Dead Solid Pluperfect

A Hot Buttered Guff™ Production

Arbortext Royalty Fraud #21: Scroobling and Blurking

Chapter Twenty-One

Scroobling and Blurking


Leaving Dick Blair’s office, Mary and I exchanged forlorn looks and drove home in silence. She stared out the window, dabbing at her eyes and sniffling. I smoked furiously and tossed the butts out the window in open defiance of anti-littering laws and the welfare of planet earth. One such butt inadvertently ricocheted off the windshield of a passing motorist who was highly displeased and performed a well-known hand gesture in retort.

I was not in a mood for idle pursuits like virtuous living, however. Our life was turning into a Kafka novel. As I pulled into our driveway, I noticed that our house had burned to the ground while we were gone.

Just kidding. But it wouldn’t have surprised me, I hate to admit.

“VistaSource owes us $120,000,” Mary said. “We really, really needed that money. They were ready to pay it, too. Now Blair’s going to start the negotiations all over from scratch. All my work completely trashed. We won’t see that money for months. If at all. How are we going to survive?”

Elizabeth, sometimes known as Lizzie, but most commonly as just plain Liz, bounded out of the house with a hopeful smile on her face. She had stayed home today so Mary’s mother wouldn’t be alone while we were gone. One look at the two of us sitting dejectedly in the car in the driveway, however, caused her to perform an about-face and return to the sanctuary of her bedroom.

I stared through the windshield at the garage door, noting idly that the car needed a washing. There was a dent in the garage door courtesy of me hitting the gas pedal to go in reverse without noticing the gear shift was in the forward position. And now, all these years later, the dent was sitting there somewhat symbolizing our life.

“Did you smell sulfur in Dick’s office,” I said to Mary, “or was it just me?”

Wrong smart ass remark. Mary suddenly buried her face in her hands and started sobbing away. A real gusher. I felt like a turd.

I hung my head and stared at my lap. Waiting it out. There was an old coffee stain in the crotch of my jeans. It looked like I had peed my pants. Jeezus. I couldn’t even wear a clean pair of pants right. How did I turn into such a loser? When had it happened? How?

I stared out the window instead. No better. The weeds were getting out of hand in the side yard. The fence gate was hanging crooked. The retaining wall was rotting and tilting downward in near collapse. The daisy bushes were unkempt and dying. The mail box was hanging off the top of its four by four by a single remaining nail. The paint was peeling off the house walls. The planter box was swarming with ants. The porch eaves were dripping with cob webs. Disaster written across everything I looked at.

And Mary sobbed on. Her shoulders shaking and convulsing. Snot and lung blasts scroobling and blurking out of her in shudders and spasms.

Useless butt ass sitting here bringing her all this grief and anguish. Kill me now, Lord. Get it over with. I’m poison. A cancerous scrudball disease bearing dung heap loser. I’m killing her. Pull the plug, Lord. Now. I can’t stand this shit any more. Please don’t make her cry any more. Please. I’m gonna get mad, so help me. You did this to us. I’m gonna start swearing and blaspheming any second now. I mean it. Make it stop!

Mary suddenly sat bolt upright, shook her head furiously, hoffle-snoffled one last definitive time, took a long deep breath, and started mopping the juices off her face.

“I am NOT giving up,” she said.

With that, she kicked open the car door and stalked into the house.

I  followed meekly behind.

The evening was fairly glum. Mary asked Liz if she would go out to the cottage and tell Mary’s mom that we were home. And could she take her dinner out to her tonight, also. I suspect Liz waved off the other kids when they got home. The old wide berth treatment.

Mary consoled her spirits by playing the concert grand piano in the living room. I consoled mine by watching an old Lee Marvin and Jack Palance western, called Monte Walsh. It was a gloomy, realism piece about the end of the cowboy days and the work of cowboying drying up. I had watched it many times, hauling it out whenever I felt the world was conspiring against me. The hauntingly beautiful theme song, by John Barry and Hal David, sung by Cass Eliot, had become one of my all time favorite songs:


Oh the good times are coming

They’ll be coming real soon

And I’m not just pitching pennies at the moon

Oh the good times are coming

When they come I’ll be there

With my both feet firmly planted way up there

In midair.


Watching it always had the consoling effect of making me feel like a hero for being trampled by the stampede of life. Lee Marvin and Jack Palance were probably put on earth for the sole purpose of portraying Hemingway’s destroyed, but not defeated, man.

Tonight, however, I didn’t finish watching the movie. The heroine, Monte’s girl, had a little box where she kept the few, small treasures of her life. Seeing it, I suddenly remembered one of my own small treasures. It was quite a bit bigger before 9/11/2001, quite a whole lot bigger, actually, but was still reasonably impressive, especially given our circumstances.

“Mary!” I exclaimed, bursting into the living room. “My SEP-IRA! I forgot all about it. I can cash it in.”

She stopped playing the piano and gave me one of those looks that remind you why you fell in love with someone way back in the past when you did.

“That’s for the future,” she said.

“I’d say the future is pretty much now.”

“You’ll get dinged on the taxes for early withdrawal.”

“Only ten percent. We’ll still have the other ninety per cent.”

As she resumed her piano playing, a big tear rolled down her cheeks. It was an okay tear, though. Not a grief one, like the afternoon gusher.

It reminded me that every once in a great, great while it was okay being me.

And so, the following day, we cashed in the future.


To be continued . . .

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July 10, 2008 - Posted by | Business, Law, Life, Software, Stories, Technology, Writing | , ,

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