Woman As Art
Karaoke at Del’s in Bloomfield (Little Italy) in Pittsburgh was a blast Friday night. A woman got up and danced in the big window that faces Liberty Avenue and another woman sat on the bartop as she sang a love song; then she eased herself down behind the bar and finished up singing the song to one of the female bartenders. The crowd loved it.
The following old story of mine was published in the Pittsburgh Flash Fiction Gazette on 17 March 2009.
My younger sister’s marriage was coming apart at the time because of her husband’s addiction to gambling.
The Good News
James Parrish had signed a contract with a small, but well respected publishing house for his first novel. He was a thirty-year-old second year MFA student at the University of Pittsburgh. He phoned Philadephia from his off-campus apartment in Pittsburgh to tell his mother the good news. He was sitting on the sofa. Unexpectedly, his older sister Terri answered the phone.
“Oh, hi, Jimmy. Well, I’m going to do it.”
“You know. Get the divorce. I went over yesterday to try one last time.”
“You’re back home?”
“Where else am I and the kids going to go?”
“I guess I should call home more often.”
gambling (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
“He kept getting up doing things. He couldn’t sit still. He couldn’t look me in the eye. Is gambling that important to him? I make $35,000 a year. He makes nearly three times that amount and we still live pay check to pay check.”
“You know what he had the nerve to say to me? He’s been gambling since junior high and he’s not going to stop now. Three kids and fifteen years of marriage mean nothing to him. I give up. I absolutely give up. He’s never lifted a finger to help around the house.”
“The bank phoned two weeks ago and said if our mortgage fell another month behind they’d foreclose on the house. The mortgage is his responsibility. So what did he do with the money? I had to come up with two months back rent.”
“He’s always gambled.”
“Yes he’s always gambled but nothing like this. This beats all. He’s sick. He’s really sick. He needs help. Well, after yesterday the damn place can fall down on his fat head. You should see it. And you should see the lawn and hedges. I hope the neighbors call the township. I am so sick of it.”
He heard tears in her voice.
“Listen,” she said. “I have to run Mom to her dental appointment before the kids get home. You want to say a quick hello?”
“Sure.” He waited.
“I was wondering when you would call. I tell you never a dull moment. Your father wouldn’t have put up with it.”
“It’s too bad about Terri and Greg.”
“That’s the one thing I didn’t have to worry about with your father. He did his dirt like any other man but he aways did say a man was no man if he didn’t take care of his family. In over forty years of marriage at least I didn’t have to worry about that. I never would have thought it of Greg. Oh, well, he’ll pay now.”
“You won’t be in the house by yourself any longer.”
“Being by myself never bothered me. Okay, okay. Gotta go.”
“Love you, Mom.”
“Oh, honey, I love you too.”
As soon as he put down the receiver the phone began to ring. He stood, staring down at the ringing phone. After a moment, he walked to the kitchen and brought back a glass and an open bottle of beer. He sat on the sofa and drank the beer and waited for the ringing to stop.
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