The Den: Timing Is Everything

WRITTEN BY MAX

Smoke an over sized cigar, you jerk.

Going back through some old files, I came across this, which I have no recollection of writing.  I thought it was pretty good, so I figured I would share.  It’s a short story called Timing Is Everything.  If you want to read it, it’s after the jump.

Charlie Davidson worked at the auto shop in town for eighteen years.  Today was Monday, and it was his first day without a job since he was twenty years old.  The day before, the shop closed it’s doors forever, and now he was unemployed.  He had seen this coming for a while.  His attitude, naturally optimistic, had turned sour the last few years.

Charlie was married to Suzan Green.  Suzan was the prom queen.  Suzan was every man’s desire, and had been his desire until about four years ago.  Then things turned sour.  She told him everything, anything, all things to make him jealous and unhappy.  She herself was unhappy.  She felt as though she had sacrificed her youth to be a housewife to an auto mechanic, and at the age of thirty-three, she’d had enough.  Now she would be thirty-seven, and she was seeing a hot-shot banker from the city, still playing the role of the housewife, but with a more comfortable allowance.

On this day Charlie woke up at 5:30, as usual.  He made coffee, showered, cooked an egg, toasted his toast on the light setting.  While he ate his over-easy egg and munched his lightly toasted toast, and sipped his two-sugar-no-cream coffee, he went over the help wanted ads in the Livingston Chronicle.  All the jobs required degrees.  Charlie didn’t have a degree.  Charlie had been an auto mechanic at various jobs since he was fifteen.  “I guess timing is everything,” he muttered to himself.

Seven o’ clock in the a.m. rolled around and Charlie got into his pick-up and drove downtown.  He had no destination in mind.  He was half hoping to find a job, half hoping to get hit by a train.  His naturally optimistic personality had taken a nosedive in the last few years.  He had seen his job at Ripkey’s Auto coming to an end a few years before it actually happened.

Charlie worked at Ripkey’s for eighteen years.  The owner, Don Ripkey, had started the shop when he was forty-one years old.  Don hired Uncle Willie, whose real name was William Warren Standard, as his first employee.  Charlie was his second hiring.  Charlie was twenty years old.  The shop was successful throughout the years until Don passed away from a combination of Jack Daniels and Winston Filters.  His son, Don Jr., while trying his best to make it, failed where his father had succeeded before him.  Don Jr. supposed timing was everything.

Charlie saw things going down hill, but didn’t want to accept it.  With his wife leaving him for John F. Banker, he was not concerned with his job.  Now he was thirty-eight, and starting over.  “But where to start?” he thought to himself.  How easy is it to start over at thirty-eight?

 ***

As Charlie sat in the coffee shop contemplating his future, on the other side of the world, a woman named Marie was sitting in the same type of coffee shop in France.  Marie was thirty-three, and fresh off a messy divorce.  If Marie would have been from America, she would have been the Prototype Prom Queen…gracious, accommodating, sure of herself, and ravishingly beautiful.

Marie’s unsavory divorce came on the heels of her cheating husband’s indictment on counts of theft.  Her husband was a prominent government official, and she had married him when she was twenty.  She married because she thought she was in love, but she was more in love with the lifestyle, a lifestyle that was fictional, at best.  Her friends, as she called them, were more of a gossip factory than anything.  She had played the role of the gossip monger, the showpiece, the prized possession…but never the lover, the mother, the companion.  In fact, in the last five years, she had made love to her husband only once, and it was over before it started, at least from her point of view.  She suspected she was not the only person he made love to that night.  She suspected she was not the only one he had made love to her entire marriage, and she proved this eventually with the help of a private investigator named Bernard Pierre.  The most convincing evidence came in two forms: the first being a loose-tongued filly in the women’s restroom at the New York Waldorf Astoria, and the second when she walked in on her husband in bed with two other women, one of them a minor, although to be fair the young miss had lied about her age to her husband.  Where Bernard had failed in accumulating hard proof, Maria had stumbled upon the facts she needed. She had impeccable timing.  She supposed timing was everything.

This particular day, Marie was planning a trip.  She was reading an American magazine, Redbook, and she saw a picture of the Pacific Ocean near Malibu, where the cliffs drop off into the sea.  At that moment, she decided she was going to fly to New York, rent a car, drive to California, and if she didn’t reach enlightenment before Malibu, she was going to throw herself into the ocean.

***

            When Marie arrived in America, her flight was landing on the heels of Tropical storm Priscilla, and the city was just starting to get back into gear.  It is somewhat rare for an act of nature such as a tropical storm to reach as far as New York, just as it is rare to see a beauty such as Marie in such a desolate mood.  Her emotional flags were drawing attention to her, and several opportunistic men tried to hit on her, and wiggle their way into her panties, but she was not in the right frame of mind.  In fact, making love with a stranger was the farthest thing from her mind.  Right now she was possessed with achieving her goal of enlightenment, or at least lightenment.  She would have settled for either light or ment at that moment.  Really, anything different from her current life.

Her car waited for her like an anxious pet, and she sat in the seat.  It was strange, being so far from home.  She was almost excited, a feeling she hadn’t felt in years.  Perhaps the change in longitude, or the unfamiliarity of the car caused this feeling, or perhaps it was just timing. Hell, it could have been jet lag.

***

Charlie decided, at four in the afternoon, he was fed up with life.  While reading the paper, he saw an ad for a vacation to Europe.  “Only 2300 dollars,” the ad pushed.  With a big ‘fuck you world’ attitude, Charlie decided he was going to Europe.  If he didn’t find what he wanted by the time he reached the cliffs of Dover, (which just so happened to be pictured on the ad) he would toss himself off to be swallowed by the sea.

He collected his emergency cash from the closet and packed a bag. He got in his pickup, and decided he better get his tool box in case something happened to his truck on the way to New York.  As he drove out of town, his neighbor, Elmira Jones, (a huge gossip monger, and friend to Suzan Green) got on the phone to her cronies.

“You’ll never guess what I just saw.  Oh, you saw it too?  He was going so fast.  Well, I always thought he was a wacko…”  Elmira Jones continued her banter as Charlie whistled a tune on the way out of town, east towards England.

***

Two days later, Marie was gaining on her quest.  She had visited Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and was almost to Nebraska.  She had been stopping some along the way to see the sights, and to rest.  She was determined to search out as much of the foreign land as she could, but lately her car had been acting up a little.  She was worried because the farther west she went, the sparser the population.  She was simultaneously afraid of both something and nothing happen.

She made it through Lincoln, through Grand Island, through Kearney, and then, about North Plate, her car started to sputter.  “Oh great,” Marie said to herself, and she swore softly.  Her anger at the rent-a-car was only a reason to be upset.  She was truly upset because she was nearly two-thirds of the way across America, and not one thing had caught her attention, not one man, or woman for that matter, had said “Hey, look at me, I’m interesting and better than what you’ve had up to now.”  Nothing in this country was appealing to her better nature, and it finally culminated with her car stalling on the interstate.  With a furious right foot, she put her dainty size six and a half foot right up against the tire, losing her balance and tumbling to the ground, scuffing her shoes, and messing up her black dress.

Just as Marie was deciding to take her aggression out on the tire, a man in a pickup truck was drawing near.  He watched in wonder as this beautiful girl fell in a fit of anger, he couldn’t help but chuckle.  Pulling over to the side of the road, he got out of his truck, and meandered across the highway.

“Can I help you up ma’am?” Charlie asked.  He couldn’t help but notice that the young woman was uncommonly beautiful.

Marie’s breath caught as she looked into the stranger’s eyes.  “Why yes.  I’ve been waiting for you for a while,” she said, with a playful toss of her hair.

With a sly smile, Charlie stated, “I guess timing is everything.”

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~ by maxaverage on March 4, 2012.

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