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The International Writers Magazine: Life Fiction

One damn thing after another...
Martin Green

Saturday morning (early).   Danny Goodman opened his eyes.   His wife Cathy was already out of bed.   Briefly, he thought back to Friday night. 


He’d been ready, more than ready, but Cathy had said she was too tired.   He couldn’t very well argue with her.   She worked part-time as a teacher’s aide; at the same time, she was raising their two sons, Kevin and Matthew, ages six and eight, each one a handful..   Still, it had been a while.

     He could hear Cathy and the kids in the kitchen.   Then he remembered; it was Saturday.   In September, that meant it was soccer time for the kids.   In the Sacramento Valley, it also meant it would still be hot out there.   When they’d moved from the Bay Area to Sacramento ten years before, they knew it would be hot  but hadn’t realized it would be that bad.   They’d moved for the same reason most people went to the Sacramento area from the Bay Area, for the affordable housing.   They’d found a house, in a suburb called Carmichael.   They’d had the family they’d planned.   The house was now over 20 years old and seemingly in constant need of repairs.   They seemed to spend most of their time carting the kids to one place or another.  This morning it would be to two soccer games, one at nine and one at eleven.   Danny pulled himself out of bed.   Another weekend.

     Saturday morning (later):   “Go, Matt, go.” Danny yelled as his son brought the ball down the field.   It was almost halftime of the morning’s second game.   The first had ended in a 2-2 tie.   As Danny had expected, it had been hot, even that early in the day, and the kids had seemed lethargic.   The six-year olds weren’t very skilled and the game had consisted mostly of them running up and down the field without much being accomplished.   Kevin hadn’t even run very much, spending most of his time standing in one spot, despite  Danny’s calling to him to go after the ball.   He’d already concluded his younger son wasn’t going to be a great athlete.   Matt at least showed some interest in sports; maybe there was some hope for him. .

     As Matt neared the goal two kids from the other team, both pretty big, converged on him and took the ball away.   He’d made a good effort.   “Good job, Matt,” Danny yelled, clapping his hands.   Cathy, standing next to him, echoed his words.   The referee blew his whistle, halftime.   The kids all came over to get their halftime snacks, probably the highlight of the game for them.   Danny noticed the coach’s wife, a slender brunette, attractive, wearing a top and shorts.   Nice legs.   He couldn’t help but look over at Cathy.   She’d never lost the weight she’d put on after her two pregnancies.   Alongside the coach’s wife, she looked kind of dumpy.   Hey, this wasn’t what he was supposed to be thinking about at a soccer game.   As the teams ran back out on the field, he automatically clapped his hands and yelled, “Go after the ball, Matt.”.

     Saturday afternoon (early).   The pizza place was mobbed.   Kids in soccer uniforms ran all over while parents tried to keep some kind of order.   The noise was deafening.  Danny finally got their pizzas and brought them over to the table they’d snagged.   .Cathy handed out the pizza slices.   Danny went back to get the sodas and finally sat down.   He realized he was tired.

     “I want another slice,” said Matt. 
     “Me, too,” said Kevin.
     Matt reached for his pizza and knocked over Kevin’s soda.   Kevin jumped out of his chair.   “You did that on purpose,” he yelled.
     “Did not.”
     “Did too.”   He hit Matt with his little fist.   Matt hit him back, harder.   Kevin began to cry.
     “All right, that’s enough,” said Danny.   “Here, you can have my soda,” he said to Kevin, pushing it across the table.
     Kevin immediately stopped crying.   “Can I have some money to play the video machine?” he asked
     “I want to play the machine, too,” said Matt.
     “All right.   Finish your pizzas and you can play.”

     Danny watched the boys run off toward the video game machines that lined the far wall.   He recognized someone sitting across the room.   “I see a guy I know,” he told Cathy.   “I want to ask him something.   Okay?”
     Danny fought his way through the crowd.   “Hey, Frank,” he said.   “So you’re a soccer dad, too?”
 .   Frank Sanchez worked in the same State agency as Danny.   He was an older man, late thirties, Danny figured, and a section chief.    Sanchez turned around.   “Hey, Danny,” he said.     “Yeah, my daughter.   She’s on the 12-year olds.   You have two boys, right?”
            “Yeah.  Had two games this morning.  Sometimes I think I spend half my life watching soccer.”
     “I know what you mean.   But it’s great exercise for the kids.”
     “That’s what I hear.   Gets the parents out in the fresh air, too.    Say, while I have the chance, I wanted to ask you, do you know of any promotional exams coming up?”
     “I don’t think so.   Things are still pretty tight.”
     “Oh, too bad.   I could use the extra money.”   He pointed to Kevin and Matt.   “Those two are eating me out of house and home.”
     “Yeah, I can imagine.   Well, if I hear anything, I’ll let you know.”
     Danny returned to his table.   “Who was that?” asked Cathy.
     “Guy I know from work, a section chief.   Thought he might know of any promotional exams, but he said nothing coming up.”        

     Saturday night, early:   The barbeque was at the house of the Fishers, their neighbors down the street.   Jeff Fisher was probably Danny’s best friend.   A crowd of people were in the backyard.   Kids were splashing in the pool.   Mothers exchanged stories of child-raising while keeping watch on them.   Fathers talked about their jobs, their cars, their lawns, their house repairs and sports.   Danny stood on the edge of the group.   He’d been interested in hearing that other guys had job problems, but now he was losing interest in the discussion, if you could call it that..   Barbeques were a big thing in their suburb.   Hadn’t they talked about the same things at last week’s barbeque, and the one before that?   It was a warm evening but at least had cooled down from the day’s high.   He saw the coach’s wife whose legs he’d admired at the morning’s soccer game.   She was wearing a long skirt tonight.   Too bad, Danny thought.

     He walked over to where Jeff Fisher was still cooking hamburgers on the grill.   “Nice party,” he said.
     “Yeah, weather’s just right.”
     “While it’s so nice, how about some tennis tomorrow?”
     “Boy, I’d like to, but I have to clean out the gutters.   They’re packed with leaves and we may get some rain next week.”
     “I should check my gutters, too.   Well, maybe some other time.”
     Danny took a newly cooked hamburger and went back to rejoin the guys.

     Saturday night, later:   Danny and Cathy were in the living room.   She was watching television; he was reading the sports section he hadn’t had time to look at in the morning.   Matt appeared in the doorway.   “My stomach hurts,” he said.   He looked pale.   “I think I’m going to throw up.”
     Danny quickly stood up, grabbed Matt and rushed him to the bathroom.   He was just in time.   “I’m not surprised,” Danny said.   “First pizza, then hot dogs and ice cream at the barbeque.   You shouldn’t have let him eat so much.”
             “Me?   What about you?   I’ll give him some Pepto-Bismol.”
            Just then, Kevin came out of his room, saying, “I don’t feel so good.”
            Well, Danny thought, there goes any chance of sex tonight.

     Sunday morning.   Danny was on his front lawn, trying to start his lawn mower while his two sons, recovered from the night before, looked on with interest.   He pulled the cord again and still nothing happened. 

     “Is the machine broken?” asked Matt.
     “No,” said Danny.   “It’s just old.”   He pulled again, then again and finally the engine caught.
       “Hooray,” said Kevin.
       “Good job, Daddy,” said Matt..   Good job.   It was something they always said to encourage the kids.

     Danny spent the rest of the morning mowing the front and then the back lawn.   When he was done, he remembered about the gutters.   He got out the ladder and looked.   As he’d feared, the gutters were filled with leaves.   He’d have to clean them out after lunch.

     Sunday afternoon:  Cleaning out the gutters took almost the entire afternoon.   By three o’clock, it was 90 degrees.   Danny was thirsty and sweating.   Several times he thought of giving it up, but then he reminded himself of the forecast that rain was coming in.   He’d had to deal with a mass of soggy leaves the year before and didn’t want to experience that again.   Finally, he was done.   He went into the house and showered, then lay down of the living room sofa.   In a few minutes he could hear than Cathy was back with the boys.   She taken them to the park to keep them out of his way.

     “We went to the Whale Park, Daddy,” yelled Kevin.   The Whale Park was nearby Carmichael Park.   A large plastic whale that had once hung over a restaurant had somehow found its way there and so it had become the Whale Park.   “I went on the swings.”
     “I went down the big slide,” said Matt.
     “That’s good,” Danny said.
     “Daddy, let’s play army,” said Kevin.

Army was a game in which Matthew was a lieutenant, Kevin a sergeant and Danny was the “men.” 
     “How come you guys aren’t tired?” asked Danny.
     Cathy said, “I stopped on the way back and got pizza for dinner.”
     “Pizza?   Again?   We just had pizza yesterday.”
     “I know, but I felt too tired to cook.   I have to do a wash later or they won’t have clothes for tomorrow.”
     “All right, all right.”
…. “Army, Daddy,” said Kevin.
     “Maybe later, after we eat,”
     “You said you’d look at that leaky faucet,” said Cathy.   “I can’t stand that dripping.”
     “All right.   After the pizza.”

     Sunday evening.   “That should do it,” said Danny to himself.   He’d just put a new o-ring in arrant faucet and, when he tested it, no dripping.   A small triumph.   Matt came to the bathroom door and said, “You better come quick, Daddy, we’re flooding.”
            What now?   Danny followed Matt back to the laundry room, where  Kevin was looking at the washing machine and Cathy was mopping up some water.
     “What happened?”
     “The washing machine overflowed,” said Cathy.   “It must have a leak somewhere.”
     “Maybe you overloaded it.”
     “No, I’ve been careful since last time.   The machine may just be shot.   It came with the house and that was over ten years ago.”
     “Yeah.   Well, you’d better call someone tomorrow to take a look at it.”

     The washing machine, thought Danny.   The lawn mower.   The car, also over ten years old, would probably be next.

     Sunday night.   Danny lay in bed, next to Cathy, who’d already turned on her side and was seemingly asleep.   After they’d mopped up the laundry room they’d given the kids their baths and put them to bed.   They’d then collapsed in the living room and watched a Sunday night soap opera, about a family whose father was having an affair, whose mother was thinking of having an affair, whose oldest son was gay and whose daughter was a drug addict.  The program was terrible, but it was nice to watch someone else with worse problems than his.    They’d gone to bed shortly after ten.   Danny had to be up at 6:30 for his morning commute.

     He stared up into the darkness for a while.   He’d have to keep asking about that promotional exam.   They needed the extra money.   He wondered how much the washing machine repair would cost.   Well, at least they’d made it through the weekend.   He turned on his side.  Tomorrow was another Monday.

© Martin Green June 2010

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