Chapter 28

   Thelma sprays Lysol on everything. It’s the Windex of all germ killers. She buys it by the case. It’s good for everything. It kills everything, every kind of flu, strep, everything.  She sprays it on her doorknobs, handles, couches, pillows, blankets, and her bed.

   Everything in the house. It soaks in, dries, and afterwards everything smells good. She likes the freshwater scent best.

   She has even sprayed Lysol by accident into her water glass and drank it. It just happened, not that she meant to, but when it did, she thought, all right, it will kill all the germs from the inside out.

   When Jesse was staying at their house and caught the flu, she sprayed him.

   Steve and Telly were in Mexico, Kristen was watching their dogs, but she got sick, got the vommies. Jesse needed somewhere to stay, so he took over from her. She told him to spray the house down.

   “Jewel, catching the flu is for weak people,” he said. 

   Only weak people get the flu? He’s so big and strong? Of course, he got the flu right away. Which is why she had no problem spraying him the minute she got home. When they stepped into the living room, she told him she was going to have to spray him and the couch he was lounging on with Lysol. He didn’t like it, but he gave in.

  “Close your mouth and eyes,” she told him. It kills 99 per cent of germs. The ones that survive go back and tell their germ friends, don’t mess with Lysol!

   “I swear your dog tried to hop me,” Jesse said.

   “Don’t talk about my dog like that. Which one?”

   “Veruka, she hopped me, held me down, I swear she was trying.”

   He told Telly about it while he was lying on the sofa with Fat Pebbles. They are girlfriend and boyfriend. Their house is crazy. They have six dogs ever since they got Hermy. You have to be a little crazy to hang out at their house. Jesse was more than a little crazy.

   “I was upstairs sleeping when Veruka jumped me,” he said. “I was herding her down to the kitchen, to the basement where their couch is, when out comes your husband into the hallway, butt-naked.”

   “I warned you, if you are going to stay here, Steve-o hardly ever wears clothes.”

   “My God, I thought I was going to go blind.”

   Jesse and Telly have been friends since 5th grade. They dated a little in the 7th and 8th grades but were both too controlling to be a couple. He’s controlling, Telly’s controlling, but they stayed friends. He’s been Telly’s best and worst friend ever since then.

   They text each other every day all day, forty times a day. If Steve and she are out to dinner, and Steve says something funny or interesting, she will call or text Jesse right away.

   “Guess what Steve-o just said!” That’s the kind of friendship they have.

   They ran into Jesse a couple of years after getting married. He was surprised.

   “What are you two doing together?” he asked.

   Steve and Thelma are not your typical couple. She was a good girl in high school, Steve was a drug supplier, and Jimmy was one of his drug users.

   “I married her,” Steve said.

   “You stole my girl,” Jesse said.

    “Oh, God,” Telly said.

   Telly laughed about it and since then they’ve been back to being friends. They call Jesse husband #2.

   Jesse’s dad was once a bigwig cop in Cleveland. He used to sit outside Steve’s dad’s house in Little Italy in an unmarked car. The house was bugged. His dad’s job was to listen in. Sometimes he would hear Steve and Jesse hanging out together. They were both on a bad path.

   “Jesse is in and out of our lives. He has a bad temper. He gets mad at you, cuts you out for a couple of years, but then comes back. He came back into our lives after a two-year stint of being gone. Something happened and he disappeared. After Kristen got sick and Jesse took over, if he hadn’t been able to stay at our house, he wouldn’t have had a place to stay. He’s in recovery, like Steve, but unlike Steve he had a slip-up and fell off the wagon. He got back on with our help.”

   Jesse works with heavy machinery and he’s going to start taking crane classes as soon as he’s done being down and out with the flu, which he caught even though he’s not a weak person, so strong, so he says.

   Telly made the mistake of getting Steve a hand bell when he got sick, Lysol or no Lysol. That will never happen again. He completely abused the bell. Most guys are like that. After the bell got lost and they couldn’t find it, Steve started called her Sharon. Sharon is Ozzie Osborne’s wife. She can never find anything in their house. Thelly’s nickname became Sharon.

   When Jesse was feeling better, he and Steve went to Malley’s and bought her a box of Bordeaux Chocolate. Malley’s is an ice cream candy chocolate store. There are 22 of them. They go the original one in Lakewood, which opened in 1935. The Malley family lived in the back of the building back in the day.

   When they got back to their house Jesse left the box of chocolate on the kitchen counter for telly. He didn’t know that dogs can and will eat anything if you let them. They have had dogs that would eat green peppers. Veruka, their spoiled rotten Leonberger, will eat fruits and vegetables.

   When Steve and Jesse came upstairs Veruka strolled up from the basement. She busted through the baby gate in the kitchen doorway. Her plan was to come upstairs and accost us. The box of chocolate stopped her in her tracks.

   She knew the chocolate wasn’t for her. But Veruka is the kind of dog who doesn’t care, just doesn’t care. She ate the whole box of Bordeaux Chocolate on her way upstairs. Her dog mouth dog lips dog tongue showed up all chocolaty.

   She was licking it off her face when they saw her. There was no need for Lysol. Veruka gave them a look that said, “Don’t bother saying anything.”

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