Conjunctions:36 Dark Laughter

Ten TV Tales
The following is an excerpt from Lynne Tillman’s “Ten TV Tales” as originally published in Conjunctions:36.
There was a boy who loved animals. He took in strays and fed them in his backyard. His parents yelled at him because they ruined the lawn, and they ordered the boy to get rid of them. The boy took the animals to the local animal shelter, where they were killed. Then one day, not long after, the father was bitten by a rabid squirrel, and he died.

There was an unfriendly old woman who worked hard all her life. She never said hello to anyone. At sixty-five she retired. When she stopped leaving her house, her neighbors never saw her at all. So they mowed her unruly lawn and collected her mail. But when her house was falling apart and the stink became unbearable, the neighbors called the cops. They discovered that the unfriendly old woman had been dead for four years. The telephone was near her rotting body. A neighbor said, “No one’s to blame. She never said hello to anyone.”

There was a violent man. He bludgeoned, skinned and butchered a neighbor’s pit bull collie mutt. Then he barbequed the meat on a home gas grill. The dog’s head was found on a fence outside the neighbor’s house. The violent man was sent to jail. The lawyer said of his client, “When he gets to state prison, and he’s the only one there on an offense like this one, I don’t think it’s going to do him a bit of good.” 

Lynne Tillman is the writer of the story collection Someday This Will Be Funny and the essay collection What Would Lynne Tillman Do? (Red Lemon Press).