There was a soft tapping on my shoulder. At first I thought it was my wife, then I remembered it was late Monday afternoon and the tapping was coming from someone else. I rolled over; it was Varina Jefferson, wife and part owner of the Antique shop where I’d bought some furniture. She was smiling at me.
“Wake up sleepy head,” she whispered, “it’s after 4:00 p.m. My husband will soon be back, and I have to reopen the shop.”
I half leapt off the old sofa, “Varina ... I ... we...”
“Not now sweetie. You jump in the shower, can’t have you going home to momma all steamy now can we?”
“No, not now. I’ve got to get out front before my husband gets back. After you get dried and dressed just slip out the back door. See you Thursday ... don’t forget.” Without giving me a chance to reply she closed the backroom door and slipped out to their storefront.
‘Oh Jesus, ‘ I thought, ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ All I wanted was to surprise my wife with something for her birthday. Marsha, my wife, loves antiques, and the Jefferson’s shop had just what I wanted, an old set of chairs, actually a love seat and two chairs, they looked to be hundreds of years old.
I had to admit, Varina was something else; maybe 5’2”, short black hair, dark complexion, probably around forty, great smell. She’d lured me right in. This was just my second visit to their shop. Last week I’d come in and found two chairs. Varina told me about a matching love seat. She said they had it at another location, a small warehouse. She was so, how do I say it, so seductive. Those eyes, those black oh so alluring eyes. She’d smiled at me. She’d walked me to their backroom to see a photograph, and within seconds I was against the sofa, then on an old twin bed. I don’t know whether to say I was seduced or raped; she’d gotten my shirt and pants off, and was riding me before I knew what hit me. That’s a lie. I knew. I was stupid. What’s the old adage, “a man doesn’t have enough blood to feed both heads; it’s either one or the other.”
Afterwards I got the chairs and loaded them in my Ford Explorer, but she said the loveseat needed some sort of additional repair and I should come back again. So I came back. The loveseat still wasn’t ready. She got me a second time. Now I’m supposed to come back again Thursday!
I can’t do this! Varina thinks she’s got a playmate! Still, if I don’t come back Thursday I won’t have the loveseat. But if I do come back?
What am I going to do? I’m a happily married man. I’m Catholic. I love my wife. Why Marsha and I; we have four kids! I’ve been as faithful as an old dog, at least until ... Now what? I’ve got to get home!
The drive was long and tedious; first out of the city where the Jefferson’s shop was located, then down the freeway, up to the Interstate, and last, Route Twelve to our development and home. I had a lot of on my mind. What was I going to do? I just knew; sooner or later Marsha would suspect something. I felt terrible!
What’s wrong with me? I’m a good guy. I’ve got a great wife, a bunch of fantastic kids. Marsha’s just the best!
Marsha has always been a one of a kind girl. I’ll say I didn’t just meet Marsha and fell in love, I found her; it had been quite by accident. I almost had to coerce her into agreeing to see me. Marsha was raised in the strictest sense of the word Catholic. One of a family of six siblings Marsha had opted for a life of religious service. When I first lucked into her she’d already been welcomed into one of the region’s ‘Orders’. She was already into her two year candidacy. If I’d been a couple months later she’d would’ve been a novitiate. I never would have had a chance then.
I happened upon her one day by the dumbest of dumb luck. Good luck? Bad luck? No the greatest of good luck! Thinking back; what a marvelous lucky coincidence. No, a true act of God. I got a phone number. I don’t even remember who gave it to me. I was twenty-one and still in college. I made the call. We talked; we telephoned back and forth. She sounded really nice, sweet, innocent, not my style at all. Yeah, well I was a Romeo; no I really was. I prided myself on how many I could and had already talked into the sack. This one sounded like easy meat.
I recall her saying she’d just gotten out of high school and was preparing for a life of service; to me back then, considering who I was, that meant something like maybe she wanted to be a prostitute. We agreed to meet at a round-about at the end of a bus line near where she lived. I drove over, saw her, and had doubts almost right away. I pulled up, honked the horn, got out and opened the passenger side door. She slid in. As soon as I got in and got a good look I knew this was a fucking mistake, a big mistake. She had a fucking hare lip!
As I pulled from the curb even now I can remember wondering, ‘how the fuck do I get out of this?’ We didn’t get far; my awkwardness, and her self-consciousness took control. She asked if I could pull over. I did, she jumped from the car and started walking, then scuttling along, sort of scampering in that awkward way girls in long coats do. My first reaction was relief, but then there was something else ... regret, remorse, guilt? I jumped from the car, almost getting my driver’s side door torn off by another motorist. I ran to the sidewalk and yelled, “Hey! Wait up,” she was running by then.
I was faster. I caught her and grabbed her by the shoulders, very crudely I turned her around, and, in a voice that somehow had gotten an octave too high, I yelped, “Hey wait ... what?” Shit, she was crying. I didn’t know what to do so I pulled her in and hugged her. I can still recall thinking as I squeezed her very skinny body close, ‘shit she’s flat as a board!’ I remember, she squirmed, but I held on. I folded the palm of my right hand to the back of her head and she grew still, rigidly so. She was so small!
That was our first contact and thinking back; it was over fifteen years ago. Since that first sighting it was one of the craziest courtships imaginable. I couldn’t explain it then, can’t now; there was something there, something, or someone, I needed, I had to have.
I hungered, I stalked, I chased, and I pleaded. She had parents, oh brother did she have parents? She had four older brothers, an older sister, grandparents, a whole extended family, and they were all passionately protective. Not in my wildest imagination would I have ever dreamed. It took me months, it was a long grueling campaign, but I did finally get her to the altar. That’s a whole crazy different story, and I don’t want to think about it, not now. My stomach’s all twisted in knots; I’ve broken my most solemn vow. She’ll know. She’ll figure it out. I know she will. She’ll see it. I’m toast. God I’ve been a fool!
I got home. I pulled in the garage and checked to make sure no one looked under the tarp where I’d hidden the chairs. I warned Marsha not to look, but the kids ... well a child’s curiosity. I fiddled with the tarp a little, and then stepped up to go in the house.
We have an attached garage connected to the main house through the laundry room, then a small foyer, and then the kitchen. I heard Marsha; she was quietly singing; it sounded like something by ABBA. Something smelled good, spaghetti, maybe lasagna. The house was warm, homey, just like always – the way a home, a real home should be.
Marsha turned to me as I walked in. She was holding a plate of her home-made lasagna. She looked beautiful; brown culottes, white apron tied off with a bow in the back, button up beige blouse, hair up in a ponytail, tiny hands, delicate little fingers, clear nail polish.
Marsha seldom wore makeup; didn’t need it. Long lashes framed luscious green eyes, bright red hair encircled a perfect heart shaped face. Lips pursed as she trilled, last trace of the cleft all but invisible, at least to me.
“Almost ready. Salad’s on the table. Garlic bread’s just coming out,” she placed the tray of lasagna on the counter and tip toed up for a kiss.
I reached down for her. No perfume, no deodorant, just soap and Marsha. She’s so tiny, even with her up as far as she could go I still had to lean way down for my nightly kiss. Not quite close enough to fully embrace I caught a glimpse of two tiny, perfect, pear shaped mounds through soft fabric. Dark aureoles, two firm nipples whispered – touch me, kiss me. I felt an emerging tumescence, a tad sore, guilt, I had to look away, “Something smells good,” I said.
“Just had a shower,” she said.
I blanched. She could tell? No, she meant she had a shower. I grinned, “No the food.”
She stepped back, “You fool. I meant me. And remember. I taped our show the other night. After dinner we’ll get the kids in bed and curl up and watch it.”
The heat was off! She reached for the food, but I grabbed her hands and spun her around twisting her arms behind her back. What I saw; luminous green eyes, darting lashes, quarter karat emerald studs on flawless lobes - my last year’s Christmas gift, long thin neck, necklace, gold crucifix, tiny breasts, firm nipples struggling against thinly woven cotton, “I need another,” I leaned in, “I need a kiss.”
She leaned up, warm soft lips lightly fluttered against mine, soft fingers brushed the back of my neck, eyes filled with love trapped my soul, then, “Let go of my arms. You’re hurting me.”
I kissed her again.
She said again, “Let go!”
I let go, “You’re such a squirrel.”
Brushing aside an errant strand of amber she got the plate back in her hands and used it to push me aside, “Don’t be so queer. Get the garlic bread and bring it in,” like a hummingbird she whisked by me to the dining room.
Just as I reached the oven the cattle came trundling in. Jamie was first; fourteen, intellectually way ahead of his age, a natural leader, built like a horse. Second came ten year old Wilson followed by Allan seven, a clone of his older brothers. Last in, five year old Meadow. The boys all looked like me, big, solidly built, brown hair. Meadow was her mom, tiny, red hair, freckles, and shy.
Like always I pushed past the boys and scooped up my daughter, “How’s my baby today?”
Choking me; she wrapped her arms around my neck, “I love you daddy.” Scouting around she added, “Did you bring me anything?”
I squeezed her tight, “Hey, you got me!” I got a kiss.
The boys rushed the table. Wilson yelped, “Come on, let’s eat!”
Jamie yanked him back, “Mom first,” we all stood by and waited for Marsha, queen of the realm, to find her seat.
It was like this every night. The boys; rambunctious and loud, Meadow quiet and like her name, soft and gentle. Everybody knew she was sort of my favorite, but no one cared. I mean I had my boys. They were there for me, like their mom - mine; little league baseball, soccer, lacrosse, scrapping with our dog. I was the dad.
Oh the dog, almost forgot. We’ve got a yellow Labrador named Brandy; Brandy’s technically Marsha’s, but it’s always me who takes her to the vet, cleans the backyard shit, and who walks her when she leaves the yard. Brandy’s seven.
We all sat at the table, we listened to mom say grace, and then when to work. Marsha’s a great cook, the best. God how I adore her. I looked from her to my boys; how could anyone so tiny create children so big? I thought of Varina; what a crone, how could ... what was I?
Dinner done we helped the kids with their homework. I helped Meadow with her words, mom helped the boys with math. We got the kids off to bed.
Marsha and I settled in and watched ‘our’ show; it was another Hallmark. What else would a woman who almost became a nun watch? For two hours we cuddled on the sofa. Sure, I enjoyed the closeness, but for Marsha these were her most special times. No disclaimer; Marsha’s surely been a sexual woman, but for her it’s never been about, how shall I say it - intromission. No it’s always been the foreplay and those long moments of post-coital holding, snuggling, kissing, and hugging.
After the flick we went to bed, but sex was off limits. Oh we nuzzled and cuddled and smooched, but Marsha has her cycle. We’re Catholic don’t forget; no condoms, no diaphragms, no pills, just the natural order of life. By eleven o’clock Marsha was curled up and asleep. I lay there; arm around my sweetheart staring at the ceiling. I had to call Varina. No more. I meant it, no more.
Got up and off early, had to get in to the office, then off to court. I’ve been involved in a pretty important case. An unwed mother’s toddler had been improperly treated to during a medical emergency. The hospital thought they’d get out of something. No way. This was big; lots of money. I’m no ambulance chaser, but the hospital had been negligent, they had it coming, wife and child had it coming. I knew the tune. The local radio blowhards would deride it as just another frivolous lawsuit; well damn, it wasn’t them, it wasn’t one of their kids! Besides ‘they’ all always had insurance. This poor dumb mother had nothing; nothing until our law firm stepped in. Oh the talking heads could rant and rave about rising insurance premiums, hospital shortages, and outrageous malpractice fees, but that mother and her child, they had rights!
After my day in court I tried to call Varina, but it went to voice mail. I wanted that loveseat, but I sure didn’t want another turn with that woman. I had a wife and a family. I was a happy man. Varina was a mistake.
We were back in court. We’re going to win this.
Last night with Marsha it got really special, almost spiritual. No penetration, not at first, but we managed other ... things. I’m careful with Marsha; she’s a good girl, a good person. Sometimes she feels she mustn’t do or let me do certain ... things. There’s always lots of touching and kissing, fondling and cuddling, but there’ve been times ... other times.
I love her vagina. We call it her cleft, sometimes her ‘Susie’, that was the name her mom used when she was little. Marsha uses it now with Meadow. My Marsha’s got thin wispy red pubic hair; it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen on any other woman, not that I’ve seen a lot. It’s soft too, not coarse or wiry like ... some.
I was being extra gentle, super-affectionate, and after a few minutes Marsha’s self-control melted. She bit the side of my neck and whispered, “Be careful.”
This was a chancy night, but that was my signal. I leaned back on my knees and started massaging up her outer thighs. She spread her legs ever so slightly. I eased forward. I used my fingers and palms to caress her abdomen and breasts. I kissed and nibbled on the inner sides of her thighs. She spread a little more. I could smell her.
Always the prelude; I leaned in and used my tongue, gliding up and down the length of her slit. The good girl, she always denied it, but I knew she trimmed. Her labia slowly moistened and grew warm, hot and pink, and engorged. More moisture started to ooze out, it drooled down between the tops of her legs toward her tiny puckered ass, that place, her most special cave, a place almost always denied me, it all glistened. It smelled so good. I loved the taste, like ambrosia.
Then on to her clitoris, her hood, a gentle nibble, a tiny bite, soft almost translucent skin turned bright pink with heat and desire ... my woman. I leaned further up. Careful, I took each tiny breast in my hands. I smoothed my palms over her nipples, slowly, gingerly. They rose in greeting. I pressed my torso against her soft body. I let my penis rub up and down between her outer labia. She wrapped both arms around my neck and pulled me down.
I lowered myself. My penis slowly pressed in. Slowly at first, but with increasing energy I moved up and down, then in and out. She flexed and squeezed her vaginal muscles, her cavern walls wrapped tightly around my manhood. Her arms around my neck, dainty palms on my nape, her head to my chin, sweet lips murmuring “I love you.”
Marsha undulated beneath me. I sighed; I’d been wasting myself with that other person. I wanted to be careful, don’t’ hurry, go slow, give Marsha my best. I was slow to reach climax, and when I did I felt guilty, like my ejaculation was somehow inadequate. I was inadequate.
Was I good enough? How could I be? Married to someone who I knew adored me; what had been wrong with me? Guilt. Shame. Why had I?
Beneath me Marsha quivered and squirmed. Even after four babies she was small. As my semen poured in she jerked spasmodically up and down. I felt her fully engorged labia wrap around me. Her hot womanly juices further lubricated my manhood. She cringed. At last she stopped. Had I been enough? Too rough? I looked down.
Bright green luminescent eyes peered up at me, she purred, barely audible she breathed softly, “I love you so much.”
My first thought, “And I risked this?” I rolled to my side. I pulled her close, smothering her in my arms. I whispered back, “I’m so lucky. Oh how I love you.”
This was so satisfying; my arms engulfing her small frame, one leg covering her thighs, I felt so strong, so powerful, I imagined I could just squeeze her so tightly I’d crush her. Then she’d whisper something, she’d say, “With you like this, your arms around me, I feel so safe, so protected.” Then I’d feel like a fool. No a king, a mighty lord; I was Antony to her Cleopatra, but for us Actium ended in victory, and Octavian lay defeated at our feet, her feet.
We lay quietly side by side for nearly an hour. These were her moments; she cherished them, I cherished them too. Two heads close together, foreheads just touching, hot breath, lips on lips. I’d gently rub her flanks, prudent not to tickle, carefully tracing the outline of her aureole, holding each dark golden nipple between thumb and forefinger, squeezing each tenderly. Porcelain, my soft, living, breathing, perfect porcelain doll.
Oh despair, other thoughts intruded, ‘Shame! I shamed this woman, this girl who was all I ever wanted, all I ever dreamed of. I can’t chance the loss of this, not ever. Oh agony! What infamy! Ignominy!’
Times like these she’d take her right hand, the tips of her fingers, and touch my penis. Sometimes she’d lower herself down and lick her lips up and down my shaft while her fingers fondled my scrotum. She’d cover my glans, my head, with her mouth. She’d kiss the head of my penis. Occasionally, like a slow caress, with affection, she’d rub her cheek up and down my shaft, sweet soft flesh smoothing all along my penis. I’d feel her eyelashes against me. Slowly she’d restore me.
On rare occasions she’d roll over on her knees. I’d get to mine. I’d kiss that beautiful second maidenhead, her pink crackled bottom. If she pushed back I had my signal, she’d take me. Often I’d respond, just as often not. More often I’d lower a little and go back to her by then sopping wet vagina. Marsha didn’t like anal sex, it hurt.
If I went to her vagina she usually put a pillow under her tummy and curled her head in another. She liked it doggie! But tonight ... no ... the guilt ... my guilt. I wanted things to be just right.
In a way it’s been scary; we’ve had four kids, but each night with Marsha, I mean every time, was like being with a virgin all over again. That’s not really true; she’s been a real wanton at times, a tigress, like those afternoons at Myrtle Beach with grandma and granddad outside babysitting. And yes I tell myself, though she hasn’t liked some things, we have tried everything. Can’t think about that; not after what I’ve done. I needed to go to confession.
Couldn’t get through to Varina. Guess I’ll make myself clear when I go to pick up the loveseat tomorrow.
(Picking up the loveseat.)
Checked my watch, 3: 00 p.m., still hadn’t reached Varina. Pulled in the alley behind the antique shop, got out, and walked to their back door. I knocked.
A gentleman came to the door, “You Gary Blackwell, come to pick up a loveseat?”
“Yes sir,” I replied, “that’s me.”
“The Jefferson’s aren’t here, but they left us to help you with the piece.”
Another man stepped through the door; he was carrying my loveseat, “Where do you want it?”
I led him to the rear of my vehicle, opened the back, and he slid it in.
The first man stepped forward with a clipboard, “Sign here please,” I signed and nodded my thanks.
As I started for my driver’s door the second man said, “Oh, one more thing.”
He slammed his fist in my stomach. The other man grabbed me by my tie and threw me against the still unopened door, he pulled my sports coat down around my arms so I couldn’t fight back, and in the most matter of fact voice he said, “Mr. Jefferson has a message for you.”
Using my tie and shirt collar as a weapon he smashed my head into my side door two, no three times. The other man, using his fists pummeled my chest. I heard a rib crack. I fell to the ground. The second man kicked me hard in the kidneys.
He was about to kick me again when the first man pulled him back, “No, we’re only to rough him up a little. Give him the envelope.”
The second man threw a manila envelope at me while the first opened my car door. Together they pushed me in. The first man said, “Now get out of here.”
I felt sick to my stomach, my head hurt, my chest was pounding. My pants and shirt were both ripped. I’d pissed myself. I didn’t waste another second. I put the key in the ignition, started my SUV, unlatched the emergency brake, and spun out. I drove as fast as I could, got out of the alley and sped down the street till I felt I was well away from those men and that shop. I pulled over; breathing heavily I opened the manila folder. No! Jesus no!
I should have known! A shop like that in the middle of the city, in that section of town? Of course the place was monitored. Mr. Jefferson, protecting himself from possible burglars had the premises, including his back room, hooked up with surveillance equipment. I was staring at myself and Varina Jefferson. She was atop my lap. Sure it was only a picture, but there could be no doubt. Further inside the manila envelope I found a DVD. I didn’t need to be told. How could I have been so stupid?
I slumped my head on the steering wheel and started to cry, “This can’t be happening. What had I been thinking?” Then it hit me, “What if ... oh no. God no. Say it isn’t so!”
I had to get home. Oh Marsha. What now? What could I say? She’d never ... Oh God, oh Jesus, my kids, my wife, my family. I’ve fucked up everything. Please, oh please.
I drove as fast as I could. I needed a story. OK, I’d stopped at a Seven-Eleven for a coffee and a guy, no two guys tried to carjack me. I fought them off. That might work.
I got home, pulled straight in the garage, got out, took a deep breath, it hurt, and went in through the laundry room like always. I could smell dinner; roast beef, one of my favorites, didn’t matter, look at me, what have I done?
As I walked into the kitchen Masha saw me. She rushed to my side, “Gary! What happened? Let me get your coat.” She turned toward the dining room and called out, “Jamie, Wilson get in here! Right now!”
Another second and my two oldest boys were at my side helping me up the stairs. Allan was at the portal gaping at me. Meadow, behind him, looked terrified. Marsha, right behind the boys asked, “Who did this? I’ll call the police.”
I murmured, “Carjacking. Don’t bother.”
Silently my boys helped me to our bedroom. Marsha was in the bathroom wetting and wringing out some towels. She looked at Jamie, “Downstairs. Turn down the oven. Get your brothers and sister settled in the living room.”
‘Thank God for Jamie, ‘ I thought.
Marsha had the covers pulled, “I’ll get you fixed up. Where does it hurt? Looks like you’ve been kicked. God Gary, we need to get you to the ER.”
“No, l, I’ll be all right ... just some rest.”
She looked down skeptically, “Gary, oh Gary. For a car? You could’ve been killed,” she knelt beside me, tears in her eyes, “That was so stupid ... oh sweetheart, oh my darling,” she pressed her hand on my cheek. She leaned in and kissed me.
I felt like shit.
The doorbell rang.
I heard it. Marsha heard it too. Downstairs one of the boys must have opened it, a second later Jamie called upstairs, “It was some man. He left a folder. He said it was for you mom.”
Marsha stayed right beside me, but called down, “Did you thank the man? Bring whatever it is up here,”
I cringed and not from the beating. Marsha wiped my forehead with her fingertips, “Oh sweetie. We need to get you to the hospital.”
Jamie came in with the folder. He handed it to his mom.
I knew what it was. My mind kept screaming, “Put it down! Don’t open it!”
Marsha must have read my thoughts; she set the envelope on the nightstand. I breathed a sigh of relief; if only ... if she doesn’t open it, if she leaves it on the stand maybe I could get it later.
Marsha leaned in, she pressed her delicate hand softly on my cheek. She kissed me, “You try to stay comfortable while I see to the children. I’m getting you to the hospital,” as she stood to go she turned back to the envelope. She had a curious look on her face. She touched it lightly, “That looks official.”
I wanted to cry out, ‘Stop!’
She picked it back up and started toward the door, opening the envelope as she went. She called down to our son Jamie, “Jamie I’m... ,” stopping in midsentence, envelope open; she turned back to me, still, like a stone. The look on her face...
I knew, “Marsha I...”
My wife reached back and quietly closed the bedroom door. She slowly moved to and sat down on the foot of the bed. She nervously fidgeted with the envelope. She looked at me, no crying, no anger, just tears. Face as grey as death she whispered, “Who is she?”
“Nobody ... I ... she’s the woman where I bought the chairs and loveseat. I mean...”
She was silent; she just kept looking from me to what I now realized was my death sentence.
In spite of the pain in my side I fumbled my way to her. I wrapped her in my arms, “It was a mistake. I made a mistake.”
Marsha didn’t resist, she murmured, “She’s old. She looks old.” At last she looked up at me, “Gary ... why?”
I tried to sound, what, comforting? It didn’t work, “I don’t know ... it just happened.”
Marsha rested her head on my shoulder, then she leaned back. Still looking at those horrid pictures she whispered, “We need to get you to the hospital.” Avoiding eye contact she stood up, turned to the door, reopened it and called down, “Jamie I’m taking daddy to the hospital. You be a man and watch things while we’re gone,” she glided to her bureau, closed the envelope in the top drawer, turned to me and, breathing deep, she said, “Please put something on. I’m taking you to the hospital.”
I was at a complete loss; this was Marsha in classic caregiver mode, “Honey ... I ... please.”
She wouldn’t look at me. She stepped toward the door, “I’ll be downstairs,” she slipped through the door, leaving it ajar.
I got dressed and followed her.
The trip to the hospital was accomplished in silence. It was after midnight before we finished. I had one cracked rib and a few minor contusions, nothing to write home about. When we got back home, Jamie was still up, but the others were all in bed, not asleep just in bed.
In the living room Marsha, tousling our boy’s shaggy head said, “That’s my man.”
I added, “Good boy, now off with you.”
Before leaving he asked, “You OK dad?”
I said, “I’m good.”
He looked at his mom, “You?”
“Go to bed Jamie. We’ve got school tomorrow.”
Marsha was a volunteer at Saint Timothy’s where our kids went. We opted for Saint Tim’s because it was one of the few coed parochial schools in the community. She played the piano and helped out with the preschoolers. She looked up at me, “You go to bed too. I’ll be up later.”
I needed her with me, “Marsha...”
She responded, “Just go to bed.”
She didn’t come up. The next morning when I went downstairs she was already in the kitchen packing lunches, getting things ready for our kids, and frying me some eggs.
As I stepped in she handed me a coffee, she set a plate of fried eggs on the table, and asked, “How’s the case coming?”
I took a sip of my coffee, “Good. I think we’ll win,” then I asked, “Have you any plans? Other than school I mean.”
She leaned back against the sink, “I think I’ll stop off and see mom and dad later.”
I tried to control myself, but inwardly cringed. Marsha’s dad was a retired policeman, Captain Keith Fitzgerald. Two of his sons had followed him into the force. Her mom was the classic Irish housewife. They loved all their children, but Marsha had always been special. Last of their brood, late in life baby, born a little prematurely, and with her ‘special difference’; she was to be their present to God; that was until she agreed to marry me. They’d been good to us; to me especially. They loved our kids as much as all their other grandchildren, but Marsha’s decision to marry had been a disappointment, a small one, but a disappointment nonetheless. And I knew, deep down they resented me. Her dad never trusted me. Her brothers and mom politely tolerated me. Only her sister ... And now this...
I whispered, “Honey maybe...”
“No,” she said, “I’ve got to see mom and dad.”
“OK,” I said.
I was in a daze all morning in court. My colleagues noticed, but I had another problem. She’d talk to her parents, get advice. God I hoped ... Just the same I had to think, think of something.
I got home a little after 6:00. I brought flowers. Marsha had another roast in the oven. I could tell she’d been crying. The kids were all upstairs; doing homework or playing I hoped. Marsha tried to smile, “How did it go today?”
I replied, “We got em. They know too. They’ll fight a while longer, but now it’s more a question of how much and how long.”
“Gary,” she said.”
“Would you mind if I slept downstairs a few nights?”
“No I need to be alone. I mean away for a few nights. I have a lot on my mind.”
I responded, “No, I’ll sleep downstairs. You keep the bed.”
She leaned to her left. I heard a faint whimper, “No, it’s the bed ... I mean ... I need to sleep down here.”
I nodded, “OK, if you say so.”
She said, “I do.”
That night’s dinner was somber. The kids knew something was wrong. Meadow’s eyes looked big and juicy. The boys just looked from me to their mom and then back at me again.
Marsha spent that first night on the living room sofa, and the next, and the next, and the next after that. Dinner time got progressively worse. I didn’t know what to do, but I had to do something.
I took Saturday afternoon and drove over to Marsha’s parents. Her mother saw me and disappeared in the kitchen. Mr. Fitzgerald invited me in to their dining room, “Well Gary what have you got to say for yourself?”
“She told you.”
“Mr. Fitzgerald I made a mistake. I can’t explain it. I can’t get my head around what I did, but I know it was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’m so sorry. I know I’ve hurt her. I just don’t know what to do.”
His face revealed nothing, but right out of left field came, “She’s been to see a lawyer.”
“No ... I ... no ... I mean ... we’re ... she couldn’t.”
Her dad quietly replied, “Gary she’s a mess. I’ve never see her like this. Divorce is ... not. But her lawyer mentioned something called a ‘Separation Agreement’. You would move out.”
I was speechless, crushed, not Marsha, not my Marsha, not this, “Mr. Fitzgerald I need your help. Tell me what to do.”
His response was like ice, “You should move out.”
I could tell he was on the edge; another word from me and I’d be on the floor. I replied, “I’ll do whatever she wants, but she ... you’ve got to know ... this was ... it’ll never happen again.”
He grit his teeth; emotions, like cracks in a crumbling wall were pressing through. Looking down and away, barely audibly he muttered, “Never do it again,” he looked up at me then. He looked old. I got a despairing stare, “You’ve broken her heart; to her you were... ,” he shook his head, “go ... just get out ... go home.”
“Yes sir,” I said. I got up, turned for the door and stepped outside.
Mrs. Fitzgerald was on the porch waiting for me. She came over and touched my arm; never the most articulate woman she started, “Gary. Marsha ... she’s ... well ... not ... never ... she’s ... It’s her ... you know ... the story ... you know. You ... we ... you weren’t like ... other ... well ... you know ... people ... you were ... and she. Oh Gary you know what I mean,” she was shaking, tears dripping down her face, “Gary ... you. Go home Gary. Marsha’s just ... You have to fix this.”
I knew what she meant. I walked down the steps, got in my car. I thought back to that first time...
I remembered Marsha. That first time...
I remember I didn’t think she was pretty, not pretty at all. That lip, her nose; it was all wrong. I had the back of her head in my hand. I used her hair to pull her head up. Eyes, green eyes, red hair; no she was pretty, very pretty, if only I didn’t have to look at that fucking lip, her left lip. Yeah, that was what was wrong, that angry red line from her lip to her nose just trapped my eyes, it pulled me away from the rest, the freckles, the cheeks, her hair, my God that hair, and those eyes. I pulled my gaze away and turned into her eyes. Jesus, she was looking at me and she knew.
“So you’re Marsha.”
She started to squirm again, “OK, you’ve had your look, so let me go.”
“Not a chance; you remember my name?”
“Gary, Gary something. Blackwell, Blackwell the creep.”
She started to squirm harder. I didn’t let go, “Yeah that’s me; Gary the creep. So when can I take you out?” I thought, ‘Was I fucking crazy?’
She really pulled then, “If you don’t let go I’ll scream!”
Still not letting go I said, “Look I can’t do that. How about if you agreed to let me take you to MacDonald’s. We’ll get a burger or something. That’s the least you, we, can do. We’ll talk a little, and then I’ll drop you off. So how about it?”
“Why would you do that? You can see...”
I loosened my grip a little and she seemed to relax, “Yeah I can see, but on the phone, when we talked on the phone I thought we hit it off.”
She replied, “That was a mistake.”
I got pissed. I remember thinking, ‘What the fuck? If any of my friends saw me with her, shit!’ I said, “Look I’m not asking you to marry me. For shit’s sake; it’s just a fucking burger!”
She flinched, “You’re not only a creep. You’re a foul mouthed creep.”
She had me there. I was probably just about the last, the worst person to be seen with her. Not just me being seen with her, but her with me. I really was a worthless piece of shit. Looking at her, and her looking at me made me see what a piece of shit I was. I said, “OK, I apologize. I used a bad word. Now how about it, a lousy coke that’s all. Then I’ll drop you off.”
She relented, “OK, just a soda.”
I walked her back to my car. All the way back I kept thinking about my best friend, or almost best friend who’d recently been killed in an auto crash. He’d been driving a Sting Ray and run a red light. He hit a utility pole. They said the damn thing just exploded. His body was a mess. I’d been a pall bearer for a closed coffin. Yeah, but it hadn’t been his death that had me thinking; not about his death, it was what I’d agreed to. My good friend had a girlfriend. She really loved him, but he’d knocked her up. She didn’t want an abortion; she wanted to get married. He hadn’t said yes or no; then he’d started thinking, he started going to his pals, guys like me. One by one we agreed that if he told her no, and she pressed him we’d all say we’d fucked her too. My friend figured she’d look like a whore if we all did that, and she’d back off. Nobody was thinking about DNA back then; it was 1998 and we were too stupid. He even figured she might get so distraught she’d kill herself. Either way my pal figured his problem would be solved, but then he got killed instead.
That was the kind of guy I was; the kind of guy who’d lie about a nice girl to get a ‘no good’ friend out of a jam. That was 1998. Now I was older, and I was walking this ‘hare lipped skank’ to my car so I could take her to MacDonald’s. I said MacDonald’s so we wouldn’t have to get out of the car. No way was I going to be seen with her.
Jesus shit, if it’d been 1998 I would’ve probably laughed at her and called her some stupid name, then I would’ve laughed harder if she’d cried. Hell I might have done that a couple months ago, but now? No maybe not.
So we went to MacDonald’s.
Later that same afternoon. Back to the here and now...
When I got home Marsha was in the kitchen. I smelled something, maybe oysters. I went in and knew right away she knew I’d been to see her father. I took a seat, “I saw your dad.”
“I know. He called me.”
“I didn’t know you went to see a lawyer.”
Marsha sat for what seemed like ten minutes, tearful but in control, she told me, “I talked to Helen. They have a room if you want it.”
“You want me to move out.”
“Helen’s house is close by. I could drop the kids off. You could stop by when I’m out.”
My stupid pride took over, “No I think I’d rather...”
Marsha interrupted, “No Helen’s is a good place. You’d be close by if I, or any of the children needed you. I might want to stop over some. It would be good for Helen too.”