If you're looking for a feel-good, happily-ever-after story, this isn't it. If you're looking for something with emotional impact, please read on...
The old man woke slowly, wondering whether he really wanted to bother. His ears were assaulted with the sound of rain falling outside his window, its harsh insistent pounding implying the beginning of another miserable day. He was aware that the heat had diminished in his tiny basement apartment suite to a point that was somewhat less than comfortable. The warmth of his bed felt good on his tired frame, and he was in no hurry to leave it for the chill that awaited him, should he decide to get up. He'd lived here for more decades than he cared to admit. At seventy years old almost, he was tired, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually, as well.
Roger Stone had lived an interesting life, or so he had been told. Like every life, his had been a patchwork-like conglomeration of high points and low ones. At one time, the high points had dominated his memories, but as the years had passed, there were fewer and fewer of those events. Now, it was a struggle just to remember what had happened yesterday, and many mornings, he had trouble discerning where one day ended and the next one began. Lying in the warmth of his bed, he was visited by some of the memories of his life.
Roger had been married, once. The relationship had started out like a fairy tale, with all the warmth, love, and intimacy that his dreams had been made from. They were young, in love, and had their whole lives ahead of them. He had his ambitions that he thought they'd pursue together, building a life one success on another. He'd started a small business, in hopes of working his way towards an acceptable level of financial independence. That would allow him to give his new wife the kind of life he believed she deserved, and one that he'd dreamed of through most of his youth. Most days were spent building that dream, followed by evenings of passionate lovemaking with his new bride.
But she had her own ideas and agenda. For her, marriage was all about having babies that would grow up to be her support in her old age. She truly believed that this was her destiny, and that Roger was merely a means to that end. Within the first year of their married life, she was pregnant, and their intimacy diminished, much to his chagrin, becoming something that only occurred whenever she wanted it, which wasn't more than once or twice a month. Roger found himself becoming more involved in his first-born son's growth and development than in the role of a husband. Once the baby celebrated his second birthday, it wasn't uncommon for him to spend his day looking after the needs of a toddler, and his nights working to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. His wife had taken to pursuing her own interests outside the home. With the feelings of a sense of duty, Roger would do whatever was needed to make her little world comfortable for her, even at the expense of his own personal dreams and aspirations.
It was in the third year of their marriage that he found out his wife had cheated on him. She had confessed, her attitude one of disinterest for the effects of her transgressions, rather than remorse or a plea for forgiveness. It had seemed almost surreal to Roger that such a thing could happen. But he had forgiven her, and took her back. Years later, he would wonder why he'd bothered. At the time, though, it seemed like the right thing to do.
To compensate for her claim that it was loneliness that had driven her to seek sexual adventure outside the marriage, Roger began to spend more time at home, both looking after his son, and making himself available to relieve his wife's sexual needs and desires. Many nights, she'd stimulate him until his body was sufficiently aroused for her purposes, then avail herself of his cock until she had an acceptable orgasm. Once she'd cum, though, she was finished. If he climaxed, that became a bonus for him, but most nights, she wouldn't give a damn if he did or not. As a result, he'd leave their bed after she was finished with him, and go to another room to relieve his sexual tensions. It became part of a regular routine, and his interest in sex slowly deteriorated to simply satisfying the animal-like demands of his body.
The next few years found Roger spending more and more time with his son, or by himself. He'd lost interest in his business, and as a result, it failed. In his mind, that failure was just another notch in the tally. First his marriage, then his business, then ... probably his whole life. When his wife informed him that she was pregnant again, he questioned whether or not he was the actual father. The probabilities were about fifty-fifty, and he accepted that he'd raise this next child, too.
Over the next four years there were two more children added to the brood. He knew he was the father of the third child, his second daughter, and both her and her older sister became the lights of his life. There was still a strong bond between him and his son, giving him some hope that maybe he was the only family failure. He was also very aware that it was impossible that he was the father of the fourth, another son. The resentments began to grow right from the day the child was born, and Roger refused to acknowledge that his wife's additional burden on his strained resources was connected to the child's legitimate birthright. Over the ensuing years, neither father nor son would have much to do with each other, and the boy grew up wild and undisciplined. Roger found himself admitting that he really didn't give a damn, quite content to let the last offspring struggle alone.
That last child wasn't even a year old when Roger had come back to the house one morning after his twelve-hour shift to find it empty and gutted of everything except his remaining wardrobe. No occupants, no furniture, nothing. Not even a note of explanation. The only indications that the building had ever been lived in were the marks on the wall where pictures had once hung, and the various signs of damage that constituted daily wear and tear. With a final realization of his defeat and failure, he carefully packed the remaining items left to him, gave the walls and floors a haphazard washing, then loaded his meagre possessions into his car. Taking a last look around, Roger locked the doors, then slipped the key through the mail slot, signifying the closing of a chapter in his life.
For the next ten months, Roger lived out of his car. His wife had cleaned out their bank account, leaving him with no financial resources to start all over again. At the ripe old age of thirty-eight, he had absolutely nothing except the clothes on his back. He tried to conduct himself as though nothing were wrong, even convincing himself that the departure of his wife was a blessing. But he did miss his oldest son and both daughters. Especially the girls, and he cried himself to sleep every night. By the end of twelfth month, his performance at work had suffered sufficiently that he was terminated. The only saving grace was that he'd accumulated just enough money to survive for another few months, and maybe a little longer, if he was careful. After that, he didn't know, and really didn't care. Death by starvation wasn't an appealing end to his existence, but living with the memories of his failures revolted him even more.
Some hidden spark inside Roger induced him to at least attempt to survive. He found himself a job that kept him away from the memories, and provided him with just enough to feed himself and keep him warm during the cold winter months. Again, his life became a blur of disconnected events, one day seeming very much like the previous. The days of the week no longer mattered. Every one was the same, and he poured his energies into his job, working until he was exhausted, then sleeping only long enough to regain sufficient strength to initiate another round. The appeal of food had completely disappeared from his survival drives. He ate irregularly, often not eating for several days at a time. Within six months, he'd lost over thirty-five pounds, and a good percentage of his muscle tone and body mass. At five-foot six, his ideal weight had been calculated at one hundred and sixty pounds. At one hundred and twenty-five, his body ran out of stored reserves to maintain his health. Plagued by illness after illness, he retreated from the world into a small basement apartment, convinced that this hovel would be his final resting place. His only regret was that someone else would have to clean up after him. But he'd be dead, so it really wouldn't matter.
Somewhere in the time of living in his new residence, a public health official had come to check on him. They'd pounded on his door, yelling his name and demanding he open it. He'd tried to ignore them in the hopes they'd go away and leave him to die in peace and quiet, but they'd broken the door down anyway. Despite his loud protests, he'd been removed from his bed and taken to some antiseptic facility, supposedly for his own good. He'd blacked out long before the gurney had been wheeled out the doorway, only to wake in an unfamiliar room painted a cold colour of light green, attached to various machines and monitors, tubes running from intravenous bags to somewhere on his body. They sedated him through one of those liquid solutions coursing through his system, for he fell back into a dreamless sleep almost immediately.
.... There is more of this story ...