[Screen fills with photo of a blond[ish] woman wearing black-rimmed glasses, most of her features obscured by a hand playfully raised to block her image from the camera. She is wearing Dr. Seuss pajama bottoms, a fraying, olive green, long-sleeved t-shirt, a gray bathrobe, and electric-blue Uggs that are lightly flecked with bleach spots.]
Deep, Authoritative Voice-Over: Saturday, November 15th, 2014, began like any other weekend day for Heather Aronson, a middle-aged housewife and mother of three living in an upscale neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She rose, cooked her family a nutritious breakfast of coffee and vitamin pills sorted into cunning little colored bowls, checked her Facebook for “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” requests, then started the first of the day’s seventeen loads of laundry in silence, letting her family sleep. Seven or eight hours later, when they were all finally up and dressed, she turned on the television to keep her company as she matched up socks. As always, she selected “Forensic Files” from her DVR list, choosing an episode she was pretty sure she hadn’t seen before. And that’s when things began to go terribly, terribly wrong.
[Screen fills with video of a pretty teenager with wavy hair, a tear escaping her almond eye as she addresses an unseen interviewer.]
Wavy-Haired Teen: Well, she thought she hadn’t seen it before. But it turned out that it was the one where the guy kills his wife for the insurance money.
Unseen Interviewer: Isn’t that the plot of all the episodes?
Wavy-Haired Teen [voice breaking]: Yes. Mostly. Except for the serial killer ones.
[We hear the sound of three notes chiming just as the screen fills with the image of laboratory beakers on a lurid blue backdrop, the words “FORENSIC FILES” blazing into focus in capital letters. Fade to commercial for an arthritis pain reliever. Fade to 36 commercials for incontinence and erectile dysfunction. The notes chime again, and now the lurid blue backdrop features the blurry image of a syringe. We return to the video of the Wavy-Haired Teen, who has now straightened her hair.]
Wavy-Haired Teen Who Has Now Straightened Her Hair: No, I’m her other daughter.
Unseen Interviewer: Are you sure?
Wavy-Haired Teen Who Has Now Straightened Her Hair: I’m a completely different person. My name is Sami. And I’m taller.
Wavy-Haired Teen Whose Hair is Still Wavy [voice breaking; a tear escaping her almond eye]: By one inch.
[Screen fills with video of a gray-haired man pacing, his hands clasped behind his back as he talks to the unseen interviewer.]
Gray-Haired Man: It’s horrible. I have no idea who I’m talking to, ever. I’m not even sure how many of them there are.
Deep, Authoritative Voice-Over: As Heather Aronson, a middle-aged Pittsburgh housewife and mother, was folding clothes one Saturday morning in November, the unthinkable happened.
[Screen fills with actors who vaguely resemble the Gray-Haired Man and the blondish woman from the original photo. They can be heard arguing beneath the voice-over, their voices occasionally rising.
Deep, Authoritative Voice-Over: Heather’s husband entered the room, and it wasn’t long before he fell into a rage.
Actor Playing Gray-Haired Man: Laundry, AGAIN?? You work too hard!
Actor Playing Heather Aronson: Oh you silly thing, you!
Actor Playing Gray-Haired Man: Are those my pants? But…they still had some life in them. I was going to wear them again today!
Actor Playing Heather Aronson: But Darling, you wore those pants three times last week! Also, clothes having life in them is kind of a good reason to wash them, don’t you think?
Deep, Authoritative Voice-Over: Suddenly, the deep, authoritative voice-over on the Forensic Files episode playing in the background interrupted their fierce argument.
Recreated Deep, Authoritative Voice-Over From Recreated Television Program in Background of Recreated Scene: Instead of Shirley’s husband, the killer turned out to be a Canadian man named Mark Jarman.
Deep, Authoritative Voice: Hearing the name “Mark Jarman,” Heather dropped the socks she’d been about to roll together into a neat little ball.
Actor Playing Heather Aronson: Oh my God! I used to go out with a Canadian man named Mark Jarman!
Actor Playing Gray-Haired Man: Oh my God! Was he a…killer?
Actor Playing Heather Aronson: I don’t think so! He was my roommate’s Creative Writing T.A.! People were always getting him mixed up with an American poet who was also named Mark Jarman. But, oh my God, I think he wrote a story about a serial killer!
Actor Playing Gray-Haired Man: Then it must be him!
[On the television screen in the background of the recreated scene, we see a close-up of an actor playing an actor playing Canadian Killer Mark Jarman.]
Actor Playing Heather Aronson: Oh, wait: that guy’s blond. Never mind.
Actor Playing Gray-Haired Man: Oh. So…the poet was the killer?
Actor Playing Heather Aronson: Don’t you ever listen? The poet is an American!
Deep, Authoritative Voice-Over: With virtually no warning, Heather’s husband, whom we’ll call “Jack,” picked up the two socks she’d dropped.
Actor Playing “Jack”: Are you sure these even match?
[Close up of pudgy man in his thirties, wearing a laboratory coat. He holds a pair of socks in one hand and, with the other, raises the lid of a large white machine.]
Pudgy Man in his Thirties, Wearing a Laboratory Coat: Using a system called “photo reverse polytelemerasion,” we can “copy” the socks closely enough to print out information that allows us to contrast the distinctive stripe patterns on their heels and cuffs.
[Close up of a photocopy of the socks.]
Pudgy Man in his Thirties, Wearing a Laboratory Coat: As you can see, these socks were, in fact, an exact match.
Actor Playing “Jack”: Okay, well I’m going to go for a run now.
Perky Woman on Recreation of a Commercial in the Background: With so many looks, you can see why everyone wants a 3-way!
Actor Playing “Jack”: Wait, what?
Perky Woman on Commercial: 3-way Poncho, that is.
Actor Playing “Jack”: Oh.
Actor Playing Heather: You have to admit, that was pretty weird, wasn’t it? How often do you almost have an ex-boyfriend show up on an episode of “Forensic Files”?
Actor Playing “Jack”: Ha ha ha, hopefully not that often! Ha ha ha, that sure was weird!
Actor Playing Heather: It sure was! Ha Ha Ha!
Authoritative Voice-Over: But for Heather Aronson, the weirdness had just begun. Coming up: a second ex-boyfriend shows up on the very next episode Heather watches. This time: for real.
to be continued…
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