Remembering Becky Ch. 09bydavidwatts©
For those who have been with me all the way, I am most grateful for your very kind words and encouragement. It would not have been possible to get through this without you.
If you haven't read it up to now, it would help you to please give the preceding chapters a look first, as nothing will make much sense otherwise.
For those interested in a sexually oriented story, please visit some of the earlier chapters, as there is no sex in this final offering. All this chapter is, is the end.
That winter was a particularly nasty one as they go in these parts, and that's saying something. Snow seemed to fall nearly everyday, and the temperatures were bitterly cold. The only bright spots were my times with Becky. When I was with her I was oblivious to the elements, and just about everything else.
Valentine's Day came, and I brought up the idea of marriage again to Becky. While she managed to dance around the subject again, that time she seemed to be more receptive to the idea becoming a reality at some point in time. That ray of hope alone was enough to keep me warm at night.
March arrived, and with it came an absolutely ferocious storm that began early while I was coming in to work. As the day went on you couldn't see five feet out the windows as the snow came down relentlessly. I had taken the bus to work as usual, since parking was a real problem downtown even under the best of conditions. Snow merely made a bad situation worse.
Quitting time finally rolled around and I got on the elevator for the slow trek home, and was most delighted that Becky was on it when I hopped aboard. Unfortunately there were other people on there with us which prevented me from attacking her, as I would do when we found ourselves on one alone.
Becky took the opportunity to make faces at me when no one was looking, which made me giggle and probably confirmed my status as a total idiot to our unsuspecting fellow passengers.
I got to walk out with Becky into the storm, which was far worse than it looked from behind the glass. The wind was making the snow fall sideways, and the wind chill had to be at least thirty below. Knowing that the buses would be running late, I walked Becky down to her parking space and helped her clean off her car, which had almost a foot of snow on it.
"Sir Galahad, you're so thoughtful" Becky yelled into the gale as I brushed the snow off her headlights. "Want a ride home Davy me lad?"
Taking me home would take Becky a considerable distance out of her way, and I hated to see her driving in this weather at all. The thought of making her commute even longer was out of the question.
"I've got a better idea!" I said as the wind threatened to take my breath away. "Why don't you come to my place and stay there tonight? It's a helluva lot closer!"
"No clothes!" Becky screamed while getting a windblown mouthful of snow in the process.
"We could wash what you're wearing in the laundry room" I suggested, trying to shield her from the wind, which threatened to sweep us away at any minute.
"And show up at work tomorrow wearing what I wore today?" Becky said. "I think the cat would be out of the bag around here if I did that. Besides, Kelly's calling me tonight so I have to be there when she calls, that is if I get there in time in this mess."
Becky's daughter was coming home for Easter and was going to let her know when she would be flying in, so I knew how important that was to her.
"Alright, be careful" I told Becky, and gave her a little kiss after checking to see that no one was around. Just a tiny peck shared between two people with cold noses and chattering teeth, and Becky got in the car and drove off.
My bus ride was interminable, with the bus was so crowded to the gills it took forever for people to squirm out when it was their stop. Combined with the road conditions, it made the usual half hour ride take almost two hours.
Home at last, I tried to call Becky to tell her of the horrors of my commute, but discovered the phone was dead. The cable service was out as well, so I watched a movie on the VCR, grateful that at least the power was still on.
I fell asleep on the couch, and when I woke up in the morning, it was plain to see that I had lost power sometime during the night. I lit a candle to find my watch, and discovered that I was going to be late if I didn't step on it.
I hoped that the power had only gone off recently so that I would have enough hot water to take a shower. I did, just barely, and the bracing end of the shower reminded me of the ones I had taken with Becky.
Overcoming the many obstacles, I managed to leave the house at the usual time and stomped through the snow to the bus stop. The paper boy must have slept in, or didn't get his delivery yet, which meant I wouldn't have anything to read on the way down to work.
As it turned out it didn't much matter, as the bus was jam packed, which made reading impossible anyway. People that usually drove to work would always opt for the bus during bad weather, since the parking situation was impossible with the snow. I wished that Becky lived on a bus route, so she would have the option of not driving, but that was the price she paid for living in the sticks.
I arrived at work only a little late, which was more than most of my co-workers could say. The place was very quiet, and the people that were there seemed very sullen. Over in the corner there was a girl from another unit crying, and for a moment I was afraid that the long-rumored layoffs had begun. Just what the morale of this place needed was a thinning of the herd, I figured glumly as I turned on my computer.
While I waited for the thing to kick on, I saw my only real friend in the place approach my desk. I started to give him our usual greeting, which was the HELLLOOOO! from the Seinfeld episode with the talking belly button, but caught myself when I saw his ashen face.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he asked in a quivering voice before his mouth fell open. "Oh God, didn't you watch the news? Don't you know what... Shit!"
I had stood up at this point, totally confused, as he took my arm and hustled me into the men's room, which was empty.
"God, I can't believe you don't know" he said while starting to choke up. "I don't want to be the one to tell you this man, this just isn't fair."
He did eventually tell me. I don't really remember much after that. I remember feeling like a trap door had just opened up beneath my feet, and I was falling, and falling fast. Feeling like I was suffocating and unable to breathe. I recall losing my breakfast in a failed attempt to reach the toilet. Everything else was just a blur.
Becky was dead. Driving home in that storm the evening before, she had apparently come around a curve near her home and lost control of her car. Not a lot, just enough to fishtail a bit and clip the blade of the snow plow traveling in the opposite direction, which caused her car to spin around and crash into a telephone pole. The blessing, so the authorities claimed, was that it was over in a second. Painless.
Maybe driving too fast, trying to get home in time to get the call from her daughter. Maybe a particularly slick part of the road. Who knows? Who cares at the point? All I knew was that Becky was gone, and my life was over too.
I got home that day, but I don't remember how. I do remember drinking when I did get home, a lot. I drank Becky's vile blue gin until I got sick, and then drank the rest, finally passing out eventually.
I was in limbo. Becky's kids were flying in from their respective colleges. They didn't know me from Adam. I had met her daughter Kelly once, but had never met her son. Becky's mother and ex-husband were taking care of the details. I didn't know either of them. I was... who the hell knows what I was, besides alone.
The service took place a couple of days later. I arrived early and stood at the front of the church, watching the people pour in. Most of the people from work were there, but I didn't see anyone that fit the part of "Jerry". Just as well, since I had no idea what I would say to the guy.
Becky's daughter Kelly recognized me at the door, a beautiful young woman with her mom's red hair and creamy white complextion. Kelly introduced me to her brother Eric, who was just as I had imagined him from Becky's descriptions, a bohemian type with his mom's outgoing personality.
They both hugged me, and Eric patted me on the shoulder, smiling grimly through the pain.
"Mom really loved you David, you were all she ever talked about" Eric said. "I'm so glad she had someone like you."
He said some other things, kind and thoughtful things. I should have been the one consoling him and Kelly, instead of the other way around. I thanked him, and told them that they were the most important things in Becky's life, and how proud she was of them. It was all true and they knew it already, but I had to say it.
I couldn't bring myself to go into the church. Too much for me to handle, so I stayed outside and waited for the service to end and milled around with the crowd as they departed.
Becky was cremated which was in accordance with her wishes, which I was pleased about. I knew her mother was against it, but it got done, which was all that mattered. I don't know how Becky would have felt about the service which I heard was a bit much, but that was more for the ones left behind, not for Becky.
I went home afterward, not interested in hanging around with the other mourners and going to eat sandwiches at Becky's mom's house, and knew I wouldn't be able to hold in my emotions much longer anyway.
My kids are the only reason I'm here to tell this story, because I'm certain I would have killed myself without them being around. I didn't want to give them the idea that you take the easy way out when things get bad, but it sounded like a viable option at the time, I must admit.
One day a few weeks after the accident, I was going through some of my things in my storage shed at the apartment complex. A tree had come down on the roof of the shed over the winter, and had caused a lot of water damage. Most of the stuff was outdoor things like my camping stuff, so it didn't matter all that much.
When I pulled my backpack out, I reached into it and found one of those cheap disposable cameras that I had taken with us on our camping trip last summer. I had completely forgotten about getting it developed.
I hustled down to the pharmacy and ordered every conceivable size of print imaginable from the the roll, and waited impatiently for the work to come back from the lab in a couple of days.
On the designated day I joyfully went to the store and handed over the receipt stub. The slack-jawed yokel behind the counter fumbled around for a few minutes, and then handed me the pouch.
"You're lucky, no charge" he said grinning like a jackass.
On the envelope was a note saying that the film had been damaged and the photos did not come out. Included were twenty four glossy black squares and the matching negatives.
What ensued were not some of my finer moments, beginning with me ripping the hapless cashier a new one, and finally ending with the manager threatening to call the police if I didn't leave.
During the next month I was not a very pleasant person to be around, especially at work. I snapped at people with little or no provocation, and it got so bad I got called into the head honcho's office where I got read the riot act. I didn't really give a shit but managed to bite my tongue and take it.
I was coming in late, leaving early and taking a lot of sick days. Since I had been pretty much a model employee up until this point, I had built up a lot of good will, but I sensed it was eroding fast. Liquid lunches were not helping much either, and more of the same for dinner only made me feel worse, while only dulling the pain for the moment.
The worst part was just holding it in all day at work. Everyone had gotten the chance to let it out after Becky's death and gone on with their lives, but I just held it in. I had a little conversation with my friend at work about it, but I felt uncomfortable doing so after keeping everything hidden for so long. It was like our life together was still our little secret, even though it didn't much matter now.
I was sitting in our corner of the cafeteria on a Friday, nursing a soda and scowling at everyone that looked to be in good spirits. I didn't feel like anybody else had a right to a happy life and resented the hell out of those who did.
The cafeteria was rather deserted that day, and then I remembered that there was a retirement party for one of the big cheeses upstairs. Nobody I knew except by sight, but it didn't matter either way because I was not in a party mood these days. My stomach was still sour from the binge of the previous night, and I sat there alone stretching out my lunch hour trying to figure out what to get at the liquor store tonight to get blind drunk with.
The cafeteria cashier was involved in an loud and animated conversation with someone at the register. I looked up to see what was going on and saw that she was talking with the woman from upstairs, the one that was retiring. Waters, or Winters or something like that. This place was so big that you didn't know half the people that worked here, especially those in other units.
Our eyes met as she was walking toward the door and she headed over toward my table. I had only a nodding relationship with her, and so I had no idea what this was going to be about, and I certainly didn't want to chat with her. Last day? See ya! I had even less reason to be pleasant with her than everybody else, because she was going.
Still, I managed to get halfway out of my seat when she came over.
"Hi, I was looking for you" the woman said. "I wanted to catch you before I left."
"Oh, right" I managed to say while she helped herself and joined me at the table without an invitation. "You're outta here after today, congratulations" I offered meekly.
The woman, whose name still eluded me for whatever reason, settled in across the table from me. She was a little older than me, probably in her early or middle 50's. Short and thin, with short black hair cut in a sharp angular way, and dressed with a quiet elegant flair. I had heard rumors about her, but I was so far detached from that unit she might as well be from Mars.
"Yeah, thirty years is long enough" she said, while I searched my brain for her name. "You've been here quite a while yourself" she added.
I nodded as I picked at the label of the soda bottle.
"Hope you don't mind me butting in like this" she said. "I wanted to ask you something before I left."
"You were a friend of Becky's, weren't you?" she asked.
"Yes" I croaked meekly.
"Feel free to tell me to mind my own business, because sometimes I don't but should" she continued. "You and Becky... I have a hunch that you were more than friends though, weren't you?"
I struggled to keep my emotions from bubbling over but was losing that battle badly. Tears began trickling down my cheeks as I looked around in a panic, searching for a place to run and hide.
"I thought so. It's all right David, let it out" she suggested, while sliding one of those little packages of tissues across the table toward me.
It didn't much matter if I had her permission or not, because it was coming out regardless, and I simply had a meltdown right there in front of this virtual stranger. I jammed the tissues to my face and kept as quiet as I could in the deserted room until I managed to get some semblance of self-control.
"Becky worked up on my floor, as a matter of fact worked for me until a few years ago" the woman said. "I knew she was really serious about somebody, you know how the rumors fly around this place. Judging my the way you've been acting lately, I took a wild guess it was you. Were you two engaged or something?"
I shook my head as I took a drink, hoping to be able to speak without breaking down again.
"No, we weren't" I managed. "I wanted to... I was hoping we would someday but you know... thanks for the tissues" I said while sliding the remainder of the packet back to her.
"I figured I might need them if I have to make a speech later" she said while tucking them into her blazer pocket. "I have to be able to show how very much I'll miss the place and all" she said sarcastically.
"I wish I could leave" I said wistfully. "This place has way too many..."
"Reminders?" she asked. "I know what you mean. Becky touched a whole lot of people around here. That's one of the reasons I decided to move on."
To my amazement, the stranger and I began to exchange Becky stories. The stories mostly revolved around work, as I resisted the urge to tell much about our personal times together. Just talking about Becky did so much for me though, and my pain seemed to melt away a bit as we spoke.
As the conversation went on, I felt more and more dumb about not being able to call her by name, and regretted not just asking her in the beginning. Now we were so far into it, I was way too ashamed to ask. If she sensed my anxiety, she didn't show it.
"Well, I've gotta get up to my bon voyage" she said while checking her watch. "One thing I do have to say, which was the reason I came over here. None of my business and all, and I know it."
"Go ahead" I offered.
"Do you know what Becky would say if she saw you like this? Moping around and being miserable? Acting like a total jerk?"
I was taken aback by that, and tried to regroup as best I could.
"I guess... Hell, I don't know" I stammered futily while searching for the words. "She'd probably say... get your head out of your ass... you turd" I blurted out as an after-thought.
The woman suddenly burst out laughing, quite loudly at the last part, and struggled to contain herself. This got me laughing too, for the first time since the accident as best I could remember. It felt good.
"Turd! I think you got it exactly" the woman said, dabbing carefully at her eyes. "Try and remember that David. Remembering is important, but you have to let go at some point. She wouldn't want to see you like this."
"You're right" I said. "It's just a lot easier to say than do though."
"I know, just keep it in mind" the woman said while fumbling into her pocket and pulling out a card. She handed it to me, a crimson business card of an antique shop in Vermont.
"If you're ever in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello" she said. "It's my sister's place, and I'm going to sell my paintings out of there, hopefully enough to keep the wolves from the door."
I fingered the card absent-mindedly, trying to find the right way to express myself.
"Look, I really appreciate you coming over like this" I managed to say.
"You didn't at first though" she added wryly.
"No, that's right" I admitted with a chuckle. "Really though, I needed this in the worst way. You have know idea what it's been like walking around here in this pain, with no one knowing and all. You have no idea how I've felt" I said, feeling my emotions rising once again.
The woman got up and put her hand on my arm, giving a gentle squeeze.
"I know how you feel David" she said.
At that, I felt my face flush with anger. I've always hated when people say that phrase. We never really know how other people feel, and it always seems so trite to hear it.
I rose and started to say something, but caught myself. It was when I looked over at this woman, this stranger. When I looked into her eyes welling with tears, I began to understand. Eyes filled with such a deep and almost infinite sadness that they was almost a mirror image of my own, that I suddenly became aware that she did know how I felt. She knew exactly how I felt.