Edited by Barney R with my thanks
Tweaked by me, so the bonehead mistakes are mine.
This story was inspired by the Patty Loveless Song of the same name. Not all of the elements will apply.
You Don’t Even Know Who I Am
She left the car in the driveway
She left the key in the door
She left the kids at her mama’s
And the laundry piled up on the floor
She left her ring on the pillow
Right where it wouldn’t be missed
She left a note in the kitchen
Next to the grocery list
It said, ‘You don’t even know who I am
You left me a long time ago
You don’t even know who I am
So, what do you care if I go’
He left the ring on the pillow
He left the clothes on the floor
And he called her to say he was sorry
But he couldn’t remember what for
So, he said “I’ve been doing some thinking
I’ve been thinking that maybe you’re right
I go to work every morning
And I come home to you every night
“And you don’t even know who I am
You left me a long time ago
You don’t even know who I am
So, what do I care if you go”
Songwriter: GRETCHEN PETERS
I found the ring and the note when I came home from work. Kimberley had been on a bitching tirade and spending spree again, so I took all of the coaching jobs offered just to keep away.
The note was short and to the point: ‘You don’t even know who I am. You left me a long time ago. So, what do you care if I go’.
I was both surprised and not surprised that she left. The last six to eight months have been like living in an icebox as far as affection went. But the place was a furnace as far as arguments went.
My name is Roger English. I went through high school with Kimberley (Kim) Graceson being a year behind me. We dated a few times, but I knew I was headed to the Army, so I kept it light. Kim was more interested in going on dates than who she was dating and developed a sordid reputation. By the time I graduated, Kim had used up all the senior class and a lot of the junior class boys.
After graduation, I spent two weeks just vegging out before starting basic training. I had a four-year commitment and was going to learn a skill. I didn’t know what skill, but a skill. I was lucky, I was not a victim of the typical U. S. Army gotcha, I was taught medical equipment repair and electronics. Then I got a small but good gotcha, I was sent to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center and was taught Spanish. I liked it so much that I signed on for two more years and went back and learned Mandarin.
I was on assignment in Germany, when a NATO base in Spain had a problem that was beyond their capabilities, and they had no Spanish speakers available to fix the problem. It turns out a local Spanish civilian hospital had an x-ray machine that just quit on them. I fixed it, and for the next seven months I was shuttled back and forth from Germany and Spain doing local and military repairs. I was told I made the U. S. a lot of new friends.
When my time in Europe was up I went home for six weeks before I needed to report to Taiwan. I often saw Kim. She was never alone, and always with a different guy. From the looks of it she hadn’t changed.
I had had about a week left on my leave before I needed to report to the transit barracks for shipping out. I was reading a very good mystery novel, when my mother told me I had a call. It was Kim.
“OK, Jerk, why haven’t you called? Do I have some kind of do not interfere sign on my forehead? I know you have seen me several times, but you never stopped to talk.”
“It’s good to hear from you too, Kim. I didn’t stop, because you were never alone. I did not need or want to be introduced to that day’s poor schmuck that you were with. Good bye Kim.” I hung up.
About two minutes later the phone rang again. As I had not gotten up to replace the handset, I answered it. It was a tearful Kim.
“What did you mean by that asshole? I like male company, and we have not ever had an exclusive commitment. I can go out with anyone I want.”
“That’s your problem Kim. You want to go out with someone new every night. You know that you are considered the town slut don’t you?” I heard a gasp but continued almost yelling; “I would not go out with you again, unless you could show me a current clean bill of health from the health department; and a notarized letter from your pastor saying you had been celibate for the last six months.” I heard the dial tone.
I decided to report early to the transit point. I did not need the drama, and I was not used to being idle. When I arrived, there was a message for me to report to the base headquarters. When I arrived, I was shown into Adjutant’s office.
After all of the military protocols were taken care of the adjutant showed me a requisition form from the language school. They needed any personnel with language skills to fill the need for Middle Eastern interpreters. The training would commence ASAP and all successful candidates would receive a two-step promotion to a maximum of E-7 Sergeant First Class. The down side was it also added 18 months to your current enlistment.
The adjutant told me they had searched through all incoming personnel and there were only two people who qualified. The other soldier was almost finished with his enlistment and opted out. So, as I was the only qualified candidate for now, would I be interested?
As I was three quarters committed to an army career, and I love learning new languages, I told him to put my name in for it.
Two days later, rather than flying to Taiwan, I was headed to D. C. for school again. I learned Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, and Dari. I was then sent to Bagram Air Base to help interrogate prisoners.
I had been there slightly more than three months when we had a rash of blue on green* incidents. I had overheard two Afghanis talk of a planned attack on the mess hall when the base commander was going to be there. After I notified the MP’s and the commander’s office, I was attacked because someone told the plotters that I had seen to it that the plan was blown. The grenade they tossed fell behind a short stone wall, but when it exploded, the rock and shrapnel did some damage.
I received some wounds to my right arm and both legs that got me air lifted to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany and then to Walter Reed Army Hospital. While at Walter Reed, I developed an infection and lost my left foot and about four inches of the leg.
After rehabbing, I was given a medical discharge and a 70% disability pension. I would always walk with a hitch in my step. My left leg prosthesis caused an unusual gait.
I had been taking classes at the online college and was within twelve credits of my bachelors in Secondary education with a major in foreign languages. So, I decided to finish college before returning home.
My electronics education was out of date, but I still puttered around with it, and had patented a couple of neat gadgets that had paid me very well when I licensed them. With that and the savings that I had from my service and hospital time, I was 27, and financially secure for several years.
I finished my degree and had interned (student teaching) at a private high school in my home town. With my brand-new teaching certificate, and with an offer of a position at the school, I moved back to my home town. My class assignments were Spanish I & II, Arabic I & II and a study hall monitor **.
When the teachers reported to the school, I was surprised to see Kim there. I had no idea she had studied to be a teacher. She pulled me aside and asked if I would take her for coffee. We went to a nearby diner.
She told me that she had straightened up her act and quit dating a chump of the week. She then discovered that learning was fun, and after a year of a community college, she went to one of the four-year colleges and got her degree and teaching certificate in English with a minor in music.
To show me that she had not forgotten our last conversation, she showed me a health department form showing the results of her STD tests, the she showed me a doctor’s statement the she was Virgo Intacta.
I looked at her and thought ‘why is she showing me this, I have no intention of dating where I work’. I must have muttered it as I was thinking of because I got a slap in the face and a sight picture of elbows and shoe soles as she walked away.
After the school year was finished, I was informed that I would not be offered professional status (tenure). It seems that the local Arab Imam was angered that a non-Arab was teaching ‘the holy language’ of Islam. I laughed and said fine but told them to remember me when one of the students pulls a ‘Columbine’ because the teacher was using the jihadist play book to teach the class. Then I pointed out that my contract required them to pay me an additional two years’ salary as I was not being fired for cause.
With check in hand, I went to a local Muslim community center and offered my services as a paid interpreter at a very reasonable rate for any legal issues their community might have. They were very pleased with my offer as the local police and courts would not accept an Arab or any middle easterner as an interpreter. I found it ironic that the school caved to one person, and the community embraced me with open arms.
Back to Kim; she called me after the school announced my firing and offered her sympathy. She also apologized for the slap. Then she dropped a small bomb. “Now asshole, we don’t work together, can we start to see if there is any connection” Then she laughed.
“I would like that, but you need to work on your slap, you hit like a girl.” Then I laughed, and she giggled.
We made a date for the coming Friday night. We went to a play at the local semi-professional theatre group production of ‘Desperate Hours’.
We dated for about six months, when at dinner one Saturday, I asked her to be ‘exclusive’. She asked what I meant.
“I mean that you will only date me until we decide to go to the next step or we breakup. I mean, no dinners with other men without me, no lunches away from school with other men, without me, I mean exclusive. That also means no night out with the girls to strip clubs or bars. Can you do that?”