By Mike Stevens
Clem Cousins sat on the front porch of his double wide mobile home, smoking the last of his unfiltered cigarette as he enjoyed the end of a beautiful summer evening. From inside the house drifted his wife Eunice’s grating voice.
“Clem, you shouldn’t be sitting around when I need several things done!”
Why didn’t that surprise him? She was always ragging on him about something. He tried his best to block out her latest screeches, but her ranting was so loud, every neighbor for blocks around their home in the town of Pipestem could hear every word of her complaining.
“When you’re through being your usual lazy self, I need…”
Clem felt himself retreating from his bleak and dreary real world into the only place were she could not follow; the world he’d had created for himself in his mind:
“Clem dear, supper’s ready!”
Clem imagined a buxom blond woman calling to him and taking the place of the sea hag he was really married to. “I’ll be right in, dear-heart.” As he saw himself pulling open the front door on his 18-room mansion, his wife Bambi ran to meet him. He marveled at the way she defied gravity as she bounced her way over to him, wearing his favorite outfit; a hot pink thong bikini. In fact, even if he imagined there was two feet of snow outside, in his daydreams she always wore the bikini, and often less.
“Are you unwound from your stressful job as a successful international banker?” she asked.
He had gone out to the porch to have a drink and several cigarettes and relax after he’d gotten off work, and now his beautiful, sexy wife (who was completely opposite from his reality) was calling him to dinner, which she dutifully prepared in her thong bikini.
“Here’s your dinner honey. I hope you’re in the mood to eat it in a hurry, because I’m in the mood for something else!”
He had to be the luckiest man alive!
After taking care of the something else, they were both relaxing on the couch. His wife was once again clothed only in the bikini, and after awhile, Bambi jumped to her feet and asked him,
“Would you like another beer? You’ve been working like a dog to earn your pay, and you shouldn’t have to do anything but put your feet up and watch your pro wrestling on our big screen television! Just sit back, let me get you the remote, and I’ll run to the refrigerator and get you a beer. While I’m in the kitchen, why don’t I make you something special; say some cookies?”
Was this great or what? He was living in a true paradise, albeit only in his mind.
“Sure babe, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
“Too much trouble? Why would it be too much trouble? Nothing’s too much of a bother for the bread winner and the man I love,” she replied.
As he was thinking this, he was jolted back to reality by hearing,
“…the yard needs to be mowed, and…Clem, have you heard a word I’ve said? I’ve been talking for ten minutes, and you seemed to tune out what I was saying.”
“I’m sorry Eunice, now what were you saying?”
Before she could answer, their son bounded across the living room and interrupted them by saying,
“So long Mom and Dad, I’ll be over playing video games at Freddy’s house.”
Eunice responded sarcastically, “By all means, don’t let your fun be ruined by having me point out that the chores you don’t do, I’ll have to do.”
“Oh Mom, don’t lay a guilt trip on me,” Clem Jr. answered, making a sour face.
“Oh, did I touch a nerve about your responsibilities?” answered Eunice.
Making an angry face, Clem Jr. then said, “Okay, okay, I’ll stay! What exactly needs to be done?”
“Well, for starters…why don’t I just make you a list?”
Clem Sr. thought to himself, here we go!, and as Eunice stomped her way into the kitchen to get pen and paper, he let his mind wander back to the imaginary home he kept with Bambi and her hot-pink thong bikini.
Clem Cousins Jr. was listening to both his parents rag on him; first his mother:
“Son, you need to mow the lawn, then empty the garbage, then clean your room, and when you’ve finished with those things, come and see me and I’ll find something else for you to do.”
Then it was his father’s turn: “Boy, I saw the dirty look you gave your Mother, and I’m very angry with you right now.”
His father was always angry with him for something. Come to think of it, so was his mother, who was talking to him again.
“Kids today! Why, when I was growing up we had it a heck of a lot worse than you do. I remember…”
His weary mind tuned her out, and he was soon lost in a daydream:
He was done with school, permanently! As he walked in the front door of their 4-story house, he thought to himself, I’ve made up my mind, I’m dropping out of school to pursue my dream of rock band super-stardom full time. I know what Mom and Dad will say: the odds for a regular kid becoming a rock star are astronomical. Well, I’m not a regular kid, I’m going to be a rock star! His parents had better not say one word, his mind was made up. As soon as he entered, his father called out,
“Welcome home Son. And how was your day?”
Well, there was no point in delaying the confrontation. He just blurted,
“Dad, I know you’re going to be upset, but I’ve finally made a decision about my future. I’ve decided to drop out of high school, so I can devote 100% of my time to my dream of becoming a rock star.” Now the c**p would hit the fan!
But much to his surprise, his dad replied,
“A rock star? A very good choice son. Eunice, come in here so Clem Jr. can tell you his exciting news himself!”
Clem Jr. knew then that his father was being sarcastic. Once his mother heard his plan, they would both tell him he was being ridiculous.
“Now that your Mother’s in the room, go ahead and tell her son.”
Clem Jr. cringed inside and told her, “Mom, I’m going to drop out of school and concentrate 100% on becoming a rock star.”
“Oh honey, that’s the decision I hoped you’d make! I mean, anybody can graduate from high school, but how many kids dream big, like my boy?”
Clem Jr. couldn’t believe what he was hearing! And here he had worried about their reactions.
“Son, I think a celebration is in order. Get you a beer?” his father then said.
This was too good to be true!
“…and so you think you’ve got it rough, try walking 10 miles to school, no matter what the weather’s like!”
He awoke from his daydream with a start, and realized his mother was staring at him, expecting his comment.
“Ah, sounds like you had it a lot worse that I do when you were a kid. I realize now I’ve got no room to complain” he responded, even though his mother hadn’t had to walk any 10 miles to school. She grew up right across the street from hers. But knowing his mother like he did, it wouldn’t be wise to point that out.
He rose to leave and saw the unhappy look on his father’s face. “What are you so angry-looking for?”
“Son, we found empty beer bottles under your bed!”
Eunice Cousins was angry; even angrier than usual. She constantly had to keep her family from flying apart. Her husband Clem was clueless, and her son Clem Jr. was just about as bad. If it wasn’t for her vigilance, nothing would ever get done around their house. She swore neither of them could grab their own b**t with both hands, unless she told them where it was located. Right now, she was angry with her husband, saying,
“You must be the laziest husband in the history of the world!”
He cowered from her and replied, “Now what have I done?”
She gave him an ‘I’m stupid!’ look, and launched into her sarcastic retort, “Look around this living room and tell me what you see?”
He looked around the room, saw nothing, and shrugged. “I don’t see anything. Maybe you could enlighten me!”
She gave him a withering look and replied, “Dirt on the carpet, dirt coming in from the front porch, dirt on the couch cover, dirt, dirt, dirt!
He replied only, “Yes dear, I’m sorry I failed to clean it up.” But inside he was thinking, I really ought to write a children’s book. I’ll call it ‘Mom Rides a Broom’, based on the classic T.V. show about an ordinary housewife who’s actually a witch, much like my wife! On second thought, that really was an old T.V. show.
“You need to think about things on your own, and when something needs to be done, just do it instead of waiting for me to yell about it.”
And lord, how loud you yell!, he thought, but answered only,
“Yes dear.” Boy, was he running late for work!
She stomped away from her husband into the kitchen and ran into her son, Clem Jr., wearing a perturbed expression on his face.
“Mom, there’s no silverware washed and I want some cereal for breakfast.”
Eunice came unglued. “I’m sorry about your broken arm! You young people today; if there’s something not done, do you do it? No, you pitch a fit until someone else does it, namely me.”
Clem Jr. knew better than to argue with his mother when she was in such a mood. He just turned and walked away from her, which only served to make her even angrier.
“How dare you walk away from me young man; I’m not through, I’m not through…”
But even as she was forcing the angry words out of her mouth, she noticed the swinging kitchen door moving back and forth. She realized he’d gone.
Eunice Cousins was fed up; she did her best to do what had to be done, but she got so tired being the only responsible one in the whole family. If only her daydreams were real:
“Mom, where are my clean jeans?” asked her son.
“Oh, I guess I’ve been too lazy to get up and start a load of clothes. Sorry Clem.”
“That’s quite all right mom. I guess if I really wanted them washed I should have done them myself. It’s me who owes you an apology. I don’t know how many times you’ve told me to be more responsible, but did I listen? It’s my own fault.”
“Well, you’ve learned a valuable lesson, so I won’t say ‘I told you so’” Eunice replied.
“Boy, you don’t have to say it, I know it. I can’t go to the movies with the guys tonight because I have nothing to wear, but that’s okay, You’ve told me on many occasions that if I want something done, I should just do it myself and not expect you or someone else to do it for me. I’m so late for school. I love you Mom!”
Eunice daydream continued. In it, she knew she must have fallen back to sleep again. She knew she should get out of bed, but she was feeling so relaxed. Their dog Rex was scratching at the door to get out of the bedroom, but try as she might, she couldn’t pry herself from the warmth of the blankets. Rex whined again and lifted his leg. For some reason, she just stared at him while he went to the bathroom. Just then her husband Clem Sr. opened the door and Rex scampered into the other room. A river of Rex’s desperation flowed towards her husband’s feet,
“Oh no, look what the dog did on the floor!” he exclaimed. “Don’t get up, honey, I’ll take care of it.”
“Oh, thank you Clem, I just don’t seem to get up this morning.”
“Morning? Honey, it’s half past 1 in the afternoon!”
“Half past 1 pm? Oh, I can’t believe my laziness,” and she started to fling the covers aside.
Quickly, her husband said, “Where are you going, honey? You work so hard around the house, you’re entitled to a lazy day. Clem Jr. is still at school, and I’ll be fine. You just stay in bed as long as you want.
“Honey, where’s my lunch?”
Her husband’s pleading voice cut into her daydream and snapped her back into reality.
“Did you look in the refrigerator? I swear you’re helpless; think! ‘Where does my wife put my lunch after she makes it?’ Why would this morning be any different? Duh!”
She heard her husband leave for work and shook her head. He was so helpless. Hell, they were both so helpless. Just then, the only remaining Helpless twin came flying down the stairs.
“Mom, I need money for lunch! She thought, your Honor, I rest my case!