Mike waited at the intersection, revving his engine. The stupid woman in the car ahead could have made the light but didn’t even try to gun her way through. Nobody but him took good risks any more.
Just like Tony the construction foreman didn’t have the kahunas to go ahead and bury the flawed materials inside the construction. Who would know? Now the building was held up, and he, Mike was out of a job. Tony told him off in front of the other guys, so Mike took a swing. The foreman deserved the bloody nose.
Light changed. Mike leaned on the horn, swerved around the silver Toyota and clipped the bumper with his pick-up. In the rear view, he saw the car swerve and squeal a bumper along the median guardrail. He didn’t care and didn’t stop. If the old bat had gone through the light in the first place she would have been out of the way. He forced down the surge of bitter envy that he drove an old truck needing new tires and the old witch had a new sedan.
Nothing was fair in this life.
He rumbled up the driveway to the tiny house that Melanie had inherited from her mom. The place was a dump – had been a dump when she inherited it. It really grated on him when she nagged away about repairs. He didn’t own it, did he? So why should he fix it up?
She was working at the kitchen table on the accounts she kept track of for a bunch of clients. Her loser son, Jake, was slouched in an armchair, thumbs flying over the screen of his phone. Mike slammed the door, kind of enjoying how they jumped and looked at him with fear in their eyes. He paused, relishing their frozen respect, then strutted over to where Jake sat.
“Out,” he growled. “I’m sitting here.”
“This isn’t your chair,” Jake protested.
Mike leaned in, grabbed the kid by the front of his shirt and heaved him out. Jake staggered a few steps and regained his balance.
Mike turned his head toward Melanie. “Get me a coffee.”
“Why aren’t you at work?”
“Because I quit that damn job. I deserve better. Now, get me a coffee. And make it fresh. None of that leftover crap.”
Jake backed up a few steps until he was leaning against the wall by the door.
Melanie didn’t move. “You got fired again, didn’t you Mike? What was it this time? Did you shoot off your mouth or pick a fight?”
“I’m not taking their BS. End of story, okay?”
“I’m not going to support you any more.” Melanie turned away from him, back to her accounts.
In a flash Mike was out of the chair and across the room. All the frustration, all the rage against all the idiots who put him down, who never gave him a chance, surged through the slap.
She fell to the ground, crying. With a short exclamation, Jake slipped out the door. Instead of being used up in the slap, anger exploded in Mike. He hauled Melanie to her feet and shook her, tried to shake away the hurt and desperation of years. And the rage sang through him, finally giving him some power, some say in the stupid world. He slapped her twice more and threw her towards the kitchen.
“I said coffee!” he roared.
Hands shaking, she was pouring the cream for him when the police car pulled up.
And then, like everything else, it was all done. Mike wanted to cry like a kid, but he covered it up with a long string of curses.
“I’d advise a restraining order,” the cop told Melanie as he shoved Mike into the back of the squad car.
Melanie put her arm around Jake who was scowling fiercely. Before the car pulled away, Mike saw the brat flip him off.
He sat back against the seat, handcuffed wrists aching, and wondered savagely why people made his life such a hell. There was nothing fair in the world at all.