As Joseph walked slowly down the street he thought about the things he'd been dealing with at work. His boss had messed up the schedule again, and had asked him to work an extra shift to cover for her, again. Joseph was so tired of waiting tables, but he needed the money! He thumbed the bills in his pocket, one hundred fifteen dollars in tips today. He couldn't stand smiling and making chit chat with most of the customers he saw throughout his day but he knew what the tips meant to his family. They were just barely getting by.
This thought brought his mind back to the present and then slowly into the future. He imagined what was waiting for him at home, his son was home sick again, that thought alone was enough to make Joseph dread going through the front door. His son, Matthew, had been lying about being sick to avoid being bullied at school.
While Joseph wanted so desperately to make his son go to school and face his bullies, his wife Carmine refused to let him put his foot down. That woman coddled their son and only Joseph could see it. He started to get angry as he began thinking about the kind of man his son would turn into if he wasn't forced to grow up soon. The boy already wasn't right, but Carmine refused to see it.
"I'm not going to let you tell our son he isn't allowed to be the way he wants to be!" Joseph remembered the night he and Carmine argued about it not too long ago. "He's just a little feminine and that's fine! You're not going to let him think that's not okay." The only time Carmine found the balls to put her foot down was when Joseph tried disciplining their son.
While Joseph walked he stared down at the ground to hide his angry expression from the world. He bumped into a girl as he turned to walk up the huge front stoop of his house and he didn't apologize for it, he didn't have it in him to apologize to anyone else after his day at work. He hesitated before placing his foot on the first step. He knew he'd have to see his son happily playing his video games and pretend not to be mad about it, he knew he'd have to force a smile for Carmine or risk a vicious argument, and he knew his young daughter would expect him to pour attention on her.
Joseph unlocked the outside door of the house in which he lived on the top floor with his family. He passed through the shared entryway and unlocked the door to his apartment. Thank God the neighbours weren't passing through at the same time; he didn't have the energy to make small talk with them.
He walked slowly up the stairs to his home and came into the living room. The TV was off, Matthew's video games put away. Maybe the boy really was sick this time?
"Joseph!" He heard his name being called from down the long hallway that ran down the middle of his apartment. "Joseph are you home?"
"Yeah honey." Joseph loosened his tie as he called down the hallway to his wife.
"Could you come into the bathroom please?" Joseph noticed that his wife sounded nervous and there was the sound of running water coming from her direction. He tossed his coat onto the couch, something he knew Carmine hated, and walked slowly down the hall to the bathroom at the other end.
"Where are the kids?" Joseph asked, feeling excited about being called by his wife to the bathroom. He unbuttoned his shirt as he walked, expecting to find his wife naked, waiting to get in the shower with her man. He imagined soap suds clinging to her curved body, and got excited. There was no answer to his question and as he passed through the open door of the bathroom he noticed his wife was fully clothed with her back to him, her long blond hair was wrapped sloppily around itself in a messy bun and she was holding her arm under the tap. "Wait...what's going on?" Joseph asked and stepped back as his wife turned around.
Carmine's arm was glistening with a combination of water and blood, she had been nursing what looked like a ragged wound on her arm. "He...he bit me..." Carmine said, crying now.
"What!" Joseph sprung into action, he grabbed a towel and pulled his wife close. He began to wipe the water and blood away so he could get a better look at her arm. "Who bit you?"
Joseph tore his attention away from his wife's arm and stared deep into her eyes. He could feel a terrible heat rising in his throat, anger, it burned like bile and he nearly retched at the thought of his son hurting Carmine like this.
"Matthew...bit you?" Joseph clenched his teeth together as he spoke, trying not to let his anger get the best of him.