Werner didn't want to think about losing the house. He had known the time was coming, when the banker would be knocking at the door asking for payment. Every morning as the household woke he found himself praying to the God’s (he didn't really believe in) that today wasn't “the day”.
On the day, that finally was, “the day”, when Werner heard the knock it was accompanied by the scatter of the presence of every other in the house. They all knew what a knock at the door meant. Something bad.
The bank would be seizing one of them, as payment, one of Werner’s brood. That was what happened, when you couldn’t pay. It was no longer a game, this exchange.There were no excuses for non-payment of funds nowadays, no cry for “bankruptcy, no extension of credit, no mercy. When the money wasn’t there, they came to collect and collect, they did. They collected a family member.
Today the time had come for Werner to pay up. He just didn't know how, or who? How could he decide who the bank would take today?
There was his wife Gerda. Gerda was a plump woman but with five children that could be expected. Only Werner hadn’t expected it. Werner thought she would be a good choice because she consumed so much food. And with five other mouths to feed the household bill rose each year as the children grew and Gerda, Gerda always grew the most.
When they met Gerda had a lovely form and ate like a bird. Not that Werner ever thought anything of it, at the time. But with each child born her waist had increased in size as well as her appetite.
If only I could have had Gerda eat less, Werner thought.
That has become a constant thought of Werner’s lately. It was almost a mantra (even though Werner had no idea what a mantra was). Over and over the thought went through his head, at breakfast, lunch and the dinner table. Oh the horror Werner felt now as she gorged on a chicken leg. One night the leg looked much like his daughters.
Getting rid of Gerda would take that cost of food in half, even less, Werner thought, as he watched her shovel fork after fork down her gullet morning, noon and evening as if there was no end. Gerda made sure the family never missed a meal.
God forbid, Werner thought, wishing he could bring up the suggestion. Gerda would never have it.
“But the children are growing,” He could already hear her excuse. And Werner would agree that the children grew but Gerda, Gerda grew more.
However, there was no way he could get rid of his wife. She took care of all the children while he was at work…. when Werner had work. It had been a long time since he had had a job, that was really why they were in this predicament.
It was all consuming, Werner’s worrying of how he was going to do this. And that was what made it so hard for him to find work. Werner was too busy worrying.
“I married a louse,” Gerda screamed one day, her robust, stern, face had taken on a hard, apple red color. Werner had asked which child they would, “do away with”, as Werner had put it, which seemed to have made Gerda madder than ever.
“I will not give the bank to my children,” Gerda had shouted, possessively, “if anyone goes, I’ll make sure it’s you.”
Werner knew Gerda didn’t mean it. How would they survive without him? Secretly though, Werner worried she may be telling the truth and when the banker came, Gerda would overwhelm them all with her bulk and the bank would take him!
But, the time had finally come, the banker was at the door. As the man knocked once more Werner tried to duck behind the curtain before he was seen. Too bad Werner had never been faster, or good, at anything much. Had he, they might not have been in this predicament. Or, at least Gerda was always saying that much.
As much as he wanted to give Gerda to the banker who would take care of the children if she was gone? Werner would never survive them without her. The five children were too much for Werner. Rambunctious, all over the house, always moving, always shouting, always, much, too much for Werner. But then everything in life was much too much for Werner. That was why the family was in this predicament.
The banker wore a blue suit, carried a clipboard and oddly, like no other bankers Werner had ever seen, had a pencil tucked behind his left ear. As Werner opened the door the banker took the pencil from behind his left ear, licked the newly sharpened point and balanced that tip on the paper on his clipboard.
“Mr. Werner Werner,” I presume the banker said.
Werner nodded his head, as unlucky as he ever felt in his life and ushered the banker in before the neighbors could see. Werner wanted to run outside, he knew they had all seen the banker, hoping they hadn't. Wanted to run outside and tell them it had been Gerda’s fault, she had eaten her way to losing their children.
Werner walked to the kitchen not knowing what to tell the banker. The banker followed, puzzled by the display. Usually the banker's clients were, by now, either crying or shoving him off with one family member or two. None had ever taken him inside their home.
The banker wondered what Werner was up to. He felt secure though, as he touched the taser each banker had been issued, just in case someone got “hysterical” (as the bankers manual instructed to use the taser in an instance such as that).
The banker however, had yet to use this instrument, his weapon. Secretly, he very much would like to try. The banker had just never been given the chance. Yet. The banker wasn't giving up on his dreams, either.
As the pair entered the kitchen Werner began to babble, then bobble, and finally, blubber, something about a big beast and food. The banker couldn't understand Werner over his hysterics. His hand traveled down to the taser, the shiny, black, thing.
“This could be the day,” the little banker agreed (with that little voice inside his head that told him all the things a banker needed to know). While a banker did not usually need to know about zapping people with bolts of lightning (that was how the banker thought about the activity of the taser, having never seen or used one himself) this man was quite proud that his job was so important he could do things like that.
“Only if necessary,” that little voice in his head said, wagging an imaginary finger like the banker's mother had done when warning him of things. She had warned him a great many times when he was growing up. That had been why the banker had been so successful. Successful enough to carry weapons that produce results like an electric chair.
The banker didn't know much about the electric chair, that form of punishment had been done away with centuries before. It had been said to be too inhumane to carry on as a form of punishment.
“Better to enslave people as indentured servants for their entire life, doing manual, back breaking, hard labor. Let that kill them”, the little voice inside the banker's head said (and the banker happily agreed).
Much more humane, the banker added to the thoughts in his head. There were notes in there too, in his head, the voice there made them.
Five minutes had passed as the banker had this talk, back and forth, with the voice in his head. Werner had blubbered on, unnoticed by the banker.
When all Werner’s blabbering, blubbering and blanching had stopped (and the banker had finished his discussion with himself) he turned to Werner and said, ”Now, Mr. Werner Werner, it seems that the bank records indicate you have not paid your house payment for quite some time. I hate to be intrusive but, as a formality, I must record why it is, that is”, (the banker always had a hard time with this part of the collection, each time, as to why, the banker had no idea)....
The banker flustered and floundered until he found the words the banker had been taught to say and said,” why is it that you have not made payment?”
Werner stood and said nothing for a time, looking at the banker as the banker waited, looking back at Werner.
The banker cleared his throat. Werner said nothing. The banker again cleared his throat. Still, nothing from Mr. Werner Werner.
As the banker cleared his throat for a third (the banker thought) and final time Warner knew that he must give the banker an answer.
Sadly Werner had come to the conclusion that there was no other no way out of this than politely answering the banker’s questions, deciding on who in the family to give to the banker and saying goodbye to them forever. Still, he did not know who to give the banker. Werner knew the bank never gave anyone back. And, once they were deposited they were gone,forever. Even the bankers didn't know what happened to the [people] payments.
The banker had overheard a conversation of the top bank officials once but, it had been so shocking (the information he had heard) and so official, top secret, and important, the banker had promptly made himself forget it. Because that was what a good banker did (or, at least that's what the banker thought a good banker did).
Werner finally got around to telling the banker he couldn't find employment to pay the bank note on the house. Now, it was up to the banker to find the right course of action for the bank and, of course, the homeowner.
Did Mr. Werner Werner want to keep his home? the banker politely inquired.
“Indeed, sir, I do, I do. I have five children in this home. All born and raised here. And my wife. My very big wife with a big belly who eats very big food.”
The banker felt that Mr. Werner Werner was hinting at something but couldn't put his finger on what. It was strange that the family was in another part of the house. Usually they were all gathered together at this moment. A family was a family after all. It couldn't be helped that the bank had to take one of them today. Couldn't be helped at all, the banker thought.
That's what a family did, after all, the banker thought. A family helped one another.
As the banker shared his thoughts with Werner hope sprang in his head, tears glistened in his eyes. It seemed to Werner that the banker was telling him that none of this was his fault. It was just the way of things and when things like this happened the family must make do, help one another. Werner was relieved with this information. Nothing could have been sweeter to Werner then hearing this situation was not his fault.
The fault of this should have been laid directly at his feet by Gerda when the trouble began, Werner thought (and knowingly thought the banker would agree). Now as much as he wanted to usher Gerda out of the house, Werner in no way shape or form wanted to, or could, care for the five children it would leave him with.
If he was to rid himself of Gerda first, when the bank came for payment the next time the whole ordeal wouldn't be that hard, as it was this first time, Werner thought. Mentally he was preparing himself for that day (blessed day, as he stopped that thought and shamed himself for wanting to pay all the bills with his beloved family) he would be rid of all of them.
“No way I will let that happen,” Werner ushered that terrible (but wonderful) thought out of his head. To think that his blessed home might one day be quiet again. It was a cognitive dissonance that overwhelmed Werner’s every little bit of brain (what brain Werner, feebly possessed). Gerda, Werner knew, Gerda, would never let that happen. NEVER.
As that thought plummeted Werner knew that his pick had been made. He needed to keep the children intact. And, Gerda was eating them out of house and home. His mind flashed back (luckily) to that night, as Gerda sat, eating the chicken leg that looked so very like his daughters. He had three and it really could have been any of their legs. Werner didn't like to look at them much these days. They were all beginning to look like Gerda. And they sounded like Gerda too, at times.
Gerda has to go, Werner thought, sweating now and getting overly excited.
What Werner didn't know was that, in finding the solution, he was feeling relieved. Odd, what a body registers as a feeling for relief. It was just that Werner’s brain hadn’t registered yet, every thought he knew, he knew.
As the banker stood, waiting to ask the last, dreaded, question, one of the Werner daughters wandered into the room having been sent by Gerda to see what was taking so long.
Gerda hadn't known that today was meant to be payday. Werner had his dreaded letter that had come the week before with the date, today's date, boldly stamped in red hidden in his underwear drawer where Gerda refused to go after the debacle over a small, brown, stain.
“Who Sir will you be turning over to the bank to make payment today?”
When the banker asked that last, dreaded question, silence filled the room. The banker was used to screaming children, screaming women and weeping men but Werner and his daughter stood silent, both unwavering in their expression of nothingness.
The child seems very like the father the banker noted on his paper for no reason at all. In time, this comment would become wise words indeed, as the Werner children taken in payment were worth next to nothing when it came to work, very much like their father indeed.
And now that the question had been posed, the words had sunk into the home and into Gerda.
“You lousy, no good, filthy, sack of,” she screamed, her huge form flying into the room and raging at everyone and no one in particular. So out of control was the large woman and so frightful a creature, a beast of women, indeed, that the banker's hand shot to his only defense. His trusty taser. The one he had never used. Too afraid of its power but the banker had always been wishful to one day have the chance….
As Gerda’s huge form lost its balance, seething with hatred and rage over the man who could do nothing, nothing at all for them, she began to lose her balance and, so big had been her appetite that her body overflowed and came close to the banker, as if she sought to overwhelm him with her bulk. The banker, unsure of what this huge form could do to his little frame, shakily took out his trusty taser and shot the bolt out into the big woman.
The manual had said this taser was supposed to stop even the biggest and baddest of animals (as the banker remembered studying it). And, as the jolt of electricity found the big woman, the banker was a little disappointed. He had expected more, just not sure of what that more would be. All he knew now was that he was amazed with the power of the woman and a little ashamed at the lack of power in his taser.
All Werner could do during this entire incident was wait for it to be over and hope Gerda was taken by the banker.
And, as sure as the power of the taser was spent the woman, as it sputtered, faded and stopped, she flopped like a dead whale, flapping the bulk of herself on the kitchen floor where she oozed over the linoleum and lay still, finally, unmoving.
Werner was amazed. Had he known that little black magic doohickey would do that to his wife. He hadn't known the banker even carried it. Knowing this, Werner would have told the banker to take Gerda in the first place.
Werner’s biggest fear now lay on the floor, unmoving, not talking, not eating and finally Werner was at peace. He had made his decision and though the banker had never taken an unconscious payment before, he felt quite sure that this beast of a woman, who could drain his mighty lightning, would be the best payment the bank had ever received. Her mighty form would do great work
Well, that was, the banker thought, as long as they didn't have to feed her much.
The next day with Gerda gone Werner had been made to get up by the children and their need for things. So much was needed of him, for them. And Werner was so overwhelmed he didn't even have time to think of how overwhelmed he was. He just did. And then Werner had to do more. Finally, the family needed so much that Werner found a job. Part-time, that is.
But, with Werner’s part-time work, the money saved on food (Gerda ate no more with them, you see), the children’s help and the extra money Gerda made for the bank with her bulk form working (Werner got a stipend from the bank,which, was a first) off Werner’s payments. Werner never had to see the banker again to make another payment.
Best of all, Werner didn't worry so much anymore (especially about chicken legs and children).