Claus came into the house; it had been a tiring and rough day. It seemed as if every time he finished up one job there were two more wanting their cars fixed ten minutes ago. He hung his jacket and cap on the rack and headed into the dining room for his normal before supper apple. As he entered Pauline’s husband Zak was standing there with his hand over the one remaining apple. They both looked at it and paused, “Take it,” Claus told him.
“No, you are the hard worker here so you take it, I will have a beer,” Zak replied. The two men did not like each other, Claus being nearly 50 and always working, reading or studying; whereas Zak was 21 no job and really not looking.
Claus looked at him, “Tell you what it is a large apple why not cut it into and both of us can enjoy a good apple before supper.” He pulled out his pocket knife, wiped the blade on his trouser leg and picked up the apple.
“You would cut it with that after wiping it on your leg. No thanks, you most likely peed on it,” Zak spoke in a snide and sneering manner. “Want yours and more don’t you?”
Claus folded his knife, put it in his pocket and looked at the younger man. He said nothing for about thirty seconds then in a calm and low tone spoke, “I think, no I know, my work paid for that apple and it paid for the beer or beers you will have. I pay the mortgage, I pay the utilities and I pay for all the groceries eaten in this house.” He was very calm. “So take the apple.” He turned around going out on the back porch and started to wash up, even though supper was not for another 45 minutes. After washing his face and hands he went out to the old pump, picked up the dipper and began to pump. Three pumps and the cool water began to flow. He filled the dipper and slowly drank.
Zak went into the kitchen, took two beers from it and went into the front room and turned on the TV of course on VH-1 and exceedingly loud. He plopped down and inhaled a beer and then opened a second one.
Claus’s fists were balled up, his knuckles were white and his neck bulging as he walked into the living room. He turned off the TV and stood looking down at Zak. “You know I eat an apple as I watch the news before supper and you know that Erlene does not like anyone drinking in this room. So are you trying to rile me?”
“Hey what is wrong with you, you old Kraut, what about me, what about what I like?”
Claus picked up the empty beer bottle and took the other bottle from Zak’s hand, “Would you please come out into the shed, we need to talk.” He turned and as he walked through the kitchen, he said nothing to his wife as he dropped the empty beer bottle and the bottle Zak was drinking into the garbage.
Now Klaus Van Orstead was not a large man, standing about five-ten or so and weighing 160 or so, whereas Zak Pendleton was six-five and weighed about 280. Claus went into the shed, leaving the door open and turned to face the younger man. “What do you want Kraut head, you going to kick my butt,” Zak snarled.
“I have asked you not to call me that. This is my house,” again his tone was low and mellow. “My wife insists that her sister live here until you find a job and you two can afford a place. I respect my wife and allowed it. It has been eight months, eight months and yet you have found no job, although every place in town is looking for help and is hiring. I am fed up with it and it will cease. It is I who buys the groceries, it is I who buys the beer and it is my house that you live in paying not one red cent.”
Zak snarled, “Shut up Kraut head, shut your damned yapper. You think I am going to work for five dollars an hour, hell, hell no I ain’t. They are going to have to pay me more than that.” He stepped forward and leaned over, “An Kraut head I will live here as long as I damn well please, you get me? I will kick your Kraut head ass and if you ever take a beer from my hand again I will break your damn arm!”
Instead of hitting him, Klaus’s hand shot forward and his fingers intertwined with Zak’s. Quickly he turned his hand over and pushed down bending the younger man’s wrist back. Zak balled up his fist and as he did Klaus put more pressure on the wrist. The big man dropped to his knees and began to scream. “Now listen Mr. Zak Pendleton, you have thirty minutes to take your clothes and leave my house and if you ever come on my property again, I will let you feel the might of my fist. Go, get out! Your wife will remain here until you have a job and four straight weeks in a row you bring two hundred fifty dollars in cash and give it to my wife.” He applied more pressure, “Do you understand, thirty minutes and if you raise a ruckus you will learn of my intense hatred of your lazy, good for nothing free loading butt. Now go!” He let go of the wrist and stepped back.
Zak jumped up and went running into the house. Zak was gone in ten minutes as Claus looked at his wife, “Only two for supper tonight and Zak is never to come on this property again. Your sister may stay.” He picked up the apple, went in and watched the news as he ate it. The two of them enjoyed supper.
When Pauline arrived home after work she did not ask about her husband. She ate her dinner, cleaned up the kitchen and went into her room. Erlene said nothing and the following morning she and Klaus were up and to work as usual, with Erlene still in bed.
Three or four times during the day Klaus noticed Zak’s truck going up and down the alley, but he figured the young man was pouting and did not have the intestinal fortitude to face him again. The apple bowl was full when Klaus arrived home and as usual he got his apple and watched the news before supper. He and his wife ate and talked about the weekend and the Church picnic and what kind of ice cream she was making.
All at once Klaus heard a racket outside so he went out to find what was wrong. Pauline pulled into the driveway, the front end of her little Focus all smashed as well as the driver’s side door. She got out, her face was bloody and one eye nearly closed. He helped her into the house and called 911. Pauline said Zak had made a punching bag of her while two buddies held her and then one had an old jeep and he kept ramming her little car.
Zak spent the night in jail and the list of charges was long. Now Klaus’s quiet home was now the home for three. Why in the heck did he not just forget it and walk away?