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Banking on it

[Banking on it, 1,763 words, Genre: Horror]

* Image courtesy of Dirk de Bruyn

Theodore was going for a bank loan, for a mortgage on a house. It seemed like that was what everyone was doing these days. Property was a respected pathway of building one’s self an empire and the banks were only too happy too to supply the funds necessary so that one could pursue such an endeavor. So Theodore had found his dream home, he had established the necessary capital for the initial investment of the home and now he sat (with the bank’s branch manager) discussing the loan that he would need. Theodore was your average thirty-something year old guy. He had worked throughout his life, living at home and saving up as much money as he possibly could so that he could establish himself. Sure, his life was free from any form of co-dependent relationship. But he figured that that sort of thing would come after he found the home. A successfully employed individual, financially independent with a belly like a bottomless pit for the intricacies of life. Who could ask for more?

The bank manager sat in the seat opposite him, in a little corner office of the branch. He had in hands a credit report and was slowly sifting through Theodore’s credit history. He was smart, Theodore was, he had built up a credit history by using a credit card. Nothing too serious and he made sure he always paid the card on time. As the bank manager sifted through the finer details of the loan application. Theodore sat there in his seat, slowly stroking his beard and found himself wondering. What had become of friends past? There were a few of them who had faded off into the distance on his pathway to success. They belonged in a special part of his mind that he thought of as the forgotten memories. They had all done one thing or another to offend him in some way or another. As he thought of these odd characters who had circumnavigated his life, a sly smile broke off across his lips. He knew that, in the end, he had been the wise one. While others had criticized him for his frugal behaviour, he had remained steadfast and determined in his conviction. This mind-set had eventually paid off for him. He thought of one blithering fool and then another. There was a large number of these type of people who he would self-proclaim imbeciles who had infected the course of his life in days past. But, now, that was all over. He was moving on with things. To finer things, to better things, to a life free from idiots, to a life full of wanton women. He was unsure of many things, but he was sure that there would be plenty of wanton women. The thin smile broke into a quick lick of his lips and he was soon taken back from his imaginings into his contemporary station.

“I see,” the bank manager begun, “the conditions of the bank loan are all met. I can authorize this for you. There are, of course, some conditions that you may wish to review before signing on with us.”

“Yes, yes, I understand, I understand.” Theodore took the pile of documents that was to be his home loan and reviewed the material. Everything was in working order and what he would consider standard applicable agreements. There was one thing that struck him as an oddity though. “What’s this?” Theodore asked.

“What’s what?” The bank manager replied.

“This. The AAA life insurance policy program.”

“Oh, that.” The bank manager smiled at him, “That’s just to cover us in case there is some kind of emergency. In the event of an accident or death, it just makes sure we’re covered. And you are too, of course.”

“Of course.” Theodore agreed and signed the loan application. And that was it. All the documents were in order. The home would be his, all he would have to worry about from now on would be showing up to work on time and making sure the mortgage repayments were made. After everything was done, he went and had a drink at one of his favourite haunts. He ordered himself an Espresso Martini, and in the reign of absent company, toasted himself and his successes.

The following months compounded into a year. After the year was over he accounted for his financial losses and after all was said and done, he felt trapped. Because of the home loan he hadn’t been able to take a holiday and because he hadn’t been able to take a holiday, he felt stressed. That same stress was affecting him at work. He had hardly any time for a social life and the people that he spent time with were work companions. He couldn’t exactly socially integrate with them for in one way or another, they were seen as the competition. Whenever a new position arose at work he would find himself competing against these other people, battling it out for the bequest of the slightest possibility of a raise or something equivalent.

Always working. No fun. Bills to pay. Mortgage to be repaid. Every month, and the economic situation didn’t help out at all. There was talk of a real estate bubble. That the whole economy was going to collapse in on itself. The people at work didn’t make his time easy to handle either. Wherever he looked it felt like things were going to collapse in on itself. And slowly, over time, it did. It wasn’t one thing or another for Theodore. Rather, it was a multitude of different things. All of them seemingly going wrong at the same time. At work one of his female co-workers was pressing management for a penalty to be brought down upon him for some absentee comment that he had made. He had received enough parking fines in a single month that he had fallen behind on mortgage repayments. It was this, that and the other thing. All of it resulting in… KA-BOOM! A nervous breakdown.

It was nowhere in particular that it happened. He remembered driving down the suburban streets one afternoon and then getting out of his car. When he was out of his car, he fell to his knees, hurling obscenities at the dark clouds that were gathering in the skies above. It took some time, but eventually a police car came around and checked up on him. First, they had to calm him down. Ask him what was happening, ask him if he knew what was happening. This resulted in a confusing trade of remarks. Eventually he was taken to a hospital and admitted into a psychiatric ward where they would conduct a proper assessment of his person.

When he was at the hospital, they started with the usual routine. They had him counting backwards by nines from one-hundred and eight. Just a simple concentration test. But the way that Theodore handled it was a reflection of his state of mind. He was furious that he would be submitted to such treatment and kept on asking why he had to do this. Or when they asked him for his date of birth, he asked them why he had to do that. This and that, and that and this. He was not exactly the violent type, never had been. And so when they led him to a set of beds and told him take a medicine cup full of liquid valium, he readingly obliged.

As he received treatment, the rest of the world slowly faded into the background. He was losing his job and a dozen other things, but of course, he had been doing that for quite some time now. So as the rest of his life went to shambles outside the confines of the hospital walls, he was receiving treatment for some form of temporary psychosis. Months passed and he gradually made a full recovery.

He was sent off, back to his home and to his home, alone, he went. As Theodore turned the key of his door, he remembered that there was something off about the nature of his home. Perhaps it was the garden gnome that was leaning to one side, perhaps it was the pot plant that had a trail of dirt that led up to its precipice. He couldn’t pinpoint exactly what the problem was and put it down to his absentee state of mind that he had been experiencing the past few months at the hospital. He turned the key of the door to his home and made his entrance. He put down his bag of belongings next to the hallway door and made his way into the kitchen.

There, waiting in the kitchen, was a man. The man had a grisly look to him, a scar on his left cheek and a jaw pursed in an eternal clench. As soon as Theodore saw him, he was struck by awe. His first and only reaction was to scream at the man, “Who the fark are you!? Get out of my house! Don’t you know what I’ve been through!”

The man, despite Theodore’s infuriated protest, did not move. Did not move, did not flex a muscle, didn’t even flinch. As calm as Stillwater, the man replied, “I’m from the bank.”

“The bank! Who gives a fark about the bank! Get out! Get out! Get out!”

The man, still calm, continued talking, “They didn’t explain to you what would happen. They can’t explain to you what happens. When things like this happen.”

“Get out! Get the fark out!”

“You see, you have failed the obligations of your mortgage and not as usual. The bank has done an assessment on you. They realize that you’ve lost your job and there’s not much chance of repairing that or repaying back the loan.”

“Get out!”

“They could just kick you out and you’d file for bankruptcy. But times have changed. The economy’s not what it used to be. That’s why they made you sign that life insurance policy.”

“Get the fark out!” Theodore screamed.

The man raised his right arm, revealing a pistol. The pistol, complete with silencer, released two bullets that found their way to Theodoore. One in his chest and one in the centre of his forehead. “Because in the event of your death. The house gets paid off and the bank makes a profit. That’s why I’m here.” The man walked over to Theodore’s lifeless corpse slowly seeping out blood. The man leaned over and stated, “They didn’t explain that part, did they?”

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