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Spanky Jones
by Hunter Whitcomb

An eyeful of treachery greeted Spanky as he watched the two of them from his idling pickup.  He swore he had no reason to live.  Too bad the alternative held no appeal.  Walking out of the fancy brick home with its tile roof and air-conditioned porch, Thelma practically looked aflutter laying a kiss on that banty rooster’s cheek.  A flank of slash pine marked the turn onto the private road and it was through their beetle-riddled trunks that he had spotted her blue Malibu.  That’s when he pulled his pickup into the weeds along the shoulder and witnessed the whole vexing scene.  He had taken a swing by the bastard’s house to once again ask for more than a few hours a week of part-time work.  Maybe get moved into a full-time position.  He never expected to find Thelma there.  Not one hour before, she told him she had to go into work early for a meeting, something about new procedures at the Department of Motor Vehicles. 

      She was wearing her blue polka dot dress with a wide belt that accentuated her tiny waist and a neckline that could make any man forget his sense of decency.  Earlier, he had wondered why on earth she would don that bit of enticement to work. As for Earl, he was standing on his front porch in blue boxers and a wife-beater.  Quite the spectacle with his ropy arms, scrawny bird legs, and a front end that made him look knocked-up. 

      He wanted to kill them both.  Almost got out of the truck to rip them a new one, except where would that leave him?  This was no way for a man to live, beholden to a woman for the roof over his head, and compelled to keep his trap shut with Earl because the guy signed a paycheck for him every now and then.  How did he end up scrapping for every bone someone might toss?  Spanky threw the truck into gear, spun it around, and headed home.  Thelma’s home, he reminded himself with a bitter rise of bile.

      On the drive back, he thought hard over what to do: lie down and take it or say something to the both of them and lose what he had going.  When that crazy old hound of Bingham’s came running out of the onion field after his truck, Spanky had half a mind to hit him.  Better yet, drive fast enough to stay ahead and slow enough to keep him interested.  Take the old boy on a long run and give him a canine cardiac.  The dog followed him for another half mile toward Thelma’s and gave up.  A damn shame.

      As his tires crunched across the gravel of the driveway, he cussed over a gray pickup parked in his spot. 

      When Thelma first brought him here, he stood awestruck at what a sweet setup she had.  Her house sat on the edge of the woods, close enough to Lake George to have a fishing line soaking in less than a minute.  The house was old and small, with white clapboard sides, asphalt shingles, and a blue screened-in porch.  Nothing lavish, but in decent shape. 

      Spanky loved the place.

      He stayed in his truck, staring and trying to place the owner of the familiar pickup.  Someone from Jake’s Bar?  Maybe the Village Inn, where he drank coffee on mornings he had nowhere to go.  Thelma’s sixteen-year-old daughter was the only one who might have company there, but she was heading to school when Spanky left.  He had offered her a ride, but she said she would take the bus.  When he stepped out of the cab, music was blaring from the house, one of those new groups that girl played to death.