All Stories, General Fiction

A Muddled Life by Fred Vogel

Like I was saying, with the holidays just around the corner, I was feeling in a somewhat generous mood. I took a ten from my wallet and handed it to the guy at the counter. The library’s been awful good to me, I said. Please accept this as a token of my appreciation. It’s the least I can do. As I headed toward the exit, feeling good about doing the least I could do, the man called out, Excuse me, sir, but you gave me a hundred-dollar bill. Not remembering the last time I even had a hundred-dollar bill, I turned and said, Well then, I guess that’s the most I can do. With that I left, prepared to forge on with my muddled life. This whole thing started just over a year ago. My wife, I’ll refer to her as X since she no longer deserves a real name, decided she had had enough of me. She took off to Colorado to be with a pot farmer she had met on some online dating site for unhappy spouses – or something to that effect. The last thing she said to me as she was walking out the door was, Sorry, Jack. I just don’t get you anymore.

Fourteen years and all she says is, Sorry, Jack. I just don’t get you anymore? Unbelievable. Since that day, I’ve been stuck in quicksand. I should have listened to my friends who warned me not to marry her. I honestly didn’t understand their concerns. Now she’s off enjoying the high life and I’m sitting here, nowhere near okay. We met in high school. She was a cheerleader. I was third string on the basketball team. For some reason, she took a liking to me over the better athletes. Like Tom Johnson. And Ronny Waters. I know for a fact they both thought she was hot. They told me as much. But she asked me to go with her to the Sadie Hawkins dance. I remember the first time we slow danced. The band was playing “God Only Knows”, that great Beach Boys song, and I got an erection. I was embarrassed as all get out but X didn’t seem to mind. I knew then and there that I was going to marry her. And I did. At our wedding, I asked the band to play “God Only Knows”. But as we slow danced in front of all the guests, there was no movement in my pants. I brushed it off as having had too much champagne and cocaine. We never had children. She blames me. She blamed me for a lot of things, but blaming me for us being childless really hurt. We considered adopting, but chose to have pets instead. Well, now the pets are all dead, as is our marriage. I joined a gym but ruptured my hernia the first week and needed surgery. What hurt even more than the hernia was the fact that X wasn’t around to take care of me. I’m a pharma rep. I make decent money but I wish I could have done something different with my life. Like being an architect or something. I really shouldn’t complain. Except for X leaving me, I’ve had it pretty good. I’m thinking maybe I should rescue a dog. Or maybe be an Uber driver in my spare time, just to be more sociable. Maybe I could connect with someone I pick up, fall in love, and be able to forget about Megan. I mean X. On second thought, there is no way I want strangers in my Audi. They’d smell like cigarettes and have terrible body odor. Worse than that, they’d probably want to tell me their life story. Their life story…I don’t give a shit about someone else’s life story. It’s hard enough for me to just make it through the day in one piece. The more I think about it, the more I’m not so sure I’m ready to be sociable. I think rescuing a dog from sure death makes a lot more sense. I know I would feel better about myself if I did something that noble. Like the hundred dollars I gave that guy at the library. First thing tomorrow I’m going to find a rescue place and get myself a dog. Or maybe a cat. No, a dog. Maybe I’ll get one of each. Like before, when my life made sense. Maybe I’ll get one of those birds that’ll talk to me and keep me company. If I can’t go tomorrow, I’ll go the next day. Or maybe over the weekend. We’ll see. I definitely want a dog. A puppy. I’ll name him Augie Doggie.

I’m sorry, Mr. Harris, but our time is up. I must say, excellent first session. Let’s continue with this train of thought next week.

I walked out of the office, a little more content with my muddled life than I had been an hour or so before. I just hope Augie Doggie doesn’t mess up the house. Cats can be cool but it’s not like they’re real pets. They just stare at you and never want to be your friend. Women like dogs more than cats, don’t they? I think I read that somewhere. Maybe I have that wrong. Maybe women prefer cats. I don’t remember. I’m more of a dog person. Plus, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life talking to a bird. It’s beginning to snow. I can’t remember where I parked the Audi. Where did that hundred dollar bill come from anyway?


Fred Vogel

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3 thoughts on “A Muddled Life by Fred Vogel”

  1. I love this story. I can really hear Mr. Harris thinking/talking. Funny yet poignant. It reminded me of the narration on Sex and the City. Telling it like it is but not in an overtly depressing way. I was sorry when it ended. Wanted to hear more from Mr. Harris. Hope things turn out ok for him.


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