August 20th, 1990
I am on the road headed west from Iowa.
Eventually, I will reach Tacoma, Washington.
My name is Mike; I am 6' 6" tall and weigh approximately 250 lbs. I use to work hard as a teen on my Grandpa's farm, milked cows by hand, clean out buildings with a pitch fork. Shovel endless tons of manure using a #16 scoop. In high school, I was 207 and lean and in shape. I went away to the Marines, on June 5th, 1965 and became one of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children.
I came home from Viet Nam in February of 1969 after serving a little over a year in the Hue/Phu-Bai area as NCOIC of the Hue/Phu-Bai Airport. I had a short timer Lt. Col over me as CO and he really didn't care much what went on. He just had to finish his tour and get out. He had been passed over for promotion a couple of times.
I came home to go to college in the fall of 1969, if you read any of my other stories; they will fill in some of the details. This tale is a little about the end of a 19 year marriage to a tall, skinny redhead I met in my last two years of college.
It is a story about a man and his new love and his new lover.
Some of it is true and some is made up to improve my aging memories so that when they consign my sorry carcass to the Rolling Vegetable Stand, I will have some pleasant memories that I hope I can ruminate about in my pigeon hole as I wait to go meet my Maker. Soon, very soon, I hope.
This is a slow story with a long build up. There is very little sex in it. With that said, please enjoy.
A big Thank You to my editor Emeraldfae for making this story much more readable.
All constructive comments and emails are welcome. All haters will just be deleted out of hand so don't waste your time and energy.
With that we begin.
The reasons for the divorce of my tall, skinny redheaded wife and I, is why I am on the road now going toward Tacoma.
One day after my Father's funeral, Dearly Beloved, Redheaded wife told me that we needed to talk. As most husbands know after 19 years of marriage, those words boded no good news for me. To say that I was shocked by the content of the TALK would be an understatement.
"You need to move out, I don't love you anymore and frankly I can't stand the sight of you." She said.
From that point on for the next month, she would say nothing to me and to say things were cold would be an understatement. Needless to say, I didn't take things at face value, and tried to find out what was going on. I tried to talk to our Pastor, he claimed that he knew nothing and was just as much in the dark as I was. He said she refused to discuss it with him as well. Everywhere I turned, I was confronted with a wall of ignorance or lies; someone had to know what was going on. I probably should have asked my two sons, years later I was to find out, that they actually knew the reason. They were only 13 and 10 at the time and I was trying to shield them and not draw them into the problem. I continued to believe that it was probably something that I had done. Hey, you know how it is. From the time you say "I do." you are almost certainly guilty of something in your wife's eyes. I was in love with her and up till the TALK; we had been actively making love 2 - 3 times a day. As I look back now, it was just me getting off and her just laying there. May be that was the reason, Nah, not me; I was the world's greatest lover, at least in my own mind.
Finally I came to the conclusion that there was no point to continue and I decided to do what she wanted. I moved out. I suppose that she thought that I would just get an apartment in town, I could see no reason. I had recently sold my business and was at loose ends for the short term. I decided to put some space between me and her.
I took my sons aside and tried to explain what was going on. Little did I know that they already had a better understanding of the truth that I was ever able to find out till many years after the fact, so with a broken heart and a somber countenance. I hit the road.
On the Road...
I left eastern Iowa on the morning of August 20th and headed toward Sioux City, West across the state some 225 miles or so. When I arrived at my Mother's house, I took her out to dinner and told her what was going on. When I took her home, she wished me well and sent me on my way.
Why am I going toward Washington instead of some other direction? Well, I am the oldest of 5 boys and other than my Mother and I, they all live on the West Coast. One in Northern California around Redding and one by Coos Bay Oregon, The other two live in Washington State. I am heading toward my brother Jim's place in Tacoma. My other brother lives in Auburn.
Other than my Mother they were possibly the few people in this world who remotely gave a good damn if I was alive or dead.
So I headed north on I-29 toward Sioux Falls, once there, I headed across the bottom edge of South Dakota on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the month.
One of my favorite authors on this site is StangStar06, if you follow the Loving Wives category, you will undoubtedly know his work. In his stories, he always manages to work in a Mustang. Be it old or new, it is there in every story.
Well, I too have an affinity for one particular kind of car. I like Lincolns and almost since I got out of the service, it is all I have ever driven.
As I set out across South Dakota, the A/C was working overtime and it was still early morning, by mid day, it was well over 100 degrees and the sun was unrelenting. I pulled into a rest area, just to let the car sit for a couple of hours and cool off while I sat under a tree at a picnic table and ruminated about my life so far. As I sat there, I watched one car or pick up or RV pull in with boiling over radiators or hissing radiator hoses. A couple had even managed to blow a head gasket or crack a block. It was brutally hot and the tow trucks were working over time.
As I sat there, I saw one old beater pick up pull in boiling over. It had Arkansas plates and they were the best looking part of the truck. I watched the unfolding tragedy before me for awhile. I saw a guy get out and head to the bathrooms with a bucket to get water for the radiator and after he got out, I saw a really tall, lean redhead get out on the passenger side. She was far enough away that I couldn't see much detail other than a spectacular head of carroty, red hair, all frizzy and flying all over the place. She had to be all of 6'3" or 4" or so. She was lean as a Greyhound. When the guy came back, he started in yelling at her and while she went off to the bathrooms, he filled the radiator and jumped into the truck and backed out and drove off. Since the next exit for a city was just a few miles up the road, I figured he was heading into town to get something.
Mean while the woman came back and stood there looking lost, looking all around for the truck and the man, as she stood there, she saw him and the truck headed back the other way on the east bound side of I-90 heading back toward Sioux Falls some 100 miles back. All of a sudden, she just kind of folded in on herself, kind of all knees and elbows as she sank to the ground and there on the ground she was wracked by great wrenching sobs. I got up and went to her and helped her to her feet and guided her back to my table in the shade and sat her down and gave her a Coke out of my cooler. She sat there with her head on her arms on the table and just sobbed and sobbed. She sat there for the next 20 minutes or so and then kind of gathered herself together and sat up, looked at me and thanked me for helping her and drank the Coke down in one pull. I popped another and gave it to her. She looked a little dehydrated.
We sat there not speaking. I didn't' know what to say, so I said nothing. After a while, she looked at me again and said.
"Well, I guess I am on my own again." She proceeded to tell me about what I had just witnessed. It seemed that she had been hitch hiking from Missouri and had been picked up in St. Jo by this guy at a truck stop. At first he was polite and caused no problem after they got to Sioux Falls and headed west he started to pressure her for sex in exchange for a ride.
"I kept telling him no. He kept getting madder and madder. He told me that if I didn't put out he'd leave me beside the road."
"You mean he was just a ride?" I asked.
"Yeah, I wasn't crying about him. I was crying about the loss of all that I have in the world. Other than the $2.00 I have in my pocket. Everything else I have was in the back of his pick up. All my clothes, the rest of the little money I had to get to Washington with."
"Where are you going in Washington?" I asked her.
"I am going down toward the southern part of the state just above the Oregon border. That's where my Dad is and he wanted me to come out if I could. He didn't have any money to send me to help me make the trip, but I figured that with my tips that I had saved, I would have enough to buy a bus ticked to get there. I had about $400 and that was enough. I went to the bus terminal and sat and waited for the next bus headed west. As I sat, I realized that most of my money was gone for the ticket. I went and got a refund and headed down the road hitch hiking. A trucker had dropped me off at the big truck stop in St. Jo. That's where I got the next ride with that jerk."
"So here I am with just the clothes on my back and $2.00 to my name."
"What is your name anyway?"I asked her. "Mine is Mike."
She looked me right in the eye and extended her hand across the table and said. "Hi Mike, I am Janey, with a "y" not and an "ie" like most of them."
"So Janey, what are you going to do now?"
"I guess, I'll walk out to the end of the on ramp and wait for a ride to stop and pick me up."
"Would you mind if I make a suggestion?"
"No, go ahead; I have nothing to lose by listening."
"Well, I am going to Washington and would welcome the company. Would that be OK with you?"
"What would I have to do? Are you a pervert, how do I know I could trust you?"
"Whoa there hoss, I am not asking anything from you, nor am I implying anything other than a ride. Sorry, I asked. Guess I'll be going. See ya'."
I got up and headed toward my car. I hit the remote button and opened the passenger side door and put the cooler in it. Closed the door and walked around the back of the car to the driver's side and opened the door, I started to get in when a hand was laid on my arm on top of the door.
"Mike, I'm sorry for being a bitch. If the offer is still open, I would like to ride with you."
"Sure, go ahead and get in, just shift the cooler to the back seat. I am going to have to stop in Rapid City and go grocery shopping, can't be running out of Coke or Ice."
On the Road again...
After a few miles of silence, I looked over at Janey, she was sound asleep. All she had on was a sleeveless blouse and cut off tan jean shorts and little thin strap sandals. I reached into the back seat and grabbed my trusty forest green poncho liner from Viet Nam and tried to lay it over her. The car's A/C was really working and it seemed like it was down below 60 or so inside. Just like I like it to drive. I settled down to drive. I had another 100 or so miles to drive to Rapid City and the sun was going down and the temperature was dropping rapidly outside the car. On the high plains, sometimes the nights get cool very fast.
I rolled into Rapid City a couple of hours later and went in search of a Wal-Mart. As I pulled into the parking lot, Janey woke up and asked where we were.
"Wally World, Rapids City, South Dakota," was my reply,
"Come on, we'll go get some food for the road and we'll look for some clothes for you. You can't ride 1400 miles in just what you have on."
"Mike, come on, I can't I don't have any money and don't want to owe you either. Next thing I know is you'll be wanting to be repaid in trade."
"Trade? Trade for what? I already have had one bad enough experience with a woman this summer; I sure as hell don't need another, besides you are definitely not my type."
"Bull shit," was her reply. "I got a pussy and that's all most men think about."
"Not this man, I like big old heifers. One's with big old titties and an ass about 3 ax handles wide. You're safe with me." I lied.
"Besides, someday someone is going to be in need of help and it will be your turn to step to the plate and provide it. That's how my Grandpa raised me and that's how I live. I'm damn well not going to be taking advantage of a lady down on her luck."
I looked over at her and she had just sort of crumpled in on herself. Big old tears were rolling down her cheeks and she was just rocking silently with her arms wrapped around herself.
"Aw, damn it, come on, I didn't mean all that shit. Come on, let's go inside and get some food and stuff."
"Come on now,"
She opened her door and got out and walked along beside me to the store. Inside I made a bee line toward the fruit and pop and grabbed some bread and stuff to make sandwiches. As we were going by the Woman's department, we walked in, I just started grabbing random clothing and putting in the cart.
"Mike what are you doing?"
"What's it look like, getting you some clothes so you don't have to stay in the same one's every day."
"Do you even know what you are getting?" She asked.
"Nope, but you showed no desire to get anything, I guessed that something would be better than nothing. Do you have some preferences?"
"OK, come on, I just need a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt."
"Don't you need some brand new shoes, socks, and underwear?"
"OK, I do probably need some of those too."
So we made our way through the department and got a couple of pair of jeans and a nice long sleeved shirt and belt and some socks and underwear. We got a 7 pack of bikini panties that had the days of the week on them. You know the one's Black for Friday and White for Sunday. We got some canvas Keds and then we were done and headed for the car.
Let me tell you that was the fastest shopping trip I have ever gone on with a woman.
We headed out of town north toward Belle Fourche and picked up a two lane road that would save us a lot of miles. I-90 goes to the south west in a big looping curve that eventually heads back north west and goes by Custer Battlefield. Crow Agency Montana is right there too and that is where we were headed for on the back road. I think it is Hwy 212 not sure any more. It was getting to be late in the evening and we headed out roughly in a WNW direction.
Do you remember that song that has the line that goes "where the deer and the antelope play", I don't know for sure if I saw any Antelope, but I sure saw lot of deer out wandering around on that road that night. I was actually waiting for a Buffalo or an Elk to wander out too.
We made good time despite all the critters out on the road that night and rolled down in to Billings early that next morning. I was pooped. I decided to get a room and stopped at a motel and went in to get a room and decided I had better get two. I went back out to the car and Janey was standing outside the car with her stuff.
"Mike, perhaps I should just keep going, I slept while you drove, so I am good."
"Come on Janey, I got you, your own room. Let's go take a shower and get some sleep. I am pooped. Lets get up around 16:00 and have some supper and then hit the road again. OK? Besides we are both getting kind of rank, and I pinched my nose. Ha Ha!!!" I laughed and headed for the trunk to get my gear. I handed Janey a key and told her to sleep tight.
That afternoon, I woke up completely rested, probably for the first time since my Dearly Beloved announced that she couldn't stand the sight of me. Go figure, I was just as much in the dark as I was when it happened. I got up cleaned up again and packed my gear and headed for the car. Janey was sitting on the parking bumper dressed in her new jeans and shirt and Keds. She looked really nice and well put together...
She looked freshly scrubbed and coiffured. I don't know what she did to that glorious head of hair, but it seemed to be under control. She looked very beautiful.
"Ready to hit the road?" I inquired.
"Mike, I really want to thank you. Last night I was a little afraid."
"Hey, would you lighten up. I told you, you were safe with me. I am married right now even if my wife says we won't be very much longer. So please let it go would you. I don't want to hear anymore about it. OK? Come on I am hungry, lets go get something to eat. I know where this really good restaurant is."
So off we went. We had a leisurely meal, almost like a first date. I told her a little bit about my situation and she told me about her Dad.
"Dad called me two weeks ago and told me that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and didn't have very long to live. He wanted me to come out and see him before he died. My Mom and Dad retired to Southern Washington State to a small house that had been left to him by a great uncle. They moved from Missouri to Washington 5 years ago. Mom is still in good health, but really wants me there to be with them. I told them I would come. I knew they didn't have the money to pay my way, so I told them I would get there in a week or so. That was 2 weeks ago. I don't have a cell phone, so I can't call them. I hope everything is OK."
"Do you want to call them?"
"Yes, I would love to."
"Well, we will just see about getting that done as soon as we finish eating." I told her.
We finished up and headed for the car. When we got there, I got into the trunk and pulled out my state of the art Motorola Bag Phone. The handset was almost as big as a regular telephone handset. I plugged in the antenna and the power cord and put it on the hump in front of the front seat and we headed out. I drove to the first rest area west of Billings and stopped the car and told her to go ahead and call them. I got out of the car to give her some privacy. I went to the little boy's room while she made her call. As I was walking back to the car, she got out and ran to me crying.
"I just caught Mom as she was going out the door to follow the Ambulance to the hospital. Dad didn't want to wake up from a nap this afternoon, so she called the Para-Medics. They got there and gave him oxygen and he managed to wake up."
"Well, come on let's get on the road and do the best we can to get there as soon as possible. It will be quite a run, but I will do my best. Your job will be to keep me awake and to spell me as the wheel when I really need it."
The Race against Time...
According to the map, it is around 735 miles. One time I had driven 24 hours straight to Somerville New Jersey to keep an appointment with a young lady I had met in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I started in my Grandpa's farm yard close to Correctionville, IA and with only stops for coffee and gas. I made it. I did crash and burn for the next day or so. But I kept the appointment. Back then I was hyped up on Testosterone and in the best shape of my life. I was a 21 year old Corporal in the Marine Corps and I thought I was in love or at least serious lust.
"Janey, we'll give it a couple of hours and then why don't you try to call your mother at the hospital and tell her you are on the way and you will be there as fast as the speed limit will allow. Make sure you tell her, to tell your Dad that you are on the way, better yet, try and talk to him if you can. May be that will give him just enough of a boost to rally and be waiting for you. Make sure you tell them both that you love them."
An hour later she made that call and she did get to talk to her Dad. Back then Montana had almost no posted speed limit during the day and as long as you were out there by yourself. You could pretty much just roll.
I put the pedal to the metal and let that old Lincoln loose. That old car just loved to cruise at around 80 or so.
Like C.W. McCall said. We didn't have a mighty convoy, but we were sure trucking through the night. Occasionally, I would get on the CB and call around to check out the Smokey situation and tell some of the truckers why we were in a hurry. We did ride in the rocking chair for about 350 miles. That was the fastest 350 miles I ever drove. The only reason we got out of it was we were low on gas.
Janey's Dad had been taken to Grays Harbor Hospital in Aberdeen, Washington. When we left Billings, we had 735 miles to go. We left around 6:00 pm and rolled into the parking lot at the 8:00 am the next morning.
I told Janey, to just get out and run to see her Dad. I told her I would be in later. She took off. I settled back behind the wheel and closed my eyes. The next thing I knew, Janey was hammering on my window to try and get me to wake up.
"Mike, come on Dad's awake and he would like to meet you. Please come in with me."
"All right, let me get the sleep out of my eyes."
She stood there impatiently waiting for me. When I got out, she grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the Hospital. We made our way to his room, he was not in ICU, over night he had stabilized and he had been moved to the Hospice wing. He was resting comfortably on pain medications to help him rest but be awake so he could participate in conversations.
When we got to the room, Janey pulled me forward and introduced me to her mom Amy and her Dad Alfred.
"Mike, please call me Al, I feel like I know you from all the things Janey has told me about you. Thank you for bringing my little girl out to see me."
"No problem Al, I was glad to do it. How are you getting along?"
"Yesterday was a rough one for sure. I thought I had bought the farm. When Janey called and told me she was on the way, I just knew I had to be here to see her. Thank you again for that, Mike."
I kind of shifted to the background as Janey and Amy moved to Al's side as they visited, they kind of forgot that I was there. Finally, I moved forward.
"Excuse me Al, I need to get on the road for Tacoma, my brother is expecting me, now that you have Janey and Amy here, it looks like you are in good hands. I reached forward to shake his hand he took mine in both of his and intently looked me in the eye and said.
"Thank you again Mike. After I am gone, you take good care of my little girl."
I nodded and left. Janey came after me into the hall and told me to pay him no mind.
"Mike, thank you for all you have done. I hope your life gets better from here on out ... you have made mine better by just getting to know you."
"Go with God Mike."
Janey took me in her arms and kissed me good bye.