A Wonderful Life
Jack stood at the doorway of his study and surveyed the devastation left by both his two-year-old boys. “How many times do I have to tell that woman to keep those blasted kids out of here!” he snapped to himself aloud.
As he entered the room, he dipped his head slightly to avoid the top of the doorframe, only just making it in time. He may have avoided another embarrassing bruise on his forehead but he was not as lucky with the toy car that he placed his bare foot plumb squarely down on.
“Damn!” he cried, just managing to right himself from the potential jaunt to the floor but the cup of coffee that his spade like hands lovingly embraced spilled out over his flesh momentarily scolding him through the hairs on the back of his hand.
“Shit!” He stopped and took a moment. The furrows on his brow won their war against his age lines as he looked angrily down the stairs actively searching for the perpetrators of this personal vendetta against him. The stairwell remained quiet.
He walked over to his desk and placed his now half-filled coffee cup down on the old AOL cd that he used as a place mat and then proceeded to work through the carnage scattered over his polished floorboards.
With everything placed neatly in a box he turned on the radio. The dj announced “Black, A wonderful life.” but the sullen tones of Colin Vearncombe hardly reached out happily from the radio to illustrate the point. “A wonderful life indeed. There’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one.” Jack said as he pushed the start button on his computer. “Hardly Jimmy Stewart is it.”
The welcome screen leapt into life and he clicked on the youthful looking image of himself from his teens that he used as his identity icon. He wryly chuckled to himself as he typed “wishful thinking” in as his password. It was one of the few things that still managed to curl his lips.
His round face reflected in the monitor as the desktop went black and windows processed the start-up groups. The tell tale bags under his eyes were clearly visible as they dragged his face downward through his stubble, the tiredness of working the graveyard shift clearly visible on his face.
“What have I done to you Jack? “Where has all the fun gone?” He asked stroking his thinning greying main.
Jack had lost his daytime job almost four years ago now when his company had to downsize. He struggled to find work for a few months until he fell into line with reality and downsized his expectations. The resulting work that he managed to find, left him with a considerably downsized salary and in order to protect the lifestyle that he and his family were accustomed to he had been forced to accept all the freelance work that he was able to undertake in his evenings. Between that and trying to finish his magnum opus novel he would spent most of the time on only a few hours sleep every night. The sleeping deprivation was only made mildly worse by the sharp punctuation of his crying children in the middle of the night.
He looked at the time on his computer, 10:45. An hour and a half had drained away since entering the room. He must have fallen asleep upright at his computer again. He did not mind that much as it usually gave him some energy for the following few hours. It had started to concern him a little as these short blackouts were becoming ever more prevalent.
The last few years generally had not been too kind on his health, unhealthy eating and almost no exercise had resulted in him taking on an extra two or three stone. He slowly rubbed his bulging stomach and then dragged his hand down his rough face feeling the extra rolls of fat that hung on his chin. His body ached as he fought off the plethora of ailments that his two sons often brought home from nursery.
He fired up his word processor and started to type a new document. This was not going to be a column for some magazine as there was no more freelance work. It was not going to be another chapter in his novel as his agent had finally managed to place it with not only a publisher but a film production company. They had both paid him a handsome advance which basically meant that between that and the royalties he would never needed to work again and he had not intention of doing so. The wire transfers had happened this morning and it was now such a relief to finally have his life back to do with as he saw fit. No this was just a simple letter.
As he typed he looked at the picture of his eldest daughter that took pride of place on his monitor. He remembered that moment almost fifteen years ago now, happier times when they could and did spend time together. He glanced across to the more recent picture on his wall her disdain for him almost showing through in her pose. She looked just like her mother now, they both seemed to look at him in the same way.
Jessica had been born when Jack was only sixteen and although she had been a mistake he had loved her every minute of every day since. Jack and her mother had done the right thing and got married, they truly had loved each other back then, but the following twenty-five years had been slightly more barren. Jessica seemed to suspect that they had only stayed together out of duty for her and never really forgiven him for it. I only ever do anything for everyone else’s benefit, he thought.
He clicked on the print icon to send his document to the printer. A few seconds passed before the printer whirred into life. The rollers on the feeder grabbed hungrily at the paper and sent it all through the printer in one go. “Arse!” Jack reacted angrily and quickly snatched the output from the tray. He discarded the empty sheets into the bin, he did not need them anyhow, and took his letter, placed it on the desk, and signed it.
His second daughter had left home three years ago as soon as she hit sixteen. She was so selfless and had done this purely for him, knowing that without his children depending on him he would move on with his life and leave the women who he had given everything to for such little return.
However, tragedy struck. In a small moment of drunken madness he found himself more than sharing a bed with his wife. If he did not know any better he would have been convinced that the old witch had hexed him, as nine months later his twin sons were born. He hated them both and everything they stood for. Nevertheless, he kept on doing his duty and provided for them all. Now that was all behind him. He had more than enough money to provide for everyone.
He opened his drawer and fumbled around inside it with his right hand as he started to read the beginning of his letter. “No need to run or hide, it’s a wonderful, wonderful life. No need to laugh and cry, it’s a wonderful, wonderful life.” His hand connected with its desired target. He pulled the gun from the bottom of the drawer.