First Draft
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First Draft

Money inside a brown envelope.
Photo by micheile dot com on Unsplash

Week of November 6th, 2022: “Stop fucking with my livelihood.”

“The Wealth Wars”

A stupid and futile gesture because life is expensive as fuck

To Meghan and Gabriela, a little better everyday is continuous improvement !

Meghan, thanks for introducing me to Gabriela.

Gabriela, thanks for the great idea!

In lieu of additional dedication I humbly offer the following acknowledgement: for Loretta the looney, the intelligent Vivian, the lovely Madeline, the fantastic Dedee, the one and only Lynn, Onkel Isaac, Tio Miguel, and many, many, others including the people I don’t want to tell to go fuck themselves but feel compelled to for consistency: Dan, Danny, Jason, Alexis, Tabor, Jason, Tyler, Carlos, Josh, Paulo, Pio, Vanessa, Manuel, Margaret, Marion (Oi!), Samantha, Camellia, Elijah, Preston, Travis, Caleb, Dr. Richard Blume, Former Vice President Dick Chenney, the chode inside dominoes, Augustus Caesar, Whole foods (Generally Speaking), Guy in apartment #302, Daniela, Jens, Timothy, Amelia, Cody, William T. Harrison III, Mike Lindell, Brody, Gui #1, Gui #2, Angel(how you doing?), Ingrid, Kathy, Herbert Hoover, the reincarnation of George Washington, Mike M., Sebastian, Stanley, Meghan, Gabriela, and of course…, Henry:

Go fuck yourselves,

Sincerely,

J.W.

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1. Hell: Otherwise known as home

“Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name,” prayed Leigh-Anne Johnston, the hushed undertone of her brittle voice echoing throughout the tile floor halls of the home’s first story, then quickly reverberated up throughout the second floors wood paneled corridor, into the partially cracked open door of a bedroom and in through the uninviting hole of my perpetually mortified ears as I lay on the top of my mattress and flipped the comforter up above my head.

The time was five-forty-five a.m., though I had been awakened nearly an hour earlier, my mother’s catechismal benediction going for much of the previous forty-five minutes and included, though in no particular order, the following litany : ‘for her family and her children; Jackie, John, Jane, and Jonah(that’s me!); for all of her many sisters and brothers (she was number seven of thirteen children on her father, Thomas Brady Jr’s side), for her husband, our deceased father Sergey-her one true love in life, for her parents and grandparents, for her uncountable number of nieces and nephews, for the Pope — for the Catholic church and it’s well-being, for the students at the school where she taught, for the parents of those students — and their psychiatrists, for the deceased singer Lynn Anderson and the President of the Untied States, and of course — saving the best for last as she was wont to do, our two family dachshunds.’ The still rising world now sufficiently holier than thou, she bowed her head and once more asked for Gods blessing. Downstairs, the homily from the televised Mass she had in the background to her own prayers inside the living room was now audible over the crinkled unfolding of mesh paper as she opened up a new prayer box containing another set of rosary beads and began stage two of her morning beatification.

I flipped the cover of my bedsheet down and exhaled a frustrated sigh of early exhaustion. It was another frigid Monday in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the only thing on my mind was finding a plane ticket to New York City in order to escape from my own personal hell, otherwise known as home.

“Jonah, is that you?” she asked yelling up to the second floor, “Why are you up so early? It’s not even six o’clock ? she asked, momentarily switching gears from her deep state of humming recitations, then seamlessly switching back to a spellbound trance of incantations before I responded.

“Yes mother tis I, same today as yesterday, and the day before.” I replied and buried my face deep into my pillow.

“Please come down here and take the dogs outside,” she requested while still deeply transfixed in a state of solemn prayer. “They haven’t been outside in over thirty minutes.” — Our family dogs, Pierre and Yoshi, a pair of long-coated dachshunds with smooth coats of dappled black and tan colors were really nothing more than a pair of fury balls of energy, albeit of the absolutely most adorable type, who, as my mother opened wider the door to her bedroom shot out from the room as if released from a cannon, their swarthy spots mingling into a blurred blend of dark and khaki colors as they raced around the kitchen table approximately three thousand times before I slogged myself downstairs and let them out — on this morning I opted not to debate my mother on the apparently incontrovertible wisdom of letting the dogs out to pee on our neighbors lawn every thirty minutes. To Leigh-Anne it was a simply matter of physics, the dachshund were a miniature breed and therefore needed to urinate more frequently; to me it was a matter of simple biology-nature scales appropriately, my mothers insanity not withstanding. The dogs having been successfully relieved for the next half-hour I started a pot of coffee and prepared to begin my day.

“Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit…,” came the echoing chant from my mothers bedroom adjacent to the kitchen before catching herself mid-sentence and yelling out to me from inside her room. “Jonah, speaking of fruit, can you please go to the grocery store today and pick some up — it’s your turn to chip in,” she chided, immediately returning to her preferred state of prayer.

“Sure — but with what money mom?” I asked, somewhat surprised by the request, as my mother knew I had been unemployed since graduate school and was currently in the throes of a seemingly never ending job search.

“I don’t know, figure it out!” she shrieked in a voice that sounded as it had put through an agonizing amount of pain to reply.

“Mom I have no job — I can’t even afford thought right now, no less amazon groceries!” I replied with a sense of justified indignation.

That was a mistake.

“The Lord provides for those who provide for themselves!” she scolded. “How dare you say you can’t find a job, all you do is sit around the house upstaird all day, I never see you out looking!” She said in stunted disbelief — her return to rosary recitation continuing immediately afterward.

“That’s because its the year twenty-twenty” I yelled back in response, “everything is done online Mom!”

My corrective plea fell on deaf ears to no avail; I should have tried the Nicene Creed which would have at least prompted a response. Walking over to the living room, I flipped the channel from Padre’s morning mass over to ESPN — my second mistake of the morning. I was greeted with a high-pitched shriek of exasperation. “Jonah!” she cried in a tone unmatched to the early morning hour. “How dare you?! Never change the channel on God!”

Already exhausted, I flipped the channel back and prepared to walk back upstairs to my room for another day of mindless scrolling in hopes of securing a job matched to the business degree I spent two years completing, when I felt a sudden urge of frustration and spit out the words that would come to define the relationship between my mother and myself:

“Well it sure seems like God may have changed the channel on us!”

“Jonah, if you ever even think about uttering those words again you will be out on the street!” she said with bated breath in an apparent state of disbelief (for her most likely the first time in her very spiritual life). “I pray to God everyday for you to find a job and be happy, but I know all the jobs you are applying to are located in big cities far away from here, maybe you just need to accept that God wants you to stay in Minnesota,” she preached in a righteous tone. “Why don’t you take a look at the church bulletin from last week?” she asked in what I believe to be an honest attempt at reconciliation. “Whats wrong with here?”

Taking aside the fact that the jobs in the local church bulletin offered little to opportunity for career growth, most with starting salaries equivalent to high school graduate wages, I didn’t have the heart to tell my mother that the only reason we even had a copy of the weekly mass bulletin was because every Sunday after telling my mother I was going to mass I would simply walk right straight into the church to grab a copy of the parishioner paper and then walk straight out in order to bring it back home for her satisfaction.

“And if you can’t afford the groceries you can at least put them in your shopping cart online and save them for later, the Lord works in mysterious ways” she instructed.

“That’s a lot for later mom,” I said dejected. “I’m trying to live now.”

“There’s no point in living without God son,” she informed me.

“Little point too living with him apparently either,” I mumbled under my breath as I headed back upstairs and shut my bedroom door.

Sitting at the desk in my bedroom, I scrolled through another endless list of potential jobs and sent out another twenty applications, all of which LinkedIn revealed to have at least five hundred fellow applicants. Realizing the improbability and most likely futile nature of such overwhelming odds, a sudden spell of inspiration coerced me into sending off an email to my Uncle Brad — my mother’s brother in New York who ran a successful investment firm and pleaded for a ticket away from the madness of my family. The request for help sent out, I took a break from my ongoing search and walked over to open the window and let out another disheartened sigh, my mind racing upwards toward the ceiling; my frustration had quite literally hit the roof as my blood continued to boil.

It was not yet nine a.m. and I had been to hell and back three times.

My momentary exhalation of disbelief compete, I once more returned to my desk and refreshed my screen, surprised to see that my query had been meet by an instant reply from my Uncle: “Jonah, great to hear from you! Please send me some dates for your arrival, I will book you a flight as soon as possible, Uncle Brad.”

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