Ari gathers her family, her two small sons, her little girl, and husband and feels through the dark for a large cardboard box. which isn't there.
Ari: ain't that the way? i swear it's within eyeview always cluttering up my ornate parlourroom living room with its eyesoreness. but the second there's a crisis it's gone.
little girl: don't forget the cats, mama!
Ari: honey would you be a dear and fetch the critters? i know there are candles somewhere. i'll take off my jesus socks if i have to and step on 'em.
sons: but it was a new episode of Spongebob, the one where finally the original creator comes back! we're already bored!
Ari: the Lord will provide. *dirty look* and silence His enemies. the one thing we need as a family above all is peace and quiet. to think. ahhhhhhhhhhh. thank you, power outage. no more mindless tv drone.
little girl: but mama you like watching that man on the tv you like.
Ari: he's a good reporter.
sons: but it sucks cos we can't see! we can't see in front of our faces! why couldn't this happen during the day?
Ari: language. and mysterious ways. fuck, i'm gonna miss my audition, aren't i...
sons: language! language!
Ari: what is this? my big toe landed on the tip of a screwdriver. i've been looking for this screwdriver. when i needed it for my non-electric blowdryer. now i don't. maybe for the breakers out back?
husband: already reset. such a goofy exercise pulling those levers and pushing them back. that's never done anything, ever, in all the years i've been alive.
Ari: what is this? your razorblades or mine?
little girl: it's the cats, mama, biting you hello.
Ari: huh, i feel no pain. the power of prayer. and i'm too annoyed to feel pain. and i can't see anything. the little fleabags.
Ari: bitch, the pain response alerts to other areas in your body. now i'm hungry. or hangry. i knew i should have moved up the groceries but everything has to be in its own little time slot squeezed in for maximum busyness. one thing this does is force you not to have a schedule. a yogurt and cigarette do not a lunch make.
Ari: just going through my script. reading what's on the page. i act it i don't write it.
sons: you can see?
sons: language! this is a fun game.
Ari: shoot. shoot. i said shoot. guns are okay.
sons: we never got the logic of that. it never quite squared with us.
Ari: here! finally. the candles. are they supposed to be dripping wax like that?
little girl: that's not wax.
Ari: anybody got a match? never mind i got a lighter.
husband: you said you quit smoking the day we got engaged.
Ari: uh, i loved being pregnant! and woman discovers fire. now why are my matches all wet? come on!
sons: what about that huge lantern in the kitchen? that thing is an eyesore. and it looks like a blender. cept it's not a blender. we always go in there every morning craving a banana smoothie and leave the room unsatisfied.
Ari: oh yeah, last Christmas. from the makers of that flashlight that uses the explosion from a nuclear bomb to power it. i think i still have it. somewhere. to the kitchen, gang. watch your step.
Ari: feeling around in the dark, rummaging through china, breaking valuable irreplaceable china that was for the kids' college, and here! there are six holes, with six long screws loosely in each hole. need the screwdriver.
husband: haven't seen it. while i'm at this cupboard i'll get the loose tea.
Ari: begorrah. at least spark those candles. yes! small victories! the damp match still worked. kids, kids, keep an eye on the candles. now we can read the instruction manual.
husband: this isn't cos i'm a man but i don't do instruction manuals. i'll use my forefinger to screw if i have to.
Ari: oh honey no you just got a manicure.
husband: i like salads. i like eating those weird mushy organic salads with you in the car when i drive you and you're in a rush.
little girl: mom, the candles just flipped over and fell down.
sons: don't worry, there's no fire.
Ari: i'd cover my eyes with my palms in disgust but there's no point. i'd do it with my teeth but i just got veneers. looks like this expensive piece of machinery is out. looks like a mini spinning lighthouse light.
husband: the manual was in French anyway.
Ari: i speak French. remember when we went to Paris?
Ari: now what. does your phone work?
husband: it only lights up but there's no data. it tells me to find out when the outage will be over, go to this website. but because the power's out i can't access the website.
sons: mom we're hungry! and we have to go to the bathroom!
Ari: how are those two things possible and congruent? pull on your sister's pigtails some more. and girl when they do that punch them in the privates. we're bonding here. we'll always be close. we won't have a family like Cain and Abel.
husband: this is starting to get scary. i'm scared.
Ari: we need those special lights that run on batteries but the batteries are apparently everlasting cos there's no way to access the hatch in the back to replace the batteries. they have a hook and are quite cute. look like swirly seashells. solid glass covers the six lights. and it's easy to operate. you merely push the button in the center and the lights come on and stay on. all through the night. the ultimate nightlight. Mike gave us some last Christmas.
husband: who's Mike?
Ari: uh, just some guy i auditioned. didn't get the part, was trying to sweeten me up. director problems am i right?
little girl: mom, the cats are going crazy.
sons: mom, we're not tired in the least.
Ari: remind me to move up your bedtime. just add it to my schedule in crayon. sigh. but you're right it's too early to sleep. or maybe i'm just wired. gather round, family. let's play a game. puzzle? probably not. sitting around talking to each other in meaningful conversation? not so much. oh i know! let's sing a song. the piano still works, right? let's do a head count. use your fingers. everyone here?
little girl: mom, i'm getting wet.
Ari: way too early, dear. watch Spongebob with your brothers.
sons: no, water's coming through the mantel, can't you feel it?!!
Ari: bricks aren't what they used to be. let's everyone settle. no need to calm up. i found the keys. tickling as we speak, never panic. repeat with your voice after me, Silent night, holy night...
husband: THE WATER'S REACHED OUR PRIVATES LEVEL!!!
sons: do Night Ranger "Sister Christian".
Ari: i'm playing "Healing Water" on this here piany and that's final.
sons: we're not in the mood to sing.
little girl: speak for yourself.
Ari: see? it's not my fault. okay, fam, hold each others' hands in a circle and we'll recite the Lord's Prayer.
husband: can we sing it?
Ari: sure, kids. our father who art in Heaven...
Ari's phone lights up when they start praying. Ari notices it and quietly pushes a button on her phone.
at the station, the national weather report that still feels like a local weather report is about to start right pinpoint on time as always. Jackie is carousing and snort-laughing and tipping the cap off the female who mans the camera and is plain-looking.
Mike: that dress is tight as fuck. by which i mean it's cool...
Jackie: oh you mean it's supertight around my body. *snort* stop making me laugh, baby boy, you know i'm on in five minutes.
Mike: *hugging the camera* if you get lost, remember your cleavage and your heels, lows and highs.
Goody Paul entrances and slides into a handshake with Mike.
Goody: the man. this weather channel's highest-paid and best-known celebrity. how's your tutelage under Jackie going?
Mike: i've always wanted to fuck a Kennedy. i know you're not supposed to say such things in front of management but we're all friends here, right? you really think i got the face to be in-studio talent?
Jackie: baby boy you got the face of a man, hardscrabble with a midnight shadow, getting the dangerous shot when no one else will, never blinking at the eye of the storm.
Goody: air conditioning is for weather wimps. we're the geeks. and late-bloomers. you're our soldier.
Mike: you know what i say, what doesn't tear a limb off you makes that limb more muscular.
Goody: okay Mr. Doesn't-Need-To-Wear-The-Blue-Jacket. you're off in five, right? see you tomorrow. oh the patches! now you have to wear the jacket. Jackie sewed them on her lunch break.
Mike: and baked chocolate chip cookies! i was with her in the breakroom. our Jackie is multitalented.
Goody: aw, i missed the cookies. here's yours.
Mike: bowl of red spaghetti, i love it! make sure the Mouth from the South over here gets the Rolling Stones tongue.
Jackie sticks out her long skinny tongue.
Goody: i prefer the Beatles.
Mike: not rap? the Beatles are like the professors, the Stones are the foreign-exchange students. did i ever tell you how i got that nickname?
Goody: mama said.
Mike: my mom was none other than Martina the Rose.
Goody: The Lady in Blue?
Mike: that blue dress was something special. made saints into suitors. she emigrated from Catalonia. i've got gallant genes, gallant catalan. she was an instant hit in Italy. the hottest flamenca dancer in the old world. nothing in the lands could prepare them for her style of sex.
Goody: heard about the last show.
Mike: she retired early. but what a way to go. the stage curtain drew open, she got up on her high heels, matinee mind you, left her heels on, disrobed her frilly flamenca dress, lined up all ten of her beefcake backup dancers in a row in front of her, twirled their little cute bowties, and fucked all 10 in a loud, open-air orgy for 3 hours.
Goody: and they say theatre is dead.
Mike: she even bowed at the end of the three hours. only one to do so. and with that, i bid you adieu and take my bow.
Mike pushes the climate door out hard and walks toward the parking lot on instinct. he passes the high hum of the generator and his phone flashes in front of him when he gets under a streetlight. he reads the message:
it's an icon of a flashing mermaid with flashing blue letters underneath:
Mike pushes on the mermaid icon.
NUMBER OF MESSAGES REMAINING UNREAD FOR MIKE MANLEY: 1