Carol's Patch Job Ch. 04byCastleStone©
Janice squared her shoulders and entered the room. She looked at Jim in shock and disbelief. He was already fast asleep. He looked so pale and thin, lying there.
Janice again felt waves of guilt for all her actions. That long conversation he had with his boss, had probably exhausted him. She sat down in the chair, along side the hospital bed, and lightly took Jim's hand in hers. She resolved not to move until Jim awoke and saw her sitting there, holding his hand. She was going to let nothing tear her away from Jim again. Not even her own actions. If necessary, she would handcuff herself to Jim and throw away the key. It might make going to the bathroom, kind of tough though. She thought wryly. Then again, it might be kind of kinky, he might just like that.
Nancy sat down in a chair along side the wall and started to peruse one of the magazines that they had bought for Jim.
Jim felt a hand lightly gripping his own. Probably Carol or Lisa again, it might even be Steve. God, he hated those nightmares. They would really rip him up. It was so idiotic, a bit of human contact seemed to help calm him down some but it was a childish weakness that he didn't enjoy. He felt like such a fool with his children having to hold his hand, like he was a baby. It probably made Steve pretty embarrassed too. But the worse thing was showing weakness to his little girl, Lisa. She shouldn't have her nose rubbed in the reality that her parents could be as weak as anyone else. Well, at least the pain was getting better, his fever was all but gone, but he was so damn weak. He was still stuck using a bed pan and couldn't even wipe his own ass. All he had been able to do lately was sleep and think. Maybe too much thinking or maybe he hadn't been doing enough thinking lately. He certainly hadn't had too much down time in the last four years, to waste on extraneous thoughts.
Jim slowly opened his eyes and was surprised to see his wife. At first it was a pleasant surprise, then it turned kind of sad. He had been doing a lot of thinking lately.
Janice looked up at the voice. "Hey Jim, how are you doing sweetheart?" She asked gently.
Jim was a small bit surprised at the endearment. Janice hadn't been using them much lately. "Oh you know. Could be doing worse, could be doing better. But Doctor Richards says, things are going as expected. Probably spend another two weeks in the hospital. Just because I'm so damn weak and might need some physical therapy. Though, they could send me to something like a nursing home, for that. They want me to stay on the antibiotics for a full month, but the infection seems to be clearing up okay."
Janice had already learned that information from Carol and Doctor Richards, but Jim had no way of knowing.
"I'm glad your getting better Jim. I've been so worried about you." Janice cursed herself for her inane reply. It sounded like something you would say to a close friend and not your beloved husband. But she was so damn afraid and nervous. She felt her sins were written all over her face, plain for Jim to see.
"Janice, where have you been? I've barely seen you at all, since I've been admitted. Why haven't you been coming to see me? I don't like to make you uncomfortable or sad. But all this time stuck in bed has given me too much time to think, and I don't understand your behavior. I love you, but now I'm wondering if you love me? Heck, I'm even wondering if you like me?"
"Oh Honey, I do love you! I'm so sorry I haven't been here. I was so wrong. But the day you came home, left me an emotional wreck. I haven't been doing right by you and the children, but I promise that has changed. I will never leave you alone again and I'll return to being a proper mother. Just give me a chance, you'll see. I love you so much."
"Okay Dear, I will say one more thing about the subject. We are the parents and the adults in our family unit. We don't have the luxury of being an emotional wreck for over a week. We must take care of our children. If one of us falters for some reason, like me getting sick, the other is supposed to try and pick up the slack. You've got to be strong for the children. If you need help, you know that Ben and Mark would be happy to lend a hand. I'm sorry, if that sounded like a lecture. But so many adults behave like spoiled children nowadays, being completely irresponsible. Once you get married, you give 100 percent to your marriage and spouse. If children come along, then you give them 100 percent, too. I'm sorry I lectured, that isn't something one spouse should do to another. I just feel strongly about the issue of adult responsibilities and I've had far and away too much time, staring at the ceiling alone with my thoughts. Well I lectured again, I'm sorry Honey."
Jim shook his head. "Way to behave like an idiot." He thought. "Now, she won't ever come back for visit again." With so much time to think, Jim knew that there were things wrong in his marriage. While he had been giving as close to 100 percent as he could, it seemed to him that Janice was giving only 40 or maybe 60 percent at most. But now, was not the time to bring that up and confront Janice. Perhaps he would never bring it up. Maybe his sickness would serve as a wake up call and she would straighten herself out on her own. He could only pray.
Janice didn't like to be lectured to, as if she was one of her own elementary school students. But she forced herself to calm down and look squarely at the complete situation. Her terrible behavior, Jim's confinement to bed and she realized that if she took any offense at Jim's behavior, it would be one of the all time dumb things to do. She was still a little bit piqued at Jim for his condescending behavior, but she deserved it, more than he could ever know. She would swallow the hurt to her pride, she deserved worse. And there was worse she thought, with grim humor, for Jim had been completely right in lecturing her.
"Jim, you're right. I've got to do more for the family and you."
"Son of a bitch," Jim thought. "Aliens have come and abducted my wife and replaced her with a pod person. I wonder what you feed pod people. I wonder if they have sex? Thank you Mister Aliens."
Jim swallowed his grin. "Thank you Dear for being so gracious. I know I sounded like a jerk. I think maybe, my feelings have been hurt because I've just missed you so much."
Jim mentally patted himself on the back. "There you go Jim, apologize, give her some guilt, remind her that you love her and then make it all sound so polite. You deserve an Oscar or maybe a Clio. Boy, aren't pain meds a wonderful thing?"
For the rest of the visit they talked about household concerns and the children. Jim brought up bills, that needed to be paid. Janice said that Ben was giving her a hand with that. She didn't want to admit that it was Carol and Ben doing all the work, but she resolved to sit down with them, review things and take over. That was one of the jobs she was supposed to be doing.
"You've got to be careful with Ben. He has a habit of using the wrong check book."
"We've only got one check book, Jim." Janice was confused.
"Yeah, but Ben has one too, and he gets confused so easily. At least, that is one of the excuses he used with Dad."
"Now, when it comes to my pay. I've arranged with my Boss for direct deposit of all the checks. Workmen's comp, my regular salary and my bonuses will all be directly deposited. It might take a week or two for the comp checks to get started, but we should be okay. You just have to check with the bank to verify the deposits. Any bills you receive, for my medical care, just mail to my office. I've got a card here with the address and department. On top of that, I might be getting some extra money from the company because of pain and suffering. I won't count on that until we actually see it, but it will be nice if it happens."
It was now time for Janice to tell one of her whoppers. "Jim, Honey I'm so embarrassed. I haven't been helping out enough financially."
"That's okay, don't...."
Janice interrupted. "No it is not okay, you don't have to be the sole bread winner for this family. I've got some money in my savings account but it should be far more. I've just squandered too much of my pay on nonessentials, when I should have been helping you more. I've got almost forty thousand dollars in savings, but for all the years I've worked and you paid most of the bills, it should be a lot more. From now on, two thirds of my pay will go straight into the household account."
Janice felt guilty, that she was keeping a third of her pay, for herself. She knew Jim kept far less of his pay, and he spent most of it on gasoline. But she didn't know how she would be able to manage on less. She would try to be as frugal as possible, maybe she would surprise herself.
Getting sick doesn't seem to be a bad thing now. Janice has some savings and she is going to contribute more. My boss is going to give me double pay for a couple of months. We'll be able to put more money in the kid's college funds, maybe put some in our retirement plans, and maybe I could get myself a newer used minivan. "Whoa Jim, don't spend it, all at once. Just give the van a tune-up, a break job, and maybe new tires." Jim thought.
"Oh Honey, that is great. Forty thousand dollars will be a big help for the kids college fund and our retirement. And I really appreciate you putting in so much of your pay. I'm not going to hold you to that. Because I'll understand if you can't do it all the time, but every thing extra you do, really helps. I love ya, Baby!"
Janice, felt like a complete shit. Jim was so grateful. He didn't ask, what she had been spending all her pay on, for over ten years. She fucks him over, literally and figuratively, and he says thank you. She was a worm and didn't deserve to live.
Janice smiled weakly at her Husband. "I'm glad you're happy. I'm just sorry, I'm not able to do more."
"This is great, don't worry. It is a big relief to me, believe me." Jim gripped Janice's hand as tight as he could. Which wasn't very tight, considering how weak he was.
Since Jim had been focusing on Janice to the left of his bed, Nancy being on the right side against the wall was unnoticed by Jim. She had heard the entire conversation. She couldn't help but think, that Jim was too much of a soft touch and he should take a ruler to his wife's butt.
It was funny, Jim was well known for his nightly walks through out the neighborhood. Everyone else called it Jim's nightly patrols. Every large neighbor hood had a bully or two. Sometimes they were even the adult homeowners. Jim would walk by these homes letting them know, he wasn't afraid, and that he had his eye on them and their large barking dogs. They always seemed to have mean dogs. No one ever knew, for sure, if Jim had any physical confrontations, but he always had a pair of leather gloves sticking out of his back pocket, even in the warmest of weathers. Frequently he would be seen with a walking stick as well. When asked about the stick, he would say that it made him feel like an English gentleman.
Nancy asked her husband about the gloves and stick. He said the gloves were to protect his hands, when he punched someone and the stick was for the dogs. Janice had told Nancy, that she had asked Jim why he walked at night. He said that he liked walking in the night air and that it was his duty, as the Father, to make sure his family had a safe neighborhood, where they never felt threatened or intimidated.
So here was a guy ready for nightly fist fights and attacking dogs, letting his wife screw him over. Then profusely thanking his wife when she reduced the screwing. Nancy was beginning to think, that Jim needed therapy too.
Jim and Janice chatted for while longer about innocent things. Bringing Nancy into the conversation when Jim realized she was there. But they only talked for a short while longer. Jim recognized that he was getting tired again, and that he could fall asleep at any moment. He urged Janice and Nancy to leave while he was still awake enough, to tell them goodbye. Janice reluctantly left, she wanted to stay the night but she needed to make good on her new financial responsibilities to the family and get to work in the morning.
"I love you, Sweetheart. I'll be back tomorrow evening. You need anything or if you just want to talk, call me."
"Bye Dear," Jim said with a yawn. Janice and Nancy left Jim's room. Janice feeling much better, now that she had started to heal things with Jim. But realizing that she had a hell of a lot of work to do.
That Monday, Ben had his expert find out full details on all four of Janice's lovers. Tuesday, Ben had the three other than Danny, contacted separately by an intermediary. The man warned the three, that Janice had contracted an STD. He suggested that all of them should see their doctors and be tested. He also warned them that they better do things quickly and share their results with him. If they did not, this private matter would become public when he contacted the county health department. All three men agreed to have tests done the next day and would share their results as soon as they got them.
Ben, Mark and Janice then had to delay their revenge on the four until they got the test results. They could have maybe dealt with Danny, but Janice wanted to save him for last. While they waited, Ben hired some very discrete private investigators to dig up every bit of dirt on the four. They finally got the test results and Danny was the only one with an STD. Janice, Ben, and Mark were ready to start their revenge.
During the next two weeks, Janice visited with her new therapist, Doctor Michelle Ward, twice a week. Doctor Ward, while young, only thirty-two, was quite respected and a successful author of both professional and self-help books. She was a genius, like Ben. He had met her, at the local Swollen Head Society, as he liked to put it. Michelle was widowed quite young, her husband had an unknown heart defect that had suddenly taken his life. For the first three visits, Janice told her story to Doctor Ward. For the most recent visit, even though Doctor Ward used polite language, it felt like someone had torn Janice to shreds. The gist of the conversation, was that Janice had been unforgivably selfish and childish. Not just recently, not just for the past six years, but for her entire marriage. A good example of that, was the way she had kept her income, entirely separate from the household. Squandering her pay on expensive clothes and lunches, and not recognizing Jim's hard work or his shabby attire. Then for the past six years it got worse, with Jim still doing his best, with no thanks to Janice. Janice then believed a completely idiotic story about Jim and let herself be convinced to cheat on him. To compound all that, she cheated with four different men and did repeat business with one of them. This was all said in very polite and civilized language befitting a gifted psychiatrist. But Janice was still ripped up.
Doctor Ward knew what she was doing to Janice but she had decided, that the only way to help Janice was to confront her with the magnitude of her mistakes. Janice was too ready to blame someone else for her failings and had a tendency to hide from them as well. Doctor Ward knew that she was supposed to be coldly analytical with her patients, but she couldn't help but feel, that Janice must have been taking dumb pills for a long time.
Because of her social meetings with Ben, Michelle knew something about his adopted family. Ben would frequently tell glowing stories about Frank, Grace and Jim. When he talked about Carol, Steve and Lisa; it was more like a proud parent. Janice's report of Jim's diligence and self-sacrifice over the years was also impressive. Doctor Ward couldn't help but be intrigued by such a paragon of virtue. She also wondered if he wasn't a complete chowder head, for letting Janice get away with so much.
For the same two weeks, in the afternoon after class, Carol would drive herself and her siblings to visit their Dad in the hospital. In the evenings she would either be found sparring in the local dojo or working out in their home gym.
Finally on the Friday, the day before Carol's fight with Mary, Jim was ready to come home. They had prepared the house by getting a hospital bed for the master bedroom. The room was large enough to contain both it and their king size bed. Janice, Ben and Mark went to pick up Jim and deal with any last minute paper work. While the kids stayed at home, hanging a banner welcoming their Father home. Back at the house, Jim very slowly got out of the car and with the aid of a walker, made his way into the house. That little bit of exercise had completely exhausted him.
Jim stopped at the stairs going up to the second floor. He had no idea, how he was going to find the strength to climb them. With his whole family looking on, especially Lisa, he started up the stairs. Each tread was taking him a minute or two to negotiate, with Jim shaking all the time and visibly near collapse. The family were all holding their breaths, jostling with one another so they could be ready to catch Jim, when he finally fell. Lisa was in complete panic about her Father's weakness and conflicted. She was happy her Father was finally home, but she was angry at the hospital for releasing him, when he was so weak.
Instead of falling, Jim slowly collapsed halfway up the stairs, ending up in a sort of a sitting position on one of the steps. All the while, his family is freaking out and making such noises as "watch it he's falling, Ooh Ooh Ooh, Oh no Oh no, be careful be careful."
Jim finally said. "I'm okay I just need to catch my breath."
At that point Mark and Ben, said the heck with it. Mark grabbed Jim under the arm pits and started up the stairs backwards, and Ben grabbed Jim around the knees and followed him up.
Jim said, "and this will work too."
They placed Jim on the hospital bed, which was located right next to the regular bed, which had further required relocating some of the existing furniture. Janice had insisted, she said she had to be able to reach out and touch Jim during the night. They got Jim undressed and he promptly felt asleep, from all the exercise and stress.
Janice got on the king bed and moved right to the edge of the bed, so she could put her arm over Jim. She said, she just wanted to relax a moment along side Jim, and she would soon be back downstairs. The others all quietly left the room. But, one hour later and Janice still hadn't come down. Lisa peeked in the room and saw her Mother fast asleep, with her arm still wrapped around her Husband. Lisa had known something strange was going on, but nobody would tell her anything. But Daddy was home now and he would make it all better, he always did.
Saturday was fight day and Mary had been told where to meet. Mark had found an abandoned factory. Because he didn't want anyone to get needlessly hurt, he spent a few evenings preparing the floor. He dug a mass of old shipping foam out of the county recycling center, which he glued to the floor. Then he borrowed four large canvas tarps and placed them on top of the foam. It wasn't a boxing ring or a dojo mat, but it was close.
Marge drove Mary to the match. Mary had been working out for the past two weeks, totally perplexing her husband. He was wondering, if his wife had been replaced by a pod person. She had also tried to take some self defense classes. She had performed miserably. Mary had asked her instructor, what do to if she got in a fight. Her instructor seeing she had no endurance to run, no strength to hit and no idea on how to fight; told her that her only option was to pray for rescue.
Mark, Ben and Janice were there to watch and keep things under control. Janice didn't give a shit about Mary, but she was worried about her baby.