Contents of a Dead Plumber's Pocket

Just like any other day, Tony Alan Scott woke up, and just like any other day, he fed his mother breakfast. He liked to think that God was tormenting him, because his father had left them, his mother was dying from cancer, and his younger brother, Jacob, was struggling in school because he suffered from dyslexia. Tony was the only one in the family who could keep a job and go out to buy groceries. Tony used to play football with his little brother when he could, and they would listen to Aerosmith together all the time-Tony's favorite band-and they would eat pizza together afterwards. He hardly had time to give his little brother any fun or encouragement nowadays, but he tried. His mother's thought process was too jumbled for her to help Jacob.

It was when he felt like he couldn't go on that he thought of his father, picturing him on the side of the road in a box, homeless and miserable. He kept this in mind so he wouldn't quit his job and give up on trying to live. Even when his mother was gone, he would still have to worry about Jacob, who already suffered from depression. He had no friends to hang out with after school; he came home to care for his mother, who barely recognized him anymore.

He could remember coming home from work last week, seeing Jacob resting his head on his mother's knee, crying. His mother wasn't aware of why the boy was crying, but she kept her hand rested on the back of his neck, rubbing it comfortingly. Tony brushed away a tear and sniffed, hearing the phone from his room. He got up to answer it quickly.

Tony was tall and dark-average size-with short, dark curly hair and dark brown eyes. He took long strides towards the phone, as tall as he was, and answered it. "This is Tony," he said while sighing. A woman was on the line, asking him if he could fix her broken air conditioner. He scrawled it on a small piece of paper. "6B broken AC" and said goodbye before hanging up the phone, reassuring her that he would be there shortly. As soon as he hung up, the phone rang again. He answered with the same tone and same line, just like any other day. Another woman was calling to complain about her bathroom sink leaking. He also scrawled that onto the paper as "8A leaky sink" and hung up, also reassuring her that he would be over after taking care of another customer.

He got a shower, dressed into his work clothes-a blue suit with a matching cap-and then he called out to Jacob to tell him to have a good day at school, and then he was out the door, sure to grab his tool box. Fortunately, his customers were in the same apartment building as he was. He was in apartment 7C, so it would be easier to go to apartment 6B before 8A.

He ran down the steps, skipping two at a time, and almost jogged down to apartment 6B. He knocked on the door and waited for the woman to let him in. He greeted her and she showed him where the air conditioner was. He got to work, pulling at this, tightening that; he found the problem within a couple of minutes and called the woman over. He told her, "Looks like you're missing something. I'll need to go out and buy you a new wire." He brushed the tips of his thumb and forefinger over the tip of a chewed wire. "You should check for rodents," he said, standing abruptly and grabbing his tool box. She thanked him and told him to be back within the hour before she left for work.

He was hesitant to go out and buy the wire before fixing the leaky sink in apartment 8A, but she offered a better price than what was necessary. He finally agreed that he'd be back shortly and left the building to walk a couple of blocks to buy the wire. Once he was in the shop, he was greeted by a close friend.

"Hey, Tony!" The man behind the counter called to him, ignoring his customer who was complaining about the prices. Tony hated customers like that. He didn't care about their complaints or what was wrong with their lives. He had his own life to live, even though it was more like his own life to survive. He waved back, smiling at his friend before turning to a short black wire that he needed for the air conditioner. He picked it up and jogged over to the counter, shaking his friend's hand. "How's your ma?" He asked, pity passing over his face briefly.

"She's losing her memory. It's getting worse, man."

Tony shook his head, looking down at the wire. "My brother can't take it anymore. He needs a better home."

"You know I'm always here looking out for you, Tony. I'll take care of your brother if you need me to."

"Thanks, man." Tony leaned over the counter and hugged his friend and bought the wire. His friend gave him his change; a quarter and a couple of pennies. On his way out, he got a gum ball from a machine, spending his quarter. He put the pennies in his back pocket with the piece of paper that he had scrawled on earlier.

Once Tony was back in the apartment, he glanced at his watch, pausing in front of apartment 8A. He had over a half hour left, but he shook his head, telling himself that he'd be done upstairs in a couple of minutes. The door opened just as he started to walk away, and the woman asked, "Are you Tony?" He turned back and nodded hesitantly, glancing at his watch again. Before he could object, she had brought him into the house, showing him where the bathroom was. "I'll be back shortly," the woman said, leaving the bathroom. "I've got to go to the store. I expect you'll be done by then."

Tony sighed; he would have to wait to fix the air conditioner, though he would have to listen to his customer complaining about it. He set his tool box down and opened it, taking a wrench out to pull off the "cold" handle of the sink. He dropped it in his back pocket and pulled his hand back out to work at the "hot" handle of the sink. A penny had stuck to his hand when he pulled it out of his pocket, and it fell down the drain. He grumbled and plugged in the screw driver. It was easier to loosen screws with it, instead of wrenching at it for ten minutes.

He started to loosen the pipe; the screw driver's cord was wrapped around his leg somewhat, since he had crawled to get back to the sink. Tony found himself lost in his own world and thought about his childhood. His mother was so brilliant. She kept the food on the table, gave him gifts like the cross necklace that he wore now, took Tony out to games, and always told him about his "father", or rather the man that she wanted his father to be. He knew that she was lying; he could feel it in his gut, and it depressed him to know that she couldn't accept his father either. Tony had been a mistake, but he was never treated that way. Neither was Jacob, when she got pregnant with him. Tony was already 21 years-old, and Jacob was turning 14 this year. They had different fathers, and Jacob's had stuck around, but he died last year because of a heart attack.

It's funny how life never seemed to allow Tony's family any happiness. He smiled, almost grimacing as he thought about every time he had picked himself back up, only to be brought down again. It was like a tide that kept rolling in, crashing down on him, suffocating and drowning him.

The screw driver had taken out one of the screws without Tony noticing, and it slid onto the pipe. Water ruptured from the pipe, splashing him and the cord. He felt a sharp pain running up his leg to his brain; he had been electrocuted. His vision went black, and the last thought he had was the sensation of drowning, suffocating under those tides of water.

The woman came back a half hour later, just 15 minutes before Tony was supposed to be back to fix the air conditioner, and found him lying face down in a small bath of water that had formed while he was unconscious. She turned him over quickly and found he had drowned. She called the police, panicked, and then ran to her living room, sobbing until they arrived.

They took the body after searching his pockets. They found the handle, the pennies, the paper, and the wire in his back pocket, untouched by the water. A couple of days later, after the funeral, Tony's friend visited Jacob and his mother. He gave Jacob Tony's cross necklace, the same one that He gotten from his mother as a child. It was his prized possession. Jacob had went to the funeral, but his mother wasn't in any shape to go. He had sobbed and sobbed, comforted by Tony's friend, and then he was offered a place to live. Both he and his mother would earn themselves a life after all, for Tony. Jacob decided that, despite his dyslexia, he would learn to read and write and he would earn the living that Tony had always dreamed of.