Four months after the divorce, Gail told me that she and a group of her friends were going on a four- day cruise. "Do you think that you can keep it together for four days and watch Randi?" she asked.
"I'm not a cripple; I can handle a five year old," I replied in a sarcastic tone.
"Well then prove it." "Pick her up from school on Friday and I'll pick her up on Monday night. Think you can handle that, Greg? She's got a cold coming on, so give her some baby aspirin before she goes to bed," Gail instructed. "Do you want me to write it down or do you think you can remember it?" she asked.
"I'll remember," I replied. "I've still got a good memory for important things," I told her.
"Ya right, like our marriage vows?" she countered. "Just don't mess this up. She's your daughter, please remember that," Gail said as she got in her car and drove away.
I picked up Randi right after school and we hung out and went to McDonalds for dinner. She was a little quiet, but was probably annoyed to be with me. "We're going to have a great weekend," I told her. "I've got videos, games, and we're going to the zoo on Saturday with grandpa," I told her but she still wasn't herself.
That night I got worried. She was hot to the touch and had thrown up. I ran a cool bath for her and went downstairs to get a beer. I heard the crack and thud all the way from the kitchen. Randi must have slipped in the tub, and hit her head on something; because there was blood everywhere. I saw the gash on the side of her head and when it wouldn't stop bleeding, I headed to the closest hospital emergency room.
It took ten stitches to close the cut, but she still had a fever of over 103 degrees, so they admitted her for observation; as they thought she could possibly have a concussion. When the doctor finally came, the nurse kicked me out of her room. I paced the hallway like a mad- man for the next half hour. Finally, they asked if I would donate a pint of blood, just to be on the safe side, "hell yes," I said; I guess they were low on O- negative blood.
Over the next three hours, I found out how little I knew about my daughter. I didn't have a clue what she was allergic to, who her family doctor was, or even the date of her last vaccinations. What kind of father was I? I did give her blood though. For the next three hours I gave them all they wanted. They gave me fluids and asked me how I was doing. "The hell with me, how's my daughter?" I asked.
"She's stable now, but we'll be keeping her for a few more days, just to be sure," I was told.
It was Saturday afternoon before I could get a hold of Tammy and dad. They were in and out of the hospital the entire weekend. I left a message on Gail's phone, so when she got back she would know where we were. Sunday morning, I took a shower at the hospital, and I was given the bed next to Randi's. I then changed into a fresh set of clothes that my dad had brought me.
"Hi pumpkin" I said as I kissed her on the forehead. "You really gave me a fright sweet- heart." "How do you feel?"
"My throat hurts and I want these to go away," she said looking at the tubes in her arms.
"Pretty soon, babes, pretty soon. Why don't you sleep for a little bit while daddy talks to Aunt Tammy" I asked her while noticing my sister at the door. "I'll be right here, so don't worry about anything."
"You look like crap," Tammy said with a smile.
"Love you too sis," I replied. "The doctor said she caught some bug or virus that spiked her temperature and made her light- headed. Thank God I got her here on Friday night."
"You did good, little brother, for once you didn't mess up. You should be proud of yourself," she told me.
"Gail's not going to be very happy with what happened to her little baby, but at least I left her a message on her phone. I hope she doesn't try to call me, because I haven't a clue where my cell phone is. Do me a favor. Please, watch Randi for a minute, since I've got something I need to do."
The chapel was tiny and dark, but I wasn't there to inspect it, only to use it. "God," I started. "I've never done this, but all I want to say is thank you for sparing my daughter. I've messed up my entire life, but these last three days have made me realize how screwed up I really am. I'm not going to say that I'm going to be a saint, but I can promise you that I will do the best by my daughter from this day forward. I just thank you for giving me a second chance." Greg never saw his dad in the back, who had ducked out before he turned around.
Gail showed up Monday afternoon screaming for Randi. Randi was now lucid and happy, because I had gotten her some ice cream. "What the hell did you do to her?" she screamed at me. "I can't even trust you to watch her for even a long weekend, Randi, mommy's here, and mommy will take care of you sweetheart."
I was going to explain what happened and defend myself, but I was too tired and figured that what's the use. I snuck out of her room and headed for home, I was whipped, and Dad called and wanted to know if I wanted to come over for dinner. I passed. "Maybe tomorrow, but all I want to do right now is sleep," and that's what I did. I turned off my cell, unplugged my home phone, and crashed.
I woke up late on Tuesday, and because it was dark outside, I thought it was still Monday night. I got up, went to grab a beer, and stopped. "No more, no fucking more," I said in closing the refrigerator. I got into my car, went to the store, and picked up what I should have been eating and drinking for the last eight months. I tossed out all the beer, which was tough, and then, sat down and started mapping out my new life.
Gail checked Randi out on Tuesday night, before I could talk to her. "She would probably just yell at me anyway," I said to myself while feeling a little low. But on Wednesday, I was at work bright and early and full of piss and vinegar. I'd been a cog in the works for far too long and that was going to change. That morning I rounded up the crews and told them that I had been too easy on them for far too long and as of today, "I would be kicking butt and taking names." Therefore, if anyone didn't want to work, they should hit the door, because I would be kicking their ass out if they didn't put out. Nobody said a word including dad or Tammy.
I told dad that I would be on the road checking the job sites for the day, but could be reached on my cell phone. "However, I will take you up on dinner tonight, and I'll see you around 7:30," I told him.
The job sites were dirty and cluttered. The company tools were not put away and we seemed to be missing a nail gun. Do you remember that story? I had no one to blame, but myself, because I was the one who was supposed to be in charge of the crews, and not partying with them every night. "Well that's over starting tonight," I told myself. I made notes of what had to be done, changed, and headed over to dad's condo. Just as I pulled up, my cell rang; "Damn it, it's Gail." I was in no mood to get yelled at, so I let it go to voice mail along with the other thirty messages from her.
Dad and I talked business till almost 10:00 pm before he kicked me out. As I was about to leave, he gave me a hug; "I think you've finally started to grow up," he told me. "Too bad it took Randi getting sick for you to realize what's really important." He was right.
The next week was tough, as I had to replace three workers who kept calling in sick. It was my weekend with Randi and we were going shopping and apartment hunting, so I arrived a little early at the school. She ran into my arms and kissed me hello in front of all her friends. "This is my dad. He's my hero," she told everyone. We dropped her stuff off at my apartment, had dinner; and went clothing shopping.
I learned a whole hell of a lot about little girl's fashion that night and dropped a ton of money; but it was worth it. Saturday morning, after breakfast, we went apartment hunting. It was time that Randi had her own room when she stayed with me, so in the end, I let her pick the place. That night, we had dinner at Tammy and Jim's with dad and Connie in tow.
"It is so cool that, I will have my own bathroom and the place has a huge pool just outside our apartment," Randi explained to anyone who would listen. "I even have my own clothes at dad's. Mom won't have to send clothes with me anymore," she told Connie.
"Sounds like you've been busy this weekend," Tammy told me. "Have you talked to Gail yet? She has been trying to get a hold of you all week. It seems like you've been ducking her calls. Why are you afraid to talk to her?" she said with a laugh.
"I just don't want to hear her crap about how irresponsible I am. That's all. I know I've screwed up in the past and I can't change that, but I don't need to be reminded about it every time she talks to me," I said in a bitter tone. "I'll talk to her sometime, just not now, and I also need you to do me a big favor sis; I need you to drop Randi off at school on Monday, as I've got to be in Atlanta by 2:00, so I'll have to leave super early Monday. Please?" I begged.
So that's the way it went for the two and a half weeks. I ducked Gail's calls and Tammy ran interference for me. "Maybe she'll give up and leave me alone," I thought. Tammy and Gail were as close as sisters, so if she needed any information, I knew she could get it.
When Randi started ballet and French lessons, Tammy and Gail almost flipped. "What the hell are you doing, Greg?" Tammy asked.
"I took Randi to a play and some of the little girls were doing ballet, and she whispered that she would really like to do that too. When she got to class, a couple of the girls were speaking French, so she wanted to learn that also. What was I going to do? Say no?" So, on Wednesday nights she has ballet from 3:30 until 4:30 and French lessons on Thursday from 4:30 to 5:30. I'm also taking French with her, as it's something we can do together," I told an amazed Tammy.
I knew that I could only duck Gail for just so long. Tammy and Gail cornered me Saturday night two weeks later, as we came back from dinner. "I'm going to take Randi for ice cream, because you two need to talk," she told me.
I was screwed, with no place to run or hide, so I just made light of the situation. "Hi Gail, what's new?" I said with a little smile.
"That's the best you can do? Hi Gail, what's new?" she yelled. "Why in the hell haven't you returned any of my calls?" she demanded to know.
"Let's just say, that; I'm tired of all the lectures from everyone about what a bastard father I was, and how I messed up my own marriage, because I couldn't keep my dick in my pants, that's all."
"I'm sorry about that, as I didn't know what was going on when I got to the hospital; only that Randi was sick and you caught the brunt of my frustration, that's all. Tammy filled me in later about what you did. I'm sorry about flying off the handle," she said.
"That's ok; up until that point, my track record wasn't the greatest," I told her "But I've changed and Randi means the world to me."
"Don't be mad, but Tammy's been filling me in on what you've been up to. Did you really quit drinking?" she asked.
"Couldn't handle it and work, so something had to go. Been; sober eight months," I said proudly. "How's work been treating you? I haven't been by the store in quite a while."
"I think they're planning on promoting me to store manager, but nothing is official yet. My manager says that there's an opening in Denver that I'm up for," she told me. I didn't hear another word after that until Gail asked, Greg, you all right?"
"You're moving to Denver. You and Randi are moving to Denver?" I repeated. "No this can't be happening," that voice in the back of my head, screamed. "It's not fair God damn it, I've changed."
"It's not official, but I'm told that I'm pretty much a shoe- in for the job" she said waiting for my reaction.
"You're worked hard, and you deserve it," I said to her, but on the inside, I screamed, "Gail, I've changed for Gods sake give me another chance. Please." Gail just kept looking at me as if she was going to say something else; but I guess she had said enough. She had cut me off at the knees with her "good news."
"Well, I guess I'll be leaving. Don't be a stranger and make sure Randi doesn't get too hyper on the sweets. Nice seeing you again, Greg," she said before walking out to her car and leaving.
"You knew she was planning on moving with Randi to Denver?" I yelled at Tammy. "When were you planning on telling me, when they were packed up and were ready to go?"
"If you would have returned any of her calls, you would have found out what the hell was going on," she replied. "If you weren't feeling so sorry for yourself you two could have talked and maybe worked out something. Now it appears to be a little late."
"The hell it is; I'll get an attorney and sue her for custody. That's what I'll do. I've got to call Bill tonight and get him working on the paperwork," I said out loud. "I screwed up once, but I'm not going to do it again," I said as I picked up the phone.
"Easy Greg. She doesn't even have the job yet. Don't you think you should talk to her first?" said Tammy.
"She still thinks that I'm the cheating bastard who she kicked out a year ago. She'll never believe I've changed. No, the only way out is to sue for custody and block her from taking Randi to Denver. She hates me anyway, so I've got no choice," I told her as she asked me to calm down. "You calm down; Randi is all I've got left, and I won't give up the most important thing in my life right now, no matter what it costs me."
Everyone, including my dad, told me to slow down and talk to Gail. "For Christ's sake Greg, talk to her. You don't have a clue if she's going to take the damn job even if they offer it to her," my dad tried to tell me.
"Dad, she's probably still pissed and this is her way of getting back at me. I can't take back all the things I did, but God damn it, she's not taking Randi away from me if I have anything to say about it."
Against better judgment, I had Gail served, at work, no less. "If she was pissed before, she'd be completely livid now," I said thinking about where I could hide for the next 24 hours. It took a divorce plus six months of soul searching to realize that I truly did love Gail, but during the divorce she refused to even talk to me. She once told Tammy that she thought she'd married a man, but ended up with a spoiled teenaged brat. That hurt.
Two days later, I was having dinner with Tammy when an enraged Gail walked through the door; I had been set up. "You sorry son of a bitch. What the hell is this?" she screamed, as she waved a manila envelope at me. "You didn't even have the guts to give it to me yourself, you stinking worm. Tammy said you had changed and I almost believed her. Stupid me. All I see in front of me is the same little weasel I married. You want a fight, then you've got one," she said as she stormed out slamming the door.
"Well, that went well don't you think?" I said to Tammy and her husband as the two of them stood there with their mouths wide open. "Oh, by the way, thanks for setting me up sis, I really do appreciate that," I told her.
"She said that she just wanted to talk, that's all," Tammy stammered. "How in the hell did I know she'd go off on you? I'm sorry, ok?"
"Who's next Tam? Dad, Carol, my mom? Why doesn't everyone just stay out of my business?" I yelled as I walked out. I almost made it to my car, when I heard a voice behind me.
"Greg?" It was Tammy's husband. "I know we don't talk much and you think I'm kind of a milk- toast kind of guy, but you need to know a few things. Both Tammy and Gail love you to death. Yes even Gail. They've watched you go from a pussy- chasing asshole to a pretty decent father over the last year. Gail thought it was a trick considering all the lying and crap you put her through, but Tammy convinced her that you had really changed. Look, I know it may not be my place to tell you this, but Gail was almost ready to give you another chance. That is before all this latest nonsense happened. You may not want my advice, but before you ruin your life again, please suck it up and go talk to her. What do you have to lose?"
This was from the guy I kind of looked down on, who couldn't change a stinking light, and who had only said maybe a hundred words to me since he and sis had gotten married. I guess he wasn't as dumb as I thought.
"Not so hard, more to the right, ah, that's the spot," she cooed with her hands tucked behind her head. "Easy, go from the top all the way down to my ass. Oh God that feels so good," she said raising her ass off the bed to meet my tongue. She didn't have a condom, but no matter, as she wanted me bear- back anyway, as I drove into her. Her strong legs held me like a vice, as I pounded her pussy, until I rolled her over on top of me.
"Ride me bitch; I want to see you cum on top of me," I said as I grabbed her breasts and nipples.
She ground her hips and pussy onto my dick while I twisted her nipples as she rubbed her own clit. She felt her first wave roll over her as her cunt clamped on to my cock like a bitch in heat. "Oh my God," she yelled as I pushed up as far and as hard as I could. "Ah, right there, yes," she screamed as she finally let loose, falling face down onto my chest.
We lay there quietly for what must have been five minutes, neither one knowing exactly what to say. Two single people enjoying each other's bodies. Was this all that it was?
"You know, when you move back in, we're going to have to be a little quieter; Randi's getting to the age where she's going to ask what the hell we're doing in here," Gail spoke first.
"Just tell her that mommy and daddy are making her a baby brother. She'll love that" I replied.
"Is that what we're doing?" she asked.
"Well, if your not on the pill and I don't have a rubber on, it's a sure bet we're headed that way," I said with a smile kissing her for the hundredth time that night. "Remind me to pick up a gift certificate for Outback before we pickup Randi. There's a certain someone I owe big time." I told her. "If it wasn't for Jimmy, you and Tammy would still be playing your stupid games, and I would be wasting a ton of money on an attorney," I said with a now stern look on my face. "This is a much better outcome."
"How in the hell did I know you had really changed; and weren't just sand bagging me?" Gail asked. "You know, you don't have the greatest track record," she said jumping up from the bed heading for the bathroom. "How about a shower?"
I eased out of bed and joined Gail in the shower and afterwards dragged her back to bed for a quick snack, or snatch, whatever. We made love for the entire night and the next day. I started moving my stuff back into the house which made both girls very happy.
Did I still meet with the vendors and sign the contracts? Yes, but Gail worked out the terms of payment, so there would be no slip-ups this time.