Daryl Howard was convinced that the greatest technological achievement of Western Civilization was the Foreman Grill. It had revolutionized his life. Even during the long, cold, dark New England winters he could fire up the old Foreman and the house would be filled with the smells of barbecue and summer. Moist, yet never undercooked, the perfection of the Foreman's burgers made Daryl love his grill like his teenage daughter Melody loved her iPhone.
Yet years of hard grilling took their toll on his Foreman 4000, and one day, when its frayed wiring shocked her one too many times, Daryl's wife Jackie took the 4000 "to the farm" to "live with the other old appliances."
Daryl did not think Jackie was funny.
But then she revealed that she had brought home a shiny new Foreman 5000, which featured a voice operated interface. It was love at first sight. Daryl cooed softly over the grill as he plugged it in and commanded, "Medium-High."
MEDIUM HIGH the grill responded in a confident, masculine voice as it warmed up.
"Daddy, are you crying?" Melody asked.
"No, no, just a bit of dust in my eye," Daryl muttered as he wiped away the tears of joy.
And the story should have ended there, with Daryl riding off into the sunset with his new grill, eating burgers that were even more perfect than the 4000's, and living a life of unadulterated joy.
It was not to be. All because of Doctor Phineas Hornswickle, a.k.a. "the rat bastard."
It was Hornswickle that called the house with the results from Daryl's annual checkup. And it was Hornswickle who, rather than keeping private business private, told Jackie the test results.
All of the test results.
"No more red meat, ever," Jackie said as soon as Daryl walked into the house after his hour long commute.
"What?" Daryl asked as he hung up his coat.
The litany came. Weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, tests for things that Daryl hadn't known he was being tested for on body parts he didn't know he had. Daryl had failed everything.
"Is your heart even beating?" Jackie asked as she placed her ear to his chest.
Daryl silently promised to key Hornswickle's car the next time he went in for a checkup. "I bet you it's a false positive..."
Jackie would have none of it and, just like that, Daryl's existence became infinitely poorer. He still used his Foreman, of course, but now it was for vegetables or the occasional chicken breast. Joyless foods.
"Low," he would order the grill.
low it would repeat sadly.
Eventually Daryl packed the grill up and put it in the basement. It would be better this way, he told himself. Better for him, and better for the grill. With it out of sight he wouldn't feel so sad and depressed all the time. He would get on with his life.
A week later, he was awakened in the middle of the night by a strange scraping sound. Jackie was still asleep, and Daryl was about to close his eyes and go back to sleep when he heard the noise again. Reaching under the bed, he pulled out Melody's old softball bat and then tiptoed down the staircase.
The noises were coming from the kitchen. He switched on the light, and there, on the counter, was the Foreman 5000.
I MUST GRILL.
Daryl rubbed his eyes. "What did you say?"
I GRILL THEREFORE I AM. BRING ME BURGER.
"How did you get out of the basement? Are you plugged in? It's two in the morning." Daryl struggled to get his bearings.
I AM ON BATTERY POWER. PREHEATING COMMENCING. BRING PATTIES.
"Um, I think we have some vegetables..."
MUST BE MEAT.
Daryl didn't have the heart to tell the Foreman that there hadn't been ground beef or steak in the house in months. He opened up the freezer in the desperate hope that there Jackie missed a small package of burger or even some kebobs. It quickly became obvious that the purge had been ruthless and thorough.
The only thing even faintly burger-like was a box of tofu burgers. The box was opened, but nine of the ten patties still remained. Daryl shuddered as he recalled the single bite he had taken of the one missing patty. Even Jackie conceded it was a failed experiment.
BURGER, BURGER, BURGER, BURGER chanted the Foreman.
Daryl decided that when an appliance starts chanting, the best course of action was to give it what it wanted. He just hoped the Foreman didn't expect him to eat the burger.
He carried the tofu to the Foreman, which eagerly opened it's top cover. He slipped the burger onto its heating grid and lowered the lid.
AAAHHHHH the grill said, satisfied.
The air was filled with the aroma of sweaty socks.
Suddenly, the Foreman started choking and gagging. Its lid popped up and tofu pieces was hurled across the room, splattering the walls, floor, ceiling, and Daryl.
ASSASSIN!!! screamed the Foreman. It leapt off of the counter and clamped down on Daryl's hand.
"Arrrgh!" shouted Daryl and he smashed the Foreman against the walled, again and again, until it cracked and let go of his charred fingers.
burrrrrgrrrr.... and the light winked out on the Foreman's lid.
"What in the world is going on?" Jackie stood in the doorway. "Were you grilling..." she sniffed the air and gagged, "socks? And what happened to the grill?"
Daryl looked at his wife of nineteen years of marriage and considered telling her the truth, that a possessed demon grill had ambushed him in the middle of the night and he had been forced to beat it to death. Still, one did not remain married for nineteen years without recognizing that certain truths, like cholesterol test results, are best kept to oneself.
"I must have been sleep grilling a tofu burger and dropped the Foreman," he said.
Jackie opened her mouth to ask another question, then thought better of it. "Well, we better wash the walls and floor and get that tofu up before it dries out. It'll be a thousand times harder to get off. Why don't you make some coffee while I get the mops and some rags. Use the new coffee maker, it makes life a thousand times easier."
It took Daryl a minute or two of pressing buttons on the coffee machine, but eventually he got the door to swing open so he could put in the little cup containing the grounds. He swung the door shut and pressed "Brew." There was a gurgling sound.
DECAF? I DON'T DO DECAF! THAT'S NOT REAL COFFEE...
THE END copyright 2013 John Lance