"Grippers" ( how to get homeless without even trying #7)

Episode #7 Lights out (click on “the Grippers” tab for previous six (6) episodes)

Tommy and Judi Parano were standing outside their house when Bob and Tracey arrived home. Judi and Tracey were best friends and shared and confided most everything with each other. Judi was well aware of the predicament her friend was in. She walked over to the side of Bob’s truck and when Tracey saw her she immediately stepped out of the truck, wrapped her arms around her and began to simultaneously hug and cry. “Oh Judi, this is such a mess. I cannot believe everything that has happened since Friday. I don’t know what to do”

“What happened, Trace. I thought you had everything covered for now.”

They made us pay two truck payments. Now I can’t pay the electric bill. That was due by nine o’clock this morning. We had the ten day extension already. What am I going to do.”

“Well, first thing is you are going to do is call them. You have to call them right now.”

“I did that already. Just got off the cell phone with them. They told me to do my best to get the payment in as quickly as possible and that they could not promise anything since I already had the extension. That their ‘hands were tied’. Give me a break. I haven’t been late with one payment in 12 years and they tell me ‘their hands are tied’. Now I don’t know what to expect.”

“Tracey, if we had the money we would give it to you in a heartbeat but—“

“I know Judi, I know.”

“Let me finish. I have an idea. Call the St. Vincent De Paul Society over at my church. They can probably help you out. They help people all the time who are in a jam.”

“Oh my God—how embarrassing. I could never do that. I would feel like an idiot telling strangers my business. I could never. No way. We don’t even go to your church.”

“That doesn’t matter. If someone asks them for assistance they try to help. Being catholic or belonging to the parish has nothing to do with anything. Look Tracey, you guys are in a spot. You need a little help.I’m going to run home and get you the number. I think it is on our church bulletin cover.”

As Judi hurried home Jake came walking up the driveway. He had spent the holiday weekend at his friend Tyler’s house and Tyler’s mom had driven them to school Tuesday morning. As far as Jake was concerned everything was fine at home. He did not even know his dad had been laid off and seeing Judi Parano leaving his house was as normal as the sun coming up in the morning. “Hi Mrs. Parano.”

“Hi Jake, have a good day today?’

“Yup, sure did.”

Jake headed into the house, gave his mom a cursory, “Hey, mom” and headed to his room. He never noticed her swollen eyes or thought about his dad’s truck being in the driveway on a work day.

Tracey was in the kitchen wiping her eyes when Judi came back in. At the same time Jake came into the kitchen. This time he noticed his mom’s puffy cheeks. “Hey, mom–what’s wrong? Something happen? You okay?”

“I’m fine Jake. Lousy day, that’s all. Plus, you know how I cry sometimes over nothing. No big deal.”

Jake accepted that and opened the refrigerator door. He stood motionless staring inside the fridge. As Judi handed the phone number to Tracey, Jake matter of factly said, “Hey mom, the bulb just burned out in here. It’s hard to see.”

Tracey shrugged and then they all noticed that things seemed eerily still and quiet. It took about half a minute for them to realize that the ceiling fan had stopped spinning, the refrigerator had stopped humming and that the A/C had stopped cooling. Jake had already plopped down on the sofa and was pressing the buttons on the TV remote. “Hey mom, the TV won’t come on. I think we need some batteries in the remote.”

Bob, who had been in the garage checking his tools and equipment to see what he had available when he found work, came in. “Okay, here it is. The guy from the power company just left. They shut us off.”

“Oh my God,” Tracey said. “What are we going to do?”

Judi handed a slip of paper to Tracey, “Here, call these people right now. Who knows, they still might be able to get with you today even though it is almost three. Please, do it.”

“Hey mom, dad–what’s going on here?”

Next time: Episode #8 Here come the church people

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