The Handyman - By Brian Law

She gently tugged on her husband’s arm and whispered to him, “Ask him how he got that.” She was pointing to the large, ugly, ragged scar on the lower back of the handyman who was on his hands and knees working under their sink. 

Her husband gave her a quizzical look and then subtly led her into the next room. Out of the handyman’s earshot, he put his hands on her shoulders and replied, “Honey, it’s none of our business. And anyway, he’s almost done and then he’ll be gone and we’ll probably never see him again. Okay?” 

She wasn’t going to be deterred, however. “Well, I’m going to ask him then. The worst that can happen is that he can tell me it’s none of my business. Right?” 

Her husband, knowing when to let it go, just shrugged and added, “Well, I wouldn’t. Just saying. But go ahead and ask.” 

As they reentered the kitchen, the handyman had finished under the sink and was washing his hands. He glanced over his shoulder and said, “All done. I’ll be finished up here in just a few minutes. Make the check out to ‘Jim Potts’, if you will, for one hundred and forty dollars, please.” 

“Sure,” she responded, “and thanks for coming by on such short notice. We really appreciate it.” She sat down and opened her checkbook, and as she prepared the check, she wondered, “I noticed that scar on your back as you were working a few minutes ago. Is there a story behind that you’d care to tell? If not, no big deal, but I’m really interested.” 

“A scar on my back? You’re mistaken, ma’am, I got no scar back there. I got one on my right shoulder and one on my left thigh, but nothing on my back,” he answered. “I can show you the one on my shoulder, but I’d have to drop my drawers to show you the other one,” he laughed as he dried his hands. 

She glanced at her husband as if to say, ‘Now what do I say?’ He just stood there with a look that said, ‘You’re on your own now.’ 

She stood with the check in her hand and handed it to the handyman, who reached out for it. But she didn’t let go of her end of the check. Instead, she told him, “I’ll pay you twice, no, three times the amount of this check if you show me your back and there’s no scar there.” 

The handyman just stood there holding his end of the check. As she held the other end, she coldly continued, “My husband will be the jury on whether there’s a scar there or not. Okay? And if there is a scar, you still get your one hundred and forty bucks, but you have to tell us how you got the scar.” She stared at the handyman for a moment and then added, “Deal?” 

He let go of his end of the check, scratched his day old beard, and replied, “Tell you what. You up my end to five thousand dollars in addition to my basic fee and you’ve got a deal.” 

At that, her husband interjected, “Honey, drop this, will ya, please. This is getting out of hand. Five thousand dollars? Are you kidding me?” 

Without taking her gaze off of the handyman, she smiled slightly and said, “You saw the scar, dear, same as me. He can’t win and I’m just dying to hear the story about how he got it.” 

Her husband let out a big sigh realizing what he was up against. ‘It wasn’t the money,’ he thought. ‘They had lots of money and besides, he’s seen the scar, too, so they weren’t going to lose any. It was that what she was doing was just so unseemly, so unladylike, so common. But he could never convince her of that.’ So, he just shrugged. 

Still smiling, she again sat down at the kitchen table and wrote out a second check to ‘Jim Potts’ for five thousand dollars. She showed it to the handyman and waited for his response. 

“Okay, I guess we have a deal, then,” he announced calmly. “If I turn around and lift up my shirt, and your husband doesn’t see a scar, I take my two checks and leave. Right?” 

“Right,” she answered back, crossing her arms. “So, let’s get on with the show, Mr. Potts. The suspense is killing me.” 

“I’ll tell you what. Just so there’s no doubt, I’m going to remove my shirt completely. Okay? I’ll show you everything above my waist. Here goes,” Mr. Potts said as he unbuttoned his shirt and took it off. 

He was well built and her husband could see that his wife was slightly aroused by the man’s physique. Standing there shirtless in front of them it was obvious that he had a scar on his right shoulder. Yet, he didn’t turn around. Instead he just stood there watching her, waiting. 

She took him in with her eyes for a moment then indicated with her outstretched hand to turn around. He nodded, looked over at her husband, and slowly turned around to reveal his back to them. 

There was no scar. Standing stock still, he glanced over his shoulder and asked wryly, “Are we done here?” 

Her husband was incensed and confused. He’d seen the scar and so had his wife. And now there wasn’t one? Just like that. He couldn’t process this turn of events, so he just huffed out of the kitchen and out to his work bench to fume. 

As the handyman put his shirt back on, he winked at the wife and whispered, “You know, when you first told me about this plan of yours to pay off your gambling debts without your husband finding out, I thought you were crazy.” 

“What do you think now?” she asked. 

“Crazy like a fox, I guess,” he replied. “Oh, by the way, you need to get somebody to fix that leak under your sink. It’s going to be a real problem soon.” And as he tucked his shirt back in, he added, "And you got my number. Your credit is good again, babe." 


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