He never wanted to move from the city to the cinnamon brown split-level ranch house in Nowhere Suburbia. Even his teenage daughter Jennie initially objected, but Jean had hounded him for ten years to "get the hell out of the filthy city and raise our child somewhere safe," so in 1972 he relented and they moved. They'd spent a year in their new home, and ever since the move he regretted every day.
She turned from the living room side window and grimaced. "Go back? No way in hell! We're staying here, but I'll be damned if those…those…neighbors lower the property value of our new home. We've worked too damned hard for it."
Once his wife's new Dr. Scholl sandals click-clacked off to the kitchen, he undid the top hook of his Magnastretch flared slacks, stretched his legs on the glass and chrome coffee table, and focused on the infallible Walter Cronkite's words. When the station cut to a Hai Karate After Shave commercial, he took the moment of peace to close his eyes and think back to what life was like a year earlier, when they lived in their city apartment.
His commute to the office had been a short subway ride every day. Now it was a forty-five-minute, bumper-to-bumper drive. Micky's Place, his neighborhood bar, had been a five-minute walk from home. The closest bar now was a fifteen-minute drive, but what good was a bar if you couldn't stagger home from it? And the city had Dottie, a sexy, blonde, once-a-month secret he kept from his wife. These days he only had Jean, and now that she was going through the change, whoopee had become a four-letter word. No, this suburban hellhole couldn't compare to his old life, where everything worthwhile was within reach.
The click-clacking came back in the living room. Jean chewed on her lip as she sprayed the jungle of fern plants hanging from macramé holders. Her tirade wasn't over. "You tell me, how can people like that afford such a house? I'll bet he's some whiny Vietnam vet, and the government is shelling out our tax dollars to pay for it."
He rolled his eyes. "Believe me, the government isn't doing anything for Vietnam vets."
She was back at the window, peeking across at the new neighbors. "Look at her over there! Hanging up a happy face mobile. Harrumph! Like people like that have something to be happy about."