Sam Cassidy had it all: a gorgeous wife, smart good-looking kids, a girl and a boy -- exactly two years apart. He owned a successful investment firm, a house in the right neighborhood, good cars. His yard was weed-free and perfect. His roses and flowers looked as if they were in a magazine. His suits fit perfect and even the soles of his shoes were polished. He had everything, including depression and a drinking problem.
Sam was trained as an engineer and to him details were important. He walked a thin tightrope. He believed that when dealing with other people's money one had to be very careful. Sam had to look successful without appearing too successful. He had to be just well-off enough to make others believe he could make money for them. He also had to make sure it did not appear he was getting rich on someone else's money.
A perfectionist, appearances were everything. He had a BMW, but a used one. He put his wife on a diet. He threw out her comfortable sweats she used to wear when she babysat for other kids to make ends meet. Those days were far behind them. The Cassidys quit hanging out with old friends to socialize with mere acquaintances in the right social circles. They moved to a house in one of the better subdivisions, not the best, just successful enough. As the business grew, the money started to pour in. They both liked the idea of being successful, of vacations, of buying all the things they wanted. At first Linda was uncomfortable ditching her old shopping buddies, but in time it became easier to ignore the calls, and soon the phone quit ringing.
Sam set lofty goals in his personal and professional life. He would be a success. Everyone would know. Today marked the end of his stint as president of the local Chamber of Commerce. To top it off, he had just been named to the Platinum Club for by the parent of his successful investment franchise.
Sam decided to go have a drink to celebrate. One turned into three and others followed as the evening turned to night. He talked and drank with people he knew, but one by one they went home to dinner with their friends and families. Deep in his brain Sam knew real friends would stay and celebrate his success. He buried those thoughts under gin and tonic tasting ice cubes. He thumped the table with pride.
As he stood to leave Sam realized he was more than a little drunk. He decided he had better not drive. How would it look to everyone in this small town if he was arrested for DUI? He picked up his briefcase and began the two mile trek towards home. As he walked home in the last days of October's Indian summer the alcohol really kicked in. The sidewalk was bucking like a ship on the ocean. Sam began to list the things in his life that were not perfect. Could he ask the neighbor across the street to kill the weeds and fertilize his raggedy lawn? They were once good friends, now they only talked a quick greeting as they put out the trash on Wednesday mornings. It would be a tricky thing. No power to concentrate, his inebriated brain moved on.
Mandy. His beautiful daughter posed a problem. She was so smart and pretty. She had the world before her. She had made the Dean's List every semester so far at college. medical school was in the future, even though Mandy was but a sophomore she was already studying the MCAT guides. Then there was her infatuation with Greg. Him. To be fair, Sam liked the boy, he was handsome, intelligent and hard-working. But he was in the Army. Raised by a single mom, the military was Greg Fitch's ticket to college. Only now Greg was telling Mandy he actually enjoyed the Army. Sam shook his head in anger, that boy was not right for her. What would people think, her traipsing around the globe with a, what is an E3 anyway?
His son David was in love with a French girl. A foreign exchange student. He was already talking about going with her back to France at the end of his senior year in high school. David had told Sam "I am eighteen. I will graduate in May, there is nothing you can do about it". Sam again lost his train of thought.
Details, details. The list of things to do at work flashed in a disjointed film clip through his brainpan. "Mr. Hovarth..tomorrow I need to transfer for Mr. Hovarth...I am not paying for him to go to France...Mandy will probably have to go to France with that assho..man, I am tired...the best fucking president that Chamber ever had...where is my car...maybe Linda will want to have some sex later, it has been a long time...I have to do something for Mr. Hovarth..."
He sat the briefcase down as it was getting heavy. He swayed on his feet a moment and contemplated taking off his suit coat. He noticed a scuff on his wingtip and frowned. "Those shoes cost $250 and now they are ruined", he mumbled to himself. He scratched the back of his head a minute, already forgetting the shoes in the alcohol fog. Jutting his jaw, he squinted into the night. He sort of recognized where he was. Straight or right turn? He staggered across the street splitting the difference. As he neared the curb he began to see bright flashes of light. "Cool", he thought to himself. Short of the curb he set a zigzag course down the street. The lights began to circle his head, a red, white and blue firework show. Then he heard the woop of the siren as the police car slowed to a crawl behind him.
"Some one's day is fucked", Sam muttered with a half smile. The cop looked out his window at the obvious drunk staggering down the side street carrying a briefcase. He shook his head and hit the siren another short blast.
For Sam Cassidy attaining the appearance of perfection was about to get a lot harder.