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Short Stories by Max Oberon

We Live in Exciting Times…and We Die in Boredom

Running late again, Mick thought he’d be sure to get his ass chewed by the boss. “See you later dear,” he shouted up the stairs to the Missus as he opened the front door to leave.

“See you honey have a nice day.”

“Yeah right”, then Mick’s usual response, “nice day, fat chance at that dump of an office.”

“Hey where are you off to this time?” Mick asked the neighbours Jim, Suzie and their two kids throwing back packs into a big taxi.

“Hi Mick, Sri Lanka this time, but only for a month. Brother’s coming round every day to check mail, do bins, you know. Keep an eye on the place for us. Gotta dash. Have a nice day.”

Arseholes, how come they are always off on some adventure? Must have won the lottery or maybe her folks keep giving them money, they look like they’re doing okay when they come round, always smiling and joking, they’re arseholes too.

Car starts first time, still smells new, only four weeks old and the latest Ford model, heaps of power, better than that piece of crap Jim and Suzie have. Mick felt good now, sort of like a road warrior, the V8 sounding powerful as he backed out the driveway. ‘Shit where did he come from?’ was Mick’s next thought.

“Idiot!” Mick shouted as some clown raced down the street as he was about to back onto the road.

“I’ll show him,” said Mick into the rear view mirror. Out of reverse, slam into drive, hit the gas and the power surges. Street’s a bit tight but he can still cut him off before the tee junction, ‘see what he thinks of my new wheels as he gives him the finger.’

“Fuck you,” mouths the other guy through his window. Mick thinks he’ll get out and see who gets fucked at the junction. The arsehole turns off left, Mick’s stuck in the right turn lane. ‘At least he knows my cars much better than his,’ thought Mick smugly.

“Jack and Lily, sure you’ve got all your things on the list we made out yesterday?” Suzie asked her two very excited children as Jim paid the taxi driver at the International Airport.

“Sure do mom, the children chimed.” After the last trip to Central America, when Lily left her notepad at home and Jack forgot his camera, Suzie felt sure they would have taken extra care. “Can we really ride on elephants mom and eat fresh coconuts straight off the tree?” asked Jack. Suzie beamed “Sure can and heaps of other fun stuff too. Did you make out your bucket list for the trip like we talked about?”
“Mine’s more like a barrel list, couldn’t fit it all into a bucket!” giggled Lily. Even Jim heard that and burst out laughing together with his wife and lovely kids. They might only be ten and twelve, but boy were they having some adventures.

Mick pulled into the driveway at work. What a great run. Instead of taking twenty minutes, he’d done it in fifteen. Great driving, only one red light but he knew the camera was out for maintenance, his mate had told him that in the bar. Hopefully no speeding tickets today, God how he hated those cops giving out tickets like it was lollies on Halloween. They’re all arseholes, sometimes you’ve just got to speed to get there on time, besides, he was a great driver and now he had the wheels to prove it. The cops should make allowances for great drivers with a new car. Shit that reminds me the first payment is due tomorrow, why the hell are the payments so much? Maybe his boss would let him do a bit extra overtime to help make the payments. His wife Sara wasn’t too keen on shifting her hair do to every two months instead of one month; that would be a big help with the payments; well at least it would pay for the extra insurance.

“Hi Peter.” Mick greeted his boss with a large fake smile.

“Hello Mick, late again I see. We start here at eight sharp Mick, not eight ten.”

“Yeah err, sorry Peter.” He couldn’t use the ‘car wouldn’t start’ excuse this time. “There was an accident down the road. Looks like some stupid bastard bumped into a truck. No blood though, don’t think anyone was killed or anything.”

“Eight sharp Mick, it’s not like we haven’t talked about it before.”

“Err Peter I was wondering if you could fit me in with a bit of overtime, ya know, to help with the car payments like?”

“Mick, you are having trouble doing your regular hours, what makes you think there’s overtime for you? Get here on time and we’ll talk about it.”

“Yeah right okay Peter, it’s the Mrs with her fancy hairdos and the kids, they cost a fortune, every week it’s a new ‘i’ this or ‘i’ that, they must think I’m made of money.”

When Mick arrived at his customer’s support desk just off from the main reception area, his phone was ringing. Finally finding it under the piles of paper and various coloured manila folders he thought ‘Why couldn’t they give me a bigger desk and yeah, more filing cabinets, that would make a difference. A row of three drawer cabinets just looked like crap, not businesslike or anything, that’s why he didn’t use them. This tiny grey walled office in a corner of the shop where the air con didn’t venture, God, this really was a shit job.’

“Peter’s Plumbing Service, Mick speaking.”

“Mick it’s me,” said Sara.

“What’s up honey?”

“It’s the neighbours. I just heard in the coffee shop that they’ve gone off on another trip. Shit Mick that’s about four in the last six months and every weekend they’re off somewhere. Where are they getting all the money from?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“We haven’t had a trip in years, not even a weekend away. Last time we went somewhere was your sisters and you had a fight with her boyfriend. I think it’s time we started having some fun and I wanted to tell you that.”

“He was an asshole, all English pricks are assholes and if you want some fancy trips, well you can start by getting another job; that part time crap at the Pilates studio isn’t going to pay for diddly shit.”

“Look Mick I’ve told you I’ve tried to get a better job but things are tough now. Why don’t you ask your boss for a raise?”

“He’s a right arsehole, he won’t even give me some overtime.”

“Well I’ve taken a step in the right direction. One of the ladies that comes to the studio is a Life Coach and she says she will give you and me a free session. She drives an Audi and wears real nice clothes, I reckon she knows a thing or two.”

“The hell she will, I don’t need some stupid know it all bitch telling me her version of how to get my shit together. Besides, she’s probably got some high flying boyfriend or husband with a decent job.”

“Mick, pull your head in, women can be successful too. She gave me a card and I’ve had a look at the website. She normally charges $150 for an hour session so we are going to have this free one.”

“Thieving bitch if that’s how she pays for her car and fancy clothes.”

“Mick, my dad bought you that book last Christmas about financial independence and you haven’t even opened the front cover. I’m sick of being tight for cash and having to scrimp and make do. The neighbours are off on another adventure and I want some of that too, so I say we go and see what she has to say.”

“I’m telling you, it’ll be a whole lot of crap about goal setting and budgets and saving money and shit like that. Look, we’re doing okay. We have a home and a new car and the kids had some new clothes just a few weeks ago.”

“For heaven’s sake Mick, we are up to our eyeballs in debt, God knows how we’ll make the new car payments, the rents already two weeks behind; I’m sick of it Mick. It’s time for a change and this is the start of it.”

“Mick, there’s a customer out here who’s been waiting almost ten minutes to see you about their account, what’s going on?”

“On my way Peter, just some urgent family business, you know, to do with the kids.”

“Gotta go love. I’m off to the game after work and just a couple of drinks with the guys after. Should be home by ten, don’t wait up.” He hung up the phone, rose from his broken office chair, forced a smile and walked to the reception area.

Later that week…

“I told you I don’t want to do this. If the bitch tries to suck us into one of her programs or sign up for more sessions, I swear I’ll smack her in the mouth.”

“Mick you’ll calm down and be perfectly pleasant and for God’s sake, slow the shit down, I don’t want to die in a blazing inferno on the side of the road!”

“These clowns are the ones that should die at the side of the road. Look at this cretin driving at the speed limit.”

“Do you think driving on his back bumper is a good idea? What if he has to stop in a hurry and you bend your precious new car?”

“This car is so much better than that piece of crap, I’ll be stopped way before he does. Besides, I’ve told you before not to criticise my driving, I’m a great driver. The instructor at the driver’s rehabilitation school said I could be really good.”

“He also said that the next time you lost your license you would likely go to prison.”


They wheeled their new Ford into the car park of the neat and tidy four level office block with its grey exterior and black trims around the tinted windows. Mick took in the sign at the entrance which announced Berkshire Professional Suites. It looked like there were various professionals with their offices here. A Chiropractor, Nutritionist, Massage Therapist, Bowen Therapy Practitioner; whatever the crap they all did, seems like this was the place to come and see all manner of whackos.

“Professional suites, maybe she’s a hooker after hours,” said Mick.

“You think you are so funny. She’s a very pleasant lady and remember this is a free session. It’s a gift so let’s see if we can find out anything from it.”

“I’m telling you, it’ll be all crap.”

“Hello Sara and this must be Mick,” said a tall elegantly dressed women in her mid-thirties. Mick took her in with one full head to toe body scan. About 5 ft. 8ins, slim, great figure, fancy clothes, expensive jewellery. This is the sort of chick he would go after if he wasn’t bogged down with Sara. She’d lost it a bit since the kids. Tried hard to keep it all in the right places, but he could see it would be a losing battle. Maybe he should start making plans for a trade in, just like he had with the car. Yeah this one was a real looker, spoke fancy, even smelled nice.

“My name is Eloise Rigby. Let’s have a seat through here and we can get started.”

Eloise led them to a small but beautifully appointed meeting room. There was a square, glass topped chrome sided table with four soft brown leather office style chairs. Two paintings hung on the walls, both water colours; one of a woodland scene and one a palm fringed white sandy beach. Mick liked the sandy beach one and wished he was laid in a hammock next to it with a fancy cocktail in a very big glass; maybe even some brown skinned bare breasted local giving him a massage.

Eloise missed nothing. She could sense his cocky uneasiness. From how Sara had responded when Eloise suggested that she should bring her husband along for a free session, she knew these two were on a slippery slope. Armed with an undergraduate degree in phys-ed and a Masters in Economics, she had gone on to earn a Doctorate in psychology. Eloise believed in giving back to the universe and one of her ways of doing this was to take in a pro bono student each month. She never forced her professional services on ungrateful students and wasn’t quite sure how this one would pan out. But Sara had always been very pleasant to her at the Pilates studio and had seen her kindness to others displayed on more than one occasion.

Armed with a glass of water, both and seated in the comfortable chairs, Eloise took the reins and said, “Mick, I can see you were drawn to the painting of the tropical beach scene. What were you thinking as you looked at it?”

“Look I’m not really sure why we are here and I want to tell you upfront that I’m not into all this hairy fairy shit, excuse my French, about dreams and goals and all that crap. Sara said you were a nice lady and that you were interested in giving us a free session on something. So why don’t we cut the crap and get to the bit where you try and sell us something. Then I can tell you where to stick it and we can get out of here and stop wasting everyone’s time.”

‘Normal start to one of these sessions,’ was the thought that briefly popped into Eloise’s mind. Good, I’m in with a chance with these two.

“Very interesting speech Mick. Now if you would be so kind as to answer my question about the tropical beach scene we will be able to move on.”

Smart arsed bitch, spunky too, I like that. “I was thinking that it looks like a nice place and I could see myself there, lying around having a drink maybe even get a massage or two.” Sara playfully slapped his upper arm.

“Have you been to a place like that before Mick?”

“When I was a kid we used to go on nice holidays but I haven’t done anything like that since I was around fifteen or so.”

“Why did you stop going?”

“Well, I sort of fell out with my old man. We had a fight one day when I told him where to stick it and I was pretty well on my own after that. He cut me off like, yer know.”

“Are you friends with you dad now?”

“Look I don’t know what’s going on here; I thought maybe you had some get rich scheme you could put our way. We just need a bit more cash and we’re fine. I don’t need any psycho crap or whatever it’s called. If you have something for us get on with it, otherwise I want to go.”

“Shut up Mick and listen to what the lady has to say. The car’s in my name because of your credit history and if you don’t give this a chance it’s going back tomorrow, get it?”

‘Bitch’ he thought, ‘telling me to shut up in front of this high class whore, I’ll get her for that. But I love my car.’

“Sure so where were we?” asked Mick pleasantly.

“I can see you are uncomfortable talking about your past Mick, I too have a life to get on with so how about you both tell me about how things are going now and where you are headed if you keep on as you are?”

“I’ll tell you how things are going,” said Sara with the force of floodgates collapsing. “ We are in deep shit. Mick’s just bought an expensive new car we can’t afford. We’re behind in our payments on all sorts of things and our jobs are not paying enough for our life as it is. If Mick keeps on being late that’ll be the end of his job and then we are really stuffed. Our neighbours are living a fabulous life, always laughing and joking. Their kids are happy and what’s more they’re always off on some adventure somewhere whether it’s a big holiday or a weekend away. Just the other day they headed off to India or Sri Lanka or somewhere round there, for a month mind you and they took the kids too.”

“They maybe have high paying jobs or family money perhaps. It’s not good to compare yourself with the neighbours, there’s an old saying about ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’,” said Eloise.

“No that’s not the case. He’s a lecturer at the college and she does some part time work at the local kindergarten. I don’t even think there’s any rich parents around. His are quite old and frail and hers are younger but I don’t think they’re rich. They must be doing okay though, whenever they come around they’re always smiling and we hear the laughter from their back garden.”

“His car’s a piece of crap too,” offered Mick.

“You seem to like cars Mick. Tell me how you came to get your new one, what is it anyway?”

“It’s a Ford V8 GTX, 500 HP and really fast; I got a red one as my mate reckons they turn more heads.”

“Did you just go out one day and buy it?”

“Shit no, I planned it for ages, had to do up my old one and get a good price for it. Then I knew there was a new model coming out as I’d been watching it on the car forum. I’m so chuffed that I didn’t get the previous one, this one’s so much better. Anyway, it took about six months and then it all came together, sold the old one, got a small win on the horses and the local dealer said he had a red one coming in with the next batch, and whammo, I got exactly what I wanted.”

“How did you feel doing all that homework and then planning to make it happen just like you wanted it to?”

“It was great, I was so excited to see it come together. I’m going to work out which one to get next and I’ll do the same. Maybe even move up to a BMW M5 or something like that, but they cost a shit load and that’ll take some careful planning, eh Sara?”

“Over my dead body Mick, we are paying bills and getting on top of things and if that doesn’t happen soon you’ll be back to driving round a piece of Chinese crap like the one you just got rid of. And I want a home to call my own, I’m sick of renting. We need a place that’s ours so we can do it up and be proud of it when friends come round.”

“We’ll never be able to afford our own home, so don’t start that again.”

“Did you ever think you wouldn’t be able to afford your dream car Mick?” asked Eloise.

“Sure, it was way out of sight six months ago.”

“Mick, was it exciting planning and then getting the car?”

“It was great, best thing in years, eh Sara?”

“Maybe for you.”

“Would you say the other aspects of your life are fun and exciting at the moment?”

“It’s as boring as bat shit. All we do is sleep, eat and watch TV. He goes out with his mates to the game and bar and I stay home with the kids.”

“I get my kicks from driving my car fast and maybe a few laughs with the mates. I really like it when I can cut in and out of the traffic, let everyone see what a good driver I am and that sort of thing.”

“If you could make things exciting what sort of things would you do? Mick first.”

“I used to love fishing when I was a kid. I’d love to catch a marlin, maybe even go salmon fishing in Canada or Alaska, and car racing, if I was rich I’d go off to car races around the world and stay in fancy hotels.”

“What about you Sara?”

“I’d really like some new clothes and shoes; haven’t had a decent pair of shoes ever. Some nice stuff for the kids too, maybe be able to send them off to college. Young Sam wants to be a lawyer but we’ve told him to forget that and start thinking about something like a supermarket job or maybe the army.”

“Would you both say you’d like to have more adventure and excitement in your lives, maybe a bit like the neighbours you mentioned?”

“Yeah, I hate my boring life and job and it’s all shit,” said Mick with Sara nodding along.

“Okay, our times up now, so thanks for coming to see me. I hope it all works out for you. Sara. I’ll see you at the studio, probably in just over two weeks as I’m flying out today.”

“Hang on a minute lady, what do you mean that’s it, see you later. I thought we came here so you could help us out with some shit, maybe have a secret formula for us to get rich or something. I haven’t sat here for nearly an hour to go away with nothing, you must have something for us?”

“Where are you going?” asked Sara

“I’m off to the Caribbean for a vacation, I take a two week trip somewhere every few months”.

“What you going there for?” asked Mick with a touch of jealousy

“Well Mick is a beautiful place, from what you’ve told me it’s the sort of place you’d love. I’m not going Marlin fishing but I can’t wait for the scuba diving, the visibility sounds great, and the nightlife in St Thomas, now that’s exciting for me.”

“But what about us?” said Mick almost pleading to be thrown a lifeline.

“Mick, I can certainly help you turn your life around from boring to exciting, I help people all the time. But I’m not sure you’re ready for it and being brutally honest, I don’t have time to waste if you don’t want to make some changes in your life. I can clearly see where you are both heading, surely you can too?”

“So what do we do eh? I buy lottery tickets every week, what else is there if I can’t get a pay rise or maybe a better job?”

“Tell you what I’ll do, I’ll give you a little book to read about getting your finances in order. You will both read it, it only takes a few hours to get through it. Once you have both read it, if you decide you want to change your life from boring, to excitement and adventure, you can make an appointment to see me again. At that appointment I’ll decide whether to take you on as clients and get your life moving in the right direction. If you don’t read the book and haven’t started doing some of the things it tells you to do, don’t call me, understood?” Eloise reached behind her, opened one of the two drawers in the side table and retrieved a small package. “Here’s the book, no charge, take it as a gift from me”

“So what’s this crap about? A book? I haven’t read a book in ages.”

“Well Mick, maybe it’s time you did. If you like where your life is heading, keep doing what you’re doing because even you can see where you’re going to end up. If you want things to be different, then it’s up to you to make some changes and this little book will be a great start. If you don’t want a better life, leave the book on the table, I know plenty of people who do want to make a better life for themselves and are prepared to give it their best shot.”

Sara snatched the book and stuffed it in her bag as desperately as a drowning man grabs for oxygen. “We’ll read it and I mean both of us,” she glared at Mick who looked like he had just flushed a winning lottery ticket down the toilet.

“Yeah right, we’ll see,” said Mick.

The End

Copyright © 2016 Max Oberon

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