There is no explicit sex in this 'snapshot' in time. I would like to thank my good friend DoctorWyldcard for coming up with the basic concept for this story. I liked it so well that he gave me permission to write it. As Doc would say though, I did beat it totally out of shape. I would like to thank not only him, but also the others who helped contribute to and edit this story. Per their wishes, they remain anonymous.
Unaware that his vehicle had been slowly edging towards the shoulder, Tom's pulse quickened to the sudden sound of crunching gravel as his tires eased off the pavement.
After coming to a stop, he just sat there staring ... Finally his eyes began to follow the set of meandering tracks that cut a well worn swath through the tall grass before dropping out of sight over a short rise.
Tom knew the twin paths had been created by local fishermen. 'I've been here when the sun gets too hot. Watched em' drive their old trucks up and down the riverbank. Always searching for that one bit of shade ... where eternal optimism makes them believe the fish will be biting.
'And... , ' his heart ached, knowing, 'this is where I just saw my wife's car turn off the highway.'
With mixed emotions, Tom was reluctant to get out and follow the dirt pathways to their obvious conclusion. He realized, 'Now I know why her answers have been so evasive lately ... and why she blushes and stammers at certain questions.'
Suddenly Tom felt like, 'A fool ... That's what I am. I trusted her, never doubting.' He shook his head, then with a sigh, pulled on the door handle and slid out.
After gently closing the door behind him, Tom noticed it hadn't shut all the way. Leaning back, he pressed his butt against it, and with a firm push, heard the latch click.
As Tom stood back up, he felt a lingering crispness in the morning air with just a hint of heat. Glancing at his watch he saw, 'Ten o'clock, straight up, ' and knew, 'it's going to get hot ... and soon.'
With a deep breath, Tom kindled that last bit of courage he needed to face the inevitable. Bolstered with renewed determination, he started down the path, doing his best not to think about what might be lying at the other end.
Looking down, he watched as each laden step added another coat of dust to his black loafers. For a brief second, his troubles were forgotten with the frustrating thought, 'I just shined them this morning, now I'll have to do it all over again.'
As Tom walked along, he listened for any sound that might be drifting up from the direction of the river. But the only thing he heard was a high pitched chorus coming from the hordes of insects inhabiting the thick green cover on both sides of the trail.
And even though his wife's vehicle had routed most, an occasional grasshopper would jump in front of him, seeking a more distant blade of grass to hide behind. Tom couldn't help thinking, 'Too bad I'm not here to fish, they make good bait.'
The trail finally opened into a small clearing. And, that's where he found her car, sitting under a big oak tree.
With a smug feeling of retribution, Tom regrettably thought, 'Evidently they believed this was perfect ... a nice, quiet place to have their rendezvous.'
Unable to see anyone, he quietly stepped over to the car and leaned over the side of her trunk to peak inside.
'You... you fucking whore, you slut, ' Tom mentally screamed in anguish as he winced with guilt while staring through the rear window.
All at once her lust filled eyes locked with his as her lover continued to pound into her. The expression on his wife's face suddenly changed from pleasure to panic.
She mouthed the words, "Oh God... Nooo," and with deep remorse watched in horror as bitterness etch itself forever across her husband's loving and gentle face.
The emotional impact proved too much, it twisted Tom's gut, forcing him to turn away. After staggering a couple of steps, he pulled himself together. Then in an effort to escape the crushing pain, Tom was trying hard not to run as he started a brisk stride back up the same parallel paths he'd just traversed.
Every step of the return trek reflected his anger. Tom was still brimming with hate when he jerked his car door open and suddenly heard her vehicle start. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see her dust as she came barreling up the makeshift road.
Jumping in, Tom turned the key, firing his engine, and in a display of rage, hit the gas pedal. His tires began throwing dirt and gravel before reaching the pavement where they left two black streaks as he peeled out.
As his wife pulled onto the highway in pursuit, he glanced in the rearview mirror and thought, 'Too late now bitch. You might as well have stayed and finished enjoying what you started.'
In his anger, Tom's fingers gripped the steering wheel so tight that his white knuckles contrasted sharply with his red face. Looking down at his speedometer, he thought, 'Only eighty?' "Well let's see if you can catch this," Tom said as his foot jammed the gas peddle to the floor.
It worked, he could see the gap widening between their cars ... then it started to narrow again. 'Dear Lord forgive me, but goddamn her, I wish she'd just crash and burn, that'd teach her ... and save us a lot of pain and anguish.'
No sooner had the thought crossed his mind than her car swerved. Tom knew she had lost control. Almost as if in slow motion he watched it spin sideways and start rolling just before it took a big bounce, flipping end over end. He immediately hit his brakes.
'God ... it's only been two days ... feels more like two years. I'm so tired. I know I look like crap. Sitting in this hospital chair forty-eight hours straight will do that to anyone, ' Tom realized as he leaned forward to check on his wife again.
Glancing up at the doctor, Tom wondered, 'When will she come out of her coma? Fuck ... sorry Lord ... I guess I should be thinking about how she will react when she does. So much has happened. I don't know if I'm sorry or elated that her life will be miserable from now on ... maybe it's a bit of both. Damn, I don't seem to know anything anymore.
'Then again, the doctor just said he isn't sure to what extent her injuries are yet. Maybe we'll both be lucky and she'll never come out of it. Goddamn it stop that, remember what happened the last time you had a thought like that. Oh hell, now I'm talking to myself. Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me, I'm so weak...
'Let's see, what else did he just say? Oh yeah, if she starts coming out, it may take awhile for her to become fully conscious. Meantime, he wants me to talk to her. The dumb bastard ... sorry again lord ... the poor soul doesn't know it's all I can do to just be in the same room with her. I'm not sure I could even stand that if she were awake.'
Suddenly, he jumped up and fled the room. Confused, the doctor followed after him. Catching up to him at the elevators, he testily informed, "Look Tom, I'm doing my best to save your wife's life. It's been touch and go from the moment she arrived. The least you could do is try and help a little. Just talk to her, try to keep her subconscious mind focused. I don't know for sure that it will help, but it can't hurt."
"Doctor, you don't understand. I can barely stomach being near her. Please excuse the language, but the reason she's in here is because I caught her fucking ... that dead asshole who arrived here in the same ambulance with her. As I was speeding down the highway, trying to get away from them, she was trying to catch up with me. What in the world for, I don't know, you'll have to ask her. But right now, the sight of her sickens me."
'Geez Tom, I'm sorry, I didn't know ... and I sympathize with you. Hell, as a man I might feel and react the same way. But as her doctor, I'm committed to saving her life and trying to nurse her back to health. You, on the other hand, have the option to do whatever you please. As a physician though, I have to tell you that I could use any and all help you will give me."
While doing his best to overcome his inner anger, Tom stood reflecting on what had just been said. With a deep sigh, he slowly nodded and started back to his wife's room.
Stopping beside her bed, Tom stood staring at his wife's peaceful face. While sitting back down, he recalled, 'It's so different from the look I saw that day.' He leaned back and closed his eyes as his head filled with the vivid images of that unbearable moment.
Mentally exhausted, with that ironic memory Tom dozed off.
The next morning, Tom rose from the hospital chair where he had virtually lain for three days. After a short trip home for a much needed nap, shower, and shave, he felt like a new man as he headed back to the hospital.
While coming down the hall, Tom noticed his wife's physician standing in her doorway, glancing at his chart. As he approached, the doctor quit reading and stepped out to meet him.
Concerned by the physician's troubled brow, Tom immediately walked up to him and questioned, "Yes?"
"Let's go over here and sit down," the doctor said in a serious tone. After they were seated he continued, "Tom ... all I can say is that I wouldn't want to be in your shoes at the moment. None of what I have to say is helpful to your situation.