Chapter 3: Trenton Bugs Out
“If I don’t have coupons, I can’t buy anything!” Mae protested. “Please give me the scissors!”
Trenton gave Mae a tired laugh but held the scissors out of her reach. “Tell me you love me.” He grinned.
“I love you, ya dumbass, now give me the scissors.”
Trent handed them over and received a kiss for ransom. “I’m heading straight for the shower. You wouldn’t believe the day I had.”
He went into the bedroom and emptied his pockets onto his dresser. He yelled over his shoulder back at Mae. “Raul thought he’d be funny and loosened the cap on the bulk jug of red curry. Guess how many gallons of house dressing we had to make to balance out about a cup of the stuff.”
“No idea,” she yelled back.
“Well, considering that we use about a tablespoon per gallon… ” He grabbed a towel from the linen shelf, flung it over his shoulder and went into the bathroom.
“How many?” Mae snipped a coupon for buy-one-get-one-free rotini pasta (limit 12) and set it aside just in case she found a better one.
“Sixteen!” Trenton turned on the hot water and eased his tired muscles under the shower head.
Mae came in with a Pennysaver and her scissors. “Sixteen gallons of dressing?”
“Yeah,” Trent said between soapy splashes. “We won’t be able to use it all. Wouldn’t go through that much before it started going bad. Gonna donate it to a shelter or something.”
“Gonna give’m the lettuce and tomatoes to make the salad too?” Mae quipped.
“I don’t know. I’m sure it’ll work out.”
“Sixteen gallons of dressing,” Mae said with a laugh.
“Can’t hear you!” Trenton had shampoo and soap and hot water running everywhere.
“I said,” Mae yelled, “sixteen gallons of…. OH MY GOD THAT IS SUCH A WEIRD-LOOKING BUG!”
“BUG??” Trenton’s irrational fear of anything with six or more legs overcame his rational need to remain upright, and he lifted a leg to flee the tub. The problem was, his face and beard were covered in soapy water, and the floor of the tub was too.
Before Mae could explain the full situation, Trent was feet up and butt down, and in spite of a probable broken rib, Mae burst out laughing.
“I know it’s not funny, but are you okay?”
“No, I’m not okay,” Trent painfully pulled himself up and wiped the soap from his eyes. He stepped very carefully out of the tub, and looked at Mae’s strange bug.
“It’s just this weird ant,” said Mae. “Look, really.”
Trenton’s breath hitched from the pain in his side. “I just fell over a fucking ANT?”
“Oh, sweetie, I’m sorry.”
“Sorry isn’t going to make this day any better.” He stepped back in the shower. “Had to go in early because the prep guy called in sick, had to stay late because Raul had to be a prankster, now I think I -*ow!*- broke a rib over a…” He leaned out of the shower to drive his point home to Mae face to face. “Because of a freakin’ ANT!”
On the word ‘ant’, Trent’s enthusiasm got a little too much momentum going, and he lost his balance. This time, he managed to pull a disco twirl and almost did the splits before falling (again) on his side (again) and cracking a rib (if not before, then now, again).
Mae rushed to the tub and turned off the water. “Trent! Are you okay?”
He moaned out, “Not really,” before refusing to talk in exchange for focusing on trying to breathe without too much excruciating pain. He pointed to his side and mouthed, “Broke.”
“Shit,” was all Mae had to say. She stood up and looked at her naked husband laying in the tub, covered in soap and water, and holding his side. She bit her lip; she covered her mouth; she even held her nose to see if that would help, but no. She started laughing again.
“You know I’m going to have to get someone to help you out of there and get you to the urgent care, right?”
Trenton rolled his eyes and sent telepathic messages to his dear wife that she’d better stop laughing and just get him some help.
“I’ll call Steve; be right back.”
Trent lay in his recliner, and Mae brought him some sweet tea. “Thanks, babe.”
“I’m sorry I laughed, but it was funny.”
“How are the pain pills working?” Mae put an afghan over his legs and stroked his forehead. “Is the pain better?”
Trenton nodded. “A bit. Hurts like hell to breathe though.”
“Just relax. I’ll take good care of ya.”
A knock at the door called Mae away. She opened the door and Darlene ran right in.
“I heard about poor Trent. Is he gonna be all right?” Darlene looked around. “Where is he? I wanna tell him to get well soon.”
Mae held on to Darlene’s arm. “He’s resting. Tomorrow might be better.”
“But we just got back from our camping trip at the river, and heard the news, and I came right over. Can’t I just see him a minute?”
“What is it you really want, Darlene?”
“Well,” Darlene gave Mae a sheepish smile, “if it’s not too much trouble, I was wondering if he’d sell me a couple of his pain pills. What’d he get? Oxycodone? Tramadol? Vicodin?”
“He’s in a lot of pain and needs his meds.”
“Oh I’m sure he’ll feel better by tomorrow. Maybe he could spare one or two just for tonight. How about twenty dollars?”
“Darlene.” Mae put her hands on her hips.
“You don’t have to get uppity about it. I just came over to wish him a speedy recovery.”
“Well, if he changes his mind…”
“Bye, Darlene.” Mae helped her out the door and shut it. “Ugh. Sometimes that woman…”
“Who was it?” Trenton’s painful voice came from the next room.
Mae walked in to him. “Darlene. She wants to buy your pain pills.”
“Figures. Thought she and Randy were camping.”
“Me too. She said they just got back tonight. Anyway, she said to tell you she wishes you a speedy recovery.”
“And my pills.”
They shared a laugh and the door rattled with another knock.
“If that’s her again, I won’t be responsible for my actions,” Mae said and stormed off to the front door.
Steve and Ruth stood there. Ruth held a casserole, and Steve held a stack of magazines.
“Oh, it’s you. Come on in.” Mae opened the door all the way. “He’s in there.” She pointed Steve in the right direction while she and Ruth went to the kitchen.
“Hey, man. You look okay to me. Wanna go toss some shoes?” Steve sat down near Trent and put the magazines in his lap.
“It was when I got you out of the tub.”
“Oh god, don’t remind me.”
“You’re sexy when you’re naked and wet.” Steve barely kept a straight face.
“If I could move, I’d break your ribs!” Trenton groaned and looked at the magazines.
“I thought you could use something to keep you occupied while you’re fixin’ up.” Steve pointed to the one on top. “That one’s from the barbershop I go to. I haven’t looked in it, but it’s got some travel stuff. Thought you might like it.”
Trenton shuffled through the stack of magazines. “Better Homes & Gardens?”
“Well, that one was from Ruth.”
They heard a knock at the door and Mae’s voice answering. From the other room they heard her say, “I guess so. Come on.”
Maggie and Rob squeezed into the room.
“Oh you poor thing,” Maggie said. “Here. I fixed up some liniment from my grandma’s recipe. It’ll help heal those ribs up in no time. Rub it on three times a day.”
Trent took the small jar and opened it. His nose didn’t get within ten inches before being assaulted by a spicy odor more pungent than a cup of red curry. He slammed the lid back on. “Thanks, Maggie.”
“We just wanted to tell you to get better soon, and if you need anything, just holler.” Rob held his hand out as if to shake with Trent, but Trent just looked at it and gave Rob a look that said, ‘really?’ Rob’s hand went awkwardly to his side. “Uh, well, I guess we’ll go and let you recuperate. Call us, okay?”
“Okay, will do,” Trent said through clenched teeth. “Damn this hurts.”
As Maggie and Rob left, Darlene went right in past them into Trent’s recovery room. “Hey, Trent, I’m so sorry to hear about your accident, and I was just wondering if…”
“Darlene Wheelock, get on back home!” Mae stormed in and pointed to the door.
“Come on, I just want to ask one little question.” She turned to Trent. “How about twenty dollars?”
Trent’s eyes widened. “What the hell?”
“The answer is no; now get on home before I call Randy to come drag you home!” Mae was in her war stance: hands on hips, feet apart, head down, and eyes full of fire.
Mae grabbed Darlene by the arm and dragged her to the door.
“Thirty-five, and that’s my final offer!” She hollered up the steps as she was being put down them.
“I’m sorry, but your account is no longer in good standing, and your transaction has been declined,” Mae said, and shut the door in Darlene’s face.
“What was she on about?” Trent asked.
“Guess.” Mae looked at the prescription bottle on the table.
Steve, Ruth, and Trent, all at once rolled their eyes and said, “Ohhh. Yeah.”
“We’d better be going too. Call me.” Ruth gave Mae a little hug and patted Trent’s arm.
“See ya, buddy. But not like I saw you this afternoon. Ever. I hope.” Steve saluted Trent, and he and Ruth went out the door.
Mae locked it and turned out the porch light.
As they got into bed, Mae turned to Trent and kissed his cheek. “Sixteen gallons, huh?”
They grinned, and Trent grunted.
“Shut up. I love you.”
“Love you too. ‘Night.”