Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's the Frequency? Flash Fiction

     Roger picked up the gadget lying on the kitchen table. It looked like one of those electronic things his grandson was constantly glued to; smartphone, ipod, ipad, iwonder, whatever. Curious, he put the earphones in and twiddled a knob. Nothing. He tried another dial, and was rewarded with an annoying tone. Goodness, what passed for music these days! Maybe it was broken. He put it back and returned to the living room to watch football.

     His peace lasted about 20 minutes. The slamming of the front door notified him of that. The appearance of his wife Joy in the doorway confirmed it.
     "Haven't moved in an hour, have you?" she began, hands on hips. "Unless it was to get up and stuff more food into that useless mouth of yours. Why, if it weren't for me blah blah blah Roger blah blah useless blah blah sick and tired of blah blah..." Like the dog, he only registered a flicker of interest at the mention of his name or a key word. His stomach was already knotting into spasms, and a dull pressure was building behind his eyes. He worked 50 hours a week, paid the bills, had taken his grandson in temporarily while his daughter "found" herself (it would be a sight easier if she pulled her head out of her butt and had a look around once in a while), wasn't he entitled to a little peace, maybe even a little respect, not to mention affection once in a while? He heaved himself out of his chair; he could stand to lose a little weight, but food had become his hobby, his friend, his lover, the one thing that never turned its back on him. He also drank a bit, but then, who didn't? Joy was still yapping as he made his way out to fetch the groceries.

     Jason was in his room, paging through his stack of racing magazines. Every so often, he flicked the hair out of his eyes and rolled his shoulders. Roger knew he was a good kid at heart, he'd just gotten some tough breaks. No father around, a mother who was MIA more often than not, and something called ADHD besides. He proffered the gadget to Jason, who took it with a gruff "thanks".
     "You know, if it's broke, we can find someone to fix it I guess," Roger said tentatively.
     "It's not broken," replied Jason, puzzled.
     Roger snorted. "Sure sounded like it to me.  I don't think much of it as music. Better than that rap stuff, I suppose."
     Jason laughed outright. "You're so lame, Grandpa. What about that jazz crap you listen to? Sounds like a marching band being trampled by a herd of elephants." It wasn't said in a mean way though, so Roger took no offense. He and the boy enjoyed a sparring match once in a while.
     "It's called a brain device. It helps with anxiety and ADHD. It interferes with bad brain waves or something.  You think of the bad or scary thing really hard. You turn it on, and balance the volume knobs so it's not too loud and it's equal in both ears. Then you turn this knob until you feel it sort of hit you where know...scary pain thing is inside of you. You know? Then last, you turn this one until you feel a little better. You listen to it, and think of the bad thing once in a while, then that's it. You do it a couple of times a day. Eventually, stuff doesn't get to you so much. And you can think better."
     "And it works?" asked Roger, overawed in spite of himself.
     "Seems to," replied Jason, turning back to his magazines.

     The package arrived two weeks later. Now Roger looked like everyone else, headphones on, twiddling constantly with his little handheld device.
     "Tweeting?" asked a coworker smugly.

     No one was laughing a month later, however. In fact, they were begging to know his secret. He'd dropped a bunch of weight, his sales had picked up tremendously, and he fairly blazed with confidence. Even his wife had little to complain of, although she worked very hard to find things. It didn't matter, though; like water off a duck's back he thought to himself, and spun the knobs on his new brain wave gizmo.

     If you're waiting to hear that this story takes place in the distant doesn't. The device is here.
It's called a BAUD. And there's your surprise ending.

The story is fiction in that the characters are not based on particular people. Nor is the device available at your local discount chain so that you can make your in-laws more palatable, miraculously consume buckets of chicken and kegs of beer without putting on a pound, or change your personality.

It is, however, cleared as safe and registered with the US FDA. It was invented by Dr. Frank Lawlis, who says that he has used it to treat problems such as phobias, depression, anxiety, compulsion problems, attentional problems, and food cravings. I can't possibly weigh in on whether it works or not...but I'd sure like to have one.




  1. Great story, and really different. I loved the pace you set and the amount of empathy I instantly felt for Roger... I sure want a gizmo too!

  2. So do I. (I flubbed the autopost; this was for tomorrow (W day) as I will be putting in a 10 hour work day.)

  3. "Ohm, Joy to the world was a beautiful girl, but to me Joy meant only sorrow..." Great making her the opposite of the name. I know too many students named Angel who def were not! I need a baud too.

  4. Wow, that was interesting. I was fully expecting it to be a gadget that you made up. I wonder if it's a mind trick?? Tell people what it does, and because they believe it, they cure themselves.
    Great story, as usual. Poor guy.

  5. ooh, ooh, oooh, (jumping up and down, with my hand stuck in the air) please may I have one of those too??

  6. Great story, very entertaining. I could use that brain device now and then! Over here from the coffee shop. Thanks for posting on my thread!

  7. Hi everyone! Thought I'd take a stab at combining non-fiction and fiction...just to confuse you more than I already have. Blurring the lines between real and unreal becomes easier with all of the new tech and med breakthroughs coming online.

    @mom said - if you come back, please leave a link to your blog (if you have one?)

  8. Interesting story. I loved your ending. Definitely played with my expectations.

    Great W post and nice blog!

  9. This was another good one. Great twist that the device is real. I wonder what it actually does. Maybe I'll check that out.

    Reminded me at first of that Adam Sandler movie where he has the universal remote.

  10. I want one of those too.

    The story was nicely told.

    Hope you join us in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post on Monday May 2nd.