The Sound of the Slammin' Door

by oldgrump

Copyright© 2019 by oldgrump

Drama Story: She started the screaming fight, and then all I heard was the sound of the slammin' door.

Tags: Ma/Fa   Cheating  

Edited by Barney R
Adjusted further by me. All errors and omissions are mine alone.

Author’s note: References to medicines and medical practices are all figments of my wishful thinking.

‘She’s leaving now ‘cause I just heard the slamming of the door’

From Ruby by Kenny Rogers

I am Ralph Cooper, 34, and soon to be ex-married. My soon to be ex-wife is Caren Cooper nee Winslow, 30.

I met Caren when I enrolled in college after I was medically discharged out of the army. I had served 6 years in the infantry, had risen to the rank of Staff Sergeant, and was injured when the truck I was riding in overturned on a training mission. I received a broken left arm and a broken left leg, but the real damage was my right ankle. The ankle suffered four broken bones and needed to be surgically repaired. I now set off metal detectors (just kidding) because of a plate and several screws needed to stabilize the structure of my ankle. I would be required to use a cane and brace for the foreseeable future.

I was enrolling in college as a 24 year old junior. I had taken AP classes in high school, and several college level online courses while serving and rehabbing. Caren was in line behind me, and she seemed to be having difficulty with a guy who was being handsy behind her. In order to get her some relief, I moved her in front of me.

She thanked me and introduced herself.

The jerk took exception to me interfering with his fun. He bitch slapped me on the back of the head.

I took my cane and tucked it under my arm and turned around. It worked perfectly, the cane caught him right in the stomach, and when he bent over, it ‘accidently’ caught him in the mouth; then when I bent to help him, my forehead ‘accidently’ broke his nose.

The jerk started to holler for the campus cops, when his friends came over and told him to cool it because the cops would arrest him not me for what he had done to Caren and to me. He got out of line and left.

It turned out that Caren was getting her classes for her sophomore year. She had worked for a year after graduating and before starting college. She said that now that the jerk was gone, she could move back behind me but I told her if she did, I couldn’t look at her.

She gave me a look and laughingly said; “I can see I’m going to have to watch you, aren’t I?”

I laughed back; “Only if I get to watch you.”

After our individual schedules were confirmed, I asked her if she would join me for a coffee. She agreed. We walked down the campus and talked. She was leading us as I was a complete newb on campus. We walked past a Starbucks, and when I arched an eyebrow Caren commented, “Good coffee, not a good price.”

We walked another block and came to a little café. Caren explained; “I don’t know if you like candy flavored coffee, but the best real coffee is right here.”

We went in and a lady behind the counter laughed and said; “Well the day is going to be good; Caren is here.”

Caren responded; “Aunt Louise, you know I always come here when I’m on campus. You always make a big deal of it. That’s why you’re my favorite Aunt.”

The quip came back, “I’m your only Aunt. How did registration go Sweety?”

“Fine Aunty, I got all the classes I wanted at the times I wanted with the Profs I wanted. I even discovered a knight errant. Aunt Louise, I want you to meet Ralph Cooper, Gentleman Extraordinaire, and defender of not so virtuous damsels.”

Then she giggled and pointed me to a little booth near the back. She then went behind the counter and poured us both a cup of coffee. When she sat down she asked if I needed sugar.

I held up my hands and said; “Whoa, Caren, we just met, but you don’t need to impress me. When I saw you I saw a beautiful, vibrant lady. I asked you to coffee to get to know you better. I was impressed when you accepted the help of a complete stranger.” Then I added, “If you are going to formally introduce me, my title is Sir Ralph of the khaki pants; Savior of damsels in distress, and all around goof.”

That got me a sweet smile and long giggle. Then we finished our introductory conversation. I found out that Caren was Louise’s niece on her mother’s side, and that she was an only child, raised near the campus, and her mother was a poli-sci professor. Her dad had died a few years ago because of an industrial accident when he was trying to rescue a couple of his work team members who were trapped under a fallen piece of machinery.

I explained about my military career and the accident that forced my discharge. I told her about my father, a single dad because my mother decided that a husband and two children were not the best things to have when a rich boss decides to make a play for you. I added; “The guy wasn’t near as rich when dad and his wife got done with him, and he was no longer a boss.”

I explained that my dad sued him and his company for sexual improprieties, and my mother for divorce. His wife sued for divorce on the grounds of adultery and got 90% of what was left. Then my ‘mother’ left him for parts unknown.

Then I told her that I had lost my little sister when she was eleven. She was a joy but had been hit by a car while chasing a ball into the road. It wasn’t the drivers fault, just an accident. I was 14 at the time and had to be my dad’s support. That was also the main reason that I decided to join the army. I needed to find a way to pay for college.

We finished our coffee, excellent as I was told it would be. Caren’s Aunt refused my money. I saw an American Cancer Society canister by the register and dropped a 50 dollar bill in it.

Caren saw that and asked if I could really afford that much.

I explained that I was real careful of my spending and had almost 90% of my army pay saved or invested. I added that I never go past an ACS canister without putting some money in.

She smiled.

I took my leave and returned to my apartment.

I did not see Caren up close for most of the first semester, but I made it a point to go and enjoy at least a cup of Aunt Louise’s coffee every time I was on campus. I saw Caren across campus several times, and she was always walking with a nice looking boy. They appeared to be in very animated conversation every time I saw them.

One Friday morning after my class on organic chemistry, I stopped for my coffee and she was there. So was the guy, and the conversation was not just animated, it was loud and acrimonious. Caren was calling the guy all kinds of things, but mostly she was yelling at him for cheating on her.

Suddenly, she took his frat pin off her blouse and threw it at him.

I was embarrassed because that conversation should have taken place in a much less public area. I got my coffee to go and left.

At Christmas break I ran into the guy and apologized for being a witness to her tirade.

He just laughed and said; “It was just the last of the tirades, she found something to complain or argue about constantly. That particular argument was about me missing a date. She saw me with my cousin going into the hospital ER when I was supposed to be with her. My sister had had a car crash and was slightly injured. Caren did not want to listen. It was the final tirade for me. She is a sweet girl most of the time, but she sometimes gets a burr under her saddle and won’t let go. Then she becomes a Banshee.”

As the school year was coming to a finish, I realized that I had discovered that I liked finance. I switched my major to financial management.

Just before final exams, I saw Caren in the coffee shop. She waved for me to sit down by her. For some reason I was uncomfortable, but I did sit with her.

We talked about the school year and our respective majors and after college career goals. Caren was studying secondary education with a major in teaching English and Drama. She explained that she wanted to teach the kids an appreciation for literature and acting.

I explained that I was switching my major as I was not cut out to be a scientist. I told her that with my change of direction, I had landed an internship with a lab that was doing work on cancer research. While I would not be doing the research, I would be keeping track of their expenditures and assisting with fundraising.

She said that that should be a big help to the researchers and allow them to concentrate on their work.

The internship went great, and there was an implied job offer for after graduation. Senior year started for me almost the same as the previous one did, except ‘handsy’ wasn’t there and Caren was three people in front of me.

After registration, Caren put her arm in mine and marched me to the café. Louise was her usual smiling self.

I saw Caren almost everyday I was on campus, I never approached her, but every time she saw me we went to the café.

We still had not dated. I had not asked and Caren had not brought it up. Just before our holiday break, Caren told me she was going to go back home and stay with her mother, because her mother was not doing well, and she was refusing to go to the doctor.

I told her; “Family comes first. Don’t worry about it. I planned to stay on campus and complete a major paper for my business ethics class.” I jokingly added; “Besides, I can always flirt with Louise, we aren’t dating, and if you discover someone who fascinates you, go for it.”

That went over real well. I got a look from Caren like she had just discovered poop in her pie. She just nodded and left.

I knew that I had put my foot in my mouth, but I just shrugged it off and went about my business. After Christmas when school started again, she did everything she could to avoid me. If I went to the café and she was there, she would go into the kitchen, or leave altogether.

I was a little perturbed by that, but after two or three times of it happening; I just found another coffee shop.

I graduated cum laude, with a dual degree in business administration and financial planning. I was offered several jobs with Wall Street firms but took a job for a small pharmaceutical company that was doing things with statins and biologics to fight all cancers. The pay was a lot less, but the job felt right.

I heard Caren had gone back to her mother’s for the summer. I assumed that that was the last I would see of her. It wasn’t.

I had been with the company for about four months, when one of the researchers George Kim, mentioned that he had taken an organic chemistry and a biology class with me at college. He went on to explain that he was on to a biologic drug that offered a good short term remission and also appeared to work long term on certain leukemias. He went on to explain that because of the promising preliminary results, the FDA and the company had set up a trial for terminal patients at the Rochester Minnesota campus of the Mayo clinic.

I was enthused, but asked; “That’s really great, but why are you talking to me about this?” Then I added, “I work in accounting, I am not a front line researcher.”

George looked disturbed, “Whoops! I guess I let the cat out of the bag. You are going to be asked to be part of the team to go there and you will have double duties, keeping track of the expenses and of the clinical results. The bosses found out that you knew some of the science and were a statistics geek; so, they are going to ask you to go.”

“But I’m not a medical or scientific professional. I’m a numbers geek.” I said. “I can and do crunch numbers and statistical information with the best, but I’m sure there are more senior people that would want to be on that team.”

“Not ones that understand both the scientific and the financial sides of the equation. You will be what the grantors want to keep track of the expenses when we are using their grants, and the researchers want to work the black arts of computer science on their data.” George said.

So, I went with the research team and had a wonderful experience. I also dabbled in the OTC stock market with some of my savings. I bought some ‘penny’ stocks and scored a couple of big winners. One of the winners was a company that I bought 10,000 shares on margin at $1.25 and when the company was bought out by a much larger conglomerate there was a one to one stock swap and the larger company’s share price jumped to $41.00 a share. Another couple of the stocks moved to the profit range of $100,000. Of course, I had five or six losers for every winner, but I was so far ahead that I just laughed all the way to the bank. I also bought several hundred shares of my company stock.

When the successful drug trials ended after eighteen months, the company shares jumped to more then 5 times what I paid for them. Then one of the ‘Big Pharma’ corporations decided they wanted the new drug, so they bought our company out at a big premium. When the smoke cleared one junior accountant was without a job but had another three-quarters of a million to go in the bank.

I moved back to my home town.

Without a job, and not really needing one right away, I called the local American Cancer Society office and asked if there was a clearing house for researchers who might be looking for statistical or accountancy help.

They did not have one but gave me the phone number of their national office. I called and was out of luck there. They knew who I was, because I was a big contributor. They just told me they would keep my resume and pass it on to any group applying for a grant.

Well that sucked eggs big time. I was bored and saw an advertisement for school aides. The only requirement was a college degree and it did not need to be in education. I applied and was hired by the district to be a high school aide.

Of course, one of the teachers was Caren. She was now Caren Graham, and was married to another teacher. When I was introduced to the staff, she squealed and gave me a huge hug. Then of course she took over the introductions and I was introduced as ‘Sir Ralph of the khaki pants’.

That introduction forced an explanation from Caren. She embellished my part in it, but it made me instantly part of the faculty.

The teacher I was assigned to was Gary Graham, Caren’s husband. He taught math and principles of accounting. His expertise in accounting was worthless, and he was not a great teacher overall. His lesson planning skills were poor, and he was not a great articulator of some of the basic math principles. I never contradicted him, but when I saw a student having difficulty, I helped them.

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