My story is one about the dangers of temptation and how they can totally screw up your life. After what my wife and I had to go through, I felt that warning others of what can happen was the right thing to do.
Let me give you a picture of the main players in my little slice of life. My name is Hennessy, John Fitzgerald. I was 30 on my last birthday. My wife is Alyssa is 24 and a fine looking lady she is.
Alyssa is tall, for a woman, at 5 feet 10; she has a slender build and a body just right for me. Her hair is auburn and she wears it long, hanging down her back. I am 6 feet 3 and about 215 pounds. I have been told that I have rugged good looks and that I clean up pretty good. The rugged look must be because of a slightly crooked nose; it has been broken at least twice.
I grew up on the "mean streets" of the inner city. We didn't know they were the mean streets; it was just home to us. That's where I got my first broken nose. When I was young, I had a bad temper and would fight at a moment's notice. My reputation preceded me and the first time I got arrested after I turned eighteen, I was offered a choice.
I could go to jail or I could go into the service of my country. Army, Marines, or the Navy, it didn't make any difference to the judge. Jail didn't seem like the place for a boy with a big mouth and a bad temper so I enlisted in the Marines. My brother Sean had been a Marine. It may have been the best thing that ever happened to me.
During my basic training, I got my second broken nose. In our hand to hand combat training, I just couldn't believe that Sergeant Jackson could toss me around the way he did. I felt that if I could meet him off duty I could take him. There wouldn't be any rules or any sergeants to stop a recruit if an instructor was about to get his bell rung. The reason that Jackson's control of me in the staged fights bothered me so much was his size.
I was 6 feet 3 with no slack belly and he was barely 5 feet 8 and weighed about a hundred and sixty. The other thing that bothered me is that he had to be 40 years old. On one of the few nights that I didn't have the duty, I waited for Sergeant Jackson behind the "Slop Chute". That's the NCO club and I felt I had an even better chance with him if Jackson had been drinking. When Sergeant Jackson came out of the NCO club, I invited him to meet me behind the building.
"I think we need to talk Sergeant Jackson," I told him. "A little discussion about the merits of different styles of fighting is due. Don't you think so Sergeant?"
"Are you sure you want to do this Hennessy? I've got nothing against you. You're not a bad recruit, just young is all. Better think about it son."
"Damn it Jackson, quit stalling. Fish or cut bait. Will you come behind the building or don't you have the balls without the other sergeants around to back you up?"
Sergeant Jackson shook his head and said, "Come on boy, time to teach you some manners."
We went behind the building and Jackson took off his Smokey Bear hat. Then the fight began. I should say the fight began and finished. I threw about three punches and the next thing I knew, I was on my back holding my broken nose.
"Sorry Hennessy," Jackson said as he helped me up. "You rushed me a little and I couldn't pull my punches. You all right? We better get you to the medical center and have you nose looked at. Come on son, I'll walk you over."
That was the second time I had my nose broken. I thought I knew a lot about fighting but I realized that someone with training would clean my clock almost every time and that wasn't going to happen again. So by the time I finished my second tour, I was a lethal weapon.
The funny thing was that as I took the combat classes and learned new ways of wreaking havoc, I was able to control my temper much better. I seldom got really angry anymore and usually tried to talk instead of fight.
My first tour was for three years and I had made the rank of corporal. When my first enlistment was over, I was offered a bonus to reenlist for another three years. There was no one or nothing waiting for me back home, so I stayed in the Marines for another three years.
My second tour came to an end and I was again offered a bonus to reenlist, I decided to get out. The Corp had changed and I didn't have the stomach to listen to a bunch of shit for brains Second Lieutenants tell me how to do my job. Most of them wanted to change the way we did things even though our way had worked for over a hundred years.
If I stayed I'd probably beat the hell out of one of them and spend years in the stockade. So I became a civilian again. I had just turned 24.
I had a buddy, James, whose family owned a construction company. He got me a job as a cement worker. Lots of hard work, but I made good money. After two years, James asked me if I could help out with a couple of houses and do some framing work. The jobs were running behind because two of the framing crew was in jail. He told me that the foreman would show me what to do. So I became part of the framing crew and never went back to working concrete.
The next step was learning how to plan and schedule jobs. I really enjoyed that part of the business. I had the best of both worlds, I was outside instead of in an office most of the time and I didn't have to do any of the grunt work. Good Deal. That job led to me meeting my wife Alyssa Riley. Well, she wasn't my wife then but she would be.
We were building a summer house for Alyssa's dad and mom. She would come over to the building site every couple of days to check the progress. I thought it strange that a young woman would be checking on the house until I learned that Alyssa was an architect. She wasn't checking on progress, she was checking to make sure we were building the house correctly. Alyssa would inspect the framing to see if it was plumb and square and that the studs were on the correct centers. I was attracted to her the first time I met her. She was very pretty but more important she was intelligent, knowledgeable, and self assured.
Late one afternoon we got into a discussion about a special little alcove off the kitchen that we were framing. She said it was all wrong. I told her that the framing was according to the plan and the drawings. Alyssa started to argue with me and I invited her to come over to the onsite trailer that was our office and check out the drawings.
We went over the plans together and she agreed that we were following the drawings. That didn't mean it was right, but it was in the plan. For better than three hours we discussed this little alcove and changes that needed to be made. Dinner time rolled around before we knew it. Then I had a brain storm, it was like a bright light went off inside my head.
"Alyssa, I think we are about done here and I'm going to dinner. Would you like to join me?"
"You're not going to change my mind about these drawings by feeding me, you know," she told me with a big smile. "Yes, I would like to go to dinner with you, John."
The rest is history, as they say. I don't think we spent more than a day apart for the next three months. Almost every night we took in a dinner or a movie, or dancing, or just spending the evening together at her place or mine. Mostly we were at her place because I lived in a dump. On the evening of our three month anniversary (I know, it's a woman's thing, but Alyssa liked it) I asked her to marry me.
"What took you so long? I've been waiting for the last month for you to ask me. Yes, of course I will marry you John."
Now I was 28, had a good paying job that I really liked, and was married to my soul mate. We were trying to start a family but had no luck yet. The doctor checked us both and there wasn't anything wrong with either of us. Be patient he said and have fun. Don't get too clinical he suggested. So we just continued trying to make babies and loving each other.
The Irish have a saying, something like "If you are happy and prideful, it will lead the devil to your door." The devil kicked in my door sixteen months after Alyssa and I were married.
Alyssa and I hadn't been apart for more than two days at a time after we were married. She would have to fly somewhere to check on a building or I would have to travel to check up on something for my company. We always made it home in a short period of time.
I had to go out of town for a seminar on new building codes for our state. I would leave Sunday and come back the following Saturday. A week apart was going to be hard to take, but I really had to go. I promised to call her every night and at lunch time if I could. I should have broken my leg or something, anything to have kept me at home.
All week I went to classes, and seminars and discussions. I was almost ready to pack it in and become a bus driver or something. Every night I called Alyssa and we talked, mostly about how much we missed each other. I called her on Friday after our last class. I told her that a bunch of the guys, eight of us in fact, were going out to dinner and have a couple of drinks to celebrate. It would probably be late when I got back so I wouldn't call her and would be home tomorrow.
The night started out innocent enough. We went to a very good steak house to have dinner, drinks were served with the meal and there were a lot of toasts. "Here's to finishing those damn classes. Here's to no more boring lectures. Here's to whatever." A lot of toasts. I had more to drink that night than I should have.
.... There is more of this story ...