By The Hairy Beast
It was now seven forty five in the evening. I had just come home from work. One might consider that seven forty-five was a rather late, or at least unusual time to find oneself newly arrived home after a day at work. But this was typical for me, and it explains why I was so singularly ill-equipped to appreciate the deeper and more subtle elements of horror implicit in the situation. To fully understand the circumstances in which I now found myself, we have to travel, like Scrooge under the furry arm of The Ghost of Christmas Past, into the hoary depths of…
Well, say four o’clock in the morning, at the beginning of the work day.
Yeah – do the math. Up at four a.m. and home at seven thirty PEEE EM! Long day don’t you think? Only fifteen and a half hours. But that was my life. I was a boss at a factory and I worked four 12-hour days on and the next four off. Only I usually worked those too. We needed the money.
I was beginning to suspect that no matter how much money I made, it would never be enough. The wife wanted a house. We got one. All it required were new walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, hot water system, plumbing, furniture and appliances.
Plus, the yard would profit marvelously from the attention of a chainsaw and backhoe. Maybe even a little dynamite.
Everybody needs a hobby. Maybe in a few years I would be able to stop digging and banging and consulting asbestos removal faq’s to take up one. In the meantime I worked on my current favorite: Hidden Binge Drinking. This involved skimming the gas money fund for enough change to prchase the cheapest handle of rotgut rum to be found on the botttom shelf of the remainders section of the local liquor store. Hidden in the basement, it provided me with the meanest measure of comfort in between bouts of frenzied wall wrecking and carpenter ant nest demolishment.
So here I was, exhausted and unfed (the wife had no job, but she didn’t cook) and puzzling out the miraculous appearance of at least a few hundred dollars worth of stone-cold chinese food in my kitchen, paid by some mysterious check for two thousand dollars that had apparently arrived while I was at work.
“You got a check for two thousand dollars today?” I asked my wife. “Where?”
She took another puff of her cigarette. “In the mail. It’s from Chrysler.”
“Chrysler? The car company?”
“Why would Chrysler want us to have two thousand dollars?”
“We bought the Jeep Grand Cherokee two months ago, remember? It’s our first time buyers rebate. I called, they said it’s a new program and we qualify, because we were first time buyers.”
The Jeep. We bought a jeep. I remembered. We did. “They didn’t say anything about that when we bought it.”
“It’s a new program.”
“So you took the check, forged my name on it and cashed it?”
“Yes, and I bought us chinese food.”
I picked up one of the red and white boxes. Mucusy strings yawed from the pyramidal cardboard jaws of the lid as I pried them apart. “If you bought it for me, howcome it’s cold?”
“I bought it at six. I didn’t want to wait. You can nuke it.”
“Where’s the rest?”
She waved at the table. “That’s all of it. I bought a lot.”
“No, I mean where’s the rest of the two thousand? There’s got to be some change.”
“Oh, that’s gone already.”
“Yeah I paid bills with it.”
“We had eighteen hundred dollars worth of bills?”
She stubbed out her butt. “Not any more.”