Authors note: For all of the reality Junkies out there Corbraxicodone doesn't exist. It like everything esle in this story is fiction. Except for the 302 Boss Laguna Seca (which is real) I made it all up. Please don't take it too seriously. It's only a story.
It was hard to stop my eyes from tearing up as I took my last walk-through of the house I'd spent over 15 years adding to, building on and maintaining. There were so many happy memories here, and very few sad ones. Even the sad ones had been spent together, just the three of us, united against what the world would send us. I looked over the furniture one more time, to see if there was anything left behind that I might want to lay claim to or need. The living room seemed empty without my giant flat-screen. The basement likewise, without my weight machines and treadmill. I hadn't taken any of the family pictures, but all the ones of Shelby were remarkably gone. When that girl got a mad on she was a force to be reckoned with.
"Come on Dad, it's time to go. On to better things. It's time to leave the past behind. There's nothing left here for us. We already made sure we got everything. Let's go home." I nodded to the voice of my 14 year old daughter behind me. I didn't turn to face her because I still needed to put up that strong front. She needed to know that her dad was still the man she respected, not some wimp left a quivering, crying emotional wreck, by a cheating wife.
"Race you to the car," I said. Her response as expected, was a peal of girlish giggling and a mad dash out to the triple wide driveway, where my bright red Mustang 302 Boss Laguna Seca waited. I'd traded in my older Mustang GT for the new car as part of Shelby's scorched earth campaign to rid us of everything that reminded us of her mother.
The Laguna was a special limited edition of the 302 Boss, the rear seats were removed to save weight. The car even had adjustable dampers on it. It hearkened back to the high powered cars of the late 60's and early 70's that could be driven all week, and then taken to the track and raced on the weekends. The car only having 2 seats was also Shelby's way of getting me used to the fact that there were only 2 of us now. Although in reality that had already been the case for God knows how long.
The wounds were still so raw and still bleeding, just thinking about the pictures I'd seen and the detailed descriptions of Darla's actions that I'd received in the PI firm's report still hurt. I'd had a few suspicions brought on by things that truckers had mentioned from time to time, but nothing concrete. When I read the report it was like a scene in those old Kung Fu movies, where the hero in his final deadly move thrusts his hand inside his opponent's chest cavity and hands the man his own heart. All the opponent can do is look at it, still beating as his life ebbs away in front of him. Only in my Case, my wife Darla had handed me my heart, by her betrayal of our marriage vows.
I guess I'd just blanked out that evening, and sat there in front of my desk drinking Scotch, with the report's incriminating pictures splayed out there in front of me. Fortunately the next day was Saturday and I didn't have to work. My job as a diesel mechanic required a lot of focus and concentration that I couldn't have mustered in my condition. Actually what had awakened me was Shelby telling me, I needed to get up and into the shower. I staggered into the bathroom, and showered and shaved, not realizing that I'd left the file on the table. Surely I'd picked up the pictures and stuck them back in the envelope. I was sure that I had that much sense. As I heard Shelby moving around in the kitchen and smelled the aroma of coffee brewing, I decided to check on the file just to make sure. I tiptoed back down to the den and looked at my desk. All of the pictures and other evidence were inside the folder. I did have some sense left. That only left me the problem of deciding what to do about it.
My name is Jim Mason, I'm 42 years old. I'm 6'1" 210 lbs. I used to be both a trucker and a hell raiser, but life can often change us when we least expect it. 15 years ago I was driving trucks and thought it was a great life. My girlfriend Darla loved trucking and often went with me on long hauls. After she got her license, she even took over some of the driving duties. We started to make really good money and bought our own truck which had always been a dream of mine. I never thought it would happen as soon as it did because alone I only had about 60 percent of the money I needed. A friend suddenly came forward with about 15 percent of the money needed, with the provision that I'd pay him back within two years, and Darla came up with the remaining 25 percent. We paid Darryl back his money with interest in less than 18 months and settled in on our life's adventure. About a year after we got married Darla gave me the news that she was pregnant. I was so happy I couldn't stand it. Darla was less than enthused but settled in to becoming the best mother she could.
She stayed home while I went on the road until Shelby was about 5. As soon as I got home each time, we were all over each other. But after taking care of our hormones, all I wanted to hear about was how Shelby and Darla had spent every second of the time I was away. Shelby would latch onto my hand and never let go of it until she fell asleep every day that I was home. Darla on the other hand was bored out of her mind and missed the road. I started taking classes at a university near us and got my state certificate to work on trucks. I wanted to get a job that would allow me to stay home with my wife and daughter. It took me two years but by the time Shelby was 7, I was a normal 9 to 5 working Dad.
I was about to sell the truck when Darla came up with the idea, that she'd like to take it out on the road every now and then. Every now and then increased to the point where she was doing it nearly full time. And that was where we'd found ourselves a few months ago. I was fixing some broken hydraulic lines on a rig from out of state when the trucker came into my repair bin to ask about how the repairs were going and could I possibly get him out by the end of the day. "Are you going to be late picking up a load?" I asked him, knowing that a missed load meant missed money.
"Nope, but I'm in a hurry to drop one off in Chicago," he said.
"But you don't even have a trailer," I said puzzled.
"I'm talking about a different kind of load," he smiled patting the front of his pants. He then started telling me about this Red headed female trucker. Rusty was her name, and she wasn't much to look at he'd said, but she could probably suck a golf ball through a garden hose. He described her in detail, but he really hadn't needed to. Two of his details left me hoping that there were two female truckers out there like what he'd described. Rusty was my nickname for Darla because of her Red hair. The tattoo of my name under her left breast though let me know that he was describing my wife.
That was when I'd hired the PI firm and it took them about 3 weeks to get the evidence. I hoped with all my heart that they'd come up with nothing, but I think I knew from the way that trucker had described her that it could only be her. Darla was usually on the road about 3 days a week. The other four days she was at home with us. There were the occasional longer hauls where she'd be gone for a couple of weeks or so but those were very few and far between. When she was at home, I hadn't noticed any differences in her. Her sex drive was probably about the same as it always had been, even though at her age it should have been slowing down. Darla is 7 years older than me. She's Short and stocky with big tits and short red hair. There couldn't be two female truckers out there that looked like that, could there?
Shelby had made me pancakes and bacon, and strong black coffee that morning. As we sat down at the table together to eat breakfast together as we always did, I was glad she was there. Shelby was a study in contrasts. She was very responsible, and smart as a whip, but could sometimes just fall into the giggling silly teenager that she was. When something had to be done, or a decision made, she sometimes shocked us all, with the speed and clarity of her mind in reaching a solution. So it was that morning, as she shocked me yet again.
I had just started chewing a mouthful of pancakes, when she spoke. "I made us a list of lawyers," she'd said, as coolly as if she was asking to watch TV after doing her homework.
I spat out the mouthful of food and just looked at her.
"There's no way we're staying with that bitch, dad. She cheated on us. There were at least 4 different guys over 3 weeks. In my book that makes her a whore. We need a divorce and fast. She'll be home by next week so we don't have a lot of time," she said.
"Shelby you can't talk about your mother like that," I said quietly.
"Excuse me dad," she'd said looking me straight in the eye. "But she's never been my mother. You've always been my only parent. A mother is supposed to put their kids first, before everything else. You loved trucking didn't you? But you put it behind you so you could stay home with me. As soon as you got the chance to do that, she started going back out. You went to school, gave up your dream, and changed your life to stay home with me. She jumped at the first chance she got to get away from me. Even when you were on the road, you called home constantly to talk to me. She never does. Didn't you ever wonder why I never wanted to let go of you when you were home?"
Shelby was telling me things that she'd obviously felt for a long time. "Dad a child always knows when someone really loves them, and when someone is just going through the motions. She always looked at me, with that far away look in her eyes. I always got the impression that I was keeping her from doing what she really wanted to do. I think that for the past few years, she's been doing what she wanted to do. If it makes you feel better, I really believe that she does love you. She probably misses you when she's out on the road and just does what she does to feel better. But it's still cheating, and we deserve better. I think that she just wishes that I hadn't come along so the two of you could still be out there driving down the road together without me. Don't you notice that her suggestions for how to spend your vacations are always, leave Shelby with her grandma, and we'll take a load to Houston or some other place?"
"Dad, for as long as I can remember, it's felt like the two of us are a family, and Mom is just someone, who drops by to visit us between trips on the road. The family should be the three of us. I always feel like she wants to be gone as soon as she gets back. Even when she's here she doesn't have time to go to any of my school functions. Most of my teachers think you're a single dad, and a lot of them think you're cute. She doesn't know any of my friends or their parents. She just isn't a part of our lives."
I thought about all of that as Shelby and I drove down the highway in the Laguna Mustang, with roar of the big V8 in the background, headed for our new home. Everything had gone according to plan but we still wouldn't have made it if Darla hadn't broken down outside of Monroe, Michigan, and took an extra 2 days getting home. She'd probably be home sometime tomorrow, and there'd be a surprise waiting for her but not much else.
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The crowd in Moe's truck stop seemed to get younger every year. The place was full with a bunch of guys in their late twenties and early thirties. I did see one or two guys in their forties but they were still younger than me.
"Hey Darla," yelled one of the barmaids as I stepped into the room. I nodded and returned her smile and sat down at an empty table. I was just thinking that I'd stay here for a few minutes and then head on down the road to try and find a place where the pickings were better for me. I've been having this urge lately that I've been having trouble containing. I can't really explain it, maybe it's hormones or something. Sometimes I crave sex so badly that any man will do. Of course afterwards, I'm full of guilt and miss Jim, and regret what I've done, but when I get that itch I just can't help it. It only seems to hit me about 2 or 3 days into a run. I try to fight it every time, but I just can't.
Some of the girls in the bar, were barely older than my daughter. My daughter, now that was a laugh. Sure I'd carried her for nine months, and given birth to her. But she was her daddy's girl through and through. He'd even named her after his heart's desire. The man I love is a Mustang fanatic, so he'd named his daughter Shelby.
Women have a kind of radar about their breasts. I looked across the room and zoomed in on him. As I caught him looking, he didn't stop staring he just raised his beer and nodded at me. He certainly was brazen, though not very good looking. But beggars can't be choosy and I did have that itch to contend with. A few minutes later he was standing in front of me. A hat pulled down over his eyes and a two day beard growth made him look a bit older than he probably was.
"What's your name?" he asked, as he sat down without being invited.
"Rusty," I smirked.
"Oh, sorry," he said. "I thought you were Darla Mason." he took a long swig of his beer, and put the glass down on the table. "At least that's what the waitress said when I asked her your name."
"It's my name," I said quietly.
"It's a pretty name, to go with a pretty woman," he said. Somehow the words didn't seem to fit the way he was looking at me. There was only one man who said things like that to me and made me feel like he meant them. And unfortunately I had to share him with a woman I'd never be able to beat. This was just another lonely cowboy, looking for an evening's pleasure to chase away either his horniness, loneliness or some other problem.
"Look Darla," he said picking up his beer. "You look like a woman with a lot on her mind. I'm just looking to have a little bit of fun and you don't seem to be in the mood. I picked you because you look like an experienced woman, unlike these teenaged whores in this place, who'd want to charge me money, that I ain't got, and probably leave me with some venereal disease, that I've never heard of. Have a nice night, and I'' just be moving on."
Everything in my heart and mind said to just let him go. He wasn't good looking. He wasn't smooth, or even interesting, but he was available and no one else in the place had even noticed me.
"Would you like to see the inside of my truck?" I heard myself ask, though my mind was saying, "No."
"Now you're talking," he replied.
As we went into the parking lot and climbed up into my rig he almost killed the mood. "Who's Jim?" he asked. Jim and Darla Was painted on the side of my rig's cab.
I guess he noticed that I'd gone pale at the mention of my husband's name. "Sorry I asked," he said. "Where were we?"
He immediately made the wrong move. He just grabbed my tits and mauled them like they were just pillows or something. I knew that this wasn't supposed to be anything romantic or emotional, it was just sex but I hated when guys did that. Still beggars just can't be choosy. Besides I'd be home tomorrow and Jim could reallt take car of me. This idiot was only to take the edge off of my itch.
I took off my top and bra in the confines of my sleeper, and he was all over me. Whatever happened to foreplay I wondered, as he just grabbed two big handfuls of titties and forced his dick into my dry pussy. After a few strokes the friction alone caused me to start producing some lubrication. I looked up into his eyes and they were closed, he was just hammering me for all he was worth. There was nothing erotic or sensual about it, just two animals humping away to assuage their lust. I don't even think he knew who I was, in fact I was sure that he had his eyes closed so he could pretend I was someone else. Two of us could play that game. I closed my eyes and let my imagination run. There was that guy last week in Tucson, nope not him. Before my own mind would even realize it, my body and my heart gave me away. "Fuck me Jim," I heard myself cry out. He just looked at me crazily as he opened up his eyes.
Then he rolled me over and started to really pound me doggy style. It was brutal, and I was uncomfortable. How could I have compared this bastard to my husband's gentle love making. This guy was just slamming himself into me like he hated me, and wanted revenge for something I'd done to him. On top of that he was gripping my breasts like he wanted to leave a scar on me or mark me. "Hey take it easy on the titties, they're not made of stone. That hurts," I said.
"Shut up bitch and take it," he sneered. He slapped my ass so hard that it hurt. And when I told him to stop he just started pounding me harder and harder, then he just pulled out and shot his load all over my back, posing and yelling like he was making a porno movie or something. No doubt about it, it was the worst sex I'd ever had. For some reason, in the back of my mind I could see Jim looking at me and he was crying. I normally felt guilty after fucking some guy, but this was far worse. I felt like I'd given up a part of my soul.
"I think you should finish this off by sucking my dick," he said.
"I think you should suck your own dick, on your way out of my God Damned truck," I told him. I pulled a blanket down from one of the cabinets in my sleeper, and just went to sleep feeling miserable, but things were only going to get worse.
The next morning I noticed that there were marks all over my body, and big hand prints on my breasts. I couldn't go home like that so I called home and left a message that I'd broken down and would be a day or 2 later than expected. One thing was for sure though, I would never have sex with a man other than Jim again. I found a big document envelope in one of my front seats. It must belong to the asshole from last night.
I went into the truck stop's restaurant and found the guy from last night sitting at a table in the deserted room, with George the owner. I'd known George for over 15 years, back from the time when Jim and I drove together.
"Hey George," I said managing despite my pain, to smile.
"Coffee?" he asked, I nodded and he got up to get it.
"Hey asshole, you left this in my truck," I said putting the envelope down on the table in front of him. He pushed it back in front of me.
"That's yours," he said. "Maybe you should be alone when you open it."
I looked at him and he was smiling. After all he'd done to me last night he had the nerve to smile.
"I don't normally get personal on these cases," he said. "But when I found out that it was you, I begged for it," he smiled at me as he said this. "I hope the next few weeks bring you half as much pain as you cost me."
"How the hell did I cost you any pain? I never saw you before last night," I yelled. "And I hope never to see you again."
"You really don't remember do you? You probably don't remember any of them," he said shaking his head. "I started trailing you about 3 weeks ago, that's when my agency was hired. I needed to know for myself though what was going on. I could have been wrong about you, but I wasn't. I hoped that he was the only one, and you were both lonely out there on the road and it just happened. But that wasn't the case was it. Two years ago you were passing through Kansas city. You met up with a guy there, his name was Stephen Brewster. I can tell you don't remember his name, you probably never even asked him for it; like you didn't ask me for mine. He was probably just another nameless fuck to you among the many."
"He'd been a trucker for over twenty tears and had never strayed on the road. He loved my mom so much that he never even thought about it. He normally didn't take long hauls because he didn't want to be away from her for very long. He'd taken that run because the money was just too good to turn down. He wanted to take mom on a second honeymoon. By the time he got to Kansas he'd been away from her for over a week and they'd argued on the phone. It was one of those silly arguments that people have when neither can admit to being wrong. The kind that can easily just go away if either party just tells the truth and says, "I love you," or, "I miss you, I wish I was with you now." But neither one gave in. So, angry, lonely and tired he runs into you, and you know what happened right."
"Two days after he finally got home, mom was still kind of angry about him taking the longer run. She just couldn't see why he'd done it. Then while she was cleaning out his truck, she found a pair of your giant panties, and the shit hit the fan. She threw him out and filed for a divorce. Dad tried to call her literally hundreds of times, to apologize and to explain but mom wouldn't listen. She was hurt and betrayed by what he'd done. I really believe their marriage was strong enough to get over you, if they'd had time, but unfortunately they didn't. My Dad bore all of that guilt alone. He took all of the responsibility for hurting the woman he loved, and destroying our family on himself. I'm sure that eventually Mom would have forgiven him, but I don't think he'd ever have forgiven himself. Finally he just wrote a note to explain his side of the story and blew his brains out in a cheap motel less than a mile from our home." He looked across the table at me and I couldn't meet his eyes. George had heard him too and something in his eyes hardened when he looked at me.
"My mom swears she felt it when he died," the asshole said starting up again. "The day of the funeral, the tickets for their honey moon cruise arrived in the mail. That and the note he left made her realize that she'd made a huge mistake. She was never the same. Even now 2 years later just seeing a truck on the road or an ocean liner on TV can cause her to become depressed. My mom is probably around your age Darla. She's about 50, but she looks much older. It's like Dad's death just sucked the life out of her and she is slowly following him into death so they can be together again. Every time the god Damned phone rings I jump because I'm sure it's going to be someone telling me she stepped in front of a car or swallowed a bottle of pills to speed the process up."
"I became a PI just so I could learn how to track people down, with the sole purpose of finding you someday and letting you know what you've caused. Of course mine is only one story, I'm sure you've fucked up a lot more lives over the past couple of years. Sometimes I wonder how the hell you can sleep." He just shook his head and looked at me across that table again.
"Of course you don't realize it yet, but Kharma is a bitch, Darla. Someday probably very soon you're going to get some of the pain you've cause back. Someday somebody's kid is going to fuck over you, the way you fucked over so many others. It won't be me Darla, I'm not the type to go to the zoo and poke a stick at the animals. I'm only the one who gets the ball rolling, but remember my words Darla. Someday somebody's kid is going to take everything you hold dear." Then he just got up and walked away.
George came back to the table with a huge thermos full of coffee. "Thanks George, I'll return this on my next run through," I said still looking at the asshole.
"Darla, keep it. I don't know how you got to be this way, but to me you're even worse than those whores that fill this place up at night. At least they're in it for the money. They also don't have husbands and kids at home to be hurt by it. Jim is still my friend even if he doesn't drive anymore. So nest time you're out this way, stop somewhere else. I don't want you here anymore."
I went back outside to my truck, almost forgetting the envelope. Well I was alone now, so why not open it. It was probably just the results of the bastard tailing me, and his sad assed little tale, just in case he hadn't gotten to tell me this morning. Maybe even a few pictures of dear old Dad and grieving Mom. It wasn't my fault the idiot couldn't clean his own truck. Kharma, Somebody's Kid, it was all just a sour grape and bullshit sandwich. I hadn't done anything wrong, every guy I'd ever fucked was a adult with the opportunity to say no. I'd never hurt anyone, even Jim the person if anyone who would have been hurt the most had never found out and never would. And I hadn't hurt him, I'd never refused him sex, so I wasn't taking anything away from him. This was just bullshit.
Inside the envelope there was a very professional surveillance report. there were times, dates places and pictures. There was even a CD labeled last night which I was sure had video of my tryst with asshole in the back of my truck. The report was made for a company called SGS Investigations, and the client was listed as J. Mason. I went into shock. I could barely start my truck. I had to get home and try to explain this to Jim. He would never understand it. Maybe there was a chance that he hadn't received the report yet, and I could somehow stop it from getting to him. Maybe if I got home before he got the report, I could come up with some kind of explanation to lessen the impact. There was no way I could lose Jim. Without him I didn't have a life. Kharma.
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I don't know how I'd have made it through this without Shelby. She'd been the one who found the lawyer. She had also made all of the rational decisions about what to do and what to ask for. I was looking for full custody of Shelby with liberal visitation rights. I wanted 50 percent of the contents of our checking and savings accounts, and to sell the truck and the house. I owned 75 percent of the truck and I only wanted 60 percent of it. I'd already lined up a buyer. And I wanted 60 percent of the value of the house since the mortgage had been in my name, and I'd bought it while Darla wasn't working. In exchange for that the reason for the divorce would just be irreconcilable differences, as opposed to infidelity, or breach of marital contract. My lawyer was sure he could get us what we wanted.
"Come on Dad, we're going to IHOP," said Shelby. "This isn't a day for us to be moping around. I know it's not going to be a happy day, but we can make it a good one anyway. It's 9 a.m. She should be at the old house sometime in the next 3 hours. I got your cell phone changed, and she doesn't have the number here, so the only way for us to contact us is through Mr. Bertram."
"I'm sure she will as soon as she gets the divorce papers, and the report," I said sadly. "She'll want to set up a chance to see you."
"No, she won't dad," said Shelby. "She doesn't really care about me all that much. But once the lawyer tells her that you don't want to see her until you go to court or have any contact with her, she'll ask to see me, hoping for a chance to get to you. But don't worry, I've worked that out too."
"Shelby, are you sure you're fourteen?" I asked causing her to giggle. We went to IHOP for breakfast and then did the hard visit first. We went to visit Darla's Mom. She lived alone since her husband had died 4 years ago. She was glad to see us as usual and I really hated having to tell her this.
"Martha, Darla and I are getting a divorce," I said. "I wish there was some way to make this easier on you but there isn't. Of course you'll still see your granddaughter as much as ever, and maybe even more. the only thing I ask is that you respect my wishes and don't invite Darla over here if you know that Shelby and I are coming."
"Jim, I don't understand this at all. The two of you love each other. Why are you getting a divorce. What happened? Only a month ago the two of you were spooning like teenagers in that old swing out back. What happened?"
"Darla's been cheating on me, Martha," she started laughing as I said it. Then she realized that I wasn't laughing, and she stopped.
"You have to have made a mistake," she snapped. "Darla loves you, she'd never do that. I will not believe that until I hear from her." I placed the file in front of her starting with the pictures. Her eyes got bigger and her mouth just dropped open. "Maybe it's her hormones, she is almost 50 you know. When a woman's hormones go out of whack, it can lead to some strange behavior."
"Martha when your hormones went out of whack, what did you do?" I asked.
"Well, I was crabby all the time, and I had mood swings, hot flashes, and sudden bursts of crying for no reason," she said. "But everyone is different. Maybe she's like that Golfer boy, the Tiger. You know a sex addict. Maybe she can't help herself.
"Well that went better than I'd hoped for," I told Shelby as we got into the Laguna Mustang. "I was expecting her to throw me out of the house.
Before Shelby could answer, my cell phone started chirping. I answered it and put it on speaker.
"Jim, she's received the package and the divorce papers," said Bertram. She sounds like she's devastated. I could hardly make out a word she was saying. Are you sure this is what you want? I've handled a lot of divorce cases, and I've never felt worse about one. On one hand I've got you, seemingly on the verge of tears every time we talk about her. So you obviously love her a lot. And she just went to pieces on me. When two people love each other that much, there's got to be a way to work this out."
"When two people love each other one of them doesn't go out screwing everything that's not nailed down," said Shelby interrupting him. "Just stick to the plan."
"Okay, she is in the process of finding representation, and once she has, I'll sit down with them for a meeting. It is within your rights not to be present if you so choose. She will of course have the right to see her daughter."
"Why does she have the right to see me, and I don't have the right to say no?" said Shelby.
"Because young lady, you're a minor, and a custody arrangement has to be made," said Bertram.
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I got home in record time. I had never driven that fast in my life. Several times I almost lost control of the truck going around corners way too fast, but I got here. I opened the door and called for Jim. My voice echoed through the house. The house itself was eerily quiet as if no one had been here for days. There was something off about the living room, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then I went into the dining room and saw the same report I'd received on the dining room table. Placed neatly beside it, there was another folder, and a letter. I picked up the letter and read it, expecting the worst and it was.
"Darla, after reading the report from the PI firm, Daddy had no other choice than to file for a divorce. It's obvious from your actions while on the road, that something is lacking not only in your relationship, but in you. How could you do this to a man who loves you so much? I will never forgive you for what you've done to him." It was signed Shelby.
The worst part was finding Jim's wedding ring under the letter. I fell on the floor crying. I must have sat there crying for over an hour before I got up and decided what to do. I would fight any divorce. I had screwed up and done it big time, but I had never stopped loving Jim, and I never would. I went into our bedroom and started crying again, but I had to be presentable when he and Shelby came in from wherever they were.
I took a shower and decided to put on one of his shirts. He loved seeing me in his shirts with my breasts about to pop the buttons. I opened his closet and went into shock again. His closet was empty, there weren't even any hangers left in it. I went across the hall to Shelby's room and as I expected it was completely empty. This was far worse than I'd expected. They had moved out on me while I was on the road. I wouldn't even get the courtesy of trying to explain or apologize. I started crying again. I called Jim's cell phone and found that the number was no longer in service. I opened the file with the divorce papers and read them carefully. Jim was obviously hurt very badly by my betrayal but still trying to be fair. He was selling the truck, and I would get 40 percent of its value even though I only owned 25 percent. The same with the house, and as I expected he was going for full custody of his daughter. There was a card from a Lawrence Bertram who was the attorney representing Jim, with a phone number.
I called the number and I really tried to be brave and professional but I just fell apart over the phone. I told him that I didn't want a divorce and I didn't think Jim did either. I was sorry for what I'd done and I'd do anything I could to make up for it. All I wanted was my husband back. I really believed that my words and tears had an effect on Bertram. He told me that he'd contact Jim and try to talk to him. He didn't think that Jim really wanted a divorce either and maybe we could see a marriage counselor. He also told me I would have to get an attorney of my own, just so we could move the process forward. Jim had asked not to have any contact at all with me, prior to our court date, and there were things that needed to be worked out before that. He told me to have my lawyer call him as soon s possible.
I looked through the phone book and called the first lawyer I saw. Helen Bendix picked up the phone on the first ring and agreed to take my case. She came right over and we sat in my dining room, discussing the case.
"I can't believe he has the balls to ask for full custody of your daughter after he cheated on you," she said.
"Jim didn't cheat on me, Miss Bendix," I said through my tears. "I cheated on him. But it didn't mean anything. None of them did. I've only ever loved one man in my entire life, and now he can't stand the sight of me."
"Uhm, that's different," said Miss Bendix. "Does he have any evidence?"
I gave her the envelope containing the PI report. "Holy shit, this is thorough," she said. "Considering all of the evidence, he's being quite reasonable actually. The one place that may give you a little wiggle room is the custody of your daughter. A judge might agree to joint custody or nesting, but I don't think the judge would give him full custody unless you agreed to it, or didn't contest it."
"Miss Bendix you said that Jim was being reasonable, but it's more than that," I said. "He's being generous. But his generosity comes with a price. That price is his daughter. I know Jim, if I try to take Shelby from him, he'll change the grounds for the divorce to infidelity and try to paint me as being the whore that I am, and go for blood in the property settlement. My reputation in this town will be destroyed, and I probably still won't win. Shelby is fourteen, not eight. I'm sure a judge would ask her a few questions, and she'd choose to be with Jim over me, any day of the week. From the day that child was born, she's been her daddy's girl."
"You know how when you give birth in the hospital, they lay the baby on the mother so they can bond. Shelby never stopped crying, even when I held her. The nurses told me that it was that way sometimes with traumatic births, but she'd cry herself to sleep. Jim came in and they let him hold her and she immediately got quiet. As soon as he put her down she started up again. That child's bond has always been with her Daddy, never me. From the day that girl was born I've been competing with her for my husband's attention."
"So what do you want, Darla?" asked Miss Bendix.
"I want what I've always wanted. I want my husband back, and to save our marriage." I said.
Over the next few weeks, I was very busy. I went to meetings with Mr. Bertram and Miss Bendix. Jim never came to any of the meetings, but I went to every meeting, just hoping for a glimpse of him. I went to see a shrink and started counseling sessions, to figure out what caused my behavior, and why I cheated on the man I love. I looked for an apartment, since we'd be selling the house soon. I asked Mr. Bertram if I could know the area that Jim had moved to so I could find an apartment near there for my visits with Shelby. I was told that my visits with Shelby would start as soon as I wanted, but she'd be brought to a neutral place, and I was to return her there when my time was up. With all of our arrangements made, it seemed like the final settlement was exactly what Jim had asked for originally.
Our court date was no different. I felt like a puppet, with someone else pulling my strings to control me. Jim wouldn't even look at me in court. He answered the Judge's questions when he had to and said nothing else. The judge spoke to me and asked me if I wanted the divorce as well. I told him the same thing I'd told everyone from the start. I told him that I didn't want a divorce, but I had no choice. I also told him that I hadn't been allowed to even speak to my husband since the whole process began. I hadn't been able to ask his forgiveness or explain anything. The judge gave me a look that said Okay we've heard from the whore, so let's move on. He asked Shelby if she wanted to live with her Dad, and suddenly I knew who was pulling the fucking strings. The little bitch gave the most masterful performance I'd ever seen.
"Your Honor, I love both of my parents," she lied. "But I think my poor Daddy needs me more. Plus I'm not sure my Mom's lifestyle or employment would be good for me. She's an over the road trucker, and she's gone for long periods of time, on no set schedule. She can see me as often as she likes, but I should live with my Daddy."
"What about visitation, young lady?" the judge began. And Shelby ratcheted her performance up a notch. She started crying hysterically and ran over to Jim so he could comfort her. In the blink of an eye, she'd gone from speaking and acting as competently as any adult, to a crying teen-aged girl. I knew she was up to something but I didn't know what. After taking a moment to compose herself. She began speaking again.
"I'm sorry your honor," she said pretending to try and hide her tears. "But Daddy told Mommy in his letter when he asked her for the divorce, that she could see me anytime she wanted, and ... and she's never asked to see me even once, or to spend any time with me. I've seen my grandma, her mother more times than I've seen her. I think it's because she thinks I'm a..." And then she started crying all over again.
"You're a what?" asked the judge. He was falling for Shelby's bullshit hook, line and sinker.
"I'm a mistake!" said Shelby tearfully. "My mommy has never really cared for me. That's why my daddy had to give up truck driving. Because he loves me and wants to be home with me so he can watch me grow up. But she couldn't wait to get out on the road and get away from her mistake."