Deployed, Tattooed, Transformed Ch. 01bysophist801©
Note: This is my first submission to Literotica and is the first chapter of three. There is little sex in this first chapter. The focus is more upon the main character's discovery that his wife, while he was in a combat zone, gave birth to a child not his.
They say the only thing we can count on in our lives is change. Our life continues to evolve, change, transform, grow and move in directions we often cannot understand. I think it is often best we don't understand because our minds and hearts may never be able to reconcile what we hear and see with the emotions that have the power to make us do things we would never ever consider.
For me, the last eighteen months had been a nightmare, a struggle for constant survival, literally. As a veteran of the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts I'd seen my share of blood and guts. I'd seen civilians dismembered by flying shrapnel and watched as fellow soldiers died cowardly (yet with honor) deaths at the hands of road side bombers and mid-night sniper attacks. I had endured 8 months of my second tour of duty and was finally being sent home, mainly because I'd been shot myself. Nothing serious, but enough for the Command to say it was time to go home.
Yes I'm married to a most wonderful woman . . . married 16 years with one 14 year old daughter. So, I was looking forward to a home cooked meal and sleeping in my own bed with the woman I loved. As soon as I had my orders I sent an email to Jane (my wife) to let her know when I would be arriving. Her reply was "Paul, It's about time big boy! I've missed you so, so much! Janice (my 13 year old daughter) and I are already planning your homecoming party. Love you so much, Karen."
My injury was a thigh flesh wound caused by a single bullet fired by a young man who, as it turned out, was drunk and angry with they fact he couldn't get medical care for his wife. In all my time in combat I'd been so careful so it was with some embarrassment that a drunk, angry Afghan would be the one to actually tag me.
Sure to her word, Karen had planned a wonderful homecoming party. Friends and family turned out to welcome me home with and afternoon and evening of barbecue, beer and a local band. It was an absolutely wonderful way to come home. It wasn't until that first night at home that I got some idea of how things had changed. Karen was as loving and energetic in bed as I remembered. It was clear to me she made love to me with everything she had to give.
The first thing I noticed that had changed was the fact she had cut her hair short and died it black. It looked good. It was the kind of haircut that accentuated her long lovely neck. The second thing I noticed was a single tattoo at the base of her skull, probably the reason she had cut her hair short was to let the world see the tattoo. I was again impressed mainly because the tattoo was the initials PMJ. The initials were done in a sweeping calligraphy style so they appeared tasteful and not clearly identifiable unless you looked closely. My full name is Paul Michael Johannsen.
"I will always be yours and I wanted to do something that told the world how much I loved you." That was all she said as she through her arms around me as we embraced in the San Francisco Airport terminal. It was a wonderful gift. I felt like the luckiest man in the world and believed Karen was the absolute perfect woman for me.
Following the welcome home party I needed to report to a doctor for follow-up care. Since Karen and I had bought a home in West Sacramento (to be close to family and friends we had grown up with). It was not a big deal. Since we had always gone to Dr. Wayne Lee it was easy to get an appointment to see him the day after I'd been Stateside. Karen dropped me off at the doctor's office then did a little grocery shopping, saying she would pick me up in about an hour. So I settled in to wait for Dr. Lee's medical assistant to call me.
"Hello Captain Johannsen." Dr. Lee greeted me formally but with a smile saying it was good to see me.
"It's now Major. And it's good to see you Doctor."
"Well congratulations on your promotion! So what brings you to me after all these years?"
"The Army has ordered me to get a wound checked and I was too lazy to make the drive to McClellan to see a military doctor. Besides, you always took good care of us." He'd been our family doctor for years and was a family preference.
"Very good." So Dr. Lee listened to my heart, checked the wound that had almost completely healed and ordered blood work. He was being his typical thorough self.
"Nothing out of the ordinary. You are in very good shape and the wound is healing nicely." I was getting off the exam table and putting on my shoes when he asked: "By the way, how is the little one?" The little one? I immediately assumed he was talking about my daughter, Janice.
"Janice is doing well. She and her mother welcomed me home in style and she is getting good grades in school. I'm a proud father, for sure."
"Not Janice, Paul Junior." I did not know a Paul Junior. "The baby that Jane brought into this world six months ago." Six months "ago" I was in Afghanistan and knew nothing about a Paul Junior and I was sure this was a mistake on Dr. Lee's part.
"Dr. Lee. I don't have a son. Are you mistaking this Paul Jr. with another patient?" His look was one of astonishment. Then it was clear he was fearful he might have breached confidentiality laws by asking what he thought was an innocent question.
"You can confirm that Jane gave birth to a baby boy six months ago?" My friendly banter was now serious and carried with it intensity, military focus intensity. I stood straight, pulled my shoulders back and assumed a rigid military stance that said "don't fucking give me any bull shit!" It is always interesting to watch people's reactions when a man in camouflage, body armor and is armed with an M16 confronts them. It can be menacing as hell. I was assuming that kind of stance.
"Look, Paul, I may have misspoken . . ." Dr. Lee was trying to back-track as he realized he may have said something that was causing me great emotional stress.
"Dr. Lee, tell me what happened, now." Whether it was fear I would strangle him if he didn't tell me what had happened or realization that I would get the information another way, he began to explain what had happened
"Just a moment . . ." he said as he electronically pulled up my wife's records. All of his exam rooms were equipped with computers. "I want to make sure I am, in fact giving you information about your wife Jane. Then you need to understand you did not get this information from me, OK?" I understood completely.
"Agreed." I had no reason to doubt Dr. Lee's word. Once he had Jane's electronic medical record he was able to confirm that Jane did give birth to a baby boy on June 16, 2009. (It is November 28, 2009) The boy was healthy, born via natural child birth and named Paul Michael Johannsen, Jr. Jane was referred to a Pediatrician, Dr. Kimberly Smith. Dr. Lee had not seen Jane since then and had no other information to share.
I could not talk to Jane when she picked me up an hour later. I was in a state of shock and had not had time to digest the information that now was meant to be buried with some clandestine relationship I was assumed she had when, shit, when I was still her, just before being deployed to Afghanistan. If she'd been having an affair before I went into combat this last time I had not suspected a thing. Had I been so dim-witted and in love that I suspected nothing?
"Paul, is everything OK? What did the doctor say?" I was not going to be good company for awhile, at least not until I had more information and had heard the story from Jane.
"Everything's OK." Was all I said lying like I'd never lied before. It had always been difficult for me to lie to my wife so I don't even try. Bottom line Jane would know something was bothering me.
I thought it interesting that I discovered this little bit of information so quickly upon my return. If I'd never been shot I'd still be in Afghanistan, I would not have needed to see Dr. Lee (which was a formality anyway) and I would probably go through the rest of my life dumb and happy. Shit, what I would give to be dumb and happy, again!
Jane did not press me. If she was worried about me she held her tongue. I've never been prone to mood swings so I was going to have to address the "intel" (slang for intelligence information, often gathered covertly and often unreliable) I'd just received. Would she voluntarily share this information? No, probably not. Putting myself in her shoes I believe I'd bury the affair (or whatever the hell it had been) as deep as possible as quickly as possible then pray everything worked out.
As we walked into the house I realized my daughter must also know of the child! The thought smacked me like an exploding grenade. Jane must have sworn Janice to secrecy (so to speak) knowing this knowledge would devastate me. This assessment was dead on. But to ask my daughter to be complicit in the cover-up, in hiding her affair and the baby, a baby that bore my name, made me instantly begin to seethe. My brow furrowed and my teeth were set tight to the point where my jaw was beginning to ache. My head felt like it was in a vice grip and there was no way to get loose.
"Hi Dad!" Janice stuck out her hand to me, to shake my hand, as I walked into the house. Over the years shaking hands had become a special way for my daughter and I to greet one another. Neither Janice nor I had ever been too demonstrative when it came to affection. Hugs and kisses were rare. But the handshake was special to our father-daughter relationship. I just looked at her outstretched had, shook my head and walked into the bedroom. "Dad! What did I do now!?" I did not answer her as I retrieved a black magic marker from my desk.
Yes, I was beginning to let my emotions, usually under control and reserved to tactical decisions, get the better of me.
On the bedroom window that looked out onto our backyard and the small in-ground waterfall I wrote "June 16, 2009 PMJ". Then I walked into the master bathroom and wrote the same date, "June 16, 2009 PMJ". With the magic maker in hand, the cap tossed aside, I wrote the date on the wall above our bed in foot high scroll so it would not be missed. If the date was going to be forever imprinted on my mind, like a cancer, Jane and Janice were going to see it as well. There would never be any secretes between us again, that is if there was some remote chance there was a family to even worry about.
By the time I made it into the kitchen my daughter, Janice, had disappeared into her bedroom. I could hear her crying as I walked by her closed door.
"What's going on Paul!? You are acting weird, like you are suffering from PTSD!" In a way I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and it had nothing to do with being shot or seeing other people senselessly die. I thought it ironic that I'd been able to witness the violent and often senseless deaths of fellow soldiers but had "lost it" when it came to my wife's act of baby-making betrayal.
I did not answer her, instead wrote the date on the mirror that hung above the fireplace as I continued to deliver the message that I knew and that a shit storm was coming. Jane had turned to start putting groceries away, obviously angry because I'd somehow done something to hurt our daughter. She was slamming cupboards open and shut, giving in to her own frustration at not knowing what was going on with me. Her cupboard slamming would soon be over.
I then left the living room and wrote the date and initials on the dining room wall above the piano and then again on the wall outside of my daughter's room. As soon as Janice walked out of her bedroom she would know why I was so upset. This little tantrum of mine lasted not more than a few minutes. The house was marked and I was ready to go someplace and let Jane and Janice deal with the fact that I knew of the baby's birth.
I tossed the magic marker onto the living room couch as I walked by. It would leave black marks on the near-white upholstery. I didn't care, it would leave a "mark" that would simply remind Jane and Janice of their conspiracy, so to speak. Knowing Jane had a baby, while I was gone, was a source of stigma for our family. Christ was marked with the stigmata but he bore his mark with love, pride and forgiveness. After all he was dying for our sins, a very noble death. There was nothing noble or honorable about what happened on June 16, 2009. For a moment I shook off a brief smile as I realized the baby, Paul Michael Johansson, Jr. was truly innocent.
"No! Oh my God no!" The cry that came from Jane and the crash of glass hitting the floor told me she'd seen my "stigmata", my marking of the date on mirrors and walls so no one could hide the fact that something clandestine and sinister had finally caught up with the Johansson family.
I tried to convince myself that I no longer cared about Jane and Janice but could not lie to myself. I was at a place where I loved and hated them with a fervent passion that could tear me apart, if I let it. I was not going to face them on their terms in the environment where they had tried to hide behind a wall of concealment.
Within a half hour my duffle was packed and I'd loaded Jane's Volvo with all the gear I would need for a long deployment. (Being deployed so much lately I decided we did not need a second car so I was taking Jane's vehicle.) My daughter stayed in her bedroom the entire time I packed, thinking I was upset with her for some unknown reason. As I walked out of the house, now dressed in camouflage, I was proud to be of service to my country and would take refuge in the comradery the military afforded. Jane was sitting on the floor of the kitchen, her head resting against the refrigerator. I couldn't tell if she was alright, if she was crying or not. I just walked out of my home leaving the two most important people in my life.
Being a Major in the military meant I would always have options and places I could be deployed, places far from West Sacramento, Janice and Jane. I had come home thinking I was home for good only to discover a battle (at least a battle that had hold of my mind and heart) more intense than the land mines and terrorist attacks of Afghanistan had swept through my life.