As usual I'd like to thank mikothebaby for editing this story and for making it what it became. She pulls my cold dead fingers away from the comma key (on those oocasions when I actuallt type usually I just scribble down the word in crayon with no punctuation at all.)
Most of us develop our personalities over time and due to a plethora of different reasons, ranging from parenting styles to life experiences. Some believe that we never change during life or in other words that we're born a certain way and throughout our life simply become more developed. They believe that a person's nature doesn't change. To them some of us are just born as assholes and spend the majority of our lives becoming bigger assholes. They espouse that even an asshole can show restraint in certain situations such as at work. When these assholes are in the proximity of people who control their destiny, they fake it. They pretend to be civilized until they are in control and then their natural asshole tendencies again take over. Hm ... interesting.
Another theory is based not on nature, but on nurturing or experience. This theory says that we're not born assholes but that people or experiences turn us into assholes throughout our time here. Basically life trains us to be assholes. There are many versions of both of these theories, but if I had to pick one I'd be hard pressed.
I believe that each of us is born with both sets of genes and those asshole traits can be switched on or off due to extremely stressful events in our lives. I also believe that those traits can be directed at some people and not at others. After hearing my story, maybe you'll feel the same.
My name is Ryan McCarthy. I'm five foot ten inches tall with brown hair and brown eyes. I'm pretty soft spoken and I generally try to get along with people. I don't think I've had a fist fight since I left elementary school. On the other hand, I've been involved with martial arts and boxing since I was 8 years old.
I came home from the third grade with a bloody nose and my dad, an old army guy, signed me up for Karate classes. Of course, I still didn't get any tougher and the bigger kids still managed to walk away with my lunch money sometimes, but I just wasn't afraid anymore. Being able to fight and probably to kick their asses didn't make me a bully. It just gave me a choice. I could either fight them and probably hurt them or just give them the fifty cents and eat later without all of the problems a fight would bring me. I guess I've just never been the alpha male type.
I married Rhonda Barbie a couple of years after I left college and we've been doing great. I love her and she loves me. We have a two year old daughter, a great home and a great life. Rhonda is a little chunky but it's her heart that I fell in love with. I think it was my disposition that attracted her to me.
Rhonda had been with a couple of guys that were kind of abusive. Though she isn't fat, Rhonda had the same attitude as people say about bigger girls. She just thought that she'd have to try harder and lower her standards to get a guy. So some of the guys that she got tended to run over her and didn't treat her the way she deserved.
When we got together it was great for both of us. She knew that I wasn't going to force her into doing anything she didn't want to do sexually or otherwise. I'm still very soft spoken and easy going so our arguments are few and far between. I guess I tend to look at the big picture and I try to think about the other person's point of view as well as my own. I tend to try to avoid confrontations especially in cases where they aren't necessary.
After some of the guys she went out with, Rhonda's parents loved me. So everyone was happy when we got married. Our two families blended into one larger one with Rhonda and me in the center. When our daughter, Haley, was born two years ago, it was like the world, or at least our chunk of it, tilted on its axis and Haley became the sun.
Rhonda gave up her job and stayed home to take care of Haley. To be honest, I was making enough money that both of us didn't really need to work and Rhonda was actually tired of working. It was she who suggested that she stay home. I'd just figured that with both of us working we'd be able to put more money into our savings and investments. I, of course, lost that argument and Rhonda became a stay at home mom and I became the sole breadwinner.
That was the way that most things went with us. I wasn't the kind of husband who rocked the boat. Rhonda's dad often told me that I was a wimp, but he loved me anyway. "I'm glad my baby girl married you instead of those assholes she used to date," he often says.
As a matter of fact, most of the people who know us don't think the word, "No," is a part of my vocabulary. They're all very sure that Haley will wrap me around her little finger and take control of the house by the time she's five or six.
I didn't mind it because my world revolved around Rhonda and Haley. There was nothing I wouldn't do for either one of them. I guess there were a few times when I should have been more assertive, but at the end of the day making them happy, made me happy.
So on days when I'd had a really rough day at work and I just wanted to come home and relax on my deck, drink a beer and have a quiet dinner, but I got home and Rhonda had a group of people over to socialize and just handed Haley to me as soon as I hit the doorway, I took it in stride.
I tried to see it from her point of view which was that she'd been taking care of Haley all day and we made her together, so I also had to spend some time caring for my daughter. Rhonda also worked in the house all day long making it a home for all of us, so she never got the opportunity to get out or be around adults the way she used to when she worked. So I was fine with it. But then as has been mentioned, I never really complained about much.
So maybe, in some ways, I was a wimp. I mean I can break boards with my bare hands or feet. I weigh a hundred and seventy pounds and bench press two fifty, but I'm still a wimp. I simply do not possess the caveman gene. I would probably have gone through life without ever becoming angry had it not been for one phone call.
I almost never use our house phone. I've used it so rarely that I don't know the number. Even when Rhonda calls me, my iPhone doesn't show the number it just shows "Home."
So that day when my phone was on the charger and I needed to call a mechanic because my Taurus was acting funny again, my world changed. As I picked up the receiver, I heard voices. Normally I'd have put the phone down immediately, but I heard Rhonda laughing and she seemed to be talking about me.
"No, I don't think he even noticed that we weren't there," she laughed. "Don't get me wrong, baby, I love Ryan and I always will, but I don't think he'd say anything if he caught us fucking. He'd probably just say, "Sorry," and back out of the room."
"Yeah," said a man whose voice I recognized, but I couldn't put a name with. "He's so nice that he'd probably offer to hold your legs apart so I could stick my dick in you."
"Oh, Jim, stop exaggerating," laughed Rhonda. "Besides, your wife isn't any better."
"That bitch had better just do what I tell her to do," said Jim. "If she knows what's good for her. But shit at least we aren't doing it in her house. Ryan, I just don't know about him. Hey, while we're on the subject, my boss is a member of the same Masonic lodge as your dad. Isn't Ryan a member too?"
"Yep, my dad dragged him into that a few years ago. They remind me of the God damned Flintstones, with their funny hats and all of those rituals. They're like the loyal order of water buffalos."
"Well, I want to be a water buffalo," said Jim. "If I join their lodge, I'd get more contact time after work with my boss. It would give me a better chance in a few months when it's promotion time."
"I'll start hinting around about it to Ryan," said Rhonda. "As long as you keep me happy."
"I'll keep you full of dick, if that makes you happy," said Jim. "But if you love Ryan so fucking much, why do you need me?"
"Because I'm bored," said Rhonda. "I'm stuck at home with a baby all day. Ryan loves me and I love him. But with you I get to play a different role. I get to be someone else. I don't know how long it will last. Maybe I'll get bored with you too. I'd drop you like a hot rock, if I even thought that Ryan would find out about us, but as long as he's clueless, we're on."
I sat there holding the phone for a few minutes after they'd hung up. I heard Rhonda walking through the house and quickly went back outside. I walked around the house and came back in through the front door as if I hadn't been there.
"Hey babe," she smiled as I walked in. She came over to me and reached up for a kiss. I studied her face. There were no traces of the lies or lack of respect she held for me on it. I stood there for perhaps too long before I turned away from her.
"What's wrong Honey?" she asked. "Did you have a bad day at work?"
"Work was fine," I said. "The Taurus is going to have to go into the shop again. Can I use your car?"
"Sure baby," she said. "But it's just a car. They break down. Get used to it. That's no reason for you not to kiss me when you come in. I've been thinking about you all day. I look forward to us spending time together."
"Sorry," I said and walked away, looking for her keys.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"I'm going over to the dojo," I said. She just smiled. When I really needed to get something out of my system I often went over to a local Karate school that a friend of ours ran. Rhonda laughed about it, because she'd never seen me hit a person. She'd occasionally seen me do Kata or break boards, but my wife, like everyone else, was of the opinion that I wouldn't say shit if I had a mouthful of it. I don't think she thought that I was capable of actually hitting someone, even in anger. I was definitely more of a talker than a fighter. She was right.
That night I beat the fuck out of a helpless punching bag. I tried to punch and kick the anger out of myself, but I couldn't do it. My anger and my pain settled like a ball of fire in the pit of my stomach. Even when I was so tired that I couldn't raise my arms any more, I couldn't let go of it. This was different for me. I had changed. I knew that I wasn't going to go home and confront Rhonda, but I started thinking about her differently. From that moment, for the first time since I'd laid eyes on her, I didn't think of Rhonda as mine. In fact, I no longer wanted her. Despite the fact that I've heard you can't turn off love that quickly. I no longer loved her. I was sure of it.
I knew that things had to be different because I was really pissed. I wanted Rhonda to go through the same pain and suffering that I had. I knew that I had to be smart about it though. I needed to plan and think about what I wanted to do.
I began to plan out in my mind what I wanted to say to her. I needed to do this in a way that would affect her most. I'm a strong person, I thought. Both mentally and physically, I'm strong. Maybe I can't lift my arms right now, but I'm strong.
I composed myself and got my temper under control. Martial arts are great with things like that. They teach you to focus. Except for perhaps a harder set to my mouth, I got my face straightened out to the point where my new feelings wouldn't show.
I may have looked composed on the outside but I wasn't. I was screaming on the inside and I felt nothing but rage and pain. There were so many questions I needed answers to. On my way back to the house I let Siri help me. For those of you who don't know Siri is the personal assistant on the iPhones. I just told Siri to find me a Private Investigator and the screen of my phone showed three of them in the area I was in. I picked a guy who was on my way home.
I don't know what I expected. I guess I wanted to see Humphrey Bogart or Robert Mitchum. Shit, I'd have settled for Colombo or even Barnaby Jones. I expected a grizzled veteran with a lot of life under his rumpled suit. I wanted someone with enough life experience that he's been there and done that.
What I got was a twenty something pot-bellied guy with a three day beard reading a video game magazine. He looked at me through eyes that had seen too much Modern Warfare 3.
"What do you need?" he asked.
I explained the situation to him and he grabbed a worn leather jacket off the rack next to the X-Box.
"Where are we going?" I asked, as he stood by the door.
"Your house," he said. "Depending on whether or not you want a divorce and which way you want to file, you may need evidence. So we'll have to put some cameras and mics around your house. Even if you don't want a divorce, you'll need some kind of evidence to confront her with. That way she can't give you some bullshit story about how you're imagining this. And on the very thin possibility that you don't even want to confront her now, some day in the future you might need to have evidence just in case."
"How many of these cases have you seen?" I asked. The look in his face and the way he shook his head said it all.
"At least a hundred or so," he said quietly. I was forced to immediately change my opinion of him.
"How long have you been in business?" I asked. I'd thought that he was barely out of college. Now it suddenly dawned on me that maybe he was one of those Dick Clark guys who just looked young. Maybe I had my grizzled veteran after all.
"Three years," he said. "I'm twenty five."
Hearing his points did nothing to make me feel better. In fact the news that the ending of my idyllic life and marriage was just another statistic depressed me even more.
We drove over to my house. He followed me there in his own car. When we got to the house Rhonda came out to meet him. I introduced him as a guy from the car dealership. She smiled and went about her business.
We installed pinhole cameras all over the house including our bedroom. We also added a small device to the phone lines that would allow us to monitor all phone calls. After I showed him out, I immediately went to my computer to listen in on the call she was currently making.
"Yeah, he brought some guy from the car dealership home with him," she said. "We both know they're not going to honor his warranty. They'll make him pay for the repairs. That's my little man. What can I say? I love him but he's just never going to be a tough guy."
A short time later she came to bed. She rolled over and put her arms around me and started kissing me. I pushed her away from me. A few minutes later I felt her fingers crawling on my leg. I looked over at her and saw her smiling.
"I'm not in the mood," I told her.
She looked shocked. "Since when do you have to be in the mood?" she asked. "Damn it, Ryan, it's just a car. It's not even that great a car. Get over it." Then she rolled over to the other side of the bed.
Over the next few days, she stuck to her pattern. It seemed like Jim came over to VISIT her every other day. Listening to their phone calls and watching them when I could stomach it helped me to gain the strength for what I needed to do. It was funny because since I'd found out about her and started to distance myself from her, she seemed to be taking it out on poor old Jim.
In fact, yesterday he ended up not getting any at all. In reality, they'd argued.
"God damn it Jim," she'd snapped at him. "I don't like that. You don't know what you're doing at all. Let me give you a clue, you have to get me in the mood first."
"I thought you liked it hard and fast?" he said.
"I only like that every once in a while," she snapped.
"But it's the way we've always done it," he whined. "That's what we do together. If I wanted to make love to someone, it would be someone I love. Shit, that's why I come to you instead of my fucking wife. What's your problem?"
"I don't know," she said. "Ryan hasn't touched me in a week. Ever since his fucking car took a shit, he's been acting strange. All the things he usually does for me he's been skipping out on. It's like he blames me for the car."
"You're still going to get him to sponsor me for membership in the lodge, aren't you?" asked Jim.
"Well, yeah," said Rhonda. "But I've been waiting for a better time. It probably isn't a good idea to ask him something like that while he's not in the best of moods. Yesterday he came home and played with the baby, went out for his run and then just played with the baby until she went to sleep when he got back. We didn't even talk."
"Maybe when he gets the fucking car fixed he'll feel better," said Jim. "When are they supposed to be done with it?"
"I haven't even asked him," said Rhonda. "I will today. Jim, I really miss him. It's not just the sex, although I miss that too. It's all of the little things, like him coming home and massaging my shoulders or rubbing my feet. It seems like forever since we just sat down and watched TV together or sat on our porch and talked."
"Blah, blah, blah," said Jim. "I really don't give a fuck about your marriage. Are we going to fuck or not?"
"Or not," said Rhonda angrily. "Call me when you get your head out of your ass."
When I got home that night, Rhonda asked me about the car. She'd made all of my favorite dishes for dinner and she was walking around the house in a very low cut blouse and a very short skirt. Under normal circumstances I'd have been overjoyed. But in this case, I knew that she was just horny because she'd gotten into an argument with her boyfriend.
"Ryan, Honey, how are the repairs on your car going?" she asked me.
"They're going," I said.
"Well maybe you should be a little bit more forceful with them and stop letting everyone push you around," she said. "I'll need my car back too, you know."
I went over to the table and got my car keys. I took the keys to Rhonda's car off of the ring and put them in her hand. Then I sat back down at the table to eat.
"Ryan, I didn't mean it like that," she said. "You're upset and this whole thing is bothering you, so it bothers me. I love you Ryan."
"Yeah so you've said," I thought. "You love me so much you'd do anything for me except stay faithful to me. You love me so much that you're fucking another guy in our house, in the bed we sleep in."
I thought it, but once again I said nothing. I just screamed inside again. She had to have seen my anger written in my eyes.
I thought that I was strong. I know the words I need to say. Frozen in my place, I let the moment slip away.
Her eyes got bigger as instead of replying to her words I just pushed myself away from the table, leaving my meal untouched.
"Ryan," she called as I walked away.
I didn't answer I just went to look in on my sleeping daughter. I loved that little girl more than life itself. If it weren't for her, I'd probably have just walked out on Rhonda the first day that I found out about her and Jim.
I closed the door behind me and walked back through the house. I grabbed my gym bag and headed out.
"Ryan, where are you going?" asked Rhonda. Without saying a word or even turning to face her I just held up my gym bag.
"Ryan, the gym is over a mile away. How will you get there?" she asked.
"I'll be fine," I said.
When I got home it was after midnight. While I was at the gym beating the hell out of yet another punching bag, I'd made the decision. It was time to end the farce of my marriage. I had all of the evidence that I'd need to force Rhonda into giving me what I wanted. The problem was my daughter.
If I got custody, I'd have to arrange child care and visitation and all of that other stuff. I wanted to have it all in place when we filed. There was also the problem with confronting Rhonda and serving the papers. My parents loved Rhonda and her parents loved me. This would be a terrible blow to both families.
"Ryan," Rhonda called out, as I walked up the stairs. "You were gone so long."
I didn't answer. I just went into the bathroom to shower. As I let the warm water flow over me the shower door opened. Rhonda stepped into the shower with me and hugged me.
"Rhonda," I said in a very flat voice. "Everything hurts." I'd tried to keep my voice as neutral as possible. I didn't want to show any anger and at the same time I was tired of letting her hurt me. I wondered if she would ever know how painful it is to sit there and listen to a recording of the woman who supposedly loves you calling you a wimp, while talking to another man. I wondered if she knew how it hurts to be berated constantly by hearing yourself referred to as "my little man," or other such niceties.
"Does this hurt?" she asked, reaching around me and grabbing my dick.
"No," I said. "But I'm too tired to do anything about it."
"Ryan, it's been two weeks," she said angrily. "What did I do?" she asked. "I didn't fuck up your car. It wasn't me, Ryan." She walked out of the bathroom still dripping wet. I could hear her crying as I calmly dried myself off and went back downstairs to sleep on the sofa.
I guess she expected me to go into the bedroom and try to comfort her. I mean that's the way I was supposed to react to that kind of situation. It was the way I always had before. Maybe that was the beginning of the change.
The next morning I awoke early so I could get to work on time. Over the past two weeks I hadn't really done anything about my car. There was no need to because there really wasn't anything wrong with it. All it needed was a tune up which I'd gotten the very next day. I'd just continued to let Rhonda believe there was a problem with the car because I'd needed a reason to be acting out of sorts. I decided to just take the car into the dealership to have something done to it. Maybe I'd get the oil changed or the tires rotated or just something so I didn't have to explain anything about the fucking car.
I told my secretary that I had a problem to sort out and went to the Ford dealership. As I waited for the service guy to talk to me, I looked around the dealership.
"You're driving the Taurus, right," he said after a few moments. "They're great cars. They're solid, they're dependable and they'll never give you a problem. How long have you had that one? Over ten years, right?"
I got confused. When he'd been describing my car, without knowing it, he'd described me. Solid, dependable, never give you any problems; that was me. I went to work every fucking day and supported my daughter and that cheating bitch of a wife of mine. I never asked for anything and always did what was expected of me even when that bitch was spreading her legs for some low life former coworker.
Solid, dependable, it also meant unnoticed. I could sit here screaming and praying for her to stop forever and it would never matter because she didn't notice or care what she was doing to me or to us. Fuck us. There really wasn't an US, anymore. No longer, I thought. Not a fucking instant more.
The words came out before I even realized what I was saying. "I need to see a salesman," I heard someone say. "I want that car, there."
He ran away and got a salesman. I test drove it in a daze. As I drove the car around the streets, I noticed that nearly everyone I drove past noticed. NOTICED, that was exactly what I fucking wanted. On my way back into the dealership, I pulled out my phone and called the lawyer I'd hired. I told him that I needed the divorce papers served that day. They been ready the week before but I hadn't wanted to serve them. I told him to go ahead and serve them to both Rhonda and to Jim. I told him that if he was lucky, he'd be able to catch them both together at my house in about an hour.
My second call just as I drove back inside the lot was to my insurance guy. I got my insurance policy updated to include the new car. I had to get the insurance quickly because this was my car now. I had no intention of giving it back.
As I sat down to talk to the salesman, I kept my face neutral.
"I can offer you a deal on the interest rate," he said.
"How much do you need down?" I asked.
"Well, we have to..." he began.
"Look," I said. "I just need a number." My insurance guy called the dealership while we were signing the paperwork. He faxed over proof of insurance and I drove out of the lot. The roar of the exhaust system was music to my ears. I smiled at a couple of women when I pulled up next to them. It was another change. I would never have done that before.
As I pulled into my driveway I noticed that the door to my house was open. My timing wasn't very good. I'd expected for Rhonda to be there but I hadn't thought that Jim would still be there. All I heard coming from inside the house was the sound of Jim yelling and Rhonda crying.
A couple of my neighbors came over to me as I got out of the car. "It's a good thing you're home," said my next door neighbor. "She and that guy who always comes over to visit have been going at it for a while now. Whose car is this?"
"Mine," I said smiling.
"Holy shit," he said. "Wait til I tell Ellen you bought a brand new Mustang. She'll be begging you for a ride."
"You probably shouldn't tell her, Sam," I said as I winked at him. "You might not get her back and I am in the market for another woman to go with the new car."
He just smiled and nodded at me as I stepped into the house.
Rhonda looked awful. She'd been crying her eyes out. She kept looking at the divorce papers over and over again. Both she and Jim looked up at me when I came through the door.
"Ryan, I don't understand," she cried. "I don't want a divorce. We can work this out. It was a mistake."
Jim came over to me. "Look Ryan, why do you need to name me in YOUR divorce?" he asked. "I have a wife and two kids. If you name me it'll probably end my marriage as well. My wife had nothing to do with this. Don't you care about my kids?"
I just looked at him. I was surprisingly calm. Both of them were talking at the same time and blaming each other. I sat down at the kitchen table to think about what I wanted to eat.
"Let's all sit down like rational adults and talk about this," said Jim. "I'm sure we can work this all out to everyone's satisfaction."
They both sat down at the table too. They were both still talking or Jim was talking and Rhonda was crying.
"Look Ryan," said Jim. "I know this looks bad but there is really nothing going on here. It only happened one time and it was only sex. You see both of us, err, Rhonda and I, both kind of like rough sex and neither you nor my wife go in for that sort of thing. You don't because you love Rhonda and my wife doesn't because she's the romantic type. She's more into cuddling and kissing and all of that bullshit.
So both Rhonda and I had needs that were going unfilled. But that one time worked it out of our systems. It will never happen again. You can understand that can't you buddy?"
I didn't say a word. Rhonda took that as meaning it was her time to talk. "Ryan, you're the only man I love. I don't want a divorce. That's why I've been acting so crazy lately because you haven't been yourself and..."
Jim started back in, "Look Ryan, you're not the type of guy to just fly off the handle. Be reasonable here. There's..."That was all he got out. He'd been wringing his hands and whining but he'd gone from that to standing over me. His voice took on an almost threatening tone. The old Ryan might've listened to it ... But I'd changed.
I shot to my feet so quickly that I don't think either of them figured out what had happened until it was too late. The old Ryan would have let the bile build up inside of him and later went out to run himself into the ground to get over or channel his pain. The old Ryan might've gone to the gym to beat on an innocent punching bag ... But I'd changed. I wasn't the old Ryan anymore.
I didn't think. I just reacted. Even as my legs pushed off to propel me out of the chair my hand was in motion. I did an open palm strike against Jim's chin. I guess my intention was to knock him backwards because I didn't like him leaning over me. I guess I perceived it as a threat.
I underestimated my timing, my rage and my strength. I also underestimated Jim's luck. My strike hit him exactly where I'd aimed it. His jaw shut with nearly enough force to break his jaw. The only thing that saved him from that was the fact that his neck snapping backwards absorbed a lot of the force. It still propelled him backwards and upwards knocking him out of the chair and landing him awkwardly on the floor on his back.
Rhonda was shocked that her mild mannered, "little man," would do something like that but she was in for an even bigger shock.
Jim was writhing around on the floor with both hands over his face making unintelligible sounds. Blood was pouring out of his mouth. Then she noticed on the table in front of us a small piece of pink tissue that was just starting to bleed.
Rhonda looked at me and I shrugged. "I guess he bit his tongue off," I said calmly. She jumped over to him as he was still writhing wildly in the throes of his pain.
"Ryan, call 911," she screamed.
"Fuck him," I said.
Jim got his head together despite the pain and started pointing towards outside. Through a mouthful of blood he pointed at her car.
"I'm going to drive him to the emergency room," she said.
"In what?" I asked calmly.
"My car," she said.
"I paid for that car," I said. "He isn't getting into it."
"Ryan," she said, pleading with me.
"Sign the divorce papers and you can take him," I said.
"No fucking way," she said picking up the phone. She dialed 911 and gingerly picked up the tip of his tongue and wrapped it in ice. Within a few minutes the ambulance arrived and took Jim and his tongue away to a nearby clinic. I never left the kitchen. Neither Jim, nor his injuries, affected me. After the ambulance drove off, Rhonda came back inside the house. She'd spent a few minutes talking to some of the neighbors.
"Whose Mustang is that in the driveway?" she asked.
"Mine," I said.
"You bought a new car without talking to me about it?" she asked.
"You started fucking some jerk in my bed without talking to me about it," I shot right back.
"Ryan, it only happened once and it was never going to happen again," she said, looking at the floor.
"Rhonda, I've been video-taping you and listening in on your fucking phone conversations for over two weeks. And it had started before then," I said. She started crying again. "I think the best thing for you to do is to go to stay with your parents for a while. Since you can't tell me the truth there's no point in us talking."
"But Ryan, please," she screamed. "I'm scared. I'm just trying to keep us together. Just give me one more chance. What about Haley."
"Don't fucking mention my daughter's name you whore," I screamed at her. "I'll go pick her up as soon as I calm down. I need to get used to doing it anyway. I don't think any judge is going to give custody of a child to a mother who doesn't work, but sends her daughter to a sitter so she can fuck her boyfriend in her house. Just get out, Rhonda."
I took a couple of days off of work to try and get a handle on my new situation. For the first day, while I went through meetings with the lawyer and tried to find a good day care center, my mom watched Haley.
Rhonda called both the house phone and my cell phone at an alarming rate. I never listened to her messages or called her back. My mom begged me to talk to her for Haley's sake.
The worst moment of all was when the conference of grandparents all descended on me at once to give me their advice. I found out then that Rhonda was still up to her shit.
They were all under the impression that we'd been having money problems and we'd gotten into an argument because I'd gone out and bought an expensive and impractical new toy.
Even my own parents looked at me funny when they pulled into my driveway and saw the Mustang parked there.
"Son," said my dad. "If the two of you were already arguing about money, why would you buy that car?"
I didn't say another word. I took them all into my den, logged into my bank's online banking center and showed them how much we had in checking and savings. Then I showed them the investments in my brokerage account and Haley's college fund. I told them about my 401k plan at work as well.
"So Rhonda might not know how well you guys were doing," said her mother. "You should tell her so she'll get over the car thing and agree to come home."
"Rhonda knows that we don't have any money problems," I said.
"Then why are you two... ?" began my mother.
"You could start by asking Rhonda to tell you the truth," I said. "I'm sorry but I have to go pick up my daughter."
"That child is too young to be in day care," said Rhonda's mom. "I could watch her while you work."
"I'd take you up on your offer on a heartbeat," I said. "But Rhonda is staying with you."
Rhonda's dad was probably the one who was the quickest on the uptake. He got them to all go back home and talk to Rhonda.
At the time I thought it was a good thing. The next day when she showed up at my job, I wasn't so sure.
She looked like hell. She was also crying and screaming hysterically. Just to keep my good guy status I had to agree to sit down with her. I didn't want to do it at work so I arranged to see her afterwards.
Before I left for work that day, I got another visitor. She was a nice looking woman that I'd never seen before.
My secretary showed her into my office and she immediately launched in on me.
"Good Lord it was an accident," she said. "I don't blame you. He doesn't blame you, but he's miserable because he thinks you abandoned him."
"I'm sorry," I said. "Who are you?"
"God," she said. "Ryan, I've heard so much about you over the past couple of months that I feel like I know you already. I'm Jim's wife, Starla."
"I was really glad when the two of you became friends. Jim doesn't have very many friends," she said.
That's because no one can trust him, I thought to myself.
"So how is he doing?" I asked.
"Well they we're able to reattach his tongue. It doesn't have any sensation in it yet but they're hopeful. The thing that's worse though is that he really misses you. You guys spent so much time together, playing golf and all of that other crap. You promising to sponsor him for that lodge is going to really help him with his boss at work."
I was at a loss for words. I didn't know what to say. "Uhm, did he tell you how it happened?" I asked.
"Yes," she said. "It wasn't your fault. It was mostly his I guess. You patted him on the back for him finally beating the rest of you guys at the golf course. Of course, he was eating at the time and just bit his tongue. Anyway he really wants for you guys to get back together."
"Well, tell him I'll be home tonight by about 5:30," I said.
"That would be great," she said. "I'll take the kids to McDonalds or something and you guys can have a guy's night. But I should warn you. He really can't talk much yet. He still has to write everything he wants to say. So be patient."
As she got to the door she turned and smiled at me. "You really are as nice as he told me you were," she smiled. "I owe you one."
I couldn't believe Jim. Starla was gorgeous. And her body was incredible. If I was married to her, she'd have to beat me with a stick to get me off of her. We'd probably have at least eight kids.
I left the office at 5 o'clock as usual and stopped to pick Haley up from day care. She was, as always, glad to see her dada and made me smile just seeing her. I still needed a better solution than day care but I could only take things one step at a time.
When I pulled into the driveway, Rhonda was already there. "Ryan, God how I've missed you," she gushed. "And my baby too."
"I'm shocked," she said. "She seems to be doing fine without me." There was a tear forming in Rhonda's eyes.
"I'm shocked too," I said. "I had her DNA tested and she is my daughter." Rhonda looked hurt. She sucked in a breath to say something but I held up my hand for silence.
"Don't say anything, Rhonda," I said icily. "I needed to make sure of everything in my life. You've already betrayed me the worst way possible and lied to me to try to cover it up. Why should I believe a word out of your mouth?"
"Ryan, everyone makes mistakes," she said, beginning to cry. "I never meant to hurt you. You are the most important thing in the world to me."
"Yeah, I'm your wimpy little man," I said. "Even though I'm not ever going to be tough and I have no balls, so everyone pushes me around. That's why you had to go and find yourself a real tough guy to fuck."
"Ryan, what are you talking about honey?" she asked.
"This is going to be a real short conversation," I said, turning to go into the house.
"Ryan, please don't go," she said. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Listen..." I began. I was going to call her a name but remembered that I was holding my two year old daughter in my arms.
"I have tapes and videos of you and Jim together," I said. "I've heard the way you talked about me and belittled me." Her mouth dropped open and she got ready to cry.
I held my hand up again. "Stop the waterworks," I snapped. "If you do or say anything to upset Haley you're gone. You made your bed so now you just have to lie in it. I invited you here to..."
Before I could finish, Jim drove up. He got out of his car carrying a big note pad. When he saw Rhonda his eyes got huge. I opened the door to the house and we all went inside but no one said word.
"Why is he here?" asked Rhonda.
"There are things that we all need to talk about," I snapped.
"Well why don't you and he go first and then you and I can take our time. I'll play with Haley while the two of you talk," Rhonda said.
I put Haley in her playpen. "We'll all talk together," I said. "I don't want Haley to get used to having you around when you probably will only be seeing her every other weekend for an hour or so."
Rhonda looked like she was about to cry again, but I held up the magic hand and once again she stopped.
Meanwhile, Jim had been scribbling away on his pad. The first message he'd written begged me to drop the suit against him. He told me that he was already barely keeping his marriage together and he couldn't afford for his wife to find out what he'd done. He begged me to consider his children.