October 14, 2011

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying #17)

Episode #17  "Here comes Christmas" (Click on "the "Grippers tab for previous episodes)

It was almost noon and Bob was just sitting in the lounge chair, feet up, heating pad on his lower back and eyes closed. Tracey had come to a point where she did not believe his condition was nearly as serious as he kept saying it was. He had been to physical therapy twice a week for three months and she was acutely aware of how often he would move around normally. She knew what she saw and Bob's actions and behavior had numbed her into cynicism. The truth was, Bob's back was definitely better but far from healed. The slightest wrong move could cause excruciating pain and when he tried to get up in the morning it might take him ten or fifteen minutes just to straighten up. However, his pill usage, constant complaining, the lack of money and daily pressure, topped off by his cleaning out the checking account to buy "street drugs" had Tracey desensitized.

"Bob, what about the Christmas lights?"

"Huh, oh, what about them."

""You always put them up on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, that's what."

"I can't today, Tracey. Maybe tomorrow. My back is killing me."

Jake came out from his room. "Hey, ain't we putting the lights up today?"

"Not today, Jake. Dad's not feeling good. Maybe tomorrow."

Jake mumbled, "He's never feeling good anymore. Whatever."

"What did you say to me, Jake?"

"Nothing. I didn't say nothing."

"Yeah, well, just don't get smart with me. I'm not in the mood for any of your 12 year-old nonsense. I just hope that you never have to go through what I'm going through. You don't have a clue, so be quiet."

That brief encounter more or less set the mood  that would embrace the family on its four-week trek toward Christmas Day. It was different this year---very, very different. Unemployment, disability, lack of money, overdue bills and Bob's addiction joined forces to create a constant, unending anxiety that was slowly but surely tearing the family apart.

Next Time: Christmas Day