Jimmy tossed the football a short distance over his head. “Ackerson is open … Touchdown.” He caught the ball, pulling it to his chest. He did a dance around the recliner.
The sliding door in the kitchen rattled.
Jimmy tossed the ball again. He stepped forward, extending his arms.
The cat yowled as Jimmy stepped on its tail. The young boy fell forward, the ball ricocheting off his fingertips. “Look out, Red.” He gawked in disbelief as the ball bounced into the table lamp. “Oh, no”
It shattered on the hardwood floor.
“Jimmy?” Jan’s voice called from the kitchen.
A fanfare of trumpets blared and a spotlight shown straight down on the lad. Jimmy stared in shock as he found himself standing in a large, darkened auditorium.
“It’s time to play What’s My Consequence,” a disembodied voice echoed through the theater. “And here’s your host Mr. Louuuuuuu Siffer.”
“Hi, and welcome to our show.” A second spotlight illuminated a small area nearby on the stage. A man wearing a red suit and tie sauntered out between two very large televisions. “Congratulations Jimmy. You’re the next contestant on What’s My Consequence.”
“I … I don’t get it, mister…”
“Just call me Lou.” Images began to illuminate the screens. “Now it’s time to make the decision. Do you dare tell your mom the truth?” He gestured toward the display on his left. Snap shots of Jimmy sitting on his bed alone came into focus. “Or will you try and escape your punishment?” The other exhibit came to life. Pictures of the boy playing with his friends became clear.
“I … I.” Jimmy tried to control his rapid breathing. “I don’t understand.”
Siffer put his arm around the child’s shoulders. “It’s simple, really. Your mother is heading this way, and you have to choose your consequence.” He chuckled aloud. “Just tell her the cat did it or something … it’s that easy.”
The boy stared in disbelief.
“You want to go play with your friends, don’t you?” Lou smiled. “C’mon … you know you want to.” He nudged the perplexed youth toward the screen on the right.
Jimmy stepped forward, his eyes transfixed on the images in front of him. “I don’t want to get in trouble, but …”
“That’s my boy,” Lou sneered.
Jimmy hesitated. “What’s that?” He gestured to several smaller monitors flickering beyond the large ones. He squinted toward the static filled images. “It’s hard to see them, they’re too blurry. Is that my mom?” He spun around. “Whoa, what is that?” His eyes grew wide at the sight of dozens of different sized televisions displayed throughout the studio, familiar images from his past flashing across the screens.
“They’re all choices you’ve made.” The host motioned toward the back of the stage. “Now you must make another decision.”
“What are those small screens around the big ones?”
“Those are merely the consequences.” Lou forced a smile. “But Let’s not worry about these tedious little details.” He tried to direct the youth toward the screens on stage.
“I remember that.” He pointed at a screen across the auditorium. “I won the most improved award …Susie was so sad,” the boy said looking at one of the smaller screens. “She would’ve won … but I cheated.”
“You didn’t cheat … You borrowed a few answers from your friend.”
“That’s exactly what I …” He stepped away from Lou. “What’ll happen if I make this choice?” He pointed to the monitor on the right.
“You’ll get to play with your friends.” Insincerity oozed from Lou’s condescending voice.
“No.” Jimmy’s frustration etched into his expression. “What’s happening on the little screens?”
The host stepped toward the agitated child. “Nobody knows exactly what the outcome will be. Make your choice … You know what you want to do.”
The boy shook his head. “No … it’s not right.” He walked to the left. “The truth, that’s what I want.”
“You will regret this decision,” Lou became angry.
‘Jimmy, are you alright?” Jan rushed into the living room. “Oh my, what happened?”
Jimmy stared at the broken light.
“I’m sorry, mom.” Tears welled in the boy’s eyes. “I was tossing the ball. It … it was an accident.” He heaved a sigh. “I know I’ll be punished.”
“You broke a rule.” Jan squatted beside him. “No football, no computer…”
Jimmy hung his head. “I know.”
“…for the rest of the day.” She hugged her son. “I’m proud of you for being honest. I hope you’ve learned a lesson.”
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