HOT VIDEO DATA

At home I often say, “one, two, three, four,” in a precise, well-modulated voice to display my sense of control. I say this and clean every single bathroom tile in my bathroom. My hand is very stiff, direct, and confident with the Clorox wipes. I use one for each bathroom tile, wiping around their four edges in swift, clockwise motions while I say, “one, two, three, four." There must be seven containers of Clorox wipes in my cabinets at this moment. My cabinets are large and small, in nearly every room in my house. Between all of the rooms in my house, I have twenty-three cabinets, filled with various items or foods, three of which are empty, but they will be filled eventually.

And my wife describes the day’s weather. She is a Panasonic television. Someone was throwing her out one morning when I intercepted. “Couldn’t even sell it at the yard sale?” I asked them. We were confused. At home I examined her hardware: by sight alone I observed that her signals passed smoothly between the digitizer and the embedded controller. I hardly wasted time before connecting her to a power source, dedicating an entire surge protector to her plug, clean analog lines quietly vibrating hot video data just for me.

I clean my bathroom tiles every Sunday and Wednesday. It takes me one hour and forty-five minutes to clean it, every Sunday and Wednesday. It is enough time for me to run most feature-length movies from my videocassette collection. If certain events take place on those days, events that prevent me from cleaning my bathroom, I change the days to Monday and Thursday, or Saturday and Tuesday. Sometimes my bathroom is cleaner than usual, other times it seems like there is no hope. Sometimes I forget things. Sometimes my bathroom is cleaned six days out of the week. I am still trying to figure out my perfect clean, the best methods to sterilize—a place to live without bacteria. I use a compressed air can for my wife. I direct it into the holes where her sound comes out, and when I pull the trigger and expect chunks of lint and dirt to fly out of her sockets in all directions nothing happens. Nothing happens, and at night my wife and I stare at each other. If I press the remote control buttons in just the right way, certain switches become active for both of us and it is really something to experience. She makes my face warm, so I keep her on a precarious ladder and if she behaves strangely I am supposed to kick the ladder, according to the instruction booklet received by me in a dream that became real. The ladder is clean metal that feels cold when I have the air conditioning running. My wife and I watch each other and think about the ladder and think about her channels. Is it strange? I do not know. I love learning about tomorrow’s weather and preparing my wardrobe accordingly. (And I have three different-sized umbrellas, depending on the situation outside.) There are two channels my wife provides to me, each broadcasting one show. One is about a man who cannot remember the names of famous paintings, no matter how hard he tries. He stands behind a two-way mirror and observes famous works organized in a way that resembles a police lineup of suspected criminals. The man simply won’t recognize a work as recognizable as the Mona Lisa, or Mr. Warhol’s soup cans. The second channel is about a boy who is also a device. Sometimes we learn about his human side, like the excitement and heartbreak surrounding his school crush, or the way his face twists in response to the taste of raw onions. Other times he gets an electronic virus, or receives a code that must be hacked into, or receives a thing that must be used in a particular way not readily apparent to him or the viewer. The viewer is me, no one else has heard of the two shows, I can understand the signals, no one else can.

My wife and I watch each other and think about the channels and if she behaves strangely I am inclined to kick the ladder. In addition to the ladder, I have her set beside a pile of gasoline cartons, which I am prepared to set on fire after she behaves strangely and I kick the ladder and she crashes down and still does not turn off. I have my compressed air can tucked inside my sofa cushions and she shows me the man who will not remember the names of famous paintings. If I am watching a re-run, she does not remember, so I will pointedly watch the ladder instead, sometimes after I have cleaned my bathroom tiles. But this is not always the case, either. Often I am really watching the ladder but thinking about the cartons of gasoline. Similarly, my wife will tell me about tomorrow’s weather but really she is sensing the cartons of gasoline around her, suggesting her forthcoming death, while I am actually thinking about the boy who also happens to be a device. The cartons of gasoline, and my clean metal ladder that feels cold when I have the air conditioner running.

I did not always keep my wife on a precarious ladder, and my bathroom tiles were not always cleaned so frequently. My behavior was consistently normal. I was careful to observe the norms and surprises of everyday life, but then I received a Panasonic and shot compressed air into her, and she set my cheeks on fire with video data. Which overheated. Which overheated and set my cheeks on fire and I could not unplug her. When it became clear that I could not unplug her, that I loved her channels too much, I began to adjust into a different lifestyle. Considerations for my life outside were temporarily halted, a dangerous concession on my part, and I began to, amongst other rituals, such as cleaning my bathroom tiles in clockwise motions with Clorox wipes, experience vivid dreams. I would watch my wife for most of the day and see the boy who is also a device, look at his house on screen, see his mother and father and clearly observe that all of the items in their home were in order. I clearly observed my home and I watched my wife at all times and shortly after this received instructions in a dream; instruction that, if she behaves strangely, I am supposed to kick the ladder then set the cartons of gasoline on fire if she still does not turn off. An irreconcilable truth is that the system currently in place risks the complete destruction of my home, but I do not care because the instructions I have received clearly state these directions, which I am carefully observing. The moment my wife becomes aware of this system may just as well be the moment she starts to behave strangely, but then it becomes too late. It is too late. After I received these instructions in a dream, I woke up holding the instructions, in booklet form, and began to clean my bathroom tiles in clockwise motions.

I use one Clorox wipe for each bathroom tile, wiping around their four edges in swift, clockwise motions. One, two, three, four.

Instructions relayed to me in a dream that became real. Occurring thirty-one days after I received a Panasonic, I received instructions about my wife. The dream occurred on a Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday, I do not remember. I do remember the instructions, which prefaced in technical detail the inner workings of my wife to a degree I found utterly repulsive. In the dream I stood shocked at the amount of chapters covering the ongoing and regular testing I had ignored for thirty-one days, the consequences of which irreparable. Irreparable, my air conditioner never stops running and my wife changes channels and also never stops running. At the earliest sign of degradation in my Panasonic’s response time or audio/visual display, I am supposed to kick the ladder, according to the instruction booklet received by me in a dream that became real. The ladder is clean metal that feels cold when I have the air conditioning running. According to the seventh page of the instruction booklet, which appeared, neatly folded, on my pillow after the dream, I will have to set a pile of gasoline cartons beside the ladder, which I am supposed to set on fire if she behaves strangely and does not turn off from crashing down after I kick my clean, metal ladder.

My wife and I watch each other and think about the channels and when she behaves strangely I am going to kick the ladder. Although now I do not easily recall the days I clean my bathroom tiles, so I have no choice but to clean them, sometimes three or four days in a row. It may be that I have found my perfect clean, to clean every day. Or if not every day, some number of days in the week known to the calendar that I keep in my back pocket but not known to me, such as six days. Maybe the entire thing is what the instructions would have prevented, had I received them earlier than thirty one days after receiving my Panasonic, maybe the instructions could have prevented the entire situation and I would not be so fixated. I suspect the only way I became so fixated on that hot video data that streams through my eyes and skull was the offer of a free Panasonic television. A Panasonic television at no cost, offered to me as an opportunity I could not pass up, a free Panasonic television, certainly not a burden to me for some number of days in the week known to the calendar that I keep in my back pocket but not known to me. I have gone through many Clorox wipes in a short period of time and I do not trust my Panasonic alone in the house. I use each wipe sparingly, often on two tiles, instead of one, which has encouraged a thin transparent film to grow on my walls and cabinets. The Clorox wipes have become nearly impossible to get to, I wear latex gloves before I touch anything. I have my compressed air can tucked inside my sofa, which I direct into the holes where the sound comes out, and when I pull the trigger and expect chunks of lint and dirt to fly out in all directions nothing ever happens, and at night my wife and I stare at each other, now understanding that the components required to generate a video signal are embedded in me, and no longer in her. When my wife describes tomorrow’s weather I try to prepare myself in case she behaves strangely, which means after I kick the ladder, according to the instruction booklet, I may have to light the cartons of gasoline on fire. So far I have not needed to kick the ladder. Nor has my Panasonic been turned off. Hardware algorithms that have appeared on my walls analyze the video signal quality, ensuring the signal contains the correct brightness and color information to be displayed on a Panasonic.

A thin transparent film has grown around the interior of my home, resilient to the Clorox wipes, which have started to parch. The wipes are drier and used on more than one bathroom tile, which I clean up and down and up and down and up and down. The east corner of my house containing the remaining container of Clorox wipes is blocked by a bacterial formation. A thin transparent film has grown over everything, except the bottoms of my feet, because I have stopped moving. I am aware that I cannot see the thin transparent film. Yet I know exactly what it looks like. It is no bigger than a dime in thickness, it smells like water, slightly whirring with the constant hum of my Panasonic machine, which has begun to behave strangely, but I have not yet kicked the ladder. “Please remember that I am not a wholly natural being,” the boy who is also a device said in an episode, “there are things that I will never understand, and there are things that you will never understand, about me.” The first moment I heard this line was poignant, all while staring at my Panasonic, cheeks on fire. Does my wife know that I will never kick the ladder, and never turn her off? It remains to be seen. It remains to be seen when I will be able to move from where I am standing. It all depends when a neighbor might come to my door, or the mailman, at which point I would scream for help, help getting my feet away from the place they are now. I can not move them, I have not tried, but as soon as I move, the thin transparent film, which has started to grow over my feet, will spread underneath, to my heels, debilitating me instantaneously. I stare at my wife, with her infinite gestures of electronic resources that allow me to select buttons from a comprehensive library of measurements, more commonly referred to as the remote control.

My wife behaves strangely. I have noticed the signals. The signals are not entirely clear to me, which is why I have recorded hardware algorithms on my walls, to analyze the video signal quality, and ensure the signal retains the correct brightness and color information to be displayed to me. It has something to do with the precarious ladder that is clean metal and feels cold when I have the air conditioning running. I have remained conscious of my surroundings and have kept rational behavior so far, but my television appears to be less affected by the chain of events than I. The man simply won’t recognize a work as recognizable as the Mona Lisa, or Mr. Warhol’s soup cans. He makes no gesture to me, the viewer. But I have noticed the signals. But I am not entirely sure what they mean. I have started to draw the signals in a calendar I keep in my back pocket.

I do not clean my bathroom tiles. The Clorox wipes have dried up and I could not reach them even if I tried, which I do not. This is no longer my concern. My concern is for my wife, who behaves strangely because she is on a precarious ladder surrounded by cartons of gasoline. I write hardware algorithms over outdated hardware algorithms, diseases to her signals and mine. Now I watch the boy who is also a device talk backwards, and forwards at half-speed. I do not recognize the paintings.

I do not sleep. I have drawn a conclusion supported by facts that I cannot prove unless I test the hypothesis through the proper channels. The constancy has become interlaced by cross-faced and bilateral video signals, pitting subordinate and insubordinate sync pulses against each other. Sync information is sometimes provided on separate channels, as the hardware algorithms are proving accurately, but I am unable to assemble the test equipment with the correct flexibility that would accommodate composite and separate syncs, balance analog video data, and reduce the bacteria in my home to a docile state. The hypothesis is here, in my back pocket, now it is up to someone to enter my home, maybe my mailman.