Hi Folks, thanks to the great Mikothebaby for her editing wizardry. Thanks also to every who commented last week. I have to warn those of you who like the traditional LW storylines. This will be the last of those for a few weeks. Summer is here and the next three or four stories are going to be kind of wild. SS06
I've spent most of the night tossing and turning but found sleep elusive. The breeze that comes into the open window carries the scent of the lake outside with it. I smell the freshness of the plants and the murky smell of the lake water with its slight touch of fishiness. I breathe deeply as I sit up in bed. Just as my head begins to clear in the pre-dawn darkness of early fall, the phone rings.
I love my iPhone. It's a miracle of techno-wizardry that allows me to access and do things that only ten years ago would have been unheard of. But in this instance, the jarring ring tone that was meant to be heard over the machines in the manufacturing plant I run, coupled with the vibration setting that lets me know I have a call even when I can't hear it, are unsettling.
I press a button that appears only on the screen and the call is connected. The warbling, sobbing voice, a caricature of its normal, rich resonance, strangely doesn't invoke the feelings it usually does but I recognize it instantly.
"Mark, are you there? I don't actually know where you are. But can you come home, so we can talk? Mark, I can't live without you. I want us back where we were. I love you. I always have, I guess it just didn't seem clear until you left and took up with that awful little bitch. I've ended things with Todd. Actually, you ended things with him for me. But I called him. I told him it was over and I never want to see him again. I told him goodbye and I meant that it was permanent." She said all of that in what seemed like one breath. Then she hesitated, waiting for my response. After what seemed like forever, she began talking again
"Mark, God damn it, I won't let you throw away twenty five years together over nothing. I'm serious. I told him goodbye and I meant it." She was more emphatic this time. Her voice carried desperation and just a hint of mania with it.
I finally answered her. The ice in my voice chilled and surprised even me. "You should call him back," I said, icily. "It's too late to say goodbye."
I heard a bunch of sobs and the phone dropped. I was just about to hang it up when I heard her scrambling to pick it back up. She started talking again. This time there was even more desperation in her voice. It sounded as if the phone was taken away from her and I a calmer person speaking.
"Great job, Dad," she said. "You don't know what she's been through lately. She's lost a lot of weight. She has bags under her eyes. She had to be hospitalized for a while, again. Don't you have any kind of feelings? I don't think he's all there mentally anymore. I know this isn't your fault. You gave her a chance, but you have to do something to make this easier on her."
The woman now reading me the riot act over the phone at this ungodly hour of the morning was my daughter. I felt sorry for her being caught in the middle, especially since shed been part of the reason this whole thing had started. But she'd been smarter than her mother and had learned her lesson quickly. As her mother grabbed the phone back and started ranting again about being forgiven I thought about how this had all started.
Just a few weeks ago, I'd thought that I was one of the most blessed people on earth. Not in a religious sense, since I've never been very religious. But I thought that I had everything a man could really ever need. No, I wasn't, and I'm not Bill Gates, but I'm the best Mark Brown that I can ever be.
I run a family owned manufacturing business that my dad started over fifty years ago. Business is and was good enough that I have a more than comfortable living. I've always drawn just enough money to pay my bills and have chosen over the years to re-invest the rest back into the business. I'll take a lump sum payment when I choose to retire whenever that is. It was actually my dad who started that practice. It was a great move because with the business actually owned by the family, not by himself personally, and with him not drawing a specified salary, he was able to give his second wife next to nothing when they divorced.
I actually never thought about it that way. My father was kind of a womanizer even late in his life. I've always been a family man. My wife and daughter are, or were the things I loved most and was the proudest of. Now I guess it's kind of different.
What I had to flaunt has come back to haunt, like a restless wind. And the best of times that were left behind, they come blowing in. All of the good times I had with Lori and Katey keep running through my mind while I examine each memory like an object. I turn them over, looking for lies in crevices and cracks as if I hadn't really lived through them myself.
And my daughter ... She was the one who'd actually brought me into the light that destroyed our family, so her wanting to fix things didn't come from any sense of love or family.
I remember how this all started ... it was a Friday night. I'd been cutting the grass in our back yard. Normally I did it on Saturday, but the following day I was going to do a car show. Besides my wife and daughter, the thing I loved most was my 2009 Mustang GT. I'd just gotten done washing and waxing the car and had pulled it into the garage to avoid grass and dust hitting it.
Katey, my twenty four year old daughter, had pulled into our driveway and after giving me a cursory hug, had gone into the house in search of her mother. A short time later, they came out of the kitchen and sat down on our deck, animatedly talking about whatever problem Katey had run into now.
Katey had been married for the past couple of years to the nicest guy I could imagine. Eric was everything I wanted in a son in law. He clearly loved Katey but he was a good guy in other ways too. He'd worked his own way through college. He'd gotten his degree and then settled down with Katey to build a life. He wasn't a drinker or a party boy and he shared the work around the house with her. They had a few of the money issues that most young couples had, but nothing insurmountable.
I watched Lori, my wife and Katey talking out of the corner of my eye as I rode my mower around the big yard. I knew that at this stage of the game, I wasn't necessary. Usually, Katey would come over and tell Lori what she thought she needed and get her mom on her side and then together they'd hit me up for the money to buy whatever it was that Katey had to have that was outside of her budget.
I knew that in the end, I'd probably give it to her. I'd never been able to say no to either one of my girls. But they always needed to have that united front.
I started to feel strange though because this conversation didn't seem to fit the normal pattern. As I drove the mower closer to them, they seemed to be so caught up in whatever they were talking about that they forgot about me. As I got even closer to them, the sound of their voices was so loud that I heard it and my world changed.
"Kathryn, how could you be that God damned stupid?" shrieked Lori. I knew that Katey was in trouble then. Her mother only called her Kathryn when she'd done something really bad.
"Jeezus, Mom, it just happened," whined Katey. "It's not the end of the world. There really wasn't much difference physically but there was just something more exciting about it. It's not like I'm even thinking about leaving Eric, but he can be so boring sometimes."
"He's your husband, Kathryn. You have to think about that. The man loves you. He'd do anything for you. If things are boring between the two of you, it's up to you to say something about it and make them more exciting. I can't believe any daughter of mine could be so stupid," said Lori.
Oh shit, I thought. There's trouble in paradise already. They've only been married for two years.
"Mom, it's not a big deal, I just wanted to do it once more. Just so I could be sure ... you know," said Katey. I turned off the mower then because I had the feeling that my little girl had done something that she should have her ass whipped for.
As the sound of the mower died out, both angry women looked at me. "Mark, try to talk some sense into your stupid daughter," hissed Lori. "She went to a party last night while Eric was working late. She got drunk and apparently slept with some guy she met there."
"Shit Mom, tell everyone why don't you," screamed my daughter. "You and Dad are still together..." she said and suddenly I felt as if I'd been kicked in the stomach. My wife's mouth dropped open as she saw my reaction.
"And honestly," continued Katey. "It was just once and I was drunk. I just wanted to try it one more time when I wasn't drunk. It's not like I'm trying to have a long time affair like yours was. And anyway, Daddy forgave you about yours so Eric would probably forgive me too, if he found out. Who knows, this might put some spice back in things." Katey suddenly looked up at her mother who'd turned as white as a sheet.
"Mom, are you okay?" she asked stupidly. "You look like you're having a heart attack or a stroke or something."
She turned to look at me and saw the pain and the anger in my eyes. Lori suddenly stepped towards me and I backed away.
"Mark..." she began. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry..."
"Just shut the fuck up and stay away from me, Lori," I said.
.... There is more of this story ...