A piece of a song from the world’s greatest Zombie-Polka Band, “The Widows Bane”.
It maybe doesn’t really apply to this story, but what the hell. If a married man can listen to their songs and not feel a connection, a truth being told, then he’s either lying to himself or ... lying to himself.
His name was Bill and he was slogging his way through another crap day of doing crap work for a crap company. When he looked into a mirror, he wondered where the tall, dark and while not handsome ... at least OK looking guy from High School and College had gone. His hair was receding, his waist was expanding and his energy level was flat lined. If it wasn’t for the love of his family, his wife Susan and his two sons, Frank and Mike, he did not know what he would do. At 6 feet tall (if he was not hunched over with the weight of the world on his shoulders) and just a tad over 205 pounds ... he was not in too bad shape ... just not the cross-country runner he was in school. He was exhausted from putting in yet another 70-hour work week. It was killing him, literally, but it was worth it when he saw the joy in his family’s eyes when he was able to afford the things they asked for. It was Friday and he was almost home, in his mind’s eye he was already enjoying being with his kids and wife for the upcoming weekend. What he really was excited about was an old friend from college had contacted him a few weeks back about the possibility of Bill coming to work with him as a partner, not as an employee. It would mean moving but the hours would not be any more than they already were, plus he would be making not just a salary but a partner’s share of the profits! Finally! Some light at the end of the tunnel!
Bill finally made it home after what should have been a 20-minute commute had turned into an hour and a half due to a traffic accident.
He sat in his car in his driveway and breathed a sigh of relief. He let his head fall back against the head rest, closed his eyes and let his memory slide back through the years...
Bill was an indifferent student in High School; OK, he slacked off. If studying his ass off got him an A and doing just the smallest amount he could do without getting yelled at got him a B; he went for the B. So, when it came time for college, he was in a bit of a pinch. He could get into the State University College at Raccoon City or ... maybe a trade school someplace. So, SUCR (pronounced SUCKER! Yes, the exclamation point is required) it was.
He fumbled around for the first two years; a little of this and a little of that. It was more an extension of his High School slacking than an education when two very different and separate things happened to him.
The first thing was, he was taking an intro course about electronics when one day the guy giving the lectures passed out copies of an article, written by his buddy who was an engineer at EMI Company, about the latest thing in the medical profession; something called a Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scan machine. It appeared that some genius had merged X-ray technology with the recent explosion in micro computer applications. The CAT scan employed multiple X-rays to build a cross-sectional image of what was being examined. The CAT scan showed a 3D image of the body on a CRT screen rather than on a photographic negative. Bill was blown away. After the lecture was over he approached the teacher and began bombarding him with questions. Finally, to escape, the teacher promised to hook Bill up with his buddy from EMI. Bill had found his place in the world.
The second thing to happen was he ran into Susan. Actually, he was late for class, blew open a door to the English Department building and flattened a co-ed. Yup, flattened her. She went flying backwards about four feet and landed on her back flat out unconscious. Bill just about followed her into sleepy land when he saw what he had done. For the first few moments, he thought he had actually killed her.
Susan recovered from their introduction but soon realized she liked being around Bill and having Bill do things for her. Susan was not a mean person, at least in her mind, and if you asked her she would regale you with all the “Save the Ants” and “Help the Starving Aardvarks” groups she belonged to. The disconnect between the two previously mentioned examples never entered her mind. One thing she did know, however was she had her life planned and it looked like a big piece of the puzzle had just shown up. She wanted a husband who would be a good provider for her and her future children. She also wanted a husband who was not too bad in the looks department. But what she NEEDED was a husband whom she could control. Susan had seen how her father ran their household and while there was nothing wrong with it or her childhood, she wanted to be the one in charge, not the follower!
Susan began a full court press and by the time they were ready to graduate, Bill had become what most men become, a yes dear, no dear, anything you say dear, lump of pussy whipped husk of his former self. Everything Bill did, said or thought was filtered through his Susan grid; would she like it, would it make her happy, yada yada yada.
Shortly after the wedding, Susan decided it was time to truly bind Bill to her and clip what wings he had left, so she got herself pregnant. No, they were his, he just did not know they were in the baby making game at the time. He thought they were just having awesome newlywed sex. Susan on the other hand was taking her basal temperature and plotting her most fertile times. Finally, she fell pregnant and told Bill that they must have messed up or a condom had failed or something, all the while biting her lower lip and giving him the big doe eyed look all husbands know. Frank arrived and two years later, Mike. Susan stayed at home and did the mom thing.
Over the years, as his family grew and his financial obligations along with it, both EMI and Bill discovered, at about the same time, that while Bill was never going to be a power to be reckoned with in the factory, he was, by god, an artist at maintaining a machine in the field. It was almost like the unit was talking to him, telling him what was wrong before he even started to work on it. So, Bill became the top field tech for EMI. Unfortunately for him, there were a LOT of CAT systems out there and the work load was brutal.
Bill finally sat back up and shook his head to clear the cobwebs of his memories from his mind. This was it! His chance to get out from under the grind and get some control over things. The way his friend talked about it, Bill would have complete control over all the field work and equipment support. His friend was going to run the business end and the parts warehouse. It was a match made in heaven!
With a new spring in his step, Bill exited his car and almost skipped up the sidewalk to the front door. He was home and life was good. He called out to everyone as he walked through the door, “Guys, I’m home and have great news!”
Susan came out from the kitchen with a worried look on her face and the start of one in her mind. Bill was not acting like he normally did. Normal was good. A change was not. Not if she was to maintain her control and the status quo.
Bill, was bursting with pride and excitement and called his loving family together in the living room to share his news with them. As he told his family about his friend’s offer he was talking a mile a minute and was not picking up on the lack of excitement coming back to him from his wife and kids. He was explaining how his friend’s company was organized and how he would fit in; that he was going to be a PARTNER! He explained that the new job meant they would have to move but that the new city was vibrant and growing and they could afford a much nicer house. He finally became aware that he was not getting anything like excitement back and he just sort of ran down.
“NO!” Susan finally exclaimed, “I am not going to move to another city. When we move, it will be after the boys are in college and then it will be over to Sherman Oaks on the North side. All the really important and interesting people live there and that is where I want to be.”
Mike said, “Yes, Dad. I like my school; all my friends are there. If we moved, I would have to start all over again making friends. That’s not fair!”
Frank hopped in, “Geeze Dad, I’m in Senior year, I just made the varsity football team. Becky said we were going steady after I gave her my letterman’s jacket and I want to take her to the Fall formal.”
Susan had walked into the kitchen while she let the boys wear Bill down. Coming back she said, “Bill it is settled. You tell your little friend that it was very nice of him to make the offer, but you cannot accept it. Next time something like this comes up, you come to me first before you make promises you cannot keep.” Susan let a bit of a smirk come to her lips. “Besides, do you really think you are good enough to be a partner? I mean really, you have been in the same position at EMI for the last fifteen years. If you were any good, wouldn’t they have promoted you by now?”
Bill ground his teeth together raging at what he wanted to say. Wanting to SCREAM that he had turned down promotions and new job offers previously; all because he didn’t want to disrupt his family’s life.”
Susan looked at Bill as his face turned red and he clenched his jaw to keep from saying anything that he would regret. Susan said, “Go and get washed up BILL, dinner is ready and it’s time to put this nonsense away.”
.... There is more of this story ...