Finding Chester R. Ewins
For Pam, the crock pot might have been the greatest cooking invention of all time. She could throw dinner in it in the morning when she was fresh and her mood was shiny. That way, when she was sitting at the kitchen table glowering at the work she was forced to bring home with her because some of her bookkeeping clients’ attention to detail was similar to that of a tornado, Drew could still come home to a good meal despite the fact that Pam was in no mood for anything but flipping the kitchen table in frustration.
Today’s mood was further aggravated by the fact that she’d been fielding phone calls all day from her family and Drew’s family about having their monthly “big family dinner” at Pam and Drew’s house. Pam knew that they were long overdue for their turn to host that nightmare, but she felt like they should be exempt from it until they at least made their last car payment. It wasn’t that they didn’t have the money to feed everyone -these dinners were always potluck- it was that no one else in their immediate family had been hit hard by the sudden downshift in the economy. Everyone else had cruised right along without so much as a blip on their financial screens. And the support they gave came in the form of the most unhelpful advice imaginable. Pam loved her family, of course, and she felt very grateful to have Drew’s family as her in-laws because they were wonderful people (all except Drew’s sister-in-law Daisy, who decided that Pam should be her rival for some weird reason that Pam didn’t understand or care about), but damn could they be tone deaf.
If we could just get that reward money…
But that wasn’t going to happen. At least, not before the family dinner. Not with Drew only able to check pawn shops on his lunch hour and Pam unable to do much of anything except crunch numbers. Not with all of these little bits of information that didn’t seem to go together or make sense.
Pam heard Drew barrel into the house, front door slamming shut, and her mood darkened at the noise. She was nowhere near finished with this mess of books and now her husband was home.
“Hey, Pam,” Drew said, coming in to the kitchen. Pam could feel his energy, bouncing waves of it, and it made the black cloud over her head rumble. At this very moment, she had no idea how anyone could be happy after a day of work without alcohol nor did she understand how grown adults didn’t know how subtraction worked.
Drew kissed her on the temple and then looked over her shoulder at the spread of papers and numbers.
“Rough day at the office?”
Pam glared at him, but sighed at the sight of his dirty face, the little hint of a sweet smile under the grime. She shook her head and went back to her numbers.
“It is a wonder how high schools unleash people on society without the basic knowledge to add, subtract, or a work a damn calculator,” she said.
“If they did, you wouldn’t have a job.”
Drew made his way to the counter and checked the contents of the crockpot.
“Smells good,” he said, replacing the lid.
“It’ll be ready in about half an hour,” Pam said.
“Are you ready for a break?” he asked.
Pam sighed irritably.
“My day has been filled with breaks. I haven’t been able to complete a thought without my phone ringing because our families insist that we have the family potluck here this month. Your mother has been driving me crazy and she’s had help from the consummate pro that is my mother. And on top of all of that, your dingbat of a sister-in-law has been bugging me about what I’m going to make for the potluck so we don’t make the same thing.”
Pam didn’t have to look at Drew to know he was rolling his eyes. Daisy did this every family dinner, trying to figure out what Pam was making so she could make the same thing and make Pam look bad. Pam started telling her she was making one thing and then would make another because it was an easy way to make Daisy mad enough she wouldn’t talk to Pam and Pam would get something she wanted to eat, but didn’t want to make at the potluck.
“I finally told her that I was making pulled chicken so she’d stop calling me with suggestions and questions. I’ll make pulled pork.”
“So, we’re really having this thing at our house?” Drew asked, pulling out the chair next to her and sitting down.
“Unless one of us dies or the house burns down, neither of our mothers are accepting any excuses,” Pam said bitterly. “If I’m feeling generous, I’ll clean before they come over. But right now, I’m not feeling too hospitable.”
“Well, listen, I need you to stop and listen for a second,” Drew said.
“I really can’t right now, Drew,” Pam said. She’d been looking for the source of this major number mess and she was sure she was getting close. She didn’t want to stop now.
“Please, Pam. It’s really important.”
Pam knew that tone of voice. Drew wouldn’t relent until she paid attention to him. With an irritated sigh, she put her finger on the column to mark her place and then looked at her husband.
“Guess what I found out?”
“That your wife doesn’t like to be stopped in the middle of her work to play guessing games?”
“Close!” Drew said cheerfully and Pam rolled her eyes, smiling in spite of herself. “I found Winchester’s watch.”
Pam’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped. Her shitty mood completely disappeared in favor of total shock.
Wanna read more? Check out the Murderville page to find out how.