Raftman entered his house. His wife looked out from the kitchen then looked back to the pots.
“You’re back,” she said.
“You’re right,” Raftman said. “I am back”
“There’s no need for you to be sarcastic,”
“Val, how the fuck am I being sarcastic,” Raftman said. “I just got in the door and you’re already giving me shit. You want me to turn round and walk out because I’ll do that,”
“You’ve been away for seven years, what’s another seven hours,” said Val.
“Jesus Christ you brutal. I gotta take a seat for a second here. Can I have a moment to myself, is that OK?”
“By all means, did you get that bill sent to the power company?” Val asked.
“Please, please, it’s all I ask, two little minutes, I’m trying to clean things up,” Raftman said.
“You’re trying to clean things up,” Val said. “Do you ever stop to wonder how they got so messed up in the first place? Who made the mess in the first place huh?”
Raftman lifted the remote to the TV and turned it on. The local news told of a series of shootings. Val stepped in front of the box and Raftman reached for the newspaper.
“You can’t just ignore me,” Val said.
“I’m not ignoring you,” said Raftman. “What I am doing is just watching a little TV before dinner then after we can talk before I go out,”
“You’re going out again are you? Some life, some priority you got,” said Val.
“You think I’ve got some kinda ulterior motive. I’m not going out for me I’m going out for this family,”
“You’re busting out at Nicolos for us,”
“I’m not going to play poker I need to speak to people, that’s where they are so that’s what I do, I go to them, nothing else,” Raftman said.
“You sure about that?” Val said.
“Positive, how come it’s always got to be a big fight with you I mean, do you think I want to go there, no. Facta the matter, I gotta.
“You gotta,” Val said. “Only you could here yourself I never heard so much shit in all my life. You should be ashamed of yourself, you know that right?”
“I know you don’t like me going out,” said Raftman. “But listen to me, this isn’t going to be good. Fact, I’m going to be shitting my pants,”
“Promise?” Val said.
“I don’t promise to shit myself,” said Raftman. Val laughed and threw a tea towel at him. “Hey, that fucking stinks,” he said. He approached her and took her in his arms. “I’m just out, I gotta get a lay a the land. Gotta move quick because that guy on other side of the street. He’s been doing his own thing, and he’s taking us to the cleaners. You think that some of your old friends’ll still be there for you, but they moved on. He’s got them signing contracts and all. I mean, this guy is slick. Like real slick, you know? Once again, I’m playing catch up with everyone around me.”
“What will happen to us?” Val asked.
“Fuck if I don’t know,” said Raftman.
He walked into the kitchen and looked at the pots on the stovetop.
“Smells good,” he said. “Is there anything I could have before I go out? Goddamn, I’m so hungry.”
“Take some of the beef,” Val said to him. Raftman took several slices of beef. “That’s enough. The kids will need some,”
“Where are the kids?” he said. Val shrugged.
“I don’t know, I’ve been in the house all day trying to get back on top of the paperwork,” said Val.
“That’s tasty, that’ll keep me going. Do they sleep here at least, can’t think of the last time we all sat down together, you know. Damndest thing”
“They do, it’s just that there are so many of the times when I can hear movement. Sometimes this house feels haunted,” Val said.
“It is haunted. I’m the spook. I’m the ghost. Jesus, Val, I mean, I fucked the whole thing up, didn’t I? I’m sorry.”
“You got dealt a bad hand,” said Val.
“Story of my life,”
“Look, I messed up too; I didn’t know what I was doing I made some bad decisions. I messed it up too.”
“You did the best you could, baby, come here baby. Look, it’s not worth crying over, baby. We’ll get through this, we’ve been through worse,” said Raftman.
“When?” Val said.
“Huh, geez, I’m going to be honest baby. I don’t have examples off the top of my head but it feels that way don’t it? Or maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know I’m tired. But if we are going to get through this, then you have to let me go,” said Raftman. Val nodded and stepped away. Raftman went upstairs and changed his clothes into a casual suit. He put on his shoes. They were scuffed. Tied the laces and went back downstairs. “That’s me gone,” Raftman said walking towards the door.
“Honey your shoes,” said Val. “You can’t be going out like that,”
“Like I gotta choice, I gotta do it, I mean I’m fucking late and all,” said Raftman. Val nodded, and Raftman walked out the door and got into his station wagon. He reversed the car from out the drive and turned left at the intersection. It began to rain.
Raftman pulled over at a hotdog stand. It was under the bridge.
Hey, could I get one of those, Raftman said.
That you, Raftman? said the hotdog vendor. Holy shit, when did you get out. Hey, they telling me you got a draft round the back.
I, do I, who the fuck are you? Raftman said.
Oh, you don’t know me but believe me when I say I heard all about you, the hotdog vendor said and then laughed. He held eye contact with Raftman the whole time and an open mouth smile remained on his face after the laughter had stopped.
Well, that’s good, said Raftman. Glad my reputation precedes me. Do I need a password for Nicolos?
Password? said the hotdog vendor. Password?
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