Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)
TITLE: One More Call
By Nancy Jo Wilson
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"What's wrong with me?" he wondered. Finally, a job after months of waiting. A job after months of lectures from alomost everyone he knew. "A godly man takes care of his family," they said. "If you wanted a job, you could find one." And the worst, "What are you doing to make God God punish you like this?"
Brian didn't need them to remind him about his duties. It killed him to watch his wife darning socks because they couldn't afford to buy more. Finding a job was definitely not easy. His inbox was filled with rejections. "You're overqualified for this position; underqualified; we went with someone else..." How many ways can someone say 'no?' he wondered.
He hadn't been worried after the downsizing. They'd had savings. But the job didn't come. Then he tried living off of credit cards, but they were maxed before long. He hired on with a temp agency, but the work was spotty. And even when it wasn't, the pay didn't cover all of their bills.
Soon he had to turn to others. His father was a retired pastor living on a fixed income. No help there. His brothers didn't have extra. His church was glad to help, once. The last people he'd wanted to call were his in-laws. How can I tell them I'm not providing for their babygirl and grandchildren? he'd thought.
But, of course, he'd called. His wife had offered to do it. She'd meant well, but that would've been even more humiliating- Like saying he wasn't man enough to do it himself. That call was burned forever in his memory.
He'd dialed the phone and hung up three times before he let it get to a ring. Chiding himself, he let it go and waited an eternity before it was picked up.
"Hello," had come the deep, rich tone of his father-in-law's voice.
His intestines clumped together and there was a faint buzzing in his ears. "Hello Mr. Carlson, it's Brian. I've got some really good leads and I've paid all the bills, but we don't have any gas or grocery money," he'd said in one long breath; thinking he should get it all out before he lost his nerve.
"How much do you need?" his father-in-law said without pause.
"Umm, two hundred," he lowballed.
"That's not enough for the four of you. I'll send two-fifty."
And that was how those conversations went. "I need forty more for the power bill..."
"I'll send seventy. Take the kids to a movie..."
Each time he was humbled by their grace and generosity. Each time he swore to Susan they'd go see them the second he got a job. Each time he swore to himself, he'd never call them again.
Now he had the job and instead of calling to arrange that trip, he was calling to ask for money, again. The lump in his stomache rolled over and Brian sighed. He'd called his brothers first, hoping he wouldn't have to involve his in-laws. While they were happy he had a job, they couldn 't help.
Brian willed his fingers to dial and waited another eternity.
"Hello," came his father-in-law's voice.
"Hello Mr. Carlson. It's Brian. I've been offered a job."
"That's fantastic. Tell me about it."
Brian's mouth went dry. "Well, I haven't taken it yet. They want me to fly to California for training and ..."
"And you need a hotel, food and a rental car," his father-in-law finished.
"Yes," Brian squeaked.
"Why are you wasting time on the phone with me? Call and tell them you'll take it. I'll get a check out to you today."
"Thanks, Mr. Carlson. I don't know how I'll ever repay you," he gushed as the lump in his stomache began to melt.
"Brian," his father-in-law said gruffly. "You've been married to my daugther for eight years. It's time you started calling me Dad."
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