Channel Surfing by Christine Swiderski


My grandmother used to call channel surfing 'people who cannot make up their mind what they want or believe'. I never quite understood that until I moved in next to the Fosters. Herman Foster grabs the remote and never relinquishes control. I can hear Flo moan with annoying disbelief as he surfs through the channels in a delirious repetition. I know this, due to the fact Flo will push through the screen door and fling herself out onto the porch. There have been evenings when I am sitting out in my garden listening to cicadas and drinking a brew. Flo meanders over and joins me.


One particular night I heard the moan, I had an impulse to walk over and ask Flo to come out and sit with me. I am glad I did not give into that urge. Instead of Flo flinging herself out of the back door I witnessed the lights flicker in the house. Not just on and off, more like aliens were visiting. The flickering overflowed through the windows and illuminated the shrubs. I was not sure what was going on. I was sure I did not want to be apart of it.


When the screen door opened, it was not Flo coming through it. Herman was propelled through the door and landed in the potted cactus. Flo screamed: “Stay there till you rot!”

Herman's large mass did not move. I heard hissing, in the dim light, I saw something move on the porch. Not Herman, something small, scooting across and down the steps. At this point, I went into the house and called 911.


When the woman on the other line asked what my emergency was, my statement was imperfect because I was not quite sure what my emergency was. Just instinct telling me something finally snapped while Herman was channel surfing.


The patrolman said “You were right to call mam. Herman should make it. The snake bite was not poisonous but the remote will have to be removed, and the bleeding stopped. His heart will be monitored due to the stress.”