The airport taxi turned right onto my little cul-de-sac on Friday night.
"Fifth house on the right," I instructed the driver.
He pulled halfway into the driveway. I momentarily thought he pulled up to the wrong house. My sporty red Celica was parked there but instead of my wife's Voyager minivan next to it, there was a dark blue Ford Crown Vic parked in its spot. I knew the minivan wasn't in the garage because that was my long overdue clean up project.
The taxi driver pulled my luggage from the trunk and I paid him which included a generous tip. I slung my laptop case over my shoulder and picked up my luggage. I hadn't taken a step to the front door when a man in a dark suit appeared before me.
"John Cooper?" he asked.
"Yes," I said wondering who was this guy
"Police," he said. "Sergeant Wilson." He quickly flashed a badge and put it away like he had years of practice.
"What's this about?" I asked.
"Can we go inside?"
"Sure," I said.
It was nine o'clock at night but it felt like midnight since I flew in from the east coast to my west coast home. I was dead tired but I couldn't just tell the police to shove off.
I put my luggage down in the hallway and my laptop on the dining table. Wilson motioned toward the sitting area. I sat and he immediately spoke.
"Your wife was in an accident tonight," he said.
"What happened? Is she all right?" I immediately spouted.
"I'm sorry to tell you this, but your wife and your children died at the scene."
My wife, Lisa! My four-year old daughter, Jessica! My two-year old son, Jason! I called Jason "mini". He was my Mini-Cooper.
I struggle for words as tears flowed.
"How?" I choked out.
"A single car accident. It appears your wife lost control of the vehicle."
I went to the hospital that night to provide additional identification. I wanted to get it over with. My life couldn't get any worse.
"Mr. Cooper?" a uniformed female police officer greeted me as I left the morgue. "I'm Officer Garcia. Could I ask you a few questions? I want to fill in a few details for the final police report."
"Okay," I said feeling beaten down. What else was there to do in my life?
We found an empty waiting room.
"How much did your wife typically drink?" Garcia asked first.
"Drink?" I said confused. "Water?"
"Alcohol. Beer, wine, whiskey, vodka."
"None. Lisa and I don't touch the stuff."
"How well do you know your wife?"
"What the hell kind of question is that?" I angrily retorted.
"Alcoholics are very good at hiding from people."
"My wife doesn't drink!" I told her point blank. "Talk to our friends. Talk to our pastor."
"There were several open alcohol bottles found in the vehicle."
"Well, they weren't hers! Do a blood test or something!"
The weekend was miserable. I didn't know what to do with myself. I wandered the house aimlessly. It was so empty... and dead.
Work completely understood about taking the week or two off to arrange the funerals and anything else I needed to take care of.
Things somehow got worse. Monday morning the police confirmed Lisa's blood alcohol was twice the legal limit. Nothing like being kicked when you're down.
Our friends called plus our pastor Rod Woods and his wife Julie came over. I had a good cry with Rod and Julie. They're good people. Everyone who contacted me had great intentions but pain that deep doesn't go away.
I contemplated my marriage. I thought we were happy. I went out of town about once a month but I tried to limit my business trips to just a couple of days. This past five-day trip was the longest one I had in over two years. I couldn't fathom what drove her to drink. She did drink. I found several bottles hidden in the laundry closet. Was I a bad husband and father?
I ran across Lisa's diary. I never read her diary. I promised her. I wanted her to be able to write anything and never worry about what was on the paper.
I held the small book in my hands. I struggled whether to open it or not. I decided I wanted to discover any clues that drove her to drink. I was apprehensive about determining what was my role in this, but curiosity got the best of me. She wouldn't care if I read her diary now.
I skimmed the first pages. Lisa wrote down her prayers and hopes for our children, for our marriage, and for our friends. She wrote down her concerns in life and what she loved in life. I was always listed in the latter category. This was no help at all to my quest.
I flipped through the book faster until I noticed her handwriting changed. It looked almost shaky. I skipped backwards until I found where the change started and I read.
I feel so sick. I don't know what happened. It was only a meeting with Pastor Rod to discuss an outreach to homeless children...
My Lisa was good like that. She was always loving the overlooked such as street kids.
He listened and said the church would provide some funding. I was happy and then I don't know how it happened. He said I was so sexy and that I shouldn't flaunt myself before him.
That didn't sound like Lisa at all. My 34-year old wife was a beautiful and gorgeous brunette who kept herself in shape, but she didn't flaunt herself except for me in the privacy of our bedroom.
He kissed me and said he couldn't control himself. He was too strong. I felt powerless when my blouse was opened and his hand was underneath my bra. Did I turn him on too much? What did I do? He said he knew I wanted him and that my desire overpowered his restraint. On the carpet, he entered me. Afterwards, he told me how wonderful I was and he scheduled a follow up meeting about the homeless children for next week.
I could barely look John in the eyes that night. I felt so ashamed. What had I done? Was I raped or did I make the pastor lose control? I think I was raped but this is Pastor Rod. I can't imagine him doing such a thing.
My blood churned. I moved ahead in the diary until I found the next meeting of Lisa and Rod.
He wanted to do it right away since he said we couldn't control ourselves. We had sex on his desk and then we talked about the street children. He made me do it a second time doggy-style. I hate doggy-style but he insisted. He said he needed to quench his desire for me before he saw me on Sunday.
A few pages later.
I am a fool. I have betrayed John and my children. What have I done? I do not love Rod or the way he uses me. Yes, he DOES use me. I am just a sex doll to him.
A little further.
I hate myself. The pain will not go away. I can dull the pain but it always comes back. John must never find out. I am unforgivable.
I was careless. I almost left a bottle in the living room when he came home. I shouldn't drink but I can't live with myself.
I had two distinct emotions. I had an even greater love for Lisa and what she had to go through. I despised Rod.
I grabbed my wallet and keys. I was going to beat the shit out of Pastor Rod - excuse my language. I got to the door.
What was this going to accomplish? At best, it lands me in jail. There was enough doubt in Lisa's diary that there was no way Rod would get convicted of rape. Had he done this before with other women?
On Sunday, I dressed up and went to church. Everyone who hadn't already expressed their condolences did. I pretended to be happy when I shook Rod's hand after church. I looked over at his Julie who talked to their 20-year old daughter Ruth. I stared at Ruth. An idea hit my mind and I didn't shoo it away but instead cultivated it.
Chapter 1: Assembling the Ingredients
I am 40 years old and have brown hair with the slightest tinges of gray. I am in okay shape for my age. I am not fat but I could be more toned.
Rod and Julie Woods' daughter Ruth was 20 years old with straight blonde hair and dark blue eyes. She wasn't fat but her body could use some improved shape. I couldn't discern the details of her feminine figure because of the clothes she wore but my guess is her breasts were on the small size and her waist could use some of that improved shape I mentioned earlier.
Ruth was their only child. She didn't go to college. She just helped at the church or at home wherever her parents needed her. She didn't date because Dad would find and decide on the man she would eventually marry. Earlier conversations with her gave me the impression she didn't care for that dating policy, but she wasn't going to go against her father. She was eager for Dad to do his part and find a marriage partner for her.
A month after Lisa' death, I met with Pastor Rod in his office. I looked around and it almost made me sick thinking about what happened here. I held my composure.
"I'm planning on getting involved with many outreach and service organizations to keep my self busy," I said.
"That sounds like a good idea," he said. "It helps heal the wounds by doing things for others."
I wanted to punch him in the lip! I definitely did!
"Yeah," I agreed. "I have this great idea. What if your Ruth joined me with all this? She could learn a lot by meeting the people we help. It will help her grow up. I'll keep an eye on her so she won't get into trouble."
.... There is more of this story ...