UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION
JACK SWENSON

The Scandal

Biker Bob stole the kid's wife, and now Bob is living with Flora in the kid's house.
The trial's been going on for over a year now. It's costing the kid a pile. He
doesn't have any money, but he will have once they sell the house. Besides, he's
supposed to get alimony because the wife earns twice what her husband makes.
Biker Bob doesn't make anything. He's in real estate, but most of the time he just
sits around the house watching television.

My friend Mike is Lowell's sponsor. Lowell is a young man, in his thirties, which
is a lot younger than I am, which is why I call him the kid. Lowell is a carpenter.
He makes okay money but not as much as his wife who works for Sun Micro.

They got the custody thing out of the way. The two girls spend one week with
Lowell, one week with Flora. Lowell's renting a room from a friend who's in The
Program. His name is Big Tom. He used to be a mechanic for United Airlines. Now
he's retired. He's getting screwed out of his retirement, but he's got other
sources of income. He's got property. Big Tom is a nice guy. He's been married
and divorced I don't know how many times, but he was living alone and I think he
enjoys the company. I don't know how keen he is on having the girls around every
other week. From what I hear, they're hard to handle.

The problem now is getting the alimony thing solved and then the property settle-
ment. She's going to have to pay him alimony because she makes so much money.
The problem is she won't give the court her W-2. She said she didn't get it. The
judge told her that everybody else in the country already got theirs; it's the law
that they get sent out by a certain date. Flora said it must have got lost in the
mail. The judge told her to have it by the next court date or there was going to be
trouble.

They were talking out in the corridor after the hearing, and Lowell's attorney was
all smiles. "Well, it should get wrapped up the next time. It should all be over
in May." "How do you figure that?" Mike asked. Mike doesn't like the lawyer
because he's charging Lowell an arm and a leg and the legal proceedings have dragged
on and on. The trip to court that morning didn't settle a thing and it cost Lowell
$1,500. The lawyer replied that the judge had ordered the wife to bring proof of
her income to the next hearing. Once the alimony was determined, the assets would
be split fifty-fifty and they could sell the house and Lowell would get his money.

"What if she don't sell the house?" Mike asked. "What do you mean?" the lawyer
asked. "I mean she puts the price too high, she's not around to show the house, she
turns down offers. Why should she want to sell the house? She's living in it.
It's Lowell that's living in a rented room." "Hmm," the lawyer said. "Yes, that
could be a problem."

After they left the courthouse, Mike told Lowell he ought to dump the lawyer and not
show up for the next hearing. He should sue her in civil court instead.

Mike told me he had another idea, too, and that was that he and Big Tom have a
little talk with Biker Bob. Mike and Tom don't like Bob not only because he ran off
with another guy's wife but also because Bob used to be Lowell's sponsor, and what's
more, he blabbed about things that Lowell had told him in confidence when he was on
the stand in courtroom. Next to murder or grand theft motorcycle that's about the
lowest thing that a member of The Fellowship can do.

Mike thinks Bob is pulling the strings, telling Flora what to do, so he said they
were going to tell Bob to tell her to sell the house when it was time to do that and
not give them any more problems. If he didn't, well, he'd be spending the rest of
his life in wheelchair.

Mike would probably do it, too. He's a good friend, but I wouldn't want to get on
the wrong side of him.

Let me tell you a few things about Mike. He's been sober over thirty years. He
chairs a meeting, and he sponsors a lot of guys. He's a Vietnam vet and he's built
like a truck. Most of the guys in The Program like him, but not all of the women.
He's famous for saying exactly what's on his mind, and one day in a meeting he said
he thought it was dumb for the single guys to look for a wife in The Program.
"Would you look for a ham sandwich in a garbage can?" he asked. Some of the women
never forgave him for that.


Jack Swenson is a former teacher reborn as a chronicler of the drama and absurdity
of life after recovery. More than three dozen of his stories have appeared in
online magazines. He and his wife reside in Northern California.







2006 Underground Voices