A Test

By Peter Cherches

“This is a test of the emergency broadcast system,” the announcer said, as the picture switched to a test pattern. Sam and Myra had been watching Ed Sullivan. When they heard the announcement, they expected it to be followed by a long tone. A quick in and out. But instead they heard their argument from the day before. It was clearly their own voices. How was this possible? Was their apartment bugged?

It was disconcerting. They had gotten over the fight, had kissed and made up, but this opened up the wounds again. Was everybody hearing this, everybody in TV land? Would their friends recognize their voices? All their friends watched Ed Sullivan. How could they ever show their faces again?

The argument continued as Sam and Myra sat there cringing.

Then Myra perked up. “Did you hear that?”

“What?” Sam asked.

“What she just said. I mean what I just said. I mean, she used the word ‘charlatan.’ I’ve never used the word ‘charlatan.’ Certainly never in reference to you. I’ve called you lots of things, but never ‘charlatan.’”

“This has been a test of the emergency broadcast system. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.”

Called “one of the innovators of the short short story” by Publishers Weekly, Peter Cherches’ most recent book is Tracks: Memoirs from a Life with Music (Bamboo Dart Press). His writing has appeared in scores of magazines, anthologies and websites, including  Harper’sBombSemiotext(e), and Fiction International. He has published three volumes of short prose fiction with Pelekinesis since 2013: Lift Your Right ArmAutobiography Without Words, and Whistler’s Mother’s Son.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Digital mixed media collage)

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