“Helen, I have something that I really need to tell you.”
The clock read 12:63 (it was broken), and the pair was settling in for a night of intense humidity and unrest. Helen righted her readers, and the sum of her form contorted at the discomfort only brought by the commencement of a lover’s revelation.
“Jake?” Innumerable scenarios marched through her imagination, a rank-and-file army of unfathomable betrayals and concealed woe.
“Well…It’s about my job.” He was clearly unsettled.
“Oh, no, are they going to ’downsize’ you?” She gestured a set of air-quotes, despite this being one of the more horrible scenes she imagined.
“No, no, not anything like that…I lied about what I do.”
“You mean you’re not a hitman?”
“I’m not. I’m a vending machine repairman.”
“Oh, honey, we’ve been through this, that’s just a cover, you’re really a-“
“No, I’m really not. I just repair vending machines.”
“No you don’t, you murder people for the mafia. You snuff out lives. You say ‘fuhgaddebout it’ and eat spaghetti with gangsters.”
“I don’t. I just fix the controls on vending machines in the tri-county area.”
“But what about all the guns?”
“Sometimes a guy just likes to collect guns.” He had a collection of three revolvers, two Glock variants, and six rifles of various makes. This lethal collection had successfully stolen the life of uncountable bottles and soup cans.
“Okay, but what about all the money?”
“Repairing vending machines is profitable.”
“…But what about that time the guy in the black duster came by, and you grabbed your gun and got in his van and then you didn’t come back for two days? You said that you were out on a hit.”
“That was Jack, my friend from high school. We just went drinking and shot at some chipmunks.”
There lingered one of those rare moments in life where such a contrary notion is introduced that a holy nothingness fills the mind. In this brief glimpse of utter uncertainty, Helena achieved Middle Class Zen. In this moment, she perfectly understood the tax laws of her local municipality, as well as the reasoning behind the 2-cent surcharge on all pressurized liquids. If not for her dumbstruck silence, she could rhapsodize on the benefits of Roth IRAs and portfolio diversification, espouse the joys of SUVs, define the exact reasons the local grocer refused to carry Mexican beef, and assume a posture of general knowledge regarding all topics in-between. All was clear in that moment, until the chemicals and electric constituting her focus decided to resume contemplating the pressing issue.
“But..Why would you lie about that?”
“We had just started dating, remember, and we saw that movie with the guy. The handsome guy who was in those other movies about the British people and the castle, you know the ones, and he was an assassin whose cover was a vending machine repairman, remember?”
“Yeah, I remember, that was our third date.”
“Right, well I said I thought that looked like an interesting job, and then you got so excited about the danger of it and everything.”
“Well it’s exciting, dating a criminal!”
“I wasn’t talking about assassinating people, I was talking about repairing the vending machines.”
How is that more interesting than being a hired gun?”
“It just is, alright? You just can’t understand. Girls just don’t get the allure of vending machine repair.”
“Jake.” She frowned.
“I’m sorry, it’s just…This is difficult.”
“Well…As long as we’re being honest…”
“I’m not actually a model, I just do data entry down at Genicorp.”
“I can’t believe you’d lie to me about that.”