Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Born Under A Bad Sign -or- How Jack Got Jerked.
"What you gonna do? Time's caught up with you.
Now you wait your turn, you know there's no return.
Take your written rules, you join the other fools.
Turn to something new, now it's killing you." - Black Sabbath, "Hand Of Doom"
"Wine and women is all I crave.
A big legged woman is
gonna carry me to my grave.
Born under a bad sign.
I been down since I begin to crawl.
If it wasn't for bad luck,
I wouldn't have no luck at all." - Cream, "Born Under A Bad Sign"
As far as Jack was concerned, even a field of four-leaf clovers couldn’t turn things around. He was convinced that because he was born in a leap year, that he was under a secret thirteenth Zodiac sign and its symbol was a giant screw. He adjusted himself in the lawnchair, propped his feet up on the lawnmower, sipped his cold beer and tried to think of when it all started to go so horibbly wrong.
His youth had been a long string of disappointments from his speech impediment, his second-hand clothes, bullies, and the death of his father in a freak sausage accident. High school was no picnic either. He was the joke of the town after gym class and showering on the first day. Every girl in school heard the tale of his obvious shortage in the male department. His prom date insisted on a limo, a $200 dinner, a $600 dress, and no physical contact. The evening ended with a grudging handshake. College was a blur of sleepless nights trying to drift off to the sound of all the raucus parties down the hall that he would never be invited to.
After college, he moved smoothly into a telemarketing job for a temporary company. The pay was bad and the hours late, but there he met Ursala. She was going to change his life for the better. On their first date, she got drunk and was willing to hold still for a few minutes. Jack found a small piece of heaven that night.
It was to prove to be his only one.
Six weeks later, they were married and her dress was as ill-fitting as his itchy, rented tux, but they stood before the Justice Of The Peace and bound themselves together forever. At this point Jack thought he had it made. He was going to be a husband to a woman who loved him and he had just been named the head of the training department at the call center with a ten cent raise. Ursala mentioned something about applying for a credit card and he just nodded as he was trying to find the weather report in the local paper as a snow storm was to be expected.
The baby emerged and he didn't have any obvious defects. Jack thanked his lucky stars. Ursala stayed home with the boy while Jack moved to a new sales job that promised more money. It turns out that it takes a certain kind of person to sell gravel for a gravel company and Jack just wasn't what they were looking for. For six months he lived on Hamburger Helper without the hamburger. Ursala posessed many skills, but cooking wasn't among them.
Jack's mother died and left him a large amount of stock. Ursala rubbed her hands in delight at the news and called every catalog company that she knew for a new everything. Two weeks later, Enron folded and they were left with nothing but very official looking paper.
One day at lunch, instead of his usual egg salad sandwich from the gas station, Jack bought a Slim Jim, a coney dog, and a Powerball ticket. He just felt lucky, he later explained to the news cameras. The jackpot had reached one hundred and sixty-eight million dollars and Jack picked the right numbers on a whim.
He had also checkmarked the box that said Pay Now instead of the payment plan. For his one dollar investment, he got twenty-eight million after taxes. After this, Ursala demanded a new house, followed by a new car and a staff of servants.
After a particularly good dinner of chicken nuggets and salad delivered by the butler one evening, she suggested that they have an "open marriage" to spice up their love life. Jack quickly agreed in between mouthfuls if it meant he could sleep in the same bedroom as her again. Their son, Gustav, looked at them with weary glances as he filled his mouth with apple sauce and quietly farted.
Jack tried to better manage the money and invested some of it in a cruise that would bring them all together. His surprise trip was kiboshed when Ursala stated that she had an appointment in New York for a nip and tuck with an extended recovery while Gustav would be in Switzerland for his harmonica sessions for the next six weeks.
At this point, Jack decided that he needed some help. He decided to hire a personal valet to travel with him. Ursala had objected strongly to the expence but he had managed to catch her after her massage and before her mud bath, so her protest had only been strongly worded but not a definite no.
Jack's choice had been Vernon, his college roommate and lifelong friend. Jack didn't have many friends and Vernon had always been there in a pinch, right down to being the Best Man at his wedding when no one else wanted the job. The flight to Florida with Vernon had been uneventful other than Vernon's horrible snoring for the three hour flight. Jack's travel agent must have misunderstood his simple instructions when he asked to book a cruise. Their boat had only just missed the Spanish Armada by being in dry dock at the time to have barnicles scraped. The captain had only a passing knowledge of English, while the the crew knew none, and welcomed them to the trip of their ham. They weren't out of sight of shore before the captain suggested they wet their noses in what he knew as Brazilian marching powder and then wash it down with large amounts of the local rum. The crew had already availed themselves, and he and Vernon were welcome to what was left as part of the cruise.
The fact that the ship sank wasn't a big surprise to anyone other than Jack. The fact that Jack's fickle lucky stars spared him was. The idea that he and Vernon should survive such a horribble fate was unfathomable. They swam for a slip of sand above water while the whole crew went down in a boiling sea. The flames of the burning ship gurgled as they gasped for breath on the tiny key.
Jack would have been lost had it not been for Vernon. Vernon, the great silent, hairy ape of a man followed the TV show Survivior religiously and had read up on the subject in the vain hopes that they would be looking for a virtual mute for their next season. The eight months that they lived on cocoanuts and fish while squating in a rude hut were to prove to be the best time in Jack's poor life. There was no phone to ring or any demands on his time other than the eternal search for fire wood. Every evening, they would try to invent new ways to combine Jack's cocoanut hual with Vernon's catch. All of their combinations were an ivitation to an unending dirreah until the ship came.
It was a Brazilian fishing ship that noticed their fire on the shore and picked them up. When they got on, the cook brought them Spam steaks with noodles and they ate like kings and asked for seconds.