Revisiting and Revising

A credit card, the biggest beneficiary of the ...

College Grad and Credit Deadbeat

By Elizabeth Cutright
(Excerpted from Credit Monsters a novella in progress)

She was on to them.  Figured out their game.  So many things gave them away: the air filled pause, the prerecorded voice asking her to {please stay on the line for an important message,” and the most obvious of all…they always asked for “Louisa.”

She’d been dodging them for months, holding on to the hope that one could win the lottery without every buying a ticket, or perhaps inherit a fortune from a previously unknown wealthy relative.

Still…no windfalls.

And now they’d tracked her down at work.  The receptionist’s patience was visibly waning, and the other day her boss had asked her to limit her “personal calls.”

But like the Godfather always said, “…It’s not personal…it’s business…”

She fantasized about borrowing money from a local loan shark.  Or finally getting that call from the mafia (did the mafia even exist anymore??), asking for one little favor in return for satisfaction of all her debts.  Course, you might lose a finger and you’d certainly lose some peace of mind (those sorts of favors were never a one shot deal after all…once the well had proved fertile, they’d just keep coming and coming).  But on the other hand, the creditor’s just kept on calling and calling – making her jump every time she heard a phone ring.

So it was a toss up really.

College grad and credit deadbeat…not the life she’d envisioned for herself while roaming the bike paths and beach trails of her coastal college campus.  And Rudy, her boyfriend of three years and partner in credit-crime always consoled her with his unrelentingly nihilistic point of view: “Future’s gonna happen one way or another and you can plan all you want, but you’ll never predict the outcome.”

Then he’d set about blithely helping her rack up thousands of dollars of credit card debt and store card balances with snowboard trips to Tahoe, surfing in Mexico, and all the supplies and clothes necessary to make those adventures doable.  There were the take out dinners and the happy hour cocktails.  The movie rentals and the gym memberships.  And somehow she was the one always plunking down her visa and gaining them access to the club.

Perhaps it was inevitable – looking back she could see the relationship was one-sided and unbalanced and doomed to fail – but she was still surprised the day he dropped the bomb and announced he was leaving.  He said he had to get his life “together.”  That he couldn’t “continue to live like teenager.”  He revealed a five-year plan – never hinted at before and who’s very existence ran counter to the life philosophy he was always espousing – and she was nowhere on it.  He moved out, taking the snowboard and his half of the rent.

Catch 22 caught hold of neck with a pit bull’s death grip.  Moving out costs were unthinkable and impossible – who had access to the thousands needed for first, last and cleaning deposit.  And she already sensed that passing a credit check was out of the question.  But staying in their one bedroom apartment in a converted Victorian – a sunny, tree filled property that had fulfilled some half realized desire of “home” – meant paying out almost two-thirds of her monthly income in rent.  It was almost impossible to survive on the remainder.

And so the minimum payments were the first casualty.

She was drowning.  Worse yet, she’d reached the point when the swimmer stops struggling for breath and surrenders to the peace bestowed by an oxygen deprived brain.

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