Friday Fiction – Once the dinner table was cleared
Once the dinner table was cleared and Liz helped into her bed, Claire approached Charlie. “We need a lawyer,” she said.
“A lawyer?” He peered across the top of the newspaper.
“Yes.” Claire lowered herself into the chair facing his. “I went to see JT,” she began, “…thinking I might convince him to be more reasonable. For months he’s been promising to bring the kids to visit Liz, but he never shows. Liz calls him and pleads to see the kids. He says okay, he’ll bring them on Sunday. She waits all week, and when doesn’t come or call, she spends the day crying. I know Jeffrey has a hard time dealing with Liz’s illness, but now that she’s doing better, I thought he’d at least let her see the kids.”
“He won’t,” Claire continued. “It’s worse than ever. Jeffrey said he’d sooner burn in hell than let any one of us see the kids. He pushed me down the steps and slammed the door in my face.”
Charles set the newspaper aside, “Pushed you down the steps?” he repeated quizzically.
“Yes. He said he’d call the police if I came back again.”
“Police? He has no cause to…”
“He said I was destroying his property.”
“Destroying what property?”
“The front door. Not the whole door, just the brass knocker and a little bit of wood.”
Charlie’s face had a question mark written all over it. “What did you…”
“I hit it with your sledgehammer, okay. It wasn’t something I was planning to do, it just happened.”
“But how did my sledgehammer…”
“I took it with me. If Jeffrey had answered the door, I would never have done it. All I wanted was to talk to him. I thought maybe we could—”
“Wait a minute. Let me get this straight…” Charlie still looked bewildered. “You hit Jeffrey’s door with the sledgehammer I keep in the basement?”
“Yes, but I only wanted him to open the door so we could talk. When I saw that flashy red car in the garage and him moving around upstairs, I lost my temper.”
“Why didn’t you just ring the doorbell?”
“I did for nearly twenty minutes. When he wouldn’t answer, I hit the door with the sledgehammer. Only once,” she added. “To show him I meant business.”
“Once, twice or ten times, is unimportant,” Charlie said. “It’s still against the law.”
“Maybe so,” Claire replied, “but if I didn’t do it, he wouldn’t have opened the door.”
Claire continued on to tell how she’d asked Jeffrey for Liz’s personal belongings—her clothes, jewelry, photo albums and such. “He said okay,” she explained, “but all he sent were her clothes, bagged up like sacks of garbage and dumped in our driveway.”