Serie Noire 04bylikegoodwine©
By Likegoodwine Copyright April 2014
I often write about cheating spouses with some levity - if not downright humor - but I sometimes need to acknowledge that the event can be a shattering experience for a family. Serie Noire is my place for stories inspired by real life dramas. Each story is a standalone. If you didn't like the three first stories of Serie Noire, don't read this one.
Here's a very short story for you. It is an hour in the life of a couple of characters and doesn't explain or describe everything that occurs before or after. If it's not your cup of tea, please pass on. There is no sex in the story. It is another attempt at writing in the 3rd person.
Edited by JonB1969. By I changed a few things after his editing so all remaining mistakes are mine.
Your votes and constructive comments are appreciated.
Old man Larabie was only one among the 30 dwellers around Charles Lake. His cabin was the last one on the southeast shore. The cabin was isolated but many of them weren't. This seclusion was very sought after by Larabie when he purchased the cabin 10 years before.
The road leading to his cabin wasn't very well maintained and his driveway was even worse, but he liked it that way. It ensured him of more privacy. His Cherokee was able to drive past all the potholes but other lower vehicles often encountered problems.
Peter Larabie didn't look for much when he was looking for a cabin: power, phone and privacy. He wasn't averse to the low price coming with the secluded area: the nearest town of any importance was one hour away and the nearest village - Charles Lake Junction, population 85 in winter - was about 10 miles away.
It was early autumn. Larabie was working around the cabin, getting it ready to face the harsh Ontario winter. It was with some surprise he heard the familiar sound of car tires spinning in mud. As he didn't hear a vehicle coming, he assumed it to be a small car or one of those new pick-up trucks; they are as noiseless as a car and often as useless in these parts of the province.
Larabie had been coming to his cabin for the last 10 years but living there since his retirement over two years ago. He knew well the sound was coming from the road and a stranded driver would soon come knocking on his door. Larabie was a recluse by choice, not by nature. He knew a little tow with a chain or his battery-operated winch would soon take care of the problem.
Putting his branch cutter away, but keeping his gloves on, he jumped in his Cherokee and headed toward the road. As expected, he found a Taurus stuck in a deep pothole the previous day's rain had filled, making it impossible to accurately judge the depth of the hole. Larabie felt a bit guilty. The previous week, he had not thought to shovel some gravel in the hole to fill it up. It was a matter of a few minutes work and would have been to his advantage as the road led only to his cabin. Now he would have to work harder and he would still have to fill up the pothole so it would be not too bad in the spring.
The driver was still in the car trying to get out of the pothole by digging himself deeper in it. Friggin' idiot! Larabie drove by the side of the Taurus and rolled down his window. He hoped the driver wouldn't be scared of his own shadow and would take him on his offer for help.
As the driver seemed unaware of his presence, Larabie decided to knock on the car's rooftop.
"Excuse me!" he said and the spinning ceased. "Excuse me sir. I can pull you out of this hole with my Jeep if you wish."
The Taurus window came down. Electric window, of course! A blonde head appeared and their eyes locked. After a second of hesitation, recognition happened with two different outcomes. Larabie, without bothering to roll up his window, shifted in rear gear and took off in reverse. Everything was reversed in this situation. The first time he took off on her, he didn't look back. Today, he was driving away from her without looking ahead.
The blonde woman got out of the car and screamed: "Peter!"
Larabie knew the woman and now realized one problem with his secluded cabin. He was at a dead-end. He had no escape. If he would simply drive home, she would follow him by foot. There was no reason she would be around his place if she were not looking for him. Unless he had time to gather his gear, there was no chance to simply take to the wood and go hunting for a while. Anyway, he had a feeling she would be there upon his return.
Larabie stopped, changed gear and came back to the car. She was still standing by her car. She stood in the road blocking the way, knowing Larabie, despite the 17 years since their divorce.
For the second time in the last five minutes, their eyes locked. There was surprise the first time. Now, Larabie saw mostly determination and - to his surprise - a sadness that found echoes deep inside him. He knew he had to have a talk with her for whatever reason she had.
His ex-wife, Martha, must have recognized his capitulation. She deliberately walked to the car and climbed in.
"Hi Peter," she said. "I am sorry to come here unannounced, but I needed to talk to you. It's important."
Larabie didn't answer right away. He was searching for the proper response to such a situation. Absolutely nothing came to mind. So, without a word, he got out, and within a minute he unstuck her car. He climbed back in his Cherokee.
"I freed your car. Follow me, my cabin is near," said Larabie.
They were soon at his cabin.
Without a word, he got out of the car and went inside the cabin, not really caring if she followed him or not. He immediately started to make coffee in an old percolator he bought for a dollar at a flea market. Thinking about it made him realized the divorce left him so broke mentally and financially that most of his possessions in the cabin were bought at garage sales or flea markets.
Larabie had lost more than money in the divorce. He had lost his wife - of course - but also his only child, his friends, and his self-respect.
Curious, Martha looked around. Instead of gloating over the clean but decrepit state of the cabin, an overwhelming sadness swept over her. There was no doubt in her mind she was partly responsible for her ex-husband's situation. She had so much to say, she was lost for words. Many conflicting feelings were overwhelming her. For years she had thought about this moment and had rehearsed all the things she wanted to tell him, but now, as she was facing him, no words were coming out.
The coffee started to percolate without any of them being able to start a conversation. Larabie had time to look closely at Martha. He noticed that her hair was the same color as he remembered. As she was close to 60, he assumed wrongly she was coloring her hair.
"Well" Laramie thought. "I thought it would be worse. At least she shut up."
And he started to gently giggle at his own joke.
"That's what happens when you spend almost all your time all by yourself," he thought. "At least there is no need to explain a joke."
Hearing Larabie laugh, Martha looked at him with a quizzical look in her eyes.
"What?" she asked. "What's so funny?"
Larabie waved his hand in a dismissive gesture.
They were still silent when Larabie decided the coffee had percolated enough. He prepared two cups, his with a bit of cream and hers with plenty of cream and two spoons of sugar.
Larabie put the cup of coffee in front of Martha, sat down and looked at her.
"I... I needed to tell you," started Martha, her voice trailing. "... I needed to tell you how sorry and ashamed I am for everything that happened... for everything I did..."
Martha's voice was faltering and the last was said as a sob. She wasn't looking at Larabie, feeling ashamed of herself for past events, and embarrassed now by her lack of control.
Putting her hand on her head, Martha pulled up the blond wig she was wearing, shocking Larabie.
"Because I am dying of cancer. And despite my fight, I am losing the battle. You don't owe me nothing but could you find in your heart to let me tell you everything."
Larabie didn't really wish to talk to his ex-wife. In his mind, she was just a bad memory of time long gone. And to be truthful, the revelation of her impending death left him speechless.
Martha put back her wig, leaving it a bit askew.
"It will be hard for you to believe," started Martha. "But I am so very, very sorry for what I put you through for the last 17 years. I am sorry I cheated on you. I am sorry I treated you like shit after you found out. I am sorry for whatever happened since then."
Larabie had no words. An avalanche of conflicting emotions was coursing through his head. How can she apologize for what she had done? He guessed that her destiny with death made her ask for closure and possibly forgiveness.
Martha interrupted his train of thought.
"Despite everything I did then, I never even once stopped loving you, please believe me," resumed Martha. "I was totally stupid to start an affair with Brad. We got together only three times, and each times I felt stupid and ashamed to be cheating on you. You were leagues ahead of him in the lovemaking department. Only the alcohol, my stupidity and the excitement of novelty could explain my behavior. Please Peter, believe me when I say nothing you did then or after is responsible for my behavior. You were a wonderful husband and I lost you because of my idiocy."
Larabie had his doubt about the veracity of what she was saying. No amount of reassurance could erase how vile her actions were. You can't say you love your husband then turn around and stab him in the back. You can't say he satisfies you but you go and get it elsewhere. She might be dying but Larabie knew that he was not brain dead himself.
There was one truth that led him all his life: you don't hurt people you love.
"A soon as I saw you at the restaurant, I knew that you knew," said Martha. "I panicked. I knew you enough to realize you would divorce me with as much duress as you could. And when you hit me while trying to take a swing at Brad, you gave me ammunition for the coming war. When the police took you away, they played right in my hand. In a moment, my love for you was pushed in the background by the fact we were done as husband and wife. I forgot to show you my love. Instead of getting on my knees and asking for forgiveness, I went in damage-control mode."
She stopped again. Larabie wasn't sure if it was the emotion or her health.
"For that, I am really sorry," she said. "I should have simply apologized and tried to part at least as friends, if possible. I am sorry I painted you as a wife beater for our friends, our families and our son. That was the worst..."
There was no doubt the emotion was getting the better of her.
"The worst is how easy it was," continued Martha. "With the shiner I was sporting then and a few witnesses from the restaurant, it was a walk in the park to have you labeled as a wife beater. Even Mark had to believe his dad was hitting his mother. He went in protective mode himself. It was so easy to manipulate a 15 year old boy into protecting his mother. I am so sorry I played him against you."
Larabie thought again about that famous year. Not only he had lost his wife, his soul mate, his best friend, but also he had lost his only child. He could have faced losing his wife or his friends. But the loss of his son had been the hardest blow, the one that sent him to the ground for the count. It took him years to recover. And he wasn't even sure he had fully recovered even after 17 years.
"How many times over the years I wished I could turn back the clock," said Martha. "How many times I lacked the courage to tell our son I was just a fucking lying bitch, to tell him you never intentionally tried to hit me, and it was an accident. But the longer I left the lie alive, the harder it was to come out and tell the truth."
Again, her face, streaked by falling tears, was all she offered to Peter. She was looking at the table, seemingly ashamed of her revelations.
"Well I finally did it last week," said Martha. "He hasn't spoken to me since then. I..."
She was unable to continue as emotion overtook her.
"... I am imploring you to give him a chance," she was finally able to say. "I lied to him and he really thought you were a monster. But I will be gone in a few months and you will soon be his sole surviving family, beside his wife and their two kids. I am not asking for your forgiveness because what I did is unforgivable, I know that. I am asking you to go see your son."
She looked at Larabie, her face full of hope, expecting to receive at least a bit of reassurance from him. Larabie knew it. He knew she was pleading with her ex-husband, a loving and caring man. But that man was long dead. He had been killed by her and by the system.
For years he had tried to regain some balance. He has been turning in circles, aimlessly, chasing his own tail. Until the day he realized he had really nowhere to go. Then he had stopped running. He had stopped moving. Now, a broken spirit, he was just marking time, living for life's sake.
Having nothing to cherish, his nights were empty, his life was empty, with no dreams to break his solitude. His days were filled with meaningless tasks: chop enough wood to keep the cabin warm, buy enough groceries for the month, visit Old Emma down the road for some sexual relief...
Now it seemed he could start to think about his son, although he wasn't sure about his feelings. It was too fresh, too new. He had been cut from any contact with his son for many years. At first, it had hurt Larabie pretty bad. The rejection by his son was worse than the loss of his wife. Her betrayal had shattered his love toward her and the loss was bearable. On the other hand, his love for his son was untouched, unblemished. Armed with a restraining order, Martha had done a magnificent job at keeping him away from his son.
After years of pain, a self-defense mechanism took over. Slowly, the memory of his son started to fade. As he never had a chance to get a picture, he wasn't sure he could recognize his son the way he was 17 years ago, let alone to recognize the man he became. As a matter of fact, it has been several years since the thought of his son crossed his mind.
Larabie suddenly realized his ex-wife was talking to him. He had no idea how much he had missed.
"... five year old and his baby daughter is just turning three," said Martha. "He looked so much like you it hurts each time they visit. Please, go see them. Reconnect with him. It would be easier for me to know that at least I was able to repair some of the damage I caused."
Martha looked straight at Larabie. "Will you?"
Larabie's first instinct was to simply acquiesce to a mother's desperate plea. But his mind was such a jumble of different thoughts; he was unable to say a word. His only answer was to shrug, not committing himself to anything.
Martha finally got up, grabbed her coat and walked toward the door.
"I will be going now. It will getting dark and I can't drive too long nowadays," said Martha.
The Larabie she knew would have offered to let her stay the night, as her cancer treatment was probably taking its toll on her ability to perform long hours of driving. The new Larabie, the empty shell of her ex-husband, simply watched her leave.
She turned toward him just before getting in her car. "Hate me if you need to, I understand, but please forgive your son."
Any decent human being would have at least said a word to reassure this dying woman. Just standing at the door, Larabie kept watching the car as it disappeared around the bend in his driveway.
He went back inside and it took him an hour to get his cabin ready for a long absence.
He then jumped in his Jeep and drove toward the other end of the lake.
Old Emma was curious about the car she saw coming from Larabie's cottage. She looked by the window when she heard Larabie's Jeep coming her way. She went to door, removing her panties in the process. She hadn't seen Larabie for the last couple of weeks and she though at first that he was coming for their regular sex romp.
Sadly, he just drove by without stopping. He never did that before. A tear came down her cheek. She had the feeling that it was the last time she would see Larabie and she would end up truly alone.
Two months later, his cabin went up for sale.