By Avery Beutel
Ben was already up when Pascal came down to make the coffee. “Been up long?” She
said. “Not too long,” he said. “There is some fresh coffee in the coffee maker,” He said. “Do you think you will be able to fix the gate latch today?” She said. “I already told you I have to go to town today and I’m not sure when I will be back,” He said. Ben grabbed his mug and stomped out of room. “Where are you going, I only asked you a question,” She said. “You know that I am waiting for the supervisor to call about an extra shift,” He said. “I need to pay for the roof repair,” He said. There had been a bad storm earlier in the month and the big maple tree had fallen on the roof. Ben patched it as best he could but winter was around the corner and he was worried it wouldn’t hold. Things had been quiet at the Ben’s work but things always picked up around the holiday season and Ben hoped to pick up some extra shifts especially in light of recent news. They were both hoping for this but Ben was really starting to feel the pressure of having another mouth to feed. The stress was keeping him up at night.”I’m leaving,” He said “Don’t forget your lunch!” She said “It’s a ham and cheese sandwich… do you need to get gas?”
She said. “No, I’m good, I already fed Ace but don’t forget to walk him,” He said. Ben got in his car and sped down the dusty road. He rolled down the windows and cranked up the radio, letting his mind drift away. Ben pulled into the parking lot of his work and grabbed his bag from the back seat. “Good morning Skip, have you seen the boss today?” Ben said “Yeah he’s been on the phone all morning, I think he’s in his office now,” Skip said. “Thanks buddy,” Ben said. “Yeah good luck,” Skip said. Ben walked slowly down the corridor and knocked hesitantly on Mr. Martin’s door. “Come in,” he said. “Is this a good time Mr. Martin?” Ben said. “Good as any,” He said “I was wondering if you had thought about giving me extra shifts?” Ben said “Wish I could, just got off the phone with our suppliers, shipments backed up, won’t be here for a couple more weeks,” He said “It’s just that you know me and Pascal have a baby on the way and I could really use the extra cash,” He said “Look son I really wish I could but you know with the economy the business money is tight,” Mr. Martin said “Okay, thanks anyway,” He said as he
turned and walked out of Mr. Martins office. “Everything all right?” Skip said “Yeah I’m all good,” Ben said “I gotta go, I’ll see ya later buddy,” Ben said. Ben tossed his sandwich in the trash on his way out to his car. He had lost his appetite. Ben sat in his car, staring at the dash. He wasn’t ready to go back to Pascal. Too many questions, not the right answers. Without even thinking he turned the key in the ignition and stomped on gas until he ended up in the parking lot of Mcgintys. “Hey Ben! Haven’t seen you around here in a while, how you been?” Said Andy. “Yeah, you know, lots to do at home, It’s nice to see you,” Ben said. “What can I get for ya?” Andy said. “I have a beer,” Ben said. “Heard about the layoffs at your work,” Said Andy. “Yeah, it’s pretty rough,” said Ben. “How’s Pascal doing? Haven’t seen her in a while. Used to see her all the time back in high school,” Andy said. “Yeah, she’s, she’s good,” Ben said. “She was
always the cutest one, captain of the cheerleaders and all that,” Andy said. Ben gulped the rest of his beer and ordered another. “You see any of the other old high school gang?” Ben said. “Yeah you know I see Janet every now and then and Ricky likes to come have a drink sometimes,” Andy said. “I heard Scott moved to Arizona and is raking it in … Lucky guy,” Ben said. “I always though it was going to be you to strike it rich,” Andy said. Ben finished his third drink and put his money on the table. “See you around Ben,” Andy said. “Yeah,” said Ben as he walked out the door. Ben stumbled to his car and rolled down the window for a bit of air. He thought to himself Pascal would be mad. He was gone longer than he said and it was starting to get dark. He wouldn’t be able to fix the latch. Ben drove out of the parking lot and started his journey home, trying to concentrate on the road although he was a bit drunk and more than a bit
tired. All he could think about was the roof, the baby, and disappointing Pascal. He took a deep breath, he would soon be home. “Ace! Wait! Come back!! Ace!!” He could hear something in the distance, sounded like Pascal. He heard barking in the distance. “Come back!!” She said “Ace!!! Come Back!!” She said. Before he understood what was happening, he felt a thud, as his car began to swerve off the road. “NO!” she said “ACE!” she said as she collapsed to the ground.