Desperate Measures

By: Elle Casey

Chapter 1

AIMEE SAT AT THE TABLE with her checkbook in front of her and her ancient laptop open to the page that showed her bank account balance. Tears rose up and threatened to spill over onto the cheap, faux leather cover that encased the little pieces of paper that were supposed to pay her debts. Only, these particular pieces of paper that said, ‘Pay to the Order of’ weren’t going to be paying anyone for anything, anytime soon – seeing as how the balance glaring out at her from the computer screen was glowing red.

“Crap and double crap,” she whispered to herself. She looked over at the houseplant dying on the windowsill and said, “How am I supposed to buy groceries with no money? Pay the mortgage? Get gas?” She dropped her head into her hands, letting her pen fall to the table with a clatter. How did my life get so screwed up? she wondered, for the hundredth time in the past few months.

She pushed her chair out and stood up, reluctantly heading over to the telephone. By some miracle it was still working, even though she hadn’t paid the bill in two months. She was saving her meager cell phone minutes for emergencies, relying on this landline to communicate with the outside world. She dialed the number that literally made her sick to her stomach as she thought about who it would connect her to. Him. The person upon whose feet she wanted to and could fairly lay all the blame for her current sorry situation.

“Hello, Parsons, Kenrick, and Glad, Attorneys at Law, how may I direct your call?” said the cheerful, professional voice on the other end.

“May I speak with Jack Parsons, please? This is Aimee.”

“Oh,” said the voice, abruptly. And then, “Hi, Aimee,” in a softer tone laced with pity. “Hold on a sec, okay?”

“Sure, Lucy. Thanks.”

Aimee thought about all the years she’d known Lucy, the dependable receptionist at her husband’s law firm. She wondered how much Lucy had known about Aimee’s husband and his assistant, Tiffany, and she speculated about all the things Lucy hadn’t said to her. Aimee didn’t believe Lucy was as clueless as she acted, but she tried to remind herself that Lucy had children to support and really needed her job. She couldn’t be expected to tell Aimee any of the firm’s dirty little secrets, even if they did involve Aimee’s husband.

The line clicked and Jack Parsons came on the line. “Jack. What do you want?”

“Hello to you too, Jack.” Aimee hated her meek tone but didn’t have the guts to change it. She wished she could sound more angry, but something always stopped her. She wrote it off to years of her mother telling her that manners were what separated us from monkeys.

“I don’t have time to play games, Aimee. What do you want this time?”

She hardened her heart to his disregard. “I need you to pay me my temporary support. You’re three weeks late now. I can’t pay my bills ... I can’t even pay for food at this point.”

“You need to get a job. You know that. I’ve told you several times.”

“Listen, Jack, you know I’ve been trying. No one is hiring right now, especially someone without a college degree who’s been a housewife for the past ten years. I have no current work experience! I can’t even get a job cleaning houses, for chrissakes.”

“You don’t need to curse at me.”

“Whatever. I don’t have time for your self-righteous bullcrap. You filed for this divorce. I need to come pick up a check. When will it be ready?”

“I’m busy right now. Heading out for depositions. You can come by on Monday.”

“That’s three days from now!” she cried desperately. The couch cushions had long ago given up the last few coins they held. And if it hadn’t been for him emptying out their savings accounts behind her back, she wouldn’t be where she was right now – poorer than she’d ever been in her entire life. Even as a teenager, she’d always paid her bills on time with money she’d earned and saved.

“Not my problem,” he said callously. “Maybe if you’d tried harder to get a job two months ago, you wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Aimee gripped the phone so hard, it was a miracle it didn’t break in half. “Oh yeah?! Well, maybe you shouldn’t have cheated on me and slept with your practically-teenage, bubble-headed assistant! Ever thought of that?!”