I Love You MorebyPTBzzzz©
There is no overt sex in this story. If you do not like stories about faithful partners and loving families please move on. Most of you know what I write by now.
The story is longer than I usually submit. I like it the way it is. I, alone, am responsible for the content. If you like it, or not, blame me.
"Court is adjourned".
Like a zombie I turned and shook my lawyer's hand. As he and I walked out of the courtroom together I realized I had never felt this alone. We parted on the courthouse steps. He went down the street to his office; I wandered around the park across from the courthouse for about an hour.
As I returned to claim my car I saw Janice on one of the benches. She looked like the world was closing in on her. I thought "Screw her! She was the one who wanted a divorce!"
I smiled as I walked past her, God it hurt!
The worst of the whole thing was she would not say why.
For the next couple of months all I did was go to work and come home. I was living in a small hole in the wall. It was clean and had everything I needed to exist. I had 2 stacks of newspapers, each 6 feet high. I spent my time trying to read; the papers, books, and magazines even the instruction manual to my new TV. The same TV I had turned on just once, just to be sure it worked.
I had no desire to socialize in any form. Parties; no need to go to them I'll just make everyone else miserable. Some people who I thought were friends dropped me like a hot coal.
It was about 10:30 on Friday when I glanced up to see the boss looking over my shoulder. How long had I been sitting there doing nothing? I had no idea.
"Meet me in the lobby in 15 minutes". Then he walked away. Tom was a good man who knew how to get the most out of people. He became almost a father figure to me after mine died of cancer in my senior year of high school. Mom approved of his influence on me.
I started working for him while I was in high school and all the way through college. I started as his first employee, part time. As the company grew I moved up the ladder. From 14 hours a week to office manager in 10 years.
I didn't want to go out to lunch with him but I had no choice.
He was a lot gentler than I expected.
"Remember your first year in college?"
I nodded yes.
"I went through a nasty divorce that year, I'm sure you remember. I was useless for a long while. You were the one who kept the company open."
I remembered the time. I didn't think I did all that much.
"I have allowed you to try to find your way, but you are still lost. You can't keep on like this. Neither you nor the company can afford it. You are a miserable wreck. Without you guiding the office they are falling behind in their work. You know what that means better than I. You are to go back to your office after this meal, pack your things and take the next 2 weeks as vacation to pull your head out of your ass."
I know I was wide eyed. My throat was dry and I was unable to utter any sound other than a few grunts and coughs.
"When those 2 weeks are completed you will call me and tell me if I need to hire a new Office Manager. I want the old you back and running things, I have big plans for both of us and the company."
I could only nod to confirm that I understood.
As I walked out of the office that day, with my little box of things, the surprised looks on everyone's faces sent chills down my spine.
I knew where I had to go!
I drove to my mouse hole and packed a few necessary things and hit the road. Five hours later I was driving on the dustiest road it had ever been my misfortune to be on. As I rounded the last turn all the old familiar sights came up over the top of the hill. I paused at the highest point and just looked around.
I took a deep breath and spent the next minutes paying for that. The dust had caught up to me and was all around me. The heat was oppressive, well over 100, the mouthful of dust made it even worse. I took a few gulps of, the now cold, coffee, it lasted awful. "Thank God that washed most of the dust out." I almost felt human for just a moment.
I slowly drove down the hill to the little house near the base of the rock cliff. It seemed as if I was greeted by every dog in the world.
The voice was weaker than I remembered. The accent was the same; the words were just a little slower. "...'bout time ya showed up. I figured you to be here a month ago or better."
I braced for the blow to the shoulder that I knew would follow. It was not a tiny love tap.
"I guess you heard about the divorce? I have no idea what happened. I lost my wife, my best and oldest friend, and the person who kept me sane all those years; at the same time."
I slowly pried my body off of the sticky, sweat soaked vinyl seats in my car and almost fell over when my feet hit the ground. The big bear hug kept me upright until my head stopped spinning. I should have stopped to eat, after I couldn't eat at lunch. Actually I had hardly eaten anything since the divorce. I was starving and didn't care
"Leave your stuff here, Mammy is waiting on us in the house."
"OK Pappy." I responded.
These were the smartest, most logical people I knew. They were my Momma's mother and father. If anyone could set me straight; they would do it.
I returned the bear hug and we shook hands. It took almost a minute before we stopped the strong handshake contest and called a draw. I knew he was taking it easy on me like always.
"You know she has called here for you 4 times in the last few weeks."
I cut him short "She can go to hell as far as I care."
"It don't pay to be rude boy. I know you are upset and I am gonna overlook that one. Don't let it happen again."
I just followed him like a chastised puppy with its tail tucked between the legs.
I found her in the kitchen. Where else would she be? She carefully set the old knife down and turned to look me up and down.
She looked to be nothing but skin and bones, I knew differently. The bear hug she gave me confirmed that. "You know she still loves you. She realizes now that she made the biggest mistake of her life."
"I don't want to talk about that bi...."
I woke a bit later, my jaw felt like it was broken. Mammy sat to the side of the couch, silently reading her book. I moaned in pain.
"That was a love tap compared to what you will get from Pappy if you talk like that again; 'specially if it is in front of me or addressed to me. I know how angry you are, but he won't stand for that kinda talk."
"Yes Mammy, I'm sorry."
"Don't you be too sorry, what she done weren't right; I told her so. You have every right to be angry. Just watch how you say things."
Pappy had heard our conversation and came into the room. He was flexing his hand like it hurt. "You got the hardest head I ever saw. Like Mammy said you have every right to be angry, next time just turn and walk out before you open your mouth. I don't know how many more times I can hit you like that."
"Yes Pappy, I'm sorry."
"So tell us about your job." she said, changing the subject.
We talked for another couple of hours before all the coffee from the drive demanded my attention. I tried to stand up and almost fell on my face. I managed to walk slowly to the bath and get on the commode.
In the other room I heard her "You hit him too hard!" It was almost whispered.
"Nope, just right!" was all he said.
When I returned she was in the kitchen again.
I managed to get to the couch again and sat down quickly before my spinning head made me fall again.
My mind drifted back over the years.
We met in church school. My first recollection of her was on Christmas when we were 3. The bright red dress she wore was beautiful; it's still my favorite memory. The long blond hair hung around her head like a halo, against the morning sun shining in through the classroom window. Her father always dressed her so nicely.
I know we were always together in the church as we were born 2 months apart. We started in nursery and stayed in the same classes until we graduated. We just gravitated toward each other and stayed that way. By the start of school we were good friends. School was different; she went to the north school while I went to the east school. By high school we were together again.
There was one fellow, Jimmy Schmidt, who thought she was his alone. One afternoon in the late fall he challenged me to a fight for her. I told him "No." and turned to walk away. The shadows were long that day; I watched them as he started after me. At the last possible second I stepped to my right, he ran right into the big oak tree that I had been walking toward. I just left him there as I walked out the back gate to the school yard. I guess he felt safe, shall we say invisible, in that area because only a few of us used it.
The next day Janice was beyond angry at me. She chewed me out and left me standing there wondering what he said I had done.
I was called into the office. The sheriff was there as were 2 sets of parents. Principal Moore started out the proceedings by having Jimmy give his side of the story. He accused me of sucker punching him and beating him badly while he was down. As he finished his 20 minute recitation he smirked, until his father pinched him on the arm.
I just sat there silently waiting for my turn. I said was "If I beat him that badly, my hands would be hurt. Are they? Those are scrapes on his face not bruises like you would get from fists. I bet if you go out to the old oak you will find his skin on the bark. He was so angry because I wouldn't fight him that he tried to attack me from behind, he missed. His face hit the tree about 4 feet from the ground." I didn't need to mention that he was muscle bound and I was a scrawny almost nerd.
My mother pulled out the clothes I wore the day before and lay them on the desk; they were reasonably clean, obviously worn for a time. She had been told to bring them, but not why. The sheriff looked them over "No one was rolling around in that dust out back in these. You can only see a bit of dust around the cuffs."
We all went out to see the scene of the crime. There were pieces of skin in many spots on the tree right about the level I had indicated he hit the tree. There were some small spots of blood on the ground.
You could see that what I said was the truth; between the skin, the blood, and the markings in the dust from our shoes his goose was cooked. His father frog marched him over to apologize. He got in school suspension for 3 weeks and no after school activities for 3 months. The school quarterback was going to miss the last 3 games of the year.
The sheriff said there would be a file on this incident; if there were any other acts against me then charges would be filed against him.
I returned to classes. The last class that day I saw Janice again. When she saw me enter the room she moved to a far corner away from me. After class I tried to tell her the truth. She slapped me right in front of Principal Moore. We were both escorted to the office.
As soon as the sheriff was there we were asked to explain what happened. I asked if the sheriff would explain his findings from the morning first. As he lay out the details of the previous days assault Janice started to look sicker and sicker.
When the sheriff stated that it looked like he was going to have to bring charges against Jimmy I spoke up. "When did you speak to Jimmy last?"
"I only spoke to him this morning on the bus when he told me you beat him up in such a cowardly way. I only saw him in the hall for a few moments when classes were changing around 10."
"Jimmy has not had a chance to tell you about the meeting in the office?"
She shook her head "No."
"I see no reason to charge him then. May I leave now?"
As I turned to leave Janice was being told she was off the cheer squad for a month. I turned back and said "Please, don't do that, she only did what she thought was correct. Remember she was lied to."
I was motioned out the door.
At supper that evening the phone rang, Dad answered it. I heard "OK. See you then."
45 minutes later there was a knock on the door. Dad looked at me and said "It's for you, answer it." Then he went back to reading his paper.
I opened the door to find a mass of blond hair hurtling toward me. There was sobbing and a pitiful cry of "I'm so sorry!" Arms wrapped around me and hung on tight.
I stood there embarrassed and at a loss for words until she relaxed her hold.
It was cool that evening but we sat on the porch swing out of the breeze. I asked her what she was going on about.
Janice told me the story as she understood it from Jimmy. Then she thanked me for standing up for him and her. "At your request they decided to forgo the suspension from cheer squad. I decided I would accept the punishment anyway. I am sorry for not asking your side of the story before judging you." The crying started again.
Not knowing how she felt about Jimmy or me either for that matter, I didn't say anything. I just held her hand and waited for her to continue.
"I trusted him, my friends all said he was bad for me; that he would use me and drop me. We have been in school together since 1st grade. He used to pull my hair and tease me; then he seemed to change, he became nicer, more polite. I heard rumors of what he did with other girls and thought the people who told me were jealous because they wanted to be with him. Lately he has been a little more demanding and more suggestive; it bothered me the way he was. He always apologized the next day and smoothed things over. I was getting tired of his behavior. I don't want to be with him any more."
I was not sure what to say, Janice was spilling her heart to me. I just knew I worshiped the ground she walked on. "Janice, I guess you need to decide these things for yourself. If I try to help you; then you might make a decision that you will regret later and blame me for guiding you toward it. Just know you have a friend to talk to, I won't judge you whatever you decide."
We talked about another 30 minutes before her parents pulled up in front of the house. "I have to go! Thanks for listening to me tonight. May I call you from time to time?"
I told her "I would like that."
She kissed me on the cheek and ran down to the car. She smiled as she got in.
We talked often after that. Starting after New Years she began to hint that she needed a date for the Valentines dance. Finally one of her friends stopped me in the hall between classes and told me Janice wanted me to take her to the dance and was frustrated that I had not asked her yet. I told the friend I had planned to ask her on Sunday after youth meeting at church and asked her to keep it a secret. I knew she wouldn't; and I knew she didn't from Janice's smile the next day.
The dance was incredible, Janice only danced with me. Many others asked but she turned them all down, including Jimmy. He was just off suspension.
My dad drove us to and her dad drove us from the dance. I saw Jimmy and some of his friends walking in our direction as we left the dance; her dad did too and stepped out of the car to make sure he was seen. The boys held back and did a sharp turn around. This was not missed by Principal Moore.
On Monday the sheriff was there again. "You boys are going to become their guardian angels. If I get wind of anything happening to them I will run the entire bunch of you up on every charge I can think of! Is that understood?"
Finally one of the boys spoke up "Yes Dad we understand. DON"T WE?" he said turning to the rest.
There was a lot of mumbling indicating acceptance and they were sent to class.
Mammy called from the kitchen and Pappy went in to see her. They both brought out supper on lap trays. The soup was the best thing I had eaten in the last, too many months.
When I went up to bed Pappy had brought in my bag, I guess while I was out. I slept better that night than I had in a long time.
The next morning I woke at about 10, the entire world was already up and doing the things they had to do. I heard Mammy on the phone as I came down the stairs.
"No, you may not come out here. I told you he was not here the last time and you drove all the way out here for nothing.
I understand you are sorry.
When I hear from him and if the time is right I will tell him.
Leave him alone, he will contact you if he wishes to talk.
You have no idea how badly you have hurt him.
I doubt you are hurting as badly as he is, you caused it. You could've stopped any time.
Stop crying and own up to your actions.
What you did to him was WRONG.
Well if you were not ready for children you should have told him, not divorced him." Then she looked up to see what the noise I made on the steps was and saw me. "I need to go, when I hear from him I will tell him." And she hung up the phone.
There was no stopping me.
"THAT WAS WHY!?" I was out the door and as far away as my legs would take my before they buckled.
Pappy came along about 20 minutes later and threw a thermos of coffee and a sandwich to me. Then he rode the horse to a shady spot near a shallow pool in the creek to wait for me when I was ready to talk.
About an hour later I was getting too hot out there in the sun. As I approached he watched me. "Ya had no idea did ya?"
What could I say; I really had no idea that was the problem. We only talked about children twice. The first time was before the wedding, the last was about 3 months before she started to get strange on me.
The tears started to flow for the first time since the divorce. One of the dogs that always followed Pappy came up and settled into my lap to cuddle. I slowly stroked her long, soft ears as I cried.
"She has got to be kidding!"
He shook his head back and forth to indicate "No."
I had no idea what to do next. Do I yell, jump up and rant and rave like some sort of idiot, do I cry some more, do I drive back and confront her. In the end I sat there and stroked the pup's ears for a long time. I just stared in front of me; I really had no thoughts except that those were the softest ears I could remember and how comforting it was to hold her.
"That is Rhoda, short for Rhododendron. She is the best at cuddling. See the little black one over by the big tuft of grass? That's her child. We call her Ink spot. She promises to be just as good."
At the mention of her name she came waddling over to her mother. I reached out with my other hand to pet her too.
"She never took to another person before; you must be special to her." Then Rhoda climbed down and with a little encouragement her baby climbed onto my lap. Every now and then Rhoda would adjust her child or show her to do something.
As I sat leaning against the tree I must have drifted off to sleep. I woke to find the puppy still there, licking my hand and whimpering softly. I wiggled my fingers and she jumped as if startled. The whimpering got a bit louder.
"Go ahead and get down" I gave a tiny push with a finger. She ran over to a dirt spot and piddled then ran back to me and looked. I patted my lap and made a soft kissing sound. She climbed back on, lay down and put her nose under my hand. She lifted the hand over her head again. "Good girl" I sat and stroked her ears again. I was at peace for the first in a long time.
The sun was getting low to the horizon before I got up to go back to the house again. The pup ran along side of me, jumping and licking at my hands. I had been adopted. Rhoda was not too far off toward the horizon, she was supervising.
When I got back to the house all was quiet, there was a pot of the same soup as the day before on the back of the stove. I had not eaten much all day, I had 2 bowls. Even cold it was so good.