The Saga of Bass and Sarah
Copyright© 2017 by Jedd Clampett
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 5 - Love, infidelity, and family
I drove back to my parents. When I got there I sifted around through their closets and found a ton of papers. Most of them were old income tax forms, old letters, my dad’s old Honorable Discharge, mom’s credentials, boxes of discarded junk and pictures. I stacked everything as neatly as I could.
I also looked through the pile of papers that had been in dad’s old sea chest. Most of the stuff was junk, sentimental junk, but junk none the less. I thought I might hold on to some of it and make a scrapbook for my kids to see when they got older. I did find two mailing folders that looked kind of interesting; one was labelled Margaret and the other was marked Rathbone.
Jesus was I tired, but I didn’t want to go home, not yet, and I knew I’d need to go through all this crap eventually. I thought, ‘Now’s as good a time as any.’ I was curious anyway. I picked up the mail envelope marked Margaret. I opened it.
What I found in that envelope proved to be the start of something as crushing as anything that had happened so far. First, some time ago, it looked when I was maybe two years old my mom had been in a clinic and had a procedure done; the procedure was what they call in the vernacular a ‘dusting and cleaning.’ Actually the records I was holding indicated my mom had been diagnosed with endometriosis, and her solution had been a partial hysterectomy. Not really a D&C and I supposed that in itself meant nothing, but the pages underneath revealed something more telling. My mom had also had another procedure done shortly before her visit to the clinic; she’d been tested for pregnancy, and as an ‘old time’ exclamation point, the rabbit had indeed died. My mom’s procedure had been an abortion!
Now my mom and dad were deeply religious, and I knew they had strong feelings about abortion. They’d been vehemently opposed to such a thing. Why had they had one performed? There was certainly no indication of any threat to my mom’s health. This was strictly a voluntary decision, and a decision they’d both had to have participated in. It had to have been mutual; otherwise why would my dad have the records?
Of course I could be wrong; maybe there was a threat to my mom’s health, and maybe my dad didn’t know until after the procedure had been performed. But my mom and dad had always been so open with each other. All my life every important decision they’d ever made had been accomplished jointly. Surely something as big as the termination of an unborn life would have required some discussion. My dad must have known. Of course he knew, he’d kept the records! Gee, they were dead; whatever had happened, the pregnancy, the abortion, what they discussed, that whole story, no one would ever know.
I turned to the second envelope; the one mark Rathbone. I opened it. This envelope was far larger, and much heavier.
Rath had served in the Army National Guard. During the years after the 2003 invasion of Iraq he’d been called up. I’d been called up too, later, but my mom had wangled me out of actively serving. Rath however, had gone.
I’d always been told Rath had gone and served with distinction, that he’d earned a Bronze Star. As I perused the paperwork in this folder I saw none of that was true. Rath had indeed been called, but he apparently couldn’t handle the strain; he’d been given a general discharge, a medical release. Rath’s military history, a history told to me by a proud dad, had been a complete fraud. The time he’d supposedly spent in Iraq had actually been time he’d served as a patient at Martin’s Army Hospital at Fort Benning, Georgia. This was harrowing news, but worse followed.
Beneath Rath’s army papers I found two sets of DNA papers; one was mine, the other Rath’s. Mine was simple and forthright. I was my father’s son. Rath’s was different. Rath’s DNA results indicated my dad wasn’t his dad.
I was tired and overwrought so it didn’t hit me right away. Then it did. Rath was my half-brother. We had different fathers. That meant only one thing; my mom had been unfaithful. She’d had sex, maybe even a full blown affair with another man. Whatever it was the next few papers revealed so much more.
Beneath the DNA reports was another set of documents; the first was a series of payments, the second a release of sorts. What I saw, what I was looking at was my dad’s purchase of my brother’s birthright.
There, stapled together on a single sheet of mimeo paper were five money order receipts. All five receipts indicated cash payments of $5,000.00 each to a man in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The payments were strung out over a period three years; years that roughly straddled the year of my birth. I guessed that about the time of my birth dad must have discovered Rath’s true nativity. He must have found Rath’s true biological father, and then he’d bought him. The proof of purchase was in the bottom document, the release I saw. The Chambersburg man, a person named Marlon Bascomb, had relinquished all legal claims to my brother right after the last $5,000.00 payment had been made. I wondered if my mom ever knew what dad had done.
I was going to be sick. I made a dash for the toilet and released what little was left of the fish I’d eaten at the Red Lobster. Even after the little that was still there was gone I sat, or knelt, at the bowl and puked, dry heaves is what they call them where I live. I kept wondering; was anything real?
I couldn’t go home, not yet. I had to think this out. My mom had been an RN, and I’d been told back in the day she’d been something of a muckety-muck in the local medical community. She’d been marked for glory, and had opportunities galore. I’d heard where she’d married my dad, and for a while made frequent trips. I know she’d been to Los Angeles and to Boston. I’d heard she’d been all around the Middle Stares region too. Chambersburg could easily have been one of her stops. At some point though she’d pushed all that aside; she’d set her career aside to be a mom and wife.
Dad must have discovered her affair; maybe because she was pregnant. He’d acquired the DNA records, they’d agreed to an abortion while dad bought Rath’s birthright from mom’s paramour. Mom I guess chose to stay with us rather than go to the guy in Chambersburg. Who was this Marlon Bascomb? The answer was right there in front of me.
Dad must have either looked him up himself or had him investigated. The man was a pediatrician in the Chambersburg area; it was all right there in black and white. So mom must have met this doctor; they had a relationship and she’d gotten pregnant, not once but maybe twice. It sort of made sense; some of it. It made me sick too.
Dad was just a high school graduate, a regular guy, a factory worker who’d pulled himself up by the bootstraps to be a manager. Mom had gone to school, earned her credentials, certainly she’d chummed around with doctors and other better-educated types. She hooked up with this one doctor. Maybe somewhere along the line she thought dad wasn’t good enough? Maybe she toyed with the idea of divorce? I guess she chose to stay with my dad. I’m glad she did, but now, well my mom didn’t look quite like the saint I remembered. Then there was my dad; he must have really loved her. And Rath, Dad never let on.
Then there was Rath. I was what 5’9”, maybe 170lbs. on a rainy day. I’d never been very athletic, never been in a fight, not one that I’d won. Rath was almost exactly like me; he was maybe an inch taller, perhaps ten pounds heavier. In school he’d been in the chess club and the glee club. We both had the same color eyes and hair. Except for a piece of paper in my dad’s chest, we were brothers in every imaginable way.
Actually he’d been the better brother; we’d both been Boys Scouts. He’d gone all the way; right through Explorers. Dad had been right there with him; he’d gone to every camp out, every big gathering, every jamboree. Dad had been the cook; he’d been the ‘spaghetti man’. Dad had been the best father of them all. Looking back I couldn’t imagine a man being a better dad, a man who loved his son more than Dad loved Rath.
I’d joined the Boy Scouts too, and dad had been there for me also. I just never had the gumption Rath had. I remember being a little jealous too. I’d been jealous of my dad’s closeness, his affection for my older brother. A lot of times I’d felt like the second fiddle, the outsider, the other son. All this came back on me, but in a way I never thought.
Dad was the perfect father for Rath. Why? Was dad making sure Rath never doubted him, or was dad sort of rubbing my mom’s nose in what she’d done? I think I knew my dad; his affection for Rath was sincere, his love of my mom was real, he’d never. Then? Now I just didn’t know. Nothing added up anymore.
Oh dad, oh mom, Rath. What was I going to do with this information? Jesus I could destroy my brother. I was sure he knew none of this. I had every reason to get him. He’d fucked my wife. He’d been a part of my life’s unraveling. Yeah, I had him if I wanted him.
It was time to go home. There was a viewing the next day.
We had two viewings and a funeral.
So dad and mom both died on Thursday. We scheduled viewings for Saturday and Sunday with the funeral for Monday. Sounds odd I know, weekends aren’t the best times, but no one was thinking. I thought I did pretty well. I didn’t cry a single time. Neither did my sister-in-law, but it was different with Rath and Sarah.
Rath had always been what I considered kind of cold fish, stoic I guess, the leader, the big brother; never a lot of emotion. Not this time; he was awful. Every time an old friend, or a friend of dad’s showed he’d crack. We had all these old Boy Scout leaders in and out. Three of them agreed to be pall bearers. Rath just couldn’t handle it. I felt terrible, but he was embarrassing. Other thoughts kept crowding in. I wondered if any of dad’s old friends, his pals from Boy Scouts; did any of them know or suspect anything about my mom and dad, about Rath.
As I watched I realized all the smart assed shit Rath mouthed right after mom and dad died turned out to be bullshit. He loved our dad, he loved mom. He’d been a bastard, a real turd, but could I tell him about our father and mother? I just didn’t know. Damn it; the big brother thing.
Sarah wasn’t much better, but for her it was mom. I guess I understood. Sarah had told me when we first met how she’d been an only child, and how when she was a freshman in college and her parents were on their way to visit her when they’d been in an accident and both been killed. She explained how she found out later there wasn’t any money. She’d had to drop out of school and fend for herself. She’d been struggling to get along, holding odd jobs here and there when she met me.
Sarah really loved my mom; it was like my mom had taken over for her deceased mom. I remember how night after night before we got married and then even after how my mom was always fussing over everything Sarah did. She took her shopping, bought her clothes, fixed and re-fixed her hair and makeup. It was like my mom had found a daughter, and Sarah had found a new mother. There were nights when dad was real bad coughing and wheezing and trying to breathe; that was before he finally retired, mom would go in Sarah’s room and they slept together.
Back then was right after I’d brought Sarah home, and we all lived in the same house together. Sarah and I pretended to be chaste, but my parents knew we were faking. Sarah was so close to my mom; she wouldn’t do anything, she wouldn’t make a decision without first getting my mom’s permission. Then after we got married and the girls started popping up it was like there were three, then four, and then five girls, all sort of like sisters, running back and forth to this or that store buying things.
The worst, or best, I don’t know was when we lost our third baby. My mom took over. She took care of Emily and Emma, and she took care of Sarah. Mom took over Sarah like she was some little girl. Sarah was so helpless back in those dark days. My mom was like a savior. Sarah spent almost a month in bed just grieving. My mom stayed right by her side.
Yeah, Sarah took my mom and dad’s deaths real hard. It was unsettling, it made me mad actually, at the viewings and the funeral Sarah spent more time being near Rath than me. I guess that was understandable; I wasn’t the best company, and I think Sarah and Rath were trying to get their stories straight. There wasn’t any intimacy, but they talked a lot. In fact every time I saw them talking they were surreptitiously watching me. I hated them, but I guess I was a little jealous too. Who could say?
When working with the funeral home and after, though I would have preferred to have stayed at mom and dad’s house, I went back home. I even slept in the same bed with Sarah; nothing happened, nothing of a sexual nature. Sarah cried a lot. I held her. I didn’t do it for her. I did it because our girls were in and out every night.
The girls didn’t cry much, and we didn’t let them go to the viewings or the funeral. Mom’s coffin was closed, but dad’s was open. Sarah and I agreed it was better that they remember my parents as they were, and not some ‘things’ in a box. Emily cried a few times, and Emma did too, but I think Emma did it because Emily did. Poor Elizabeth, only four, and a young four at that really didn’t understand. Right up to the day of the funeral she kind of expected grandmom and granddad would come bouncing back in our house.
One thing I remember about the funeral; it was at the grave site. There were dozens of people there. My mom and dad were well known and well liked. Then Sarah and I had friends. While we sat under the small pavilion and the minister did his final routine I sat in my chair. On my left were Rath and his wife. To my right was Sarah. I did something I thought was really obnoxious. I slipped on a pair sunglasses. Other people were wearing them; it was sunny. I put mine on so I could scan the crowd. I wanted to see who was looking at who.
I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. I didn’t see anything except for two people. Oh yes, Vernon and Lawton; they were watching. They were watching me, and they were watching Sarah. Sarah watched them too. She was afraid. Then I realized something; they were afraid too. They were afraid of me. I knew they knew about Rath, but I didn’t think Sarah had told them I knew about them too.
Late that afternoon after the funeral we took Emily and Emma out to the cemetery to see where they were buried. It was a mistake; the reality of it all set in and it wasn’t pleasant. Sarah saved the day; she got the girls to collect all the ribbons and bows that were on the flowers that covered the grave. The physical act of gathering in all the pretty bows sort of got their minds moving in a better direction. Even so neither of our older girls slept very well that night.
The weather was nice so the day after the funeral Sarah and I gathered up the girls and we drove over to the nearby state park. It hadn’t been open long, very few people were there, but we all had fishing rods. I took the girls down to the water’s edge and we fished for crappies while Sarah sat back and laid out a picnic lunch. It was pretty nice. Sarah remembered to bring sweaters and coats for the girls, and they were needed. I spent most of my time untangling line and putting worms on hooks. Emma caught a little fish; it was maybe five inches long. We threw it back. We ate fried chicken and homemade potato salad.
I decided to take a quiet stroll along the lakeshore while Sarah and the girls stayed back on the blanket. I glanced back and watched Sarah sitting there with my girls. Sarah was wearing this mid-calf denim wildly flowing skirt, a white blouse, and a baggy sweater. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail that was held up and away from her neck with some kind of rubber thing, a scrunchy something. The skirt fanned out from around her waist covering her legs; my girls were sitting in a semi-circle around their mom who was reading something to them. The girls were all sitting in a manner that imitated their mom; they looked enthralled, I’d say worshipful. It was a beautiful sight, and it broke my heart.
The picnic was a pleasant break, because the next several days turned out to be rough.
During the Saturday viewing Nellie made a brief appearance. I was glad she did because I had a couple questions for her. I cornered her near the signature book and we talked in whispered tones.
“Nellie,” I asked” You’ve got to tell me about this Shawn person. What do you know? Can you give me any details about his relationship with Sarah ... not the sex ... what they might’ve said?”
She replied, “I already told you what I know. I think he was from Louisville. He showed up. She changed...”
I thought at first Nellie was trying to throw me off, she said, “I don’t know. She got silly. Maybe he had something on her? I mean what do you know about her? What does anybody know? Have you ever met any of her family? She’s talked about parents. Have you seen any pictures? He showed up. She took him back in an empty office. I’m sure something happened. I’d bet they had sex. He left. He came back a couple more times. Some other men showed up. She took them back in an office. That’s all I know.”
I asked her, “Had she been screwing around long? Had you noticed anything earlier?”
She hesitated; then answered, “No, I don’t know. She seemed fine. He came, she acted funny. Occasionally some other man would show up. Before that? I don’t know. I never paid any attention.”
The evening of our trip to the state park after we got the girls in bed I cornered Sarah. We were in the kitchen. She was visibly scared. I asked her, “Who is Shawn?”
She played dumb, “Who?”
I just wasn’t taking any of her shit, “Look Sarah you say you love me. Then I find out about Rath, about Vernon, about Lawton. I don’t know who else is out there. Nellie tells me about this man Shawn is from Louisville. You know who I mean. You say you love me. You act like you want to stay married. OK, pony up. Who’s Shawn?”
Sarah sat down, “It’s complicated.”
I grimaced, “No shit. I’ve got time.”
“It’s not that easy. There’s a lot. I don’t remember. I can’t.”
“A name Sarah. Give me a name. I’ll do the rest.”
“You promise you’ll stay?”
“Sarah,” I said, “I’ll promise you this. If you don’t help me I will leave. Christ what’s to keep me? I’ve got the girls I guess. If they’re mine...”
I saw something out of Sarah I rarely saw, a temper, “Damn it Bass! They’re yours. I’m yours. I love you. I just...”
“A name Sarah.”
“Nothing ... just give me a name.”
“Hairston. His name is Shawn Hairston. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.”
“How do you know him?”
“From before ... I ... I can’t remember exactly. Bass please ... don’t ask me.”
“You say you can’t. You can’t or you won’t?”
“Can’t, won’t. What’s the difference? Just promise...”
I ignored her, “Shawn Hairston from Louisville Kentucky. You won’t tell me anything else.”
She was shaking, and I didn’t think she was faking, “I can’t. I mean I don’t exactly remember. Please don’t. You’ll find out. You’ll hate me.”
“Shit Sarah I already hate you.”
She ran out of the room and upstairs.
So I had a name and a city. I also had something else. Mom and dad had saved quite a bit of money, plus the house. I couldn’t use their money, not yet, but we had some money. Sarah and I had a little put aside. What I used I could restore. I didn’t know what to do, but I could hire someone. Yeah, it’s an old and a hackneyed idea; get a private investigator and find out. All I wanted was who this Shawn was and where he lived; it had to be the right Shawn, someone who’d made irregular trips to our area. It was probably some salesman, or some technician who had a territory. Any decent private investigator could get that for me. Meanwhile I had other fish to fry. I had to see about my motherfucking supervisor, the guy who only thought he could spare me for a week. I’d been thinking about him a lot. I’d been thinking about Vernon too.
I checked around on the Internet and called a few investigative services. I found out the most reputable ones only worked for companies or directly for lawyers. Finding an honest investigator was tricky, and I was a novice at this. It didn’t take long to figure out; first they all were expensive, second they all wanted money ‘up front.’
I found out more stuff they don’t put in books. Private investigators didn’t have any special rights or privileges, that is no more than any private citizen but they were subject to the same privacy and stalking laws, and they didn’t have any special client-investigator privileges. I honestly thought that if I hired someone anything and everything we did together would be confidential; kind of like a preacher, or a lawyer or a doctor. That wasn’t so. I also found out in most instances that if they uncovered something illegal they were obligated to report it; otherwise they could be accused of being an accessory to something.
It turned out I didn’t have any real choice; to find a ‘reliable’ investigator I had to get a ‘reliable’ lawyer. I found a lawyer who looked pretty good; he took my ‘case’, for a substantial fee of course, then he lined me up with an investigator, and she and I worked something out. Yeah it was a woman. I thought was it going to be someone like Robert Mitchum or Humphrey Bogart, maybe a Tom Sellick Magnum P.I. type, but those people only exist in cheap novels and in Hollywood.
My investigator took my information and wrote down the things I wanted. She asked me all kinds of things about my brother, his wife, my parents, my wife, and me. I told her about the DNA too, and after the usual paperwork, and powers of attorney she said she’d get that for me. She asked for something with my wife’s fingerprints too; that was something I’d not thought about.
So while I set the ‘private eye’ loose I went to work on something else. I’d met Sarah at a tavern some years before; actually a not too fancy bar. I only went there because I thought the food was affordable, it was never real crowded, by that I mean not a lot of loud and drunken college kids, and things were, like I remembered, cheap. I’d avoided the place on the weekends, but did end up there in the early evenings during the week. That’s about when I came across Sarah, in the early evening.
Most of the rest was pretty clear cut; we met, I got humiliated, we met again, I stupidly fell in love, and after maybe a week took her home to meet mom and dad. We never looked back, not once. Now it came to me; it was time to look back.
I left on a Saturday after I’d seen the P.I. I kissed my girls goodbye, hugged Sarah, yeah I hugged her, the kids were watching, and I took off for the northern town where we’d met. It was a several hours drive north up Interstate 81. Sarah and I had a little tiff before I left.
Geez, she was the adulterous whore, it was her who wouldn’t come clean, she was the one who’d most likely ruined my career and our family, and there she was getting all insolent on me.
She asked, “Where’re you going?”
“None of your bees wax sweetie,” I had to be careful; there were three little sets of eyes and ears on me. Sarah had deliberately set me up on that.
“We’re all going to worry. I think you should tell us where you’re going, you know keep us informed.”
“Sarah,” I said, “I’ll text you.”
“You’re going to need things to wear. Let me pack you something.”
OK, she had me there, “All right. You pack me a week’s worth while I play with the kids.”
She disappeared upstairs and packed me a suitcase. I heard her beating and thrashing around and wondered what else she was up to. She came back a few minutes later and handed me three sets of luggage. She said, “I packed you your suit, four pairs of Jeans, eight colored Tee shirts, two good button downs, ten pairs of your black socks, your tennis shoes, your wing tips, ten sets of boxers, ten white Tee shirts, your moccasins, ten colored handkerchiefs, and your old work shoes in your suitcase. In your tote I put all your shaving creams, your razor, your toothbrush, a new package of clean blades, two soaps, and your Head and Shoulders shampoo. I put in your deodorant, and I put in a pad and pen if you need to write anything down. And last I packed some of your medications. I packed you the Prevacid for your tummy, and a bottle of Tylenol. You should stop and buy some Tums on the way. Be careful with the Tylenol; you know they’re not good for your liver.”
Then she told me, “I think you should tell us,” she emphasized the ‘us’ for the girls benefit, “where you’re going so we won’t worry so much.”
I shrugged, “I said I’d text you.”
She grabbed me by my shoulders. I was skinny so it was impossible to get away, “Bass I don’t want you to leave.”
I realized by the look in her eyes and the fear in her voice she thought this was something more so I put my hands on her shoulders, “This is just a short trip. I said I’d text. I’ll be back,” then I added, “Look if I’m gone long enough to use all this stuff you packed I’ll be back so you can wash it up. OK?”
That seemed to calm her down, but not a lot. She was still holding me like I was on the edge of a cliff. Then she yanked me against her. I’d forgotten how strong she was. She pressed her cheek against mine and whispered in my ear in a most insistent way, “You’re my husband. I love you. I know you’re angry with me. I’m sorry. I can’t say anymore. You just wouldn’t understand, but believe me I can’t and I won’t let you go, not ever.”
I whispered back, “You’re frightening the children,” she was too.
She kissed me on the cheek, “Remember what I said.”