He sat and scanned the reports that the officials had sent him. It was stark and a dose of reality that he wasn't really prepared to accept. He'd had these 'doses' of reality over the past year and this was one of the hardest. She was actually dead.
He raised his head and listened, and there was only quiet. The girls were asleep, their nap time, his thinking time. He set the accident report down and tried, once again, to reconcile it to any reality that he knew, make sense of it. Nothing came. Nothing happened. Nothing helped.
He realized that this was all 'post mortem' kind of stuff. She was indeed gone and had been dealt with, buried, the funeral over, the crowds gone. None of them, he thought, maybe hoped, the wiser. She'd been on this European trip for her work, was the story.
She'd actually run away. Inexplicably run away. So soon after the twins were born, she'd just run away!There was the depression, a deep depression, after the girls were born, lovely Mandy and Wendy, his whole world now. He tried to help. They tried to get help, professional help but she stayed listless and went through the motions.
He never could explain it. Yes, she was younger, when they married, barely twenty. He was a bit older at 26. They were happy. She was, at times, flighty, but he never thought much of it. But after the birth of the twins, it was as though she was simply gone, mentally, spiritually gone.
Maybe it shouldn't have been such a shock, when they'd had 'that talk'. But for him it was. She was actually saying, he remembered it as though it were just that morning, that she was going away, 'to find herself.' She wasn't negotiating. She was telling him. She was going off to 'find her roots'.
He'd tried to argue that he and Wendy and Mandy were her 'roots' now but she wouldn't have it. He knew that she could be stubborn but had never seen this. She told him that she needed to do it 'to save herself', and hoped to be back to them.
Some of those words and phrases still haunted him, still lingered in his mind, were still fresh and there.
He realized, at the end, that she was certainly going to do it. She was going to somewhere in what he'd recognized always as Czechoslovakia, different of course now, but thats how he remembered the place. She was taking this trip to do this 'finding' that she went on about. And then she was gone, teary about leaving the twins behind and not sure when she'd actually be back or any of that kind of thing.
He was never sure that the cover story that they'd put out worked. He never really cared. He was busy with his work at the university. On the off season, before the spring practices, he was in charge of weight training for the players. It kept him busy, especially these days with Wendy and Mandy. But he was managing, being a father. 'Single Father', he said to himself, half in disgust and half in wonder.
Then the report came. He read it and re-read it. He had it there now again. It was impersonal and almost like a dirty novel: Road accident; she the passenger; found almost naked, apparently performing what the report called 'an oral sexual act' on the driver at the time that they ran off the road and were both killed.
It was as though the world took a leave of its senses; it was as though only craziness prevailed in the whole world. He wept, as the bathed the twins. They looked at him and he thought that they were understanding what he was thinking but it was probably only those looks of love that he'd begun to get from them, and that was the whole world.
Yes, the report, at first, was everything. His JoAnn, dead giving some guy a blow job. The raw thoughts ran through his mind and he began his campaign to put it behind him.
Then came the whirlwind of the funeral and the gatherings. He was, in all of that really thankful to Carol Ann, her mother, for being as helpful and strong as she was.
He, in his shock, at the same time, was trying to deal with it, fitting into this role of father/dad and now widower. He'd always seen himself as the jock, the football guy, the coach. Those were his mantras and all of this was new, new new.
But Carol Ann had been strong and a true comfort for him. That was so many months ago, so many months ago.
It was the doorbell that brought Jim out of his reverie. He went to the door and was surprised to find Carl Ann on his doorstep with two suitcases setting by her side. He just stared for a moment.
"Hi, Jim," she said softly. It brought him back to earth.
"Carol Ann," he said "What a treat, and here I am leaving you stranded on the door step. I'm sorry. Please come in."
"I'm here to help for a while, Jim." she said. "I know how much of a job those lovely, lovely little girls are, a handful at thirteen months."
He grinned at that, taking up her suitcases and bringing them in.
"Please send me away, if this isn't what you want, Jim; I seriously won't mind," she said then.
"Not on your life," he said, smiling. "You're an answer to this Dad's prayers. Spring football begins soon and I'll be that busy. You're saving my life. But what about you? I mean your job, the apartment."
"Well," she answered,"I've enough seniority at the hospital that I can pick my shifts and we'll work that out to suit ourselves. The apartment is being watched over by a friend."
She put her hand on his arm then and said:
"I really and seriously don't want to be a difficulty or a problem in your life, Jim. You've had enough and to spare, especially from my, our Jo-Ann."
"Rest in peace!" he said softly.
They hugged then and he kissed her cheek.
He'd always liked Carol Ann Wilson. He, at times, had wondered about her long dead husband, Will. Carol Ann always was down to earth and practical, dependable. Jim had simply wondered where JoAnn had gotten her flightiness from. He suspected it was from her Dad's side of the family.
"Cup of tea? Coffee?" he asked.
"Can I look in on them first?" she asked.
"Of course," he said. "Silly of me; they're napping. I'm off today and we had a busy morning with play time."
She hugged him again: "Jim, you're such a good Dad for them."
Then unexpectedly she cried. He held her, while she cried and simply let her get it out.
"Thank you, honey," she said, "I promise not to constantly be so weepy about this."
The went together to see the twins, who were sleeping, taking their naps. They were lovely little girls, blond headed and developing, thirteen months old.
"Beauties!" she said.
"Glad they don't look like their Dad," was his comment, and they both laughed.
He took her suitcase to the guest room at the end of the hall way. Then they went downstairs to talk about schedules and arrange things.
They decided, in the course of their talk over coffee, that she'd work shifts that had her at home in the evenings. That would give them their evenings free. She wondered out loud about dinner preparations but he assured her that, during the time with JoAnn, he'd become quite a good cook. They also decided that at times the meals could be later to give her time to do the cooking some times. They were pleased and settled in to care for the two little girls that they loved.
At 42, Carol Ann Wilson was an extremely caring person. She was a very popular nurse at the local medical center. She'd lost her husband, Will, to cancer fully nine years ago, and had moved out of their big house into an apartment, saying that the house had too many ghosts, and she wanted to leave them behind. She'd married young, at 18, her high school sweetheart and had had a love affair marriage right up to the day, when Will passed. By then, with JoAnn already at school, she'd made her decision to sell the house and go off to an apartment on her own.
She was a woman of medium height and ever so slightly on the chubby side, she thought, but for all that Carol Ann was lovely. She was fairly large breasted, and, here again her idea of chubbiness, quite rounded over all. She had a head of lovely dark, almost black hair with a reddish gloss to it, whereas JoAnn had been, like her Dad, fair.
The routine that they set up began to work for them very nicely. The first difficulty, if it even could be called that, came a few weeks after they'd settled in to live together and take care of the twins.
Jim woke from a deep sleep, he'd been at practice until a very late hour and simply sank into bed. He wore only a pair of thin pj bottoms to bed, not even, that night, a tee shirt.
But he woke with a start and realized that he heard a noise from next door. He got up a bit groggy and shuffled off to the twins' room. Carol Ann was already there. She was holding little Mandy and cooing to her, while Wendy was beginning to fuss in the crib.
Jim stood in the door way for a few seconds and looked at the scene. What really got his attention, and fairly took his breath away was the fact that a light was on across the room. In the glow of the light Carol Ann, wearing a floor length night gown with thin straps, was simply speaking 'on display.' The light framed her near nakedness as it shone through the gown. Jim got involuntarily hard just looking.
Carol Ann looked at him as he entered the room saying:
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear them fussing."
"No problem, Jim," she said, "I know you worked late. I've got at least one bandit under control."
Then she noticed his erection poking against the fabric of his pjs. She tried to ignore it but he'd seen her glance.
"Sorry, Carol Ann," he said, "Middle of the night and all."
She grinned and said, in a pixieish voice: "I'll take it as a salute."
.... There is more of this story ...