Chapter 14: Easy Come Easy Go
Cade took the ring he had given Callie to the local jeweler and had it sized to fit her finger. It only took a few days for them to size the ring and when he brought it home, he placed it snugly on her finger. "When are you going to teach me how to drive?" She asked as she admired the ring.
Cade had been thinking a lot about teaching her how to drive. He was hesitant, because both of the vehicles they owned were standard transmissions and he knew it would be difficult for her to learn how to work the clutch and the gear shift while learning the basic mechanics of driving. Cade had become rather fond of the Ford Torino, and he hated the idea that she might accidentally crash it or not shift it properly and ruin the clutch. Yet it made the most sense for her to drive the Ford Torino, since it was more of a family vehicle. "It's not as easy as you might think to learn to drive a car," he said absently. "How about if I teach you how to drive the truck first, then we'll work on teaching you to drive the car?" Cade asked.
Callie frowned, "That old ugly truck," she lamented. She obviously preferred the car.
"The car is more difficult to drive," he explained, "so it's better if we start you out driving the truck."
Callie sighed, she was disappointed that he didn't want to teach her how to drive the car, but she reasoned that learning how to drive the truck was better than not learning how to drive anything at all.
Cade could tell she was disappointed. "You can eventually drive the car, I promise." he assured her.
"What about a phone?" She asked. "You said you would get us a phone."
Cade realized they needed a telephone, and it wouldn't hurt if they owned a radio or television to help break up the monotony, but he definitely didn't have money for a radio or television. "We'll eventually get all of the things we need," he assured her.
In truth, Callie's life had never been this good, so she tried not to complain, but she desperately wanted more necessities than they had, including a TV. Callie had been neglected and shoved around her entire life and now Cade was taking care of her, and she was growing to love him and rely heavily on him. She would do practically anything he asked her to do, and she was pleased that he was having sex with her on a more regular basis because the sex helped her feel wanted and needed.
Cade chose a Saturday afternoon to give Callie her first driving lesson. He attempted to teach her how to drive in the driveway, since it was a large driveway, but she couldn't seem to get the hang of it. Cade soon realize that Callie had very little aptitude for driving, and every time she attempted to move the truck forward she stalled it repeatedly or jerked and jarred it until Cade thought the truck might rattle into a million pieces. His frustration increased quickly and after he bumped his head on the side and front of the truck several times, he became angry. "Good God!" he yelled at her.
"I'm trying!" She said and then she pounded her small hands on the steering wheel and began to sob. "I hate this fucking truck!"
Cade breathed a heavy sigh and reached over and turned off the ignition. "Let's call it a day."
Callie sobbed. "I'm good for nothing; I can't even learn how to drive."
Cade pulled her close and kissed her forehead, "It's just going to take time is all."
But, both of them knew she was a long ways away from not only learning how to drive, but getting an actual drivers license. Cade wasn't sure what the process was for her to get a driver's license, but he knew it would involve a written test. He had obtained his driver's license many years ago when he was eighteen-years-old. Prior to that time, he and his buddies had jacked cars for many years as juvenile delinquents and that's how he had learned how to drive. Once he became an adult, he ended up in jail for six-months because he took a joy ride in a Ferrari. As a teen he spent much of his time in juvenile detention for similar offenses.
Cade had always had a natural fascination with cars, but he had never owned a car of his own until he had inherited his Grandpa Walt's farm along with the two old vehicles. He knew if he could purchase a car with an automatic transmission for Callie, she would have a much easier time learning how to drive, but he couldn't even afford a phone, let alone a car with an automatic transmission.
Cade decided to tell his coworker Harry about his dilemma teaching Callie how to drive. He mentioned it one afternoon while they were both standing outside in the cold, taking a smoking break. "I wasn't going to say anything," Harry said after awhile, "But I noticed that neither of your vehicles have a current registration."
Cade felt as if Harry might just as well shove a knife in his chest and twist it. Cade knew there were a few things like that which he had neglected to do, but he hated to think about them. "How do I get the cars registered?"
Harry briefly explained the process of getting a car registered, and Cade thought he was going to vomit as he listened. Apparently he had also forgotten to obtain car insurance. He knew if he was going to live an honest life he would need both of those things.
"Insurance shouldn't be too expensive for just you," Harry said, "And the registration shouldn't cost that much either, since the cars are so old."
Cade wished he shared Harry's optimism. Everything was always more expensive than Cade thought it would be. There always seemed to be a million hurdles for Cade to jump over. He still had yet to apply for State funded Medicaid coverage for his family as the doctor's office had advised, and the issue of no telephone was always hanging over his head.
As Cade smoked his cigarette and talked to Harry about the car registration, he made up his mind he was at least going to get the telephone connected. He felt he had to accomplish at least one thing in order to feel he was making progress, so he managed to leave work a little early and go to the local telephone company and request that his phone line be connected. He purchased the most basic service they offered and fortunately it cost less than he thought, but he had to pay a rather hefty deposit to have it connected because of his bad credit and criminal history. The huge deposits were what always took his money. But activating the phone line to Walt's old house was practically as simple as flipping a switch, so it wouldn't take them long to connect the line.
When Cade arrived home and told Callie about the phone, she jumped up and down excitedly. Cade made all of them memorize the phone number, including Jessie. After dinner, Callie rushed down to the basement and dug out an old phone that Walt had thrown in a box. She had seen it when she had been snooping around, which she routinely did now. She had pretty much conquered her fear of spiders. Cade laughed when he saw her bring up the phone from the basement. "I see you've been busy digging through the basement again, what other things have you found down there?"
Callie blushed, "Just the books and the phone," she said innocently.
Cade chuckled because it had not escaped his attention that picture frames and other decorations were appearing on a regular basis around the house. He couldn't blame her for snooping, because there wasn't much else to do all day long. He noticed she was often reading a book, but he knew that must get old after awhile.
The next day when the phone line was connected, Callie kept picking up the phone to listen to the dial tone. There was no one for her to call, yet somehow it made her feel less isolated knowing that there was the possibility she could dial someone's number if she wanted. Cade had written down the phone number to his work place along with the phone number for the school, but Callie knew she wouldn't have much use for either number. Cade made it very clear that she wasn't to call him at work unless it as an emergency. She was sorely tempted to call him anyway because she wanted him to pick up some spaghetti noodles on his way home from work, but she knew that didn't constitute an emergency, so she eventually ruled that out.
Harley immediately found a use for the phone, because now he could call his friend Collin and arrange times that they could play. Collin lived about a mile from their house, and Harley didn't mind the walk, even in the cold weather. Now that Callie could call him on the telephone and tell him when it was time to come home, she agreed he could go to his friend's house more often to play, but she made sure he did his homework first.
In the meantime Cade contacted a car insurance salesman; the same one Harry used, and obtained a car insurance policy for his two vehicles. His next obstacle would be getting the cars to pass the required safety inspections and then he had an even larger hurdle, paying for the registration. Cade had the cars inspected at the tire store where he worked, which made it convenient, but he found out he would have to purchase seat belts in order for it to pass inspection because the cars were so old, and didn't already have seat belts. That meant he had to pay another visit to the auto parts store, but at least he could see Roger again. It took him two weeks to sort everything out, and in the meantime, Callie was not doing much better at learning how to drive.
Cade's other concern was speaking to Harley and Jessie's teachers to see if they were caught up in school. He was determined his kids would do their homework and stay caught up with the other kids in their class. Once Cade finally got a chance to speak to Harley and Jessica's teachers he found out they were struggling a little, but not as much as Ashley. Cade put Harley on the same reading schedule as Ashley and he got some books and extra worksheets from the school for Harley to complete, which made Harley upset. Jessica also needed to work on her letters and numbers and the school provided him with some flash cards for her. Callie helped with the kids, but it was a lot of work and rather frustrating.
It took a large chunk of Cade's time to listen to both of his children read every night and it wore on him, plus he and Callie were still meeting with Ashley's teacher on a regular basis, and her teacher had informed them that Ashley might need to have her eyes checked to see if she needed eyeglasses.
Cade was becoming moody and ornery as he attempted to wade through everything that needed to be done. Living like this was not what he had envisioned for himself. While he had been locked up in prison, he had spent hours longing to live a normal life with his wife and kids, but if this was what a "normal life" consisted of, he wasn't sure he wanted it. The bills he had to pay and the never ending family problems wore on him.
Callie was also beginning to tire of the routine. The boredom of her life was getting her down. By now she had read quite a few of Walt's paperback novels and the remaining titles were not that appealing to her. She was running out of ideas of what to do with her spare time. She grew tired of tidying and cleaning up the house, and Cade often had to warn her to keep it clean because it was something she wasn't used to doing and she didn't enjoy it. She desperately needed a social outlet, and she was tired of not having a washer and dryer or any decent clothes to wear.
In the middle of March the cars were finally registered and insured, Ashley had new eyeglasses which seemed to help her tremendously, and the family was one step closer to feeling united.
Much to Callie's disappointment, Cade arranged for the DNA test to be done in order to determine if Jessica was his child. Callie cried all night long the night before they went to the lab for the test. Jessica didn't understand what it meant when they took a swab of saliva from her cheek. She could tell the adults in her life were upset by what was going on and she clung to her mother for comfort. Cade was disappointed when he found out they had to wait at least five days for the test results.
"Why did they stick that thing in my mouth?" Jessica kept asking.
"Shh," Callie tried to shush her. "It's just a little test is all," but Jessica knew it had something to do with her and Cade, she just didn't know what, but she didn't like it. Harley and Ashley had overheard Cade and Callie talking about it and they knew what the test was for. Knowing that Cade insisted the test be run and that it might show that Jessica was not Cade's child, made both of them feel oddly protective of her. She was their sister, no matter what. But for better or worse, the test was going to be done, and it had only taken about fifteen minutes for all of the samples to be collected.