I vividly remember the day my marriage came apart. It ended up being the best day of my life! How is that possible, you say? Well, let me explain.
I met my future wife, Gail Howard, in the school library by accident. We both were looking for almost the same book, and were coming from opposite directions in the aisle. I had noticed this gorgeous blonde girl coming down the aisle, looking for a specific book by trailing her finger up and down the shelves, looking for her prize. I, in turn, was looking for Principles of Accounting II. She was looking for Accounting I.
I'm Rob Sterling, short for Robert James Sterling II. I'm 'RJ' to my family, but 'Rob' to everyone else. I'm a quarter inch shy of six foot and weigh 178 pounds, the same as I did in college. I maintain that due to running and martial arts (Aikido). I was a junior in college back then. I was going for a business management degree when I met Gail. I was trying to help my roommate with his accounting problems, and I was going to get a library textbook that I found to be a lot of help when I took Accounting II last year. The book I was looking for explained his problem much better than his textbook.
The blonde reached for her book at the same time I reached for mine, and I felt this instant shock when our hands collided, like the shock you get walking on a carpet on a cold clear morning then touch a doorknob. I could almost see the electrical spark jump between her fingers and mine. That bright blue flash was my boon and my downfall, all rolled into one, even though I didn't know it at the time.
The blonde jumped back and said, "Oh, that was different," rubbing her finger.
"Excuse me, Miss. Which book did you need, Accounting I or II?"
"The first one actually; I need a different perspective on asset depreciation and the disposition of depreciable assets than what my textbook describes. Professor Hardesty said this book would give me some different ideas."
"Yes, I know. I used it when I was taking Accounting I. I'm trying to help my roommate with his Accounting II problems. I'm Rob Sterling, by the way, and you are?"
"Oh, where are my manners. I'm Gail Howard and I'm glad I ran into you. Maybe you could help me with my problems too, if it wouldn't be too much trouble."
"I'm sure I could help you. I like to help people, especially beautiful women who shock me to my toes with just a touch."
"Oh you felt it, too? I wonder what it meant."
"Well, it could be one of two things. It could be that one or both of us had built up a static charge due to what we are wearing, the way we walked up to each other, or ... it could mean much more than that."
"In what way, Mr. Brainiac?"
"Well, it could mean that we were meant to meet, and that we are destined to be together for the rest of our lives, but that's just a guess. I don't suppose that someone as beautiful as you is still unattached, and would consider a date with a slightly older gentleman who could help a certain young lady with some homework?"
"Are you asking me out on a date, or just trying to help me with my accounting questions?"
"I leave that decision up to the very beautiful blonde who has stolen my heart with a spark of love."
"Do you have a cell phone?"
"Why, yes, I do. Do you need to borrow it?"
"I do, as a matter of fact."
I handed her my phone and she dialed a number. I then heard a faint ringing until she ended the call, punched a few other buttons, then handed it back to me.
She said, "There! Now you have my number. Call me when you want to discuss this matter further. I need to get to class. TTFN, Rob."
She turned, grabbed her book, and left me standing there. My mouth was open as I stared at her luscious ass swaying down the aisle. I noticed a funny little twitch at the end of each swing of her hips to the left.
TTFN what the hell was that? Then it dawned on me: Ta, Ta for now; kind of an English goodbye. Wow, smart and sexy. Needless to say, I was smitten, or 'gob smacked' might be a rather more apt expression. I had it bad. It was love at first touch. I can't say it was love at first sight; that would have been lust at first sight, but the spark of love bit me and speared my heart when we touched. I looked down at my cell phone and realized that I also had a class to get to.
It was a several days later when I had some free time and called the number that Gail had left on my phone. I looked all through my contacts to see what was new and I finally found a new name there; it was listed as 'Wife – 1-832-555-0686'. Wife? Now what the fuck was that all about? Then it hit me: she'd felt it, too. Not only had she felt that spark of static electricity, but she had felt the spark of love in that touch. I wasn't alone in feeling the way I did. Wow, who would have predicted that a spark of static electricity would have sparked a romance as well?
I called and she answered, "Hello?"
"It's Rob, I have some free time and thought if you are still having problems with Accounting I, I could try to help you with them."
"I am having some problems actually, but they aren't really related to accounting. If you're willing to help with those, we might get together and see if we can solve them together."
"I have a few hours of free time right now; do you want to come to my apartment or for me to come to you?"
"You have your own apartment?"
"Yes, I had a roommate for a while, but he was no longer able to pay me the rent so he went back to the dorms. If you're interested there is a bedroom available for rent."
"Ah ... I'm not in the market for one yet, but my roommate's boyfriend is. What do you charge?"
"The rent is two-fifty a month and that includes utilities, Wi-Fi, and cable. That also comes with kitchen privileges and responsibilities. I don't accept slobs or argumentative individuals."
"Are you rich or something?"
"I guess you could say 'or something'. I intern at a company during the summer and our school breaks. I'm hoping that it will turn into a permanent job when I graduate in January of next year. They like my work, and I do get paid for working for them."
"You seem to have all your shit together. I like that in a guy. Why don't you come here, and I can introduce you to Brian and Julie? Then we can talk more about my problem afterwards."
"Sounds good, what dorm are you in and what number?"
"I'm in Sterling Hall ... Hey, that wouldn't be any relation to you, would it?"
"Yup, but from the distant past side of the family; that one was named after my great-great grandmother. She left a bunch of money to the college for a girls-only dorm when she died. But I think that it kind of changed since the school had to go coed."
"No, it's still a women's only dorm, but we are a little more open about visitors. I'm on the third floor, room 312, up the stairs and to the right. See you in a few," she said, and hung up.
I rushed around making sure I was presentable, then went downstairs and jumped into my '64 VW bus. I just loved that bus; I had found it sitting in the back of a farmer's garage. It was painted psychedelic green, purple, and yellow, with peace symbols and marijuana leaf paintings all over it. It was something left over from the free love '60s. The farmer who sold it to me had bought it new in '65 when he was a part of the new hippie generation. The farm was originally a commune, but was turned into a real working farm after the '80s rolled through, crushing everyone's buzz with reality.
The first thing I did when I got it home, was to sand it down to bare metal. Then I started from scratch with gray primer. I then applied VW red to the bottom, and bright white above the chrome line. It was the nine passenger bus, and I had to get a new 2275cc engine. The other one was frozen up due to a lack of oil. That's why it was parked and so cheap: two hundred bucks and haul it off. After my dad's mechanic got through with the motor, transmission, brakes, and suspension, I took over and did all the rest of the work, even the upholstery. I bought the car when I was sixteen. I was eighteen and in my second year of college when I finally drove it,.
As far as the apartment was concerned, my mom owned the six apartment complex; but I paid rent, just like everybody else. Of course, most of the renters were students since it was so close to the university.
Anyway, I arrived at Sterling Hall and knocked on the door to 312 fifteen minutes after Gail had hung up.
The door opened as a dark-haired woman answered my knock and said, "You must be Rob, I'm Julie Haggard and that's Brian Sorrel. Gail is down the hall and should be back shortly. Gail said you had a room for rent?"
"Yeah, I had a roommate, but he lost his job and couldn't pay the rent, so he moved back into the dorms last week. It's a second bedroom of a two bedroom apartment on the second floor over on Green Avenue, just up from Fourteenth Street. It's a six apartment complex and all the utilities are included. That includes Wi-Fi and cable. There's a big refrigerator, a small chest freezer, the stove works great, and it even has a dishwasher. There is a laundry room downstairs on the first floor. It's a quarter for the washers and two dimes for the dryers. So, are you two interested?"
Julie said, "I'd like to see it first, but yeah, it sure sounds good. Brian would be the one to move in. I don't have a job like he does."
"Brian, what do you do, and what are you studying?"
"I work over at Hardee's, and I'm trying for a computer sciences degree. I may go post grad for my masters after I finish up this year. Julie still has a couple years to go. How about you, Rob?"
"I'll have my BBA in January. I intern at Hogan and Associates, over off of Frontier Street, when we get a break from school, plus I also do a full day on Wednesdays. That's how I can afford my half of the rent and why I need someone before I have to cough up the full month's rent."
"Rob, I sure would like to look at the place before I commit, but it sure sounds good. Maybe we can all ride over later and see it," said Brian.
I heard the front door open and almost got tackled. Gail is blond as I said, five-foot seven, and about one-twenty-five. A very nice package, all in all, with an ass to die for. Round, firm, and it swings like a well used gate, or depending upon her mood, it can look like two tomcats fighting in a burlap sack. Anyway, she came in, encircled me in her arms, gave me the biggest hug, and laid her head on my chest. Wow, I knew I was smitten, but her, too?
"Let's all go over to see Rob's apartment, then maybe I can start moving in," said Brian.
As we talked going downstairs, I said we could all ride with me, but Brian wanted to take his car in case he wanted to leave and get some of his stuff from the dorm. I said that was no problem and led Gail over to my bus.
"Wow, Rob, isn't that the cutest thing. Someone has an old VW bus. I always liked them. They were almost as cute as the bugs."
"Ah ... well, this one happens to be mine. It used to be a flower power bus I bought from an old hippie farmer."
Brian followed me over to the apartment complex and we went upstairs to my apartment. I showed them around. I even took them all down to the laundry room and the mailboxes in the lobby.
We were back in the living room, talking after the tour, when Brian reached into his back pocket and pulled his wallet out.
"Here's my rent for this month. You did say $250 a month due on the first, right? Well, here's $125 for the rest of this month and I'll have the full amount on the first."
"I think you'll love it here, Brian. We don't have loud parties or things like that. Most of the people renting here are students who want to learn. They're here to graduate and get a great job, not party. When you said that you might go for post grad work, I took that to mean that you were not a partier either."
"I kind of gathered that, when you said that you would graduate in January. Do you still take fifteen hours a semester?"
"No. I did that for the first two years, but now I can finish out with just twelve per. I graduated a year early from high school, with three college math classes, and a science class in Physics. I took those classes through correspondence in high school. They were accepted as valid when I started here at Texas State, so I had a leg up to begin with. I took five classes each of my first two years, plus three classes my first two summers here, so I now have 102 hours and will soon be adding another 12. I'm also getting 40 hours of credit for my summer work. That won't be added until my senior year. I should have more than enough to graduate in January of next year. I'm pretty sure my intern job at Hogan and Associates should turn into a real job then. I'll have a 'step up' again on the people graduating in May of next year. Mr. Hogan already said that they were looking forward to me graduating so that they could have me full time."
"Man, Rob, you have it all worked out. I don't suppose you know of any places I could intern towards my degree, would you?" Brian asked.
"I'm not sure, but I do know a few people. I'll ask around and see what I can find out. A lot of places don't pay interns, but almost all of them allow college credit to be applied for all your work. Let me work on it and see what I can find out. What are you making at Hardee's now?"
"I bring home about six hundred a month. I can usually work about twenty-two hours a week and it isn't too bad at seven-fifteen an hour. I just hate smelling like greasy burgers all the time."
"I'll see what I can find out, Brian. Did you want to move in today?"
"Yeah, let me go back to my dorm and see what I can pack up."
"Did you want me and my bus to come along so we can make one trip?"
"Sure, let's do that."
That's how it all started. Gail and Julie spent a lot of time at the apartment, even when Brian was working, because it was a quieter place to study. Gail and I got to make out and cuddle, of course, and we got to be really good friends and lovers. I called Gail my 'Yellow Rose of Texas' because of her blond hair in all the right places. I went to work every day, and Gail went back home to Houston to see her family, during spring break that year. She had a surprise for me when she got back. She had gotten a yellow rose tattooed just above her panty line on her left side, about three inches off center. I was stunned that she would do that. It looked beautiful and was about 2 inches long with the stem, two leaves, and a couple of thorns. The petals had a dark outline and orange tint at the edges of the petal, softening to a bright yellow in the center. It was kind of a bud just opening up. It was very beautiful and tastefully done.
Of course, I think that told me something about how she felt about me. Needless to say, I kissed her tattoo quite often as I played and made love to my 'Yellow Rose'.
Things progressed and Gail went home at summer break and I worked again. We got back together when she came back in the fall like nothing had changed. I was still using condoms, even though she said she was on the pill, but I told her that it didn't matter; my mom had been on the pill and that is how my little sister came about. My sister is five years younger than I am. Anyway, things went on and we made plans that we would be engaged and we would marry a year after Gail graduated and got a job. She wanted to push the marriage up to just after graduation, but I insisted that we needed to get established first.
"Gail, let me tell you a story. My dad married too young; he was a junior in college and got married to a girl who then cheated on him with the best man and his best friend, both before the wedding and for almost a year afterward before he found out. He was heartbroken and vowed that he would not do it again. He met my mother a year later and they were together for three years before he found her cheating on him. He found a third woman to love and she got pregnant with my sister before their marriage. But he found a good one this time. I love her like a mother and she loves me too. My real mother is a slut and I don't even know where she is anymore. The last I heard, she went to New Orleans and who knows what she is up to, now.
"So here is my stance on marriage. I marry for life. I will accept no cheating or lying from my wife. I want us to live together so that we know we are compatible in more ways than just in the bedroom, and I want us established in the workforce before we tie the knot. If this isn't acceptable, then I need to know as soon as you know. I just hope that this is something that you can live with as its non-negotiable for me. I've said my piece, so it's your turn."
"Oh, Rob, I'm so sorry about your home life. I never knew. You must have been really hurt when your biological mother turned into such a bad person. Did you know her long?"
"I never really knew her; I was barely two when she left. I did see her when I was five, but to me, Helen is my mother and always has been. I met her again when she tried to get custody of me when I was twelve. I spit in her face in the courtroom. The judge took that to mean that I was not going to like her at all. That's when I found out about all her cheating on my father. I told my father that I wanted to be in that courtroom for the whole hearing. I wanted to know just who my real mother was. Boy, did I find out, I kind of wish I had never been so stubborn and just stayed out of it. Helen had me in the back of the courtroom for the whole hearing. My father tried to be nice to my mother, but she had her lawyer get nasty, said that Helen wasn't my mother, and that she was pregnant with my sister when they married. She was trying to drag my father through all the filth that she was in, so he turned his lawyer loose on her. She had had seven different lovers when she was married to my dad and he had proof. Her lovers came to court to testify, but only two of them had to. He also gave the court pictures of her with twelve guys in a bedroom. It was a frat house gangbang. I learned a whole lot at that hearing. The gangbang was just the week before the hearing. The judge threw the case out, fined her $5,000, had her serve fifteen days in jail for wasting the court's time, and pay court costs and my dad's lawyer's fees too. So you can see why I use condoms, and why I would never allow cheating from either of us. I hope that you can live with those rules."
"Rob, I can understand everything a lot more clearly now. I am so sorry that you had to hear all that about your birth mother, especially that young."
"It's ancient history now, Gail, but I wanted to let you know up front how I feel about a few things. Now what about you? What things would you want if you were to get married?"
"I think your idea about being established is great. I think living together is a good idea too. That way if we find that we can't stand the sight of each other after being together for six months; then we can part company and nobody gets hurt really badly. I assume that when you say we live together that you mean to be exclusive, right?"
"Yes, that's what I mean. I can understand if you want to shop around first, and I can do the same. I don't want this to be one-sided for either of us. I think I know what is in my heart right now, but it could be nothing more than lust. That's for us to decide over the next few weeks."
That's how this all started. We dated exclusively for about three months and then we broke up. It was a mutual thing. I dated some other girls, graduated, and I didn't see much of Gail again until when we met up at a dance hall during her senior year. It was in Copeland, going to see Garry P. Nunn, and I saw Gail there with a guy. I stopped over to just say hi and I danced a couple of dances with her and we seemed to hit it off again. She asked me to call her later next week, and gave me her new number.
I had been working for Hogan and Associates a little over a year and it was coming up on Christmas break for her when we met up again in Copeland. I called her the next Thursday and she asked if we could talk. I said sure and we met at IHOP.
To make a long story shorter, we got back together then, and I asked her to marry me on Valentine's Day the year after she graduated. Of course, she said yes and we were married at her church in Houston in September of that same year. Her older sister and younger brother were not able to come and she was very disappointed, but with Gerry in the service and Glenda on a job in Canada, it was a little difficult for them both to get home for the wedding. I still lived in the apartment I had in school, and no longer had a roommate. I had turned the other bedroom into an office.
Marriage was great. James Robert Sterling was born a year after we wed, and Samantha Marie was born two years later. Gail had her tubes tied after Sam, and we went on with our lives. We bought a four bedroom house in the suburbs, moved in, and things went well. Gail quit full time work until Sam started school full time, devoting her time to raising our children. She had established herself in business and only worked part-time until Sam graduated high school. James was a senior, and Sam was a sophomore in college, when things turned sour for me.
We had been married over 23 years and I was a division manager for Hogan by then, and Gail was a systems analyst for Frost Electronics. I had had to travel some with my job, but it was only about four days every two months or so. She traveled some to seminars and to another Frost branch in Atlanta. We never traveled on the same dates most of the time, but we did one time, and that is what this is all about.
I had to go to Colorado Springs to see three customers and one supplier of our products. They were having a problem with delivery. Since I was the distribution manager, I needed to get this settled pronto. Come to find out, everything was related to the cargo airline that we used that had dropped the Denver to Colorado Springs daily route, and only flew down there every third day. This could mean a three day delay for all shipments. I contacted a trucking firm based out of Denver that we had used a couple of times. They could pick the parts up in Denver and have them to our customers the next day, and pick materiel up from our supplier and bring it to Denver for shipping to us. I had thought that this mess would take from Monday to Thursday, and since I flew up on Sunday, I didn't expect to be back until early Friday. Gail was gone to an IT seminar in Houston and said she would stay with family for the week.
I called my boss and told him what I had accomplished, and was done by Tuesday afternoon. He said I needed to be in Houston ASAP. Charlie Ruggles, who handled the Houston area, was waiting on his first child, and that his wife, Marge, went into labor about two hours ago. He wouldn't be able to contact Atlas Tool and Die, nor Dresser Machining and Pipe, like he was supposed to. Since I was the only other person who knew what we needed from both suppliers, I needed to go down there and get things rolling.