By Jerry A.G. Ericsson
© Jerry A.G. Ericsson 8/23/2000
Stanky Roberts had the world by the asshole. He just assumed his new position as the C.E.O. of Paychecks, a Denver based corporation who’s most recent value was proclaimed at slightly over one billion dollars. He lived in one of the nicest homes in one of the richest neighborhoods in Denver. He was married to one of the most beautiful women in the nation. His garages housed not only a BMW, and a Rolls, but also several rare and fast sports cars. His suits were tailor made in New York City, by one of the nations most expensive tailors. He was proud of the fact that he had lead men into combat back in his army days when he served in Vietnam, and was more proud of the medals he had received for his gallant service.
Now Stanky was not his real name, and in fact nobody at Paychecks even knew of the nickname, to them he was Richard Roberts the Third. No, Stanky was what the kids back at Philip High called him back in the late 60’s. As you have probably figured out, Stanky never bathed regularly back then, thus the nickname. Not that it was all his fault, you see, Stanky grew up on the wrong side of the bridge. When the good folks of Philip installed their water and sewer system, they only put it in Philip proper. The little community of Phiferville just south of the Muddy River was without modern plumbing. In fact to this day, the only people in Phiferville with running water and sewer are those who were lucky enough to have a private well, and cesspool.
Stanky’s parents were poor and his father drank a lot. They had no relatives living in the area, so the only way they could bath was to haul the water from Philip, across the bridge in ten-gallon cream cans, and since his fathers arrest for DUI, this had to be done with a children’s wagon. No, bathing was not first on their list of things to do, and if they were lucky, they could fill the old galvanized bathtub with water heated on the wood cook stove once a month but never in the summer, it was simply too hot. Then since Stanky was the youngest in the family, he was the last to use the water, which by that time was gray and almost cold. There were times when he could shower at school, after PE class, but even then he usually avoided the showers, due to the red scars on his back where his father took a black snake whip to him several times a month. No Stanky was not very popular in High School; it was only after he graduated and left Philip that he came into his own. First proving himself in the army, and later in college using his GI Bill to get his MBA. Then it was a quick trip up the corporate ladder to today.
Today, he was going home. Home to Philip. Home for his 30th High School reunion. He was ready for it. He was not able to make the 10th because he was still in college. When it was time for his 20th he was on vacation in the Bahamas. Now it was the year 2000 and his 30th reunion, this one he would not miss for anything in the world. He wanted to show those self-righteous assholes that picked on him so much in High School that he amounted to something. He would walk into that old Gym with his head held up high, wearing his ten thousand-dollar suite. He had it all planned. He would fly into Rapid City airport, and rent a car for the eighty-mile trip east to Philip. He would get a room at the BF Motel on Highway 14. He would dress in his best suit, with his fantastically beautiful wife on his arm he would make his entrance, and wait for the common trash of Philip to kiss his ass.
He rode to the airport in the back of his Rolls Royce next to his wife Marsha. His driver Martin stopped at the main entrance to the terminal and held the door for them, as they walked arm in arm through the doors and down the aisle to the loading gate. Martin turned and got in the Rolls, and headed it home. Stanky and his wife were seated in First Class on their direct flight to Rapid City. Enroute, Marsha became ill, and by the time the flight landed in Rapid City, she was experiencing severe abdominal pain. Stanky rushed to the Avis counter and asked for a rental car, he had to get Marsha to the hospital. At the Avis Counter he was told that there were no cars available. The only other car rental counter at the small airport was Rent-A-Wreck. Quickly, Stanky paid the forty-dollar deposit for his rental car, and helped his sick wife into the old 86 Aries K. Had Marsha not been so ill, she would have refused to get into such a car, but as things were she said not a word, as Stanky drove her to the hospital. Once there they learned that Marsha was suffering from food poisoning the result of an in-flight meal, and would have to stay in hospital for at least three days on antibiotics. Thoughts of law suit filled Stanky’s mind as he left Marsha in her bed, the tubes running to and from her pale body.
Not to be put off from his mission, Stanky drove his rent-a-wreck back to the airport to claim their baggage. At the terminal, Stanky learned that while their plane made the trip from Denver to Rapid City, their luggage was on its way to Berlin. Disappointed but not dissuaded, Stanky headed the car down I 90 east on his way to Philip. He was just approaching the Wall Exit (Free coffee for vets – Wall Drug), where he would pick up Highway 14 when the car began to shimmy, then the engine began missing, and the hot light on the dash glowed red. Cussing under his breath, Stanky pulled over to the shoulder of the road and stopped. As he was getting out of the Aries, his side coat pocket caught on the window crank and ripped. Stanky cussed out loud now, but pulled the lever to open the hood, then walked to the front of his car and raised the hood. Not being very mechanically inclined, Stanky pushed on this hose, pulled on this wire, all in vein. At last, he saw the problem, there was steam coming from this round thing sticking out the top of the radiator. Well he figured, if I turn this round thing, maybe it will stop the steam. Stanky reached down and turned the radiator cap, finding it stopping in midst turn, he pushed down on it, and turned it some more, at last the cap came off, and with it came the superheated radiator fluid, which sprayed all over the front of his custom jacket and soaked through to his shirt, and then to his skin. Burning he ripped off his jacket and shirt, and threw them to the ground. Slowly he replaced the radiator cap, and returned to the drivers seat. Stanky, who was now sweating like a pig and greasy from head to toe, reached down and tried the key, and to his surprise the car started again. Slowly, Stanky guided the old car onto the interstate and on down the road to his exit, the car seemed to be running better now, he had more confidence in making it to Philip and his reunion. When he was about fifteen miles out from Philip, the car began shaking again, this time he recognized the problem, he was getting a flat tire. Again Stanky pulled the old car over to the side of the road. He got out and walked to the rear of the car, it took a little work but he finally got the key to open the trunk. He was in luck, for the first time today, the spare tire was not flat, and in fact it looked like a new tire. He jacked the car up, and replaced the tire, then when he was finished; he returned to the car and drove on into Philip.
When he arrived in town, he decided the first thing he needed to do was to get some clean clothes, so he drove downtown to the Penny’s store. Once inside, he got several dirty looks from the clerks because of his dirty appearance, but he paid little attention to them. He picked a suit from the rack and took it back into the changing room to try it for fit. Not a bad fit for an off the rack, he thought, he decided to wear the suit to checkout. Smiling to himself, he began moving his things from his now ruined pants, when he found that his wallet was gone it must have fallen out of his back pocket when he was changing the tire. Checking his money clip, he found only twelve dollars. This along with the few coins he had in his pocket were all the money he had with him. He always carried his check blanks in his wallet, so he was in all reality broke.
Hanging his head, Stanky carried the cheap suit back to the rack and left the store. Still needing clothes, he decided to try the local Salvation Army store. There he found an ill-fitting suit. It was rust colored, a color he would never be caught dead in other circumstances, but he needed something to wear, and it was the only thing in the store that came close to fitting him and the price was right, five dollars.
With no money, he couldn’t rent the room to get ready and the reunion was to begin that night. Well he decided he would just go as he was, after all he was still the CEO of Paychecks, and by God he would let them know where they stood once and for all.
With three hours to kill before the reunion, Stanky stopped off at the Bob and Lois Café, where he ordered coffee. The waitress brought his coffee, and he could see by the way she looked at him that he was not all that presentable. He decided to get out of there, so he took a quick drink of the hot coffee. It was hotter then he thought and burned his tongue. Disgusted with the whole situation, Stanky got out of his booth and stomped out the door of the café. As he opened the door to leave a young boy ran to the door from the outside, and flung it open wide, catching Stanky right in the mouth with the edge of the door. The impact of the door knocked the three crowns off his top front teeth, leaving the dark stumps exposed. Stanky held his hand to his mouth, catching the blood as it flowed down his chin.
Still not to be stopped from getting his revenge on his cruel classmates, Stanky drove to the High School atop Philip Hill. He parked the Aries in the parking lot, where he saw Donna, his old sweetheart. Rick Kennedy, one of the worst tormentors back in their school days, was escorting her into the gym. Donna saw him, and pointed laughing at his appearance. Rick joined in the laughing, and made some snide comment that made Donna laugh even harder.
Stanky made his way to the gym door. Once there, he flung the door open, and made his grand entrance. Nothing had changed. There stood his classmates, someone in the back yelled “Hey there’s STANKY!” The crowd burst out laughing, and Stanky now totally demoralized by his trip sulked back out the door, got in his Aries K and was never seen in the Philip area again. In a small town, some things never change.