Ed and Claire’s longtime neighbor Roy has purchased a satellite dish, allowing around-the-clock TV watching, a rare thing in the farm country of northern Minnesota in 1984. Claire is worried that he’s not sleeping, but the real problem is why Roy doesn’t want to sleep. Now Ed finds himself trying to stay up all night to keep Roy company when all he wants is for his friend to get some much-needed rest.

“The Satellite Dish” is a follow-up to my first pro sale, “The Mailbox.” It features the same characters: neighboring retired farmers in the small (and fictional) town of Lewis, Minnesota. The excerpt below is the opening of the story.

The Satellite Dish

Roy started awake to the sound of birds in the bare lilacs outside the window, morning light slanting across his recliner. He closed his mouth, open and dry from snoring, and stared at the TV still on from last night. Off-the-air snow hissed at him for a moment before being replaced by a silent test pattern. He blinked his eyes and smacked his lips a few times. As the local morning news show started, promising hints for keeping snails out of your garden, he lowered his footrest and sat up straighter. He scratched the stubble on his chin as he tried to remember what happened after Johnny Carson. Lucy always woke him up when he fell asleep watching TV. “Lucy?”

Claire knelt by her flower garden in her favorite bib overalls. Wisps of white hair escaped from under her floppy straw hat. She had covered a hole in the hat with a few silk flowers, their colors long since faded. Ignoring the sharp pains of her arthritis, she worried at the weeds while thinking of her oldest friends, Roy and Lucy. It had been a week since Lucy’s funeral, and Roy hadn’t been out of his house since. Ida Erikson had seen a big delivery truck pull into his driveway just the day after the funeral. . . .

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