In Trouble

Mrs. Wolfe didn't even want to think about how much weight she must have put on in one night at Dennis's place. She was feeling something like the overeater's equivalent of a hangover. Water, crackers and carrots were it in the way of nourishment for the day. Anything more substantial and she could feel herself getting queasy. She knew in a few more days she would be relishing the experience, but not today.

That evening Mrs. Wolfe managed to get down a watery vegetable soup before going to bed. However, before she could fall asleep the sound of music started pounding down through the ceiling.

All my life I've wanted to fly
Like the birds that you see way up in the sky
Making circles in the morning sun
Flying high in the sky till the day is done. . .

"I can't break away," she could hear Dennis's voice sing out, followed by a steady thump of one of his wooden spoons on one of his meticulously clean pots.

Like a child in his fantasy
Punching holes in the walls of reality
All my life I've wanted to fly
But I don't have the wings and I wonder why. . .

"I can't break away," Dennis called out again. This was really too much too late. Mrs. Wolfe got out of bed. She put on her slippers and wrapped herself in a dressing gown and headed upstairs.

"Dennis, this is unacceptable," she spoke loudly at the door before he had even opened it to her knock. When he finally made an appearance his face was streaked with tears and he was obviously drunk.

"I am so sorry Eil..Mrs. Wolfe," said Dennis. He stumbled back into his flat and turned off the music before inviting her in.

"Goodness me," exclaimed Mrs. Wolfe, "You sit down and let me fix you some coffee." She poked around his kitchen trying to find a can of that powdered black stuff with no success.

"You will find the coffee beans in the cupboard to the left along with the electric grinder. The coffee maker is by the sink," managed Dennis, though he looked sadly at a mostly empty bottle of Grange Hermitage Shiraz.

After Mrs. Wolfe had fumbled her way through fixing coffee on Dennis's equipment, she sat down next to him and shared a cup. "Okay, tell me. What's on your mind this time of night."

"Oh Mrs. Wolfe. . " began Dennis.

"Dennis, Dennis, you can still call me Eileen. All right?" said Mrs. Wolfe.

Dennis nodded. "Eileen, I lost my job, my wonderful job." Tears welled up in his eyes and spilled over his cheeks. Eileen gave him a tissue from a pack she had in her pocket. "The owner started building before all of the finance had been finalised. I was only told today that the whole thing had fallen in a heap. Now, no restaurant, no job, nothing." Dennis brought the heels of his hands up to his eyes and began rocking. He tried his best to stifle his own whimpering.

"Can you ask for your old job back?" asked Mrs. Wolfe.

"I-I gave them two weeks notice. La Restaurant has already hired a replacement for me," he sobbed. Mrs. Wolfe placed her hand on Dennis's shoulder.

"I don't think we can solve this tonight, sweetie. I know what it is like to lose something dear to you. I lost my beloved husband not so long ago. You have a right to cry every tear right now. Just don't go hurting yourself in the process. Do you promise to stop drinking and go to bed after I leave?"

Dennis pulled his hands from his eyes and dropping his gaze to his belly, dejectedly nodded.

"You are undoubtedly a superb chef. Something will turn up. In the meantime, sleep. Tomorrow you may be able to sort things out," said Mrs. Wolfe. She gave him a hug before getting up to leave.

"Thanks Eileen," said Dennis with a hint of his old smile. He unsteadily showed her to the door and then, indeed, went to bed.


Pigs in the City
Copyright © 1999 Katherine Phelps
Story Shapes