Saturday, September 10, 2011
#SampleSunday How do you survive a Jobless Recovery?
Of course, there's no such thing as a jobless recovery because if you're jobless, there is no recovery. Try telling that to the people who run our government. Or talk to former FBI agent Joe Tremaine, one of the main characters in my novel, Jobless Recovery. In this excerpt from Chapter Five, Joe tries to make ends meet by doing odd jobs. As he works on repairing a deck, he contemplates other ways to earn money. These other ways might not be legal, but they sure would bring in money a lot faster.
The deck repair job wouldn’t take more than half a day. Joe figured he’d clear maybe a hundred bucks for his trouble, not nearly enough to pay for his new prescription. There was too much competition out there from men who’d lost their jobs and were willing to take on any kind of handyman work.
The glass door in front of him slid open. Joe’s customer, a smug-faced man wearing plaid slacks and a lime colored golf shirt pulled tight over his gut, walked out and stood over him with his hands on his hips like a guard watching a chain gang bust rocks.
“I’ve got to leave to pick up a few things at Office Max. You going to drag the job out to take me for a few more dollars?”
Joe straightened up and put down his hammer. “Being that you’re paying me so God-awful much money, I’m going to finish by noon so I can still have time to get down to the bar and hoist a few with my low-life friends.”
The customer had deducted fifty bucks from his bid, knowing Joe would be forced to take the offer. He picked up another nail and touched it to the wood. “You’ve got nothing to worry about. We already agreed on a price.”
The man’s wife sashayed out of the house wearing a microscopic tube top, flesh-eating slacks, and gold-colored high heels. She tugged at her husband’s arm. “Herb, don’t be so rude. Mr. Tremaine’s got only a few more boards to nail on. You go to the store, and I’ll pay him when he’s done.”
Joe slid his glance sideways, letting his gaze roam from her face down to her hips and back up. She was a lot younger than her husband. Probably a second wife, or even a third. Let Herb think he was interested, maybe even give him cause to wonder if it was safe to leave his young wife alone with Joe. Serve him right. It was a shame, though, that he couldn’t let the idiot know who he was really dealing with.
A few minutes later Joe banged in the last nail. His thoughts raced through his mind seeking a way out for him and coming up against a million dead ends. More than once since he landed in poverty he’d thought about making money, a lot of money, by robbing banks or committing any of dozens of other kinds of crimes. He certainly knew enough about crime to be able to put a good plan together and he already had the knack of ignoring his conscience when it was convenient. He’d always thought he’d make a good con man. The main problem, though, and one he hadn’t yet been able to get past, was that he stood out like a giraffe in a pen full of cattle.
Any mark would be able to describe him to the police. “Yes, officer, the thief was six feet tall and he walked with a limp. Dark hair, going gray at the temples. Small scar on his face near his left eye. Big scar on the back of his head. Looked kind of desperate.” Most of the people in his neighborhood would shove each other out of the way to collect the reward money.
Before he left, he pulled his cigarettes out of the glovebox and smoked one while he flipped through his appointment book. It was blank for all the days after today, except for the phone number of a woman who wanted her porch repaired because of termite damage. He tossed the book down on the seat next to his binoculars, still lying where he’d left them after the last time he’d driven down to the river on surveillance.
His mouth twisted into a grimace. Surveillance--as if he was still worth a damn and still had a job to do. A million times he’d driven past the house and down as close as he could get to the river without trespassing or being seen. He’d hidden among the trees, watching Senator Drake, so motionless even the insects didn’t know he was there. Pathetic, that he had to pretend he was still in the FBI.