WHAT WE DID by K. A. Polzin

WHAT WE DID by K. A. Polzin

Things got desperate, money-wise. We gave blood every morning as soon as the doors opened, asking for seconds of the juice and crackers. We sold the dog to the horse food factory, the car went back to the dealership. Thereafter, the four of us walked to the mall for our lattes. We got down to just one phone, which we all shared. Dick pics arrived for our daughter regularly. 

When people came to visit, we could only offer water. We sold our Sony Trinitron and spent the evenings glaring at each other or rating the dick pics on a scale from 1 to 10. When hot weather arrived, the walk to the mall became an ordeal, our shirts soaked through before we were halfway there. Once, the Rubensteins saw us trudging down the expressway and pulled over to offer us a ride. We left their leather seats wet with sweat.

Then there was nothing left to sell. The blood bank told us we needed to give our veins a rest. Grammie said no to a loan; she needed the money for her kitties. Should we try pickpocketing, we wondered. Our son looked innocent, trustworthy, and could be worked to our advantage with strangers. But we were scared of jail––the handcuffs and the fingerprinting. 

Then there was a BBQ at the Singhs where I was able to slip a bracelet into my pocket and Roger nabbed a wallet from the pile of jackets. We claimed reverse racism at a restaurant and got our whole meal comped. In the mall parking lot, I stuck a foot out and got it run over. The driver was happy to settle things for the cash in her purse. 

We weren’t proud of these things. Or only a little. I would’ve preferred a monthly check for work done, but jobs were scarce, and my last boss would warn people about my attitude. Roger couldn’t work because of his thumbs. We urged the kids to get jobs––the pizza place, the car wash. They claimed there wasn’t time due to school, homework. What about Rebecca Rubenstein, I said, helping out at the mortuary? She’s smart, they said. She can do both. 

We decided arson was the solution. It ticked all the boxes. After, we could get a smaller house, pocket the difference. We did it just like in the movies, shaking gasoline onto the furnishings and dropping a lighter.

And it would’ve gone smoothly, but we had no arson experience. It was an explosion instead of a fire. Also, there was video of Roger at the Chevron filling the cans. 

Roger took the fall, which we all appreciated. Ten years in prison, but minimum security. I mean, they have a volleyball court.

We felt bad about Mrs. Singh, killed in the blast. It added five years to Roger’s time in the volleyball prison. But at least now she won’t have to wonder about her bracelet.  

With Roger out of the picture, Grammie had room for us with her and the kitties. It was good we moved away so we didn’t have to see the Singh family moping around their blast-ravaged property.   

My daughter and I want to start an Etsy business making something artsy out of all those dick pics. We have hundreds. More arrive every day. 

K. A. Polzin is a writer and cartoonist whose stories have appeared in Subtropics, Fractured Lit, Lunch Ticket, and elsewhere, and whose short humor and cartoons have appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Narrative magazine, Electric Literature, and elsewhere.

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