My thanks to the editor Barney R. Of course, I had to mess it up afterward. All mistakes are ones I made.
One left, another stayed and found her place. A love story.
Author’s notes: This is not my usual type of story. It did not start out as it has ended, it was much darker, and sadder than it ended up. I like this better than my planned story. Please let me know your opinions. CAT the Oldgrump.
My name is Jamison (Jamie) Winthrop I am now 48 years old. I’m 6’ 2” tall, balding, blue to gray eyes, and 195 lbs. I am currently remarried, after being divorced, and I am financially very successful. My children are both in college, Robert is 22 and working on his master’s degree in engineering. Sara is 20, a junior studying Early Childhood Development. My wife’s son Jorge Jr. is at West Point. My ex is somewhere. She did not want to have the responsibility of any children.
Julie, Jacob, and I were neighbors, friends, and the ‘Three Musketeers’ from the time we were in elementary school until we all went to different colleges and all over the country. We called ourselves ‘The Three Js’. I went to the University of Michigan to study in the area we grew up in. Jacob went to Duke on a baseball scholarship. Julie went to Berkley to study Film and Videography.
We, two guys, made a pact in seventh grade (when puberty hit big time) not to steal a girl from the other. We kept the pact. Julie knew all about the pact, and just thought it was a hoot.
Fast forward two years, I discovered Julie was a ‘dish’ (for those that did not grow up in the 1950s, a dish is very good). I liked that. The fly in the ointment was my terminal case of insecurity and shyness.
Jake asked Julie for a date to go to the sophomore (all three of us jumped a grade, more cause for my insecurity) semi-formal dance. I had delayed too long. That killed my chance with Julie. I did not go to the dance. Jake bragged on his evening for the rest of the school year. Julie was surprisingly quiet about it.
I finally got over my shyness in my junior year. I went to the prom with Sally Morgan, a very nice, pleasant, interesting and very pretty girl, but I knew I really wanted someone else to be there with me. Jacob went with the girl of the week, I don’t remember her name. Julie had accepted a date with Gary Boyes, the senior starting quarterback for our school football team. He was a pussy hound and was rumored (among the boys) to be very aggressive and abusive sexually. I had tried to warn her, but I think she was star struck.
My whole dance was pleasant; we had a very good time until I heard a commotion over on the other side of the room. I looked over to see what was happening. Julie was trying to fight off Boyes and George Maynard, another football team member who had her cornered against the wall.
As I was moving I heard Boyes loudly call Julie a prick tease who “is going to get what she has deserved.” I saw the look of fear, the tears, the torn dress, and a red handprint on her face. Without even thinking about I ‘bitch slapped’ Maynard on the back of the head and tackled Boyes.
That is the last thing I remembered until I woke up in the hospital. It turns out Maynard, the follower, decided that he did not like being slapped. He picked up a chair, wrestler style, and clocked me with it. Then when I was down, the two footballers decided to practice field goal kicking with my ribs and head.
Julie, luckily, had the sense to get away from those two and Jacob called the police and with a couple of other guys surrounded me to prevent further damage.
The chaperones (the football coach and his wife) just stood and watched until the police showed up. When the police arrived, the coach got involved and punched a cop who was restraining and trying to handcuff Boyes.
Julie filed a complaint against Boyes for sexual assault.
As I said, I woke up in the hospital. The damage was extensive, 3 broken ribs, I also had a broken jaw and a damaged eye socket. Then to top it off, a severe concussion. My face had 14 stitches to close a torn mouth, my scalp had another 22 stitches to close the cut from the chair. Mom and dad had been in the room with me except to change clothes. When I woke, they left to get some rest.
The first visitor after my parents was a detective from the police. I held up my hand, pushed the nurse button on my bed, and when the nurse came in, I asked if the hospital had a tape recorder I could use. She said no. I asked her to stay and be a witness. She agreed.
He asked me a bunch of questions and when I told him as I was a minor; I would not even talk to him without my parents and a lawyer present, he told me he was going to have me moved to the lock-up ward and charge me with assault for slapping Maynard.
I laughed, folded my arms (figuratively) then I just sat back and listened as he kept asking questions. I did not say anything for over 20 minutes when another guy in a suit came in and told the detective to leave.
This man identified himself as Chief of Detectives, and that they had video records from the dance and with a lot of witness statements. He told me that Mr. Boyes, as he called him and Mr. Maynard were both facing felony assault charges. It seems that besides going over the line against me, they decided to take on all comers and while they were being restrained. The coach broke a police officer’s nose. The coach was also in custody for attempting to stop the arrests and assualt.
After the detective left, Julie and Jake came in. Julie had a big black and blue bruise on the side of her face. Julie carefully gave me a kiss on the uninjured side of my face. She started crying when I flinched because she bumped against my chest. Jake gently pulled her to him and asked if they could do anything.
First I held up my arms, ‘verrrrry’ carefully, and called Julie over to me. I gave her a gentle hug, and whispered into her ear, “I would rather hurt from your hug than not have you hug me. I’m sorry I flinched.” Then I thanked them for being there for me.
About an hour after they left, Sally and her father came in. I tried to apologize for deserting her. She would have none of that, then she said; “I know you went to the dance with me because your first choice was not available, but I hope to have someone as dedicated to me as you are to Julie. I have never seen anything so brave. You took on both of those jerks without a thought of what it would cost you.”
Her father told me he was glad that his daughter was at the dance with someone who was of “such strong character and also has the resolve to protect the innocent.” Then he informed me that he was an “ambulance chaser” and as the dance was school-sanctioned and on school property, they could be held liable for my injuries. He said he would be glad to represent me if my parents gave their permission.
I told him to talk to Julie and her parents also because the first assault was against her. They may not want to do anything like that, but they should know those ideas and facts.
My parents agreed, Julie’s parents agreed, the school board caved, we each got a nice trust fund. Boyes’ parents paid, Maynard’s family was not rich, but we got a judgment against them anyway.
I healed and the football players and coach were tried, convicted and sentenced to some jail time and Mr. Boyes was placed on the Sexual Offenders List. That ended his chances for a college scholarship.
The coach was fired, and Boyes and Maynard were expelled from the school system. They both completed high school in jail.
At the trial, Boyes swore to “get even” with Julie and me. Because of this; we had the prosecuting attorney and judge issue a permanent restraining order against all three of the clowns as they seemed to be in the incident together.
It was brought up at the trial that the ‘party’ was to be held at the coach’s cottage and the football and basketball teams had been told by the coach that they would have a party favor at the party for them to do whatever they wanted to with her. It was definitely mentioned that the party favor would be female.
Boyes must have had a change of heart because we never heard from him again.
Life went on and we had all finished our junior year in college and were back home for summer break when Jake told Julie and me that he was engaged to a girl from Alabama. Her father was a very rich and powerful businessman and politician. Jake said that he was going to be working in her father’s business. He bragged “Now I have it made”.
Julie told Jake she was happy for him, and I shook his hand and wished him a happy life. Then we talked all about our college experiences. Jake of course until recently was with the date of the week. Julie told us of her class trips to film some commercials in the Napa Valley wine country and to L. A.
I contributed to the conversation about my experiences as a local nerd. I had joined a science and math fraternity and got razzed when they discovered that my use of game theory was to decide when to buy and sell stocks and bonds. The joking and harassment stopped when I showed them my investment spreadsheet for the preceding six months.
Julie looked at me with a different interest than she had ever shown before. I had been in love with her since high school, but she had always looked at me like a brother. Now she looked at me like she saw someone new. She asked; “What caused you to change your major? I thought you were going to be the next great rocket scientist?”
“Physics happened, I found that I was not only not having a good learning experience, but I was bored to tears. Then I ran into a coed who was having trouble with her statistics class, and while helping her I saw a use for that and game theory to apply to finance.” I continued; “I had a small allowance and some savings from my trust fund. I invested on paper for a couple of months, and then I jumped in. I was playing in over the counter “penny stocks” when I hit a big one. I bought 15000 shares of a small drug company and decided to hold on to it even when it lost 5% of its price in one day. Two weeks later Pfizer bought the company out and the price went from $ .74 that I paid for it to over $40.00 that I sold it for. That one stock paid for all of my student loans and all of next year’s costs. I still have a few bucks to play around with.”
Jake congratulated me on my good fortune. Julie looked even more interested, but I really did not pay a lot of attention.
We went back to school to complete our college experiences. As I said, I am a nerd, so when I graduated I had both my Bachelor’s in Finance and Masters in Business Administration. I was recruited by several national stock firms, but only one wanted me to stay in Michigan. I had no great desire to live somewhere far from my family.
Here I was a 21-year-old stock analyst and financial advisor in Kalamazoo MI. Julie graduated but found that there was not a big job market for a film major. She landed a job with an advertising firm in Grand Rapids. Julie and I ran into each other when I was visiting my parents and Julie had moved back home until she got established in her new job.
We started to hang out again when I finally decided to ask for a date. Julie laughed and said “after more than 5 years, you better ask me out. I wanted to go to the prom with you, you idiot. I have wanted to find out if we had a chance since our sophomore year.” Obviously she said yes.
We dated for almost a year when Jake sent us invitations to his wedding in Montgomery Ala. Julie did not have enough money to go, but my stock picking luck had continued. I was flush. I paid, and we went. I was sort of surprised that Jake did not ask me to stand up with him, but he explained that his fiancé’s family was large, and her brothers were available. He said that the brown-nosing was going to stop down the road, but he needed to establish himself in the Alabama political scene first.
I did not understand the change but told him the ‘Three Js’ were now and forever. I added that it was his wedding, and he could have anyone he desired.
Julie and I continued to date and after about 18 months I asked her to marry me. She said yes. Julie, my mother, Julie’s mother, and dad’s sister Aunt Ann went into planzilla mode. I was sort of pushed to the side.
I have mentioned that I am something of a nerd, but even a nerd knows that the groom needs to only know the date, time and type of tuxedo. I had them down, so I just motored on. I asked Jake to be my best man, and he said he was honored.
About 3 weeks before the wedding, we ran into a serious but not fatal glitch. Julie had an accident and was in hospital for three days. It was a slight car accident, and she had a concussion, black eye, and bruised ribs from the shoulder strap. She recovered but had continued headaches for the next several weeks.
Jake called the week after Julie got out of the hospital and asked if he could bring an additional guest. I checked with the boss, and Julie said, “no problem”. I called him back and he said he, his wife, and his father-in-law would arrive on the Wednesday before the wedding.
I had a surprise wedding present for my bride. As I said, I was still having success with my personal stock portfolio. I bought a wooded forty-acre property and home about 20 minutes south of G.R. She had not seen it yet, and I had the old farmhouse totally updated while still keeping the original look. The barn was converted to a six stall garage and a second-story apartment.
The wedding and reception were great, and Julie and I went on a Mexican cruise. (It was a lot safer then.) We had a blast. Julie showed me some of the California sights that she had visited while she was in college.
When we got back, I carried my bride over the threshold of the renovated home. She was thrilled. Her mother, my mother and Aunt Ann had made sure that all of the construction clean up was done and the house was furnished to their satisfaction.
We had been married for about 16 months when Julie told me we were going to be parents. I was thrilled and made sure that I let her know every chance I got.
Robert came into the world screaming and kicking. He was a very loud baby. I made sure to take my turn with early morning/late night diaper changing, feeding, and floor walking. Julie breastfed during the day and expressed milk to put in bottles for those inconvenient events. He finally started sleeping all through the night when he was 12 weeks old.
Julie received a promotion to advertising film director, and I decided to leave my job, and start my own Grand Rapids area financial planning and investment office. I bought a franchise with a different national firm that wanted a presence in the West Michigan area. They provided me with advertising; surprise, the film was prepared and edited by Julie. They also helped with recruiting a receptionist, administrative assistant, and a couple of people for my account managers.
Julie got pregnant again, and I was ecstatic again. This time it was not a great experience for her. She developed a couple of health issues that forced her to quit work and go on bed rest for the last 6 weeks of the pregnancy. Sara was born underweight, but otherwise healthy. Julie was not so lucky. The doctors advised her to have a hysterectomy because of some large and unusual nodules on her uterus. She had the operation and had some further complications and was hospitalized for almost a month. She could not breastfeed this time because of the medicines that she had to take. I was fortunate that I found a nanny/wet-nurse for the kids.
Maria Valdez was an attractive young war widow who needed a place to stay and to keep her newborn away from the gang that her husband had left when he went into the army. Jorge Valdez was killed by an IED while on a supply run out of Kandahar. His son was born exactly nine months after the going away pre-deployment party that Maria gave him. Jorge had been in country for just over eight months when he was killed.
The gang informed Maria that they expected her to give them the proceeds from his military insurance and the baby, or they would kill her and take the baby anyway. They were part of a new Hispanic gang that originally formed in El Salvador was just moving into the Detroit area. One of my customers knew of her predicament, and also was a mentor for Maria. He hooked us up, and I installed her into the barn apartment. She basically disappeared from the Detroit area
Maria took over the house as if she had always been there. Her son Jorge Jr. was a darling baby, and at 3 months older than Sara, a great companion for her. They basically grew up together.
Julie was very pleased with Maria and let her take over running the house.
Julie started exhibiting signs of depression. Then I noticed her trying to withdraw from all childcare and interaction. After a couple of months, I gave her an ultimatum. Either get help or get out. I told her I would not let her be an absentee mother while still in the house.
She found a psychiatrist, and the Dr. prescribed some medications. Those meds and the counseling helped her overcome some of her feeling of being a failure as a woman. I was also roped into attending a few sessions singly and with Julie. I was surprised when I was told Julie felt inadequate as a woman and mother. No amount of protest or any of my actions could convince her she was wrong. She was in therapy for more than two years. Then she declared herself cured and quit going. I read the final Dr.’s report, and he stated that there were still some lingering issues, and was ending treatment against medical advice.
It took almost a year, but we got over the hurdle while she was still in therapy. We moved on with our lives. Julie never was as amorous, or as spontaneous with her affection since the operation. I did everything I could to make her feel needed and loved. I thought it worked.
I started going into my office only when needed or to meet with the small group of clients that I handled personally.
When Sara was about 5 years old, Maria tearfully asked if I felt I still needed her to run the house. I asked her where that question had come from. She started crying and said “Mrs. Winthrop accused me of trying to get into your bed.”
That was not something I wanted to hear. I called a meeting with Julie and Maria. Julie was sullen and would not look at either of us. Maria was scared and acted like it. I was ANGRY.
I started, “Maria; you have a job here as long as you want it. If you ever decide to leave voluntarily, you will get six months severance pay for each year you work for ME, not Julie, ME. I pay your salary, and I want you to continue the great work you do.”
Then I turned to Julie; “You have no reason to be jealous; if you ever accuse someone else of what you accused Maria of you can move out. I have put up with your problems and withdrawal from this family for more than three years. Your kids think you are a guest. They don’t realize that their mother is an uncaring scared woman who is so full of self-pity that she doesn’t see the needs her family.”
Then I dropped the hammer; “I am moving you into the main floor guest bedroom until you either get your head out of your ass and get back into therapy or leave. Your choice; I love you, but I can’t stand the hurt you cause in this entire family. I include Maria as part of this family, I think of her as the sister I never had. DO YOU REALIZE THE HURT YOU HAVE CAUSED WITH YOUR ACCUSATIONS.“
By this time Julie was crying silently. She didn’t speak for a few seconds. Then I saw a look of a stiffening, angry backbone. That made the anger I was already feelings come bubbling up. I held up my hand to stop any comment from Julie. “Before you get that dragging your feet kicking and screaming attitude, I meant every word I said. You have two choices, leave my bed and go to therapy or leave my house. You have to stop wading in your self-pity.”
I went on; “You had a medical problem; you were cured, just like cancer, sometimes the cure is not what you want. You’re not being able to have more children does not make you less of a woman any more than a mastectomy makes a woman less a woman or a man who has testicular cancer and has that removed less a man. Rejoin this family or leave; just stop causing this pain. It is affecting our kids.”
With that, I left the room and went to our bedroom and started emptying the chest of drawers of Julie’s clothes. I was carrying the first armful to the guest room when I saw Julie standing at the top of the stairs. She looked like her whole world was collapsing. She took the clothes from me and went into the guest room herself. She finished moving all of her stuff. I put the kids to bed and went down to the den to make myself a drink.
Maria was sitting in the chair where she had been when I left. She looked up at me and I could see she had been crying. “Jamie, you are the kindest gentlest man I have ever met, but I can’t stay when your wife thinks I want to have sex with you. I am giving you my two-week notice.”
I looked at her, and then at the ceiling. Then back at her. “Maria; I meant what I said when I said I feel you are the sister I never had. You can leave, but if you do because of Julie, know that Julie will be gone too. I have put up with her self pity for too long. She made the decision to quit therapy without any input from me or her doctor. If you leave, it will not be because you did something to make Julie jealous or mad. It will have to be your decision, and only yours. I meant it when I said you can stay here forever.”
I did not finish my drink, I did not totally dissuade Maria, all I did was cause more tears. I did ask Maria to hold off for at least one more month. She agreed.
Maria stayed. Julie did not start therapy. She did not get moved back into our marriage bed or bedroom. About two months later, she was not in the house and her car was gone when I came home from a meeting with one of my clients. Maria told me Julie came in from a walk and just packed everything into her car and left.