Prologue: Of course we all know Infidelity is not the only reason couples get divorced. In fact, according to most studies, the number one reason for divorce in this country is money issues. Sometimes marriage problems are job related, and sometimes people simply grow apart.
The selfish bitch, Bret mumbled under his breath.
"More?" asked the cute waitress, emphasizing her question by lifting the coffee pot in her hand.
Bret checked his watch. "Nah, I have to get going."
He took one last sip of what was left in his cup, left two bucks on the table, paid the bill, and walked out. He had an appointment with Terry, his soon-to-be-ex-wife ... the selfish bitch.
He couldn't believe she thought she was entitled to the Continental. It took him over two years to rebuild that thing. Oh sure, she helped a little, but that car was his from the moment he saw it. It was his baby, his pride and joy, and now she wanted to take it away from him ... the selfish bitch!
As he pulled into his former drive he was a little surprised to see she hadn't put the place up for sale yet. They hadn't lived there long enough to have any real equity built up, maybe ten or fifteen grand that was about it, but neither wanted to continue living there so they decided to sell the house and split the profits. It was all very civilized.
In fact, as divorces go, Bret and Terry's was about as civilized as you could get ... all except for the car that is. It was a 1960 Continental Mark V Town Car. Bret saw it sitting in the back of an old farm house while driving through Indiana one day. It was just like the one his dad had when he was a kid. Normally he wasn't a classic car kind of guy, but there was something about it.
Bret stopped to talk to the farmer. He told the old gray haired man in bib overalls he'd be happy to remove that old car from the property at no cost but the farmer wasn't dumb. He knew damn well the car was worth a few thousand dollars, even in the shape it was in. They dickered back and forth and finally came to a number they could both agree on, but before Bret could spend that kind of money he'd have to talk to his wife.
"What do you know about restoring old cars?" she asked.
"Nothing, but I can learn," he replied.
For days they discussed it but Terry wasn't convinced. It was a lot of money, what if he lost interest in the old thing, then what; would they be able to sell it and get their money back, or would it just sit rusting away in their back yard instead of the farmer's?
Bret had already done some investigating and assured her there was no way they could lose money. Even if he didn't do anything to it he could sell the car in its current condition for more than they paid.
In the end it was her husband's enthusiasm that sealed the deal. With his wife's blessing, Bret made arrangements to have the car delivered. A week later, when Terry saw it being unloaded from the flatbed, she had second thoughts but it was too late; they were the proud owners of a rusty old pile of scrap metal.
"I know it doesn't look like much right now, honey, but I'm going to bring it back to life. I'm going to make her young again," he said with a big grin.
Terry always believed in her husband. As far as she was concerned there wasn't much he couldn't do if he put his mind to it, so she decided right then and there that she would support and assist him in any way she could.
Of course that was years ago. Now the Continental represented the proverbial line drawn in the sand of a failed marriage. Selfish bitch, he grumbled to himself as he got out of the car and headed to the house.
He felt a little strange, it was the first time he'd been back since leaving almost five months prior. He couldn't help but be a little saddened as he walked over the flat stone steps that led to the porch. He and Terry had worked so hard to get them laid out just right.
Oh, he knew divorce was the best thing for both of them, Terry felt the same way. Hell, it was the only thing they both had agreed on in ages. Still, they had a lot of great years together.
Bret was just raising his hand to knock when the front door opened. He'd almost forgotten how beautiful she was.
"Hi, Bret, come on in," she said stepping aside with a smile.
For a brief moment he forgot why he was there. A grin started to break free before he suddenly remembered the car.
He immediately took the offensive. "Terry, I can't believe you think you're entitled to the Continental. What the hell would you do with it if you had it? I..."
"Hold on, Bret," she interjected. "Let's talk about it over a cup of coffee; I just made a fresh pot."
Her pleasant smile and calm demeanor was disarming. What the hell, he thought; she always did make the best coffee in town ... why not.
He was starting to relax a little as Terry poured him a cup of brew. He felt good, comfortable to be in his own kitchen again. He couldn't help himself, he watched her from behind as she walked over to the counter and returned the pot to its home. He recalled how smooth and shapely her butt was under the short skirt she was wearing. A small smile emerged on his face as he took his first sip of the hot, black nectar.
She walked back to the table and sat down with her own cup of java. "Now," she said looking into his eyes, "why don't you think I'm entitled to the Continental?"
So far the conversation was not going as he had envisioned. He had himself all worked up. He came loaded for bear, ready for a fight, but there was absolutely no aggression in her voice at all. He thought they'd be yelling at each other by now, but then ... they never did really yell at one another. Even when they decided to get a divorce the conversations were well-mannered and considerate, but then she never said anything about taking his car before, either.
Bret studied her expression; she was always hard to read but it sounded as if she was willing to negotiate. Maybe she would listen to reason. Maybe there would be no fight. He'd simply lay his case out logically. When he was done she'd come to the only rational conclusion there was, the car was his.
"Terry, if you remember, I was the one who bought that car in the first place. I did all the work on it. I..."
"Wait a minute," she interjected again. "The money for that car came from our savings. I put just as much money in that account as you did. I'd say we shared in the cost of the car, wouldn't you?"
She had a point. They both put the same amount of money into the savings account every month. Still ... he did all the work.
"And what do you mean you did all the work?" she continued. "You did most of the physical stuff, yes; but who spent hour, after hour, after hour on the computer tracking down all the parts? That has to count for something."
Shit, he thought, another point for her. This really was not going the way he had anticipated ... she wasn't done yet, either.
"I even helped you with the car itself sometimes..."
"Not very often," he broke in figuring he'd scored one for himself.
"Maybe not; we both know I'm no mechanic and a lot of that stuff was too demanding for me. I just didn't have the strength to help, but even then I was right there by your side giving you moral support."
He had to admit, she did do that.
"How many times did I massage your neck and shoulders when you'd get frustrated, or kiss your boo, boo when a wrench slipped?"
Bret took another sip of his coffee. He couldn't help but smile while his mind wandered back in time. God, life was so much fun back then. It seemed all they did was laugh and have a good time together. He missed those days. Back then who would have guessed that they'd wind up in divorce court. Bret sighed, enough reminiscing he thought, back to the task at hand.
"Terry, come on, you've never even driven that car. The couple times I tried to get you behind the wheel, you said it'd be like driving a tank and you didn't want to take a chance of scratching it."
"There's a first time for everything, Bret; maybe you can come with me for the first time, just to make sure I'm driving it okay."
God, he thought, what fucking nerve. Not only does she want to take my car, but she wants me to teach her how to drive it.
"I'll tell you what," he countered, "how about if I come by on the weekends and give you a ride."
"Would you?" she asked with a smile.
"How many times?"
"I don't know, as many times as you want, I guess ... well, you know, as long as I don't have anything else planned."
"Hmmmm," Terry said indicating she was thinking about it.
"Does that mean I get the car?" Bret said a little impetuously.
"No, I was just asking," she teased.
"Come on, Terry, hell if I had known we were going to fight over it, I'd have listed it in the property settlement and let the judge decide. I just figured it was a forgone conclusion that I would keep the car. I never thought you'd want it. Wouldn't it bring back bad memories?"
"Bad memories?" she asked looking a little perplexed. "Like what?"
"Well we did a lot of screwing around in that car. Remember when we christened the back seat?"
"You mean the one I searched for, for three months before finding one that wasn't all torn and worn out?"
Shit, he thought, she's scoring points left and right. "Yeah, that one," he admitted.
"Of course I remember. You had it running by that time. We drove up by the lake. You said you wanted to demonstrate how much room there was in the back. And there was too," she said with a giggle. "Hell, we screwed in almost every position imaginable; but that's sure not a bad memory, why would you think it was?"
"Well, you know. I mean in lieu of the way you feel about me now, I just figure you probably wish none of that stuff ever happened."
"Is that the way you feel? Do you wish it never happened?"
Bret was surprised. He thought he detected a bit of sadness in her voice. She sure didn't sound sad a few months prior when they discussed the divorce. She sounded more like she couldn't wait to get rid of him.
"No. To be honest, those were some of the happiest days of my life, but..."
"Then I don't get it, Bret; why would they be happy memories for you and not me?" she asked.
"Well ... I don't know, I guess ... I guess it's because I know you feel differently about me ... different than I feel about you, I mean."
"I see. Maybe we should talk about this before the divorce is final. How DO you feel about me?"
Bret really didn't want to get into it. He was embarrassed. He didn't want to admit he still loved her, especially since he knew she didn't love him back anymore.
"Come on, Terry, I came over to talk about the car, let's stick with that."
Shit, she cursed to herself, he can be so frustrating sometimes.
"Fine," said Terry getting up to pour herself another cup of coffee, "it's in my garage; you know what they say about possession being nine-tenths of the law," she sneered.
"Damn it, Terry, you agreed to keep it here until I could find a place to store it. You know damn well I can't just let it sit out in the parking lot of my apartment building."
He was getting mad. She didn't want that. "I know," she relinquished. "I didn't mean that. It's just..."
"What," now it was Bret who was getting frustrated, "it's just what, Terry?"
"I want to know what you meant by that crack about my bad memories. Do you think I hate you?"
Bret gave out a little sigh. It didn't look like he was going to avoid this conversation.
"I don't know, maybe not hate but you made it very clear you don't love me anymore, so it just stands to reason that you might think of those memories with regret, that's all."
"Well I don't regret them. I don't regret anything about our time together..."
Should she say it? She was trying to draw him out; she had to know his true feelings but for that to happen it looked like she would have to commit first. She decided to go ahead and say it. "I don't hate you either, in fact the only thing I regret is breaking up."
Bret couldn't believe his ears. Did she just say she regretted breaking up? What the hell, she was the one who said they'd grown apart, that they had nothing in common anymore.
"Terry you were the one who said it was better if we divorced and went our separate ways, remember?"
"Yeah, I remember. I don't remember you disagreeing with me, though."
"Well I guess ... I don't know, we just didn't seem to be the same loving couple anymore."
"I know; we were both guilty of doing what so many others do after a while, we started taking each other for granted."
"Yeah, I suppose that's true, but it wasn't only that, Terry, we hardly ever made love anymore. Do you remember how we were in the beginning? God, we couldn't keep our hands off of one another, especially when we were working on the Continental. Damn we had fun working on that together."
He had to smile again, and this time he had to fight from tearing up as a tsunami of great memories flooded his mind.
"I have to agree," Terry replied. "We were a real team. Do you remember the first time we washed it?"
Bret chucked, "Yeah, but as I recall we didn't get much of the car washed. We were too busy spraying each other with the hose."
"Uh huh," confirmed his soon to be ex with a chuckle of her own. "I don't think I laughed that hard since I was a little girl."
"Yeah, we had some great times, that's for sure. But as soon as we were done with the car we started to drift apart."
"It wasn't right after we were done. We still had fun after that. I remember driving it up to your mothers place and seeing her face when she saw it."
"Yeah, she remembered right away. It was just like the Continental dad had when he died."
"She actually had tears in her eyes when we took her for a ride," reminisced Terry.
"You're right," admitted Bret, "we had a lot of fun in that car, even after it was finished." He took a moment to think back to that time with fondness.
"So where did it all go wrong?" asked Terry breaking his train of thought.
"You tell me, you seemed to have all the answers when you brought up the divorce," he responded sharply.
"Bret I only expressed what we were both thinking at the time. Come on, neither one of us was working on the marriage very much. It seemed like the reality of life just got in our way all the time. You became more interested in doing things with your buddies than you were with me."
"Terry I only spent so much time with them because you were going over Audrey's every chance you got. I was getting tired of being in the house alone so I started going out with the guys, what'd you expect?"
"I'm not sure," she answered. "I knew we were having problems but I didn't know what to do. I ... I started going over to Audrey's all the time so I wouldn't have to deal with our marriage being in trouble. It was my sanctuary."
"Well it seemed to me like you were losing interest in me, as well as the marriage. I always figured it was because you had fallen out of love with me. We started to make love less and less frequently, and when we did we didn't seem to have the same passion anymore."
Terry thought about what he said. "Yeah, I do remember not being as excited about the love making as I was in the beginning. I'm not really sure why but I know it wasn't because I didn't love you anymore. It just seemed to get old, routine ... like we did it because that's what married people were supposed to do, but neither of us had the same carnal desires for each other that we did in the beginning. What we should have done was find ways to spice it up a little ... keep it fresh."
"So why didn't we?" Bret asked.
"Good question, if we had, maybe we wouldn't be here now ... a month away from ending our marriage."
The air fell silent while they both sipped their coffee. Bret was in deep thought. He wondered what it was all about. Originally she told him she wanted to talk to him about her keeping the Continental, but mostly they'd been talking about their marriage. He was beginning to think she didn't want the car at all, that it was just an excuse to get him over there.
Terry was thinking as well but not about the car. She had to know if they were doing the right thing by getting divorced. She knew what her own feelings were but how did her husband feel about it? Did he want to go ahead with the divorce? Did he still love her? She decided the only way to find out was to ask.
"Bret, do you still love me?"
"Come on, Terry, we've been over all this before."
"No we haven't. We talked about how our lives were headed in different directions. We talked about our different interests. We talked about living life without each other. Hell, we talked about everything but how we still feel about each other. Before this divorce goes through, I need to know ... do you still love me?"
Since deciding on the divorce, there had been many nights that Bret sat in his apartment pining for his lost love. Over a period of a couple years, he and Terry went from a loving married couple to two people living separate lives in the same house. They rarely fought but there was no spark left either. It was Terry who brought up divorce one night. She said she thought it was time for them both to move on with their lives. At the time he agreed, but since then he realized he'd made a terrible mistake. He missed her like hell, he still loved her, but it was too late. The divorce would soon be final. She'd already had a couple of dates that he knew of, maybe more. She was already moving on.
So what's he supposed to do, disgrace himself by admitting he still loved her? Would he really humble himself to give her the satisfaction? Was that the price he had to pay to get his car? The hell of it was, he had always been straight with her before the divorce; should he be any less honest with her now?