Off the Grid

by Skeeter Cornwall

There was never any doubt that Dad would embarrass me when I brought home my new girlfriend, but he caught me off guard by appearing from nowhere and charging the television with a 5-iron.

“We’re going off the grid,” he said, tendons tensing on his neck as he swung the club. I pulled my hand out of  Kelly’s blouse and shielded her from bits of glass as Dad landed the 5-iron deep within the TV screen. Damn near electrocuted himself. Lights flickered, the smell of ozone filled the room, and I could see the blonde hairs on Kelly’s arm rise.

“Hey, we were watching that,” is all I could think to say. Kelly gripped my thigh like it was the armrest of a nose-diving jet. I wanted to soothe her, but not even I trusted the black in Dad’s eyes.

“No more corporations tracking our every move.” He brought the club down hard on the end table, spider-webbing my cell phone’s screen. I snatched it before he could land a second blow. Beside me, Kelly looked like she’d swallowed her tongue.

“Dad, cool it.” I said as he eyed the bulge in Kelly’s pocket.

“Didn’t know we had company.” He slicked back what’s left of his hair, but kept the club cocked.

“This is Kelly. Kelly, Dad.”

“A pleasure,” Dad said. He turned and marched to the den, where he set to work on demolishing the desktop.

“Should I call the police?” she asked, pulling the phone from her pocket.

“Better keep that thing out of sight.”

I got her out of the house and to her car as Dad clattered on inside. I kissed her forehead. “Don’t worry, he gets like this.”

“I really wish you’d come with me. Call if you need—”

I gave her that look.

“Oh, right. Your phone.” She spun her tires and kicked up gravel. The wind ruffled my hair. I watched her shrinking tail lights wink out into the night.

By the time I made it back inside, Dad had yanked most the wires through the drywall. They rested on shag, coiled like dusty snakes. I went to the fridge and cracked open a ginger ale. When I swung the door closed Dad stood behind it, his 5-iron bent all to hell.

“They’ve got computer chips in everything,” he said, his voice coming unhinged like it tends to. He took a swing at the microwave but missed and hit the stove. “Did you know they have tiny little robots that they can inject into your bloodstream? Your bloodstream, for Chrissakes.”

“Ha, yeah. They even keep computer chips close to your heart.” I tapped his chest and his face went white. I turned and walked out into the muggy dark.

I slept in the bed of the pickup that night, since I figured the alarm clock by my pillow was probably the next thing to get it. 

In the morning, I made it back inside and Dad lay sprawled next to his electrical wire snakes, a bloody hole carved through  his breast pocket with a steak knife.

“We’re finally off the grid, Son,” he said. He wheezed and uncurled his crimson fingers  to show me what was left of his pacemaker.

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Skeeter Cornwall calls ’em like he sees ’em, which is unfortunate since he’s blind in one eye and can’t see out the other. In his spare time he enjoys breathing heavily on the other end of the phone.
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