucinda's pleas that they not evaporate her, that she's sorry, she married the wrong guy and if they just let her remedy that mistake, she will do it in a heartbeat.  No sir.  Henry won't hear a thing.  
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