A man's obsession with current events creates havoc with his family life and friendships.
The house was mostly dark. There was no one in the kitchen - the lights were off in there. The dining room, all swept and tidily arranged, was also dark. In the large front room, only the couch and chairs congregated in the darkness. the light in the hall was also off, but upstairs, Mark was in his room, playing with his soldiers.
On the floor were regiments of confederate troops, plastic gray, poised to conquer the small blue rug in front of the dresser. The Union was in disarray. Blue men were fleeing towards the closet, scattering. On his knees, Mark sounded the advance. One by one, the South moved forward. Only General Grant had stood his ground, but he was weak, and all alone.
It took several minutes to move all the soldiers, and by the time they'd settled in the new terrain, the enemy was gone. They'd given up without a fight, knowing they were hopelessly out matched. The South was disappointed; geared up for a war and none to fight. But they were pleased enough, and proud of their performance. Even the one-armed privates celebrated. In Mark's voice they cheered, and he made them slap each other on their backs. Over by the closet, the Union was regrouping. They could retreat no further.
Mark's mom was in the other bedroom, rocking in a rocking chair, reading a murder mystery. The book was titled Bored to Death'. It was supposed to be based on a true story about a man who'd terrorized Nebraska with a portable power drill. He was never caught. She rocked beneath the tall pole lamp, surrounded by her shadows. She was only halfway done. Seventeen victims so far, and nobody even knows what he looks like! The police are baffled. The killer sprinkles sawdust around the deceased once the bloody deed is done. Patty was not aware that she was biting her fingernails. Later, she would scold herself for that. It was ten past nine at night, and the late august sun had already set.
She only vaguely heard her son's revelries; it didn't bother her. What bothered her were the sounds coming from the basement, from the den below the living room, where her husband and his pals were watching baseball on TV. They talked throughout the game. They talked louder than each other in order to be heard. They had the TV turned up loud so they wouldn't drown it out.
Nonetheless, they did. Patty wished she had a power drill; she'd go down there and bore a hole in that TV. Instead, she chewed her nails.