New Technology
J.W. Wang

I turned on my computer one morning and it wouldn't boot up, so I called and asked for someone to come and take a look. Half an hour later a young man in a blue uniform knocked on my door. A badge over his shirt pocket read, "Ed, Service Technician," and he held a gray toolbox in one hand. "Hello," he said, "I understand you are having trouble with your computer?" "Yes," I said, "this way," and led him through the hallway and into the office. The computer sat on my desk, silent and looking a little wan. "Let me see," Ed said, and bent down to observe it. Gossamer strands of dust flitted from the case. A trail of fingerprints converged in a smear across the top of the screen. The keyboard bore splatters of spaghetti sauce like the weary wounded. I hadn't noticed any of this until Ed walked in, and was feeling a little embarrassed. "It wouldn't boot up," I said. "It just died on me." Ed didn't say anything and went about opening up the chassis while I leaned against the doorjamb and sweated. It must have been nearly a hundred degrees outside. "There's an inordinate amount of wax buildup in here," Ed said. His eyebrows furrowed and he leered at me suspiciously. "Wax?" I said. Had I done something in those moments of frustration? "And," he said, "loose hair and fingernails and fecal matter. Classic signs of abuse and neglect." His voice was somber, and very hard. "That's not possible," I said, "I clean it every day with a foam sponge and apply baby powder afterward with a cotton pom-pom." It wasn't true; I didn't own a cotton pom-pom, nor any baby powder. "I'm afraid," Ed said, looking up, "I'll have to report this to the abuse prevention center." My hands balled into fists and the blood in my neck throbbed. "That's no fault of mine," I said, "it didn't come with instructions." Ed's eyes focused into black ball bearings. "Of course it didn't," he said. "You didn't, either." But he was wrong about that. I did. I saw it once sitting at the bottom of a drawer, under a pile of my father's old underwear. The pages were hard and crinkly, like newspapers set out on the porch too long.

J.W. Wang's fiction and poetry appeared most recently in The Barcelona Review and Backwards City Review. He lives in Tallahassee with four strangers and two stray cats.

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Detail from photo on page main page courtesy of James J.

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