Flash Fiction #128
“What am I going to do? Help! Help!” Zina talks to her friends Pammy and Lulan.
Zina and her husband Kit Lee run a small business, which after years of struggle finally starts to turn a profit. They have three stores in New Jersey, one in Central Jersey, one in Northern Jersey, and one in between. Zina thinks that doing well at the moment is only a brief respite from a future disaster that will come their way, but Kit doesn’t think so. Kit goes to a psychic in lower Manhattan and is told that he is going to have prosperity for the rest of his life and will live up to 99 years old.
“That costs one hundred dollars? What’s the matter with you?” Zina questions her husband.
And the psychic payment is the least of Zina’s concerns. It’s alarming to her that Kit starts to spend money on his hobbies, go to expensive entertainment events and restaurants, send money back home to buy properties for his parents and his brothers, and resume his habit of going to casinos.
“It’s a woman’s tragedy when her man grows rich.” Lulan says. “And it’s an even worse tragedy when her man grows poor. So be happy that it could be worse.”
“Lulan, you are not helping.” Zina says.
“Well, Zina,” Pammy says, “the reason your husband did what he did is because you are not helping him spend the money in his hand. And you can do this, this and this…”
“My dear Kit, Edison is a nice town, but it has too many immigrants.” Zina says to her husband at the dinner table. After receiving tips from Pammy, Zina starts her game plan immediately.
“We are immigrants ourselves.” Kit replies innocently, not knowing what his wife is talking about.
“Exactly. We are immigrants who have been successful, right? Kit, you are a successful immigrant now, aren’t you?” Zina says, knowing that this is music to Kit’s ears.
“Well, well, my dear Zina, you don’t say…” Kit says, trying to be modest, but only succeeding to blush more happily than usual.
“Edison’s public schools are too competitive for our son Chris. Even getting into a chess club is difficult. You know successful immigrants live in rich townships without immigrants. That’s where we should go, shouldn’t we? You know the township of Mount Oak? I heard rich little brats there don’t care for chess clubs or math competitions. And our son Chris will be a captain, a star, a math wizard there.”
(Mount Oak Township is fictional even if the story is based on a real incident. I can’t use the real township name since the subsequent unflattering words may cause …)
At first, Kit is a little unsure. Mount Oak is a very expensive town and Kit is a little unwilling to tie up his money on a piece of real estate there. When Kit and Zina drive there to view a house, there is a police car following them.
“Well, they don’t think an immigrant like me can afford a house in this township, do they? And they send a policeman to drive me away, don’t they? Well, I just want to show them what I am capable of.” Kit says to Zina.
“My dear Kit, don’t annoy yourself. Just think it this way. The police is here to welcome you.” Zina says, trying to cheer Kit up.
Kit doesn’t need his wife’s encouragement to make this decision. And soon they purchase a house in Mount Oak.
And little do they know what is waiting for them–Zina is playing a game that is soon out of her control.
(The 2nd part of the story is here.)