I sat on the couch with a glass of two-dollar Cabernet. Sheldon came in at twelve forty-five with his shoulder’s rolled forward and back facing me. His head hung to one side as he fumbled at the lock. I didn’t cry, crying ends it before we can begin. I needed him to hear this. And like it or not, the drink might help. I asked him how work was.
Sheldon pawed through the refrigerator, a clear package of tomatoes fell and scattered in all directions. “You know I wasn’t at work.”
I held a sip in my mouth and tested my endurance against the tannic juice. If I looked at him now, I would cry. But I wasn’t going to cry. No Phyllis, you aren’t going to cry. “I thought maybe you stayed to tutor some students or maybe pick up a detention?”
“I told you that I’m not doing that monkey work. Let the first year teachers take it.” Sheldon entered the living room with a plate stacked six inches tall with red turkey meat, and two silver beer cans balancing on its edge.
“I thought you said it was an extra fifty or sixty dollars?”
He collapsed into the opposite corner of the couch from where I sat. His upper-lids swelled and I could not see his emerald eyes. He unbuckled his pants and turned on the television. “When are you going to have time to do that? Yesterday I had to drive all the way to the store, waste my time, just to have a normal dinner.”
“Please don’t be angry Sheldon.”
He snapped open a beer and drank. “Stressed enough with this damn job’s slave wages, now with the baby.”
“Maybe my paintings can bring in extra money.”
“Haha… What do you want me to do with that? You want me to get a second job?”
“That’s not it.”
“It is. We don’t make enough that my wife can be happy. I don’t provide enough for my wife to be happy. Christ Phyllis! if our son is anything like you,” he held up his hands and stuck out his lip, “I’m in for it, oh boy, I’m through!”
“I just wanted to ask you if I could get the money to buy the URL and stuff.”
“Well I can explain m—”
“That’s your business plan? and stuff? So wait. This whole thing was about you asking me for money? after you’re telling me that we are so fucking poor.”
“I need to work harder apparently; I need to get another job to pay for daycare so my wife can play entrepreneur!”
“Maybe if I finally got my work out there, someone would recognize it as something worth—something!”
He muted the television. “No one cares about buying art, especially not the kind of art you do.”
“What? People don’t want, they don’t want, well whatever the hell it is you paint—grotesques?”
“They’re the human figure. My work was never for shock. And you know what, Molly down the street sells custom craft buttons online and she makes enough extra money for yoga classes. I just—honey you won’t have to worry about the dinners. You won’t have to worry about Jack. I promise. I’ll take care of it all, just the same. Please, Sheldon.”
“Heh!” He turned up the volume, “Fine, you know what? here you go. Put it on the card. Show me the checkout screen before you pay, hear me?
“I hear you Sheldon.” I took the wallet he tossed across the couch and pulled out the bank card. I rubbed the stiff braille of the card under my thumb and finished my wine. “Now,” I thought, “we’ll see.”