About BEST FRIENDS
ALL ABOUT MONEY or ALL ABOUT GOD
James has crafted a twist where the antagonists are the main characters.
The myth he who has the most stuff wins is all too common. Materialism is an extremely addicting character trait and a devastating one.
Where will it lead Harry and Rose as they move from town to town seeking out Best Friends to plunder? When is enough, enough? One wealthy man said, “Just one more million.”
Will Harry and Rose find happiness with all that they have? What will happen when they have it all? Will they ever have it all?
Is it possible to be happy with absolutely nothing, but God?
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“Harry, I’m really sick and tired of moving every few months.” Petite Rose Buellton paused from wiping her brow, on the sleeve of her sweatshirt.
Her husband, also busy packing, ignored her and continued packing.
“Did you hear me?” No answer. Rose glared at Harry and raised her voice. “When’s this going to end?” Still no answer. She slammed the roll of bubble wrap on the floor and stood with her hands on her hips, waiting for the answer she longed to hear.
Harry kicked the bubble wrap. “Get this out of my way.”
“Please give me an answer.”
“I asked you when this’s going to end.”
“I’m not sure. Maybe a few more times.”
Rose brushed back her light brown hair. It wasn’t what she wanted to hear. “Are you serious? I hate doing this. I hope we never move again. I want this to be the last.”
Harry turned his back and stomped off in his cowboy boots, toward the kitchen.
She hated those boots and the macho way he strutted in them. “Harry, wait. Do you understand?”
A mean ugly stare wrinkled Harry’s dark complexioned face. His deep brown eyes flashed hatred. “It’s you who doesn’t understand. I told you in the beginning how this business would work and you agreed to it. So get a grip, Rose, and keep packing.”
Rose had a foreboding feeling there wouldn’t be any more moves after this. She didn’t know why she wasn’t happy about that possibility.
Rose reached to pick up another expensive Hummel and carefully wrapped it. Why did she ever agree to such a stupid way to make a fortune? Someday they would pay dearly. She was happy before she met Harry. Sure, she didn’t make much money, but she was good at what she did. She was the only one in the office who learned the new concept of digitizing any picture, document, or she guessed anything. She was stupid to let Harry schmooze her and con her into this business. Money sure hadn’t brought happiness. She guessed it was what she deserved for bragging about how good she was at reproducing documents, at the sports bar. She should’ve seen it coming. Her friends told her to stay away from Harry. He was trouble with a capital T. She didn’t listen.
Early the next morning, the ringing doorbell told Rose the movers had arrived.
Hoping coffee would help; she forced herself to make a fresh pot—very black.
Harry directed the movers. “Hey, be careful. It’s expensive. Have you ever moved anyone before?”
Good, he could yell at them and give her some freedom.
“Harry, are we going to clean up this place, or have a cleaning service do it again?”
“Do what I say. Did I say, ‘Rose clean this house’?”
“There’s you answer.”
“Rose, how many times must I tell you, I do the thinking, not you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Oh, good grief. Go through the house and garage and make sure the movers got everything. Check the backyard too. I want the grill to go along. It’s a good one.”
A short while later, Rose found Harry leaning on the back of the car in the garage. “Yep, the movers took it all.”
“Go use the facilities. I don’t want to stop at the first exit.”
She was smart enough to know to use the facilities before a trip. Even though she just did, but she’d better at least walk in there. It was better than a beating.
Rose returned from her bathroom trip to find Harry already in the car and backing out of the garage. “Hey, wait for me.”
“Well, then hurry on.”
Rose didn’t even turn back to say goodbye to the house as they headed down the road, in their new car, for the long journey to Plattsburg, Illinois.
She should be already focusing on their new place of business, Harry probably was.
Within minutes they approached the edge of town and turned north on County Trunk J, heading for I-80.
It was an unusually warm early spring day. Rose welcomed the car’s air conditioner.
Rose, who had told herself a few days earlier she didn’t care about all the things they had, now was concerned. “Harry, are you sure the movers know which items are being transferred to the storage facility in Montana?”
“What do you think? Watch the map and make sure we don’t miss highway I-80 west. Think you can do that much right?”
“I thought this car had GPS.”
“It does. So what?”
“Why don’t you use it?”
“If I wanted to use it, I would. I want you to read the map. Is that too much to ask?”
She bet Harry didn’t know how to use the GPS and was too proud to ask her. She should turn it on. Yeah, and get beat.
Rose flipped the map open. “Did you remove our license plate and put a different one on the car?”
Harry banged the steering wheel and shot Rose a hateful glance.
She cringed while he barked more demands. “How many times have I done this? I know what I’m doing. Do you? Watch the road signs and the map.”
Rose continued to worry and had to ask Harry, “What state’s the stolen plate from?”
“Wisconsin. Can you remember? Now shut up.”
Rose knew she should feel better than she did. The Indiana sun shone brightly. It was a pretty day with the plants and trees waking from a long winter. Why was she never happy anymore? She didn’t even like looking in the mirror at herself. She hated seeing the scars and bruises from Harry’s beatings. She was thankful the heavy face cream hid most of them. She also didn’t like what she’d become. There was nothing she could do about it.
“Harry, we’re going west, right?”
“With the sun at our backs, going from right to left on the map, and the signs saying west, what led you to the fact we’re headed west?”
“You told me yesterday.”
“Stuff it, Rose.”
“The question I have is if we’re already heading west, why don’t we take a vacation, go to the storage place in Montana, and touch our stuff?”
“Look at the map. You do know how to read it, don’t you?”
“Good. How far is it from here to Montana?”
“Let’s see.” She fumbled around in her purse and pulled out the only dollar bill she had. “As far as I can tell, it’s only about fourteen inches to Montana.”
“You dummy. How did you come up with fourteen inches?”
“A dollar bill’s six inches long.”
“You don’t get it do you, Rose?”
“Why not? You said I could keep the dollar last week.”
“Rose, I don’t know why I even bother. Telling me in inches only tells me how far it is on the map. I want you to see how far it is in real life, like in miles.”
“I’d need a longer tape measure to actually measure the earth and it’d take days.”
“Rose, are you for real? Look on the map for a thing called a scale.”
“I didn’t know you could weigh things with a map.”
“Rose, the scale helps you convert inches to miles, not how heavy things are. Do you see it?”
“Oh. However, the scale isn’t fourteen inches long. Now what do I do?”
“Rose—we’re not going to Montana. Don’t say another word.”
She loved it when she got Harry all upset by acting dumb.
Several miles into the trip, Harry pulled off I-80. “Food time.”
Rose sat up straight. She knew she had to make a quick decision at the drive-thru. She strained to see the menu board as they approached the speaker. “I’ll have a number eight meal, with Coke.”
“Too expensive. Pick something else.”
“A hamburger and small fries. Oh, and a glass of water.”
Harry leaned over to talk to the speaker. “Did you get her order?”
“Yes, hamburger, small fries, and a water.”
“Correct. I’ll have a number eight meal. With a Coke.”
What a mean person. She cried internally and wished for a better life. She had no friends and thanks to some of Harry’s old goons, in the slums, she had no past. They carefully and meticulously erased all of it. There was no one to help her. She wished she had never been born. She leaned forward and folded her hands.
Harry punched her shoulder, “Don’t tell me you’re praying.”
The punch hurt. She quickly straightened up. “I’m not praying. I’m not a religious fanatic. I simply leaned forward and folded my hands. Okay?”
“Oh. For a minute, I thought you were becoming one of those born-again-Christians.”
“Get serious.” Harry was dumb to even think that with all they had done. There was no way she could be a Christian and didn’t want to be. It was all a myth. If it were true there wouldn’t be people like them, doing what they do and her parents wouldn’t have been killed so young. Those poor misguided people who think God’s real, sure waste a lot of time over a bunch of phooey.
They received their order and headed back west on I-80. “You should have gotten the number eight, Rose, it’s really good.”
“But, you said—”
Harry backhanded Rose. “Don’t say another word. Do you understand?”
Rose noticed the sun was off to her right where it had been off to her left. Fat chance she was going to say anything.
They drove along in silence save the munching of their food. A short while later, Rose pitched the bag of McDonald’s trash into the back seat. She sure she didn’t fold her hands again. She guessed not.
About half an hour later, Harry cursed, “Why didn’t you tell me we were going the wrong direction?”
“You told me not to say anything. If the GPS was working, it would have told you.”
Harry let out a slow sigh. “Get out the manual and figure it out if you’re so smart.”
Rose reached over to the GPS unit and turned it on. She read the online screens and followed the directions. “What’s the address of our new house?”
Harry strained and finally maneuvered his billfold out of his pants pocket. He retrieved a folded piece of paper out of it. “It’s 1128 Grandview Drive, Plattsburg, Illinois.”
Rose made a few more entries. The GPS unit came to life, “Turn around when possible.”
“I didn’t need a stupid GPS device to tell me what I already know. Turn it off.”
“Have it your way, Harry.”
Rose settled back into the luxury car’s seat and closed her eyes.
She woke with a start when Harry hit her on the arm. “Wakeup. We’re here.”
Rose jumped. “Huh?”
“I said, ‘we’re here’. Take a look. What do you think of it?”
She sat still.
“You going to get out, or do I have to pull you out? The choice is yours.”
Rose moved out of the car. She groggily stood alongside the car and rubbed her eyes. “This is our new house?”
Rose cut him off. “Can we afford it?”
“How come I never signed any papers at a closing?”
“You didn’t need to.”
“Why not? Do we really own this house?”
“Show me the papers.”
“I had them sent to our new bank to be put in a lockbox.”
“Show me the lockbox key.”
“I don’t have to show you anything.”
“I’m your wife and as such I should be on the title to the house.”
“Prove it, Harry. What’s the name of the bank?”
“Harry, you’re lying. Do we or do we not own this house?”
“Before you answer me, make sure you’re telling the truth. You know I have the expertise to check out the information on the web. Which I could do, but I’d like you to be honest with me. Do we own this house?”
“We’re renting it. Now stop the grilling.”
“This is the most beautiful house we’ve ever lived in. How big is the yard?”
“Five acres. All the lots are five acres.”
“Look at all the trees. We must be in a forest.”
“Take a look at the neighbors’ houses.”
Rose peered up and down the street. “Wow. Even in the dark they look beautiful.”
“What? You think I’d set us up in the slums?”
Rose continued looking around the neighborhood. “I don’t believe it; we even have a beautiful fountain in our front yard. I can’t wait to see it in the daylight.”