Moment of ClaritybyDanielQSteele1©
(c) Daniel Quentin Steele - 2010
This is the first thing I've done for Literotica. I hope most readers like it, but I'm curious to see what reader reaction will be. One of the things I like best about this site, besides the fact that it has some great stories that go far beyond the stroke category, is the interplay between writers and readers.
I'd like to thank editor LadyPineRose74 for her help and contributions to this story, especiallky for boosting my confidence in submitting it.
She stood in the hallway staring wordlessly at the suitcases, the laptop case, his briefcase. Piled up where she hadn't seen them when she walked in. She walked back into the den and looked at the man sitting in the shadows.
"You are insane, Lyle. You are walking out on me and our two sons...because of one fight! One stupid mistake I made while I was drunk a few hours ago. I didn't have sex with anyone. I didn't betray you. You are certifiable."
When he didn't answer she started toward him and again he held his hand up as if he were giving a stop sign. She halted. She wondered if he really might have had a breakdown. This man was not her husband, not the man she had lived with for eight years. No one could change so drastically in a few hours. He had never been like this before, never. And the worst of it was, there really wasn't anything to explain it. Nothing – much – had happened at the party.
She backed up but didn't sit down.
"Can you tell me why? Can't you at least do that?"
"I had a moment of clarity."
She heard the words but couldn't fit them into any kind of sense.
"A moment of clarity? Why do you do that, Lyle? I know you think you're smarter than I am, than anybody in my family, anybody around here. But why can't you avoid rubbing our noses in the fact that we're morons compared to you. Put it in words I can understand."
The figure cloaked in shadow shifted his position, put his head forward slightly and seemed to rest it on his joined fists.
"I'm sorry Diane. I really am. I don't mean to do that. It's just that's the way professors of English Literature think and talk. It's not that hard to explain, actually. We, all of us, walk around never really seeing what our whole lives are all about.
"We're blinded by all the minutiae of our existences – waking up and brushing our teeth and going to work and paying bills and what's on TV tonight and the kids having colds and wondering if we're getting fat or if our husbands or wives are looking at other people. We never step back and get a picture of where our lives are. Except, once in a rare while."
He stopped and she stayed silent, hoping he would go on.
"I had a moment of clarity earlier tonight."
"You keep saying that, but what does it mean? What did you see?'
Even though she could not see his face clearly she knew he'd focused his glance laser-like on her face. She felt the force of his gaze on her skin.
"I saw our life, Diane. I saw what we are, what we were, and what we've become. It had nothing to do – or very little – with what happened at the party. You're right, to walk out because of one fight, one mistake, one incident, would be crazy. That's not why I'm leaving.
"I'm leaving because I realized our marriage was a mistake, that I love you but you don't love me, that I have never and probably never will satisfy you sexually the way you need to be satisfied, that you're a good woman deep down and you will never leave me because you honor your promises, and that we're too young to screw up each other's lives for the next 40 or 50 years. That's why I'm leaving when we finish our conversation...
############ ############## ##############
About three hours earlier:
I pulled into my driveway at 9:30 p.m. My cell phone remained silent. It had been silent since I left Rivers Trailer Park south of Palatka at 8 p.m.; left my wife and about 75 of her close and extended family members and friends drinking and dancing at a monthly party that had been a tradition for almost the entire 8 years of our marriage.
We lived in Jacksonville, a million person Northeast Florida urban center about an hour and a half north of Palatka.
The house was dark except for the automatic yard light with an electric eye sensor that illuminated the front driveway as I walked up the front walkway, or rather limped. It had been a raucous evening and I was feeling a lot older than my chronological age of 34; more like 74. But I only had to lug a six pack of Michelob Lights into the house so I made it.
I flipped the kitchen lights on and sat down at the table where we actually ate most of our meals instead of the little dining nook, which was where we were supposed to eat. I screwed the top off one Michelob and took a long swig of the deliciously cold drink and let it slide down my throat. Then another. All the while waiting for the first ring tone from my cell phone.
Nothing. I looked at the pictures that five-year-old Billy had drawn at school in crayon magnetized to the front door of the fridge and a photo of seven-year-old David catching his first pass at a Pop Warner Peewee Football game.
I felt a little catch in my throat and I consciously fought to avoid tearing up as I looked at David's dark-haired young body caught in the act of his first athletic triumph. He looked like his mother, with her dark hair and lithe frame. Both the boys had their mother's dark hair instead of my sandy blonde and both boys had their mother's light brown eyes instead of my blue ice chips.
I fought down the lump in my throat. They and their mother, had been my world. Until a few hours ago. I was about to lose them all and it was like standing on railroad track in the dark of night watching an oncoming train and being frozen to the track.
I took another swallow and rested my head for a moment against the dark grained wood of the table. I finished off the bottle and made myself get up from the table. Sooner or later the phone would ring, and then eventually the front door would open and I had things to do before that happened.
I walked up to the second floor and the bedroom that Diane and I had shared for five years since we had moved in to this fairly expensive Mandarin neighborhood. We moved there because it had pretty good schools. I taught an introductory English literature class at Jacksonville University, a small private liberal arts college across town, but I liked the Mandarin neighborhood better for the boys than the area around JU so I put up with the hour-long daily commute.
I opened the closet door and in the back found the two suitcases Diane and I had used for our last cruise two years ago to the Bahamas. Then I started opening the drawers and taking out as much of my underwear as I could find. I took a week's worth of slacks, shirts and suit coats out. I had to remember to pack a razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, a few medications, all the things I'd need for a trip away from home.
I leaned over the dresser and felt the urge to vomit. I fought it back. Only this trip was never going to end. It was an exile from everything I loved, or had loved, and I was never going to come back.
If I let myself think about it too much I knew I'd freeze up. So I very methodically went about packing up everything I'd need to start life over as a single man after eight years of marriage.
I found my laptop and a briefcase with work I'd need for the college. I ferried everything down to the hallway that led to the dining room to the left of the front door. They wouldn't' be seen by anyone walking into the house unless they actually walked into the dining room.
When I had gotten everything I could think of, I took the Michelob Six-pack with five beers left in it and went into the den. The front door opened to a hallway which led to the right and then to the den. I sat down in the easy chair at the far end of the den and placed the Michelobs on a glass coffee table in front of me.
There was a floor lamp behind the easy chair and I left it off. There was a light in the hallway that anyone walking in would flick on. I stood on a chair and loosened the light bulb in the center of the den so that it wouldn't come on when you hit the light switch at the entrance to the den.
With everything prepared I leaned back in the easy chair in the darkness of what had been my home and opened the second Michelob and began to take careful sips. About 11 p.m. the cell phone rang the first time. The fliptop Nokia screen lit up in the darkness and I recognized Diane's cell phone number. I didn't answer it. About three minutes later it beeped that I had a message waiting. I didn't retrieve it.
Five minutes after that it rang again, and then in another three minutes, and another five and ten and then five. Diane called and her father, Richard, and her older brother Dave and her younger sister Kelly and then Diane again.
If there had been any humor left in the world, the parade of phone numbers would have struck me as funny. But funny had died a few hours ago and I didn't think I'd find anything funny again for a long time, if ever. The house phone rang, and the cell phone and then the house phone. I just finished the second Michelob and started on the third.
Time crawled by and like the traitor it was, refused to run backwards so that the day that destroyed my life would unwind and give me a second chance. But even as I expressed that common human wish, I knew inside that what had happened had been coming for longer than one day and I'd have to unwind time back at least eight years to undo the damage, and that wasn't going to happen.
############## ############ ##############
It was a cool November, but not bad. The RV park and cabins near Lake Como south of Palatka, were usually almost deserted this time of year. So it was a good place for Richard Carter and his clan and friends to hold their monthly dance/get together/parties in a quiet place where no one would complain about noise or call the cops and people could relax.
Carter and his wife Ricki had raised a brood of nine boys and girls, eight still surviving and when all the kids got together along with other family members like uncles and aunts and friends, there was usually a crowd of a hundred or more adults.
Richard and Ricki had built a road paving/asphalt company that made them millionaires by the time they'd reached their late 60s and they enjoyed hosting the Saturday monthly parties. There was always southern rock, and fried chicken and ribs and oysters in season and plenty of beer and hard liquor for any body's tastes.
Diane and I didn't make it every month, but we tried to get there as often as possible. Richard and Ricki had done their best to welcome a Yankee stranger from the foreign land of Massachusetts into their family, even though I knew there were times they had a hard time understanding me and the way I made my living.
I didn't sell cars or repair them or build houses or lay down parking lots or make money in any of the ways that everybody else in their group did. I stood in front of bored young men and women and talked about poetry and novels and essays and stuff that most of the Carter clan understood little and cared about less.
The drinking usually started about noon. Cabins were available for anyone who needed them to sleep off too much booze, as well as a few RVs. Diane and I had sent the boys to a friends' house whose parents we trusted. They knew we might be back tonight or Sunday morning. We watched their kids when they needed us.
There was an old concrete dance pavilion that was only used basically when the Carter parties were held and a loudspeaker was set up. We ate and drank a little bit while people drifted in and started drinking. By 5 p.m. it was dusk and the music got louder and the drinking got more intense.
Diane walked around talking to people while I stood by one of the tables still laden with food and ate a few grapes. In the twilight she glimmered like a ghost in a light white dress that clung to her hips accentuating her full ass and 36c breasts that looked bigger than that. Her hair was long and swung behind her and I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful woman.
Sometimes I'd just watch her for hours at these parties because dancing and drinking are not my things, just watch her and marvel that an outsider had been able to come in and steal her away from a horde of horny southern suitors who wanted that body and face in their beds.
As usual, drinking and dancing and luscious women and horny men didn't make for the most peaceful mix. One of sister Kelly's old beaus got her out dancing to a particularly snaky tune and was able to dry hump her in front of everybody until her husband Billy stalked out there and laid him out with a thunderous right cross.
Cooler heads prevailed, beer flowed and before a few minutes passed the two men had shook hands, the old beau got a kiss from his old sweetheart and Billy and Kelly were wandering off looking for a dark spot to do the dirty deed, which they usually did at every party.
The pavilion started to get crowded, with even Richard and Ricki moving to the beat of some Southern rock when I noticed I'd lost track of Diane. When I spotted her my stomach tightened. She was dancing a slow dance with a tall, dark-haired man in a calico shirt and jeans. She had melted into his arms and I could see his big hands sliding up and down her back, almost down over her ass although I saw her move his hands off when they got too low.
Bobby Trescott had been one of the guys chasing her before I showed up at the insurance officer where she was working to transfer my auto insurance to her company. For some reason she seemed to take a liking to the stranger with the even stranger accent and six months later we were married. Bobby had never taken her decision well.
He still called and came by sometimes and Diane insisted on viewing him as a friend rather than an ex-boyfriend. At these parties, he always wound up dancing inappropriately close, touching place he shouldn't touch and usually make some smartass comments to and about me, to the general amusement of many.
I made my way through the twilight toward the two of them, watching the way they moved together. I couldn't help but be jealous. Diane had been drinking. Not enough to be drunk but enough to be relaxed and kind of melt against him.
I got close enough and said loud enough for them to hear, "Hi, Bobby. Mind if I cut in?"
Diane looked at me with no guilt and smiled lazily, "Hi, baby, I was just dancing a little with old Bobby. I promised him this dance. It's the dance from our Prom. You don't mind if I finish it with him, do you?"
Bobby grinned at me and so I could see it, slipped his left hand up and under her blouse to cup her breast. Because of the twilight only the three of us could see what he was doing. Diane gave him a funny look and then looked at me. I tried to read her expression. Was she angry at him for what he was doing or me for letting him?
I tried to be cool but it slipped away from me.
"Bobby, get your fucking hand off my wife's breast."
His smile grew wider.
"Or what, Lyle? Jesus Christ! What kind of man's name is Lyle? That sounds like a little girl? Hey, Lyle....That is so damned gay."
I hesitated. I hadn't been in a fistfight in 20 years.
"I don't care what you think about my name. Get your hands off my wife."
Diane took her hand and pushed his hand so he released her breast.
"Alright Bobby, cool it. Why do you always have to be an asshole around Lyle. He's my husband. He's not a roughhouser like you. You are always trying to get him into a fight because you know you'd kick his ass. It's not fair. And Lyle, I'm not some little girl. Bobby is a little drunk, but I can handle him. I've known him most of my life. You don't need to come out here making a scene trying to RESCUE me. Hell, I'd probably have to rescue you."
I couldn't believe my ears. I knew now that several of the couples around us had heard the exchange and I heard snickering.
"What the hell did you just say?"
Her eyes widened and I wondered if she had even thought about what she had said.
"Oh, Lyle, I'm sorry, baby. I ..I didn't mean it that way..."
"How the hell could you mean that?"
Bobby pushed her to one side.
"She meant that if you get in my face I'll kick your ass and smash your face in, you damned pencil-neck geek. The only reason I haven't done it before is that she keeps begging me not to hurt you. What kind of fucking man hides behind his wife's skirts?"
I couldn't resist.
"Somebody that can count beyond ten without using his fingers, you redneck moron. Somebody that came in and took your girl away from you without working up a sweat. Somebody who made two babies with her. Something I'm not even sure you could do, or if you have the equipment for."
I saw the swing coming even as I sensed people coming up from behind us. I was moving to get out of the way when my foot slipped on what was probably somebody's spilled drink. I went down on my ass and hit my head on the concrete landing. Diane's brother Dave and a friend of his got to Bobby and grabbed him by both arms.
I hit hard and it knocked the wind out of me. I was stunned for a moment. Bobby didn't try to shake off the guys holding his arms, probably feeling he'd gotten the best of the exchange.
"As to who's got the better equipment, Lyle why don't you ask Diane sometime. She used to think my equipment was pretty goddamned good and I hear a pencil would fill her up more that the equipment you've got. She told me one time that pencil dick is a good name for you."
Richard Carter came up behind us then and said in a hard voice, "Alright Bobby. Enough. We let you come to these parties because you're an old friend. But you're over the line. Get out of here."
I looked up then at Bobby's grinning face and glanced around at other faces around me. I could see the smiles, or the desperate attempts not to smile. And then I looked at my beloved wife's serious face and I knew she was another one fighting it. She thought it was funny and as I looked at her she deliberately turned her face away, toward her father.
"Daddy, no. Bobby was just drinking. He didn't mean anything by it. You know he and Lyle are fussing, but it doesn't mean anything. And anyway, I did promise him that dance."
Even Richard Carter looked at his daughter in disbelief.
"You are sure that's what you want, Diane? After what Bobby said about your husband?"
She looked back at me, without smiling.
"Lyle is a grown man, Daddy. If he's upset by anything Bobby does, he knows what he can do about it. Don't you baby?"
I got my hands under me and got to my feet. I just turned around and walked away from my wife. Bobby started laughing. I heard snickering and I wanted desperately to believe that Diane wasn't among them, but I wasn't about to turn around to see for sure.
As I walked off the dance landing Richard caught up to me and talked as I walked away.
"Son, I know you're pissed right now. But listen to me. I know Diane loves you, whether you believe it now or not. But....women...listen, sometimes a woman, even the best woman, wants to know her man will fight for her. They may not do it up where you come from, but down here, a woman won't respect a man who backs down from another man trying to move in on her. You do what you think is right, but even if Bobby beats the crap out of you, at least fighting him will show her that you care enough to fight for her.
I kept walking.
"You're right, Richard, women don't do that where I come from. A good woman doesn't give some cunt sniffing hound encouragement to get into a situation where her husband has to fight for her. Not if they love their husband, not if they've got a real marriage going. Now I'm not so sure of either."