The Long Fall Ch. 02byH. Jekyll©
(Note to readers. This revision is in response to some helpful readers who convinced me I had made the ending too abrupt, by leaving out some things I took for granted but readers might need to see. Changes begin about half way through. The conclusion is changed only slightly. Anyone who particularly liked it—or didn't like it—is unlikely to experience a change of opinion.)
The Long Fall, Chapter Two: Falling. Apart.
This morning was bad. Not at the very beginning. No, not then. When I finally fell asleep, I slept heavily and didn't dream of Ruth, or Bill, or anything I can remember. There may have been voices, or movement, or a sense of rushing. Something. Everything but Ruth. When I first awoke I didn't even remember what had happened, so I wondered why Ruth wasn't in the bed. But then--oh yes--the tide came in like a tsunami, all at once, to scour the landscape.
How bad will the evening be?
Ruth was asleep on the couch when I got up. I wondered how long she lay awake. Let her sleep. At least I don't have to talk with her. I made the coffee as silently as I could and got the paper. I ate in the dining room instead of the den. When it was time I woke the kids quietly and began gathering their clothes. I wanted to get us out without waking Ruth. Of course Will didn't want to wake up, so I lay down with him and woke him slowly, trying to be quiet about it. Then Kaetlyn wanted to wear something different. It wasn't going to work. By the time we came out, Ruth was sitting up, and when they saw her they ran to give her hugs, yelling "Mommy! Mommy!" in their little, piping voices.
"Come on kids. We're going to Mickey D's for breakfast!" I used the super-ebullient voice. "Come on Willy-Wonka! Come on, Kitten-Licken-Katie-Kat! Bee-boo-bob-breakfast won't waiiiiiit!" The kids pulled Ruth by her hands. "Let Mommy go get dressed, kidddaroos!" I pulled them away from her, and I stared her down while they picked up their little packs. "You look like shit." I was quiet, but Kaetlyn heard.
"Uh-oh! Daddy said a bad word!"
I expected Ruth to stay home today while she tried to come up with a strategy, but I was wrong. She's not here. I half expected her to come by my office, or call, and try to apologize. Wrong again. I don't know what she's done all day.
It's Ruth's day to pick up the kids, but I wanted to get them myself, so I went early. Will rides my shoulders into the house. "Yo, Sir William, sir! Dragon at two o'clock! Prepare to charge!" Has she found them gone from aftercare yet? Maybe she won't come home at all? Maybe she's taken off? Maybe with Bill? That would make things so much easier.
"You can watch TV for one hour, kids. Okay? You can watch the end of 'Sesame Street' and then 'Barney.'"
Here's an email from Bill. Oh brother! Oh "brother" indeed. It's marked with a red exclamation point, announcing its importance. Why? Do I need to think about this even more? Hasn't it swamped my entire little universe? The Big Bang filled the void. Well, Bill's Big Bang did, but it opened the void.
That's certainly original!
"If I could undo what happened last night, I would. I don't know what to say. I'm sorry! You're my brother and I love you, and I know it was unforgivable, but I hope that you *will* be able to forgive me eventually. Please, whatever you do, don't blame Ruth. It was all my fault. It was all my doing. I pushed and pushed and... "
Blah, blah, blah.
That's about the gist of it, though it goes on for a while. I guess Ruth isn't with him right now. That means she'll probably turn up at home.
Here's my reply: "Yes, it was unforgivable. And next you'll tell me Ruth wasn't there at all. I could see she enjoyed what she did. I don't need any more emails." Hit the send button. Ruth kissed the hand he hit 'send' with, the one that had grabbed her vagina. Hit the fucking button.
Ruth is just getting home. She's pulling into the driveway. Be still my beating heart. It wouldn't help to stroke out just now.
I started a load of laundry and I'm cooking, because I don't want her to have anything to keep herself occupied, and because it gives me things to do. I can't stay still. I've been checking the driveway every few minutes, but really she's right on time. Okay. Deep breaths. I lean back against the sink. Come on in. Ruth looks over at me, and then closes the door softly. She's careful with it, careful to look away from me and at the door knob, but she can't avoid me completely. She finally looks back, at about the middle of my chest. Potatoes are bubbling merrily. Barney is saying something exuberant in the next room. Finally, "John..."
"If you want to say hello to your kids, it would make them happy." I turn back to the sink.
"I'm sorry." Barney is singing. He sounds gay to me. "I love you."
"Sure you do." I pretend to scrub a dish.
"Can I explain?"
"There's nothing to explain."
Later I see her sitting on the couch with the kids while they try to watch their show. Will wriggles to get off her lap, so he can play with some toys on the coffee table. In between songs, Kaetlyn is reading out loud: "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." Ruth keeps giving them kisses, but they aren't paying any attention.
We're playing this little game, Ruth and I. I'll be in a room, maybe pretending to watch TV. If Ruth comes in and isn't just passing through, I get up and leave. I won't stay in the same room as her unless the kids are there. As soon as they leave I do too. Ruth followed me out a couple of times before she gave up.
She looks awful when she isn't putting on a front for Kaetlyn and Will. I passed our bedroom door a few minutes ago. She was lying there with a book, as though she was reading, but she was just staring at the wall, washed out, eyes red and baggy. I almost felt sorry for her. So she's been crying. Well, she has too much pride to cry in front of me. She won't beg me. She wants it to be like we simply had a fight and I'll get over it. She's going to try to outwait me. Damn. What am I going to do? It can't go on like this forever.
When she noticed me I walked on.
Something new and terrible happens every day. This time it's Jolene on the phone.
"Bill confessed to me."
Oh great. Now we'll have to commiserate. Misery loves company and all that, but I don't want to have to talk about it, especially not with Jolene. I don't know if I can stand that.
"Yeah...I'm sorry you had to find out. I guess it's as bad there as it is here. You say he confessed?"
"He said it was something I'd find out about sooner or later, about him and ... your wife. The home-wrecker."
"Yeah." Here it comes. "What did he tell you?"
"He said they weren't in bed, but that things went too far. Will you tell me? He wouldn't say exactly. Just that you caught them."
"Too far. Yeah. Too far." I have to sigh. I don't want to show any emotion to Jolene. I've been thinking that maybe if she were a better fuck this wouldn't have happened, though that's dumb. "I guess that's technically correct. And no, they weren't in bed." I take a breath and let it out loudly. "Well, you might as well know it all. They were doing it on our couch."
"Oh!" Jolene's voice gets tiny, as though I've just knocked the breath out of her. A sledgehammer to the chest. How could it be worse? I shouldn't have blurted it out, maybe said 'are you sitting down' or something and built up to it, but it's too late. Everything is too late. "Oh." Poor Jolene. "I thought ... I thought maybe they were just kissing or he was feeling her...or something." Her voice trails away completely with 'or something.'
So I get to fill her in. Why did you confess in the first place, Bill? Did you think I was going to play it down for you, maybe help you get out of trouble and back into your wife's cunt? Oh you'll never get in there again! Now I could get in if I wanted! It would be easy. She and I would have to comfort each other, wouldn't we? One thing would lead to another. I could arrange for photos and send them to you and the home-wrecker. Wouldn't that be fun?
"I'm sorry, Jolene. I'm sorry I have to be the one to tell you. They were sexing. Ruth did fellatio on Bill. All the way." She doesn't answer. I wonder if we've lost our connection. "Jolene?"
I hear her crying in the background. I'm such a shit. I wish I hadn't told her anything at all. I could have been vague, told her I caught them on the couch, said they were in the middle of something but not completely undressed, and that I couldn't see everything, then moved on to telling her about throwing Bill out. I could have taken that route. It would have been almost as true. But she asked. Yes, and I know the answer to that, don't I?
"What are you going to do?"
"I don't know."
"I made him leave. I'm going to file for divorce."
"I can't believe you're letting that whore stay there. That whore!"
"I don't know what I'm going to do."
"Were you ever going to tell me?"
"What?" Worse and worse. We don't keep any secrets in this family, do we Ruth?
"Was it just going to be poor, stupid Jolene? Am I the only one who didn't know your wife was giving blow jobs to my husband?"
The kitchen door opens. It's Ruth.
"Were you all going to go around pitying poor little me? You and Bill and...the slut? Was I the only one not in on the joke?"
"Jolene, it wasn't...wait." I hand the phone to Ruth. "This is for you."
Maybe I'm being infantile. Once at a party this well-toned guy monopolized talking with Ruth and danced with her a few times. On our way home, she mentioned him and I got huffy. "He should play with someone a little less married."
Ruth turned to me and smiled a wide smile. "You're jealous."
"Oh, just forget it!"
"My husband is jealous for me!" She had this look of absolute delight.
"I said forget it!"
"You think that great big hunk is going to steal me away!"
It was silly, sure, and Ruth enjoyed it far too much. When we got home, she gave me one of those sweet kisses--yes, those kisses--and said, "You don't know how good that made me feel," and I got very lucky with her.
I'd like to think we could just move on and forget about it, but I can't. I'm jealous, but a kiss and a fuck aren't going to resolve anything this time. I'm jealous that Bill could know the real Ruth while I was stuck with the masquerade. And yes that he has that certain something she apparently couldn't get from me. How many others have had it, and have gotten to know the secret Ruth? Are most of them in marriages based on deceit?
It just keeps getting better and better.
Today my mom called. Jolene is making sure everyone knows.
Poor Mom. Caught smack dab in the middle, between two of her sons. I wonder if she called me first. I'd think it would be so hard for her to talk with Bill. She is good at offering sympathy--it's one of her things--but she can't take sides, and since she's the only one in the family no one will tell exactly what happened, that limits the conversation. We have to talk in pretty general terms. But she gets to the point:
"I think we should postpone the gathering at Dad's grave. Just until this is all straightened out. I don't think everyone would be able to come. Some people might feel uncomfortable."
Like all of us.
"I hate for this to come between you."
"I don't understand it. Bill was always the easiest to handle, growing up."
Ruth still hasn't tried to call me at my office. She sent two emails, apologizing, but I didn't return them. At home we stay apart except when we have to be together for the kids. I dread going home when I know she will be there. There's always an excuse to stay at the office a while longer. If I'm home alone with Will and Kaetlyn, the air thickens when it's time for her to appear.
It's hardest when the kids are asleep and there's no one to put on an act for. Without even talking about it, we've managed to come up with a routine that lets us both tuck them in, without our actually having to be in the same room for more than a few seconds. Since we got them down tonight, Ruth has been in the living room and I've been here in the den, sitting almost exactly where they did it. I hadn't thought of that until just this second. It reminds me of when Elsa Lanchester found that Charles Laughton had sexed another man on their couch. She supposedly told him, "Just get rid of the couch." Could that help?
Here comes Ruth. It's time to go.
"Don't leave, John. Please don't. Can't we at least talk?"
"What's there to talk about?"
"About what I did, and how sorry I am, and how much I love you."
"I'm sure you're sorry."
"The part about loving you is true too."
"Maybe. Sure. But tell me--what does it mean when you tell someone you love him? What exactly do you mean? I'd like to know that."
"Don't leave!" She's trying to be emphatic and keep her voice quiet at the same time. 'Don't leave' comes out sotto voce. "Please don't leave. I know I was wrong, and that I hurt you. I'm not perfect. I have warts. I know it. I want to make it up to you." She comes up behind me while she's speaking and surprises me by wrapping her arms around me and holding herself tightly against my back.
"Let go!" I can feel her all the way up my back. Her breasts are distinct. I don't want her to touch me.
"I'm not letting you go!" She is holding her cheek flat against my back. I pull against her fingers, to break her grip, but I don't want to hurt her. I could get loose, but I can't bring myself to do that. "Please. Honey. Let me hold you." Now she's turning her face, back and forth, against me, and kissing me all over my back, maybe wiping her eyes, and working her body into mine.
"Let me go!" I try to fling her off but it doesn't help, so I stand passively. Give it up. You're not my Ruth anymore.
"Please. Honey. Don't let one stupid, stupid thing ruin everything we have. We can get past this. I'll be so good to you. I'll make you happy."
With that she draws her hands down past my belly, across my belt, all the way down to my crotch. "Please honey." They're over my balls. She strokes me upward. Oh Jeez! Here I can't stand her and she's getting me hard. She strokes me again, lightly, almost tickling. She knows how to do it. She knows exactly what I like. Why not? She was my lover for a decade. She knows me that well. "Please honey. Let me be good to you."
Ruth comes around to the front. She stands on tip-toes and reaches up to take my face in her hands and kiss me. "Please honey."
We kiss. Oh no. She's always been such a good kisser. She has the most supple lips. We continue the kiss while she pushes her breasts against my chest. My penis is inflating and pushing back against her lower belly. Kiss me, bitch. Oh God. Rub your belly against me. You haven't felt this good to me in forever. Is a fling what it takes to make you such a lover? We stand, holding each other, rubbing cheeks, breathing together. I don't know what's going on. Her hand goes to my penis again.
"Come over here." I pull her around to the couch. "Here." We sink to it. Once there I pull her pants down. I open her blouse. It isn't easy with her kissing and writhing and trying to unzip me. I bite a nipple.
I suck on her nipple and push two fingers all the way up into her. Slip-slide, in and out they go. I'm sawing at her vagina, biting Ruth's breast, forcing her against the back of the couch. I've always loved it when her chest moved against my face when she was high. It's no different now. "Oh honey. Oh! Oh!" She could come, but I don't want her to, so I pull back.
"Not too fast. Here. Do me." I shove my pants down, underwear and slacks together. I put my fingers that had been inside her vagina to her mouth. She sucks them in. "Now do me." And she does. Ruth takes my face in her hands again, to kiss me again, on her way down to the real action. It's waiting for her down below. It's almost purple by now. Down, Ruthie. Down you go. Down she goes, until I feel that wonderful mouth sucking me inside. Nothing else feels like that, or could replace it. My hands are on her head. Her hair is tickling my thighs and my stomach. She's so good and I'm so close. So close. It's time to do it.
I push her away.
"That's about how it went with Bill, isn't it?"
In the movies, this is where Ruth would try to slap me, and maybe succeed. Or I might catch her wrist. It's not the movies, though it's a good scene, isn't it dearie? Ruth is sprawled back on the couch, naked below the waist, her blouse open, still breathing hard, her eyes wide, incredulous, now a hand pulling her blouse together, the other one moving to cover her sex. It's something to see, certainly the best thing in several days. Me, I'm a nice contrast. I stand, pull my pants up, and fasten everything. I don't know how I managed to pull it off.
"Good night, honey." I have to be careful, or I might come in my pants.
Won't the night ever end?
I've got the blues pretty bad.
I've been lying here, waiting for the alarm to go off, waiting for the world to begin, or end, or do whatever it wants. I wish it would do it without me. It's finally 6:30, time to get busy, but I find Ruth in Will's bed, and he's snuggled against her in an intimate, tender little scene, like something by a Romantic painter. Will is pressed into his mother's breasts, burrowing his big, round head into her so hard I wonder how he can breathe. She holds him in both arms and is curled on her side, so she's making a nest for him out of her body. I almost expect the sunrise to center them in a golden halo. It's the first time I've seen her look contented since she sucked Bill. Asleep she's serene. What will she be like awake?
I hate myself.
It's never going to be good again. I thought after last night I'd feel triumphant because I got back at her a little, but I don't feel that way at all. We can't be a family anymore, not like this, not like Ruth is this moment with little Will, not one of those sweet families like we once were, where you're happy just to see or touch or be around each other. Oh hell, I'm starting to cry. How did that happen? I can't do that. How did it happen? I guess I wasn't paying enough attention. It's not allowed and I can't let Ruth see any weakness. I'll be okay in a moment. I just have to control myself and wash my face.
There. There. That's better. Okay. Take a cleansing breath. Dad has to be cheerful, and it's time to wake the kids. Be cheerful. Pump it up. Happy! Jolly!
I fucking hate myself.
The kids just ran out to the car. This morning is special for them because they have the keys and can unlock the doors themselves, and the moment the kitchen door slams Ruth turns to me and says:
"How could you do that? How could you be such a bastard?"
"Me? How could you try to seduce your way back in?"
"That's not what it was!"
"Just how stupid do you think I am? Do you really believe all that crap about men thinking with their penises?"
"I was trying to show you I still love you, and that I still want you. I was trying to be good to you!"
"You were trying to get me to fuck you so I would ignore what you did!"
"I was trying to help us get past it! When it was you, I forgave you. We got past that! But you won't do the same for me!"
We could go on much longer, and it would get messier and uglier, but there just isn't the time. I have to be going.
"Think about it Ruth. Think about what I did, and what you did, and compare them. And while you're thinking about it, pack, because it isn't working with you here at..."