I wrote this story some time ago but had trouble finishing it. With LadyC's urging, I did. I hope you like it.
Edited with encouragement by LadyCibelle.
I was sitting on a stool bellied up to the bar in a small neighborhood place near my hotel. I was in Boston; just finishing a deal that would make me penniless and allow me to do whatever the hell I wanted. The trick was to decide how to do that and still be rich. Confused? I hope so. That would mean Roxy's lawyers would be as well. All of this came about because of what I found out about my wife. That knowledge was not something I went looking for, but it found me just the same. It was complicated to say the least and my deal would make it even worse. Worse for her.
The place was almost empty, which was one of the main reasons I picked it. The barkeep walked toward me after the only other customer in the place walked out the door. It was still early so I knew I wasn't holding him up. He stopped in front of me, gave me the once over, then mentioned I had been there for some time. He told me his name was Sam and asked me mine. I figured what the hell and told him, because I was impressed that he didn't look away.
"Good to meet you Sam. My name is Jim, Jim Evans. Thanks for the ear and the beer. I don't want to go home tonight and I don't want to spend the time alone in my hotel room so this is as good a place as any, and probably better than most."
"If you're looking to get lucky Jimbo, this ain't a prime place for it. Might try the sports bar down the street." He actually had the grace not to look embarrassed when he said this.
"Sam, take a look at me. We both know that I look like something out of a nightmare so do you think I expect to get lucky? All I want is a couple of beers and some peace and quiet. Present company excepted of course."
Sam wiped the bar in front of me, and instead of responding, asked if I was ready for another. At my nod, he produced a tall, cold Budweiser. It was my fourth of the night but who was counting. When he brought it, he said I must have a story to tell and if I wanted, he'd be happy to listen. I hesitated: I was trying to come to grips with my problems but they were very personal and I wasn't sure about sharing them with a stranger.
I took the fresh Bud and pushed the empty away. I was pacing myself tonight. I certainly didn't want to keep thinking the thoughts that wouldn't let me be, but I didn't want to get drunk and pass out. The bartender took the empty and put it in an empty case, then swiped the bar once more before going back to leaning and wiping glasses. I finally said "what the hell" to myself and decided to tell him my tale. It wasn't as if he gave a shit, but I felt better talking, and a truly disinterested party was a bonus.
As I readied myself to tell him my tale, I had to admit to myself that I wasn't actually angry. That was the most surprising thing. I should be anxious, on edge, hopping out of my shoes, but I wasn't any of those things. I was just calm and cool. I guess that's what happens when your world collapses. Sam took his rag, swiped the bar in front of me, flipped the rag over his shoulder and leaned toward me. He was ready to listen as only a bartender could.
"Well Sam, it begins nine years ago when I was in college. I was fresh faced, believed in miracles and ready to grab for the brass ring. I was smart as hell, eager as the proverbial beaver and ready to make my fortune. I was working on a Master's in engineering and I was in my final year. I was just filling in my schedule since I only needed credits to fill out my minors. My major was Chemical Engineering and I had completed all of the requirements for that and was taking some easy courses. That's when I met her.
"She was an education major and I shared a class with her my senior year; a math class. For me it was a credit for a minor in math. For her it was part of her major. She was failing miserably and she saw one of my papers when the prof handed them back after a quiz. I had a perfect score, of course, while hers was a 60%. I wasn't paying any attention to her as I left class but she was right behind me. As I exited the building, trying to decide whether to head back to my apartment or go over to the student union for a coke, she caught up to me and tugged on my sleeve. I stopped and turned around to see who it was.
"Seeing her almost made me run in terror. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I had always worshipped her from afar, so to speak. Now here she was, right in front of me and apparently wanted to talk to me. This had to be a joke, a cruel hoax to humiliate me, so I stood stock still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I expected she would do something for her friends who were probably watching, waiting for her to humiliate the ugly guy. Then she surprised me even more: she spoke to me."
"Pardon me. I'm Roxanne Bowers and I'm in your class. The one you just left."
"As if I didn't know that, Sam! Of course I knew that! I just couldn't remember my name or where in the hell I was! I swallowed, did it again and tried to find some tiny bit of moisture that would allow my stuck tongue to break loose from the roof of my mouth. Finally, I opened my mouth and squeaked "I know. I'm J. . Jim Evans."
"Hi Jim. I wondered if I could buy you a coke and ask you for a great big favor. Would that be alright?"
"Rather than try to speak again, I just nodded affirmatively. She began walking toward the Student Union and I sort of shuffled along beside her. As we walked, she started talking and telling me about herself. I listened with intense concentration so as not to miss a single word she said. I planned on repeating this conversation verbatim to myself when my right hand and I had a date later tonight. She continued all the way to the Union and I listened just as long. By the time we arrived, I knew all about her.
"I knew her name, where she was from, that she was an only child whose parents died in a car crash when she was ten. She was raised by an aunt and uncle who were OK but didn't really know how to care for a ten year old. She was on her own a lot but she was pretty independent as a result. She did OK in school and her parents left enough in an insurance policy for her to go to college. She wanted to be a teacher, sort of. Actually what she wanted was to meet some rich boy and get married and live the life of luxury. She thought that made her a horrible person but I said it wasn't too unusual for most girls to feel that way. She said she didn't have a boyfriend and couldn't take the time since school was so hard that studying took all her free time and she really did want to complete her education.
"We got our cokes, took a table and she finally asked me if I would tutor her in math and chemistry. She was not doing well in either and she wanted to be sure she could pass. She saw that I always got perfect scores so she decided I would be the best one to tutor her. She offered to pay me the going rate and I hesitated before agreeing. I didn't need the money for a lot of reasons, not the least being I was on a full ride with a stipend.
"The other thing was who I was. I didn't look any different then as I do now, Sam. I've always been homely; too skinny; too tall; too everything bad. I'm not handsome; hell, I'm not even close to good looking. My face is long and I look like a horse, which was my nickname in high school by the way. And my personality is for shit. I clam up if I meet a girl and in social situations, I suck. As I passed puberty, I started to lose my hair and got a belly. Even though I work out a lot, it makes no difference. God gave me a body that nobody else wanted. When I met her, I didn't go out much, didn't date, wasn't in a fraternity and never left campus to go home. But with all that, and foolish as it probably was, I didn't want to discourage this opportunity.
"We agreed on the deal, she told me to come to her place for an hour each night during the week. I agreed, she gave me her address and phone number and we parted. She smiled at me, held my hand for an extra few seconds before turning and walking away. With her touch my blood had begun to course through my body with a heat that scared me. I remained rooted to the spot as I watched her walk. That was payment enough for me as I headed back to my room, my mind in a pink haze of happiness. Me and my right hand had a lot to do together that night.
"I began to teach her math my way. I think I told you that I was smart? Well, I'm sort of a genius and math was one of my first loves. I taught her tricks and showed her the neat things you could do when you understood that math was something that humans invented and it had rules. She caught on quick and soon began to find that the class was really easy when you understood the principles. Her grades picked up and she did well the remainder of the course.
"Next we took on Chemistry. This was basic chemistry and I simply had her memorize the structures, name scheme, explained the atomic structure and how reactions could be balanced and she began to slowly lose her fear of the unknown. While she didn't do as well in Chemistry as she did in math, she still passed with ease.
"During this time, we began to talk about ourselves and the things we wanted out of life. I found her dreams to be rather simple. She wanted to be taken care of and she liked the things life could offer. She saw teaching only as a means to allow herself to spend as little time working as possible and she hoped to fall in love with a rich man. She wanted freedom to travel and meet people. She was actually very shallow as a person, but I didn't care. The one thing that surprised me was that she didn't seem to realize how beautiful she was. She seemed to think that she was pretty enough but not very smart and that turned guys off. Naïve? I would guess.
"I finally told her about myself, my ambitions to be the best at whatever I tried and my own background. I was the only son of a self made millionaire. Dad had invented several self contained power sources that could be used to provide portable power for all kinds of vehicles. He had patented his ideas and was the owner of Evans Industrial Fabrications, a large factory near Toledo that produced power sources for the military. He had several contracts that were good for many more years and each provided a nice profit. Since dad was always working, mom raised me and was always around to make sure my world was in control and I was safe. She was also very bright and showed me the value of an education. She home schooled me until high school and then when my grades were top of the class, she helped me gain a full scholarship to Ohio State.
"I inherited my brains from both mom and dad. They were both very bright and dad was a genius. The one problem was that my dad was butt-ugly, and so was mom. It seems they were attracted to each other since no one else would give them the time of day, which was fine by them. They were in love and it was solid and real. I was raised in that world, surrounded by love, and it made me a better man and human being. However, along with dad's brains, I also inherited his looks and mom's didn't help out any either. To say I was ugly was an understatement. Always had been and I knew it. But hey, as the bible says: He gives and He takes away. I was content with what I was.
"My world was always solidly in control thanks to mom and dad. I had no thoughts of anything but my education and I pursued it with total commitment. I was happy and I was content until a drunk driver took them both away from me. In one drunken act, he destroyed my safe and secure world and forced me out into the light of chaos which was life without them. I was nineteen at the time and I had just started college but with this disaster, I dropped out and went back home. It hit me hard Sam. Harder than anything else in my entire life. They were my world, my source of love and laughter. When they left this earth, so did most of my will to live. I thought about following them but, with time, I came to understand that chance rules and we have no choice but to live with it. So, I did. Since dad had no will, and mom's will was all we had to go by, hers took precedence and I inherited everything. I was suddenly forced to take control of my father's business interests and try to understand what he did all his life. He had years to grow into what he became. I had days, weeks, to do the same.
"Well Sam, I managed and found I had a knack for knowing what to do and when the best time to do it was. I remembered who was who and whom dad trusted, and I worked with those people until I had the business under full control. I worked my ass off for almost four years until I felt things were beginning to make sense. Once I was satisfied that things could run without my constant supervision, I appointed one of the long time managers to run things for me. Dad trusted him and so did I. That left me time to go back to college. Believe it or not Sam, I desperately wanted to complete my degree. I was rich then, but it made no difference. Education was my goal and I never failed to achieve the goals I set for myself. My full scholarship was still in effect so I returned to Ohio State and began my quest for a degree. I was now twenty five, with an income that guaranteed I would never have to work another day in my life.
"But Sam, that wasn't enough for me. My goal was to be the best and I needed what college could teach me. Even though I was way ahead of everyone else, I took my time and studied all I could while I finished my degrees. I was working on a Master's by then. I also used the labs and the equipment at Ohio State to work on some things of my own. I had several patents by the time I graduated. Education was like the fuel that fired my creative engines.
"That was my life until that final year when I met Roxy. That began the greatest time of my life. She and I worked together to get her grades up and while doing it, we sort of began to see each other socially as well. I was constantly surprised when she would call me on the phone just to talk and share her day. I listened to every word she spoke and filed it all away in that place in my heart I kept for just her. I was constantly on the alert for that innuendo, that uncontrolled remark that would indicate she felt as everyone else did: I was too ugly. But it never came and I began to believe that to her, it didn't matter. I convinced myself. She changed my life that final year in college. After her, Sam, I could never again face the prospect of being alone.
"As the year progressed, I finally asked her out on a real date and to my surprise, she accepted. We went to dinner, a movie where she let me hold her hand, and then I walked her back to her dorm. At the door, she reached up and kissed my cheek before slipping in the door. That was the beginning of a dream for me. We went everywhere together and when the inevitable looks came when people saw her with me, she simply ignored them. To my surprise, I don't think she even noticed them. How rare was that?
"We dated all that year and just before graduation I decided to ask her to marry me. It would mean she would continue her education but I would buy a place in Columbus and she could live at home with me and I could help her as much as before. I made up a plan and memorized all the questions she might have when I asked her. I even considered that she might not want to marry me since she was so beautiful and I was what I was. She might just want to remain friends. But she had never mentioned anything like that before and I had the courage to think that she could overlook that. In my heart, I knew that might be the deal breaker, but I had to try. That was who I was. I always went for it regardless of the risks.
"Sam, can you imagine my surprise when she said 'yes' when I proposed? I mean, for damn sake! Look at me and then look at her. She's hot! She's everything I'm not. She's beautiful, built like a brick shithouse, a natural blonde with blue eyes that you simply want to dive into and a personality that makes everyone love her. Me, I'm a nerd, a clod, butt ugly with a homely face and a body that needs work. Most people's eyes just roll over in their heads when I start to speak. Look at you for Christ's sake. It's all you can do just to pay attention when I order a beer. Have to ask me twice just to be sure you even heard me."
Sam was wiping that glass in his hand as if he had to rid it of some infestation. He was leaning toward me, trying to pay attention, but you could see it was hard. His eyes tended to wander away every few seconds before sliding back to meet mine. The place was empty but it was still an hour and a half to closing. He had little choice but to stay close. To make his job easier, and to insure he might give me a few more minutes before becoming terminally bored to death, I showed him her picture. It was the one I kept in my wallet: the one of her in a bikini on the beach during our honeymoon. I was also in the picture but few people even noticed that. I watched as his eyebrows rose and his mouth fell open.
"Holy Shit! Is that your wife? She's fucking incredible! You lucky bastard!" He had trouble keeping his hands on the glass, wanting to grab the picture for himself. Not going to happen. I was used to that reaction.
"Yeah, that's her. That's my lovely wife. My life partner. The woman of my dreams. Actually, make that nightmares. She's a fucking slut and soon to be ex-wife. When I'm finally divorced, I'll give you her number."
He was no longer fixated on the picture, the idea of having her number and that she was a slut more important, so I put it away again and watched as his eyes slowly clouded over as I once again began to talk.
"So, now that you know what she looks like, and the proof of what I am is right here in front of you, I see that you know where this is heading Sam. Of course, I treated her like a princess and let her have anything she wanted. I bought her a car, more clothes than she could ever wear, diamonds, fur coats, anything at all she expressed a desire for. And I never tried to prevent her from doing whatever she felt like. She did very little at first: always home in the evening when I came in, always had dinner on the table and cold beer waiting when I came in the door. And at bedtime, the sex was incredible. She couldn't do enough for me. Anything I asked, she did. And she allowed me to do anything to her I wanted. She told me that she never knew it could be so good. And I believed her Sam. We shared everything. It was wonderful.
"It was three years later, and after trying for some time to have a child, we went to see a fertility specialist. We found we couldn't have children. It was her, so the doctor said, and that made her very unhappy. I told her we could adopt, select any child she wanted but she wanted none of that. After that, she began to withdraw from me, only not physically. Not then at least. Sex was still as good as ever but she seemed to withdraw from me in other ways. We stopped laughing together; going out less, spending time together, and she seemed uninterested in my work. She simply stopped caring about my life in general.
"I tired on several occasions to talk to her about it but she claimed nothing was wrong. She would pretend things were back to normal but within a day or two it was the same as before. What bothered me the most was why she would be angry at me for something that wasn't her fault. I never blamed her, never mentioned that it was too bad we couldn't have our own child. I told her time and time again that I loved her and not being able to have children didn't change that. She seemed as if she accepted that but she continued to withdraw from me. And she began to find places to go and things to do that kept her out until late in the evenings. I was not happy with that and I did put my foot down, promising her that if she couldn't be home in the evenings to be with me, we had a problem that would have to be dealt with. She slowed her behavior some but not completely.