Heard it on the Radio Ch. 01byMattblackUK©
Part 1 Rosie and Jim
Jim Scott met Rosie Jones in High School. It wasn't a case of love at first sight. He was a year older than her, and she was, well, she was a more than a little different to all the other students.
"She was pretty, nobody truly disliked her, but she had a strange, eccentric way about her. She also very rarely understood jokes. She would look puzzled as if she could no more understand the joke than she could understand the works of Einstein. There were also other quirks in her character that were irritating or endearing, sometimes at the same time!
He found Rosie attractive, in a way, but didn't do anything about it, because his girlfriend throughout High School was Angie Cook. More about her, later.
Jim was of average height, of average good looks and his only quirk, if you could describe it as a quirk, is that his given name was not James, the name on his birth certificate was Jim Scott.
Although they lived in a moderately small town, Jim somehow lost track of Rosie and he met her again at a church cookout, several years later.
They got chatting about the old days and their conversation went so well that they decided to continue it over drinks in a nearby restaurant.
Jim had attended university and after obtaining a combined degree in English and media studies had obtained work locally as a copywriter, where his boss, Dave, was more like an older brother than an employer.
Rosie had decided against college and had worked in a coffee shop-cum-bookstore since graduating. You'll be pleased to know that the owner had resisted the temptation to call it Central Perk. It was, instead, enjoying the name "Books and Brews."
They had exchanged phone numbers and, by the end of that first week, it was obvious that there was a very big spark between them. That they were very much in love.
Six months later, Jim proposed to Rosie, she excitedly accepted and they were married in the same church were they had met. Her parents were proud as they could be, at the service. Jim's parents had died in a car wreck when he was 14, he had been raised until he left for college by his last remaining relation, an elderly aunt who died a year after he earned his degree.
Angie sent her apologies, she was unable to get out of her contractual obligation to be working in Canberra, and Rosie was given away by her father, Jim's best man was his boss from work, Dave and Angie's bridesmaid was her boss from work, Sally.
Being married to Rosie was very rewarding for Jim. But, at times, it was also somewhat challenging. It became obvious to Jim that there was something more than a little different about his beautiful, loving wife. Not wrong, exactly. But more than a little bit off.
He confided in her parents, Dave and Grace. They looked at each other, warily, and Dave seemed delegated to speak for the both of them. "Rosie was always a little different as a child. She was and is our only child, so we had nothing to base our concerns on.
"Eventually, though, we took her to the doctor and, after seeing some specialists, it was determined that Rosie had a very mild form of autism. There was, they told us, nothing to worry about, but they helped point out how things would probably be. And, on the whole, they were right.
"She is a little socially awkward at times, and she has no discernible sense of humour, as ytou'll have noticed, she has trouble relating to other people, sometimes. One thing I, well, we, are pleased about was that they were wrong when they said it would be unlikely that she'd ever marry. You've proved them wrong and you are so loving and patient with her, it is a joy to our hearts!"
Jim and Rosie rented a small two bedroom house not far from Rosie's parents' place. They could easily afford it, with their combined salaries.
They had plans, big plans. They talked long into the night as they cuddled after making love. They would have two or three children, perhaps a dog and they would save up and buy a proper, big house with a massive yard for the children and dogs to play in together, in perfect safety. But until then, Rosie was on the pill.
Nearly three years into the marriage, Jim noticed that things had started to change between him and Rosie. It seemed that she was somehow emotionally distancing herself from him. She began to criticise him for small, trivial issues. Some of which she was making up, it seemed to him.
At first, he blamed it on her condition, but after a couple of months when their sex life had come to a virtual halt, he realised that there was a fairly major problem that was changing their marriage. And not for the better.
It all came crashing down when Jim innocently used the computer late one afternoon. Rosie was doing some more late hours at the bookstore.
He wanted to do some grouting in their bathroom and he Googled 'How to...' but it auto completed 'How to... hide signs of my affair'.
Jim gasped and clicked on the links that came up. Within minutes he realised that Rosie was cheating on him and had been researching techniques on how to hide it from him.
And what was worse, had he not outed her accidentally, she'd have been able to get away with it for god knew how much longer!
Jim decided to go and confront Rosie with what he had discovered. When he arrived at Books and Brews he saw a handsome young man in an army officer's uniform sat on a comfortable sofa, with a giggling Rosie cuddling him.
When they saw Jim, they both stood up, looking startled. "Why, Rosie? Why did you have to cheat on me?" He pointed towards the army officer. "Is this your lover?"
Rosie looked sad, but determined. "No, this is not my lover, Jim. This is Charles. There's no way, no easy way to do this, no way that can lessen the hurt you will be feeling, but Charles is not my lover, he is my future husband."
Jim did a double-take. "You... your... what? Your future husband? Well, what about me? Your real, current husband?"
Rosie looked at him, her gaze almost basilisk like in its intensity. "Jim, I never meant for this to happen. I am truly sorry, because I know this will be hurting you. I looked on you as my forever husband. The man I'd spend the rest of my life with. But now, that's over. It's gone, along with my love for you. Charles, here, he is now my forever husband. The man I love with all my heart.
"I haven't been to bed with Charles, yet. That would have been cheating on you. And I knew that would be wrong."
Charles stood there, at her side, looking awkward, but saying nothing.
Jim shook his head, shock was benumbing his senses. "So, all of that talk of getting that nice, big house, of having children and dogs and stuff, that was all nothing more than bullshit, huh?"
She shook her head. "No, Jim. I meant every word of it. I'll be doing all of that, but just not with you, but with Charles."
It was that last honest, yet utterly callous remark that sealed the fate of their marriage. Jim looked toward Charles. He said: "You may be an officer, but you're no gentleman!"
He quickly walked away, leaving the two lovers in the midst of the bookstore, holding hands like teenagers. He heard someone say: "Poor bastard! I blame the owner of this bookshop! She introduced Rosie to her kid brother, Charlie! Fucking bitch should have known better!"
Jim heard no more as he stumbled out through the door and headed to his car.
Rosie collected some of her clothing later that evening and went to stay with her parents.
She did not speak to Jim. It was almost as if he no longer existed in her quirky little universe. He never spoke with her, again.
A couple of days later Rosie's father came to the house. He was awkward. He explained that, although Jim had done nothing wrong, that as her parents they would support their daughter in her choices in life.
"You were always a good husband to her, Jim. I can't deny that. I won't deny that. But you aren't what she wants, any longer. Charles will be our son in law from now on. You were a good son in law, we will miss you, but in order not to cause any stress or tension with Rosie, we don't feel we can keep in touch with you.
"However, we don't feel it would be right having you served in public, so we have arranged for the divorce papers to be held at the attorney's office. Here's their card."
With that, he shook Jim's hand as if her were a mere business acquaintance and not still his son in law.
"Fuck you, too, buddy!" muttered Jim, after he had closed the door behind his ex-father in law to be.
Jim collected the divorce papers -the filing was for irreconcilable differences- from Rosie's attorney and signed them straight away. He hadn't bothered to contact an attorney of his own, as the divorce proposed by Rosie was straight forward and, as far as he could see, bore no financial repercussions for him. They had both had their separate bank accounts and credit cards, and a small joint account which they each paid into to cover bill payments.
Rosie's lawyer said: "Look son, I know it's not my place to comment or pry, but, my family have been lawyers here in town for over 150 years. In fact my great-great-great-grandfather was the first lawyer, here in town, when he put his shingle up.
"Sometimes I love my job. But there are times, like now, when I don't like it so much. From what Rosie and her parents told me, though her parents did most of the talking and whilst I can't break a professional confidence, I think you have been treated very badly in this."
Tears began to form in his eyes and the attorney's secretary bustled over and hugged him, briefly. She gave him a box of tissues so that he could dry his eyes before he left their office.
The irony of the fact that Rosie's attorney and his secretary showed him more compassion and concern than Rosie or her parents had shown him was not lost on Jim.
Rosie's father arranged to collect the rest of Rosie's belongings whilst Jim was at work, one Monday afternoon. The fact they had left the wedding albums and some trinkets and gifts that Jim had given to Rosie rankled with Jim. He threw them into the trash.
This deceptively simple incident thrust Jim into a mild depression. He threw himself into his work and coped as best he could, without recourse to drugs, though his medication of choice was his trusty bottle of Maker's Mark.
He gave up the house when the lease came due a couple of months later and he began renting a small one bedroom furnished apartment not far from his office.
Three months later, they were no longer man and wife.
Jim poured his heart out to Angie Cook, his High School sweetheart and the woman who he exchanged virginity with after the High School senior prom. He and Angie had loved each other with a hot passionate love, but somehow before they had gone away to college, they'd sort of accidentally friend zoned each other and began dating other people.
Angie was on one of her rare visits back home. She worked for a company that provided American tutors for the children of diplomats and wealthy clients in overseas schools.
She heard his tail of woe and said: "Damn it, Jim! What the hell was Rosie thinking? I really thought better of her. But from what you said about her father's attitude, about Rosie's parents not being able to keep in touch with you after she got with Charles, I wonder if the problem was not Rosie's autism, but the way she was brought up? Sort of nurture, rather than nature?
"The fact that they cut you off after you being a part of their family for so long, married to their daughter, makes me wonder if their upbringing of Rosie might not have helped her to see cheating on you as being somehow acceptable?
"Maybe, and I hate to use this term, I really do, a 'normal' person would have realised that she was having a crush on Charles and would have been able to deal with it? Sadly, that was beyond Rosie. But it would have been nice if her parents could have guided her away from becoming an adulterer."
Jim nodded and said: "I wonder if they always planned something like this? Maybe I was just a starter husband for Rosie?"
Angie shook her head. "Don't think that, Jim! I doubt they could have been that cruel and calculating, they just failed to step up to the mark. They should have not encouraged Rosie in her childish crush. But they did. That was their bad mistake, Jim. You did nothing wrong. Just remember that!"
Before Angie disappeared again to yet another exotic foreign posting, she sorted Jim out, helped him model his new apartment and got him to cut down on the drinking.
They also talked about Angie's abortive marriage. Her husband had cheated on her on the wedding night, before it had been consummated, even, so the marriage was annulled, over almost before the ink on the certificate had dried.
And then, she was gone again, back to teaching kids in some exotic corner of the world.
And Jim got on with trying to make some sense out of his life.