This is pretty much a stroke story. If you're expecting one of my twist endings, you'll be disappointed.
It's based somewhat on the serious problems families are having with the economic downturn (i.e., recession, depression, or whatever you want to call this god awful financial mess we are all in at the moment.) It explores how two wives try to deal with holding their families together.
Nobody is very admirable or clean in this story. So if you're looking for a hero, there really isn't one. But then, that is probably closer to real life don't you think?
If you don't care for my darker stories, don't bother reading this one. I did want the story to point out that the wealthy seemed to live in a world wholly different than us average Joes. You might see a couple of these sorts in this story.
For you brave hearts that do read this. I hope you enjoy it. I've got a lot of personal things going awry in my life right now, so this will be my last story for an uncertain period of time. I hope all of you have enjoyed my stories and I appreciated all of the comments I received from you! I wish the best of luck to each of you during this economic depression.
After the U.S. government unsuccessfully poured more than two trillion dollars into economic stimulus and bank recovery packages, the economy finally spiraled into the ground.
The average family was now struggling to just keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. At the other end of the spectrum, the rich got richer. The rich now went from an elite status to almost one of royalty.
Such was the status in three families. The first was the Donavan family. Sam Donavan had made a truckload of money selling short when the stock market went through the four crashes in 2008 through 2010. He'd bought over a thousand foreclosed houses for almost nothing and turned them into income producing rentals. After two more years of accelerated depreciation for his taxes, Sam would dump the properties.
He'd not put a nickel in maintenance or upkeep. Oh, if a tenant bitched about a refrigerator or some other appliance being broken, he'd go buy the cheapest replacement through his service company, mark it up a hundred percent or so, and have his minimum wage maintenance man install it at an inflated hourly rate.
These charges were written off by his home leasing company as part of doing business. He was now worth over one hundred million dollars, and he and his family lived the good life in a gated community in the northwest Atlanta suburbs.
His wife was a member of all of the best clubs. She shopped at only the best stores. She had a house staff to clean and cook.
His seventeen year-old son, Luke, was the only thing he worried about. Luke went through money like the government. He partied with his friends every night. Sam was trying to think of things he and his son could do together to try to build some rapport and gain some control over his wayward son.
The next family in our tale is the Crenshaw family. An average family in the Atlanta suburbs trying to make ends meet. The last few years had seen their home's value sink by 50%, leaving them owing considerably more than the property was worth. Dick Crenshaw was out of work when his company laid off half of their staff.
He'd been upbeat for the first few months as he sought new employment and used his unemployment benefits. As the months dragged on and his benefits ended, he lost hope of finding work to provide for his family. He felt like a loser and turned to the bottle to relieve the wounds to his ego.
Anne Crenshaw was been a five foot five inch, thirty-four year old, blue eyed, natural blonde, stay at home mom who had been forced to go to work when Dick had lost his job. She worked as a telemarketer at a sweatshop phone center. She had to close 5% of her calls with orders for whatever product she was hawking that day. The pressure was intense. Especially with her husband being drunk most days she got back home.
Their two children, twin daughters sixteen years old, were working at the local MacDonald to bring some money into the household.
Anne was also worried because Walt Himes, her supervisor, was putting a lot of pressure on her to "be nice" to him. Nothing was ever stated out right, but she was given the impression that if she gave him what he wanted, life would be easier on her.
She'd talked it over with Sally Evans, her neighbor who also worked at the telemarketing center. Sally was an auburn haired beauty, thirty years old, standing five-one with a trim figure and pale green eyes.
The Evans family, the third family in our tale, had a story similar to Anne's. Sally's husband, Jeff, had worked at the same company as Anne's and had been laid off at the same time. Sally's children, a fourteen-year-old daughter and a twelve year-old son, were too young legally to get part time work. However, a local grocery store manager hired the girl as a bagger and stocker, and was paying her under the table. Sally was concerned that the manager's motives were not entirely honorable, but her daughter swore that he never tried anything, nor said anything out of line.
Sally's husband took a part time job at a gas station as the midnight to eight in the morning shift cashier. The station had a food store section, and many strange characters shopped there early in the morning hours. The station had been robbed ten times in the last year.
In the last robbery, the thieves had actually put the cashier in the hospital and stolen the security cameras right off the wall mounts. They'd also taken the security recording device from the back office, so no one had an image of them.
The case was still unsolved. Sally was worried about Jeff's safety at the cashier job, but they desperately needed the money.
Sally also felt that Walt was hitting on her at work to have sex, even though nothing was said that could ever be used in a court.
The two families ate macaroni and cheese and beans and franks three nights a week to stretch their food dollars. It was winter and extremely cold. They kept the thermostat set at 62 degrees. Even at that setting the heating bills were almost beyond their meager monthly incomes.
There was nothing to spare for clothes, shoes, or, god forbid, the need for medical care. Family dental care was placed on hold in hopes that the economy would improve.
But they survived. Anne was becoming more and more irritated and frustrated with her husband. He took money that should be spent on family needs and bought his daily liquor supply. He was always drunk by the time Anne got home and was dead asleep when Anne had finished the necessary household chores.
They hadn't had sex in months. He receded into a tiny world built around his bottle. They hardly talked, never showed any affection for each other, and seemed to argue more and more when they did talk.
One Monday morning after a particularly sharp exchange between her husband and herself the night before, Walter Himes approached Anne as she took her seat at her work cubicle. He leaned against her desk and said, "Anne, I got some bad news. This Friday we're going to have to cut ten percent of our staff."
"The economy is not getting any better and we have to cut people to continue to make a profit. I'm sorry but I have to let you and Sally go. As soon as we finish our conversation, I'll have to go and tell her."
Anne was stunned. She had always made her quota, she was never late, and never took time off. She knew there were others who did not perform as well as she did. She looked up in Walt's eyes with a scared but questioning look on her face, "Walt, I know I'm better at the job than a lot of others here. Why me? Why fire me?"
"Well, Anne, you're not a team player. You know? Team players support their bosses and do what they can to help their bosses out. You've been very standoffish and downright unfriendly to me. You never go out with your workmates after the workday is over. Other than Sally I doubt if you even know the other people on our team. No, you're not a team player."
Anne was shocked. She was about to lose her job because she didn't party after work with her workmates? She didn't play nice with her boss? She kept her nose to the grindstone and failed to waste time getting to know people in this gristmill of a telemarketing center?
She said nothing in reply to Walt, but just nodded her understanding. She thought about her eroding relationship with her husband, how he'd given up on himself. She saw a strong man leaning on her desk, holding her future in his hands. She instantly made a decision. She reached out and touched Walt's hand resting on his knee. "Walt, can we discuss this later? Maybe discuss it after work tonight? Would that be okay with you?"
Walt smiled and replied, "Sure, I'll meet you at the Four Eights lounge across the street at six tonight." He walked away with a slight smile on his face.
Anne put the conversation and its ramifications out of her mind and went on with her job.
At the end of the day she saw Sally standing outside staring at the ground. She walked over and asked, "You got the bad news, too?"
Sally turned to her with a tear in her eye, "Yes! What are we going to do? We're living on a shoe string now."
Anne replied, "Honestly Sally, I don't know. I just don't know. But I'm about to probably commit adultery. It may be my only way out. I'm meeting Walt at the Four Eights in ten minutes."
.... There is more of this story ...