Edited by Barney R. Spell and grammar checked by Grammarly
Further messed with by me.
This is a repost without the song lyrics. I have been told that it is a copyright infringement to post the lyrics without permission.
This story was inspired by the song ‘If This is Austin I Still Love You’ written by David Kent and Kiristi Manna and sung by Blake Shelton
I was coming back from a four-day seminar on Robotics. I arrived at my apartment about 3:00 PM on a Friday when it all went to hell in a handbasket. Sally had told me she was not happy, and that she wanted to talk when I got back from Chicago. She wasn’t there when I did get back. No note, no call, no text message, just gone. The engagement ring I was carrying in my pocket suddenly felt like an anchor.
I went to the bedroom, and all the drawers that she kept her stuff in were open and empty. She even took the tee shirts of mine that she had confiscated for sleepwear. Her side of the closet was empty hangers, and her luggage was gone.
I am Jerrald Wisner, I was 28, and I was suddenly alone. I had not had that feeling since I left the military. I had either had friends or family around me until she came into my life. Then it was her, our friends, and both families. Now it was me. My family was in Grand Rapids, her family was in Austin Texas and our friends were suddenly her friends and my friends were back in my hometown.
Even in the army while on missions, I had the support and my buddies. Now all I had was work. Now I was empty.
I had arrived back in Grand Rapids after two years of overseas war zone duty with the army and several months at Walter Reed Medical Center. I spent almost four years of active duty when my military career was ended. A golden bullet caught me in the lower leg and destroyed the bones below my knee on the left side. I spent 6 months at Walter Reed Army Hospital rehabbing my injured and steel-reinforced leg. In some ways I was fortunate as there was only superficial nerve damage, but the lower left leg structure now consisted of bones with two reinforcing rods, and medically repaired muscles. I was declared medically unable to perform my duties and was medically retired with a 60% disability.
When I walked off the plane in my Class As and with my cane and ditty bag, my Mom and Dad were waiting for me. I had not seen them in the past six years except when I was on leave, or when they could come and see me while I was in the hospital. After a lot of hugs and a few tears, we grabbed my duffle and I hobbled out to their car.
For a few months, I was feeling sorry for myself. Then I got angry at the person I had become. I decided to go back to college and finish my degree. I had enough credits from online courses while on active duty and while rehabbing to qualify as a senior in secondary education with a minor in computer programming. I wanted to teach high school kids to become qualified to work in the 21st-century manufacturing environment.
I enrolled to go to Grand Valley State University. I had classes on the Allendale Michigan Campus. My schedule was intense, but my military discipline and training prove invaluable. It helped me to concentrate and to zone out distractions when I was in class or studying. The only problems I had on campus were from the ‘entitled class’; you know, daddy is rich so I don’t have to like you, and from the jocks. The entitleds just wanted me to do their classwork for them, and when I told them off, they tried to get pushy. The jocks demanded that I do their work, and when I refused they got more than pushy.
I am not now nor was I then a prime specimen of musculature, but my cane was and is hand made of W1 steel, and I know how to use it. One of the rich BMOCs learned not to push when he received a broken forearm, and the jocks needed three repeat lessons. The football team lost two scholarship players and the basketball team one before I was left alone. Luckily in all of the instances, I had witnesses that did not like the privileged class any more then I did. It didn’t hurt that in all of the episodes, the security cameras caught the action.
I graduated and found a position with a high school in the suburbs of Detroit. I was teaching beginning computer science and a robotics shop class. I was accepted by my peers and found most of them to be dedicated teachers. There were, of course, the usual 5% who either couldn’t or wouldn’t teach. There was also one teacher who was not capable of formulating a lesson plan but was a brilliant teacher.
I was fortunate in that my computer science classes were in the AP program, so there was very little deadwood in the class. My shop class was a senior-only level class and had two other shop classes, electronics, and metalworking as prerequisites so the real slackers were gone by the time they got to me.
Now to get to her. I met Sally when she substituted for a teacher that was on maternity leave. She taught English for freshman students. We seemed to hit it off from the beginning.
We went on several dates while she was at our school. Sally turned out to be a great conversationalist and was very much into live theatre. We managed to she several summer stock and touring company plays. We also went to several symphony performances at the Detroit Music Hall.
Once school was out she moved in with me. She had been hired for the teaching position permanently because the teacher she was covering resigned to be a stay at home mom. We were doing very well financially, and neither one of us was extravagant in our spending.
Sally met my parents that first summer. They got along like they were life long friends. My friends mostly liked her. Then when I went to Texas to meet her parents, I was welcomed like a son. Her friends were not so quick to like me. They thought I was just a ‘Yankee’.
That changed when Sally and I double-dated with a couple of her friends. We went to one of the local dance halls. The music was very good, and while I could not do the fast or line dances, I managed to hold Sally for all the slow ones.
About 11:00 trouble showed up in the form of a couple of drunks who insisted that they could “teach the lady more then a cripple can.” Sally’s friend Bob stood up and was backhanded by one of the assholes. I stood up and when I saw the fist headed my way, I just poked the jerk in the balls with my cane. He went down, and when I twirled my cane like it was a baton, the two of them vacated the area ASAP. From then on I was one of ‘The Good Old Boys’.
Sally was happy once school started and as luck would have it we had the same open period and the same lunch period. We were always seated in the cafeteria together, and we used my room for our open period to grade papers. We kept all of the DOAs off campus and while it was known that we were living together we did not flaunt it.
Until shortly after the school was out for the year things were fine. Then we went to a play at the Fox Theater on Woodward Ave. After the show, a couple of gangs started shooting at each other, and an innocent bystander right next to Sally was hit. I rendered what assistance I could as the wound was a minor flesh wound, but Sally lost it. She started to cry, and would not stop. After the police cleared the area and took my statement I took her back to the apartment. She was crying and saying that things like that don’t happen in Austin. She kept up the talk of Austin for more than a week.
Then came the seminar at the University Of Chicago. It was a big expense and was part of my CE credits, and I had signed up as soon as I could. Sally did not want me to go.
I tried to explain that it was important for me to go as I would see and handle the latest in manufacturing robotics. She wanted me to take her home to Austin.
I left a sad and weepy lady and drove the 6 hours to Chicago. I-94 was its usual bottleneck, but I made it to my hotel on Lakeshore Drive before dinner Sunday night. I called her every day and assured her that I loved her and that I would have stayed with her if this seminar wasn’t so important professionally.
Monday through Wednesday Sally seemed to be improving, but I could not reach her Thursday night. I left a message on the answering machine telling her I was coming home starting Friday morning. She was gone when I got there.
I believed she had gone back to Austin. She did not take her cell phone, and she did not leave a note or a phone number. A week later she left a message that she was back home, but not with her parents. She also told me not to try to contact her.
School started and it was back to a normal school routine. Sally had sent a resignation letter to the school board, so she lost her tenure status. The other teachers consoled me on her leaving, and a couple of the more aggressive female teachers start putting moves on me. After two or three turndowns, even they left me to my own devices.
Christmas break came and I went back to G.R. to visit my parents. Sally had called them and explained that she was back home but did not give them any details. I told them what had happened, and how she had left while I was in Chicago.
Then disaster struck. In late January mom and dad were killed when their house burned down. The fire marshal blamed a faulty space heater that mom had bought at Goodwill. It didn’t matter to me what caused it, they were gone. I took a leave of absence to take care of their burial and their estate. They left me well provided, and after the bills were paid, there was a substantial bank balance, and two large life insurance policies.
I missed most of the semester and was only in the apartment about twice a month. There were many condolence messages on the answering machine, but none from Sally. I began to realize that she did not want anything to do with me and it was painful. I still loved her. I decided to find a new school and to leave the state. I did keep my cell phone number and left the following message on the voice recording:
“I am not interested in any new purchases, so if you’re sellin’ I ain’t buying. Otherwise, at the beep do your thing. If it is Austin, I still love you.”
I traveled around for about four months and finally in July I decided to search for a new school. It was fortunate that I found an opening for a computer science teacher in San Antonio Texas.