George Sanders sighed and snapped the last suitcase shut. Fifteen years of marriage now condensed into three suitcases and six boxes. Life really was pathetic when you had to measure your accomplishments by that standard.
He glanced at his watch. Four-thirty PM. All the festivities had taken about an hour and a half. His hands still shook from coming off the adrenaline high.
Beth was downstairs doing god knew what. He had told her to just leave him alone, and the look on his face must have been one hell of a motivator, because she flinched and ran down the stairs, crying.
He was a stew of warring emotions. Complete rage and feelings of betrayal, coupled with crushing sadness that it had come to this. Also thrown in there were feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. But now that the wild, action-packed afternoon was over, mostly only sadness remained.
He had felt extreme satisfaction after chasing McCarthy out the door, naked and bloody, but it only made him feel better temporarily. All that remained now was to pick up the pieces and he didn't know if he yet had the strength to do that.
George turned and gave the room one final perusal to make sure he'd forgotten nothing he wanted to take. His eyes fell on a photo of he and Beth taken at Snoqualmi Falls and all at once the strength went out of his legs and he sat down hard on the bed.
Ten years of marriage wiped out in one devatating afternoon, and the sight of that photograph, the two of them happy and laughing together, made it all come crashing in on him at once. He remembered the scene of that photograph like it was only yesterday. Beth standing there, laughing like a girl while the spray of the falls flumed around her like a rainbow. She looked like an angel with her hair flying behind her in the wind and her big happy smile.
Ever since he'd found out what she was doing, he would look at this photograph and be struck anew by her betrayal. Frequency never diminished its impact.
Scrubbing his hands wearily across his face, he rose and picked up his suitcases and trudged wearily down to his truck, completely ignoring the woman who was soon to be his ex-wife. She called after him, begging him to let her explain, telling him that it wasn't what he thought, and pleading for him to forgive her. He ignored it all and just loadedh is truck. And then he drove away, leaving behind the woman screaming in the driveway.
He pulled up in front of his new apartment fifteen minutes later, offloaded his suitcases and boxes and stood there for a moment in his new living room. This wasn't a home. This was a bland, impersonal box. His home was what he left behind. But he couldn't go back there again. Not after what she'd done there.
Deciding to put off unpacking for a little while longer, he got back in his truck and headed across town to Sammy's Roadhouse again. Might as well plant me here, he thought with a touch of weary humor. He sat on the ripped barstool with a pint of beer in front of him, head resting on his bunched fist and thought back to how it all began.
The plan was perfect. The execution would be even better.
Ah, now there's a word you can get right out of your mind, execution, George Sanders thought to himself as he sat in the dark dimness of Sammy's Roadhouse with a pint of Guinness in front of him. Execution is not a word you want to be thinking about right now, good buddy.
Yet the dark thoughts wouldn't go away, so he dumped more beer on them. He was only vaguely aware of the Monday night football game going on above him on the big screen tv hanging from the ceiling. He heard the ka-chunk of cueballs slamming against each other from the pool tables at the back, the hiss of the deep fryer in the kitchen, the clink of glassware. But he didn't take any notice of what was going on around him. He was thinking about the execution of his plan.
George Sanders was born and lived briefly in one of the hardscrabble farming communities in eastern Oregon. His father, greg, had inherited a small parcel of land from his grandfather, and had, in a fit of youthful optimism, decided to take his wife Rhoda out there and be a farmer.
Unfortunately, the only thing Greg Sanders could grow were debts, rocks and erections. He ended up leaving Rhoda for a waitress at a bar-probably very similar to the one his son was sitting at now, in fact-and Rhoda took George, then seven years old, to Portland. Rhoda divorced Greg but left George with his father's name. She got a job working for one of the banks in downtown Portland as a receptionist and administrative assistant. She also started taking classes at PSU with the idea of becoming a nurse, her lifelong dream.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. When George was ten and in school, Rhoda was heading over to OHSU and got broadsided by a truck on the bridge. Her car flipped over the railing and it took them a day to find her body, because she wasn't wearing a seatbelt. Game over, time to pack up, and it was off to the wonderful world of foster care.
He bounced around the Portland/Salem corridor in and out of various homes for the next seven years. He got into more fights than he could count, engaged in a few acts of minor theft, and finally it all came to a head when he was seventeen.
Ever since the death of his mother, whom he had loved deeply, George had felt alone and empty. In an attempt to fill that emptiness within himself, he joined various gangs and took to the lifestyle like a duck to water. It didn't fill the emptiness-didn't even come close-but while he was with them, he could pretend like he was part of something larger, something beyond himself. The criminal acts, the drugs, the stealing of merchandise-none of that stuff was all that important. It was merely the outward show of solidarity you took away with you. Yeah man, we're together in all this, and we always will be. It wasn't the acts themselves that were important, it was the spirit behind them. Doing things as a gang, and getting away with it, drawing the bonds of loyalty and solidarity even tighter.
As a result, the most important foundation to George's personality were trust and loyalty. To those who have never joined a gang or been part of the Marine Corps or other elite units, trust and loyalty are usually only given lip service and not really thought about, relegated to a dictionary entry. To those who have been part of a tight gang or a fighting force, however, it is the most important thing in the world. If you can't trust your partner, they don't deserve to be part of your life. Ask any biker gang member, Marine vet or long time police officer and they will tell you it is the truth.
George therefore valued trust and loyalty over all else. Once he trusted you, he gave it his all. But on the flip side, if you broke that trust, you were never, ever forgiven, because he could never be certain you wouldn't do it again.
His first act of betrayal-not counting that of his father, of course-came when he was seventeen.
He didn't have many friends, but the ones he did have, he held onto. There was one guy, called Rick Murphy, with whom he was rather tight. They met when he was at a home in Klakamas, his longest term residence yet. He turned up there at fifteen and stayed there all the way through to seventeen.
He and Rick had met his first day in high school. Well, rather, George's nose had met Rick's fist, and the fight was on. Rick wasn't happy that George was wearing the colors of Rick's opposing gang, and George didn't give a flying fuck what Rick thought.
But then things got nasty. Somebody in the crowd brought out a bike chain and swung it at Rick's head. Now, George might've been a punk in a criminal, but he didn't approve of sneaking up from behind and ambushing someone. So he snatched the bike chain, yanked real hard bringing the wielder of the chain up close, and said: "This is the asshole who was about to whack you with a bike chain, buddy. What do you want to do?"
What Rick wanted to do was teach the guy a lesson. But before he could get more than a few good licks in, the teachers came and broke it up. "I'll remember you, asshole," Rick said to the hapless bike chain wielder, before walking off.
"George Sanders," George said, walking next to Rick.
"Rick Murphy," Rick replied, and from then on they were buddies.
Until they were seventeen.
He, Rick and the guys had decided it would be a good idea to burn down the police station. Not a smart move, in retrospect, but hell, what the fuck, it'd be a blast, right? Ha ha.
Well, the cops that caught them didn't see the humor in the situation, so they were all packed up and sent off to jail.
All except Rick Murphy, that is. That son of a bitch decided to roll everything off on George, telling the ADA that it was all his, George's, idea, and that he, Rick was only along for the ride and really didn't want to get involved. Rick got off with a suspended sentence and George and the other two guys got sent up to jail until they were twenty-one, at which time their records were sealed due to their minor status.
This was George's first betrayal and it taught him that anyone can betray you for any reason, and to always keep his guard up.
Jail taught him things. It wasn't at all like in the movies, but it wasn't that great either. George quickly got status and he got respect when word got out that he was in there for burning down a police station. He did his time, got out with a few scars, and started bumming all over the pacific northwest looking for odd jobs.
.... There is more of this story ...