Dorothy hated that Chet referred to their son
as The Terror. He was a two week-old infant. Infants cried. Infants
who had colic cried even more. In fact, Terrance cried so much that
Dorothy was contemplating giving up her newfound love for Ukrainian
comestibles. She had read that cabbage processed through breast milk gave
While contemplating impending culinary
sacrifices, Dorothy had equally objected to her husbands idea that their
toddler and baby, respectively, be renamed Thing One and
Thing Two. They were family, not aliens. Besides, Penguin Random
House owned the intellectual property for all of the contents and concepts
found in Dr. Seuss books. She knew the ins and outs of literary and artistic
works, of designs and symbols, of names and images as she was an intellectual
At least she used to be a lawyer. Sighing,
Dorothy laid Terrance Andrew Dean on the sheepskin she kept by the sofa.
Thereafter, she regarded her blouse. Baby puke adorned both shoulders.
Just short years earlier, she had passed her
credentialling exam. It had been administered by her states bar
association. It had been impossibly difficult. Yet, somehow, Dorothy had
squeaked by with a satisfactory mark.
Soon, thereafter, she had been hired by a firm
that was more box cars than engine and had scurried for senior lawyers until
her daughter Addisons birth had sidelined her. Postpartum depression,
individual counseling, and marriage counseling had followed.
Dorothy had switched from full-time office
hours to remote, home hours. The work that she had consequently received was
drudgery but had helped to pay the bills (the firms partners had decided
that any of their lawyers who were luxuriating in remote operations
would receive scut assignments.)
Meanwhile, Chet had switched from technical
writing and editing via a laptop in their bedroom to creating advertising copy
at an agency in a nearby city. He commuted more than an hour and one half in
each direction. Gamely, he also endured their couples counseling sessions.
As for the familys pets during this
period, Rutherford seemed to have developed arthritis, which was a small
aberration relative to the hedgehog almost dying a few months earlier. So,
Dorothy dosed him thrice daily with the pain killer issued by their vet and
checked to made sure that an adequate supply of warm nesting materials were
scattered throughout their home. Mostly, though, Rutherford stayed behind the
In terms of Mr. Henry, the cat, he slept away
with increased frequency. Dorothy missed his purring but could not blame him
for wanting to avoid their toddlers creativity and
their babys screams. Whereas Terrances shrieks were intolerable,
Addisons schemes were worse. She had decorated Mr. Henry with
food coloring, dug for treasure in his litter box, and hidden his
Per Withersmith, the wee doxie found the
babys diapers interesting and almost always perched himself beneath
whichever chair held Addisons booster seat when the young miss was
eating. Besides, a bigger family meant more two-legged critters upon whom to
A bigger family also meant bigger bills.
Chets promotion, earned because of his ad campaign for pet carriers for
the ubiquitous Acme Corporation, had helped, but they were still left with a
deficit. To make ends meet, Dorothy had surreptitiously begun to sell some of
their possessions on eBay.
More than a month into her maneuver, Chet
noticed. Have you seen my pink, ruffled shirt, the one I thrifted from
Old Days Boutique?
I thought you had switched to khakis and
button-downs for work.
Did, at the office, especially with my
new status as project manager.
And? Dorothy was pinning a diaper
to ever squiggly Terrance. She had recently revisited Chets suggestion of
referring to their baby as The Terror. Their infant had become less
gassy, hence less fussy, but that comfort had cost Dorothy her golubtsy, her
holodets, and her walnut stuffed prunes.
Its my creativity totem. Im
trying to make more time to write poetry, these days.
So, did you stick it in the back of a
closet, under our bed, or in our storage unit? I cant find it in my
drawers or anywhere else Ive looked.
I sold it. I also sold your remaining
Indian spices and your tofu mat. To boot, I unloaded your banjo.
After taking a sad look at his still hormonal
wife and at the child she was attempting to diaper, Chet walked into their
bedroom, sat on their bed, and cried. Withersmith ran to his feet, his tail
A little while later, Dorothy, who was
carrying a bundled Terrance, came and sat down next to him. We needed the
money. I sold my law schoolbooks, my favorite pinafore, and the rest of my
Ukrainian spices, too.
I work a gazillion hours a week, commute
three hours daily, and brought home a pay increase.
My therapy, our therapy, and
Addisons tap dance lessons are expensive.
Tap dance lessons?
I wanted to wait til her show to
Chet put his head in his hands and cried some
The next day, after an exhausted Chet returned
from the city, Dorothy greeted him at the door with a kiss. Chet returned the
She uncurled from his embrace and waved a
check at him. I don't believe it, Chet. Why would someone send us so much
So, return it.
What if its illegal? Funny money?
Drug money? Prostitution income?
To whoever sent it.
Don't know. Found it in the trash. You
know that membership form you were looking for...
Not sold with my favorite ruffled
Dorothy pursed her lips and squinted at her
husband before continuing. . . . and the credit card we thought that we
were missing? It seems that the card had stuck to the wrapping and that Addison
had confiscated the wrapping for a project. I also
What about the envelope? What wrapping?
Was it what the check arrived in?
Orange sparkles, bits of dry clay,
Addisons runaway plastic cheetah and her leftover toothpick sculpture
I tossed that. Please dont tell I thought it was dangerous
for a toddler. I found some of our mismatched socks, too.
Toothpicks? Very dangerous!
Forget I said anything. Let's go out to
eat. I called a babysitter and an Uber.
Well take hm with, so I can feed
Do we pay taxes on the money?
I could cancel the Uber and the sitter
and we could snuggle, instead.
Chet arched an eyebrow. Snuggling
was not a favorite postpartum activity of his wifes.
You didnt say if well have
to pay taxes on the money. Snuggling sounds better than dinner. Did you shower?
Did you know that you have horse breath?
Chet, were going to be able to
balance our budget! Ill still have to forego cabbage, asparagus, beans,
dairy, and soda, but well be able to pay for Addison to take ballet
lessons, too. Plus, when I attend the mommy meetings, I wont have to
bakeI can bring treats from that fancy bakery. Maybe, I can entirely quit
Anyway, I doubt well have to pay
taxes. Usually, gift givers pay. I could shower in less than two minutes. We
might be able to enjoy nookie before Terrance wakes up.
What about Addison?
Shes busy painting Mr.
Henrys tail. She tied him to one of the kitchen tables
Sigh. Ill rescue him while you
suds up. I think I can bribe her with a farm animal video. I wonder if the
moneys a prize. You know, maybe that sweepstakes from the sneaker
company? We had an official 'chance in one million' to win.
No one rang the doorbell. No one shone
lights in my eyes. No one presented flowers. No, the moneys no sneaker
company sweepstakes win.
Did you check the check for a return
There was no identification printed on
Maybe, the bank can trace it.
Maybe. Itll take a while if
the moneys from out of town.
That night, Chet and Dorothy were billed for
an uncancelled Uber and an uncancelled babysitter. Addison fell asleep in front
of the TV with Withersmith curled up next to her. Mr. Henry ran away, again,
via the opened kitchen window, and Rutherford remained secreted behind a tall
appliance. No additional belongings were sold on eBay.
In due course, Pemberton Savings Bank cleared
the check. The source of the funds was a small savings and loan in Iowa. No
additional information was forthcoming. Dorothy and Chet chose to allow
themselves to use the interest generated by their deposit. Dorothy quit her
part-time job. Addison was enrolled in a ballet class for tots.
Chet continued his protracted commute. He was
enjoying his time alone on the train more and more. Although Dorothy had quit
working as a lawyer, their laundry, again, had been relegated to a sheet spread
on their bedroom floor. Additionally, their home had once more begun to reek of
cabbage as Dorothy had emancipated herself from nursing.
The advertising agent sighed. Terrances
diapers were evil-colored and stinky. The formulae he was drinking in place of
Mom juice made their baby irritable, too. Plus, his reflux had returned.
As Chet climbed out of the subway, he looked
at the spot where the insure-touting lizard had once appeared boldly on a
poster. In that notices place was yet another of his adverts for Acme pet
carriers. According to the placard, those animal boxes came in small, medium
,and large. Ordinarily grey, those carriers could be ordered, for an extra fee,
in red, blue, or yellow. Something in Chets environment had influenced
him to ask Acme to produce that more expensive line.
Dorothy had insisted that Chet ask for the
blue ones when Acme offered gratis carriers to him. Despite that bright color,
both Mr. Henry and Rutherford refused to voluntarily enter any of them. Only
Withersmith could be bribed into a box.
Regardless, if the vet and Acmes reports
were to be believed, those transporters had become well-liked among pet owners.
In fact, Acme had asked Chet to lead a campaign on spheres for Vanlifers since
he had performed so well with Acmes boxes.
In the interim, Tell Bell wanted more
storyboards for yet another series of advertisements. As well, Polished Polish
wanted Chet and only Chet to run their springtime nail enamel undertaking.
Chets boss remained a chowderhead. Plus,
Romi, Maylee, and Aryeh resented Chet for winning the Acme campaign and,
subsequently, getting promoted over them. Worse, the new fellow who was
supposed to be tech support for the office spent more time playing online games
than patching the code the agency needed to keep their fancy graphics
No sooner had Chet sat down at his desk than
Aryeh leaned over one of Chets cubicles wall (Chets
promotion came with more responsibility, and a 3% increase in
salary, but no self-contained office. The empty room, next to that of the
bosss space, stayed a stockroom despite it featuring a window and a split
AC/heating unit.) Aryeh was wearing a barn red blouse tucked into jeans
that had a vermillion floral motif.
Not enough commissions, Chet.
You gave Maylee the Coconut Cola account
and Romi Big Swigs toe deodorant transaction. When do I get some
Chet sighed. He, too, needed the bonuses.
Tell Bell or Polished Polish? Pick one and give me some of those cheese
puffs youre scoffing. I forgot to pick up my doughnut, this
Youd really let me take Tell
Well, here, then. You can have
whats left. Aryeh nearly floated back to his own cubby.
Chet uncrinkled the small sack that had been
thrust at him. There wasnt even a handful of puffed corn remaining.
Did I wake you?
"No. Yeah. Everything o.k., Dot?
Do you have an account in
No. I'm having the worst day in my life
and you're asking me about Iowa? What the foo?
Nothing. You wouldn't believe it. I'm
pregnant with twins!
Great. Youre fertile. Now, tell me
why youre calling in the middle of the night.
Dot, that means I'll only have one
Okay. No, not okay. I need to puke...
hold on. Dorothy put her head on her nightstand and slowly inhaled. She
didnt really want to run for the bathroom.
Withersmith tried to reach her face to lick
it, but his nose didnt extend far enough. Beyond the bedroom door,
Terrance was his crib. As well, based on a combination of toddler laughter and
feline screeches, it seemed that Addison was once more torturing Mr. Henry.
Of course, Es. Talk to me.
I don't know what to do. By the way,
does Chet know?
You mean Mr. Working Late again? Nope.
As for your nanny, hire another, use afterschool programs, or accept that your
girls dont even need a single care provider.
Are you trying to give me advice? Wait!
You didnt tell Chet?
Sorry. Tell me about Fran leaving,
again. No, hes overwhelmed with a campaign for Polished Polish.
I like that brand. Anyway, Fran gave two
When are you due?
After the spring line of nail polish
comes out but before the fall line.
I weaned Terrance so I could return to
eating Ukrainian food and now Im so woozy that the thought of perogies,
let alone of stuffed cabbage, my favorite, sends me hurling.
Chet didnt notice!?
All he looks at are the line of nail
polish bottles adorning our table. He tested Definitely Daffodil on me, Pretty
Pansy on Rutherford, Cute Columbine on Witherspoon, and received a significant
wound on his face from trying to put Lovely Lenten Rose on Mr. Henry. He
doesnt realize that I saw him also dab Iridescent Iris on himself. The
mans in no state, this week or even this month, to learn that his brood
is about to double in size.
Maybe you need a nanny, too.
Nope, just animal-friendly nail polish
remover. The new stuff stinks worse than the old stuff I used on Withersmith
and Rudford for our wedding. Im guessing our animals hate it.
Talk to you tomorrow, Sis?
Deal! By the way, Im sorry you
lost one of your nannies.
Im sorry youre so
Twinsll look cute in
Why did you ask about Iowa?
Tomorrow, Es, tomorrow.