Big Billy – Money changes everything

Minnie gets off the phone and walks into the livin’ room where I’m sprawled out on the chair with the fan on me and chip crumbs down my shirt, watchin’ the Blue Jays game.

Who was on the phone? I said, because she just kinda stood there with her Big BIllyeyebrows sorta scrunched up and her hand on her hip.

That was Joan, she said, still all suspicious, like. They want us to come over tomorrow for supper.

Well, what’s wrong with that? I said to her.

Because, she said, raisin’ her eyebrows. They’re havin’ us over for a barbeque.

A barbeque? I said. When did they get a barbeque?

Exactly, she said. Somethin’s goin’ on with them two.

Whaddya mean? I said.

Think about it, Minnie said. They just got a barbeque. Two weeks ago they gave us a fan because they got a new air conditioner. Before that, they gave us their old carpet because they were layin’ down new stuff. Where did they get all the money for that?

I dunno, I said, but if we’re goin’ to a barbeque, I’m pickin’ up some beer.

Ah-ha! Minnie said, like a cartoon detective. That’s another thing – Joan said Cryil’s gonna have beer there for you and him because there’s a hockey game on.

Baseball game, you mean, I said to her. It’s the middle of July – hockey’s been over for a month.

Well whatever then, Minnie said. But when’s the last time Cyril told you he’d buy your beer?

So fast forward to the next night, and when we walk in the back door, past the giant, shiny barbeque on the back step, we barely recognize the place.

Joan and Cyril are both grinnin’ like the cat that swallowed the canary, sittin’ at their brand new wooden table and chairs set.

We won on a ticket! Joan says before she even says hello, like she just can’t hold it in anymore.

What? me and Minnie both say at the same time, but then Joan’s runnin’ over and her and Minnie are jumpin’ all around the kitchen. So I just sorta start shakin’ Cyril’s hand, and when I turn to stick it out, I catch a glimpse into the living room.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, I said to myself.

Up against the wall in the living room was the biggest friggin’ TV I ever seen in my life. I wandered in like a zombie in a trance, and what was on TV but the Stanley Cup finals from about 30 years ago. Gigantic and crystal clear picture.

Where in the hell did you get this?! I said to Cyril, smilin’ and laughin’ in disbelief at the same time.

Just got ‘er delivered today! Cyril said, and took a seat in this big, fancy leather chair that was right next to this big, fancy leather couch.

G’way! I said.

Cyril pointed a big remote at the TV and pressed a button. The roar of the arena filled the living room and the hockey announcers started talkin’ back and forth like there was one on either side of me.

Surround sound! Cyril said.

Holy cripes, I said, takin’ it all in. And where’d you get the hockey at?

Ohhhh buddy, Cyril said, pointin’ the remote again. Check this out.

A guide screen came up on the TV and showed we were on channel 500-and-somethin’.

Holy cripes! I said again. You got satellite or digital cable or somethin’ eh?

This channel here shows nothin’ but classic hockey, Cyril said. After this game, they’re showin’ Gordie Howe’s last All-Star Game, and then later on they got the game where Gretzky and the Oilers clinched their first cup.

I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. A channel that showed nothin’ but classic hockey 24 hours a day? I’d never leave the house.

Come on out to get a beer and I’ll show ya the new cupboards in the kitchen.

So I follow him out to the kitchen, the two of us grinnin’ like six-year-olds on gradin’ day, when we walk in on Minnie and Joan glarin’ at each other.

I can’t believe you, Minnie was sayin’ to Joan. After all I done for you!

What do you mean? Joan was yellin’ back at her. We’re tellin’ yis now, so what’s the difference?

Somethin’ like that happened to me, you’d be the first call I’d make, Minnie said. The first call!

Then she looked at me – C’mon, Billy, she said, we’re goin’, and she stepped in her shoes and stormed out the door.

What in the hell is this? I says to Cyril, and I follow Minnie out the door, pausin’ to look back in at the big screen as I put on my work boots.

Minnie was already in her seat in the truck and when I opened the driver’s door, all she said was – Drive.

And I know Minnie when she’s in this kind of mood, so that’s what I done. I just got in and drove toward home. Neither of us said anything for a while.

Imagine! Minnie says. They won that money in May and never even told us! She told her sister out west before she even told me! Can you believe that?

Ahhh, so that’s what it was. Minnie was mad because Joan didn’t call her up right away and tell her about it. They gave us their carpet, and a window fan, and invited us over for a big barbeque and bought us beer, and Minnie’s upset because Joan told other people first.

Hmmp, I said to myself, thinkin’ – women are funny, eh?

What? Minnie said.

Oh nothin’, I said. I was just wonderin’ what they’re gonna do with their old TV.

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