What Did I Do?
I never saw it coming; but then, I guess no one ever does. It comes straight out of the blue, nine times out of ten, like an unexpected lightning strike. While this strike won't really kill you, it does hurt your heart, and kills love, trust, and respect.
What am I talking about; divorce, of course. Yeah, a word that instills fear in everyone's heart. It rips the heart out your chest, and then stomps on it while it's it still beating away, desperately trying to understand why and how could this happen?
I'm Gerry Dunne; thirty-five years old and average in every way, I guess. I'm 5'11", weigh in at 195, and I'm starting to get a little 'tire' around the middle. I'm an electrical engineer by trade, and I do a little editing for some author friends on the internet. I met my lovely ... no, strike that! I met the bitch who I married in college. I was in my junior year, and I bumped into this girl running out of a classroom. It was a Monday, and I was walking fast to make my next class, when this redhead slammed into me, knocking my books, as well as hers, to the floor.
"Watch where you're going, Asshole! I'm now going to be late for my next class, because of you, you big oaf."
"Excuse me, Miss, but I was watching where I was going, and you just rushed out of that door without looking and ran into me. No problem; I'll get your books for you."
I bent down to pick our books up. I hit my head on her head as she too bent forward to pick her books up.
"God damnit, now look at what you did. You have got to be the biggest, dumbest, clumsiest idiot in this whole fucking school," she said.
She stormed off with her books, and that was it.
I was standing there scratching my head about what the heck had just happened. As I picked the rest of the books up off the floor, I found that my Calculus II book was missing, and a Principles of Marketing I book was in its place. I looked inside the book, and it had a name and phone number. I hoped that the name and number belonged to the rude girl, so that I could get my Calc book back. I had put my name in it, but that was all.
I went on to my drafting class and thought nothing more about it. I would contact this redheaded hellion after classes today. I'd at least try to see if the name written in the book was really the person who ran into me earlier. I had two more classes after my drafting class; and, of course, Calculus was one of them.
Upon entering Professor Hardesty's classroom, I asked him if he had an extra textbook that I could use since mine was accidently taken by another student. I explained about our little run in to him. He handed me a book from his bookcase and asked that it be returned to him after class. I thanked him and sat down ready for class. I returned Dr. Hardesty's book after class, and left for the student union. Once there, I used the pay phone and called the number listed in the book.
"Hello, you have reached Gail and Colleen; we're not available right now, but if you leave a name and phone number, we'll get back to you as soon as we can. Please wait for the beep ... beep."
"Hi, I'm Gerry Dunne, and I hope that one of you has my Calculus II book. I have a Principles of Marketing I book that belongs to Colleen O'Brian. You can reach me at the following number after six this evening; thank you," I said, and gave my dorm's phone number.
I did my duty and could wait a bit, since I didn't have Calc again until Wednesday. I did have some homework, but I could use my roommate's book to get it done. Thank goodness that we were both engineering students. I left the student union, drove my truck to the dorm, and headed up to study for tomorrow's classes.
There was a knock on my door shortly after six. Gary Noonan said that I had a phone call in the hall.
"Gerry, I hope that you can understand the bitch on the phone. She started cussing me out until I said I wasn't you. Man, what's gotten into her?"
"I have no idea, Gary, but she is a redheaded Irish woman by the name of Colleen O'Brian. I guess the redheaded temper comes with the name and the hair."
"You might want to hold the phone away from your ear, because she sure cleaned the wax out of mine tonight."
"Thanks, Gary. I'm forewarned."
Picking up the receiver, I said, "This is Gerry, you must be Colleen."
Gary was right, what I got was uncontrolled screaming.
"How dare you take my book? I needed it for that next class and I had to wait until now to call you to get my book back. Where are you so that you can bring me my book?"
"Excuse me, Miss O'Brian, but you also have a book of mine that I would like returned. I can meet you either in the library, or the student union, in a half an hour, so that we can exchange books, if that's convenient. Please let me know if you have another place in mind."
"Get your dumb stupid ass over to the library in fifteen minutes or I'll have your ass handed to you on a platter. Now get going, you fucking asshole!"
She hung up. Wow, what a temper. I did kind of notice that she was about 5' 4", at about 125 pounds, and had fiery red hair. I see that her temper is just as fiery as her hair ... and what a mouth on her!
"That is one bitch that I will have to stay away from ... far away," I said.
I now see why. She didn't change; she just mellowed a bit, aged until the current time, and has now exploded into a maelstrom of hate and destruction. More on that later.
I went back to my room, grabbed her book, and hotfooted it over to the library. Thank goodness that my dorm was only three buildings away from the library. I checked inside and she wasn't there yet, so I waited outside. I was there about fifteen minutes, and no fireball had showed up yet, so I went inside again, looked around the checkout desk, and didn't see Colleen. I asked the librarian if she had seen a short redheaded ball of fire, and she said no. So I went outside again to see if she was out there. Long story short, I waited almost an hour before I saw her headed my way. I could almost see the heat waves coming off of her as she headed up the steps to where I was seated on the wall by the entrance.
"Well, it's about goddamned time you got here, Colleen. I've been waiting for over an hour for your scrawny ass to show up. Here's your book; now where the hell is mine?" I asked, trying to defuse the fire I saw in her eyes.
"You're wrong on both counts, Asshole. I'm not Colleen; I'm Gail Sanders, and I saw you walk into the library not five minutes ago."
"Yeah, I walked into the library five minutes ago, looking to see if you came in a different door. I got here at 6:22, and I've been either sitting out here, or going inside to look for your sorry ass, ever since then." I looked at my watch and said, "It is now 7:36, and you told me to be here fifteen minutes after you called me. I left my dorm at 6:11, and I was here within that fifteen minutes, but you weren't. So where is my Calculus book, Bitch?"
I would never have expected the response I got from my tirade.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Dunne, here's your book, and may I please have my roommate's book? I'm very sorry about my earlier outburst. I had grabbed Colleen's book by mistake today. Please accept my apology for the way in which I've treated you. I assumed that you were some asshole who bumped into me to take advantage of me. I never expected someone like you. You were so sweet over the phone, and then I'm so late coming here. I was shocked by your attitude and by what you said; but I guess that you had every right to cuss at me, like I did to you, both when we first met and over the phone. That's not the real me; it is kind of a defensive mechanism that I use when I am embarrassed or upset. Please forgive me."
"Of course, Miss Sanders. Shall we try this again? Hello, I'm Gerry Dunne, and I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Sanders. Would you care to go over to the student union and have coffee or a Coke? My treat."
"Why, thank you, Mr. Dunne, I think I'd like that very much."
That is how it all started. We had a Coke. Well, I had a Pepsi and she had a Dr. Pepper, but all sodas are Cokes down here in the south. It's not uncommon to hear, 'What kind of Coke did you want? We have all kinds.' We got to talking, and then we noticed the time. It was midnight and we both had early classes in the morning.
I called Gail on Wednesday to see if I could take her out to dinner and a movie on Saturday. She accepted, and I had asked for her hand in marriage by January of my senior year. We visited both her parents and mine during spring break of that year, and I formally asked her father for her hand. We stayed engaged until she graduated a year later. I graduated a year ahead of Gail, and got a great job at a major electronics firm in Austin. Gail was able to find a job at Geiger Manufacturing, and we got married a year after Gail graduated.
Things went fairly smooth for the next five years. We had a few hiccups, and a couple of arguments where Gail became a super-bitch, just as when we first met; but things went well, overall. I asked about children about a year after we were married, and Gail asked to wait another year so she could get established.
Jeremy came along the next year, and Bethany came into our lives a year later. Gail called a halt to the baby factory. We didn't want to mess with pills, patches, diaphragms, foam, or condoms, so I got snipped. I was all for it. It could be reversed, and was fairly painless compared to having a baby. When Bethany and Gail were still in the hospital; I went to my doctor, and got clipped. I should be ready to continue our sex life by the time the doctor cleared Gail to resume bedroom activities. We continued to have a very active sex life, three to four times a week, and that was fine by me.
Anyway, fast forward ten years. Beth is in fifth grade, Jeremy is in sixth, and things were looking up. Gail was due for a promotion to Marketing Manager, and I had been made Manager of Engineering Services.
Gail did travel some with her job, but it was only three to four days every other month. This was something that we could handle, so it wasn't a problem. I did travel some with my job, but it was mainly to seminars on new equipment. Those usually lasted a week and I wouldn't have to go again for maybe six months to a year.
I had just been assigned to head up a new project. I was working a little overtime, but there was no boost in pay since I was now salaried. I just worked longer hours during some weeks. Instead of the normal forty hours, I was putting in about seven to ten extra hours each week, and I tried to schedule them for maybe an hour or so each day, or on Saturdays. I was only working overtime maybe once every other week.
Our sex life had taken a tumble, but we were still getting it on one or two nights a week, after the kids went to bed. Our house had the master suite on one side, and the other two bedrooms and a small den on the other side, with the living and dining rooms in the middle. The den was actually a third bedroom, but we made it into a den after the kids got older. It was originally their playroom.
I had taken up doing some very amateur writing for the internet and did a little editing for some of my favorite authors, but that wasn't much more than maybe one or two hours a night. That usually happened after Gail had gone to bed at ten. I could have done it earlier, while Gail was sitting in her chair reading and/or watching TV after supper.
I had recently noticed that Gail having trouble with mood swings and thought that she was sick, or maybe taking up her old ways of being a super bitch when things didn't go her way. It wasn't too often, so I forgot about it until I noticed Gail squinting last week, and asked her if she needed new reading glasses. The bitch came out to play for a few minutes then went back into hiding. This was kind of new, and I asked her if she needed a full physical since it has been a few years since her last one. She said that she would make an appointment and I dropped the matter.
Tonight was a Tuesday and my turn to fix supper, so I didn't work overtime. I had put a roast in the crock pot before I left this morning. I added the potatoes, carrots, peas, celery, and baby onions as soon as I got home.
Gail came in about an hour after I got home, and said, "Boy, something smells good tonight."
I replied, "Yes, Honey. I have a roast in the crock pot, and it should be done once you change and relax a little. Do you want some wine with supper?"
"Oh, that sounds lovely, Gerry. I'd love some. I'm going to take a shower and I'll be right out."
I had already fed the kids, and they were in their rooms doing homework. The kids always stopped at my parents' house after school, as it was just a five minute walk from the school grounds. My folks lived about two miles away from us, in the subdivision just before ours, so whoever got off work first would pick the kids up and bring them home.
I had finished my new project a week ahead of schedule, and I was planning to do something for Gail, since I had put in quite a bit of overtime on this project. I was going to surprise her tonight by asking her if she would like to spend a long weekend at a bed and breakfast, out in the hill country of Fredericksburg, in the next couple of weeks or so. I hadn't made the reservations yet, because I wanted to make sure that she could go. My director had already said I could have some time off, plus I would be getting a big bonus for getting the project done ahead of schedule.
I got a bottle of red out of the pantry, opened it to breathe, and went about getting things ready for our meal. I heard the shower running, and thought it a little strange that Gail took a shower right after getting home. It had been a hot day, so maybe she had been out and about before coming home. I didn't think anything more of it as I puttered around the kitchen, getting everything ready and laid out on the table.
I had picked up some flowers ... from the kid selling them at the front of our subdivision ... on the way home. I had them on the table in a nice vase. I set our plates next to each other, then dished up the roast's veggies when I heard the shower shut off. I cut the roast and was dishing everything up when Gail came out of the bedroom in her mid-length robe. Her hair was still damp, but she looked like an angel to me.
I held her chair for her, poured her wine, then bent down and kissed her neck. I whispered that I loved her and I had a surprise for her after our meal.
"I have kind of a surprise for you afterwards, too."
We had some small talk as I dished up her plate and we ate our meal. The kids came out after their homework, before they started playing with their games. I had explained that we needed some adult time together. I think they understood. Even at ten and eleven, they knew that we didn't have a lot of alone time with all the overtime I had worked, Gail's traveling, and her working some overtime too.
I did tell her during supper that my overtime would be gone for a while since we had completed my project early. She said that was nice, and I somehow knew that things weren't alright. I had a feeling of impending doom and wondered if she had to take a long trip.
I cleared the dishes away and sat back down next to my wife.
She poured us each a full glass of wine and said, "We need to talk, Gerry."
"Oh, God, what happened?"
"Gerry, I'm not sure how to say this, but I want a divorce, and I'm taking the children with me."
I stared into those emerald green eyes and saw the fire. I hadn't seen that look for probably five or six years. I knew right then that I was in for a very bad time.
After my initial shock, I asked, "Why? What did I do to deserve this sneak attack from you? I thought we had a great marriage! I'm home every night except when I am in training at some seminar, I make love to you every chance I get, usually two to three times a week, and I give you everything you want. That new car you drive, this house ... God, Gail, what did I do wrong?"
"Gerry, it's not any one thing, it's kind of an accumulation of things. You go into that damn den on that computer and look at porn all night. You never have time for me at night. You don't touch me like you used to, you don't hold me, and you never want to go out and party like we used to. It's all that and more."
"How can you say those things, I sit right there in my chair and watch the crap you have on TV while you sit there with your nose in a book, then you have the gall to say I never pay any attention to you. Nine times out of ten, I only get on my computer after you go to bed, except when I need to do something for work and I usually do that later after you go to bed, as well. I never made you wait for loving in the bedroom. You would either say something, or I would initiate it, and we went to bed after making sure the kids were asleep. How can you say I don't appreciate you or don't pay attention to you? I just don't understand. It was only two weeks ago when we went out dancing at the Tip Top Club, so how can you say those things about me?"
Just about then, the redheaded bitch came out to play and things got very heated, very quickly. Then as she was screaming her head off at me, I looked and there stood Jeremy and Bethany, in the hallway to their rooms. Jeremy was tightly holding his sister to his body, and they were both shaking with eyes open as wide as garage doors.
I grabbed Gail by the shoulders and tried to turn her around, but she slapped my face and turned to go into our bedroom when she saw the two huddled children on the floor of the hallway.
"See what you've done now, you asshole. Get out of my house! Leave! Now!"
I couldn't believe what had just happened. I turned toward the kitchen, grabbed my truck keys, and walked towards the door to the garage. I left after taking a quick look back at my children. I got maybe a block from the house, when I pulled over, and imploded. I was shaking so hard that I couldn't drive. I sat there, weeping. My whole life had just ended. My wife wanted a divorce, she wanted to take my children away from me, and she kicked me out of my own house. I started to call my dad, and I got my phone out of my shirt pocket, but my clumsy hands were shaking so hard that I couldn't hold it, and it clattered to the floor. I sat there, slumped over the steering wheel, while my life blood drained out of me with every sob, every sniff, and every beat of my heart telling me that my life was going down the drain.
I have no idea how long I sat there, with the truck running, and me slumped over the wheel. I heard a tapping noise from very far away, I kept trying to push the noise further away, but it got louder and louder. Then words started to come to me. "Hey you, open the door" or "Roll the window down, Mister," just words that had no meaning. Nothing had meaning anymore; my life was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. I might as well just die right here.
There suddenly was a crash of breaking glass. I looked up and saw nothing different; but wait, there were some blue and red flashes on the trees and fences around me. Then a hand grabbed me and shook me. I looked to my right, and I saw an arm reaching through my shattered passenger window. The arm was covered in dark cloth and had some kind of fabric banner or badge on the upper sleeve. The door on my side then opened, and I looked that way. All I could see was a bright light shining in my eyes. I thought it was the light at the end of a long tunnel at first, or maybe the infamous light that people at death's door say they see. That is when everything went black ... then ... nothing.