9​.​) The Orange Light [ii]

from by Jesse Livingston

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The next day, I came home from work with a song stuck in my head. I went to the living room to play it, but I couldn’t get the stereo out of demonstration mode. Every few seconds, the word Demonstration would sail across the screen in blue glowing letters on the front panel. I didn’t even know what demonstration mode was for. I pushed all the buttons, but nothing happened.

“Come and get me!” I yelled over my shoulder at the doorway, just in case something was there. My voice echoed in the hall, but only the white cat heard me and came around the corner, purring and rubbing against the wall.

I realized I still had the hammer in my hand from the day before, and I put it down on the coffee table. I looked at the records that were scattered across the top of the stereo cabinet. They were mostly uninteresting. Some were Christmas music and some were classical. There was one that caught my eye, and I picked it up. It was called Don’t Go Digging. I had never seen it before. I turned it over and found ten songs listed on the back. Two of the songs were “Cause You Pain” and “I’m Doomed Forever.” I tried to read the rest of the titles, but my head started to hurt and some kind of sound like static got between me and what I was looking at. I stumbled over to the sofa and lay down. There was throbbing pain behind my eyes like they were going to burst out. It felt like my eyelids were hurting, too, and I wondered if there were really any nerves in eyelids or if I was just imagining it.

The white cat came over and rubbed its head against my arm. Then it jumped up on the sofa and rubbed against my face, purring. My head started to feel better, but I lay there for a while, resting and scratching the white cat.

“I just want to hear some music,” I said to it.

It looked at me with curiosity and then rubbed against my face some more.

I got up and went to check the basement door. The bell was still there on the nail. In the study, The Nain was singing:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
The Devil comes over the oh-she-un
It got in my head and I done what I done
Lez y, lez hon
Bas an arer zo gant hon
Lez on, lez y
Bas an arer zo gant y

“Shut up,” I said to it, walking into the room. “You know, I don’t believe you, that story you told. An inverted cross burned onto the wall? That’s nonsense. That’s ridiculous...”

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from A Thousand Lifetimes in an Hour, released December 21, 2012

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Jesse Livingston Denver, Colorado

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