Standish Townhomes, Peking, Michigan, September 17, 2015
Bud rubbed his forehead.
“House, what do you think about always living beyond your means?”
“It sounds like something you should discuss with Dr Mario or Banker Mario, doesn’t it?”
“I don’t care what Mario has to say about it right now. What do you think?”
“I’m not an expert on the matter, but I would say it is not sustainable. Does this matter pertain to the relationship of you and Miss Burberry?”
“Uh, yeah. Nevermind.”
He dried his hands with paper towels above the dishwasher and tossed the crumpled towel in the sink. “If I don’t get that raise, I am in trouble. I think she might follow through on her threat.” He took another Keystone Light from the fridge and watched the Dog Fightin’ Channel for an hour before slumping upstairs.
Mayflower High School, Michigan, September 17, 2015
Burberry Sage waved at the security guard in his electric truck. Most of the students had gone home, except for athletes, band members and assorted nerds.
“Hello, young lady!” said the grizzled security guard. “What can I do for you?”
“I’m Miss Sage, the new TV teacher. I need you to take me over to the football field.”
“Sure, I can do that.” He motioned to the empty seat. “Hop aboard.”
Burberry Sage examined the seat first. “It doesn’t look that clean.” She wrinkled her nose at the man. “Can you do something about that?”
“Well, I wouldn’t call that dirty, but if it’ll make you happy…” He opened a plastic box in the bed of the truck and took out a can of cleaning goo and a paper towel. He wiped the seat thoroughly.
“It might be wet,” she said, her nose turned up. “Does your jacket stink?”
“What do you mean?” He asked her puzzledly.
“A real gentleman would let me sit on his jacket. But not if it smells like old-man sweat.”
“It might smell, then. I don’t know, ‘cause I can’t really smell myself.”
“I’ll take my chances,” Burberry Sage said. “It looks like you wiped it off.”
“I think it’s pretty clean, miss.”
“I appreciate it.” Burberry Sage watched the man work. “White shows every stain, you know.”
“No problem, Miss Sage.” The man tossed the bottle in the black plastic box and the towel on the pavement. “My name is Jerry.” He extended his hand.
Burberry Sage looked at his calloused hand with a grimace. “That’s nice. Football field, please.” She sat down daintily and adjusted her expensive Gucci Toshiba sunglasses.
“Okay, Miss Sage.” The middle aged man drove the truck down the pavement to the football field. “I imagine you want to watch Coach Stallion at work?”
“I met him, but I thought he was rude. I wasn’t very impressed.”
“All the ladies love Coach Stallion. Some of the men do, too.” Jerry looked wistfully at the football field. “He doesn’t even know I exist.”
Burberry Sage winced. “Eww! Too much information! Drive me over to the seats, but don’t go too far away. I don’t know how long I’ll stay.”
Jerry sniffled and wiped his nose with the back of his sleeve. “I’ll stay nearby, trust me!”
The electric mini-truck reached the end of the stands. “I’ll stay right here, Miss Sage.”
“That will be fine.” Burberry Sage left the truck. “Maybe you could drive a little further away, but close enough so you can see me wave?”
“What if I stay right here?” Jerry asked hopefully.
“No…further away would be better.” Burberry smiled. “I’ll tell him you said hello.”
“Oh my God, will you?” Jerry clapped his hands. “Thank you so much!” A tear dripped down his weathered cheek from behind his large black unfashionable sunglasses.
The beautiful TV and Reading teacher waited for the smitten security guard to drive away before she walked over to the chain-link fence which stood taller than Miss Sage.
The football team was running back and forth across the field, while Coach Stallion talked with two men. One of the men was very tall and had a massive jaw. His shaved head was covered in tattoos and Cyrillic lettering. The other man also had a shaved head with similar tattoos, but he was short and slight with beady eyes and a long nose.
“Hey, Vlad, if you think training with bayonets is a good idea, then I’ll let you try it out.” Coach Stallion waved to Burberry Sage. “You know I don’t understand all of that Russian training, but you know what you’re doing.”
“It will yield impressive results,” said the shorter man.
“Okay, Boris. I got a visitor,” said Coach Stallion, who handed the shorter man his clipboard computer. “Keep doing those drills.”
Coach Stallion walked over to the fence. “Hello, Miss Sage!”
“Attack formation!” yelled Boris. His surgically implanted megaphone rattled the stadium. The football players moved around to form a phalanx.
“That which does not kill me makes me stronger!” The short coach yelled.
The footballers repeated and marched down the field, keeping their formation.
“The Jewish race is a disease that must be exterminated!” Boris yelled and the team repeated.
Burberry Sage raised an eyebrow. “What are they saying? That’s like from an old movie or something.”
“They’re…Russian. Vlad and Boris have all of these secret Russian training tricks.” Coach Stallion shrugged. “We were undefeated last year, so you can’t argue with success. They are really into that Ultimate Fighting thing, too.”
Burberry Sage shook her head. “So because you have a good team, you think you’re hot shit?”
“Whoa! Miss Sage!” Coach Stallion laughed and displayed his perfect teeth. “You came out here to bust my balls?”
“No. I’m just curious.”
“Yeah, and you like what you see, right?” Coach Stallion grinned. “They all do.”
“I am not ‘they’.” Burberry shook her head.
“Of course not! That was rude of me. Maybe we could get to know each other over dinner?”
“I have a boyfriend.” Burberry looked at Johnny’s manicured hand. “Isn’t that a wedding ring?”
“Don’t worry about it,” he cooed. “She’s cool with it.”
“That’s gross. I don’t share my man.” Burberry folded her arms across her bosom.
“To each their own.” He shrugged. “You can’t resist me.” He smirked.
“Yeah, right!” She smiled. “Do you think I’m a silly blond bimbo?”
Coach Stallion’s black phone played ‘Toccata in D Minor’. “Hold on, Miss Sage.” He took the phone and answered it. The image of Bowser, King of the Koopas, disappeared. A bull-necked police officer appeared in his place.
Burberry turned around and walked toward the mini-truck.
“Hey, buddy, how’s it going?” Coach Stallion bit his bottom lip.
“This juice you givin’ us ain’t workin’ anymore,” replied the cop without a neck. “You gotta give us somethin’ better.”
“I will get on that immediately, Chuck. I’m teaching the team a new drill, can I call you back?”
“Oh yeah, sure, Coach. Go Indigenous Warriors!” The police man punched his fist in the air.
Coach Stallion tapped the screen with his index finger and put the phone and clipped the belt to the waistband of his black Gucci tracksuit.
“Hold on, Miss Sage!” Coach Stallion opened the gate and followed Burberry, who waved at Jerry who sped up to intercept her.
“I’m a busy man, I didn’t mean to be rude!”
Burberry gave the ‘talk to the hand’ sign and sat in the mini-truck.
Jerry the security guard’s lip quivered as he drove away toward the main building.
Johnny Stallion smiled and snapped his fingers. “She’s tough!”
He turned around and watched the team drill to some old German song that Boris played from his mouth loudspeaker. The only words he could understand were ‘horse’ and ‘vessel.’
After practice Johnny Stallion told Boris and Vlad that he would order the plastic rifles with bayonets, but that it might take a couple of days to get them. He told them to lock up the gym and the stadium and he walked to the parking lot.
Johnny saw his bright red, luminous Ferrari in the lot and waved to it. It started its engine and drove over.
“Allo, Signor Johnny,” said the Ferrari as it swung the driver’s door open. “Where are we going?”
“I got to tell you something, Enzo. That Miss Sage has gotten me all fired up.”
“Is that her over there?” asked Enzo. Coach Stallion looked around. “By that white Volga Victory?”
Coach Stallion saw Miss Sage about to drive off in her white Russian-made sports car. “No shit! She likes those Russian cars?”
“I agree she is beautiful, but I don’t like those vulgar Russian cars.”
“Me neither, but her boyfriend has some money.” Coach Stallion sat down. “I think she was waiting for me.”
“Probably to see what car you were driving, yes?”
“I’m sure. Enzo, let’s catch up to her.” The Ferrari sped out of the parking lot and onto Peking Center Road. “Where did she go?”
“She’s driving down Mayflower Road. I will catch up.”
The Ferrari zigzagged through slow moving rush-hour traffic to find Miss Sage at a red light. The Ferrari’s window slid open.
“What’s up?” asked Coach Stallion. “How about dinner?”
“Oh, it’s you.” Miss Sage rolled her eyes. “I don’t date married men.”
“Don’t be such a prude! I promise you’ll have a good time.”
The light turned green and Burberry’s Volga Victory sped forward. She didn’t look back.
“Damn! See what I mean?” Coach Stallion slapped the dashboard as the Ferrari turned left.
“She is one fine woman. Don’t worry- you will get her in the sack.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Who should I fuck tonight?”
“The nurse or the volleyball player?” asked Enzo.
“Some fresh, young pussy would feel really good right now. Send Chardonnay a message and we’ll meet at the library.”
“Of course, Signore Stallion!” The Ferrari made the arrangements and off they sped, driving well past the listed speed limits.
“Thanks, Nikita.” Burberry put her head back as the seat massaged her neck and the back of her head.
The Russian sports car sped down the side road, 20 miles over the posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour.
“No problem, Burberry,” said the Volga Victory in a thick Russian accent. The image of Nikita Krushchev, wearing an astrakhan spoke from the dashboard screen. “I give massage and then you forget about this sportsman.” The interior of the car was white except for the display of speed, fuel and time which was bright red. A red star adorned the steering wheel and the dashboard.
“How can he afford a Ferrari? His wife must be rich.”
“Do you want to know? I can discover this.”
“Go ahead.” She closed her eyes.
“Here she is, her name is Brighamina Stallion.” On the dashboard screen, the car displayed the image of an attractive woman with an oval face and long brown hair. She wasn’t as beautiful as Burberry Sage, but she wasn’t ugly.
“There must be something wrong with that bitch. Maybe she’s stupid.”
“She graduated with a degree in Mormon Studies from Utah Tech.”
“Oh! She’s brainwashed! She probably doesn’t even know what her husband is up to. Do they have any kids?”
“None. Her father is Joseph ibn-Smith. He is wealthy capitalist.”
“How rich is he?”
“Billions of dollars. He lives in Somalia. He is wanted by American FBI for connection to terrorism.”
“What a scandal!” Burberry sat up. “His father in law is a wealthy terrorist and his wife is a stupid religious bitch. Rich and sleazy.”
“Do you like?” asked Nikita.
“Yes, I do.” Burberry looked upward. “I’ve been waiting for my billionaire Prince Charming for a long time. I’ll whip him into shape.” The Volga Victory turned into her carport space, displacing some of the orange leaves that had fallen.
The door opened the seat angled up, making it easier for Burberry Sage to exit the car. She grabbed her purse and stormed out. She looked at Bud’s Ford Squirrel. “Piece of shit little car.”
She stepped in a small pile of leaves. “What the fuck? Doesn’t someone get paid to take care of this shit?”
Burberry’s pink PhoneBoy vibrated.
“I know the answer!” said the Princess cheerily.
“I didn’t ask you. Shut up.” snapped Burberry.
The PhoneBoy was silent.
Burberry walked across the parking lot and around the building to the entrance of the townhouse.
“Tiny shit box townhouse,” she muttered. The wind had picked up and blew leaves across Burberry’s path. She waved her hand at the camera by the door, which winked and opened the glass door for her. Leaving her purse on the small white wooden table by the door, she strode into the kitchen.
Seeing the empty beer bottles in the sink, she set her jaw and stormed into the living room. It was empty, except for her white Persian cat with yellow eyes, Oprah.
“Oprah! My baby!” Burberry knelt down and the cat jumped into her arms. “Widdle baby! How are you! I hope Bud didn’t mistreat you.” She stroked the cat behind the ears. “Where is that lazy drunk?”
“He is sleeping upstairs,” said the house computer. “He went to bed about twenty minutes ago.”
“He’s sleeping upstairs? Says who?” Cradling her cat, Burberry kicked her white shoes and stomped upstairs.
“Hey asshole! Wake the fuck up!” Burberry slammed the bedroom door open to find Bud snoring on their white circular bed.
“Huh? Wha?” Bud rustled and rubbed his eyes.
“Yeah! I saw those empty bottles in the sink! Oprah wants to go outside. What- are you fucking passed out? You don’t come up here until you get that raise, remember?”
Bud sat up. “Chill out, Burberry. I had three beers-“
“That I know of! Oprah hasn’t been outside since this morning while you come home, get drunk and pass out!”
“I came home early because we were supposed to go out and-“
“You‘re turning into an old man,” scowled Burberry. It’s not even six and you’re already drunk and in bed.” She continued to scratch behind Oprah’s ears. “Pathetic!”
“Listen, this is the first time I’ve been home before seven in I don’t know how long and I just wanted to take a nap.”
Burberry glared at him and pulled the comforter away.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable. I tried to pick up the cat and take her outside, but she scratched me. She bit me, too. I thought maybe the house let her out. I’m sorry.”
“We never go out during the week anymore,” said Burberry who noticed Bud’s lack of abdominal definition. “What’s wrong with your stomach? Where’s the six-pack?”
“I had to let Fit slide for a while until I see how this promotion pans out. I don’t like it either.”
“That is gross!” She looked at his flat, yet non-ripped stomach. “If you lose any more definition I won’t sleep with you.”
“Geez! The latest fixes are not cheap.”
“Oh, I see, you are upset with me because I want to look my best? Do you want me to stink and be chubby?” She narrowed her eyes at the man.
“Of course not!”
“What happened to the cool dude who I met at McBlackout’s?”
“I’m working as hard as I can! Give me a break!” Johnny frowned.
A strong scent of vanilla wafted into Bud’s nostrils.
Burberry let Oprah jump out of her hands and onto the white ottoman where she put on her jewelry. “Who picked out the carpeting for this house?”
Burberry stood akimbo. “Who spent hours looking for modular sections that didn’t clash with the walls, by myself, while you were getting drunk in Toledo? ”
“What?! I had to go to Toledo! It was my dad’s funeral!” Bud swung his legs over the edge of the bed. “Not this again!”
“He was your step-dad, drama queen!” Burberry pointed to the staircase. The bedroom occupied the entire second floor of the townhouse.
Bud grit his teeth. “Come on”
“Get over it!” Burberry glared.
“I am over it. You brought it up.” Bud shook his head.
“Don’t whine. I’m going tanning.”
“What about dinner?” Bud stood up; he was wearing boxers adorned with koopas. “Doesn’t that sound good?”
Bud just couldn’t stay angry with Burberry for long. It was impossible.
“All you do is work, come home, eat and sleep!” she yelled. “You’re only thirty-two and you’re turning into an old man! Forget that raise-what happened to that Ph. D you were going to get?”
“You try working seventy hours a week in a stressful job and you tell me how much energy you have.” He pleaded.
Burberry opened her closet door hard angrily. “Why am I still putting up with this?” She grabbed her white workout bag.
“Because I put up with you?” Bud lowered his voice. “Calm down and we’ll go to Le Sal Arabe.”
“I don’t think so.” Burberry Sage slammed the bedroom door and walked downstairs. She tried to slam the front door, but the house shut the door slowly. “You better be sleeping on the couch when I come back!”
Bud walked down the carpeted staircase.
“Why is she so difficult?” asked Bud. He heard the Volga’s mighty gasoline engine start up and tear around the corner.
He collapsed on the soft plastic sofa.
“Lights off,” said Bud. He pulled the white comforter over his head and went back to sleep.