A short flash story as told to me by a former supervisor I ran into. Dave T was able to transform my scribblings of the conversation into a readable text. All and any errors are mine
The sun was just breaking as I pulled up to my house. The place had been a classic "fixer upper" when I bought it decades ago. A lot of sweat equity and real hard cash had gone into the way the house looked today. The maintenance upkeep had been a real financial millstone around my neck for well over a decade.
But today was the day I get paid! All the planets had aligned for this moment. The economy had come back in this area, its schools were 'A' rated, and houses were selling at asking prices.
Getting the gear from my car, I laid most of the stuff on the sidewalk, then walked across the green lawn fresh with dew.
I had only been hammering for a few minutes when the lady of the house came out of the door. Even clad in a housecoat, with no make-up and 'bed hair', this middle aged female still looked good, and you could tell she had been quite the looker in her younger time.
She peered at me, squinting to compensate for her missing glasses, which for vanity reason, I knew she rarely wore unless absolutely necessary.
"Eric, is that you?" She said pulling the housecoat tighter across her midsection, stepping off the porch I had built by hand. "What the hell are you doing here at my house? And why are you pounding away on that pole?"
I did not look at her. "Well Dawn, if anyone should know all about pounding away on poles, it would be you." Glancing over my shoulder I saw her face turn red. "Besides it is my house, and today is the big day."
Dawn got that look in her eye. "Well, we will see what my attorney and Judge Reynolds has to say about that."
I shook the pole, making sure it was secure before answering Dawn. "Apparently you have not been keeping up on current events, as well as your correspondence."
Gathering up my tools I walked back to the car and picked a thick folder off the front seat. "Judge Reynolds was made to retire from the family court bench two months ago. May him, and his senile old brain rot in hell. Also your attorney seems to have his hands full these days trying to keep his license. The State Bar is investigating allegations your Esquire was taking sexual favor in return for legal work."
Dawn pulled her housecoat tighter as I approached. "But you would not have any knowledge about that kind of commerce in trade, would you Dawn?"
I slapped the folder into Dawns hand. "The new family court judge, Judge Atkins sends her regards, and here is a copy of her judgements sent out last month. The papers say where you gotta go, which is 'Out'. Plus when you gotta go, which is 'Now'. See there, you are all caught up!"
Dawn began rifling through the paperwork as I hung the FOR SALE sign on the pole.
"Eric, you cannot do this is! It is not ... fair."
After making sure the FOR SALE sign was level I turned toward Dawn. "Fair? You mean like a decade ago when you fucked around on me? Or fair when you convinced that senile old bat Judge Reynolds you should get to stay in the house with me paying for all its taxes, mortgage and upkeep? Or how about the alimony and paying for all your 'schooling'? Was that fair?"
Dawn shook the papers at me. "Well it was only right. We got married before I finished my studies. I need a degree to compete in the workplace."
I rolled my eyes. "What degree would that be Dawn? Going back to fair, was it 'fair' for your slimebucket shyster to convince Judge Reynolds I should keep paying for your 'education' until you got a degree?"
"I am only a few credits away." Dawn said defensively.
I let out a belly laugh. "Degree in what? For the past ten years you have changed you major from Nursing to Anthropology, to Psychology, to Education, to Art History, to Theate, to whatever you have now. Did I miss any?"
"I am majoring in Medieval Poetry now." Dawn spat out. "And for your information, I also was enrolled in Health Fitness, Interior Design, Political Science and Dance."
Dawn shook the papers at me again. "Because, unlike you, I want a career, not just any job."
"Wonderful" I commented dryly. "We both know you are never going to get a degree. That would mean entering the real world and an end to the magic moneygram checks that appears in your mailbox each month."
"It's not just for me!" Dawn spat. "You forgetting little EJ."
"How could I forget 'my son, little EJ'." I said with as much sarcasm as I could muster. "Although I do admit a grudging respect for how your shyster was able to get that old fool Judge Reynolds to block DNA testing for so long. And when the State court did overrule that tottering old dolt, he still made me cough up payment as I had been 'acting as father', and should continue to do so.'".
Just then a disheveled youth clad only in boxers and a blanket around his shoulders opened the door.
"Who the fuck is making so much noise? I just got in and am trying to sleep. Don't you assholes know I had a rough night?" He rubbed his eyes. "I got like the worst fucking hangover."
The young man began scrutinizing me with bloodshot eyes.
"Happy Birthday EJ!" I said with a big phony smile on my face and opening my arms wide.
EJs demeanor turned even more sour. "Mom, what is that asshole doing here?" He turned his attention back to me. "Get the fuck out of here, we don't need you. If we want something from you we'll send you a bill."
Dropping my arms and displaying an exaggerated dismayed expression, I pointed at the driveway. "Now 'son' is that anyway to talk to your dear old Dad? Especially when I come bearing gifts?"
EJ looked at the faded late model Toyota Camry in the driveway. "What the fuck is that piece of shit! Where is my Mustang!"
"EJ, that automobile was not your Mustang. It was my Mustang, I paid the bank note, insurance, registration and tags. Today you are 21, so no need for any Daddy help anymore. Besides I could barely afford the payments and insurance on that Mustang. A young driver like yourself, with your driving record would not stand a chance. The insurance alone was more than the car payments. I traded in your Pony Rocket for that Camry there. It's a solid dependable car, all paid for, and I even prepaid your insurance for 3 months."
EJ was shaking he was so enraged. "I WILL NOT BE SEEN DRIVING AROUND CAMPUS IN THAT CRAPMOBILE!"
I considered EJ statement for a moment. "You know son? You are correct. I have overstepped my boundaries in dictating what you should drive. Today the courts say you are a grown man able and responsible for your own decisions, free from the bonds or restraints of childhood." I tossed EJ the keys. "You are 100% welcome and allowed, even encouraged to purchase and drive any motor vehicle you can afford."
EJ looked at the keys in his hand for a few seconds. "FUCK YOU OLD MAN!" he yelled and then threw the car keys off into the distance. "You know I can't pay for anything. I'm a fucking student, you asshole."
I nodded my head. "That is true, a student with a straight C- average. Of course I am sure smoking pot daily since you were 13 has nothing to do with your grades."
"So? Mom smokes too." EJ looked at his mother for help. When none came he muttered. "I got ADD ya know. Remembering things come tough for me."
"Really" I questioned. "On last summer's semester in Amsterdam, the one your mom's lawyer convinced the court I had to pay for, I see you were absent from most of the classes. However the bar and coffee house bills displayed an astonishing ability to recall drinking and smoking establishments."
"I got ADD" EJ repeated defensively. "Even the Doc in court said so."
Nodding my head again I replied. "Well, you may not want to put too much stock in that Doctors diagnoses. Seems he also is fighting to continue practicing in this state after sleeping with his patients."
I looked at Dawn. "Say Dawn, didn't that same Doc have you under his care?"
She turned away before answering. "Eric, that is your take on it, EJ's condition is not up for an opinion"
"Dawn, ignorance is not an opinion."
She clenched her fists, but EJ didn't notice. "So what, 'DAD', I am still a student."
I ignored EJs emphasis on Dad, before addressing him. "Past tense EJ. You WERE a student. Unless the Tuition Fairy wrote your private college a check, you are no longer a student. At best you are a dropout, or a new member of the workforce seeking employment."
EJ stared daggers at me. "And what you suggest I do, you asshole?"
"I would not leave my 'son'..." I looked at Dawn, who turned away. " ... penniless. My employer has an opening on the loading dock. It is the nightshift weekends, 5 days a week 10 hours a night with overtime and benefits, even tuition reimbursement if you wish to take classes. But as low man you get the hardest jobs until you work your way up."
"Fuck that shit!" EJ growled. "I ain't giving up my weekends to work like some illegal wetback."