When We Were Married Ch. 06AbyDanielQSteele1©
SOMETIMES, DYING IS EASIER......
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2005
My name is Bill Maitland. I'm an Assistant State Attorney in the Jacksonville State Attorney's Office. Unofficially I'm the chief prosecutor which means that although in an organizational chart there are two other SAs at my level, in reality I'm the number one guy under the Big Man, State Attorney Austin Edwards, at least for right now. I've finally made the decision to take a black cop, who shot three men breaking into his home including one of them in the back running away, to a Grand Jury.
I might wind up out on my ass at any moment and 10 years of prosecuting will be a memory, but I can't see any way out of it, not and be able to face myself in the mirror.
At the same time, a woman I have feelings for has left me to go back to her husband and son in France and I'm not at all sure that I've recovered from being dumped by my wife of nearly 20 years for a younger, prettier, more well-hung rival. So, it hasn't been the best six month period of my life and I'm not sure things aren't going to get worse....
FRIDAY, MARCH 22, 1985 – 6 P.M.
I was hitting the books for my sociology class, one of the requirements of pre-law, when Mark Cumber tapped on the door of my bedroom. I was sprawled across my bed, trying to read four books at once, take notes, and prepare for a final that I didn't see any way in hell I could pass. I'd been studying since I got out of classes at 3 p.m. that afternoon and my eyes were beginning to cross.
I almost welcomed the interruption, although I knew I couldn't spare the time for Mark's perennial request that I go out partying on a Friday night with him and the other two guys who share the rent with us for the luxury of an off-campus apartment.
It really wasn't a luxury. I'd tried dorm living, and, while it was cheap, it was almost impossible to get any real studying done, what with the booze and pot and hot and cold running females that zipped in and out of the bed of any roommate I happened to land. Not for nothing had Florida been named one of the top partying schools in the land.
Not that I had anything against hot or cold females passing through. I'd snagged a couple myself, but most of the guys I'd bunked with came from money or had scholarships or didn't mind taking out loans it would take them 30 years to repay. They could afford to screw around, maybe flunk out as a lot of freshmen did, and someday soon come back with daddy's blessing and financial support. I couldn't do that.
"Whatever it is Mark, I can't man. I've got a month of studying to make up for in a couple of weeks. Just go on without me."
Mark was a tall, skinny, white dude trying his best to raise an Afro and look cool. It just made him look stupid but somehow girls pitied him and he wound up scoring pretty regularly. He just looked at me funny.
"It's not me, Bill. Somehow, I think you're going to want to make time for this interruption."
I looked up. Standing behind him in the doorway was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen in my life. It was a warm day for March in Gainesville and she wore red shorts, a fairly loose white top that somehow bulged out, and a smile that would raise the dead.
Debbie Bascomb was a gorgeous wet dream of a 19-year-old college sophomore at the University of Florida where I am currently working, hopefully, toward a law degree someday in the not-too-distant future. I'd seen her around campus at times, always escorted by one of the school's football or basketball stars or guys who could afford $50,000 cars on their daddies' lines of credit.
Then one night she'd been the center attraction at a would-be frat house gang bang where I was earning a few extra bucks doing waiting and 'scut' work duties. Something, maybe only the distinct impression that she hadn't got involved voluntarily, led me to poke my nose into her personal business and I wound up in the hospital in a coma for my efforts.
I felt pretty silly afterwards. I nearly died, saving the dubious virtue of a reputedly very sexually active coed who never bothered to come by and see me a single time in the hospital, call me or even send me a card. I'd told myself I hadn't done it to make points. I'd have stepped in even if she hadn't been inhumanly beautiful. I told myself that.
I found myself staring at her breasts, then somehow raised my eyes to look into those cool eyes, found mine drifting lower and dropped them to a safer region, which were those hips and legs and found myself getting lost again. She was a big girl. It was a long way from those breasts to her feet. I managed to look up at her face again.
"uh – hi."
"I know who you are, Debbie. I've seen you around campus."
A little twinge of something that might have been embarrassment flashed across her face for a moment.
"I'm sorry, but I don't remember running into you."
"You didn't. We don't travel in the same circles. I just meant I'd seen you a few times," and then, although I knew it was stupid, added, "You're hard to miss."
That smile flared on her face again and it was as if the room had gotten 20 degrees warmer.
"Thank you, Bill."
She looked down at the bed which was a patchwork of books and papers and asked, "Could I sit down for a minute?"
I looked around. The two chairs I'd gotten from Goodwill were also covered with academic debris. There was just enough space in my room to turn around and that was it, the bed or nothing. I swept a pile of books and papers up and deposited them behind the bed in a heap.
She sat down on the edge of the bed and folded one knee under her. Up close she was even more spellbinding. Her eyes were an odd shade of blue green. She stared at me and I felt like a bug pinned to a specimen slide.
I tried to think of something to say but my mouth didn't seem to be working right. I noticed Mark gave me a thumbs up, grinned and vanished.
"I'm kind of hurt."
I stared at her, trying to figure out what she meant.
"You save a girl from a fate worse than death and then you completely abandon her. I figured you'd at least call me, but not a word. It's been more than a week since you got out of the hospital. Do you go around saving so many damsels in distress that you lose track of them?"
She smiled as she said it and I couldn't help smiling back.
"No, I generally don't make a habit of it. But..."
"I – uh...I don't imagine you know anything about me, but I'm here on a partial scholarship and working and keeping up a full academic load. When...uh...when I went in the hospital I lost nearly a month. I've got finals coming up in a little more than a month and I can't afford to fail any of them. I've been studying my ass off, plus going to classes. And..."
She leaned forward, her breasts swaying gently inside her blouse. I could tell now she wasn't wearing a bra because of the thimble sized nipples poking out at me. I had lost my train of thought.
She was smiling gently and she followed my gaze down to her chest.
"And...I know you've got a very busy life. You...uh – have an active social life. I didn't want to...uh...intrude."
The smile faded.
I tried to make it sound casual, but I couldn't keep a little emotion out.
"If you'd wanted to see me, to thank me, you would have come by the hospital. You never came by. I just assumed....that you weren't interested in....bringing back any memories....of that night. I figured you probably just wanted to forget all about it. My mother told me about how you were hurt, and that you probably were embarrassed. So I just thought.."
"I never came by the hospital? That-"
Then she stopped herself. Her breasts heaved, which was a show all in itself.
She took a few deep breaths. Then:
'I came by the hospital. Three times before I ran into your mother. She made it very plain that she didn't want me anywhere around you. I managed to sneak into your room twice when she wasn't around...just to sit with you.
Then she walked in one day and found me there and gave the nurses orders to keep me out of there. She was family. They had to do it.
"When I heard you'd regained consciousness, they wouldn't put any of my calls through to you.
I have a friend who's an orderly and he told me when you'd been released. I just assumed...you would contact me. I was waiting. And when you never called, I said to hell with it and came over."
I felt like shit for what I'd thought. And what I'd thought was that she was just a rich little slut girl who really didn't give a shit about a nobody that had wound up in the hospital helping her.
"I'm sorry Debbie. I didn't know. I – uh...look, my mother's not a bad woman. She's just protective. She – I – we lost my father when I was a little boy. She's never remarried. I've been her whole life. I was an only child. And she thought you were-"
"A stupid, reckless slut that nearly got her son killed screwing around at a frat party."
"You don't need to deny it. That's what she told me when she found me in your room the first time. Do you feel the same way?"
I just shook my head.
"I can't say anything about the way you live your life. You're over 18."
Her voice rose.
"You think I went there wanting to be raped. To have those assholes rape my ass until I was torn up inside? To tear my vaginal walls so I might not be able to have kids? To line up and fuck me over and over? That son of a bitch I thought was my boyfriend got me drunk and drugged me."
She lowered her voice.
"I like parties. I like guys. I like sex. Sue me. Show me that many coeds on this campus that don't feel the same way. But I'm not a punchboard. I don't go to bed with just anybody."
Somehow, without knowing how it happened, I'd wound up holding her hands in mine. Her eyes glistened.
"That wasn't what I was saying. I'm just saying that I can't pass judgment on how you live your life. If I'd thought you...wanted to be there...wanted what was happening, I wouldn't have stepped in. But I didn't think you wanted it. And I was right. I'm glad I stepped in. I always will be. It was the right thing to do."
"Do you always do the right thing?"
"I try to."
She was close enough to me that I could smell the dizzying scent of her. It wasn't perfume. It was her. Another few inches and those hard nipples would be grazing my t-shirt. I had never wanted anything more in my life than to lean forward and kiss those red lips. But I couldn't.
She was grateful to me for saving her but, if I leaned forward and took that kiss, I knew she'd stiffen and draw back and give me a look I didn't want to have to live with. She had come here to thank me, but she was still light years out of my league.
She licked her lips and I thought I was going to die, or cum in my pants. Whatever, one of those things. Then she pulled back and looked around my little room designed in late 20th century poverty.
"You save me and sink yourself Bill. That doesn't seem fair."
"No, it isn't. You shouldn't be punished for coming to my rescue."
She picked up the sociology book, looked it over and said, "You've got Williamson?"
"I took his class last semester. I got an A. I can tutor you on what you've missed and I guarantee you an A on the final. What else are you taking?"
I told her.
"I haven't taken the math yet, but I'm pretty good at math. I have taken the econ and while I haven't taken your lit class, I always ace English. Let me help you on these and you can probably pass everything without killing yourself. Two heads are better than one you know."
"I can't ask you to do that, Debbie. You've got your own classes to worry about."
"I'm ahead on everything right now. And...my econ 2 class is the hardest one I've got. Jerry Harvey has been trying to get me to go to bed with him since I started his class. If I rub my titties on him a little bit, he'll do my assignments himself."
I couldn't help smiling at her, although I didn't like the mental image of her rubbing those big breasts up against an old man.
"And there are whole armies of frat boys who'll do the work in my other classes if I just ask them to, ever so sweetly."
"You make it sound so easy."
She grinned at me again.
"You think I'm just a pretty face and a pair of D cups? There's a brain inside here, Bill Maitland."
"Yeah, I'm beginning to see that."
"But in the meantime," she said, standing up suddenly and holding her hand out to me, "let me take you to dinner."
I didn't grab her hand..
"I can't, Debbie. I have too much-"
"Bullshit. Give me your hand. There."
She pulled me up and for the first time I realized how tall she was. She wasn't wearing heels but I still had to look up slightly. Not a lot, but it was strange looking up into her eyes. It didn't do anything for my self confidence.
"Come with me. You have to eat something so let me treat you to a steak at Merriweather's and when we come back I'll help you study. I don't have a curfew and I'll stay as late as you want me to."
Merriweather's was the best steak place in Gainesville and I couldn't afford to even think of going there.
"I don't want you to spend that kind of money..."
"It won't cost us anything. I dated the son of Ritchie Merriweather, the owner, last Fall. It's too bad he's married because I liked him better than I did his son, but he loves me and he'll feed both of us for free."
She looked at me as if seeing me for the first time, taking in the faded jeans and holed tee-shirt.
"You got decent clothes? Maybe a jacket?"
"Decent clothes but no jacket."
"Doesn't matter. He keeps jackets and ties for special guests. Come on, get dressed. You want me to turn around, in case you don't have on underwear under those jeans?"
She grinned at me.
"If you want me not to, I won't turn around."
I thought about arguing with her for a second, then realized she'd get me out of there if she had to throw me over her shoulder and carry me out. I had run into a stacked steamroller.
The only problem was, I was already falling in love with an angel and I was never going to be able to fly high enough to win her.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2005
I still woke up sensing her presence in the bed next to me. I had not heard from her but I hadn't really expected to. I wondered what had happened when she met Philippe for the first time on her return, when she had looked into his eyes. I didn't want to think about their first night together after months apart.
Not thinking didn't make it go away but, even though the thought of Aline with Philippe hurt like hell, it didn't make the feelings I had for her go away.
I made myself NOT think about what I'd told Debbie the day she left. What if she walked back into my office one day in the near future? What if she told me that she and Philippe hadn't been able to put their marriage back together?
What if I was unemployed, or moving to another state, my life up in the air, trying as hard as I could to keep a relationship with my kids long distance and still missing Debbie and trying to start a new life? Could I add Aline into that mix?
Damn straight I could. One thing the end of my marriage had taught me was that a job and responsibilities and doing the right thing weren't a substitute for protecting what was the most important thing in your life.
In my case, it had been Debbie and I'd let her slip away. If Aline came back, no matter what it cost, I wasn't going to let the same thing happen again.
Despite how I felt emotionally, which was drained and tired and old, physically I woke with energy and I felt good. All the propaganda about the value of hard physical training and conditioning had turned out to be true after all. Who knew? Even though I'd slacked off while Aline was here, the conditioning carried over.
Why the fuck had I never even considered doing this when I was with Debbie and she had begged and nagged me to set foot in a gym, to go with her, even sweetening the deal with an occasional blow job or a really hot fuck?
She had wanted it and even though I knew now it was for herself, to try to keep alive a flicker of the desire she had once felt for me, she had also been doing it for me. And now, I couldn't even remember what had been so vital that I could never find the time.
Regret is the most useless emotion, or so I'd read somewhere, so I forced myself to think about William Sutton and Shawn Smith and the mechanics of the office and I managed to put Debbie and Aline out of my mind for awhile.
The process of getting ready to go to the grand jury is not all that simple, particularly when you're preparing to toss them a political hand grenade like Shawn Smith, so I spent time on that one.
Also, although we'd done a lot of prep work on Sutton, actually filing the charges and setting up the case was a different story. I had two Assistant SAs preparing the case but I was going to be the face of the case.
If it blew up in our faces, I didn't want to cripple two young attorneys just starting their careers. Better that I go down.
We'd just started the hurricane of legal forms, but Sutton's attorney, a fairly good trial lawyer named Barry Mahon of the famous Jacksonville Mahon legal dynasty, already was firing back at us as fast as we hit him with motions and counter-motions and requests for delays.
I knew what he was doing; just what I'd do in his shoes. He was going to delay, delay and delay again in the hopes that our star witness would die before the case went to trial. No recorded or written testimony is ever as effective as a live, warm, breathing human being on the witness stand.
Then, there was that distant dark cloud on the horizon. We'd heard more about the snake-bit trial of the Mexican drug cartel warlord who'd been set for trial in the West until the cartel had killed the two U.S. prosecutors on the case in that circuit.
There had been talk of moving the trial to Idaho and only a week before, the lead federal prosecutor in Boise had come home to find his wife and three children murdered, their heads missing.
Written in their blood on the walls of his home were words in Mexican that roughly translated to "Touch us and we will kill you all. El Degüello."
U.S. prosecutors around the country had received a flash education in Mexican culture and tradition, learning that "El Degüello" was the name of the trumpet tune played by Santa Anna's army surrounding the Alamo in 1836.
It meant, according to different sources, "no mercy," "no quarter?" and more literally "slit throat." One book translated it as "The Beheading." The cartel thugs who had butchered the prosecutor's family obviously went with the book definition.
The cartel had moved on the RUMOR that the case was going to Idaho, so prosecutors and cops around the country were justifiably nervous. It had been a long, long time since any organized crime groups in this country had felt free to attack cops or prosecutors.
This Mexican cartel had dared to go to war against the entire law enforcement establishment of the United States and so far they were winning.
The DEA and U.S. black Ops groups were moving in Mexico, but the entire country was so corrupt that you never knew who you could trust and often the law enforcement allies you needed were hired killers for the cartel, so taking out their heads was more than difficult.
All of this was highly sensitive, but prosecutors knew about it and knew the storm was heading for someone. The American government couldn't back off on its prosecution of the cartel warlord who had killed hundreds in Mexico and the U.S., and the cartel wouldn't or hadn't backed off on its pledge to keep him from going to trial.