quit, huffed Chet.
But we need
your income, answered Dorothy.
Hows that any different?
mom - Addison and Terrance need me to be home with them. My therapist says that
your therapist! Enough with our marriage counselor, too! Besides, you weaned
Terrance so you could return to your gourmand mastery of Ukrainian
delights. Also, I do believe you used to be a lawyer. Lawyers make good
Oh, I get it,
Polished Polish didnt like your campaign, so you took your ball out of
the game and came home. Sheesh! Grow up!
You grow up!
They liked it lots and wanted me to start work on advertising for their lip
gel. In fact, my boss gave me another raise, 2%, and apologized for having no
new job to which to promote me. Chet started tearing up. He picked up
Withersmith, who obliged by going limp on his lap. The dachshund began licking
away the tears falling on Chets hand.
However, Mr. Henry,
upon hearing his human companions raise their voices, jumped out of the kitchen
window. Rutherford, who had been waddling into the living room, too, turned
away. He slid back behind the refrigerator. His quills notwithstanding, the
households loud, large, upright beasts scared him.
was at toddler ballet class. Little Terror, their son, had actually
fallen asleep in his crib.
I need my
therapist! We need out marriage counselor. You need a therapist, too.
Youre so unprocessed!
I need a break
from other peoples expectations, including yours. Im packing a bag
and driving to my fathers house. I still have the key.
and buried, Chet.
his house will be quiet.
I though your
family was going to cash in that property.
Take good care of the children and our pets. Ill be back, I think.
After filling his backpack with clothing, Chet walked out the door.
The first phone call
came from Chets boss. Apparently, he hadnt been notified that Chet
had quit. Without Chet to answer their texts, emails, and phone calls, Polished
Polish chose to call him.
In response, the
boss had leaned over Chets cubicle to see what he could share with
Polished Polish. Upon seeing only storyboards for Tell Bell, the boss had
shrugged. He had thought that Chet had assigned that account to Aryeh.
The again, things
had become weird around the office. Aryeh had stopped wearing carmine berets
and had insisted that Aryeh was his dead name, i.e., that the staff
should call him Aiden.
To boot, Romy had
removed all but her eyebrow piercings, had taken to dying her hair honey blond
and had stopped listening to techno punk. Presently, she was fixated with
classic violin sonatas.
As per Maylee, that
gal had switched her slitted skirts for loose, cornflower-colored pajama-like
pants and had started blowing soap bubbles rather than wear her headphone. Like
Aiden and Romy, that copywriter had switched things up on the heels of
If only Chet would
show up! When the boss called the mans home, he was given a very terse
reply by Chets wife. Essentially, she refused to discuss her
husbands whereabouts and cited something about not being subpoenaed by a
judge, thus not being required to answer anyone anything.
The boss had
forgotten that Chets spouse was a lawyer. He had not forgotten, however,
how often he had overheard Chet mumbling aloud about hormonal women. The
agencys owner shook his head.
A few days after
Chet left, Nancy Lynn rang the doorbell. Withersmith thumped his tail while
waiting for Dorothy to let Nancy Lynn in. Nancy Lynn usually petted him.
Nancy Lynn, who had
picked up Addison at toddler ballet, released the tot from her grip and bent to
stroke the doxie. For some reason, when Terrance, who was draped over
Dorothys shoulder, saw Nancy Lynn, he began screaming.
Dorothy smiled at
her young neighbor and took Terrance to the kids bedroom. Nancy Lynn
wandered into the kitchen. She had arrived soon enough to see Mr. Henry, two of
whose claws were still painted Lovely Lenten Rose, once more jump out the
The little girl
dismissed his departure as unimportant and opened Dorothys refrigerator.
Rows upon rows of stuffed cabbage sat in a shallow dish. They looked like
marching band members participating in an easy drill. She knew about drills
because once in a while her mother took her to watch the high school band
Nancy Lynn grabbed a
cabbage roll, took a bite, made an unhappy sound, and dropped the roll on the
floor. Bother Withersmith and Rutherford, who had pulled himself out from
behind the fridge, gobbled up that victual.
Again, raising her
shoulders slightly, the child returned to the living room where Addison was
breaking DVDs in her attempt to insert them into the slot beneath the
television. Nancy Lynn found a disc featuring lions mauling gazelles and popped
When the girls were
halfway through the video, Dorothy returned to the living room. She told Nancy
Lynn to go home. Thereafter, Dorothy gave Addison an early dinner. She hoped
that after an equally early bath, her older child might consent to go to
Dorothy had just
finished speaking to her mother and needed to process that call. Weeks before
her nuptials, Dorothys mother had warned her not to have married Chet.
Now, two kids and a few years later, she wondered if her mother had been
After deep minutes
of quiet reflection, Dorothy resolved that she ought to call Chets
sister. Surely, that woman could console her. Maybe, shed even agree to
sell their fathers house so that Chet could once more enrich his and
Dorothys bank account and so that he would have no readily available
place to which to run.
Hi Sam! How
are you? Guess what? I bought a pregnancy test!
The line hummed
Did I tell you
about the snowplough that Addison built from Legos? Did you know that she
learning to count to ninety-nine?
Sam broke her
silence. Of course, she can. She has our blood. I think you should return
to work, Dorothy. Children are expensive.
I don't see
why you can't give Terrance formula. After all those years of school, you
should work. My kids are no worse for being raised on formula.
Ive already begun to...
Has Chet had a
break this week? He sounded so tired the last time we spoke.
Addison ran out of
her bedroom. Auntie Sam? Mommy, I got to talk!
On cue, Terrance
erupted with earsplitting blasts. Dorothy handed her toddler the phone.
Sam? Hi Sam!
Oink-oink-oink. Cock-a-doodle-do. Aweeeoph. That's an elephant! Grrr.
Thats a lion about to eat the elephant. I saw a video about how lions
eat. I'll do it again. Aweeoph..."
The next call
Dorothy made was to Esmerelda, her older sister. For reasons which Dorothy
hadnt bothered to explore, Nancy Lynns mother, that unfailing
goodwife, had knocked on her door and had asked to watch the children. Dorothy
had smiled her thanks and then had promptly sequestered herself in her
Dorothy took her
phone out of its port on the high shelf over her bed. She dialed her sister.
Mr. Henry pushed the door open and then threw up a furball.
Dot? It's three a.m. Again! What gives?
neighbors watching the kids. Suddenly, Dorothy burst into tears.
Es, Chet ran away!
What? Hold on.
Im grabbing my reading glasses.
No, to think.
Whatever. Whats going on?
Ive long been the Queen of Puke? Only this time, none of my tricks are
working. Twins are more than double cargo. Es, twins! Reality check.
youre fertile. Not news. Tell me about Chet.
treatments. Twins are a typical, low-ball outcome. Wheres your
its five in the evening by you. What do you need?"
Sleep, to stop
throwing up, and a tongue without morning fuzz. Mostly, I need my
husband. Dorothy cried for several minutes. Esmerelda stayed silently on
All that jazz.
Send you money? We dont have to talk about Fran quitting, right
Es! I really
dont care about your wayward nanny. I care about my wayward
husband. Another few minutes of Dorothys tears and Esmereldas
silence followed. After Dorothy tried four square breathing, she asked,
you still there?
Not talking to
anyone else at this hour.
youre the best! Well, you'll be getting a new niece and nephew, or nieces
know. Don't care. Just want healthy babies and a home birth, but Magda won't
And G-d won't
let me have babies naturally. Get a grip.
crying again. What I really want is Chet.
the hormones means double the tears, too?
So, this was
his reaction to your news? That man needs to grow a pair and fast.
The day I was
going to tell him, he told me he quit his job. Es, he had just gotten a second
salary increase. I had just quit my job. We cant feed six people without
didnt like his job?
recalled that she had promised to bring honey babka and a side of yabluchnyk to
the next days coffee klatch.
neighbors still watching the kids.
Its the middle of the night, here. Were going to finish this.
Its the least you can do. As per funds, your family, currently, only has
four people and the smallest takes formula. If you were still nursing, likely,
youd not have gotten preggers.
know. I enjoy my private time with Chet.
Okay, too much
information. So, whyd he quit?
know. We fought, he packed his knapsack, and then he left for his fathers
him. Apologize. Even if youre 100% right and hes 100% wrong, make
peace. Trust me.
Dorothy cried some
more. Esmerelda waited.
youre the best. Next time we talk, lets make it a saner hour for
well talk about Fran quitting your household.
We could dip
into the principle, was all that a sheepish Chet said when he crossed the
threshold into their home.
You mean the
deposited mystery money? That was an enormous check, Chet. What if it was
mistakenly sent to us and we have to return all we spend?
matter. Well fight about it later. For now, just kiss me.
I was wrong
for getting mad at you. Im sorry.
that is, for getting mad at you. I think Sis and I ought to sell
Dads house. Theres no use in it sitting empty.
theres something I need to tell you.
Addison up for toddler painting classes?
thats a great idea.
pregnant. With twins.
Chet eased himself
onto the sofa. He didnt cry. He just blinked.
That night, after a
wonderful session of cuddles, Dorothy regarded the luminous dial on
their bedrooms clock radio. It was late. No, it was early. Even the birds
were asleep as no bit of sunlight had yet broken through the sky. Suddenly,
Addison and Terrances mom jumped up, pushed open the bathroom door, and
pitch the last of her dinner into the toilet.
Back in bed, her
mind wandered. What if, in Iowa City, a recalcitrant billionaire, on the brink
of divorce, had tried to shelter his money and his accountant had divested his
holdings into paper companies, but had erred, by a single digit, while typing
in a sequence. Almost one thousand new millionaires would have been made. She
and Chet would be one in one thousand new millionaires! The transfer would be
legal but using the funds would be immoral. It made no difference that the
senders intent was immoral, but legal.
The lawyer frowned
herself to sleep. She felt worse than nauseous. Sometimes, knowing the law was
Ma, yes, Es
was right that I have news. You see... oh, here's Chet, now. I forgot that he
changed his schedule. Love that flex time. I'll bet he wants to say
hi. Talk to you later.
Dorothy passed the
receiver to her dripping husband. He had forgotten his umbrella, again.
Hi, Ma. Gotta
change. Here's Addison. Yes, I promise to hold the phone to Terrance when
Chet trudged toward
the bedroom. He noticed the unfolded laundry on the floor but chose to ignore
it. It was equally impossible that his boss had let him adopt a hybrid working
from home/working from the office schedule as it was that Polished Polish liked
Chets halfwit campaign for their lip gloss. Advertising was repeatedly
proving to be the province of nitwits.
The father and
husband rescued a foil package of uneaten stuffed cabbage from inside of his
rain-sodden kakis. He listened to sounds emanating from beyond his door.
Addison was still voicing animals to his mother-in-law. Elsewhere in their
home, Terrance was screaming.
wasnt so bad to be immoral, sometimes. He and Dorothy, especially given
the advent of their twins, could immediately use a babymoon.