Frank told his brother, “I need a new TV. Old one just stopped working.”
“So?” his brother asked.
“So it costs more to get it fixed than it does to buy a new one.”
“Probably,” his brother said.
“And the kids aren’t gonna come over if I don’t have a TV for watching the games and stuff.”
It was a common complaint of Frank’s that his kids never came to visit, even with a TV.
“Dunno,” his brother said.
They sat at the table, looking at their glasses of fizzing Coke for a while.
“I’m about broke,” Frank finally said. “Can’t you help me out?”
“Money,” Frank said.
“How much you need?”
“About $300. Figure I can get a good TV for about that.”
His brother thought.
“I’ll give you 300 to clean the gutters. I could get a pro to do it for less. That’s a helluva deal.”
“I ain’t got a ladder,” Frank said.
“I do,” his brother said.
They stared at their Cokes a while longer.
“I’m not sure what kind of TV to even buy,” Frank said. “These new ones got all sorts of features. I’ve been looking but I get confused. What the hell’s a smart TV anyway?”
“Research it,” his brother said.
“You can’t tell me what kind I’ll need? I don’t even know what 4K means. Or 4K Ultra. What if I ain’t go the Ultra? What if I buy it and I can’t even use the damn thing? See, you could really help me out here.”
“Maybe,” his brother said. “But it’s not my TV. You want me to buy it for you too?”
Frank shrugged and looked very sad.
“Wouldn’t cost you anything to just order it,” Frank said. “And you’re my brother. You don’t wanna help? Don’t wanna help when it don’t even cost you nothin’?”
His brother knew from experience that helping Frank always costs him something, usually way more than he’d bargained for.
“I am helping. Figuring some things out for yourself will do you some good.”
“But how will I even hook it up?” Frank asked.
“Same way as the old one.”
“But the cable company hooked it up.”
“Then call ’em up again. Or look at how they did it and repeat. It’s not rocket science, Frank. You got some college under your belt. You can figure some things out.”
“They’ll charge me to come over,” Frank said.
“Then figure it out yourself.”
“You could figure it out. You already got it figured out.”
“Yeah, but figuring things out for yourself is probably what you need. Or get one of the kids to hook it up next time they come around.”
“I would,” Frank said. “But the problem is they don’t come around enough.”
“Then I dunno.”
Frank slumped in his chair and sighed.
“Ain’t bad enough I gotta come over here and beg? What I can’t figure out is why a brother wouldn’t wanna do something so easy for his own brother when he’s in need.”
“You’re in need of far more than I can give you,” his brother said. “The 300 just scratches the surface. And 300 bucks for the gutters is where my generosity ends. See, I’m basically buying you a new TV and you still want more, Frank. Problem is there’s always gonna be more.”
“What about my bum leg?” Frank asked. “How’m I supposed to lug a big ole TV out to my car and try stuffing it in there with this bum leg?”
Frank realized he should have used his leg to stifle the idea of climbing up his brother’s ladder to clean the gutters. But now it was too late.
“Somebody at the Walmart might help.”
“You got a truck,” Frank said. “And both your legs are good. Wouldn’t be nothing to go down there and pick it up on a weekend.”
“Walmart’s got free shipping and free delivery, but you probably know that, right?”
“Why you being so stubborn?” Frank asked.
“Cause you are.”
They both went back to looking at their Cokes. The fizz had pretty much settled down.
“I dunno,” Frank said. “There’s gonna be a lot to this. Once I get to thinking about it, I realize there’s a lot more to it than just buying a new TV.”
“I think you’re right,” his brother said. “But I dunno either.”