Saturday, February 11, 2012

They have ads for that in the Enquirer?

Things have been running kinda rough recently.  I've had three of my stories rejected this week.  I'm getting buried with work at the office, having to work late almost every night.  I'm fighting and on-again, off-again, and now trying to come back on again cold.  The combination of work and sickness has made it difficult to get to the gym and work out, which I normally do about five to six days a week.  As a result, it's been harder to work off the stress of all the crap I'm having to deal with.  
Yesterday, I walked into the office of the woman who supervises customer service.  "I need to borrow your gun so I can shoot someone," I said to her.  She's a Russian woman who talks about how her life was better under the old Soviet Union.  I've accused her of being former KGB.  She laughs when I do that.  She doesn't deny it though.  
"Who vood you shoot?" she asked, looking up from her sandwich.  I noted that she DIDN'T deny having a gun.  
"The next person that looks at me wrong."  I looked out of her office window at the unit she supervises.  Everyone that I could see had their eyes glued to their computer screens, busily working away.  "Looks like your people are safe.  They're too scared of you to even take a break."  She laughed at that.  She didn't deny it, though.  
My Mom's side of the family is where I get my temper from, I think.  I was reminded of by something that happened years ago.  It started with a phone call from my great-aunt Isolene...
"Hello?"  I wiped my face with one hand while holding the phone's receiver to my ear with the other.  It was Friday night.  I got to sleep in Saturday, so usually went to bed late.  
"Erick...?  Take me home."  
"Huh?"  I shook my head to clear the sleep out.  "Isolene...?  Is that you?"  A few hours earlier I had picked her up from the retirement apartment complex where she lived and dropped her off at my Pop's house.  I rented an apartment from my grandfather that was behind his house.  My great-aunt stayed with Pop and his second wife, Louise, just about every weekend.  
"Yes.  I need you to come get me and take me home.  Do this for me now, please, hon."  
"But I just brought you there..."  
"Just come and get me now!"  She slammed the phone down hard.  
I looked at the receiver still in my hand.  Isolene, like her brother, my Pop, could be stubborn and opinionated, but she usually didn't blow up like that.  Pop would blow up.  Isolene tended to seethe.  I figured something must have happened and threw the covers back to get up and get dressed. 
Isolene was waiting for me on the back steps to Pop's house.  She had her heavy coat on, which she wore spring, summer, winter or fall, whenever she was going someplace.  Her bags were on the steps by her feet.  
"Take these, hon."  She gestured toward the bags as she made her way down the stairs, one painful step at a time.  "Put them in the car for me and take me home now."  The particular emphasis on the word, "now," was clear.  
I kept my mouth closed and did what she asked.  Sure, I was curious.  But I knew I'd hear all about it on the way home.  
As I put the bags in my car's hatch-back and then went to open the passenger door, I noticed Louise standing at the top of the steps.  She gave me a look, like she wanted to ask me an embarrassing favor, then looked toward my great-aunt.  
"Help me get inside, hon..."  Isolene's small, wrinkled hands gripped my wrist, hard.  "Get me home, now."  
"Close this door, hon," Isolene commanded.  I started to close the door after she pulled her leg inside.  I guess I didn't close it fast enough, because she reached out and slammed it shut herself.  
I looked toward Louise, standing on the back steps.  Her lips were pressed tight and her cheeks puffed up in frustration.  I gave her, "what do you expect me to do?" shrug and then walked over to the driver's side door.  
Isolene started talking before I pulled out into the street.  
"That...  Woman!"  It was a classic Isolene seethe.  Her lips were trembling with anger as she spoke.  "She thinks she is the mistress of us all.  Chuh!"  
"Something..."  I gave Los Robles a quick left-right look, then pulled out.  "Happened?"  
"Chuh!"  She let go of her purse straps long enough to make a dismissive gesture.  "Back home, in Belize, she would be my servant!"  
Not a direct answer to my question, but...  Yeah.  Something happened.  
"But...  You know, hon."  She extended her hand toward me, her finger crooked in the air like she was about to make a quarter appear like magic.  "There is something we can do.  Yes, there is something that can be done to fix her."
Fix her...?  I gave Isolene a side-long look.  "And...  What would that be?"  I braced myself for her answer.  It was probably not going to be good.
"Yes, hon.  I read about it.  In the National Enquirer, I did..."  
Nope.  Definitely in "not good" territory.  I braced myself even more.  "Oh-kay..."  
"We can do this thing..."  She snapped her fingers as she tried to remember.  Her hand suddenly made a clutching gesture as she did.  "Yes!  We can do this thing...  It is called, 'hire a hitman'..."  
"What?!"  I turned my head toward her in shock.  I looked back just in time to slam on my brakes to keep from running the red light at Orange Grove.
"Careful, hon, careful!  You need to look where you go when you are driving.  It is the law."  She patted my right arm in a supportive fashion.  
"Isolene..."  I took let out a gust of breath.  "You go to jail for something like that." 
"No, no, no...  It goes like this, see..."  She used both hands now, moving them back and forth like she was conducting an orchestra.  I imagined music like the shark theme from Jaws.  "We hire a hitman, you see, and this fellow, we pay him money, and then he kills Louise.  And...!  Our hands will be clean of it!"  She brushed her hands together, like someone brushing flour from them after baking in the kitchen.  
"That's still murder, though..."  
"No, no, no, hon...  After you give the fellow this money..."
"Yeah, yea...  He kills her, I know."  I actually looked around to make sure no one, like a pedestrian crossing the street, was overhearing her.  "But...  It's illegal to hire someone to kill someone."  
"What...?"  She seemed genuinely startled to hear this.  
"Yeah...  It's the same as if you pulled the trigger yourself."  The light changed.  I started forward.  I kept glancing toward her to see if it sunk in.  
She was clutching her handbag to her chest.  Her lower lip stuck out like a child pouting over having her lollipop taken from her.  
We didn't say much of anything after that.  I pulled  up to the front door of her apartment building.  I carried her bags into the lobby and set them by the elevator.  I asked her if she needed help carrying them up.  
"I will be fine, hon.  Thank you."  A look of concentration came over her face.  "And I will think on it.  I will think on it and let you know if I need you."  
I nodded.  I imagined another call in the near future: "Erick...  Please, hon...  I need you to take me to this place...  It is called a 'dive bar.'  There is a fellow there I need to meet.  Oh!  And we need to stop at the store that cashes my social security checks..."
I never got that call.  Louise stayed away from Louise and Pop's house for a few weeks but eventually started coming back.  
A few years later, Pop got sick and passed away.  Isolene, who used to be so fastidious about taking her insulin, ended up having one of her legs amputated due to complications from her diabetes.  When I went to visit her at the hospital, she dropped another bomb on me. 
"You're kidding!"  The words just popped out of my mouth before I could stop them.  "You're moving in with Louise?"
"What else can I do, hon?"  She made a little gesture with her shoulders.  The bulldog-like tenacity she shared with her brother was etched into the lines of her face, but those lines were softened by her weakened condition.  "I have to go somewhere.  And Louise, she says she will take me in."  She rolled over on to her side and stared at the wall.  There was nothing more to say about the subject.  
Isolene passed away herself before the year was out.  I don't know which bothered her more in the end; needing someone else to take care of her, or having that someone be the person she once thought of killing.  I guess that's one good reason to not hire a hitman.  The person you take the contract out on might be the only person who can help you later on.  


Post a Comment

<< Home