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After the cacophony of conversation and the clatter of silverware on dinner dishes subsided, the Jenkins farmhouse fell into its normal Sunday evening lull. Pa had resigned himself to the living room, lounging in his ancient recliner that had begun to show its age and constant use, much like its owner. Excused from the table, Zeke, Elijah and Mary had followed him, falling to their bellies on the threadbare, oval carpet, and were now entranced by the black and white images on the screen.

The gigantic, bulky console television was a relatively recent addition to the Jenkins living room, an impulsive splurge by their father the year before when he’d gotten his government subsidy check. It hadn’t taken long for it to insinuate itself into the daily routine and mesmerize the entire household with its crackly voices and fuzzy images. Even Ma, who had opposed the purchase of such a contraption, had fallen under its spell rather quickly.

With a nod from his father, Zeke leaned up and turned the knob. The small, embedded screen sputtered to life, slowly coalescing into the image and voice of a man reading the evening news.

As the sound of the evening news and its crackling voices began to drift through the downstairs, the clatter of dishes, running water and footsteps from the kitchen joined in the chorus of ambient, after-dinner noise. But all that noise seemed to fall on deaf ears to the young man who still sat at the dining room table. Even as his oldest sister, Margaret, cleared off the dinner dishes, he barely took notice of her. His eyes never wandered from the bronze and gold wall clock.

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