The Surprising Road Home


It got serious when the platters and bowls stopped going round. Forks came into play and it quieted around the table. I tasted the potato salad and said, "Growing up, potato salad was one of my favorite things. At church picnics and dinners my Mom had to force me to eat something else. This is the best!"

Mr. Logan smiled and said, "We agree! Marie made this batch."

Marie Logan said, "Thank you. Where did you grow up?"

"A little town in southern Idaho."

Marie nodded and asked, "And what about you Kate? Where did you grow up?"

She looked at me as if for permission and then decided. She said, "I feel so comfortable, so welcomed by all of you. I'm going to trust you. I grew up in a small town in South Carolina. A week ago I was in the hospital. My husband beat me. He broke some ribs and my finger." She held up the still bandaged finger. "I was rescued by Nick. We are on our way to creating a new life for me, far from my old life."

As she talked the eating stopped. When she finished one of the women asked, "Has Nick been taking care of your injuries?"

The man sitting next to her said, "Helen's a nurse."

"Yes. He changes the bandages every day. We ice the bruises for fifteen minutes at a time."

"Maybe, when we're done eating, you'd let me check them?" Helen the nurse asked.

"I'd appreciate that. I'm not trained in anything more than first aid." I said.

One of the other women, Beth, asked, "Can I ask questions?"

Kate said, "Sure. I trust you. Please don't ever say we were here, or where we were headed. I don't want Jack to ever find me."

The woman nodded and asked, "Why did he hit you?"

"He was drunk." She took a breath and then said, "He is a drunk. We got him in a rehab program and he stayed sober for two months. Then he came home late from work on payday. He was drunk. I took one look at him and he exploded. He beat me, raped me and then passed out. I called the sheriff and he got me to the hospital and Jack into jail."

"You won't go back?" Marie asked.

"If I stayed or if I went back I'd die. There are quiet drunks, happy drunks, and mean drunks. Jack is loud, unhappy and mean. The next day he says he doesn't remember what he did. I cannot take the risk."

"Do you love him?" Beth asked.

"I thought I did. Now, I think I was convincing myself he was the best I could do. I'll miss him sometimes, but in the last few months I've been more afraid of him than anything."

Mr. Logan said, "We have some neighbors who remind us of you. In the last few months he's been drinking more and doing less. I don't think he's hit his wife, but the verbal abuse and neglect are hard to be around."

Beth's husband, Mike, said, "We really don't know what to say or what to do."

I asked, "Are they ex-military?"

Everyone nodded. "He retired after twenty-six. Senior master sergeant. 30190." Mr. Logan said.

"I might know the man. I was 30190 myself."

Our heads turned and we saw a brown Chevy pick up park next to the RV. Marie said, softly, "Well, here they are. Judge for yourself."

I watched as the man got out of the truck and walked away from it. He was wearing new jeans, polished boots and western belt. His Wrangler shirt looked either new or freshly ironed. The woman got out her side and carried a big bowl of something towards the table. She was in a cotton shirtwaist dress that appeared to have been washed a thousand times. It was faded and becoming threadbare. The bowl she carried was heavy. I got up and walked past him and took the bowl from her. Her eyes said everything. She was afraid.

"Hi." I said. "The bowl looked heavy. You don't mind if I carry it?"

He turned and said, "It ain't that heavy. She just acts like she needs help."

"Sorry. My folks would have yelled at me, if I sat by and let a woman carry something. By the way, I'm Nick Peterson."

"Oh yeah. I'm Scott Marshall and she's Pat." We got to the table and I put the bowl down. "What's inside, Pat?" I asked.

He answered, "Some weird ice cream thing."

I looked at Pat and asked, "Should we get it in a freezer for a little while?"

She nodded. I carried the bowl and Marie led the way into the barn. Inside she opened a big freezer and we put the bowl inside. Pat whispered, "I'm sorry we're late. Scott took a nap and I didn't dare wake him."

We went back outside. Scott had loaded a plate and was eating. He saw us and said, "Pat, get me a beer, would you?"

She didn't say anything, she just went to the tub and opened a beer for him. When she got to the table she sat the beer near him and moved away. I moved us a little and said, "Come sit here, Pat. Plenty of room." Kate got her a plate and asked what food she wanted on it. She spoke softly and Kate loaded her plate for her. When she got it she thanked Kate and started to eat.

Scott watched and when Pat started to eat he said, "Nick, you've got a good woman. If Pat was that good she'd have served me a plate."

"She was helping get the food you both brought into the freezer." I said.

"Doesn't matter." He took another bite, then another hit of his beer. Mr. Logan got a conversation going about a tax hike the county was proposing. While Scott finished off his plate of food he also finished off two more beers. Each time he took the last swallow from a beer her held it in Pat's direction and waved it. She got up, got him a fresh one and returned to her seat. He never said "Thank you." They hadn't been there an hour and he was opening number four. I looked at Kate and she was as scared as Pat.

"So, if I can ask, what do you do now that you're retired?" I asked.

"Why you askin?" Scott asked.

"Cause were newly retired and don't have many plans yet."

"Well," He said, "Don't buy a goddamned farm! They eat money faster than a goat! I've got fifty acres and haven't made a cent since I bought the damn place."

"What do you grow?" I asked.

"I tried corn. Jesus, it's a hell of a lot of work! Planted all fifty acres. Seeds cost me three months pension and then there's fertilizer, bug killers and water. Everything costs. I found out that I've gotta be out there all the time weedin, and things. Farming sucks!"

I looked at the other families. Mike spoke up. "We did corn last year. It was a lot of work. This year we did strawberries. Just as much work, and a little more money. We've been thinking about fruit trees."

Mr. Logan said, "My neighbor came to me and wanted to rent my land this year. He pays me to let him farm my land. We have just twelve acres so he rents eleven and we have one. So, we grow vegetables and flowers for us."

Scott spoke up again. "Asshole next to me made an offer to rent my land. Man's a thief! Wanted to just pay me a percentage of what the crop earned. A tiny percentage! Screw him!"

The clean up started. We carried the dishes, glasses and empty serving platters into the house and washed them. Marie gave me small bowls and lots of spoons to bring to the table. Scott sat at the table while everyone else worked. Pat worked hard and didn't speak.

When we went to the barn to get her dessert she said, "It was an ice cream cake. An accident kind of ruined it. The ice cream and the cake are now more mixed than I planned. I'm sorry."

Marie put her arm around Pat and I saw Pat flinch. There were bruises inside her shirt. Marie said, "We're just gonna put it in bowls and eat it. Next time we'll take pictures, not this time."

"Thank you, Marie." Pat said. Her eyes were full.

I carried the big bowl to the table and dished out the ice cream cake mixture. It was a yellow cake with fresh strawberry ice cream. The strawberries were fresh and had been blended into the home made ice cream. Kate and I made a big deal about how good it was. The others praised the dessert as well. Pat beamed.

As it became evening Scott became louder and more abusive. Mike and I went inside the Logan's house to carry bowls to the sink and I said, "Think you can get the rest of the beers out of the ice?"

"You mean without Scott catching me?" He asked. I nodded. "I'll need a diversion."

"Not a problem. Come on."

When we got outside I asked Scott, "You ever thought about getting an RV?"

"A what?"

"An RV. A Recreational Vehicle." I pointed at ours. "We've been havin a ball since we got it."

"Too damn small. No room for anything."

Kate said, "We have plenty of room. We even have a TV. Wanna see?"

Scott said, "Really? You both live in there?"

"Sure. Come take a look. We'll give you the five cent tour."

Scott and the others got up. Mike hung back and so did Mr. Logan. As Scott went up the steps into the RV they gathered the remaining beers. I didn't see where they went with them and neither did Scott. When they were standing just outside I let the tour end. Scott half stumbled down the steps and Mike came inside. He and his wife actually looked over the inside.

"This really could be fun." They both said. Mike sat down on the couch and looked out the window. He saw Scott swishing his arm around in the icy water of the beverage tub. He would find Cokes, diet Cokes, Pepsi, Mountain Dew and bottled water, but no beer.

Less than half an hour later, Scott and Pat were on their way home. As soon as they were gone Kate spoke. "Less than two weeks ago, I was Pat. I was so scared while they were here. He hits her."

"She winced when I touched her in the barn." Marie said.

"How far from their farm to yours?" I asked.

"Six, maybe six and a half miles." Mr. Logan answered.

"Does she drive?" I asked.

"Yes. What are you thinking?" Marie asked.

"Can you get her back here tomorrow?"

"I think so. Why?"

"We want to talk to her. The man is dangerous. If she wants out, we can help her."

Kate looked at me with tears running down her cheeks. "You would take her with us?"

"I can't just drive away. She'll be dead before Christmas." Kate came into my arms and sobbed. When she could, she lifted her head and said, to the others, "I love this man."

"You think she'll leave him?" Marie asked.

"To quote my brother, it depends. If she's more afraid of Nick than she is of Scott, she'll stay. If she already knows he's going to kill her, she'll go."

Mike asked, "Can you afford to do this? Taking her with you means buying her clothes, food and helping her settle somewhere."

"Kate's brother gave me some money. I have a pension and a little savings. We won't be eating lobster, but we'll be alive and healing."

Marie said, "We want to help. We like Pat."

"Whatever you give us, we'll be grateful. But before we get to any of that, we need to get Pat here."

The Logan's looked at each other and nodded. Mr. Logan said, "I'm slow to warm to people. I let them near, but not close. I'm letting you in. My name is Bob. I'm so glad we met you. We just didn't know what to do to help Pat or Scott. We'll find a way to get her here in the morning."

"It would be best if she drove their truck over." I said.

Bob added, "That way you have a six mile walking time head start."

"Two hours isn't much, but it's better than five minutes."

I still had Kate in my arms. I said, "Honey, let's go see what we can do to make room for Pat."

Marie said, "Anything you need, just name it. Trash bags? Food?"

"A couple of trash bags might help." Kate said. "I don't know if we have any room for any more food."

"Come with us. We'll be able to talk with you while we look the situation over." I said. Marie went into the house and came back with a box of trash bags.

While we rearranged things I realized that if Pat went with us she'd have just what she had on, and a purse. I hoped she and Kate were the same size. I asked, "Kate, do you think Pat could wear the same size as you?"

"The same size what?"


She stopped and thought for a few seconds. "If she can, we can share a wardrobe and won't need as much space as we would if we need two sets of clothes."

Marie said, "I think the two of you are about the same size. Pat's clothes are all worn out and baggy. She never wears anything that shows what she really looks like."

Bob added, "She always looks like Scott buys her clothes at the thrift store, and gets them out of the rag bin. It's a shame."

I asked, "Have either of you ever seen him happy?"

"No." They both answered. Bob added, "He wakes up pissed off and then has a beer and it gets worse."

"Damn." Kate said. "I've been with a man just like him. They could be brothers."

When they left the RV headed for bed they took a trash bag mostly filled with them. I closed the door and Kate wrapped herself around me. We kissed a few times and she said, "I meant what I said."

"Which of the many things you said are you referring to?"

"I love this man." She added emphasis by adding a kiss and pressing her chest against mine.

Inside my head I thought, 'She couldn't. We've only known each other a week. Not even a whole week.' Outside, I didn't say anything.

"Nick, would you love me tonight?"

"Love you?"

"Make love to me? Screw me? Whatever the name for it is I want what you gave me before."

"Yes! I'd be happy to. I guess I'm a nut for what words mean. Let's call what we're about to do joining. Ok?"

"Yeah! I like that. It doesn't sound gross like fucking or screwing. Joining."

We kissed a few more times and undressed each other. In bed, the kisses were supplemented with lots of touching, caressing and kneading of each other. When she was ready, willing and wet Kate said, "How do I ask for you to... to..."

"Lick you? Kiss your pussy? You say, Please Sir, would you please kiss my pussy?"

"Please Sir, would you please kiss my pussy?" As she asked her legs spread a little more and I felt her hands putting pressure on me to move in the direction that would get my face into the "Y". I didn't resist.

My mouth got close and my nose could tell she was ready, willing and indeed wet. My tongue tasted her and she moaned, "Yes! I really love this!" My tongue explored everywhere inside and near her vagina that it could reach. I sucked on her lips and her response told me she loved it. Every touch of tongue to clitoris brought a moan and a hip thrust as the response.

When her belly started quivering and the hip thrusts were automatic Kate grabbed a pillow and held it over her face. I sucked on her nub and flicked it with the tip of my tongue. Her back arched, her body shook and I heard a muffled scream. As quick as I could I lifted up and repositioned myself. I slid into her and quickly established a beat, my pubes slapping against her pussy.

She tossed the pillow to the floor and looked up at my face. "Don't ever stop!"

As soon as she said the words I knew I wouldn't last very long. It felt too good and looking at her face, breasts and body pushed me towards a climax.

She knew I was close and said, "I want you in my mouth! Please!"

She pushed me back until I was on my back and she was between my legs. Her mouth opened and my cock all but disappeared inside. The sensations of being sucked and the magic her tongue was doing got the result she wanted! My nuts pulled up somewhere near my spleen and shot a load unlike any load I could ever remember having shot before.

Kate kept it all. She continued to suck and lick my cock until I was wilted and soft. I was hypersensitive and she gently took care of me. When she finally released my cock, she crawled up beside me and snuggled in.

We were quiet for a time. Then, Kate asked, "How will we join with Pat in here?"

I hadn't thought about it. I answered, "It works like this: we get naked, you open your legs and I put my cock inside you, wiggle it around while you scream and scare the livestock."

She laughed a little and said, "That's not what I meant! This isn't a big two bedroom apartment. She'll be four feet away!"

We were quiet, again. Kate broke the silence, "We'll need to talk to her before we do it. Maybe she'll go for a walk."

I engaged my mouth before my brain was fully activated. "Maybe she'll join with us?"

Kate sat up and her eyes opened wide. "Is that what you want?"

"If being with us, me or you will help her heal, yes. Not just so I can have sex with both of you, but if it will help."

"I'm not enough?" I could hear thousands of hours of uncertainty in her voice.

"Enough? You believe that one person should supply all the companionship, love, affection, support, sexual activity and challenge that another person might need or want?"

"Yes! Isn't that what people promise when they get married?" She was sitting up, cross-legged and focused. This conversation was important to her.

"It may be what some people promise, but those people didn't think it through."

"You did?"

"When I joined the Air Force I thought I'd make sergeant and get married. I watched other men do just that. Lots of them got divorced. I listened and watched. They got divorced because the women believed they should be more important to the men than the Air Force, other women or anything. When the man tried to divide himself between his marriage and his career, one or both suffered. When they had kids he got pulled again. The job complained he was distracted, his wife complained he wasn't home enough and the kids asked, "Where's Dad?" They got divorced because they believed one person should be able to provide everything one other person could want or need. I decided I would be married to the Air Force, until I wasn't. No conflict."

"This isn't about the Air Force. This is about two women!"

I considered how to respond. "This is about a story you were told when you were little. Maybe it was Cinderella. Cinderella lived a life without any glamour, dreaming that one day she would be rescued by a prince and live in silks the rest of her life. Cinderella didn't dream about moving in with seven short men and loving all of them. She dreamed of one man. Millions of little girls heard both stories but listened to the one about the prince. Their fantasy was to be rescued from a life of hard work and live surrounded by silk. The seven dwarves didn't bathe Snow White in silks. They worked and accepted her as a partner in their home. Not the fantasy little girls gravitate to."

"I didn't expect silk from Jack."

"You thought Jack was as close to Prince Charming as your neighborhood of South Carolina could offer."

She sadly nodded.

"Did your Mom love you?" I asked.

Her whole body shook when I asked the question. "Yes! Of course!"

"So, she didn't love your brother?"

"She loves him, too!"

"And, she loves your Dad?"


"So, your Mom loves you, your brother, your Dad, her parents and maybe even your Dad's parents but I can't love two women?"

"You can love two women. One as a wife and one some other way. As a sister."

"You want to be the sister?"


"So Pat should be relegated to the position of sister because you got here first?"

She was quiet. I glanced at the digital clock and saw that it was almost two a.m. I waited. It took a while before she moved or spoke.

"A week ago you accepted me, sight unseen. You took me in, even though I'm damaged goods. Not once did I feel left out, or like you thought I was some charity case. You've been extra kind, considerate and careful. Today you opened up again. You offered to take Pat in. I saw you do it. I didn't feel jealousy. I saw that your response to her was automatic. You didn't have to think it over, it's who you are. I felt your love. Now I'm feeling territorial. You're mine! She should be grateful that we're taking her away from Jack. That should be enough."

I noticed she had called Scott Jack. She saw how much alike she and Pat were. I stayed quiet.

"I'm crazy. Let's bring her in and love her. You loving me the way you do, is healing me. When you notice me getting territorial, let me know. I'll do my best to get over it."

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