When We Were Married Ch. 03CbyDanielQSteele1©
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 – 4 p.m.
My name is William Maitland. I'm an Assistant State Attorney in Jacksonville, Florida. Until three months ago I had a job I loved and a wife I loved who I thought loved me. Now, the marriage is on track to end up in the trash that 50 percent of American marriages eventually inhabit and I am desperately trying to keep at least my professional life on track. I hit a bump yesterday when I to all intents and purposes drove an old man who had killed his wife to suicide.
For a lot of reasons it hit me hard. I had a breakdown, of sorts. Call it a mini-breakdown. It was a one-day meltdown. But that's all the time life would allow me so I had to enjoy what I could get. But now, before my day for my breakdown was officially over, I was back on the job.
I was reviewing cases coming up over the next few weeks. The Big Man had left me the rest of the day and Wednesday to wrap up preparation. Thursday I was supposed to come in for a few hours and then make myself scarce for the rest of the day getting ready for an involuntary sea cruise.
I had been thinking about dropping the whole prosecution thing that had been my life for 10 years, but when it was suddenly yanked away from me, I found that I didn't want to let go that abruptly.
I know, I know, I was one of nearly 20 attorneys in the office and some of them had a lot more experience than I did, but the habits of the last five years didn't die easy. I still felt responsible for handling those cases right.
There were too many people whose lives would be affected if I screwed up, or the attorneys handling the cases screwed up. I couldn't be here for the next week or so, I but I could leave things in good order.
I sensed, rather than heard the door to my office swing open. Ever since my boss had threatened to have it taken off the hinges, I'd left it unlocked. But there were only a handful of people who would enter without knocking. I looked up and I think my heart literally skipped a beat.
We had a staring contest for a few seconds.
"You should have called."
"You would just have refused to take my call or taken it for the pleasure of hanging up on me."
"If you know that, then why are you here?"
"We've been together for nearly 20 years. I know what happened hurt you. Cheryl told me you've barricaded yourself in this office. And that's not you."
"So what are you going to do, kiss it and make it well?"
She looked at my desk instead of me and almost blushed. There was a day when she'd know exactly what to kiss to raise me out of whatever dumps I was in. But those days were history.
"I thought...you might want to talk. There was a time-"
"That time is past, Debbie. What makes you think you can just walk in here and play the dutiful wife like nothing's happened these last months. You destroy my life and then you just prance in here and want to make nice. We talked when there was an 'US'. There is no 'US' anymore."
I took in her face and figure. She was wearing a nice green blouse and matching skirt that showed a fair amount of leg. As always those fantastic tits thrust themselves out against any garments that tried to restrain them.
I had thought I was getting over her. But I was stupid. The only way I'd ever get over her was just to get as far away from her as I could, and stay away.
"Take a look around the office, Debbie. Tell me what you see, and what you don't see."
She glanced at my desk, the bookshelf behind me, the coffee table, and the walls in washed oak. There were letters of commendation and pictures of myself taken with President Bush when he had passed through and Bill Clinton, another one with Hillary. On my desk I kept four 12-inch high photos of Bill Jr. and Kelly, matching sets taken when they were two years old respectively and a year or so ago.
I had a picture I'd had blown up from one of the few I'd found of my mother and father that must have been taken when I was about four. He was a big, dark-haired, Black Irish type and Mom was a peaches and cream Brit whose parents wound up in the same small town where my dad's family had lived for decades.
It took her a moment. Then it sank in.
"What's happened...Bill, it doesn't change what we had."
"Of course it does. The picture of you and me is gone. I meant to save it but somehow it got smashed and wound up going out with the trash."
I read her eyes with professional skill and I like to think that hurt.
"If you go into my condo, you won't find any pictures of you and me. Or you. And if you bothered to check our photo albums, I didn't take anything. You check my wallet and I have snapshots of the kids. You're not there anymore."
She blinked and I hope she was preparing to tear up.
"Getting rid of my picture doesn't destroy the memories of our life. It was real. It happened."
"You remember that Clint Eastwood movie we saw, about the retired gunfighter that takes the job of killing those cowboys. The one with Morgan Freeman? There's a great line in there where he says that when you kill a man, you steal everything he has, and everything he ever will have.
"Well, you pissed all over everything we ever had together. You ruined it.
"I didn't take any pictures with me because I can't remember those days without seeing those fucking emails...without seeing you kissing him...without seeing you in my head sucking on his big dick and probably squealing while he's shoving it up inside you.
"I can't remember any of the good times we ever had, because those pictures keep getting in the way. You stole my whole life, you ruined the last 20 years of my life. You did a real job on me."
She shook her head.
"Those miserable emails."
She looked at me and said, "Why did you have to save them and why did you have to read them? If you hadn't seen them you wouldn't have come to UNF and in a few days I'd have told you our marriage just wasn't working. You wouldn't known about Doug and you wouldn't be hurt like this. You could have gone on with your life and we would have had our past. You wouldn't hate me."
"I don't hate you, Debbie. I can't stand looking at you. I can't stand remembering our life. But I don't hate you. I wish I did. The problem is I still love you. Maybe I always will.
"But maybe I won't. I know it doesn't hurt as bad anymore. And it's only been three months. I think in time I'll get to the point that I won't feel anything for you at all."
Why the hell she looked hurt I couldn't understand. She was the one who had dumped me.
"Now you begin the life you should have had all along, Deb. Before you made the mistake of letting hero worship blind you. If it wasn't for BJ and Kelly, I would rather have never met you and you would have had the life you wanted. Money and power and big dicks and not being saddled with a short fat loser."
She looked at me as if I were speaking in a foreign language.
"If it makes you feel any better, helps with the guilt, I've been waiting for this for 20 years, I wasn't surprised by Doug. I'm even relieved in a way. Now you won't have to go on pretending you ever loved me."
She moved faster than I'd ever seen her move. Obviously, those trips to the gym had kept her limber. Unfortunately, my trips to Carlos' gym had speeded up my reflexes. I caught her hand on the way to delivering a slap that probably would have rattled my teeth.
"Don't do that Debbie. You don't know how close I've come to hurting you, hurting you physically. Don't' give me an excuse."
Her eyes literally flared and those damned titties rose up and down like bellows.
"Our marriage is shot. You killed it and I buried it. But don't you tell me that I never loved you. Don't tell me those first few years were a lie. Because I know damn well what I felt back then. I did love you.
"I know you weren't a stud. I could have married dozens of well hung, gorgeous guys , but I loved you. You were kind and loving and you care for me more than anyone else ever had and I felt safe with you.
"Love isn't all about sex. It's part of it, but I never had any complaints about the way you made love to me. You satisfied me. Until you decided you loved this damned job more than you loved me."
I remembered what Teller had said. I could try to explain why I had done what I'd done, but at rock bottom, wasn't she right? And she hadn't signed up for a marriage in which she was doomed to play second fiddle until the day I decided to move on to a less demanding job. I could try to explain why I had let my marriage go.
I could tell her it was like the frog that's dropped into a cooking pot full of lukewarm water, which is gradually heated. The frog is boiled before he ever realizes the danger he's in.
There was never a moment I could remember when I had consciously decided that my job was more important than my wife. There was never a moment when I knowingly decided if I had to choose between my job and her, that my job came first. But knowingly or not, that was the way I had lived for too long.
I had walked out onto a long limb trying to balance the demands of the job against the demands of my marriage. And finally the limb had given way.
And no matter what her feelings for me had been once, now she was fucking another man and if I knew her, enjoying every minute of the fucking. She had sent those goddamned emails and I could never scrub them out of my brain.
What I'd said was truer than I knew. I loved her but I couldn't stand looking at her at the same time. It wasn't quite as bad now as it had been three months ago. If I could just stay the hell away from her long enough, I might stop being so crazy.
I'd been holding her wrist in my hand. I let her go and backed away.
"Consider me consoled, Debbie. You've done your almost-over-with marital duty and ran to my side. Thank you. Now you need to leave."
"There are no words, Debbie.. You can't ever make it better. Let it go. I'm okay now.
"So you won't worry, and Cheryl doesn't need to tattle to you, I'll tell you that I'm leaving town Friday. Edwards ordered me to take a week's vacation, a cruise. I'm not going to jump overboard or do anything stupid. I'm probably just going to watch the stars and get drunk a lot.
"Tell Kelly and BJ that I probably won't call them from sea, but I'll call them when I get back into town."
She just looked at me for a long time and I wondered what was going on behind those eyes.
"You lose weight, you start looking really good, and you go on vacation. After our marriage goes to hell. Why did you have to wait until now?"
There really wasn't an answer and she turned and left without another word.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 – 4:30 p.m.
I came out of the elevator and approached Myra's desk in front of the big oak doors that led to the Big Man's domain. I often wondered if she had been fucked on every single piece of furniture in that big office. It was hard to believe he hadn't had her everywhere humanly possible.
They might get together outside the office, but Edward's wife of nearly 40 years was reputed to be jealous as hell and she HAD been an alternate on the U.S. Olympic shooting team back in 1976.
Rumor had it she still went to the gun range to show young and not-so-young cops how good she still was. Everyone always wondered how the Big Man had survived this long bracketed by the world's hottest and biggest tittied secretary on one side and one of the world's most jealous and most accurate shooting wives on the other.
The guess was that he must have at least 12 inches to keep the wife happy with the state of affairs, and he was also VERY, VERY careful not to play with Myra anywhere his wife might catch them.
No one would probably ever know, until the day the cops got called to check out his bullet riddled corpse, but it made for some interesting office speculation.
Myra snapped her fingers and I came back to reality from my daydreaming.
"Earth to Bill. Where were you?"
I looked into her eyes, a dazzling shade of green that looked like emeralds gleaming, then down at the vast expanse of chest that looked like nothing so much as twin volleyballs somehow crammed into a blouse that had buttons quivering dangerously from the pressure being exerted on them, back up to those emeralds again.
"Sorry, my mind wandered. Doing that a lot lately. You have something for me?"
"Exactly how do you mean that?"
I could not prevent my traitor eyes from dropping to those quivering buttons on the front of her blouse but with superhuman discipline raised my gaze back to her eyes and avoided either blushing or smiling. I think I managed to avoid drooling, mostly.
"I believe you have some tickets and other documents for me."
She twisted to pick up an manila envelope on her desk and my body reacted before I even realized what I was doing. Carlos' training showed me again why three pro boxers had come out of his gyms or training schools. I grabbed the flying missile before I even consciously saw it. She looked up at me and I opened my palm to show the round object.
She opened her mouth in surprise as she recognized the button. She looked down to see top button of her blouse missing. The blouse gaped open, revealing cleavage that went on forever.
"Damned cheap material. This keeps happening."
I couldn't' resist.
"It did its best, Myra. Some things aren't meant to be contained."
"Aren't you sweet," she said with a sly smile. "For a married man. Anyway, I never thought you noticed them."
"Is there any male anywhere that's not noticed them?"
"You've done a pretty good imitation for five years. I really thought you were so hung up on that wife of yours that you never noticed."
"I noticed. But...it's like the moon. There's no point in even thinking about going there. And they're...you're...further away than the moon."
I had my hand on her desk and she placed one slim hand palm down on mine. It had to be my imagination, but her touch burnt.
"You've been out of touch. You know that men have conquered the moon, don't you?"
There was absolutely no response I could make to that. My mind was as barren as the Sahara desert.
"Is...that envelope for me?"
She took her hand off mine and handed me the manila envelop with her other hand.
"There are tickets, confirmation papers, some brochures of what to expect on the Bonne Chance. Everything you need to take with you, except a few changes of clothing. I hope you have a good time."
I took the manila envelope and thought about the last time I'd gone on a cruise, ten years before to Hawaii, just before taking this job with the State Attorney's Office.
"I don't know. It's going to be...different."
"Because you'll be going alone."
The smiled faded.
"I haven't said anything because...we don't see each other and it's not my place...but your wife is an idiot. I know you don't want to hear that now, but you're going to be fine. You were always a good guy, but now..."
"You're getting hot."
I probably did blush at that.
"I'm bald, pudgy and middle aged. Unless they've changed the definition of hot..."
"Bald looks good on you, you haven't looked in a mirror lately if you think you're pudgy, and middle aged...You look dangerous is what you look....you've got that bad boy thing going."
"Are you hitting on me?"
"No," and she laid that burning palm on the back of my hand again. "I don't mess with married men. Except for...But when your divorce is final....Anyway, about the cruise. You know the name of the ship translates roughly to 'Good Luck', right? Well, you just might get lucky. Stranger things have happened."
"That would be pretty strange, alright. Thanks for the compliments, though, Myra, even if you're lying through your teeth. See you in a week and a half or so."
I waited for the elevator. Before the doors opened, she said, "Oh, by the way, Bill, Mr. Edwards doesn't want you thinking about cases or the business this office does. That doesn't mean you can't think about the people here. Or anybody in particular."
She had a way of saying things that shut me up. I stepped into the elevator without looking back. I could still see that enormous expanse of cleavage in my mind's eye.
Friday, July 15, 2005 – 5 p.m.
I rested my elbows on the railing and looked down to the docking area where people the size of ants, or large bugs, thronged waving and shouting up to the passengers who stood beside and around me at the rail. The ship's horn blasted again and there was only a gentle swaying motion as it began to slide slowly through the water away from the Blount Island berth that the Bonne Chance had occupied for four days.
Even the summer heat of a Jacksonville July gave way to ocean breezes gusting and tossing hats and papers around. There was the smell of mud flats and rain in the air and dark clouds massed above the horizon.
It was going to rain, probably storm tonight because the weatherman had said the weather system getting ready to inundate Jacksonville was more than the typical summer thunderstorms that hit on a regular basis after 95-plus searing days.
There were couples and groups of women without men, but few groups of men without women, and mothers with infants and more than a few knots of teenagers or younger kids wandering or prowling the crowd looking for teens of the opposite sex or, with pre-teens, of the same sex, to hook up with.
Whoever coined the phrase, lonely in a crowd, knew what he or she was talking about. I looked around at the families, at the couples holding or hugging or kissing, the knots of single women who were eyeing the males in the crowd. What the hell was I doing here?
"I always love this part of the trip. Leaving is...I don't know, it's exciting. I've done this three times in my life and I never get used to it."
I looked over at the man and woman standing beside me at the railing. He was about six foot, dark brown hair, open, smiling face. I pegged him for a businessman of some type. The woman standing beside him was about four or five inches shorter but she was wearing sensible heels. Slender with long blonde hair, apple cheeks. A Barbie brought to life.
From the way she was holding onto him, I figured they were on their honeymoon, or second honeymoon because he was no kid.
I looked toward the clouds.
"Looks like it might rain. If it does, it'll be bumpy tonight. You need to hold your bride tight when you're getting around. It's easy to slip and fall."
"We're that easy to spot? I guess so. It is our honeymoon. I just made an honest woman out of this young lady."
He reached over to shake my hand.
"You look familiar. Have I seen you before?"
"No. I just have one of those faces."
"I hope we'll run into each other again. My name is Dan Jenkins. I have an insurance agency in Jax, and this is Caroline. My blushing bride. By the way, how are you set for homeowner's insurance?"
He saw the look on my face and laughed.
"Sorry, I couldn't resist. Everybody gets that look on their face when I tell them I'm in insurance. But I'm off the clock for the next week. Going to be too busy to sell anything."
As he said he grinned and then bent down to kiss his new bride. We must have been about the same age, but I felt immeasurably older than him.
"I'm Bill Maitland. Glad to meet you and your wife. Well, good luck," I said, moving away as if I had somewhere I had to be. I just didn't want to be around happy honeymooners right now. Happy anybody, actually.
I wandered down the railing, moving in and out of the couples and families and groups of women, trying to make myself as invisible as possible. Most people had loved ones or friends waving to them. There was no one down there for me. My choice.