tagLoving WivesThree Waves

Three Waves

bycpete©

Thanks to Blackrandi for again organizing this event. Sadly due to time constraints no editor was able to look this story over-so truly all and any error are mine. So- "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a mighty sailin' man, the Skipper brave and sure...."

*

I closed the door after taking one last look at my sleeping 9-year-old daughter Annie. My wife Sarah was in the little kitchen making the morning coffee.

"Brad, don't forget you need to take Annie to the Doctors today, and we need to do laundry"

I nodded as I slipped behind Sarah in our tiny apartment kitchen and gave her neck a kiss.

"OK Sarah, I will try to get in and out of the clinic in a hurry this morning. How about I just take all your clothes and hit "delete"?"

Sarah laughed and reached around to cresses my groin while answering with a sarcastic voice "I love it when you talk laundry, it get me so HOT. Don't start a conversation on rearranging the kitchen cabinets or I will make you my little pinky toe and bang you on the table."

Now I laughed and smacked her shapely behind "You going to take the bus to work? The damn thing is always late."

Sarah shrugged her shoulders without turning around. "James is pretty understanding, He knows the buses in this town suck. I am just hoping the starter on the car holds out until payday."

"James" was James Madison my wife Sarah's boss at Madison Industries. A small family run operation that Sarah had been working at since a temp in high school.

I started to put on my jacket. "No luck getting a payday advance?"

Sarah signed. "No. HR said I had already maxed out that and I hate to ask James to override them again."

"Come on Sarah, James has known you since you started at the place sorting envelopes. I am sure you can get him to cut you a break this time."

Sarah shook her head. "That was before James took over from his Dad. You know James is trying to fill a big pair of shoes. He is really going by the rules. Kind of acts like Moses came down with Ten Commandments in one hand and the company SOP in the other hand." She sipped at her coffee. "Hell, I typed up half of the rules working there during the summer of my junior year in High School. James installed the dot matrix printer for the project back then."

I shook my head, "The SOPs are written on paper by people, not carved into stone by the Almighty on a mountaintop."

Sarah stifled a laugh. "James is just a big nerd, let me ask him again today."

"Sarah, he has been hounding you since you were in High school when he was a nerdy kid home from college. Just wear something clingy, it will make all the blood run out of his brain."

Sarah swatted at me. "Oh hush you, James is not that bad, just out of his depth with trying to run the company. Besides he already has bent over backward to help us. "

"It is not him bending over I am worried about."

Sarah made a face while pushing me toward the door. "Go to the clinic, and hurry back. I'll get Anne up, fed and dressed before you come back."

Nodding, I glanced out the window of our cramped apartment at the breaking dawn. The sky was blood red and reminded me of the old maritime saying. "Red sky at night, Sailors delight. Red sky in Morning, Sailor take warning."

Opening the door to leave, I looked at my watch and sighed. Today was Thursday, I had five more days until my death.

*******

Walking through the slight breeze in dawn light, I pulled my jacket tighter stopping at an intersection for the red light, and thought about an article that claimed most people and relationships can only survive three life changing events in a given time period.

My three events were coming up like waves on the beach.

First was losing my job. It was a job I enjoyed and was good at. My bosses and coworkers were fine and the company profitable. However if you stopped coming to work, for whatever the reason, you will be terminated.

Second was the loss of our family home. It was not the greatest house in the world, but Sarah and I had fixed it up, and put a lot of sweat equity into the house. Sarah had really made the house a home and with good sized back yard and separate bedroom for our daughter Anne, it was her pride and joy. But banks become possessive if you do not pay the mortgage for months on end, and even worse if you do not pay the home equity loan. Foreclosure and repossession follow soon after, no matter if the mortgage money was needed elsewhere.

The first two I could deal with. It was number Three that was the big one. Our precious daughter Anne had been diagnosed with a fatal medical condition. Even worse it was not one of the more common childhood illness where treatment was at least an option of hope. No, our daughter Anne had what was known as one of the "Orphan diseases". I will not go into detail, but basically this meant the illness was not common enough for pharmaceutical companies to expend any research into a treatment or cure because the low profit/margin ratio.

It was a miracle itself Anne was even diagnosed correctly. A fluke due to her pediatrician having a fling at a medical conference with a little known researcher from another country. Specialists were hard to find and appointments difficult to secure, which told you where all my time that used to be spend on my job went.

Insurance would not cover the specialists or what the adjusters considered "experimental" medications, (which was just about everything) so that should tell you where all the house mortgage money went.

Now the money was gone, our bank accounts bust and we were even behind on our rent. The only thing left of any value was my old company sponsored sizeable life insurance policy, which would be canceled at months end. Like George Bailey in the classic "It's a Wonderful Life" movie, I was worth more dead than alive.

The dinging of the blinking WALK sign broke me out of my thought as I looked both ways before crossing the busy intersection that our local media had called "The most dangerous Traffic Location in the State".

This is where in 5 days I would walk to my death and get money for my family.

****

My destination was a nondescript strip mall with the required Asian food take out joint, Martial Art School and Mini mart convince store

Pushing open the door with its faded "Lit LW Research" lettering, I approached the reception desk with a sliding window and picked up the clipboard hung by the wall.

The sliding frosted glass window opened and an older lady in a white smock raised her coffee cup at me.

"Morning Brad." She peered down at the list in front of her. "You here for the clinical trial of the Hair growth, the Erectile drug or Toenail fungus?"

I did not look up as I finished filling out the form. For past few weeks I had signing up to test out various medications. It was a way to make a quick buck and allow me the time I needed to care for my daughter.

"I am here for the Toenail thing." I said handing her the completed form. "Last visit."

Marge looked over the form while downing the last of her coffee. "OK, just want to make sure we did not get your meds mixed up and have hair growing on your balls."

Cracking a smile I asked, "How soon do we get paid?"

Marge shook her head. "This isn't your first rodeo. They will mail you a check in 10 business days." She looked at a form. "You get a grand for this one." Marge flipped a page on a clipboard. "You want in on the seasickness study end of the month? You gotta spend a week at sea on a boat, but it pays like $5 K"

I shook my head. "Thanks, but no. I cannot be away from my daughter." I was not going to mention I would be dead by then anyway.

Marge grimaced. "Sorry, I forgot about your kid. Anne-right? How is she doing?"

I shrugged. "No change. I take her to see another specialist today. We still have hope but..." I trailed off

Marge caught me off guard when she reached through the window to shake her finger in my face. "Listen here Brad, I was a career Navy nurse aboard the USS Sanctuary. The best God Damn Hospital ship to ever float in any Ocean. So here is the word you Dumbshit, get your head out of your ass because let me tell you I saw recoveries from crap that rivaled Jesus rising from the dead. So you need to keep the faith and NEVER give up on your little girl. "

"Whooa Marge, settle down. Don't you know swearing is unattractive"

"Well aren't you as bright as a white crayon. Fuck off I'm already ugly." Marge lowered her finger. "I hope your wife does not have your sorry ass attitude."

I shook my head. "No, Sarah is the ultimate Mother. She wishes she could be a stay at home to be with Anne, but even though my job payed better, hers had the better insurance coverage, sucky as it is. That is why she is the bread winner and I am Mister Mom."

Marge scowled at her coffee cup before tossing it in the trash. "Brad, you two need to keep a united front, your daughter looks to you. Keep the faith. A good father will do anything for his daughter."

I took a deep breath. "Marge, I would die for my daughter."

****

It was Sunday evening. Sarah was attending to our daughter and I was walking to our apartment having just finished a loading job that paid cash.

The signal light was against me and I was standing at the intersection where in less than 24 hours my life would end.

It was pretty fool proof plan, this is the spot were heavy trucks came roaring off the interstate and a blind curve prevented most from seeing the intersection and traffic light in time to stop if they were exceeding the speed limit.

Accidents were common as the state, city and county quarreled over the issue. One TV investigation had unearthed a memo that claimed it was cheaper to pay out the insurance claims then the cost in construction to remedy the problem.

A bit of digging on the internet let me know my death would be just another fatality paid out, the amount to be determined by an actuary table and then buried in some government budget.

It was a simple plan, walk to this intersection during morning rush hour when about every third semi seems to run the light, and time it so I was with the light and step into the path of a hurtling 80,000 pound vehicle. The mounted traffic cameras, so handy and loved by the city for giving out tickets, would record my right of way, the speeding truck blowing through the red light, and it would all be over quick.

I had established a routine of passing by this intersection for two weeks and I hoped the human interest angle of a terminally ill child losing her father because of government bureaucracy would be picked up by local media and make for a quicker settlement.

As the Light turned Green and the WALK sign let me know it was safe to cross, I reflectively looked both ways before stepping off the curb.

An odd thought crossed my mind. "I wonder what I should have for my last meal?"

****

Opening the door to our apartment, I had decided, after a great mental debate, to have fruit loops and orange juice with wheat toast for my final meal. Not that was what I wanted, but because that was what we had in the house.

Sarah was sitting on our ratty sofa in her coat. She gave me her cheek as I bent to kiss her on the lips.

"Going somewhere Honey?" I asked

Sarah fiddled nervously with her purse. "Brad, there is no easy way to say this. I am divorcing you and taking Anne with me."

It took my mind a few moments to register the words she had spoken. Than it was as if someone had taken all the oxygen out of the air after hitting me with a baseball bat, I staggered backwards and fell heavily into one of our worn kitchen chairs.

Sarah drew a deep breath before continuing. "The divorce papers are on the table with the name of the Attorney. I am not asking for anything like alimony, not even for child support. I will have full custody of Anne, but you can have visitation anytime you want."

Now my brain had begun to function and I jumped out of my chair and bolted into Anne's room. It was bare, with only an empty bed.

I walked back and stood in front of Sarah. "So you are taking a sick child away from her father, but I get to visit my own daughter as much as I want? What the FUCK is wrong with you."

Sarah looked back down at her purse. "Look this best for all of us. It is not trying to hurt you..."

I laughed. "Not trying to hurt me? I know you are not trying to hurt me, in fact you are not thinking of me at all."

She ignored me and stood up. "The back rent is paid up, and also 3 months in advance until the end of lease." Sarah pointed to a box on the table. "There is a new starter for the car, I signed the car over to you. Also an envelope with $500 cash is there for the utilities."

"What is the matter Sarah? You could not get your cheap assed boyfriend to cough up 20 pieces of silver for this betrayal."

Sarah flinched. "Let's leave James out of this. It had nothing to do with this decision."

"So you and my kidnapped daughter are not staying at James place?"

Sarah looked away. "Yes" she put up her hand. "It is not kidnapping, Anne thinks she is on a Holiday"

I had to step away before I stuck Sarah" Well then that makes it alright, because when your child is taken from you as long as the kidnapper has the NICE van and the GOOD candy, all is OK."

I started for the door, but Sarah grabbed my sleeve. "She is not at James right now Brad. If you go over there you are just gonna get arrested."

It took every ounce of self-control not to strangle her. I gave her a look of hate and she released my arm and stepped back.

"Sarah, never threaten a man who has nothing to lose."

****

I had to take three buses and walk 2 miles to the legal aid clinic the next day. Even though I arrived early in the morning before it opened, it was not until late afternoon before some harried kid who looked like he was still in high school ushered me over to a corner of the office and quickly scanned thru my Divorce paperwork.

"What is the problem?" he said stuffing the forms back into the folder. "Your wife is paying for everything, no alimony, no child support with no attachments to current or future earnings, liberal visitation of said child to be determined, and you get kid up to two months each summer. Most guys would die for a deal like this in a divorce."

I was stunned at his attitude "Yeah, and I would kill for a Nobel Peace prize, but that not the point, my wife kidnapped my daughter from me. "

The kid leaned forward and put his hand on my knee. "I am not a parent, so I am not going to pretend to know how you feel, but the courts do not consider this kidnapping. Your wife is not preventing you from seeing your child." He tapped the folder I was holding. "You can fight it if you have the time and money, however the law firm on the paperwork is a pretty big outfit with lots of connections, so someone with considerable funds is bankrolling this." He leaned back. "Talk to your wife, if she has an ounce of a soul you can use the guilt to get a better deal than any court will give you, because frankly a snowball in hell has a better chance than you in court."

I threw up my hands,"Nice odds, me and God on one side, versus the establishment and everything else on the other side."

The attorney shrugged. "I think Napoleon said 'God fights on the side with the most artillery', so you would be on your own."

****

Three days later I was standing at my wife's boss house, or should I say soon to be Ex-wife's house.

James answered the door. "Um Brad, ah Sarah is not here."

I kept a neutral look on my face and tone of voice. "Don't care about the slut, she is your problem. I am here for my daughter."

James looked panicked. "Um, well I don't know, um, how about we drop Anne off at your place later?"

I stared past him into the house. "Don't live at that place no more. I know my daughter is here. Please tell Anne that her Father is here."

Truth be told, I had sublet my apartment to someone thru Craigslist for cash and was living in my car. It may have not been practical at the moment, but if I stayed there, I saw it as selling my daughter for 3 months rent.

James kept looking around. "Well um I do not know what Sarah would say..."

"Don't care about the slut, she is your problem. I am only here for my daughter." I pushed open the door wider behind him, but did not enter the house and shouted "ANNE! ANNE! IT'S DAD! COME ON OUT!"

A moment later my squealing daughter rushed out and jumped into my arms. "DADDY where have you been! Mommy and Daddy J say you were busy on a trip and I am going to stay here now."

I took a moment to bask in the joy of holding my child before answering. "Daddy J?" I looked at James, before returning to my daughter. "They said that, did they? Well look, you go get in the car and buckle your seat belt."

Anne dropped from my grip and skipped to the car. As I turned to watch her go I felt James grip my shoulder.

"Um Brad... I am not sure Sarah would approve, I mean how do I know you are gonna bring her back?"

His grip was weak, someone used to pounding on a keyboard. I covered his hand with mine, and kept my voice neutral as I spoke. "I told you twice, I don't care about the slut, she is your problem." I applied pressure to his hand. "And you do not know if I am going to bring her back." I started to squeeze his hand. "What did MY daughter call you?"

His face started to lose color. "Daddy J," James tried to pull his hand away. "Sarah and I thought it would be less confusing for Anne."

Increasing pressure on his hand, I tried to control my anger. "Listen DADDY J, that is not going to happen. You are MISTER J to MY daughter. Not DADDY, Not UNCLE, not anything but MISTER. Please tell me you understand."

James face had lost most of its color as he croaked. "But what if Sarah does not agree..."

I smiled thinly and hissed. "Again I do not care about the slut, she is your problem. The only thing keeping you alive is my daughter. She dies, you die."

Beads of sweat were breaking out on James forehead. "That's not fair, we both know she has a critical condition."

I could feel the skinny bones in his hands as I applied maximum pressure. "I do not care, you stole the crown you carry the weight. My daughter Anne dies, you die. A man with nothing to lose, has nothing to lose"

I let go of his hand and he pulled back, retreating to the doorway and nursing his injured paw. He spat. "You're bluffing"

Waving as I walked off the porch I said. "Poker rules supplement: A .44 Magnum beats 4 aces."

****

Later that evening I returned to drop Anne off.

Sarah came running out the door as I pulled into the driveway. The relief in her face as Anne got out of my car was obvious.

My daughter Anne had bags from various stores in her hands as she rushed up to Sarah. "Mom, Dad and I had a great time! Look at all the stuff we got."

Sarah plastered a smile across her face and spoke to my daughter. "Anne, that is wonderful, why do you not go inside. Daddy J..err, Mister James has your dinner in the microwave."

Anne shook her head. "Daddy and I had Dairy Queen, both hot dogs and ice cream!"

Sarah sighed. "OK then, go put the stuff in your room and you can show it to me after I talk to your father."

Anne looked at me, I pointed to the door. "Go ahead Anne, I will call you tonight on your phone."

Anne gave me a kiss and scampered up the stairs to the door.

Sarah waited until Anne disappeared and turned her fury on me. "Where the hell have you been! I have been in a panic, you know Damn well my daughter has a medical condition..."

"Wow!" I said interrupting Sarah. "MY DAUGHTER has a medical condition too!" I pulled a small baggie out of my pocket. "Here are all her test sticks, all normal. Or did you forget I have been Anne primary and medical caregiver the past 5 months."

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