The Money


For the first time in their lives, there was money in the bank. A weight had been lifted. There was food in the pantry. William had clean, new clothes. He and Louise had stopped shopping at the consignment stores. Louise had her nails done by the Vietnamese manicurist. There were no bill collectors calling. When the phone rang it meant more money would be coming.

When they were first married, they made jokes of their poverty. They were young and they had each other, that was enough. Louise was tall and graceful, William felt fortunate to have her to himself! In the mornings, he laid in bed and watched her remove her nightgown and dress for work. They had rented a cheap apartment near a auto recycling center. Junk cars lined the street and the hydraulic pistons crushed cars all day long. The walls did nothing to prevent the sound. The slow, steady crunch, could have been coming from the next room.

William had a series of dead-end jobs and Louise worked as a grocery checkout girl. Then the novelty of their young marriage wore off and William was once again looking for a paycheck. He was good with numbers and might have been an accountant if he had stayed in college, but he had dropped out after the first year when they thought Louise was pregnant. That turned out to be a “false alarm,” then one thing had lead to another. The romance was gone and they were deep in debt. Louise complained and William had nothing to say.

When the money started appearing in their bank account their situation immediately began improving. Now they were renting a new, first floor apartment in a quiet neighborhood and William was looking for a house. The dream of home ownership was within reach. William and Louise were well aware that the arrangement would not last forever but Louise was learning to maximize her earning potential. She had a limited clientele and she had successfully increased the monetary rewards from the gentlemen she entertained. The first had been a customer who became friendly at the grocery checkout. He met her in the parking lot when she got off work late one night with a generous proposal for her to spend an hour with him. She had refused at first but he could see her giving it consideration and he persisted.

The money was already in the bank when she came clean with William and he surprised her by suggesting that she use some of the money to buy nice, new clothes. The first man introduced her to his friends and soon she quit working at the supermarket and William was setting up her appointments. At the beginning, she met the gentlemen at hotel rooms that they arranged but since the new apartment, the men showed up at the door. One of the bedrooms was reserved for entertaining clients. They were limited to one hour but often Louise would come out and chat with William while her client would sleep for a while. Money would be left in the room. William had opened accounts in several banks to reduce suspicion when making cash deposits.

There had not been any trouble but William had purchased a handgun. It just seemed like the prudent thing to do. He and Louise never talked about what she did in the bedroom and they discussed the future in the abstract. They were putting a little money aside. They knew there were risks and the windfall was temporary. William wondered if they would ever return to a typical, husband and wife relationship and what the future held.

05/24/2017© Don Lehman