Chapter 4: New Ways of Coping
It had been two weeks since they first left the city. Cade realized he needed to get a job, but he was stumped. Who would hire him with his criminal record? He focused on working diligently on the truck to avoid thinking about it.
"We need to get the kids enrolled in school," Callie informed him one afternoon after he had finished working on the old truck for the day. The truth was that the kids were driving her crazy. They were pretty good when Cade was around, but when he wasn't there, they were unruly and difficult for Callie to manage.
"Yeah, I guess you're right," Cade said. He had never been this domesticated in his life and everything made his head swim. A huge chunk of the $8000 that Cade had received was gone now; however they had electricity and gas and the children were much less smelly and had food in their bellies.
"The kids need to go to school so they can stay caught up," Callie said.
Cade nodded. "I need to find a job," then he looked at her "what about you, do you want to get a job?"
Callie shied away. She had never been successful at working for very long, she lacked a high school diploma or any real skills. Absenteeism on her former jobs had been an issue. She wasn't expecting him to ask her about a job. "I thought you would want me to stay home and care for the children and the house," and she lit up a cigarette.
"I do," Cade said, "But why don't you do that," he said sharply. He was tired of her saying she was cleaning the house and nothing ever getting clean. He would come in from outside and find that nothing had been done all day. The house was still full of dust and was a run-down mess.
"I need a vacuum cleaner," she quipped.
"Oh so you think you know how to use one of those?" He asked sarcastically.
"Why are you getting on my case about this?" She was bitter, the way he always ignored her and wouldn't touch her and now he was complaining. He treated her like a second class citizen and she was tired of it.
"You keep saying you're cleaning up the place, but it doesn't seem to get clean," he said bitterly, "But I'm about to start getting on your case if you don't start getting it cleaned up," he quipped, "I need to go to town and buy some more parts for the truck," and he quickly left before he did something he knew he might regret.
"You and that fucking truck!" She said bitterly.
In Cade's mind he had been very patient with Callie. She complained about everything and in the old days before prison he would have hauled off and smacked her around for her laziness and constant bitter jabs at him. She knew how to push his buttons. He had not had sex with her since he had been back, but his urge was slowly returning, but not fast enough to suit Callie. She seemed to be egging him on to see how far she could push him and he was reaching his breaking point.
When he walked into the auto parts store, Roger greeted him with a friendly smile. Seeing Cade on a regular basis was something Roger looked forward to.
"Hi Roger," Cade said and then he asked about a part he needed for the truck.
"Everything going OK?" Roger could tell Cade was a bit tense today; more than usual.
"Yeah," Cade quickly answered.
Roger sighed as he looked at his computer screen and checked and rechecked his inventory. "I'm going to have to order that part. I don't have it in stock."
"That's just great!" Cade said in frustration and he pounded his fist on the counter in frustration.
"Hold on a second," Roger said slowly, he had never seen Cade this frustrated about anything. "What's gotten into you?"
Cade shook his head. "It's all this housekeeping I guess, plus I just want to get that truck running."
Roger nodded, "I hear that!"
Cade finally asked Roger the question he had put off asking him for over a week. "Do you know where I can find a job around here?"
Roger was busy checking his inventory. "Well I guess you could begin at the unemployment office, across town," Roger said, "But I don't know who is hiring right now."
Cade shook his head in frustration. "No one will hire me anyway."
Roger looked up at Cade curiously. "Why not, what's the problem?" Roger asked.
"Well for one thing I just got out of prison." Cade admitted and when he saw the look on Roger's face he wished he hadn't said anything. "Sorry, I didn't mean to shock you."
Roger was surprised to learn that the grandson of Walt Harrison was an ex-con. "What were you in prison for?"
"I was convicted of armed robbery," Cade said.
"I see," Roger said slowly. "Did your grandpa know about it?"
"No I don't think so," Cade said. "I lost touch with him a long time ago. My stepfather is one of the biggest assholes on the planet and as I grew up I wasn't allowed to see Walt. The last time I saw Walt was when I was about nine-years-old."
Roger frowned recalling how Walt constantly talked about his grandson. "I think that might have been part of what broke poor old Walt's heart then."
"How come Walt never remarried or anything like that?" Cade asked.
"I don't know. He loved his wife Martha a lot, your grandmother," Roger said. "He couldn't seem to find anyone else that suited him after she died, and then after your dad Dusty was killed in that bar fight in '78, he spent the rest of his years alone on that farm, working and basically just existing."
"He was only sixty-seven when he died," Cade said. "That seems young to me."
Roger nodded. "Too young; but I don't think he thought he had anything left to live for."
Cade suddenly felt bitter about all the time he could have spent with his grandfather and wasn't allowed to. He felt bitter that life had cheated him out of his father. He had his mother, but she had never really cared about him and she was the one who had subjected him to Seth, who in Cade's estimation, was among the cruelest men alive.
Roger noticed the pain on Cade's face. "Your grandpa would have wanted you to visit more," Roger said. "But he was the quiet type and he never wanted to make any waves, so I would imagine he felt rather helpless to do anything about it."
Cade slowly nodded; there was a part of him that understood his grandfather. "Let me know when you get that part for the truck," and he turned to leave the auto parts store.
"It will be here tomorrow." Roger called as Cade left.
When Cade arrived home from the auto parts store, he walked in the house to find Callie reigning slaps down upon Ashley's head as Ashley huddled in the corner crying with her arms up above her head for protection.
"What's going on?" Cade demanded.
"She won't help!" Callie screamed.
"Why are you hitting her?" Cade grasped Callie's arm.
"She won't do like I ask!" Callie was at her wits end, she was having an emotional meltdown.
Cade looked at the children, including Ashley, "Go outside and wait in the garage and don't come back inside this house until I tell you."
At his command, all three of the children ran from the house to the garage.
Callie screamed. "It isn't my fault!"
"First of all when you discipline a child you don't slap the shit out of them," Cade said through clenched teeth. "Second of all, I told YOU to clean the house. I didn't say for the kids to clean it, even though they can help a little."
Cade grabbed Callie's wrists and yanked her forward. The table in the kitchen was old, but it would work. He pushed her over the table with her stomach flat against the top. "You want to beat someone, is that it? You want to pick on someone who is smaller than you?" He roared and then he stomped over to the pantry where the razor strop had been left on an empty shelf and he grabbed it.
"What the fuck?" She craned her neck around and looked up at him out of the corner of her eye as she continued lying over the table.
Cade dangled the strap in front of her face. "If you don't like it here you can leave right now, there's the door, or better yet I'll drive you to the bus station and you can go back and live with Seth and Annie, or any number of old boyfriends. But I'm not putting up with your shit if you stay here. I told you not to single Ashley out like that."
Callie began to sob. "Why are you being so mean?"
"I'm not being mean," Cade paced back and forth. "If I was being mean I would have started slapping you around the way you were slapping Ashley. Proper discipline means using control. From now on if one of the kids needs a spanking you let me know and I'll give them one. You aren't allowed to punish them unless you can control yourself." He waved the strap in her face.
She was feeling vulnerable as she lay over the table as he waved the strap around.
"Until you learn to be an adult, maybe you could benefit from some discipline yourself," Cade said and he held up the strop. "Maybe I need to give you a whipping every time you get out of line until you learn."
"You wouldn't dare," she stood up in protest.
Cade grabbed her by the arm. "It's time you grew up Callie. If you can't treat Ashley with some respect, then you can get your belongings and get the fuck out of here. I'll drive you to the bus station."
She was afraid to leave, plus she didn't really want to leave. A whipping sounded humiliating, but not as bad as being thrown out on the street again. "If I leave I'm taking the kids with me," she protested.
"No you're not. They're staying here with me," Cade informed her.
Callie became angry. "You have no right to take them from me. I hate you! You want me to leave, don't you? Well you can throw me out but you can't have my kids. I don't care about Ashley, but Harley and Jessie are going with me."
"They're my kids too," Cade said angrily, "If you don't want to leave here without the kids then I suggest you bend over the table and take your licks," Cade said through clenched teeth, "Or I'll drive you to the bus station right now and drop you off, it's your choice." Cade wondered why he was doing this. He knew without Callie, his life on the farm wasn't going to work. He couldn't be both a mother and father to the kids; he could barely be a father to them.
"Ashley wasn't listening to me!" Callie protested, "You don't understand."
"I told you if you mistreated her you'd be sorry," Cade said bitterly. "I'll have a chat with her after we're finished and decide what to do with her after that, but right now we're dealing with you."
"If I deserve a whipping, then so does she!"
Cade had difficulty believing Ashley had misbehaved. She was afraid of her own shadow. He was certain that Callie had overstepped her bounds, because he knew Callie and what she was capable of doing. "Drop your pants."
"So now you want me to pull my pants down for this?" She quipped. This certainly wasn't the first time Callie had ever been whipped or beaten, but it was humiliating and she didn't want this to happen. It required her to submit, and that drove her crazy. "You fucking bastard. You won't fuck me or touch me, but you want to strap me? What sort of man are you?"
He grabbed her by the hair and then he looked down into her eyes. "Has it occurred to you that I don't fuck you because you've slept with so many men that I'm not sure what diseases I'd catch from you? Plus, I don't want any more little brats running around."