The Mess, Part II

These people needed help, and they knew that they had to get someone to come and fix this, maybe even get a new boiler.  But neither of them wanted to make the call.

The old woman looked at her husband sitting in his dirty old clothes watching the television and said “Make the call, Frank!  I’m sick of freezing here!  Why are you waiting?  What is your problem!?  We’ve been freezing for hours now, you did everything you could do, and it wasn’t enough.  You’re not a repairman.  You never were.  Please make the call for me, honey!  I just want to be warm again…”

Frank shifted his weight uncomfortably in his old tan recliner when she started talking, moved up to a more upright position and stared at her.  He knew he would have to call the company to come down and fix the damn thing in the basement.  He testily said “Dammit Agnes, alright, alright!  Calm down.” Just to get her to stop whining for a minute.  He got up out of the chair with an unnecessarily loud groan and said “You know the reason I’ve been holding back on calling them.  But if we don’t care about having enough money to get food, I’m fine with it. We can be warm and starve if that’s alright with you.”

He knew that she knew about the money issues.  He knew that it wasn’t quite as bad as he had said it was, but that it was going to be very hard to make ends meet.  But he also knew that while he could handle that, he wasn’t so sure she could. He’d been married to her for nearly 30 years, and had seen her in high stress situations, knew how she got when the shit hit the fan.  And it wasn’t always pretty.  But it wasn’t exactly pretty now, and to be honest she was starting to get to that point already.  He said “Ya know, hon, there was no reason to say I wasn’t a repairman.” He pointed at a table and a lamp and said “I fixed that table leg, and I fixed that lamp.”  He smiled at her and winked, waved a hand at her, fingers extended as if trying to stop her from saying anything further and said “Calmness, love.  I’ll call Big Jim, he’s good with this stuff, and hopefully it won’t cost too much.”

She was of two minds about this.  On the one hand she was happy that her husband was going to get this done, get done what he should have done a few hours before.  He always thought that any job that could be done could be done by him.  He was good, but he wasn’t that good.  And while he had fixed those things he said he did, she knew that it was a whole world of difference between a few screws in a table leg and a small solder in a lamp and troubleshooting a boiler.  She said nothing, knowing that the job would now get done by someone else.  But she also knew his buddy “Big Jim.” Jim Davidson, a friend of his since his childhood, and a terminal bad influence even in his old age.  He and Frank had been drinking buddies back when Frank drank. She never did trust Jim, because despite his age, Jim still partied like he was a kid, and acted like one as well.  At least he was the last time they had seen one another 6 months ago.

She didn’t want Jim trying to drag her man out and dropping Frank back in the bottle.  She said ”  You know I don’t like Jim. Your buddy always gets you in trouble.  He can work here.  He can’t drink here.  Understand?”  The look in her eyes when she looked at him when she said it almost plead with him to please say with her, don’t go back.

Frank smiled at this.  He knew this was coming.  He hadn’t had a drink in almost 6 months, and was pleased with it.  Maybe a little bored sometimes, but more or less happy with sober life.  He atHe knew being in his 50’s his party animal days were done, which was why he had said yes when his wife asked him to stop drinking.  She had asked a hundred times, a thousand times, and he had surprised her in the summer when he finally just said yes.  He figured it would cost less if he didn’t drink, and he was tired of all the hangovers.  Plus the crowd at the bar he hung out at was changing, and he didn’t like it. It just made sense to stop when he did.

But he was also unsure if calling Jim was the right thing to do because of the history between them.  Jim was fun.  He’d known him all his life, almost, and honestly wondered if he could call him and get Jim to work without some kind of run to the bar afterwards.  He could barely afford to get this work done, he wasn’t sure he could afford to get this done AND drink with him.  But it did guarantee a good time, though…

Frank, unsure if he was telling the truth or not, said “I won’t let you down hon.  I promise.  Now let me go make that phone call.”   He looked her in the eye, smiled at her and kissed her forehead, ran thick stubby fingers through her hair, then crossed the room and grabbed the phone and unplugged it from the charger and started to call his buddy…


That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

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