"I understand Jimmy. I really do. But your daughter's school is really
important, otherwise I wouldn't nag ya'."
Something bites me when she doesn't use Bindy's name and instead uses 'my
daughter', it reminds me of being officially challenged as a parent.
And she knows it.
Okay I'll be cool with this and even though I'm beat maybe I can get laid. I
flip my pillow over.
"I forget Joan, my daughter? Jeez', I work so much I've forgotten her
She has her back to me and I give her a gentle nudge in the ribs. "Huh'? I've
"Get your sleep Jimmy."
"Maybe I'm not tired now."
I caress her thigh.
"Are your hands clean?"
I pull my hand back. It unnerves me when she says that. I like working on
cars. Sometimes I don't think she appreciates what I do and maybe its because
the money isn't that great, who knows? I'm a grease monkey and I roll over
"Good morning baby."
"Ya' want a banana in your cereal?"
"Umm." She presses an index finger against her lips. "Sure."
Man she's getting big and I stand there and listen to her hum some fragmented tune.
"Did Mommy tell you she met my teacher?'
"She told her you couldn't be there on the count of you would've had to get
washed up and there just wasn't enough time."
I could feel it coming on. I tried to be a little disconcerting.
"Oh, and what did she say?"
"Nothing. Nothing I remember. Daddy! Look at this banana, its shaped like a
heart." She picked it out of the cereal and pressed it against her chest.
I'm thinking I'll scoot out of here after Bindy gets on the bus. I'm not up
for any bullshit this morning.
Then an opened envelope on the counter behind the condiments.
It seems our landlord is about to raise the rent. The cereal in my mouth
feels like mush.
The kitchen is straight out of the fifties the salmon walls to the chintzy
"Okay baby, ya' 'bout ready? Don't wanna' miss the bus."
"But I haven't seen Mommy yet." Bindy says, her voice tinged with rebuke.
I press on. "Come on, we'll play 'I spy with my little eye' waitin' on the
bus. I put some orange smiles in your lunchbox."
I feel like I'm stealing her from Joan. The letter from the landlord falls
into the sink and now the number is undecipherable, just as well.
I get to work and my asshole boss is all bent out of shape because someone
wrote something about his wife on the shithouse wall.
I'm only sorry I didn't see it, I heard she's pretty hot.
Anyhow he'll be a bigger ass than he is already.
I'm thinking about my rent and its just pissing me off. I don't want to work
anymore overtime to keep up with that shithole.
And Joan is doing what she can with that dance troupe plus she thinks she
might be pregnant.
I drop my wrench in hot oil and wonder what else can go wrong.
My boss heads out for lunch so me and my buddy, Sloane, get on his computer,
we pool together thirty bucks and bet on the horses. We win a
hundred-seventy-five dollars. Finally, something good.
On my way home from work I pick up a bottle of Chardonnay, Joan's favorite. I might have a glass but I know there’s some cold 'Rocks left.
When I pull up to the curb I see Joan talking to our ass-wipe landlord.
Something about that guy, I don't even know him but I hate him.
There's no grey areas for him, either you're right or wrong and if you're
wrong, throw in un-American.
I leave the wine on the front seat.
"James." He says.
I hate it. "Jim."
"Same thing, isn't it?"
No. James was a fucking Apostle, I'm a mechanic.
"Yeah, I guess." I say.
"No finer slice of Americana here," he continues, "I was jes' tellin' Joanie
maybe I'll plant a Blue Spruce, gets big enough, ya's can decorate it for
Chris'mis. I'm sure the little one would like that."
You think so, you opinionated bastard. Joanie. Calls me James. I really want
to tell him to get the fuck off my lawn.
"How's things at the shop? Keepin' America on the road? Reminds me, my brake pedal don't seem quite right. Maybe when ya' could, take a look at it?"
For free, you really mean. I look over at his vehicle, a Toyota pick-up. Mr.
American can't even buy an American car.
"I'm not real familiar with that kind. What is it? Mitsubishi, Hyundai?"
I can tell it irritates him.
"Made in Ohio." He says.
They all say that.
"Well James, I was tellin' Joanie, things is gettin' tight. What with taxes
and oil and everythin' else I gotta' pay. I got no choice but to pass it
"How much were ya' thinkin'?" Joan says.
"Well, I'm figurin' sixty-five more dollars a month."
"What?! Are you fuckin' nuts?!" I say.
He looks at me like he ain't never been cussed at before.
"Now look here James, I'm a Christian man but I got limits too."
The school bus pulls up and Bindy runs towards us. Now I feel bad I cursed at
She hands Joan a giant daisy and each petal has the name of a classmate.
"I'm sorry Mr. Cranston. Me and my wife are gonna' hafta' talk about
"That's better," he says, "I'd be willin' to work with ya's. Ya' know, work
your way up to it."
You can go fuck yourself. 'Work your way up to it', you greedy prick.
"Yeah, that might be a way." I say.
"Youse' are good folks, I can tell, on time and all." He says and walks to
'On time', the only thing he cares about.
Its tough staying composed when your seven year old daughter is glued to
Joan knows it too. And we both know it won't be until Bindy goes to bed.
Another night I won't get laid.
For all the tension, Joan makes a great dinner; meatloaf, mashed potatoes and her special gravy.
I step outside and try to sneak a beer in while Bindy has taken an interest
in how potatoes are mashed.
I remember using the zig-zaggy manual kind, it always reminded me of a
That asshole pulls back up. I’d like to brand him right on his forehead.
He doesn’t immediately come up to the house. I’m thinking maybe he changed his mind on the rent.
But he’s fumbling around in the back of his Chinese truck.
He starts to hammer a 'Romney' sign into the ground.
Now I'm furious. I'm thinking this is like a double whammy.
"Hey! 'scuse me, uhh Mr. Cranston?! We don't support that guy. I really don't
want that there."
"Now son, you're young, ya' don't understand." He patted the sign. "And
whether you do or don't, this is my property."
"It may be your property but we live here and I don't want it here."
"James, we can settle this here or we can have the police settle it."
"You're right we can settle it now."
I tear the sign from the ground and toss it in his truck.
"James, ya' oughtn't done that."
He gets it and hammers it back in.
I tear it out again only this time I whack him in the back of the head.
Now my wife sees it and she comes out running followed by Bindy.
He turns and takes a swing at me and I can't help but laugh at this old
He misses then hurls the hammer at me but I duck and it hits Bindy squarely
in the face.
She's motionless and bleeding from her mouth.
I wrap the 'Romney' sign around his neck and twist the ends tight until his
shit-brown eyes are about to burst.
"Jimmy! Stop it!"
I hear my wife screaming.
"Oh God, help us please!"
I let up the pressure and he sinks to the ground.
My immediate thought is to run somewhere.
I turn and see my wife running into the house carrying Bindy and she's crying
That's good. That's a good thing that I can hear her. And I follow