Too Late to Say GoodbyebyStangStar06©
Hi Folks, thanks to the great Mikothebaby for her editing wizardry. Thanks also to every who commented last week. I have to warn those of you who like the traditional LW storylines. This will be the last of those for a few weeks. Summer is here and the next three or four stories are going to be kind of wild. SS06
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I've spent most of the night tossing and turning but found sleep elusive. The breeze that comes into the open window carries the scent of the lake outside with it. I smell the freshness of the plants and the murky smell of the lake water with its slight touch of fishiness. I breathe deeply as I sit up in bed. Just as my head begins to clear in the pre-dawn darkness of early fall, the phone rings.
I love my iPhone. It's a miracle of techno-wizardry that allows me to access and do things that only ten years ago would have been unheard of. But in this instance, the jarring ring tone that was meant to be heard over the machines in the manufacturing plant I run, coupled with the vibration setting that lets me know I have a call even when I can't hear it, are unsettling.
I press a button that appears only on the screen and the call is connected. The warbling, sobbing voice, a caricature of its normal, rich resonance, strangely doesn't invoke the feelings it usually does but I recognize it instantly.
"Mark, are you there? I don't actually know where you are. But can you come home, so we can talk? Mark, I can't live without you. I want us back where we were. I love you. I always have, I guess it just didn't seem clear until you left and took up with that awful little bitch. I've ended things with Todd. Actually, you ended things with him for me. But I called him. I told him it was over and I never want to see him again. I told him goodbye and I meant that it was permanent." She said all of that in what seemed like one breath. Then she hesitated, waiting for my response. After what seemed like forever, she began talking again
"Mark, God damn it, I won't let you throw away twenty five years together over nothing. I'm serious. I told him goodbye and I meant it." She was more emphatic this time. Her voice carried desperation and just a hint of mania with it.
I finally answered her. The ice in my voice chilled and surprised even me. "You should call him back," I said, icily. "It's too late to say goodbye."
I heard a bunch of sobs and the phone dropped. I was just about to hang it up when I heard her scrambling to pick it back up. She started talking again. This time there was even more desperation in her voice. It sounded as if the phone was taken away from her and I a calmer person speaking.
"Great job, Dad," she said. "You don't know what she's been through lately. She's lost a lot of weight. She has bags under her eyes. She had to be hospitalized for a while, again. Don't you have any kind of feelings? I don't think he's all there mentally anymore. I know this isn't your fault. You gave her a chance, but you have to do something to make this easier on her."
The woman now reading me the riot act over the phone at this ungodly hour of the morning was my daughter. I felt sorry for her being caught in the middle, especially since shed been part of the reason this whole thing had started. But she'd been smarter than her mother and had learned her lesson quickly. As her mother grabbed the phone back and started ranting again about being forgiven I thought about how this had all started.
Just a few weeks ago, I'd thought that I was one of the most blessed people on earth. Not in a religious sense, since I've never been very religious. But I thought that I had everything a man could really ever need. No, I wasn't, and I'm not Bill Gates, but I'm the best Mark Brown that I can ever be.
I run a family owned manufacturing business that my dad started over fifty years ago. Business is and was good enough that I have a more than comfortable living. I've always drawn just enough money to pay my bills and have chosen over the years to re-invest the rest back into the business. I'll take a lump sum payment when I choose to retire whenever that is. It was actually my dad who started that practice. It was a great move because with the business actually owned by the family, not by himself personally, and with him not drawing a specified salary, he was able to give his second wife next to nothing when they divorced.
I actually never thought about it that way. My father was kind of a womanizer even late in his life. I've always been a family man. My wife and daughter are, or were the things I loved most and was the proudest of. Now I guess it's kind of different.
What I had to flaunt has come back to haunt, like a restless wind. And the best of times that were left behind, they come blowing in. All of the good times I had with Lori and Katey keep running through my mind while I examine each memory like an object. I turn them over, looking for lies in crevices and cracks as if I hadn't really lived through them myself.
And my daughter...She was the one who'd actually brought me into the light that destroyed our family, so her wanting to fix things didn't come from any sense of love or family.
I remember how this all started...it was a Friday night. I'd been cutting the grass in our back yard. Normally I did it on Saturday, but the following day I was going to do a car show. Besides my wife and daughter, the thing I loved most was my 2009 Mustang GT. I'd just gotten done washing and waxing the car and had pulled it into the garage to avoid grass and dust hitting it.
Katey, my twenty four year old daughter, had pulled into our driveway and after giving me a cursory hug, had gone into the house in search of her mother. A short time later, they came out of the kitchen and sat down on our deck, animatedly talking about whatever problem Katey had run into now.
Katey had been married for the past couple of years to the nicest guy I could imagine. Eric was everything I wanted in a son in law. He clearly loved Katey but he was a good guy in other ways too. He'd worked his own way through college. He'd gotten his degree and then settled down with Katey to build a life. He wasn't a drinker or a party boy and he shared the work around the house with her. They had a few of the money issues that most young couples had, but nothing insurmountable.
I watched Lori, my wife and Katey talking out of the corner of my eye as I rode my mower around the big yard. I knew that at this stage of the game, I wasn't necessary. Usually, Katey would come over and tell Lori what she thought she needed and get her mom on her side and then together they'd hit me up for the money to buy whatever it was that Katey had to have that was outside of her budget.
I knew that in the end, I'd probably give it to her. I'd never been able to say no to either one of my girls. But they always needed to have that united front.
I started to feel strange though because this conversation didn't seem to fit the normal pattern. As I drove the mower closer to them, they seemed to be so caught up in whatever they were talking about that they forgot about me. As I got even closer to them, the sound of their voices was so loud that I heard it and my world changed.
"Kathryn, how could you be that God damned stupid?" shrieked Lori. I knew that Katey was in trouble then. Her mother only called her Kathryn when she'd done something really bad.
"Jeezus, Mom, it just happened," whined Katey. "It's not the end of the world. There really wasn't much difference physically but there was just something more exciting about it. It's not like I'm even thinking about leaving Eric, but he can be so boring sometimes."
"He's your husband, Kathryn. You have to think about that. The man loves you. He'd do anything for you. If things are boring between the two of you, it's up to you to say something about it and make them more exciting. I can't believe any daughter of mine could be so stupid," said Lori.
Oh shit, I thought. There's trouble in paradise already. They've only been married for two years.
"Mom, it's not a big deal, I just wanted to do it once more. Just so I could be sure...you know," said Katey. I turned off the mower then because I had the feeling that my little girl had done something that she should have her ass whipped for.
As the sound of the mower died out, both angry women looked at me. "Mark, try to talk some sense into your stupid daughter," hissed Lori. "She went to a party last night while Eric was working late. She got drunk and apparently slept with some guy she met there."
"Shit Mom, tell everyone why don't you," screamed my daughter. "You and Dad are still together..." she said and suddenly I felt as if I'd been kicked in the stomach. My wife's mouth dropped open as she saw my reaction.
"And honestly," continued Katey. "It was just once and I was drunk. I just wanted to try it one more time when I wasn't drunk. It's not like I'm trying to have a long time affair like yours was. And anyway, Daddy forgave you about yours so Eric would probably forgive me too, if he found out. Who knows, this might put some spice back in things." Katey suddenly looked up at her mother who'd turned as white as a sheet.
"Mom, are you okay?" she asked stupidly. "You look like you're having a heart attack or a stroke or something."
She turned to look at me and saw the pain and the anger in my eyes. Lori suddenly stepped towards me and I backed away.
"Mark..." she began. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry..."
"Just shut the fuck up and stay away from me, Lori," I said.
"What's going on here?" asked Katey. Then she looked at me. She saw the pain and the anger on my face. "Daddy, you didn't know did you. So she lied to me about telling you?"
"Kathryn," I said. "Remember the look on my face. Because it's the exact same one, Eric will have when you tell him about what you've done. And you need to go home and tell him now, because the longer it festers, the worse it will be and the harder it will be for you to get him to trust you again."
"Mark, Honey, we need to talk," said Lori.
"But Daddy, if it's going to hurt him as badly as you've been hurt, I'm not going to tell him," she said.
"Then you're going to lose him for sure, because it's always worse when you hear it from someone else. And I swear to you that if you won't tell him, I will. Shit, maybe I'll call him when I get to wherever I'm going. Maybe the two of us can share a lawyer and get a discount."
"Why does Eric need a lawyer?" asked Katey.
"Maybe he wants a divorce too?" I said.
"Mark, you're upset," said Lori. "I know that and..."
"Bitch, upset doesn't begin to say what I am," I hissed. "For most of my fucking life, I treated you like a God damned queen. Name one thing you've ever wanted since we got together that I didn't give you? Name something that I didn't do for you. And now I find out, from my daughter no less, that I'm married to a whore. And in the same fucked up conversation, I find out that my daughter is following in her footsteps."
"Mark, Honey, I know that I screwed up. And I know how you're feeling right now," said Lori tentatively.
"So you know that I feel like a God damned fool, then, right," I screamed. "For more years than I even want to talk about, I've bragged about my family. I've told people all across the country about my beautiful wife and my daughter. You two were my whole life. You were the reason why I worked so fucking hard and busted my ass."
They both stood there looking shocked at me.
"No more," I said, lowering my voice. Years in business during a shitty economy had trained me to roll with economic tides. I'd become a master of sucking up my losses and moving on. That training proved invaluable then.
"It's good that you know what I'm feeling right now, Lori," I said, "So I don't have to spell it out for you. "Who is he?"
"What difference does that make?" she asked, with tears running down her cheeks.
"Because I want to fucking know?" I said.
"What are you going to do?" she asked.
"I'm going to bust his fucking ass," I said.
"Mark, he has a wife," she said. "And they're not stable like we are. They have all kinds of problems and it just..."
"So you're saying that we don't have any fucking problems right now?" I screamed. Both women shrank away from my rage. I think they both thought that I might hit Lori and they were closer to the truth than even they suspected.
"I'm going to the Mustang Memories show tomorrow," I said suddenly, getting my composure back.
Lori hesitated then nodded. "I know that Honey," she said. "I'm going with you and maybe during the drive up there we can talk ab..."
"No," I said sharply. "You're not going anywhere with me. I'm not my father. I'm nothing like him..."
"What does your father have to do with us, Honey?" she asked.
"Don't call me Honey or anything other than my name," I hissed. "My father thought of himself as some kind of playboy. He hung out with a lot of women that he'd have been better staying away from. I don't associate with whores, so WE won't be going anywhere together. In fact the next time I see us together, will be in court, and..."
"Mark, what are you talking about?" sobbed Lori. "I already told you, I was sorry. We need to talk about..."
"Saying sorry doesn't mean shit. This isn't the fourth grade, Lori," I hissed. "And what we're doing right now is the only talking I intend to do."
"If we don't talk, we're not going to be able to work this out," she whined. "Mark, I'm..."
"If you say you're sorry again, I'll slap the shit out of you," I said. "We all know you're sorry. I'm sure that by now with all of the yelling we're doing even our neighbors know that you're one sorry bitch and they probably know why."
"Lori, we're not going to work this out. We're done," I said. "After the car show, I'm filing for a divorce. You're not going because by the time I'm back from the show, I want you packed and moved out of my house."
"No!" she screamed loudly. "Mark, I love you. I don't want a divorce."
"And I didn't want to be married to a whore," I said. "But that's what I got. I have to deal with what I got and so do you."
"No, we can work this out if you give me a chance," she started crying.
"Lori, I gave you a chance. When I asked you who it was, you wouldn't tell me. That means that protecting that asshole was more to you than our marriage so..."
"But you..." she interrupted.
"But it doesn't matter," I said. "You were so worried about his fucking marriage when you should have been worried about yourself and yours. You were a stupid bitch about this like everything else. I'm going to sue him for fucking up our marriage, so I'll find out who he was anyway. And in the suit for that, I'll have them call his wife to the stand just so they can ask her how she felt when she found out. If they don't have any money, I'll pay for her divorce just to fuck his life up even more."
She looked at me again as if she didn't know me. And truthfully she didn't, in the span of a few moments I'd changed.
"Now, as I said, I'm going to finish cutting my God damned grass, and then, I'm going to a hotel for the evening. I'll be back after my car show tomorrow and I want your ass out of my house."
"Mark, please," she whined as I started the lawn mower again. As soon as the motor started purring, I stopped it.
"Kathryn, remember what I said," I told her. "You'd better say something to Eric, because if you don't, I will."
Then I started the mower and drove off to finish cutting my yard. As I cut the grass, I realized that it didn't make any fucking sense. It seemed like the actions of a lunatic. But in those early hours after the discovery of Lori's cheating, I was going crazy. My mind was spinning at the speed of light. My entire life had been proven false. Nothing that I'd counted on or worked for over the past twenty five years mattered because none of it was real. Cutting the grass and going to a car show, may have seemed like I'd lost touch with sanity, but it was just the opposite.
My mind was scrambling to find a bit of normalcy to hang onto. I needed a big assed chunk of routine to bring some kind of order to my life.
Lori and Katey screamed at each other for a few moments as I made slow circles around the yard on the mower. Katey finally gave up screaming at her mother and left. Then Lori sat there watching me for the longest time. Every time my circuit took me close to the deck, she looked as if she wanted to say something to me, but I never slowed down or even acknowledged her presence.
When I was done, I put the mower in the garage and went upstairs to pack for the night and the next day.
"Mark, can we please talk about this?" she asked to deaf ears. As I turned to walk out of the room, I stopped and looked around hesitating as I looked at her.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Taking my last look at my home with you as a part of it and with you as a part of my life," I said slowly.
"We can fix this," she said crying. "I know we can fix it if we try."
"Not when only one of us wants to try," I said.
My home in rural Ohio was only thirty minutes away from the border with Michigan and only about ninety minutes away from the Detroit Area. The car show I was doing was held at the Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. It was a great event. It showcased not only Mustangs but everything Ford had to offer across the board. Showing off my Mustang and checking out both Ford performance and after market performance parts for Fords would take my mind off of my situation and allow me to calm down and think rationally about the whole thing.
Who knows I might even stay over and catch the NASCAR race at MIS on Sunday. As I thought about it, I realized that I'd be able to do a lot more with my time all of a sudden. All of those sacrifices that I'd made for years to keep my family happy hadn't amounted to shit anyway.
As I drove I again melted into my memories. I thought about the early days in college when I'd first met Lori. I'd taken one look across a crowded party and fell for her inky black hair and bright blue eyes. Like most of the people at our small mid-western college, she wasn't from the area. For most of the night she'd been holding onto the arm of a big guy who seemed to barely be paying attention to her.
Then I noticed that he disappeared, leaving her alone. I neither knew, nor cared whether they'd been in any kind of relationship. The first thing I thought of was that I had my shot and I didn't intend to blow it.
I grabbed two beers and stealthily made my way across the room until I was standing right beside her. She looked up as I handed her one and then shook her head.
"I don't drink," she said.
"That's a good thing," I gushed.
"Why?" she asked. "Sometimes I feel like a fish out of water around here. Everyone else is already half drunk."
"It's a good thing because I don't drink either, but I'll probably need both of these," I said. She looked at me as if I'd said something crazy and her smile lit up the room. Her sadness became curiosity.
"If you don't drink, why do you need two beers?" she asked. "That's kind of a lot to drink in a short period of time."
"I'll need at least that many to calm my nerves," I said.
"What has you that nervous?" she asked.
"Standing next to the most beautiful woman on the planet has that effect on me," I said. Her smile went even brighter. I could barely stand to look at her it was so bright.
"Well, that was good to hear," she said. "I wish everyone felt that way. Unfortunately, you're not going to be here for a very long time."
"I'd stay here for as long as you let me," I gushed.
"I wouldn't mind having you around for a while," she smiled. "But I'm not the one you have to worry about. I was thinking about the guy I laughingly call my boyfriend."