I owe the bank one hundred thirty-two thousand, six hundred and nineteen dollars and sixty-three cents. The bank owns me. Well, not all of me -- just part. And they want what is theirs.
The bank wants my balls. Technically, not my balls. Just one will do, in their opinion. I believe this to be unreasonable, so I sue for relief.
In court, their lawyer tells the judge that I haven't paid them what I owe.
"On what grounds?" the judge asks.
"On the grounds that my loan doesn't come to term for another fifteen years," I say.
"Is this true?" the judge asks their lawyer.
"Your honor," their lawyer said, "We would like introduce as evidence a copy of Our Loan Contract -- signed by the defendant, We might add -- as exhibit A." He takes the sheaf of papers to the judge’s bench. "If you'll please note page seven, item thirty-nine, section b(iii) where it states, and I quote: 'The Bank reserves the right herein to call in all outstanding loans whereas It deems It has reason to believe the debtor to be purposefully engaged in enterprises which would call the collection of said debt into question.' "
"So?" the judge asks.
"Your honor, We would like to introduce as exhibit B this article for Famous National American Business Newspaper which clearly shows the decline in home values due to a burst in the real-estate market bubble over the last 18 months, causing millions of homeowners to be 'underwater' with their loans, thus leading them to bankruptcy, foreclosure, and ruination."
"Again, so?" asks the judge.
Their lawyer point to me. "Your honor," he says, "We maintain that the defendant did willfully and knowingly take the funds that We, the Bank, in good faith did loan to him and use them with malice of forethought to speculate in the real-estate market."
"I object," I say again.
"Overruled," says the judge. "Object to what, by the way?"
"It is true, sir, that I borrowed money from the bank. I took out a home equity line of credit, truth be told, and I did use the money in real estate, but I used it to make improvements to my house, not to speculate in other home purchases. Besides, my house is worth more than I owe and I make all my payments," I protest.
"But he still invested in real estate," their lawyer tells the judge.
"True," the judge says to the lawyer, ignoring me. "And the market is crumbling," he mused. "I'm waiting for it to bottom out so I can snap up a nice property," he mused, to no one in particular.
"Right," the lawyer says, puffing up a bit. "We have to protect our investment, your honor."
"But why his balls?"
"Just one ball, your honor. To make an example of him to other investors," their lawyer says. "We just can't have people borrowing Our money without fully understanding the consequences, can we? I mean, who is going to be responsible for bailing these people out?"
"Point of order, your honor," someone in the courtroom says.
"We don't use Robert's Rules of Order in a court of law," the judge declares, looking around the courtroom. "Who are you, by the way?" he asks. "Yes, you, in the fourth row, with the plaid sport coat and matching slacks, with the white shoes and suspenders."
This guy stands up and slicks back his hair, then shoots a burst of breath spray into his mouth before he walks up to the judge and gives him a business card. "Your highness sir, I'm Burton "Buddy" Pratt," he says, "owner of Buddy's Best Realty, home of quality real estate at thrift-store prices. Now your sirness" he says, hooking his thumbs under his suspenders and snapping them, "this guy here -- ".
"Him," Buddy says, points at me, "the accursed. This guy is sittin' on a real gold mine of a piece of property, let me tell you. But will he consider letting go of this gold mine? No sir. I been trying to get him to put his place on the market for months, at six percent commission to me, of course, but he won't budge. Now the going rate for property in Valhalla Valley. . ."
"Valhalla Valley? I've been trying to find a place there for over a year," the judge says, suddenly very interested.
The real estate guy, Buddy -- his eyes glaze over and I swear he even sways some -- he pulls an eleven-by-fourteen portfolio with full color glossy pictures of my house out of his inside jacket pocket. "Your holiness," he says, "may I approach the bench? I think we might be able to plea bargain here in the best interests of all parties involved."
"Counsel for the Bank wishes to make this a joint discussion, your honor" the lawyer for the bank says, "so We are sure to protect Our best interests.
While these guys are huddled around the bench arguing about points and return on investment, a man and a woman wearing white lab coats come up to me. The man, a graying, bespectacled guy says, "Roll up your sleeve, please."
"What's this for?" I ask as he wraps a big rubber band around my arm and sticks a syringe in a vein.
"To test for blood type, allergies and the such before your surgery," the guy says.
"So you're the doctor, huh?" I ask.
"Nope," he says.
I look at the woman and she smiles wickedly, nods her head, makes a motion with her fingers and says, "Snip, snip."
"Only one," I say. "And besides," I nod towards the bench, "this may not be necessary.
"How big is the garage?" the judge calls over to me.
"Two car," I say. He shakes his head at Buddy. "It can be expanded!" I shout.
Buddy turns his head to me and shrugs with that 'Hey, I tried' look on his face.
"To surgery?" the lawyer asks.
"To surgery," the judge says.
"To surgery," Buddy says.
"To surgery, to surgery, to surgery we go," the doctor sings, dancing a little jig.
"I object," I say.
"What for this time," the judge asks irritably as he gestures to the bailiff to lead me off.
"What about my wife?" I ask as the bailiff takes my arm.
"Your wife?" the bank's lawyer asks.
"Bernice. She isn't going to like this," I say.
"We didn't know you had a wife," their lawyer says. He flips through his copy of my loan papers. "No," he says. "Nothing here about a wife.
"That's because I borrowed the money to remodel the house before we got married. Here are our wedding pictures," I say, pulling volumes one through seven of our photo albums from my wallet.
"Wow, what a looker," their lawyer says.
"Oh, yeah," Buddy says. "And she's got a sweet little caboose on her too," he adds. He notices my raised eyebrows and looks sheepish. "Hey, she gave me a good tour around the house when I took all these shots," he says, brandishing his portfolio.
"Your honor," their lawyer says, "in light of this new evidence, We would like to take a short recess to study this matter before a final dispossession, depredation, dispensation, or degonadization is made."
"Granted," the judge says. "This court now stands adjourned until 1 p.m."
Bernice comes in during the break, sits beside me and asks, "How's it going?"
"Things have gotten hot in here."
"Yes, things have gotten hot in here," she says, and removes her blouse.
"No," I say as I press against the granite table top to try to get comfortable on the stone bench I'm forced to sit on. "I mean I'm between a rock and a hard place here. My nuts are in a vice." She grabs my crotch. "Figuratively speaking," I say.
Hmmm," she mumbles. "Lunch time." She opens a brown bag filled with home-made lemony Snow Cap cookies coated with powdered sugar. With each bite she takes, a little powdered sugar drifts down till soon, a fine dusting of powder covers her breasts out to the nipples, like snow-covered ski-slopes. Lovely, erotic ski slopes.
I lost my wife in a poker game once. I was sitting on a pat hand--aces over queens full house -- and knew the game was in the can when the only guy who hadn't folded drew one card, trying for an inside straight. Well this guy had a face as transparent as glass all night long and when he frowned I figured he came up empty and was only bluffing when he said, " Hey, tell you what. You ante up your wife and I throw my Beemer into the pot. Whaddya say?"
I figured I was sitting in the catbird seat, so I went along and laid out my cards, real slow like thinking how my wife was going go love a new car when he laid out five straight clubs. Let me tell you, my guts were all twisted up when I called my wife at three in the morning to tell her I lost her in a card game. I know, I'm a jerk.
"You're a jerk, Jack," my wife said. "I'll be there in ten minutes to straighten things out."
The bailiff says, "All rise" when the judge comes back in. All eyes are directed at my wife as she stands and the light dusting of powder drifts to the table.
"The court has reached a decision," the judge says. "We are granting the plaintiff's original request and rule that the required surgery be executed as soon as possible. This court stands adjourned."
"Well, this is another fine mess you've gotten yourself into, Jack," my wife says. She brushes the powder off her breasts, puts on her blouse and tucks it into her skirt. "I'll see what I can do," she says as the orderly leads me away. All the while the doctor keeps saying, "Snip, snip," while hiccupping.
On the way to the hospital I keep saying this is all a bad dream and I pinch myself over and again. Even as the anesthetic takes effect and I slip into unconsciousness, I think for sure that I'll wake up and none of this will have happened.
I wake up with an enormous erection and a strong desire to pee. I'm groggy at first and don't recognize the surroundings, then I remember and I grab my groin. I moan as my fingers pass over the stubble where they shaved me for the surgery. Then I hear a vaguely familiar voice say, "He's awake."
"It's okay, Jack," I hear Bernice say. "It's all over now."
"Why didn't you stop them?" I ask.
"Feel," she says, guiding my hand with hers. I tense up in anticipation of the pain and loss, but they're both there. I cry out and almost float out of the bed, euphoric, then I settle back into its comforting embrace.
"How?" I ask. "How did you convince them?"
"I told them I wanted to have children," Bernice says.
"But we could still have a child if I only had one ball."
"That's what they said, too," she says. "But I convinced that that they couldn't predict from which one the child I wanted to have would come, and so to remove either testicle would constitute a pre-emptive abortion."
"Never mind," she says.
Before I can ask her more, someone, a familiar voice, says. "You'll have to leave now. He needs to rest."
"Yes, get some rest now, Jack, and we'll discuss the details later." That's when I notice all the black and blue marks on my arm.
"How did I get these?"
"You kept pinching yourself, remember?" Bernice squeezes my hand and leaves the room.
"Well Jack," the other person in the room says. "It's time to pay your debts now."
I rubbed my eyes to clear my blurred vision; hovering above me is the loan officer from the bank, dressed in drag as a nurse, and he's holding a pair of bandage scissors.
"You should have let the doctor do this, Jack," he says, chuckling. "Don't you know the bank always wins in the end?"
The doors burst open as he reaches toward me and my wife rushes in yelling, taking him out with a perfect clip at the knee. I listen to them scuffling on the floor and his panicked voice call out, "Put those down. No, not that. Oh God."
As I protect myself using my hand as a codpiece, I think I could use a good vacation.
I wonder if I could get a loan?