Two Wrongs Ch. 02bymagmaman©
Reality came in the form of flashing lights in Carl's rear view mirror. He had no idea at all why he was being stopped, the speedometer was on a steady 60 miles per hour.
The policeman turned his big machine at a slight angle to ward off any errant oncoming traffic, then came to his window.
"Driver's license please, sir."
Carl handed it to him, along with his insurance forms. The officer looked at them, seemed to nod and handed back the insurance receipt, keeping the license.
"Please wait." The policeman walked back to his cruiser, after a few minutes he came back to the window.
"There are a lot of people looking for you, sir. Is everything all right?"
"Yes, fine." Things really weren't fine. Carl's marriage was shot, as far as he was concerned everything in his life had just been ripped apart. His wife Kathy, cheating in a dirty motel room with a man that claimed to be a friend? That wasn't fine. Then Jerry sent his wife over to make things right, like if Carl had sex with Jerry's wife Patrice everything would all go right back to the way it was before?
He realized the officer was speaking to him again.
"Where are you headed, sir?" The officer repeated.
"I don't know." That got Carl an odd look.
"We have a report that you are missing, some of your friends are concerned."
"I am just traveling, I needed time to think. I'm not doing anything wrong."
"No, sir. It doesn't appear so. But Oregon is a long ways from here. Are you sure everything is all right?" He looked down at Carl carefully.
"Yes, there is just some things going on back home, I needed some time."
"Well, everything seems to be all right here, it might be a good idea if you contact your people back home and let them know you are fine. I will call it in that we found you. Have a nice day now." He turned to go back to his cruiser.
"Officer?" Carl called out.
"Where are we?"
The policeman again looked at him puzzled for a moment.
"We are in Texas, sir. Are you sure you are all right?"
"Yes, I am fine. I think it's time to go home now."
"Yes, sir. That's a good idea. And sir?"
"You might think of paying some attention to your personal hygiene." The officer nodded and left.
Carl sat there for several minutes, then started the car and turned around. He understood what the officer meant, he hadn't bathed since he left.
The last several days were something of a haze, he had been driving, just following the dark ribbon of the highway. Once he had stopped at a seedy motel but he was no more than inside and that caused memories of standing outside that room at another cheap motel, seeing his wife Kathy naked and willingly in the arms of his best friend Jerry.
Over a decade of faith and trust, shattered in that one instant.
The bile had once again rushed into his mouth, his body flushed with chills, sweat. Rage poured over him next, his fists clenched so deeply that his fingernails drew blood. Carl knew he had to get out of there, he was close to lashing out, breaking everything in reach.
He went out and got in his car and sat until he got himself under control, then drove again, finally stopping at a wayside to sleep in the back seat.
Several times he had stopped like that, when he felt his eyes wanting to close from exhaustion. At one point he had snapped awake just in time to whip the wheel back onto the roadway. Then the thought to just do that, smash the machine into something to ease the emotions in his mind.
Peace. It would then just be peace.
Carl had shaken the insane thought out of his head. Now he was headed back home. It was time.
At one point he stopped at a wide spot in the road, it was raining. He sat and listened to the pattering sound of the rain on his car, watching the droplets collect on the windshield and then grow as they trickled downward. A feeling of calm begin to flood over him. The rain stopped abruptly, the clouds cleared and he looked up to see a wonderful full moon cresting the horizon.
The full Moon, so regular, so normal. It was a bit like daily life, each day is lived and then gone. Tomorrow the Moon would be different, in a different place.
It was what a person did next that mattered. There was no way to change the past.
It was at that exact moment, that strange realization when Carl once again felt normal.
That evening he found a motel outside a small city, checked in. There was a moment of discomfort, then he let his mind go blank. He took a shower, shaved off the several day's growth of beard. He looked closely, noticing the sprinkle of gray, it had been some time since he had allowed any growth on his face. He realized he needed a haircut, too. It crossed his thoughts to stop somewhere and get one, then he decided to just let it grow.
Things like that kept his mind busy, it helped.
Feeling almost human, he walked across the street to a cafe and ate. Carl didn't even remember the last real meal he had eaten, there were some empty sacks of chips and a bag from a fast food joint in the car but he didn't know where they came from.
The on the heavy side waitress was bubbly, she cracked a few well practiced one liners, and managed to get a chuckle out of Carl. He accepted the piece of "genuine homemade berry pie" she offered. It came with a little toothpick and sign stuck in it that said "homemade" right on it, he laughed at that also. She had added a perfectly round scoop of Vanilla ice cream to the side of it.
Carl left her a nice tip.
That night he slept soundly for the first time in days. The next morning, he turned on his cell phone. The message box was completely full. He began to go through them, most were from Kathy, there were two from Jerry's number, and several from his boss, Harris.
He scrolled through them, the ones from Kathy started out pleading, begging. She even sounded like she was crying. Then towards the last her voice was raised, it became swearing, then some threats, with demands that he answer her.
Carl simply deleted them all.
He had worked for Jack Harris for more than a decade, the company logo was "Harris Homes" with a line underneath in smaller print that read "Quality isn't expensive, it's PRICELESS!"
Carl had always liked that logo. Thinking about that, about work made him feel almost normal.
He clicked the button and called his boss. The answer was instant.
"Carl! Where in the hell are you? We have been worried sick."
"I guess I am in Texas somewhere."
"Texas? Jesus! What's going on, Carl? Is there something I can do?"
Carl told Harris about catching Kathy, not going into a lot of detail.
"I just needed to get away, I had to think."
"I understand, anyway I think I do. But you are more than just a worker, Carl. You have been with us over 10 years, you are a friend. I know you deserve better than that from her, but you can't just throw everything away. You will have a job with us whenever you want, come on home and take care of things."
"I know. I feel better now, I am headed home today. And thanks."
Carl hung up and called Kathy's number. It rang several times, she sounded angry when she answered.
"Where are you? Why won't you answer my calls? I have been frantic!"
"Did you call the police on me? Again?"
"Yes, of course! You just take off, vanish, no word at all? I reported you missing, I thought you were dead somewhere."
"I wasn't missing, I was driving, trying to think."
"Are you coming home?"
"Yea, I am coming home all right."
"Good. I was really worried. I love you, I will make everything up to you, honey." Her voice suddenly changed from angry to soft.
"Yea, sure." He hung up, not waiting for her answer, then shut off the phone. He went out and got into his car, started the long drive back.
It took several more days, each night Carl found a room, cleaned up and showered, and then slept.
He was making the turn to the road to his house when he realized that on the entire trip back he had not really thought much about Kathy at all. He had mostly been remembering some of the jobs he had done, and he was feeling guilty about leaving his boss Harris in the lurch on the last one. Harris could hire people without much trouble of course, but their relationship over the years had grown to where Carl knew that Harris depended on him.
Glancing at his watch, he saw if was just before 9 AM on a Wednesday. He had been gone nearly two weeks.
There was no car in the driveway when Carl pulled up. He had half expected Kathy to be there. He put his key in the door, it opened, another surprise. He had figured the locks would be changed.
Nothing had been moved, it looked like he had been there just that morning.
Carl instantly smelled the stale cigarette smoke when he walked in. The saucer he had used as an ash tray sat there, several butts in it. He had thrown the last of the pack he had bought out the window days before, not wanting them. He had done that only as some silly kind of punishment for Kathy.
"Boy, that sure fixed her!" He thought, then started laughing. He cleaned up the saucer and put it away, found a bottle of air freshener and sprayed down the room.
Carl went out to the garage, got his tools. He called Harris and asked him if there was any work. Harris sounded happy, eager.
"Yea! Thank God! We are on the apartments over on fourth, framing and putting up the siding. Glad you are back."
Carl went out to the garage again, found his spare locks for the front and rear doors. He changed them, pitching the old ones in the trash can.
There was some kind of delicious feeling about doing that, it almost made him giddy for a few seconds.
Then smiling, he got into his car and went to work, like he always had before. There were a few looks from the crew but no one said anything.
That afternoon he told Harris he needed to leave early.
"Need to find a lawyer." Was all he said. Harris just nodded, handed him a card.
"I figured you might need one, that's Jeff Black. He can be one mean SOB if you let him." Harris grinned.
Carl called and got an appointment right away for a consult, it was like he was expected to call. He sat down with the lawyer and explained. He gave him a list of assets, then the lawyer explained how the courts usually go in situations like this.
"She will get her car and you will probably need to make the payments since her income is less than half of yours. Half the properties and accounts, too, and separate maintenance. That is pretty much the way these things go unless you can prove infidelity or something like that, of course she will just deny everything."
"I have proof." Carl told him.
"You do? Let's see it."
Carl opened his phone, showed the photo of Kathy and Jerry standing outside the motel, kissing. He felt a flash of anger again at seeing the photo.
"That's not really proof, they are just standing there, you say this man is your friend?"
"Well, we will need more than that, we can try but..."
"I guess it doesn't matter, what ever happens, happens. Let's just make it as peaceful as we can."
They shook hands. Carl went back to work. He worked by himself until after 9 that evening to finish up what had been undone when he left early. It felt good to work with no distractions, he could concentrate on getting each section as close to perfect as possible.
He even pulled and redid a couple of the siding pieces the crew had put up. He always felt that things should fit. Of course they made three inch moldings but that was what a tape measure was for.
One window header was a full 1/4" short, held in place by nails. He cut another piece and replaced that, adding the correct bracing. It kept his mind off of other things.
That night when he got home there was no evidence anyone had been there, and no sign of anyone. Carl knew that if Kathy had really wanted in she could perhaps get past the main lock but it would require effort. He really didn't think she would do that but now he just was not sure what she was capable of.
He did some cleaning up, made a meal. The phone rang just as he was carrying the dishes into the sink.
"So you are home? Nice of you to call and tell me." Kathy sounded angry again.
"I didn't see any need to."
"What? Carl, I am your wife! What in the hell is wrong with you? I told you I was sorry, there is no reason for you to act...."
Carl hung up, went and locked the doors and set the chain locks, halfway expecting her to show up but she didn't. He was actually developing a mild curiosity as to why not. After awhile, he just went to bed.
The next day she called again. This time her voice was soft, pleading.
"I know how you must feel, Carl. I really didn't want you to find out, and I felt so guilty. I have been afraid to come home, face you because I know I am wrong. I really am sorry."
"Let's give it a few days, let me think...and calm down." Carl told her. He thought it was best to not tell her at this point that he had already contacted a lawyer.
"OK. I will make it up to you, honey. Everything will be just like before!" Kathy sounded almost like she was crying.
"Yea, well. We will see." He hung up, shut off the phone. Glancing over at the main phone, he saw the light was flashing. There was one call from his lawyer's office telling him they were serving the papers and sending him copies.
That afternoon Kathy called again, this time she was furious.
"My charge card doesn't work, what did you do!" She screamed.
"I thought it best to put everything on hold until we get all this sorted out." Carl told her calmly.
"What the FUCK am I supposed to do for money, damn you!"
"You have a job." Carl hung up, shut off the phone and went back to work. He kept chuckling to himself as he worked, getting some odd looks from the rest of the crew.
That night she was parked in front of the house when he got there. Carl sighed and got out, Kathy was dressed fit to kill, wearing that pretty outfit he liked so much. Her face was made up, she looked like she did when they used to go out for the evening. Something was different, it took him a moment to realize that she wasn't wearing a bra. Carl had never seen her outside without one, except for the dresses she had that had built in padded tops.
The dress she had on was the pink and beige one, something looked odd. Then he realized the padded top was missing, which had the effect of making the neckline much lower.
Carl came to a stop in surprise, he could actually see a large portion of the tops of her smallish breasts since the material hung rather loosely. She could not fill it out without the padded portion.
"Hi, honey! I have really been missing you!" She reached out and hugged him. Standing that closely, he could see her nipples plainly.
It was obvious to him that now she was using sex on him.
"What do you want, Kathy?"
"I want you, honey. I am home now."
"Oh." Carl pulled loose from her, headed for the door.
"Go ahead and get your things." He said over his shoulder as he headed for the house. He had spotted her small suitcase in the passenger side seat when she got out.
"OK." She sounded happy, walked over to her car as he watched. She deliberately bent over slowly, letting the top of her dress gap open, looking his way to be sure he was watching. She grinned when she saw he was. It was completely blatant, he had never seen her ever do anything like that before, not outside in public where anyone could see, anyway.
Carl opened the front door, shut it behind him and set the chain lock. The last glimpse of Kathy was her standing there holding her small suitcase, a surprised expression on her face. She had made perhaps just three steps.
There was quite a fuss outside after that, some screaming and beating on the door. Carl sat down and turned on the TV. Finally he looked out and her car was gone. He went in and got a beer, sat down and laughed. Later he checked his cell phone, it was full. All the messages were from Kathy, he just deleted them.
Then he called her.
"Kathy, I just want you to know I need some time to myself. It's best you stay away until I get things sorted out, OK?"
"OK. I understand. I did you wrong and I will never do anything like that again."
"All right, thank you!"" He said brightly, then hung up. That should keep things quiet for a day or two, he thought.
Two days later, the papers arrived. He read them, his lawyer was charging infidelity, asking for the house, accounts, pretty much the whole works. Carl laughed when he read the line about Kathy being "gainfully employed."
That night the main phone rang just as he put it back on the hook to order a movie. It was Kathy, she was screaming. Apparently she had just received the papers.
"You asshole! You acted like everything would be all right! You mother fucker, so help me God. You won't get away with this, you can't prove anything! I will take every God damn....." She shrieked.
Carl hung up, cutting her off, then took the phone off the hook. He sat for a long time, thinking about how little he really knew about the woman that had been his wife.
The movie was pretty good, all about this guy living in an world all by himself, big animals with teeth after him all the time. He was thinking he would like to have a smoke but that passed after awhile. There was some kind of diversion he had managed to stuff into his head, any thoughts of Kathy seemed to slide right off of it.
The next meeting with the lawyer went about like he expected. Kathy was claiming that all the photo was was a "smooch" between close friends, she demanded all of the house and assets, and half of Carl's pay for alimony. She even made the claim of abandonment over the long drive Carl had taken.
"It's going to be a fight." His lawyer told him.
"What do we do?"
"We could use more proof, but at this point I don't see how. We will hold the house, at least for awhile, but usually...."
The lawyer's voice trailed off, Carl got that part.
"Ten years of marriage, the court will probably force a sale and give her half."
Carl sighed, went back to work. That night when he got home he found part of the door frame damaged. Someone had tried to get inside, and failed. He grinned to himself at that, glad he had changed the locks. He went around and checked all the windows, the rest seemed secure.
Carl had also installed all of those windows, a hammer would bounce right off of them. He grinned and went back inside.
He was fixing dinner when his cell phone rang, Kathy had quit calling so he had left it on. The number was Jerry's, so he picked it up, figuring it was Jerry's wife Patty. He was right.
"How are you doing, Carl?" Patty's voice sounded soft and sweet.
"Hey, I was wondering if you had calmed down? I would like to come over." She actually seemed to giggle.
"Why?" He asked, knowing exactly why. He tucked the phone between his shoulder and his ear so he could flip the steak he had frying.
"Carl, I really do like you and I was thinking you and I..? I will do anything you want me to. Jerry won't mind, he feels guilty anyway about not just telling you. He told me he just wanted the four of us to be a lot closer."
"Jerry feels guilty? Sneaking around to a filthy motel and screwing my wife? I have been thinking of pinching his fucking head off!"
"Oh, don't be like that. I will show you a good time, don't you like me?"
"No. I don't. Not much now, anyway." Carl hung up, shut the damned phone off again. He was thinking that these people were just plain crazy.
Sex would make everything just fine, they thought? Sure, Patty was a beautiful woman, even more beautiful than Kathy. But lord knows where she had been or who with, no way in hell would he ever go near her. Kathy was mixed up in all of this somewhere, he was sure of that.