When Johnson was a child, his mother often wagged a finger and said, “I’m keeping an eye on you, buster.” Sometimes she meant it as a joke, other times a warning, but it was also a reminder that she had high hopes for him, her only child in a fatherless home. She seemed to know what he’d been up to, even if he wasn’t up to anything, and his shoulders tensed as he squirmed away.
As an adult now, he was reminded of that guilty sensation his mother had evoked in him. He’d become convinced someone was spying on him. He wasn’t sure who, maybe the government, maybe marketers, maybe foreign countries. He wasn’t sure if they were afraid he was up to something or whether they were studying him for potential. Whatever it was, he had that squirmy sensation in his shoulders, and he decided he’d bore the hell out of anyone watching him so that they’d lose interest.
He spent most of his free time sitting on his old brown armchair watching television alone in his apartment. Maybe his television was spying on him. He’d heard of that. It was an old TV, though, so maybe they hadn’t started bugging televisions when he’d bought it. To be safe, he put on shows that he didn’t actually like watching so he could confuse anyone monitoring his viewing habits. He’d mix it up, watching conservative news, liberal news, old sitcoms, fishing, and bowling shows. Eventually whoever was watching would give up and tune him out.
When he was with his mother now, she’d look at him with dulled out eyes and sigh. His life had not unfolded the way she had envisioned. In the end, he suspected she’d just lost interest in him. He supposed this might be a good thing.