January 29, 2017
It was morning drivetime in the city and Jill’s mind was racing. She navigated her Cadillac Escalade recklessly from the far left lane into the far right, before coming to a full stop on the exit ramp. Looking ahead over the multi-colored rows of stalled traffic, she could see the stoplights one half-mile forward at the top of the incline, like tiny dots of red ink splashed upon the cerulean sky.
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” she said as she stamped her right hand onto the top of her steering wheel three times.
She felt a familiar sense of panic envelope her as she leaned over to glance at herself in the rearview mirror. “Bad hair day”, she muttered as she carefully readjusted the rhinestone circle hair pin that was now coming loose above her right ear. With that tightened again and back in its place, she checked her lipstick by squinting her eyes slightly, leaning her head backwards a little and smacking her lips before the mirror with a pop.
As she creeped her vehicle ahead another ten yards, she carelessly reached with her right hand to grab her purse on the passenger seat only to catch its leather strap on her Starbucks coffee cup that was positioned in the cup holder of the center console. As the lid broke loose, coffee splashed onto the console’s simulated woodgrain accoutrement and her pursed tipped, causing her wallet, and most of its contents, to splay onto the floor by her feet.
“Shit”, she said softly and quickly grabbed a tissue from her purse to wipe up the spilled latte, before hastily reaching down to grab her wallet and whatever else she could of its recently separated contents. In doing so, she rammed the tip of her nose into the steering wheel, and at that very moment, a loud, long honk shrieked from the car behind her.
She sat up violently, rubbed her nose with her left hand and used her right to flip her middle finger at the driver to her rear. She then laid on her own horn as it released a loud bray before she moved ahead another ten yards and stopped again.
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” she screamed as she stamped her hand onto the steering wheel three more times in rapid succession.
Her phone rang. Hitting the push-to-talk button on her steering wheel, Jill said: “Hey, Lex”, before hearing her divorce attorney’s sanguinely alto voice resonate, via Bluetooth, through the surround-sound speakers of the Caddy:
“Hey, you. How are you holding up?”
“Shitty”, said Jill with a menacing grimace as she adjusted herself on the leather seat.
A few years after her marriage to Jack, Jill met Alexandra in law school. Over time, Alex became a very close friend to both Jill and her husband. But now, this was coming to an end. The divorce was going to get ugly and Alex made her choice when she decided to represent Jill. “Thank God, we never had kids”, Jill thought to herself.
“I’m sorry, babe” Alex responded, “But HEY! I have some good news. Jack’s lawyer says you can have the rental property over on Franklin, and he is willing to forego the equity if you agree to relinquish any claims to his company’s future profits in case he avoids bankruptcy and turns things around.
“Hell NO!” screamed Jill.
“C’mon girl,”, cajoled Alex. “Can’t you give this guy a break? He still loves you, you know. He wants you back.
“Never going to happen, Lexie. NEVER! EVER!” Jill exclaimed shrilly. “I just want OUT! Why can’t you fucking understand that?”
“I know, Honey” Alex said soothingly. It’s just that….”
“WHAT?” asked Jill as she turned the Escalade off the exit ramp and headed downtown. As she accelerated, she could hear the muffled roar of the 6.2 liter, V-8 engine.
After a minor pause, Alex said: “It’s just that…., well….., this is a really good deal. Jack is being more than fair with you. Can’t you see that? I mean really, babe, he worked two jobs to put you through law school. He bought that house on Franklin with his own money, rebuilt it from damn near scratch with his own hands only to now give it to you as a peace offering. He is doing this even though we both know he could use the additional income, if not a place to live. Why are you being such a bitch, honey? You are getting the house, BOTH cars AND this rental property, while he is living in that shithole over by the warehouse and driving his old rusted out company van.”
“Listen, Alexandria” Jill said curtly, “Do I need to get a new fucking lawyer? I am paying you to make him fucking SUFFER! He deserves what he gets. Everything! What’s wrong with you?”
“You are hysterical” said Alex. “That man works 70 hours a week trying to keep that company afloat. He built it up from nothing so you both could have a better future. He cares for his employees. Can’t you see that? He can’t even afford to pay a decent attorney to represent him in this divorce! Not only are we screwing him, but he is being taxed and regulated up the ass. Plus, his competitors are killing him with rat labor and illegals; and you know his health insurance expenditures have exploded under Obamacare. He’s cut health benefits, reduced worker hours, and eliminated coverage for his part time staff. How the hell can he compete with his overseas competitors or the illegals here working for next to nothing? You need too…”
Jill interrupted: “Will you quit using the term ‘illegals’! They deserve to be here like anyone else. And if you love Jack so fucking much, then why don’t you marry him? I want out and he needs to pay now AND in the future. Get it? If he ever does turn that shithole around, I get half. Got it? I deserve it and that fucking xenophobic racist deserves nothing. He voted for TRUMP! Did you hear me, Lex? TRUMP! I gotta’ go. I’ll call you later.” With that, Jill hit the button on the steering wheel and terminated the call.
As she navigated the streets downtown toward the parking ramp next to the City Hall building where she worked, Jill wondered if she ever really loved Jack. Maybe at first. She met him on a Saturday afternoon while she was attending summer school. Jill and her roommate were laying out on a sand bar in the middle of a shallow stream near a pedestrian bridge by their apartment, when two boys sitting high up on the hill yelled “beer!”. She could see they were “townies”, or, local boys who did not attend the university. She could tell because instead of donning golf shorts and Tommy Hilfiger shirts, they were wearing blue jeans with no shirts. But, it did look like they had a cooler between them, so the girls nodded to each other: “Why not?”
It turned out the cooler was, in fact, a very large kid’s abandoned plastic beach pail full of melting ice and Pabst Blue Ribbon. If that wasn’t enough, when Jill saw Jack for the first time, she stared into the bluest eyes she had ever seen.
Back then, she thought it was love at first sight but now she wasn’t so sure.
They spent that first afternoon together sipping beer, laying in the sun and talking. Jill loved Jack’s smile and he had such a funny laugh. Later, when they were down sitting with their feet in the river, Jill sighed and said she was “hot”. Looking straight at her, Jack smirked, and said: “Yes, definitely”. Jill laughed, and hit him on the shoulder just as Jack jumped up and said: “But, I know a way to cool you down!”
As he was tearing up the hill, Jill realized he was going for the plastic bucket that was now full of melted ice water. She immediately jumped up to race him to it, but, in spite of her four years of High School Track, he had too much of a head start. He got to the pail first and yelled: “Wet t-shirt contest!” But, just as he was about to throw the water onto her, he tripped into a flailing maneuver that resembled a bad cartwheel, and Jill saw Jack’s head hit the bottom of the hard plastic pail as he rolled downward. Jill ran to him but she fell too and tumbled right into what became a sunburned pile of arms, legs, chests and breasts. They were both laughing so hard. Jill saw Jack’s forehead was bleeding and asked if he was OK. He looked at her and smiled. Oh, those blue eyes!
Jill’s parents hated Jack. He was from a blue collar family and, in their view, not worthy of her family pedigree. But Jill had fallen in love with him and they were soon married.
Jack worked very hard putting himself through the community college, and excelled as both an Apprentice and Journeyman. Very soon, he became the youngest Master electrician in the history of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local # 3. He bought the fixer-upper on Franklin and, yes, Jill thought, they did have some happy times there.
Not wanting to take any money from her parents, Jack took an evening job teaching certification courses at the union hall in order to help pay for Jill’s law school.
Upon her graduation, Jack and Jill soon became very busy with their careers. Jack bought into a mechanical supply house and became a successful wholesaler of heating and cooling systems before starting his own manufacturing business assembling high-limit switches and thermostats.
Jill served in the Public Defender’s office for several years and did a stint as a city attorney before becoming a public relations liaison and legal advisor to the mayor’s office.
Upon hurriedly parking her Caddy inside the ramp, Jill thoughtlessly grabbed her things and briskly walked across the skyway into city hall. She was in a foul mood. Entering her office, she carelessly threw her scarf, purse and attaché onto the red leather couch to the left of her desk. She then walked over to the window and stared down into the bustling metropolis below.
“When did he become, such a racist?” she whispered to herself. “Why does he refuse to acknowledge his white privilege?”
“How could he do this to me?” she wondered. “We were so close to having the first female president of the United States. So close. She won the popular vote for God’s sake. But, because of an antiquated piece of parchment with the inscriptions of old, now dead, white, slave-owners written on it; plus, due to a handful of white-hooded, redneck Klansmen voting throughout a few rural counties in this backasswards country, Hillary lost. It just wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair.
“And to think”, she muttered bitterly, “I have been married to a white supremacist these past several years”.
Didn’t Jack understand how hard she worked to establish genuine diversity in this city? What about all those she so vigilantly defended against the injustice of a privileged, white, patriarchal establishment?
If there is a God, she prayed, PLEASE strike Donald Trump dead. She could handle looking at Pence the next four years. But not the human Cheeto.
How did this happen?
Didn’t she fight to have the Koran read at various public ceremonies over the last year? And, if not for her, there would be no Islamic prayer rugs over at the taxi company. Didn’t she diligently defend the disadvantaged from a fascist establishment? How many accused murderers did she help get off with obscure legal technicalities? How many rapists or fathers unjustly convicted of honor killings and genital mutilations? Even alleged wife beaters and child molesters were given protective cover under her purview. She deserved better.
Just then, Jill heard a knock behind her and turned to see the Mayor standing in the open doorway. She looked upset.
“Did you hear?” asked the Mayor.
“Hear what?” Jill queried cautiously.
“Trump.” The Mayor said angrily. “He is signing a bunch of executive orders.”
“Fucking dictator!” Jill exclaimed. “But what can he do? We’re a sanctuary city.”
“Maybe not”, the Mayor said with a concerned look on her face. “One of the orders cuts off federal funding to cities that ignore established immigration laws”.
“WHAT?” screamed Jill.
“But that’s not all”, the Mayor said. “He is actually going to build the wall.”
“And”, said the Mayor, “It gets even worse. They are mandating that statistics be published on a regular basis of all crimes committed by undocumented citizens.”
“WHAT the FUCK?!” Jill screeched. Her face was crimson red and her rage-filled eyes began to glisten with tears.
It felt like she was falling.
Note to the readers:
Just to clarify any confusion (for which I apologize), this Jack and Jill is a separate couple altogether from my earlier (dystopian) Jack & Jill. I think the nursery rhyme / fairy tale angle adds a dimension and is kind of fun, but the names “Hansel and Gretel” might have pushed the envelope a little too far. 🙂
I was in a meeting the other night and I could tell an acquaintance of mine was visibly disturbed. His entire visage and demeanor seemed untypical for him. He was very anxious and it actually made me a little uncomfortable seeing him in that state. When I asked him what was wrong later, he unloaded. Trump has destroyed his entire worldview. He seems spiritually sick right now and in truth, I didn’t know what to tell him. If he only knew my position(s) on politics, I believe he would never speak to me again.
So, I guess this piece was me trying to deal with that.
Also, some enjoyable commentary (in my opinion) on this one over at The Burning Platform blog via this link:
This comment sums it up for me:
January 28, 2017 at 2:16 pm
The river refers to the passing of time. The bridge represents separation. The hill, personal struggle and ambition. We are either falling in love or falling apart.
In any event , it seems half the readers thought this piece was a waste of time and half thought it was worthwhile. Either way, thank you for visiting TheTollOnline.com