Hey folks. I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year. I'm starting the year off with a story that's a little bit softer in tone than usual, but we're gonna do some different things this year. Some of them are designed to involve you guys more in the story making process. Who knows maybe I'll fall flat on my face but it won't be the first time. So be ready. Before I forget, the legendary Barney-R is on vacation for the rest of the month, so let's all pray for his speedy return. SS06
They say that turning a rectangle or a square into a triangle increases its strength. It took me a long time to understand that. It seems weird to me that having fewer sides makes it better. But I'm an old woman now and with age they say you get wisdom. I don't know if that's really true. I don't know if age has brought me wisdom, but it's certainly brought me strength. Tonight, for the first time in my life I was strong enough to say no to temptation. I actually said no to sex. I looked into the eyes of the man who'd helped me almost ruin my life and said no. As I watch him walking away in the pouring rain on a cold night that I wouldn't send a dog out in, I feel really good about it. I feel like I regained something special. Suddenly, I feel like I have more than I deserve.
Maybe I should start at the beginning, so this will make sense.
In the beginning there was Bobby and me and we were in love...
The phone call as usual had been bittersweet. The joy and happiness of speaking to my bride, versus the pain of having to tell her that we wouldn't be together for New Year's Eve.
She loved the diamond bracelet I had sent her for Christmas, but she'd trade it in a second to have me home. It was the same story all over again. We'd gotten married at a very early age; nineteen for her, eighteen for me.
And since neither of us had come from rich families, money was hard to come by. As usual with the mind of the engineer I hoped to someday become, I came up with a plan.
The oil companies were always recruiting people with mechanical aptitude for their oil rigs and bases in far off locations. They paid extremely good money for long term shifts in out of the way places. I'd gotten an interview and had quickly impressed the company's representative with my drive and intuitive grasp of their systems.
I hadn't yet begun to study mechanics, pneumatics, hydraulics or robotics but I had a knack for figuring out what things did and how they did it. Being able to figure out how things worked, where they were broken and whether to try to fix them or simply replace them was something I'd been able to do for most of my life. It was also my passion. As a kid I was always at the local auto repair shop watching the mechanics fix cars. I handed them tools and asked tons of questions.
Once I reached my teens I began to answer THEIR questions. I had also begun fixing things all over the neighborhood. And I did it for free. Mostly I did it just to learn more about how things worked.
On my eighteenth birthday, my aunt and uncle, who'd taken me in when my parents died, took me out for dinner. We didn't go to a big fancy restaurant; we went to a small diner in town. The place was nothing special. The food was also not spectacular. In fact the only thing I remember about the place was the waitress. She made an impression on me that would never go away. Apparently, the feeling was mutual, because at the end of the night she gave me a napkin.
I wiped my mouth on it and was about to throw it away, when my uncle, who was far sharper than I was told me to hold onto it.
"Look at the napkin, Bobby," he said.
"Why?" I asked. "It's just a piece of paper."
"It's not the napkin," he smirked. "It's what's written on it."
"What's written on it?" I asked. His eyes turned skyward and I knew then that I had almost missed something.
I opened the napkin and saw her phone number written there. The look of shock and happiness on my face must've carried across the restaurant because when I looked at her, at another table she was handing, she smiled just as broadly as I had.
I called her the next morning and we've never been apart since.
"Mona, I love you so much," I said into the phone. "Honey, I wish I could be there with you right now. But this is only temporary.
"It's just awful being here alone," she said. I could almost feel her tears through the phone across the thousands of miles that separated us." The deal I'd made with the oil company wasn't that unusual. I worked for a semester and then attended classes the next semester. The oil company paid all of my expenses and my tuition.
While it wasn't a perfect solution to my problems, it was a good one. Not only would I get my education paid for without ending up mired in thousands of dollars of debt, but I'd have the inside track on a great job as soon as I graduated.
That alone was worth it. I'd heard of too many guys who'd spent untold thousands of dollars on a college education, just to graduate and find they not only could they not get a job in their chosen field or anything close to it, they couldn't get a job at all.
The only thing bad about the arrangement was the fact that it would take me a little bit longer to get my degree. That fact and the separations from Mona that I thought would kill me. But someday we would trade our comfy little apartment in on a beautiful house and fill it with love, wonderful things and a couple of perfect kids.
And anything I had to do to get us there would be worth it in the end.
"Mona it's hard for me too," I said. "I wish I could be there with you too. But keep your eyes on the prize. Someday all of this will be just an almost forgotten memory." I hung up the phone vowing to make my words true.
"Bobby, we're getting out of here," said my boss Tom Dunn as I hung up the phone. "There's a big storm coming in. It's bringing in subzero temps and lots of snow and ice. This temporary pumping station will never survive that. We have to get out of here."
"Huh?" I said. "Why can't I stay?"
"Your choice, Bud, you can leave on one of the trucks if you want to stay a while, but I'm taking one of the first choppers they send," he said. "Don't worry, we still get paid for the entire stay, we just get home a few weeks earlier. And I know you'll be in school from January until May, but I've already arranged for you to be assigned to my crew for the summer."
"Tom, what happens to the base?" I asked.
"They'll pump as much oil out of here as they can," he said. "The oil they pump out of here in a single day will pay for the entire complex. We've kept it pumping for months, Bobby. The company got a lot more than their money's worth out of the place.
The locals from nearby towns will cannibalize the pipes, all of the building materials and anything we leave behind. It's the circle of life, just like in the Lion King."
"I'm staying," I said. He looked at me like I was crazy.
"Why?" he asked.
"Wouldn't it be even more profitable to save this place instead of building one just like it next season?" I asked.
"Bobby, once the pipes freeze, there's just no point in staying. It's easier to start out fresh with pipe that won't leak and head off any problems," he said.
"I think I'll hang around for one of the trucks," I said.
It took me a couple of hours and several phone calls to get what I wanted. One of the phone calls surprised me. It was from Tom's boss.
"Bobby what are you doing?" he asked me. "Son, you should be getting out of there not ordering chemicals for some weird concoction."
I quickly outlined my plan for him and by the end of the phone call he was doubtful but told me I should go ahead and try it.
My idea was to sheath the exposed pipe sections in a thick coating of a foam-like polymer that I had learned about in school. It would protect the exposed sections from the storm, but could easily be removed when spring came. At the same time we would pump all of the oil out of the pipes and circulate a very cheap antifreeze solution through the pipes. The circulating pumps would also warm the solution up to a temperature that would prevent any damage to the pipes.
Three days later my life had changed. I'd been flown to the oil company's headquarters in Texas. My entire deal had been changed. From then on I would be attending school full time. It would all be paid for by the old company. As soon as I got my degree I would go to work in a very lucrative position as one of their engineers.
My expense account had been quadrupled and I was going to be able to buy the house that Mona and I had always dreamed of. Only it would be a lot sooner than we thought. I could hardly wait to walk in and surprise her. My plane would get in just before eleven pm on New Year's Eve. Boy would she be surprised.
"I wish I could be there with you, too," said Bobby over the phone. As he hung up I slammed the phone down. Tears rolled down my cheeks. "It's not worth it," I said.
"Well ... I'm glad he isn't here with us," said Sam. "Bobby isn't really bright enough to understand what's going on with us. And he isn't kinky enough to want to join in."
"Two things..." I said through clenched teeth. "Number one ... Bobby is far smarter than you and I combined. You talking about him not being smart just makes YOU seem stupider. You aren't the one in college on an engineering scholarship are you? Maybe Bobby isn't as street smart as you are, or as sneaky but his brains by far outclass you.
Number two, there is no US. What we have is very short term. I'm using you, the same way you're using me. The only reason you're here instead of a dog or a cat, is that training a dog not to shit on the floor takes time and I hate cats. You are here only because I'm lonely and I need a way to deal with it.
Bobby is unavailable to me just like your girlfriend, whatever her name is, is unavailable to you. As soon as he gets home, I won't even look at you."
"Until the next time he goes away," he hissed. "And if you keep up that shitty attitude, I may find someone else to fuck while Dana is away at school. And don't get things twisted. I don't care any more about you than you do about me. All you are to me is pussy. We broke up for a reason, remember?"
"Trust me," I said. "I remember. We broke up because you were incapable of keeping it in your pants. It took me a while to figure out that a serious relationship was never in the cards for us."
"So, why am I here now?" he asked. "I broke your little heart and moved on, yet it's me you called when you need someone to ring your chimes while your hubby is away."
"I guess I wanted a way to test myself," I said. "I wanted to see if I was strong enough to hold you at arm's length emotionally and not become attached to you. I guess I'm a lot stronger now. You do nothing for me."
"Oh, I did something for you..." he laughed. "I did something for you twice last night. But don't flatter yourself. You don't mean much to me either. Dana is going to be a very rich doctor. And I'm going to be a very well supported husband. As soon as she finishes her residency, I'll knock her up and my future will be assured."
"So you don't love her either?" I asked in surprise.
He looked at me as if I was crazy. Then he grabbed my breast and began mauling it. Against myself, I felt my nipple begin to harden.
'I'm so sorry, Bobby, ' I thought. But I'm really not strong enough to handle the loneliness. For the next hour he used my body in any way he wanted. He gave me a couple of orgasms and I have to admit that the sex, on the surface was good in a physical sense. Actually, in physical terms he was better than Bobby. The gap between them in that aspect was rapidly closing. Bobby got better every time we were together, but Sam had been my first. He had actually taught me to enjoy sex. He knew what I liked better than anyone else because he had pretty much instilled what I liked in me. There was something about your first lover that you never get over.
Sam also had far more experience with sex than Bobby would ever have. But the one thing he didn't have was my heart. That belonged to Robert James Thompson fully and forever. So, while Sam had all of the moves, he could only move my body. Bobby moved my heart. In a contest like that, Sam would come up short every time.
"Hey, I've got an idea that might be a hoot," he smiled as we lay in my bed gasping for breath afterwards.
"Is little Bobby going to call you on New Year's Eve?" he asked.
"Of course," I said.
"Probably just before Midnight, right?" he asked.
"Probably," I said. "Why?"
"He's almost as unimaginative as Dana," he said. "At least she wants us to have phone sex, but she picked the exact same time. I think we should give them what they want. But while they're imagining being with us we'll be fucking up a storm. It'll be like a big half real-half electronic four way. We'll have online sex with the people we're involved with, while fucking each other's brains out."
"I don't know," I said. "It seems wrong."
"How is it wrong?" he asked. "How is it any more wrong than what we just did?"
"Oh alright," I said. "I don't want to be alone on New Year's Eve and I can't afford to have anyone see me out partying while Bobby is working his ass off."
Over the next few days, I spent a lot of time thinking about it. I visited my family and for the first time I really looked at my parents. I noticed that even after all of the years that they'd been together, there was still something between them.
They weren't always kissing on each other, but there was a bond between them. It was obvious to anyone who looked at them that they belonged together.
I asked my mother about it and she smiled. "It's love, Honey," she said. "Your father and I have been together for so long that we've just become a part of each other. Long after the lust fades, we are simply incapable of being without each other. We still make love and we still kiss each other. We do everything that you and Bobby do. It's just that we aren't desperate any more. We're secure enough to know that neither of us is going anywhere without the other. We can argue. We can fight and know that we're still going to be together no matter what. Only death would separate us and even then not for very long."
Just the thought of what she'd said brought tears to my eyes.
"Honey, you and Bobby will get there," she said. "I can see it when he looks at you. You picked a good one this time. Not like that other asshole you fell for. Your father really wanted to bust his ass. But we figured that you needed to go through it on your own. You needed to make your own decisions. And you can feel the difference can't you?"
I nodded even though I felt guilty. She was right. I could feel Bobby's love for me like it was a tangible force. Even with him halfway across the world from me, I could feel his presence in the room. Bobby was always with me.
I felt really shitty about what I'd been doing. And for the next few days when Sam called me, looking for a piece of ass, I turned him down. But the loneliness defeated me and as New Year's Eve drew nearer, I found myself giving in. But I swore it would be the last time.
It didn't work out the way we planned though. He came over and brought a couple of bottles of champagne with him. We both realized that we couldn't do things the way we'd done them when we were together. We couldn't get drunk and fuck the night away, it was too risky. We had to at least stay sober until we got off the phone with our significant others.
I gave him a blow job while we waited and I felt bad about it. I realized them that I couldn't do it anymore. Suddenly I realized why it was wrong. I also realized why what he wanted me to do was even more wrong than just having sex with him was.
Bobby loved me. Bobby, unlike Sam had built his whole world around us. Running off to screw some other woman wasn't a part of Bobby's way of thinking. I was his everything.
Spending time with me was the highlight of his day. Bobby calling me from halfway around the world meant something. It was special. And I was going to ruin that special moment and betray him by having sex with Sam, while I should be concentrating on my own man and my own relationship.
It was Sam's way of belittling and making fun of my relationship because HIS relationship meant nothing to him.
As midnight neared, I felt worse and worse. But while I was locked in my thoughts, Sam got between my legs. It was wrong. I finally realized it. That time I got no enjoyment out of it. I lay there like a rag doll on the verge of tears.
Sam humped away at me oblivious to the fact that I wasn't fucking him back. He shot his sperm so deeply inside of me that it brought me out of the stupor I was in.
"You forgot the condom, stupid," I shrieked at him. "I don't want to pick up whatever diseases the whores you fuck probably have." He just laughed at me.
"You all say the same thing," he quipped. It dawned on me then that in his opinion, it's what I was. I was just another one of the whores he fucked.
The TV was on behind us. Sam opened one of the bottles of champagne and drank some straight from the bottle. His phone rang surprising us both. It was only eleven o'clock.
"Hey babe," he said. He'd made his voice deeper and sexier. He put the phone on speaker and smirked at me.
"Sammie do you have a computer where you are?" asked a feminine voice that sounded more than a little drunk.
I watched as he hooked up a Skype channel. A very thin very pretty dark haired girl was giggling while she was being held up by another girl.
"Honey, I have to get something off of my chest," she giggled. Sam watched in horror and the other girl stripped off her top and then pulled her bra down around her waist, exposing her small breasts. There was barely any rise between her rib cage and her breasts but her nipples were huge and aroused.
As Sam watched the other girl began licking and tweaking those nipples.
The rest of Dana's conversation was only moans and yelps as the other girl finished stripping her and dove between her legs, licking her pussy like it was the nectar of the gods.
"You bitch, you didn't tell me that you were a lesbian," screamed Sam.
"I'm not," crooned Dana. "I like boys AND girls. I've been with Carmen longer than I've been with you. My plan was to keep both of you, but..."
"I could learn to live with that," said Sam. "Maybe the three of us could..." Even as Sam spoke; it became obvious that Carmine considered Sam to be lower than dog shit. It was obvious to anyone except Sam that is.
As Sam continued to try to spin scenarios for the three of them, the three of us, the two women he was Skyping with and me hidden behind the computer all knew what was going on. It was all I could do not to laugh. The player himself was being played.
"Sammie, get your dick out," said Dana interrupting Sam's speech.
Sam stood up and his rapidly inflating dick bobbed up and down for the camera.
"Baby, how flexible are you?" asked a drunken Dana.
Sam, sensing something kinky was on the offering locked onto her words.
"Very," he said huskily.
"That's good baby," said a drunken Dana. "Maybe you can suck your own dick, cause I won't be doing it anymore."
"Huh?" barked Sam in surprise.
"We're done asshole," spat a suddenly sober and pissed off looking Dana. "I've heard about all of the shit you've been doing while I'm at school. It wouldn't surprise me if you didn't have some skanky whore there with you right now. So even though I really don't enjoy guys very much, let me leave you with something to remember me by..."
From off camera, Dana reached out her hand and pulled a black guy with the biggest dick I had ever seen into camera range. She tried her hardest to suck that dick but she couldn't get her mouth over the head of it.
"Too bad, you're not here, Sam," she said, mugging for the camera. "Maybe you could suck it. Or maybe he could fuck both of us instead of just me. Before Sam could react she lay down on a bed and took that huge dick inside of her. After he pumped it back and forth inside of her a few times with her screaming her lungs out, the video feed was cut off.
"Wow," I said. "That thing was huge. And she sure seemed to be enjoying it." Sam was pissed. Even though he'd claimed not to have any motivations other than financial when it can to Dana, his pride was hurt.
I couldn't help thinking that he'd gotten what he deserved. He threw me on the bed then and started fucking me mercilessly. We fucked for more than an hour. I don't even think he came once. I know I didn't. Neither of us really wanted sex.
Sam was just trying to prove that he was a man. And I was just trying to make it through until Bobby called me. I had to tell Sam that this was over I couldn't do it anymore.
"Shit," I suddenly screamed. I pushed Sam away from me.
"What?" asked Sam.
"It's after midnight," I missed Bobby's call.
"The phone never rang," he said. "Don't forget there's a time difference..."
"Just get the fuck away from me," I said. "I need to get cleaned up before I answer the phone."
"Why?" asked Sam. "Can he tell that you're covered in some other guy's sperm over the phone?"
So we waited and we drank and we waited and we drank some more. Finally we fell asleep, but Bobby never called.
We woke up the next morning feeling really awkward. I noticed that Sam had moved to the sofa in the living room. Us sleeping in the same bed together would have been weird. I felt like shit and it wasn't just the hangover.
Sam acted like he couldn't get away from me fast enough. "I'll uhm ... Call Ya," he said. I didn't reply. Maybe something in my sick puppy that's just been kicked routine forced him to stay a few minutes longer.
"You know it's possible that the phone lines from where he is are down," he said. "And what he does IS kind of dangerous. Anything could have happened. Let's just hope it's some kind of technical glitch and that right now he misses you as much as you miss him." I just nodded and a bit of my smile came back. But deep down inside of me, I was sure that Bobby HAD called me and that I'd been so busy fucking Sam that I had missed it.
But telephones work two ways. So I decided to break my rule. I tried not to call Bobby while he was working. He'd told me a few times that the more we spoke while he was away, the more homesick he became. And I knew that I was in no danger of losing him because there were no women working on the pumping stations.
Bobby had told me himself that whenever a woman truck driver or nurse showed up she was mobbed by a bunch of guys who hadn't seen a woman in months.
I called four times and got no answer. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. Suddenly my guilt was even worse. I had visions of explosions and fire and danger all around Bobby. I saw the man I love, fighting for his life while I was flat on my back with my legs in the air and another man between them. I felt sick to my stomach. I threw up everything in my digestive tract and it wasn't the hangover. I was the worst kind of whore imaginable.
Bobby was out busting his ass. He was exposed to danger every day and he did it for us and our future. He faced death and I couldn't face a little bit of loneliness. I swore again that I would change.
The next day I had another idea. I called the man that always sent us the checks to pay for our expenses and for Bobby's tuition. I thought that if there was any kind of news, good or bad, he would know.
"Mr. Lively, this is Mona Thompson, Bobby Thompson's wife," I said to begin the conversation. "Do you know of anything going on at the base that Bobby is stationed at?"
He hesitated for a second before answering. I got the feeling that something was going on. And then he spoke. "Mona, I don't have any specifics for you right now. But I'll tell you what I know..." he said. I braced myself for the news that Bobby had been hurt or worse.
"A huge winter storm blew into the region," he began. "We decided to abandon the base. That is our protocol in situations like that. We had lots of extra people come in to help remove anything that might be salvageable. For some reason we don't have exit information for several of our guys from the base. Unfortunately Bobby is one of those."
I almost passed out. It felt as if an icy hand had grabbed my heart.
"It could simply be that he got aboard a different truck than the one he was assigned to. He could have gotten on a truck or a chopper and not signed in. He may have gotten out on a carrier that wasn't owned by the company. We've been getting calls from guys who didn't want to wait for one of our carriers and just grabbed a ride with one of the locals fleeing the storm. A couple of them ended up stranded somewhere out in the boonies with no phone service. It took them hours to get in touch with us. Then we had to arrange transport for them to get home.
Bobby is pretty smart. I'm sure he's fine and will call in as soon as he can. I promise to let you know as soon as I hear from him. And if he calls you, please do the same."
For the next few hours I just curled up on my bed and cried. I had the worst feeling that I had somehow ruined my life. I could feel Bobby's presence in the house as if he had called or been there. I had all kinds of stupid scenarios running through my head.
I felt like Demi Moore in Ghost. I felt like Bobby or his spirit had tried to contact me, but I had missed it. I had missed my last chance to communicate with the only man I had ever loved because I was too busy fucking a scumbag that I hated.
I would never forgive myself.
After a few days of worrying and crying and jumping up every time the phone rang, I went home to my parents. My mother wondered why I had waited so long to come to them.
My dad made several calls and found out some things that I never knew. The company had launched a thorough and exhaustive search for all of their missing employees. Some had been found when they called in from nearby towns as soon as the storm cleared. Others had made their own way home and had filed reimbursement claims. A couple had been found that were drunk out of their minds in whorehouses in Las Vegas. They were using the fact that their wives hadn't expected them to be home for a few weeks to get some off the books fun.
The only person who was still unaccounted for was Bobby. My dad also found out something interesting. The company had a huge insurance policy on all of its employees that covered all types of accidents on the job. Bobby's situation meant that until he was declared dead, or a body was found, no benefits would be paid out. There was also the fact that Bobby, for some reason, had decided, against the recommendation of his supervisor to remain on the base for some type of experiment.
Bobby had CHOSEN of his own free will to remain. A situation like that might negate the insurance policy. In the case of a missing person, they would have to wait years before declaring him dead. His beneficiaries might not see a dime for more than five years. But the real kicker was that when Bobby and I got married, he had never added me to the policy as his beneficiary. We had never thought about it.
Bobby's parents were long gone. His only living relatives were a drunken step brother who lived in another state and his grandmother who lived in a nursing home. Bobby often sent money to pay for extras in her care when we could afford it.
The insurance policy pre-dated our marriage. The stepbrother and Grandmother were blood relatives. If Bobby WAS gone, I wouldn't get a dime. All I would end up with was the apartment we rented and our few meager possessions. But I wasn't worried about money. I just wanted my husband back. I didn't want his insurance policy; I wanted the future that we had promised each other.
My cell phone rang and I leaped to answer it.
"Mona?" I was so upset that it took me a moment to recognize the male voice. I thought it might have been someone from Bobby's company calling to tell me they'd found him and my nightmare was over.
"How about tonight?" asked Sam. I slammed my phone against the wall in frustration.
The first place I went was the campus. A wounded animal always goes to its home ground. The university was my second home. It was the very first day of the year and a weekend. Classes weren't due to start for another two weeks. Registration wouldn't start for a week. All of my classes had been pre-registered so I could work right up until the first day of class. I made more money that way.
More money; it just seemed so funny and so pointless now. What exactly did I need the money for? Everything I thought I had was an illusion. I felt like I'd been in the audience at a magic show. I watched the magician get chained up and lowered into a box. The box was lowered into a tank of water and the clock was ticking. How long could the guy hold his breath? After a couple of minutes, one of the magician's assistants screamed and ran up on stage with a sledge hammer to try to break him out.
A couple of guys from the audience ran up on stage to help her save his life. After a few blows with the hammer they manage to shatter the tank and all of the water runs out of it. They frantically take the locks and chains off of the box, hoping against hope that the magician has managed to hold his breath for that long, but they know, everyone in the audience is rapt. None of us can take our eyes away from the spectacle. And even though none of us, especially not the good church going people will admit it, but we all want the same thing. We all want to see them pull a dead magician out of that box.
But when they open the box, we're all amazed. The box is empty. The magician shows up in the back of the audience, sitting next to an old lady. He's even holding her dog. The mother fucker isn't even wet, let alone dead.
The audience applauds loudly, we have all been entertained. But deep down inside, deep down in the darkest recesses of our mutual souls, we all have the same thought. We all wanted to see that bastard die.
The child in me wants to believe that it's magic. The child in me believes in shit like that. He believes in magic and wonderment. He loves experiencing new things and just going with the spectacle of things. But the grown up in me looks at things with the mind of the engineer that I'm becoming.
I look at the magician, sitting there dry and smug. I look at the water. I look at the construction of the tank, the construction of the box and the angle of the box to the stage. I look at the facts and they all lead me to one conclusion. It was just a trick. It was skillfully presented and it played upon the sensibilities of gullible audience members who wanted to see a spectacle.
We all wanted to believe, but the fact is that motherfucker never really went inside of that tank.
I came home to surprise my wife. I wanted the spectacle. I wanted the magic. I wanted the love. I expected to have her run over to me and put her arms around me. I expected to give her the diamond necklace I had picked up for her on my way in and wonder how we could afford it. Then I could tell her how we had a new deal, much more money and we could go out and start looking for a house of our own, even before I graduated.
But again, I had been tricked. And where the magicians trick was done in fun and for entertainment alone, Mona's trick, cut me deep. The few seconds that I stood there, watching as some guy I had never seen slammed her like a rag doll, changed me on a fundamental level.
And as if Mona had been the magician, I realized that she had simply never been in the tank. I had been fooled again. I had been in love all by myself. If Mona had ever cared for me at all, there was simply no way that she could have done this.
For a second I allowed myself to think about how long it had been going on. But only for a second. I realized that the length of time that she had been making a fool out of me was irrelevant.
Anger flared and I fleetingly considered running in there and confronting her ... Confronting them. I saw all of the possible outcomes of that scenario in an instant and none of them were good.
I could burst in and beat the living shit out of the guy. In that case I'd end up in jail. I could also end up hurt myself or dead. I could burst in and ask Mona why she did this to me ... to us. But she would only tell me it didn't matter and hat we could work through it. Or she and the guy would simply laugh at me together.
Or ... Maybe she would simply tell me that the time apart had changed her feelings. She was sorry but she no longer wanted to be with me.
I realized all at once that none of it mattered. I needed to move on with my life. Neither violence nor confrontations would make me feel any better. I had often said that Mona was my life. The reality is that she was simply a very important PART of my life.
And as with all things, when one part of a system fails, the other parts pick up the slack until that part is repaired or the machine is damaged to the point of a total system failure.
I decided to concentrate on the other aspects of my life. I had a meeting on Monday to talk about expenses and living arrangements. I just needed to get through the weekend. I ended up crashing at the dorm of a friend of mine from one of my classes. He was nerdy enough that he was still in the dorm over the New Year's Day weekend.
I ate enough pizza and played enough Playstation 4 games to be sick of both, but made a friend for life.
The first thing I did on Monday was to go to see Malcolm Lively. Malcolm was Tom's boss, but he was handling all of the details of my new deal with the company. Malcolm had actually been the one who hired me and he like Tom was kind of a mentor figure for me.
I explained the entire situation to him and he asked me what I wanted to do about it. I gave it a lot of thought and told him that it wasn't the kind of thing I could figure out in a few minutes. I told him that I needed a new place to stay and that a car might be nice.
"Bobby what do you want to do about your wife?" he asked. "Do you want a divorce?"
"I don't know what I want," I said. "Maybe I'm a coward. I just don't think I can face her right now."
"So what do I say if she calls?" he asked.
"I don't know," I said. "Just don't say anything."
And that was how it went. For the next few months, I didn't give myself time to even think about Mona. Every time I found myself with time on my hands I studied, or I worked on a project, or I helped out other students. I did any and everything I could think of in an effort to not think of Mona.
I could have gone and spied on her, if I chose to. But I had no desire to be kicked in the teeth again by watching her with her new man. She could have just as easily found me. After all, I was still going to the same school. It just went to show you how hard she must've been looking for me. All she would have had to do would have been to visit the engineering building.
I was always looking in every direction before I went to or came back from class. I parked in the lot behind the building most of the time and went in through the back door.
It was so much easier having a car of my own. I'd bought a used Mustang from a dealership in town. A few friends of mine from the automotive technology class at our school had used the car as a project and I got to keep all of the modifications they'd done after they got their grade.
Without having to worry about where my tuition was coming from, a lot of the pressure was off of me. Not having to worry about making or keeping Mona happy, took even more of the stress out of my life. I was free to learn and experiment to my heart's content.
And free from distraction, my grades soared even higher. It gave me the ability to apply an almost laser like focus to any and every task I had. The opportunity to replace Mona the way she'd replaced me came up several times. But I couldn't pull the trigger. Something inside of me was still too broken to think about it.
When summer came around, I was completely over Mona. I was also free to take any internship the company offered. That was how I ended up in West Virginia.
When you think of West Virginia, you think of coal mining. And there is that but there are a lot of other things about the state that are remarkable. The oil company I work for has several businesses there.
The people of the region are very hard working and the labor costs there are relatively cheap. The oil company took advantage of that started manufacturing all of their own pipes and fittings there.
It gave me experience with manufacturing systems, production lines, and manufacturing based robots that no amount of class time could replicate. I was there with about a dozen other interns from my company. Several of whom were returning for their second or third summers there.
After two days, I realized that the schedule the interns worked, didn't work for me. The idea was to give the interns a taste of the plant and a bit of experience. I spoke to the plant manager and outlined my own schedule for him. He was skeptical at first but agreed to it on a trial basis.
What I had done was look at my available time there and divided the summer into twelve one week portions. I would spend a week each, in all twelve departments of the plant.
Three days into my schedule, the coordinator for the interns had begun to complain. I was missing most of the meetings and question and answer sessions that the interns did. The interns also had a group project that they were all doing together and I had yet to sign up to perform a part of it. Participating in the project was a requirement. It showed off the skills we were acquiring and was designed as a gift to the company that was providing us with the opportunity to learn.
The plant manager was about to step in to defend me, but I handled it on my own. The project was a plate with the company's logo and the year and class number on it. I looked at it and shook my head. I took the rough sketch the intern coordinator had shown me and walked out of his office. I knocked on his door two hours later and placed the plate on his desk. He looked at me like I had two heads.
"Who made this?" he asked in surprise. "This should have taken you guys most of the summer. We were going to present it to Malcolm at the end of the summer picnic."
"I made it," I said. "So can I get back to work?"