I thought about saying something. But didn’t.

March 19, 2012

In high school I worked in a pastry shop. One of their specialties was beef stew pies. They used to cook the stew in long trays. About two inches deep. Let it cool outside. And then when it was cool, bring the trays in and scoop it into pie crusts then thrown back into the oven to be baked some more until the crusts were done. People lined up every Saturday morning for these. One Saturday after we’d put them out to cool, I was left alone to do a cleaning job. Through the window I could see the stew cooling. And then I saw a dog come up to the stew. He sniffed at it. And then raised his hind leg. And pissed in the stew. I thought about saying something. But didn’t.




“Your heart sounds fine,” the doctor said. He wanted to say jolly. But jolly went out with black and white television. He put away his stethoscope. The doctor has a slight lisp. And limp. But only slight.

Mr. Chambers smiled. Well you wouldn’t call it a smile. He was almost laughing as he put on his shirt. A nice plaid shirt. That he wore with a nice plaid tie. Different clans. Mr. Chambers was a grey haired man. Grey hair on his head and his chest. Short tiny grey hairs in his nose. And ears. Heavy set with a quick pointed nose. He would have been described, even in his sixties, as a handsome man. A distant cry from the toad like appearance of his younger days. When he was compared to all sorts of low life. No, there had been a flattering evolution in Mr. Chambers’ appearance. Life liked Mr. Chambers. It always had. He was no cream puff. Granite. Truck tough. There were muscles in his face.

“The two little buggers thought I was a goner.”

Mr. Chambers shook his head. And smiled.

“Out there. Right now dividing up my garments. Their rosy cheeks filled with chipmunk ambition. Fighting like two old women. Who was going to replace me. Take my dough. Spend it on broads. Booze. At the track. Leave their wives at home. Oh my sweet little boys”

“Ironic. Peggy and Theresa, their wives, look a bit like horses. Should hear those two whinny. When they’re in the thralls. Of love. As they like to describe their machinations. Their legs up in the stirrups. Those ninnies.”

“Nothing I abhor more. A spouse complaining. About their men’s wild ways. Boys want me to put them in their place. I wasn’t the one that bed them. Don’t ask me to do your work. My sons are head strong. Not that I don’t understand. They’ve got their wild oats. To spread. Had my own. Still up to do a little spilling. Nothing wrong with that. Boys better watch themselves now. I’m back. They ain’t going to get their share. Not yet. Have to wait. I might outlive them both. Just for spite. No, they want to have a time. It won’t be on my sweat. Not on my time. Not with my hard earned cash. You can put that in the bank. And smoke it.”

Mr. Chambers did up each button like it was the period at the end of each one of his sentences. In a stump speech. By a politician who realizes that no one would dare run against him. His jaw set. His chest pumped. Shoulders expanding. Hands in his fists.

“I have only myself to blame. Boys are spoiled. By their mother. I was too busy working. Well, hey. You want kids. You take your chances. Like a lottery ticket. Maybe I should have had daughters. They might have had more balls. Gone for breeders instead of rodents. My poor boys. My sons. Weasels.”

“Shows they care,” the doctor said. He rolled up the blood pressure wrap. Nice and tidy. He liked things neat. It made him feel that all was well. His summary. The compendium of things previously stated.

Mr. Chambers shook his head.

“Well, some times even death can be an eye opener. I never thought that the threat of my demise would make things so clear. Mortality has awakened the lion. Clear to me now. Used to walk in the shade. How refreshing is the sunlight. Before I was clouded by sentimentality. I wanted my boys to be like the old man. Now I can leave all those thoughts behind me. Neither one of my sons is prepared to take over the reins. They don’t have the balls. They have the power of their kidneys. But not of the will. Taken me a lifetime to build up my business. You’d think that a man like me would have spun some sons with a backbone. Do you know what I did when my old man died, doc? I laughed. He had a full life and now he was dead. What a joke, eh? No tears for my old man. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It wasn’t avarice on my part. But drive. Now these two marshmallows are fighting over my empire. Like it was carrion.”

Mr. Chambers fell into his own thoughts. What if I started over again. With a new woman. Younger. New sons. I might get lucky. Mr. Chambers turned back to the doctor.

“What do you think it was that gave me the scare?”

“Indigestion,” the doctor offered.

Mr. Chambers laughed.

“I guess that’s why they call it heart burn, eh doc?”

The doctor nodded. “You might think about losing some weight though, Mr. Chambers.”

Mr. Chambers stood up and stepped toward the doctor.

“You think I’m fat?”

The doctor stepped back. He looked down at his clipboard.

“I think you could lose a little weight, Mr. Chambers. Hard on the heart carrying around extra pounds.”

Mr. Chambers laughed as he shook his head.

“You really think I’m fat. You don’t know a real man when you see one, doc.”

“I wasn’t trying to upset you, Mr. Chambers.”

“Is that right?” Mr. Chambers responded. “I’m not fat, doc. I can do the work of two men any day of the week.”

“I’m sure you can.”

“What the fuck is this all about then?” Mr. Chambers moved toward the doctor.

The doctor put out his hand to stop Mr. Chambers approach.

“Telling me I’m fat!” Mr. Chambers continued. “I think you’re stupid. Do you like that?”

“I think we’ve had enough of this conversation, Mr. Chambers.” The doctor holding his clipboard in one hand, crossed his arms in front of him. Waiting. For what he was not sure. Except that it was sure to be unpleasant.

“Can’t take it when it’s tossed your way, eh doc? I swallow guys like you every day, then spit them out.” Mr. Chambers chuckled.

The doctor sighed.

“You’re a bully, Mr. Chambers.”

Mr. Chambers leaned threateningly forward, clenching his chin like a fist.

“You’re calling me a what?” he cried.

“A bully, sir.” The doctor held his ground.

Mr. Chambers stared at the doctor for a moment. Then he stepped back. He laughed. He reached out and slapped the doctor affectionately on the arm.

“You’re alright, doc,” he said. “I was just having a little fun. You’ve got to lighten up.”

Mr. Chambers stepped past the doctor and out of the room.

Outside in the office his two grown sons waited. Terry, the youngest stood up when he saw his father.

“So what’s the verdict, dad?”

Mr. Chambers laughed. He put on his jacket.

“I’ll outlive both you bastards,” Mr. Chambers replied.

The doctor followed behind Mr. Chambers. The boys looked at the doctor.

“Your father is as strong as an ox,” the doctor said.

Both boys looked dismayed. Mr. Chambers grabbed both of his boys by the necks and pushed them out the door. He followed behind. Bob’s Pastry and Cake Supplies. Written across his back.

4 Responses to “I thought about saying something. But didn’t.”

  1. mobius faith said

    I’m just hoping that the beef stew was not for human consumption. Too funny. Proof that everyone’s a critic – even the dogs.

  2. It was. Though a little bit salty that Saturday.

  3. My favorite parts: “Their rosy cheeks filled with chipmunk ambition.” “Mr. Chambers did up each button like it was the period at the end of each one of his sentences.” How you took my sympathy and bent it around at the end. Well done.

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