Ingrams & Assoc #3: American Life
Copyright© 2015 by Jezzaz
Action/Adventure Sex Story: Chapter 3 - April's life is saved by a mysterious hero, who loses his own life in the process. April tracks down the people in his life, determined to help them.
Tara showed up today. I haven't set eyes on her in almost seven years. Not since the divorce hearing. She said she was there to apologize. I laughed and not in a nice way. She stood there in her thousand-dollar shoes, fresh from getting out of her hundred-thousand-dollar Mercedes. She did look good, I have to say.
The years have been kinder to her than to me, but then she always did have the genes for it. I guess her decision was the right one for her. She's on the board of Mecano's now. She's done well for herself, so I guess dumping me for Peter Assfuck was the right move. It's certainly paid off for her, divorcing me and marrying the VP of sales. A fast track from running that small design room where she started, for sure.
She told me that her husband, that Peter Assfuck, had just done to her what she did to me – lined up a new replacement with prospects, younger and hotter than her, and he'd just gone for it and left her. He'd cleaned her out her financially and she said she now understood what she'd done to me. How I'd felt. How sorry she was. How she'd taken the love I'd given her for granted as her due, and that she just assumed she'd get it from anyone she chose to let. How she knew I'd never leave her or cheat on her, and how she knows now what a stupid choice she made. She knows it's too late now, but she has that need to make restitution. There must be something she can do. Can we at least be friends?
I'll give her the fact that she did look contrite, but honestly, I'm so fucking trodden on now, it's too little too late.
I just looked at her. Eventually she ran down. I tried to explain that it's nice for her that she now realizes, but it's all too fucking late for me. I've been through that particular path twice now and I've no desire to retread it again because she's come to this epiphany. I don't think she knew that Penny had left me, or the circumstances, but I've no doubt she'll find out all about it now she has a clue.
I tried to explain that it doesn't make my life one iota any better that she has a better understanding of how I felt when she left. No, she didn't leave. She shat all over me from a great height. Manny's favorite phrase. She fucked that guy for months before leaving me, 'testing him out' as she said at the time. 'Needed to be sure he could satisfy her sexually as well as professionally.'
What a bitch.
Yeah, still no real forgiveness here.
But then I look at my life since it all went down and I am forced to admit it's not been great. I didn't go out and write the great American novel, nor did I write great songs or become a powerhouse in business. I guess I'm either not creative enough or just too beaten from all the shit that's come my way. I think I have at least the right to claim that. I just tried to stay afloat and not lose it totally.
Anyway, I tried to point this out to her and she just looked at me and said, 'What can I do to make this up?' I told her, 'Not a damn thing.' And pointedly asked her to leave.
She did at least do that. And this time it didn't cost me anything, except for my dignity after crying for the next hour. I thought I was over this. Obviously not.
Thank god for Jim Beam.
Tara Western sat in the chair in the conference room, stunned. What she had just heard had knocked the wind out her. It had been such a good day so far. A good week in fact. A tip she'd gotten from a friend in Silicon Valley about a small internet startup had gone through and become gold. Two years ago, she'd invested a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, gotten some investors stock and last week, the company had sold to Twitter for almost fifty six million dollars. Her hundred and fifty thousand dollars investment was returned almost thirty-fold, making her an even richer woman than she'd been.
She'd also discovered that the slutty bitch that Peter, her ex-husband, had left her for, had just suffered a miscarriage. Tara was real enough to understand that her smile when she heard that news was awful, but also a realist enough about herself to know that that was who she was. She'd never regretted anything she'd done in her life, with the exception of one thing, and she wasn't about to start feeling bad because she was happy that the bitch who'd marched into her marriage and taken the man she'd chosen had something bad happen to her. Fuck that. Life was too short.
When the call had come through from the front desk that an investigator was waiting to see her, she was overjoyed. Finally, someone from Pearsons Investigations had some news! She was annoyed they hadn't called first – she'd be taking that up with them later – but just glad that perhaps they'd found Joe.
She had swept into the conference room, where they'd put the investigator, and found a lithe young woman, with bound blond hair, and who was just taking a writing pad out of her bag, her iPhone already on the table in front of her. Tara thought you could tell a lot about a person by how they laid things out on an empty table. She thought that this investigator was obviously methodical, everything was squared away and even her bag vanished under the table when she was done, instead of on it, looking untidy.
The woman smiled at Tara and stood up and offered her hand. "Hi, I'm April Carlisle. I was hoping..."
Ruthlessly, Tara interrupted. She'd been waiting for this news for months, and she didn't want to beat around the bush.
"Did you find him? Tell me you found Joe. I've been paying you clowns for months now, and no one has gotten a sniff of him. All I need to know is where he is. So, I ask again, have you found him? That's all I want to know. If not, what the hell are you doing here?"
April closed her mouth, then said, "Just to confirm Mrs. Western, we are talking about Joe Sullivan, yes?"
Tara's eyes narrowed. "Yes, of course we ... wait a minute. You aren't with Pearsons, are you?" she said. She stood up, leaning over the table, hands as knuckles pressing onto the lacquered wood.
"Um, no, not as such."
"What are you hear for?"
"Well, I am an investigator. I'm tracing Joe Sullivan, which is why I am here."
"What for?" replied Tara, suspiciously.
"I ... I have some bad news Mrs. Western. If you were looking for Joe Sullivan, you can stop now. I'm sorry to inform you that Joe has passed away."
There was a stunned silence and Tara dropped back into her chair.
"He's ... what? He's dead? He can't be dead. I haven't..." she mumbled.
April kept her silence. Better to wait until Tara asked more pointed questions. There was a minute or so of Tara staring off into the distance and mumbling words to herself. While she did so, April watched her.
She was a handsome woman – not yet past her prime, although definitely in the sunset years of it. She had the indefinable something of an older woman who takes care of herself, is extremely presentable, looks great but still has lines and some grey streaks in her hair. Yet she had something that made you ignore that, and only see the cheekbones and the eyes and the full mouth, rather than the laugh lines and the grey hairs.
Eventually Tara came back from her thoughts and looked at April.
"Who are you again?"
"I'm April Carlisle. I represent..."
She was interrupted again, thankfully, before she lied some more.
"How do you know he's gone? What's your source?"
"He died three nights ago, here in town. He was murdered, protecting a woman from a mugging."
"Oh Joe..." said Tara, her eyes tearing up and her face lowering from the direct gaze to April. "I never got to say sorry. I'm so sorry. So sorry."
"I'm sorry for your loss, Mrs. Western. My understanding was that your marriage to Joe ended quite a few years ago?"
"Yes," said Tara, snuffling. She looked around for a tissue and April handed her one, having secreted a pack on the table. "Thank you. Yes, it did. It ... didn't end well. I behaved ... badly. I hurt him. I thought I was doing the right thing but I understand the hurt now. I was completely blind to what I did and he ... he just accepted it. Well, as much as he had to. He just went on without me and I went on without him. I had my eyes firmly on the horizon, and Joe, well, Joe was more of a day to day person. He lived in the moment and I was ... well, I am someone who is all about planning."
Again, April was silent.
"I was so young. So sure. So full of the need to break that glass ceiling. I knew how to do it. So I did. Joe and I used to talk about the people around us, about the future, about our plans. I just didn't realize that for Joe, it was just ... an exercise in What If. For me, it was concrete. This was where I was going. I thought he understood. We were both along for the ride. At some point it became necessary that one of us get off because it could only hold two and I needed someone else along. I had thought he always understood it.
"I didn't realize till much later that it was just what I was telling myself so I could feel ok about what I did. I honestly believed at the time. That Joe and I needed to end so I could keep ascending – that's what we'd agreed on when we were talking about the future. I just wasn't listening. Not to Joe, anyway."
There was more silence. April got up and walked over to the water jug, on a side table of the conference room. She poured two glasses, walked over to Tara, who was running her hands through her hair in distress, and gave her one. Then she returned to her seat, all without saying anything.
Tara took a sip of water and continued to unburden herself, the woman speaking now not at all the same one who had entered the room.
"I just ... I don't even know what I thought. I thought it was the right thing to do. Joe wasn't going anywhere. I loved him, but that wasn't enough. I thought he needed to love me and allow me to do what I needed to do and I knew he wasn't going to do that. No real man would. So, in my own logic, I had to go. I had to go do what I needed to. I didn't know if Joe would understand or not – he didn't – but that's what I needed to do. It was a business decision. And I was right. I got what I wanted. I got the husband, the money, the title, the job I wanted. And do you know what else I got? Do you, Miss Carlisle?"
April took a sip of water herself and shook her head.
"I got a hole in my heart. I think Peter loved me, well, he loved the idea of me. He was kinky and I ... well, I did what I thought was right for a wife for her husband. But I knew what I did to Joe. I tried to keep Joe here, you know? At Mercano's? I thought I could be good for him. He would have a powerful friend at court. Yeah, that worked out," Tara said, ruefully.
"I don't know what I was thinking. I mean, this man killed people in Kuwait. Did you know that? And I was calmly sitting there telling him that me sleeping with someone else and trading up to him was for his own benefit. What the hell am I? Who was I?"
Another pause. Another sip. Then Tara said, "Why am I telling this to you?"
April could have told her. She wasn't telling April, she was letting out her own thoughts unfettered, for once – April wasn't involved in the conversation, she was just the audience. It would have taken someone like Tara, - so concerned with her own feelings and needs, - years to understand the implications of what she'd done, how she'd hurt someone else, someone else who's only crime was to love her unconditionally.
Tara, deep down, recognized what she'd done and she needed to say it. But there was probably no one she could tell. No one of her work cronies, no one she could let her guard down in front of. April was not someone she socialized with. No one she knew. No one that she cared about. She could, ironically, be more honest with April than she ever could with anyone else. And given the state of shock she was in ... this unburdening was inevitable. And April was not about to stop it, both because it was therapeutic for Tara and also because she needed to know. She was driven. She Needed To Know, in all capital letters.
"I don't know. But you obviously feel the need."
"I got cheated on too, you. Almost the exact same thing I did to Joe, Peter did to me. Found a newer model. Younger, more exciting. More likely to go places. I ... you know, it didn't even really hurt that much? I could even understand where he was coming from. I'd been there. What really hurt? What really destroyed me? It was understanding what I'd done to Joe all those years ago. The realization. It just ... pierced me, in my heart.
"I knew something was missing from my marriage to Peter, but I never really thought about what it was. It was Joe. He loved me for who he thought I was. Nothing more. Peter loved me because I'd do some of the kinky things he wanted, because I was hot and made him look good. Because he'd taken me from someone else. I never told him what Joe did in the Army. It would have totally emasculated him if I had. Joe was more of a man in his little finger than Peter was.
"But Peter was smart, he was well connected, his family was even more well connected and he understood the value of all this," Tara gestured around the room. "To Joe, this was a waste of life. His life was in the moment, not in the boardroom. It's taken me years to understand what he meant. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the spoils of my life. I've made some shitty decisions for other people, and I've done well out of it, but not having anyone to share it with ... well, it kinda makes it a bit empty, you know?"
April nodded again. Internally she was trying to work out how to inject herself and the questions she had to ask into Tara's flow.
"I tried to get him business, in way that wasn't obvious it was me. I thought that might help. Especially after that bitch left him the way she did. A child with another man? Letting Joe think it was his? Fucking whore," said Tara, completely oblivious to her own culpability in her own situation.
"Well, he wasn't having that, - he saw right through it and sent the salesman back with a not that nice message -, so I went to talk to him. He still had that small company he started. That was a disaster. His best salesman ran off with his wife! If you didn't think this was a tragedy, it would be comical. Twice! How shitty is that?
"He just never went anywhere. In that respect, I was quite right in my decision. I tried to talk to him. I wanted to do something for him. Anything. I had tried when we split up, tried to make him understand that me being in a powerful position could be good for him, but his pride! He just told me to get out, in not so many words. I think he thought I was there to hurt him again. I don't know why he was so upset – it had been years. Isn't time supposed to heal old wounds?"
April knew why. Joe was still in love with Tara, and always had been. He couldn't resolve the fact that he loved her with what she'd done to him – she was right, he did have pride, but it was in direct conflict with what his heart wanted. No wonder he'd never made a go of his business. Idly, April wondered what Marianne had made of that. She was way too smart not to make that connection.
"After that, he just ... vanished. I've been looking for him ever since. He's just nowhere. I've had two PI groups looking for him. One thought he'd found him out in some backwoods town in West Virginia, but it didn't pan out. It's funny, because I know I've even been there, once. Joe took me. Some shitty little cabin in the woods. Joe said he'd gone there with his family as a kid. I will always remember his standing outside that cabin, with that stupid cap on and his fishing gear and his saluting me."
Alarm bells were ringing in April's head. Fishing, a small town in West Virginia.
"Was that town Shannondale, by any chance?" she gently interrupted, going straight for the question she wanted to ask.
"No," shook Tara's head, "it wasn't. It was some man's name. You know, one of those towns with a name."
April thought, then opened her pad and looked at her notes.
"Charles Town?" she queried.
"Yes, that's it. Some crappy weekend cabin place, like they have for summer camp. It was quite revolting and rustic and I made very sure he never took me there again. First class for this lady I'm afraid. I had thought it would be romantic, but it was dingy and smelly. Although, I do have to say, it was a good time for the nights." Tara smiled gently in memory.
April had what she had come for. Now she had to disengage. She made a point of looking at her watch.
Tara noticed. "Well, I'm sure you've got better things to do that listen to me ramble." The original Tara was back, in control and ready to move things along.
"Can I ask a favor. Can you let me know where the funeral is? I want to send something. It's the least I can do."
April nodded. "I'm sure I can arrange for that."
She picked up her phone and pad and tissues and stuffed them back in her bag, and walked toward the door. She made it out of the office without the distressed Tara ever asking her who she was with.
I got the letter today from Penny. I'm not the father. I honestly thought I was. I thought it was the only way I could hold on. But I'm not. That at least confirms that it was going on for at least nine months, as we had claimed in court, but it's small fucking consolation. She did it to me. Let me think it was mine, all the way until she left to set up home and business with Mark Cuntface. I gave that guy everything. More than everything it would appear. He took from me everything I had to give.
All I have left is the business and it's in sorry shape now. He took most of my major clients; he'd been planning this for a while. I've not been doing the greatest job I could be, but I don't know that anyone could blame me. Divorce for a second time. Well Done Joe. You are a winner.
Still, clients don't care. They have demands and I'm not meeting them and frankly, right now, the next time someone calls me to ask where their shit is, I'm going to stomp on the damn phone.
Christ, this hurts. That Penny could do this to me. That I could be dealing with this a second time. I keep looking at myself in the mirror and wondering what everyone else sees. A sucker born every minute, eh? I guess I must have been born at least a thousand times then.
Do they see a two-time loser? Do they see someone to feel sorry for? Someone who is so far from the Alpha Male as to not be able to see it in the rearview mirror?
I still run. I still work out. I'm not fat. I'm not stupid – well, obviously I am for not seeing it for a second time – but I'm not stupid apart from that. I trust – obviously I've got to stop doing that.
I had thought that having a kid might give me something for this wasted life. I must have done something pretty damn shitty in a previous life. Wish I could remember what it was.
I'm going to move out tomorrow. This place is a dump anyway, and I need a new perspective. That and I can't afford it. But hey, choice over financials right? Can't let the bastards grind you down. Ha. Like I've any choice in that.
I did think about firing a lawsuit at Mark Cuntface but beyond alienation of affection, I can't even use the clause in my own rulebook about non-fraternization. It just doesn't apply. And as well, Penny might be a cunt, and he might be a cunt, but they have a kid and what his parents do is not his fault. He may not be mine, but I still loved him. Always will, I think.
I've also had to stop seeing Marianne. I can't afford that either. And I don't think there's really anything more to say anyway. Even Marianne thought that. So that's done too. I shall miss her. I did ask if we could be friends and she said she'd like that, but I don't think she wants to. I'm a loser and she can see that. I think she only said that because that's the 'right' thing to say in that circumstance, but I'm pretty sure that's the end of that. Sucks though. She kept me going when I had no one else.
I'm being stung for alimony, but I think that won't last. I think they are going to get married, now the kid really is his.
I'm really trying hard to think of something to look forward to and coming up blank.
"Hey, Jimmy. You get those files on your perp?" asked Ambrose Hillier, as he walked back from the Keruig coffee machine. He was still deeply unsure and suspicious about this whole individual coffee in a capsule thing.
He'd just about gotten as far as instant coffee and accepted that, coming as he did from a family who ground and mixed their own beans. But this? This was against all nature and humanity and he would have been the first to protest the inclusion of one of these machines in the office if it Wasn't So Damned Good. That Coffee Mates Carmel Coffee was just way too good. Sweet, full of caffeine. It was just bad news all round.
That was the trouble. It was too damn good. And he was drinking a hell of a lot of it. Taking his latest cup, he saw Jimmy Prescott wandering in, looking unshaven and loutish and obviously back from some undercover operation.
"Yeah, I got them. They're on my desk. Thanks for looking that stuff over and finding him. It's been a long gig," yawned Prescott. "I need me some of that stuff, even if it is just plastic."
Hillier smiled, and was about to say something when his phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket, looked at the number and then gestured to Prescott to indicate he had to take this. Prescott waved him off and Hillier plunked himself down in his desk chair, trying not to either drop the phone or spill his coffee.
"Ambrose Hillier," he answered, "What can I do you for?" It was a stupid way to answer the phone, but Ambrose Hillier still had some child left in him. His job and his divorce hadn't beaten it all out of him. Not just yet.
"This is Simon Donnelly, Mr. Hillier. I have been told you would like to speak to me? You left your card at one of my dry cleaner locations?"
"Ahhh, Mr. Donnelly, yes! I did want to speak to you. I needed to ask you about one Joe Sullivan, and your relationship with him?"
There was silence for a second and then an intake of breath, as though someone is prepared to make a statement. "Mr. Sullivan and I have a business relationship. That's really all I want to say in connection to this. Why have they reopened this case? And why at a downtown district? This was settled years ago."
"Ahh, I think you might have me at a disadvantage Mr. Donnelly. To tell you the truth, I am more following up to cross t's and dot i's than anything. This is relating to Joe Sullivan's death, and the hands of a muggers, here in DC?"
"Oh shit. Joe's dead?"
"I'm afraid so. You didn't know?"
"Know? Of course not. I've not spoken to Joe in years. The last time we spoke it was ... awkward."
"How so?" asked Hillier, curious now, taking a sip of the piping hot and sweet coffee.
"Oh. Let's see. Are you aware of the incident out at Shannondale that happened a few years back? Joe was involved? Several kids out after dark, drunk. They got into difficulties. Joe was there."
"I think there's probably a bit more of that story than that, Mr. Donnelly? Could I trouble you for it?"
"You really need to know?"
"I'm afraid I do, sir."
"Fine," grumbled the voice on the other end of the phone.
"Ok, well, it was summer. These three kids were drunk off their heads, they'd gotten hold of some fermenting cider and drank it all because they didn't realize how strong it was, nor that there was enough fermentation in the cider still going for it to keep fermenting even when it was inside them. Foolish kids that they were, they decided to go down to the river and jump about in the water to try and sober up. That or just play at Tarzan. Who the hell knows with this generation. They can't even wear their pants right without their underwear falling out.
"Anyway, so these kids are drunk, they decide they want to take a swing out on some rope they put up years ago on some old tree out there. Trouble is, the rope itself is old, and it's the low season. The river itself is very low at that point of the year. But to these idiots, well, it's still running, so whatever. They all take turns, then decide they need to do it together. So they do. And what happens? Well, the rope breaks and they all come tumbling down, just like in the song. The thing is, because the river was low, they came down on to rocks and submerged logs and all the other stuff on a river bed that you can't see and don't worry about when the river is six feet deep. When it's two feet deep, it's another story.
"All of them were banged up. One of them was already dead, with a broken neck. The other two were unconscious, and rapidly drowning. And who was on the other bank, a little down the way, fishing? Our friend Joe. He heard the crack, ran over to the boys and dragged them out of the water. The dead one Mikey, well, there was nothing he could do for him. He knew a dead body when he saw it, Joe did. The other two, well, he got them out of the water, administered mouth to mouth, did all you were supposed to do.
"One of them, Todd, the ring leader, woke up in the middle of Joe giving him mouth to mouth. He did the usual things – coughed up water, vomited, all the nice stuff – and then accused Joe of trying to kiss him. Little punk. He was just worried though. It was his fathers stash they were drinking, his idea. The whole situation was just bad. He saw that his friend was dead, they were in shit above their heads and the only way he was going to get off without jail time was to make it someone else's fault, put the attention on someone else. He never let up, that little shit. Even at the inquest. Oh it was pretty obvious to most of us he was just whining to avoid taking the rap. Trouble was, his father was Mayor. And a douchebag. Has been, ever since school. And all too willing to believe what his son said. They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Well, in this case, it's right there, next to the trunk.
"So he makes a fuss and does so publicly, and somehow, even at the inquest, even though they found for misadventure, Joe Sullivan got the blame. All he did was save those kids and somehow, he got the blame for their predicament. There was no logic or reason there that day, just all emotion, because that's what Mayor Byerland is, all emotion and no reason.
"The only saving grace was that the media at the time got Joe's name wrong. They called him Jessie O'Sullivan. It was the only thing that enabled him to stick around. So, there you go. That's the story of Joe Sullivan."
Hillier absorbed all that and thought for a second before speaking.
"I thank you for that, but it doesn't really answer my question?"
"Oh, no, I guess I didn't. Sorry. Yeah, well, the other kid Joe saved was Eddy Donnelly. My son."
"I begin to understand."
"Look, I know. I know. I didn't stand by the guy. You have no idea how it is out here. I was in a public job. If I'd supported him, it would have been the end of it. I didn't say anything against him, but I didn't stand up for him either. And he saved my kid. I'm a fuckin' douchebag and I know it. But ... if I had, well, there would have just been two of us ostracized.
"So, I did what I could and it happened anyway, and after it, I tried to reach out to him. I had no idea where he lived – just that it was local. I found he had a PO Box in Charles Town and so I left a message there, and he called me and agreed to meet. I offered him whatever I could and you know all he'd take? Left over clothes and blankets and stuff from my dry cleaning business. I figured he was wearing them or something. I don't know. Don't care much to be honest. Just that whatever he wanted, he got.
"I did go over to Charles Town and talk to some people there. Explained that all was not as it seemed for Joe, and that he'd need help and work and, well, people rallied. That's what people do out here. It's not all sex with our cousins you know. Well, not mostly anyway. They looked after Joe. They protected him. I'm just glad the papers got his name wrong."
"Yes, that's interesting Mr. Donnelly. I wonder how that happened? You wouldn't, by chance, happen to be the local paper editor, would you?"
The voice on the end of the phone chuckled. "No, but I can imagine why you might think that. No, I'm not. I run a bunch of garages out here."
"Oh," said Hillier, disappointed.
"But my brother-in-law, well, lets just say he's in the media, and leave it at that."
"Well, this sucks. Joe was a decent guy. He did the right thing and look where it got him."
"Yes, that's true," agreed Hillier, still processing what he'd heard.
"Look, if you get details on the funeral, can you let me know? There are some people out here who'd like to know."
"Sure," replied Hillier, "I can do that."
"Thanks, Mr. Hillier. Tell me, did Joe die well?"
"What, like a Klingon death you mean?" replied Hillier, and then wished he hadn't.
Amazingly the voice at the other end chuckled. "Well, I can't ever imagine Joe brandishing a big old sword and yelling 'today is a good day to die, ' but yeah, the man lived him life by principles and a code. I just wondered if he died that way. It wouldn't surprise me."
"You'll be glad to know he did. He died saving a woman from a mugging gone bad. She'd have died had he not intervened."
There was a pause and the voice said, "God damn! Now there's someone who knows how to go. Good for him. I wish I had his courage. Thanks for letting me know, Mr. Hillier. I hope you have a good day."
There was a click, and the voice was gone.
Hillier threw the phone down and drank some more of his rapidly-cooling coffee. Charles Town, eh? A PO box there? That might warrant a visit some time soon, he thought.
Penny left today. I had guessed it was coming, after the revelation she was having an affair with Mark. I have no idea how long it's been going on – hell, I didn't have a clue. Or more to the point, I did – I saw signs – but I thought, 'no, it couldn't be happening again.' I thought I'd had my bad karma event for life. I had thought that I had problems trusting and what I was seeing was the result of my own suspicious nature. I'd actually convinced myself what I was seeing was my own over suspicious leanings because of what Tara did. That it couldn't possibly be happening again.
But then last week, Penny sat me down, with Mark there, and they were holding hands. Well, it was pretty obvious then. I got all the "It's not you, it's me" and "We didn't plan this, it just happened" and "I still love you, just not the way I love him". Well, it's been happening for a while, obviously.
I'm just so stupid not to have seen this. No sex for seven months – yeah, 'amniotic sack' my ass. I was cut off. From my darling wife, who's been fucking my uber-salesman on the side.
So I'm a two-time loser now. I did have the satisfaction of belting that fucker Mark. He'll carry that cut on his face for a while, from where my ring cut him. Fuck them if they want to press charges, it was worth it.
I did tell them that she could just fuck right off, but she's not taking my son with them. I'll fight them tooth and nail; he's mine and he's going to stay right here.
I got a restraining order, but that won't last long. Either way, I need to get on this.
Four years of marriage down the drain. I didn't even bother asking why this time. It's obviously me. Once, it can be situation. Twice? Well, the only common denominator is me. You do the math.
Fuck. How does it happen twice? What is wrong with me? Am I that much of a loser? Am I that boring or stupid or a waste that women are just compelled to leave me?
What the hell am I going to do now? So much for the second go round.
April's car had a throaty exhaust on it. She knew it would sound anemic next to a Mustang or a Porsche – enough of her co-workers made fun of her car for her to know that, - but she loved the sound. It was just the right note to her ear.
She drove out to Charles Town, along Route 70 and then switched to a local route, 340. She had the top down – it wasn't that warm but the skies were clear, and that's what heaters in cars are for. She had a scarf on her head to protect her hair, big black sunglasses and she looked all for the world like some 1950's starlet.
Eventually, she pulled into Charles Town and was surprised at how small it actually was. Like many towns, it had a small, old-fashioned town center, with the large retail stores like Walmart on the outskirts.
April drove the length of Washington Street – the main street for Charles Town – looking carefully at the shops and stores, trying to decide which one Joe Sullivan might have frequented – where she might pick up some information of where he lived, what he did.
Did he drink coffee? Was it worth stopping off at the Jumpin' Java café? Perhaps the County Commission might know something? April was prepared to stop at everyone to ask if she had to, but conserving your energy and going where success was mostly likely was best.
Eventually she decided on a drink at the local tap tavern, right off the main street. She walked in and blinked as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. Exactly the kind of dive bar she imagined Joe in. Smokey, slightly dark and with that last-nights-beer-on-the-floor smell that all good dive bars have.
She spent an hour there, trying to talk to the barman and politely fighting off advances from some of the local day drinker winners that frequent bars like that during the day. She left none the wiser – the barman and locals were quite firm that they had 'never heard of him', and she was also sure that they had and were very sure that they were not going to talk to her, smile as she might.
She was pretty sure that she was in the right place now. Now she just had to find someone who would talk to her.
She tried the coffee shop, and immediately on mentioning Joe's name, the lady behind the counter clammed up. She got suspicious looks from other people in the coffee shop, and she knew then that Joe was known here, but for some reason, this community was protecting him.
Eventually, she had a brain wave. Sitting in her car, looking at Google Maps, she watched an electric post office van go past her. She stared at it, and then started her car and followed it. It pulled into the local post office and she parked in the parking lot, digging in her bag for an envelope and stamp. It took two seconds to find one, write the name out, stick a stamp on it and then close it.
She went inside and stood in line. Eventually she came to the front and put on her best smile and presented the letter to the lady behind the counter – an older woman with glasses and bundled silver hair, a lined face that spoke of life lived hard, saying, "Um, excuse me. I have a letter I need to send to Joe Sullivan, but I don't have his local address. Is there any chance you might be able to help?"
The woman behind the counter looked at her, then leaned over and looked at the line behind her and then said, "So you the woman looking for Joe, eh? Yeah, don't be surprised. In the sticks, we all have one eye in the middle of our foreheads, we all marry our cousins and guess what? We have phone! We actually talk to each other. What do you want with Joe?"
This was the first confirmation that Joe had been in the area and April decided to go for broke. Try the truth for once.
"Honestly? Joe is dead. He was killed, and I'm looking for where he lived."
There was silence in the line. The postal worker, whose badge named her 'Sue', put down the letter.
"He's ... he's what?"
"He died. Five days ago. Saving me from being mugged," replied April.
The muttering began. Two people peeled off from the line and pulled out cell phones. April watched them, then turned back to Sue.
"He was well-liked around here then?"
"Joe was ... well, he was one of those people who you never notice, but he was always there. He's helped out everyone around here at one point or another. I presume you know of his string of bad luck?"
April nodded. "I've found out a fair bit about our Joe. He appears to have the patron saint of bad luck following him around."
"Yeah, well, for all that's he's done around here, we ... look after our own. Several people have come looking for Joe and no one has ever found him. He won't be found till he makes it known he wants to be. What's you interest here?"
April sighed. Time for some truth again.
"To be frank, I'm just trying to track him. Where he lived. See if there is anyone left I can help. I figured they would want to know what happened. I just ... need some closure, you know?"
Sue stared at her, obviously trying what to decide what to do. She made a decision.
"I can't give you his address, but if you are staying in the area, I would strongly suggest you check out Trolleys Field Cabins. They are just out of town. You should stay there."
April nodded silently, gave a beaming smile to Sue and left the post office.
She sat in her car, checking Google Maps and located Trolleys Field Weekend Cabins, just outside of town. Once she'd entered the address, she started her car and headed out into the afternoon traffic.
Penny delivered today! Happiest day of my life, by far. A perfect baby boy; we named him Aaron. I can't believe how perfectly formed he is. It's been nine months of hell – no sex for the past seven, apparently the Doctor said it would be bad for her ' potentially rupture the amniotic sack' or something. I dunno, sounds scary though. Mark was there, he brought cigars, which was nice. I haven't had a good cigar in years. Cubans of course, Christ knows where he gets them.
I got to hold the baby for an hour and it's a humbling experience. I am so scared. I spent an hour just buying books on Amazon about being a dad and some for Penny about being a mom. She looks tired and spent, and I've no doubt why. Maybe we should think about a cruise or something, get some sparkle back in life. Aaron would love it.
Hillier was bored. He was on a stakeout in Benning Ridge, a suburb of D.C., looking for a crystal meth dealer. He'd already spent too long sitting there, yawning and wondering when the scumbag dealer he was looking for was going to show up. He'd spent the time with the other detective doing all the things that cops traditionally do when on a stakeout.