Paul Pry and his wife Laura had lived in their neighborhood for over 24 years now. Sweethearts since they were teenagers, they married in 1981. Now, they had three children, Bob, Richard, and Tricia. Bob and Richard were both university students now and Tricia was just finishing up her senior year at high school. Life was fair for the Pry family.
One early morning Paul sat in his usual chair in the kitchen drinking coffee and reading the local newspaper. He was quite disturbed at just how negative the Liberal Press had become. So disturbed, in fact, that he began to get angry.
“Dammit!” he cried out loud, “why can’t they print the good news for once?”
“Oh! What good news is that?” said Laura as she bounced into the kitchen to prepare Paul’s favorite breakfast.
“Oh, good morning, honey,” Paul added, “Ah, the news… Why don’t they print stories about all the good that we are doing for once?”
“Oh, I know!” Laura replied. “I’m making your favorite bacon and eggs, dear.”
“I think I’m going to write a letter to the editor of the newspaper and give him a piece of my mind.” Paul slapped his palm on the table.
“Oh, I know, dear. You do that, but after breakfast, alright?” Laura smiled.
“I am. I’m going to do it. Now I’m mad and I’m sick and tired of all this bad news. Why can’t they print a story about that lady I saw on TV who was so happy after voting that she cried? Huh? Why can’t they print stuff like that?” Paul sat and simmered.
“Oh, I know! But don’t you get yourself all riled up, dear. You know what the doctor said about your blood-pressure.” Laura’s tone was quite motherly, even to her husband. She added, “You didn’t forget to take your Lithium medicine today, did you dear?”
“Dammit, that’s just what I’m gonna do.” Paul stabbed a piece of bacon and shoved it into his mouth. Laura also sat down at the table to eat.
“By the way, honey,” Paul chewed, “I think I’m going to go down to the bank and take out a loan.”
Laura’s cheery disposition suddenly grew glum. “A loan? Again, Paul? I don’t think we can afford it. What with the house payments, the new car that you bought, the kid’s school; we’re just sliding by right now with groceries and utilities. And we still have $2,000 left on our revolving credit card from Christmas… I don’t know. A loan? Is it for something important?”
“Look, woman! I am the man of the house and I am in charge of the money. Now if I think it’s important, then that should be good enough for you. Now get me some more coffee.” Paul demanded.
Laura sat in her chair looking down at her hands folded in her lap. She completely lost her appetite. They’d been through this before. And she didn’t want a huge fight. Not like last time. Last time the fight got so bad that it seemed like they might even have gotten a divorce. But, like a good wife, Laura, decided to be strong and hold back her anger, even if she could not hold back her tears. Oh, how she wanted to start saving money someday for that vacation she had always dreamed of.
Paul downed the last bit of his coffee and wiped his face and threw down his napkin. He grabbed his Caterpillar baseball cap and headed out the door. There he jumped into his brand new $47,000 Ford Bronco and headed out to the bank. Laura peeked out from the curtains as Paul was leaving the driveway.
“Is this the man I married?” She wondered.
“Yes, I’d like to take out a loan.” Paul asked shyly to the bank clerk. He was directed to the loan desk and asked to sit down. There a bank officer met him and the shook hands.
“Hello. I’m Wanda Russell, Chief Loan Manager. And your name is?”
“Paul Pry. I’ve taken some loans out from this bank before.” Paul answered.
“Yes, excellent, Mr. Pry. Let me check your records.”
Paul sat and waited as Ms. Russell logged onto the bank’s computer files.
“Yes, Mr. Pry. You have an excellent credit rating… Oh! And I see we also have your mortgage and your new car loan also. Do you like the car?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Paul, rolled his baseball cap in his hands nervously.
“And you’d like to take out another loan. I see…. Mr. Pry, please fill out this loan form and I’ll be right back.” Ms. Russell printed out some papers from the computer and walked into the back room. Paul began filling out the form that asked the usual questions: Name, address, phone number, account number, etc. When Paul came to the part of the form that said “Purpose of loan,” he was perplexed. There were several boxes to check, but none of them seemed applicable for the reason he wanted to borrow the money. He checked the box that said, “Other.”
Ms. Russell returned to the desk and sat down and examined the loan form. She removed her glasses and said in exasperation, “Mr. Pry, I’m afraid we may have some problem processing this loan.”
“What? Why? I haven’t missed a payment yet!” Paul protested.
“Yes, I understand Mr. Pry, but we use a calculation system giving serious thought to annual income, assets, and personal savings in considering approval for any loans. And according to our records you are at your loan limit right now. We don’t see where you have any savings at this bank and your current loans are running you about $2,492 dollars per month. Your annual income is $30,000 pre-tax — I’m afraid that I’m going to have a hard time getting this loan approved for you.”
“Wait a minute!” Paul cried. “I can’t be that far in debt! Your figures must be wrong! And I’m not asking for that big of a loan. It’s only for $612 dollars a year. I figure I can make the extra $60 a month payment, no problem.”
Ms. Russell, sat up in her chair, and replaced her pearl-framed glasses. She looked at the loan form again.
“I see you’ve checked the ‘Other’ box for the purpose of this loan. What exactly is the purpose of this loan, Mr. Pry?”
“It’s for elections.” Paul announced.
“Pardon me, Mr. Pry. I don’t think I heard you correctly. Did you say elections!?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Paul answered.
“Mr. Pry, let me see if I understand this correctly. You want to take out a $612 dollar annual loan for elections? Are you running for office, Mr. Pry?” Ms. Russell quizzed.
“No ma’am, I already have a job. And you wouldn’t catch me being one of those thieving lying politicians anyway. I’m a man who likes to earn my keep.”
“I don’t understand. If you are not running for office then why do you need a loan for elections? We already have elections in this country, Mr. Pry.” Ms. Russell began to suspect that Paul Pry was a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
“Oh, the loan is not for elections in this country. I want to borrow the six-hunnerd dollars so that those folks in Irun can have elections and freedom.” Paul said as he felt the red, white, and blue pouring through his veins.
Ms. Russell threw her hands in the air and then, thinking again, softly brought them down on the desk. “Mr. Pry, you can’t be serious. You want to borrow $600 dollars so that people you don’t even know can vote? People in Irun!? Do people in Irun even like you, Mr. Pry?”
“THEY DON’T LIKE ME! THEY’VE NEVER LIKED ME!” Paul screamed as he jumped up from his chair. The entire bank grew silent. The clerks and customers stood and stared at Paul. Paul slowly sat back down and in a few seconds the bank returned to its low hum of business.
Ms. Russell was now sure that she had to handle Paul with kid gloves. She steadied herself and said, “Mr. Pry, let me give you the round-about figures and you tell me if I’m wrong, alright?” Paul, regaining confidence, nodded his approval.
“The current US account deficit is running over $292,000,000,000 (billion) dollars. Some estimates have it at $400,000,000,000 (billion) for this year. There are 97 million males in the USA between 15 and 64. Of course not all of them are working, and some make more money than others. Are you still with me, Mr. Pry?”
Paul boyishly nodded his head. Big numbers had always confused him.
“Considering that you now have your $600 per month house payments, $400 per month for your new car, probably about $1,400 per month for your children’s school and utilities and other expenses; throw in your $250 dollar a month payments for the US government’s red ink and that would put your monthly payments at about $2,650 at least per month as it is right now.
"Just your share of the annual federal deficit is about $2,989 dollars, Mr. Pry. Does Mrs. Pry work?"
"Well, she’ll have to get a job!" Paul retorted.
Ms. Russell continued, “And now you want to take out another loan that will cost you at least $51 dollars per month to pay for an election in Irun? A country that you’ve never been to; you have no intention of ever going to; and you claim that those people hate you? You must be joking! I’m confused, Mr. Pry. Do you like them?”
“No! I’m proud of my country through and through. I hate them dammed camel-jockeys, they are all scum.” Paul sneered as his eyes turned into slits.
“I see…” said Ms. Russell as she discreetly reached under her desk and pressed a white button. Two bank security guards promptly came forward and stood a few feet behind Paul. Ms. Russell stood up and nervously shook Mr. Pry’s hand.
“Well, Mr. Pry, I think we can work with you on this one. Give me a few days. Don’t worry, I have a few ideas. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
Paul suspected that he was being given the brush-off. The two security guards politely escorted Paul from the bank. Once he was out the door, Ms. Russell input comments onto Paul Pry’s files. The comments read:
“Mr. Pry wanted to borrow money so that people he hates — and who hate him (he claims) — can have a political election! I believe that Mr. Pry may be suffering from some sort of mental/psychological problems. Loan application REJECTED. — Wanda Russell, Chief Loan Officer, 2/7/05″
Paul grew more and more furious as he drove home and into the driveway. Laura peeked out again from the curtains. Paul was screaming about something as he bashed the hood of his car with his fist. She knew he was raging again. He opened the front door and slammed it close without saying a word to Laura as he went into the den slamming that door behind him too.
Laura slumped against the kitchen wall. She didn’t know how much more of this kind of behavior she could take. Then a thought entered her mind. She quietly went to the medicine cabinet and looked at Paul’s Lithium bottle. It was completely empty and had last been refilled last May. That meant he hadn’t been taking his medicine for his Bi-polar disorder for at least six months. She was sure he was relapsing into manic-depression.
That explained everything… Well, at least in Paul’s case it did.
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has worked as an independent writer, producer, and personality in the mass media for nearly 30 years.