A few cars went by in the darkness as Melvin waited patiently on the porch. He sipped iced tea from a Mason jar as scanned their street for his wife’s soon return. What would she say now? He wondered why life in this blue-collar town wasn’t better? New frame houses were springing up west of town. Two new lumber yards had opened recently. Gas was cheap. There were plenty of churches to go around. Most of the streets were paved now. Yet life seemed to be in a constant state of stagnation.
Joanna moved swiftly up the sidewalk and up the three wooden steps and past Melvin he nearly missed seeing her. The only sound she made was kind of “harump!” as the screen door slammed behind her.
Melvin couldn’t sleep. He lay silently beside his still wife who went to bed without a word. He had put the children to bed earlier and she neither asked about them or acknowledged he had taken care of that nightly ritual. He suddenly realized she was not sleeping either. Finally, she rolled to her back and stared at the ceiling.
“They made fun of me.”
“The man at the police station.. He asked me if this was a joke or something. Two nights, the same brand of wallet and the same amount of money.”
“What did you say?” Melvin asked as he rolled toward his wife and propped his head up with his palm.
“I told him it was the God’s honest truth and we weren’t the kind of folks who played jokes like this.”
Melvin wondered what kind of folks they must be?
Joanna began to get angry and tear up. “He laughed at me for being honest. He said we must be the dumbest hillbillies in the whole town.”
Melvin reached to embrace her but she resisted.
The next say seemed just like the others to Melvin. He got up still hobbling in pain. His wife was still cold as a stone, his mind was just as depressed as the day before. The only real difference was the mail he pulled out of the mail box. The bank wrote them a letter outlining the reality of what will happen if they default on their mortgage payment. But, it was a different day.
Melvin had cooked a pot of red beans all day and had a pan of corn bread when Joanna and the kids came in the door. Joanna had a strange look on her face. She came in the kitchen without mentioning the hot meal that was ready. She grabbed Melvin’s hand and led him up the small stairs and into their bedroom. She closed the door and motioned for him to have a seat. Melvin did as he was told and waited to discover what the hell was going on?
Come back Friday for the conclusion of this tale.