Rafter Fiction: Watching Devo on a VHS

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Rafter Fiction is short stories based on songs by Rafter. I am starting the series with the songs from  album, “Terrestrial Extras”.  This is the tenth track, “Watching Devo on a VHS.”  Buy the album here

Amber did not expect to have this conversation or have her father move all of her belonging back into her room. Her mother was trying too hard to get her to talk about the state of her marriage but Amber had nothing. So she and her parents sat in silence at breakfast every morning. After few bites, Amber pushed the rest of the eggs and bacon around the plate until a decent amount of time had passed and she could excuse herself. Amber went to work and came right back home. She did not talk to her coworkers even when they tried to cheer her up, tried to get her to go out with them after work and to meet someone else. Amber could not explain that was devastated.

She hated thinking about her husband, now living carefree and happy while she walked around her house in the middle of the night, trying to figure out what happened. Many nights, her father found her sitting in the living room in the dark. He did not have the heart to say anything to her. He needed to find the prick and rip his balls off.

After a month or two, Amber was losing too much weight.and she looked emaciated with hollow bones. She was still awake most nights, but she moved the living room to the old rec room in the basement. After her and her brother moved out, the room had turned into a junk room, boxes of magazines and yarn from her mother’s projects stacked in the corner. She liked the lighting there the best, the dim lamp against the wood panel walls. The basement smelled musky and was dated, but she remembered all of the times in high school, when all her her friends were over, drinking wine coolers and beers and watching movies on the VHS. The couch was still the same couch, and she liked to lie face down and bury her nose into the cushions. She liked the dust, mold and sour from old alcohol and parties from decades ago. After a few days, she slowly started to straighten up the basement, go through boxes, stack up the ones that were her mother’s projects, throw out most of the others. Many were filled with objects from her preteen room, those things she did not want but did not want to throw away, catchall boxes of notebooks and hats, posters, pictures, single gloves and hair barrettes. She went through these slowly, tried to remember all of the memories, most of the time throwing them out because there was no point. After a few of these boxes, she found one filled with video tapes, movies that she and her friends used to watch all of the time.

Amber unpacked the box of movies and stacked them in piles around her. All of them were really her brother’s collection. The ‘Burbs. The Prophecy. Adventures in Babysitting. Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He was the horror movie fan, but she would sneak them when her friends were older. With him being two years older, he usually had command of what they were watching. Sometimes his friends were with him, and she sneaked down late at night to scare them. When they all got a little older, when her brother was a senior and she was a sophomore, there was more interest in her bringing her friends so that they could drinks and have awkward makeout sessions. She had made out with more than one of her brother’s friends. The more that she thought about this, she started looking through the box of video tapes for a specific one, the one that was playing when she first kissed Jake, who would eventually be her husband, who would eventually run off. She took out three stacks, stopping to look at the cover of “A Clockwork Orange” and how she never wanted to see that movie again, and “Gremlins”, which she watched every Christmas with Jake. Toward the bottom of the first stack, she found the one tape she wanted. The cover was tore up, but she held it like it was a prized possession. It was a compilation of DEVO videos called “We’re All Devo”. She left the rest of the tapes in stacks on the floor, and popped it into the VHS player that was still connected to the unused basement TV. She sat on the couch when the tape started at the beginning of the song, “Girl U Want.” She watched the video and remembered being young, dancing around to this tape, song after song, with her girlfriends, once her brother graduated and moved on to college. These were the nights when life was free and anything was possible, when they talked about the boys they liked and how they couldn’t wait to get married, and of course the night when Jake and two of his friends crawled through her bedroom window and the crept downstairs, DEVO becoming the cover for the kissing. She watched all of the tape, and the longer she watched, the more she thought about how naive she used to be, how wrong her younger self was when it came to ideals and hopes. She wished she could do it all over again. She wished that life was as simple as a DEVO song.

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