Revenge of the Hag

July 15, 2011


This story is based on an incident that did happen in the area. My mother along with many others had been banking in a local bank when the bank decided to eliminate several branch banks and locate them in an industrial area (where rents were cheaper). Many of these old ladies took their money out of the bank. The bank didn”t care. But then the bank fell into bad times. Real estate investments in the United States. I know alot of these old ladies were pleased. Secretly anyway. Too Christian to gloat. Or at least show it.

 

 

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REVENGE OF THE HAG

 

John Newton was an ugly man. In his body and his temperament. He was thick. His head rose straight out of his shoulders. Like an escarpment from the surrounding landscape. He didn’t appear to have a neck. Clean shaven, hair sprouted out of his nostrils and out of his eyebrows. Like small horned sheep climbing the narrow paths of a cliff side. Broad shouldered, his body dropped straight down to his legs. Skinny legs that sprouted out of his abdomen like eyes from a potato. Buried too long in a damp basement.

John Newton hated people. Unless they were beautiful. And young. And female. Or had something he wanted. Like Mrs. Murphy. She had money. Those he tolerated.

Mrs. Murphy, an old woman who used a walker. To make her way around in the world. Not that she ever used her passbook. Sat across from him. She had a craggy face. A cliff side that had faced the worst of wind and rain. Her teeth. False. Were bright and shiny. Like fog headlights. She was a splendid example of someone who should have run for mayor. In Mississauga. Or Mississippi.

Newton hated Mrs. Murphy. Even with all of her money. He fantasized. About diving over his oak desk, grabbing her wrinkled chicken neck, and twisting it until her tongue hung out of her ear, and her eyes popped out onto the napkins of flesh onto her cheeks. It amused him to fantasize. But he would never have touched the old woman. Not with his bad back. Not with his own hands. John Newton was a banker. He could hire hands. Strong and gnarly fingers.

Mrs. Murphy had a large bank account. In Mr. Newton’s bank. Mr. Murphy had been a veterinarian who had speculated wisely on the stock market then died. A widow for a long time, Mrs. Murphy had scarcely scratched her own wealth. Had just left it in the bank. And Mrs. Murphy had many friends. Mostly widows. Whose husbands had invested well and died young. They were old. And nothing suited them.

“We supported this bank,” Mrs. Murphy spoke, “when the bank was begging for customers. Our first manager. Mr. Hammer. Bless his soul. Helped in the annual Boy Scout Christmas Sale. His wife was secretary of the school council. The poor soul. How could Helen know that she was dieing of TB. Died five years later. Poor Mr. Hammer never recovered. And all of us ached. Every time we stepped into this bank. Mr. Hammer sitting alone in his office. He was one of us. We could barely stand removing money from the bank. None of us wanted to shake his frail constitution. Mr. Hammer has joined his wife. Finally. After many years. But now. The bank decides it’s going to move. Acts like those who stood by it are strangers. Foreigners. Us. We don’t feel as if you want us. It’s a terrible thing not to be wanted. Anymore.”

“I’m sure that isn’t the case, Mrs. Murphy.” Mr. Newton smiled. Of course everything the old wind bag is saying is true.

“You want to close the bank, Mr. Newton, and move it down to the Queensway!”

Mr. Newton continued to smile.

I shouldn’t say a thing. Just sit here and grin. What can she do about it? Take her money out of the bank. I’d like to see her try.

Mr. Newton took a deep breath. Tried to get more comfortable in his chair. He winced. Stab in the back.

“That was not my decision, Mrs. Murphy. I am just a humble employee. Those type of decisions are made downtown. By men. Men wiser than me. Men who have all of our interests in mind. Great trepidation. It was taken with…

“You never asked us,” Mrs. Murphy interrupted. There was a bark in her voice.

“Change is always a… frightening thing. You should see our brand spanking new offices. They are a glory. A real cornerstone for the future. Why I was down there the other day to see how…”

“Serve us!” Mrs. Murphy interrupted again. Saliva dripped. A low growl. “I can’t walk down to the Queensway.”

“We’ll have a bus service twice a day. Right outside the door here. Right to the doors on the marvellous Queensway. My, you should see the plans they have for the area. Big box stores…”

“And I’m supposed to schedule my day around your bus service? Listen to the rubbish coming out of your mouth. Mr. Newton. There are a lot of people in this community that feel the same as I do. We won’t stand for it.”

“Now, dear. I think you’re overreacting.”

The old lady gasped. For a moment she glared at the banker. God, she thought, if I was ten years younger I’d put my money where the sun don’t shine.

“You are abandoning us. And how long will this bus service of yours last? A couple of months? It’s a pacifier. The truth is that you don’t give a damn, pardon my French, you don’t give a … about the little guy. All you care about is the tycoons.”

Mr. Newton became suddenly serious. When his smile disappeared and he put on his poker face, he expected to be listened to. But this old woman was not showing that… respect.

“I can assure you, Mrs. Murphy, that we value your business. But we’ve had to change with the times. The times they are a changin’. This is a cost effective method of lowering our overhead. With these increased savings we will be able to take…”

“Liar!” Mrs. Murphy struggled to her feet. “A bunch of filthy liars. You mark my words, Mr. Newton, you and your mighty bank will pay for what you’re doing to the little people in this community.”

The old lady grabbed her walker and slowly made her way to the door. As she opened the door, she met Mrs. Newton, the banker’s wife.

“Watch out for that one,” Mrs. Murphy gestured back to the banker with her head. Mr. Newton had risen to his feet. “He’ll steal you blind!”

Mrs. Newton, young, beautiful and dressed to emphasize every glorious feature of her body, stepped into the office and closed the door. She shook her long blonde hair out of her face, like they were curtains at a world premiere. She smiled at her husband, rolling her long black gloves off her hands as she gestured to the door.

She spoke. “What did you do, John, foreclose on her walker?”

“Stupid old cunt,” the banker muttered, turning his head away as he looked in one of drawers for a Cuban. Mr. Newton liked to smoke cigars when he was stressed. It made him feel powerful again. And made his back pain subside.

Mrs. Newton took a seat in the vacated chair opposite of her husband. She took a cigarette case out of her purse and lit up. Her husband continued unsuccessfully to search for his cigars.

“Were we supposed to go out to lunch?” he asked looking up. Back is killing me!

“Well, that would be nice.” His wife smiled. Smoke billowed out of her mouth. “But no. We did not have an engagement. I need you to do an errand for me.”

“I am rather busy,” Mr. Newton said, still grimacing.

“Your back?” Mrs. Newton asked.

Mr. Newton nodded, collapsing into his chair. He shuffled some papers on his desk. But still could not find his cigars. “That old lady ate up half an hour on me. I’m supposed to go down and look at the new bank sight. Every time they lay a brick they need my opinion. All this moving business. As if I don’t have enough work to tend to. Something fishy about this move.”

“Poor dear,” his wife said sucking on her cigarette.

The banker took a deep breath. “I think they’re going to dump me once the move is made.”

“You’re just being paranoid, darling. What would they do without you? All those bricks have to be laid.”

Mrs. Newton smiled at her husband. Sounding like Charlie Manson. Smoke drifting out of her mouth.

“You shouldn’t smoke that in here, Mary,” the banker said.

Mrs. Newton shook her head and laughed.

“Why do you think they’re going to deep six you?”

Mr. Newton rubbed his temples. I need a cigar.

“I can smell it. In the emails,” he said.

Mrs. Newton released a cloud of smoke.

“Fuck the bank, John!” She smiled than took another draw from the cigarette. “We could survive on what you’ve stashed away.”

“Stashed away? You don’t realize what expensive habits you enjoy, my dear.”

Mrs. Newton glared at her husband.

“Look at you! Feeling sorry for yourself! You don’t know what kind of day I’ve had. Little Jesse has been such a handful. All that screaming. I don’t know what I’d do without Peggy. She’s been a God-sent. Make sure you give her a raise this month.”

“A raise!”

“I don’t want to lose another nanny because of your miserliness.”

“We could have talked about this over dinner tonight. I’m very busy, Mary.”

“Yes, so you said.” Mrs. Newton looked around for some place to put the ashes of her cigarette. The banker in a panic looked around his office. He reached for his cup of coffee. A spasm in his back. He winced. Too late. His wife had flicked her ashes on the carpet.

“You know my pills?”

The banker nodded, shifting his weight in his chair.

“You know how I depend upon them. Well, this morning, I spilt the whole pill dispenser into the toilet.”

“All the pills?”

“Yes.”

“Phone Doctor Sirdevan. Explain what happened.”

“You know he won’t give me a new prescription,” Mrs. Newton said. “Not since I had that accident.”

“You overdosed,” her husband responded. “I thought we were going to lose you.”

“You shouldn’t have called an ambulance,” Mrs. Newton cried, a flare of anger rising in her eyes.

The banker looked at his wife. God, she’s beautiful. He remembered when they had first met. How they were all over each other. And then his back winked at him.

“What do you want me to do, Mary?” Mr. Newton asked.

“I want you to go to the doctor and tell him that you’ve been overburdened. That the stress is becoming too much. That you can’t sleep. That you need something to settle you down. Tell him about your back.”

The banker shook his head.

“Doctor Sirdevan is not going to believe a story like that.”

Mrs. Newton’s face fell into his hands. How did this day turn out to be such a disaster.

“There’s a clinic in the back of the drug store,” Mrs. Newton continued. “You can go in there. Tell the doctor that you’re the manager of the bank in the plaza and can’t afford to be away from your office to go to your family doctor.”

The banker sighed. He shook his head. Mrs. Newton stepped around the desk. She smiled, than turned her husband around in his chair.

“You’re so tense, John.”

“I’m not going to the doctor,” Newton insisted and stood up. He stepped around his desk.

“But Darling!” Mrs. Newton smiled. A smile filled with promises. For Mr. Newton.

Mr. Newton shook his head.

“That old battle axe that was in here. She set me off. Blabbering about one thing or the other. I can’t get that old rag of a face out of my mind.”

Mrs. Newton laughed. Sucked on her cigarette. “You’re so full of shit, John. Since when did you care what an old woman said?”

“Look Mary, I can’t do this thing you want with the doctor. Why don’t you go see him yourself?”

Mrs. Newton turned, grabbed her bag and angrily stepped toward the door. She turned around.

“If you think that old woman gave you trouble, you have no idea what trouble is,” she said and stomped out of the room.

Mr. Newton sighed. God, could things get worse? He turned back to his chair when he saw them. His cigars. On the floor. The banker smiled. He leaned over to pick them up. And felt a disc in his back slip.

 

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