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(Author’s note. There is basically no sex in this chapter. Rather, it is an attempt to wrap up the situation we created in the last chapter. We realize no matter how this story ends someone isn’t going to like it but that’s okay, this is how we think it would. Anyway, you were warned.)
I looked up as Patti stood at the side of the bed, not hiding herself, but not the confident lover of just two minutes before. I looked at the bags in the tall man’s hands, mine, the ones I had left in the trunk of my Saturn. I knew his name, and said, as calmly as possible, “Hello, Matt. This is what it appears to be, but please let me explain.” Patti stammered something also, but I stopped her by rising and stood between her husband and her.
He looked at my body as objectively as though I were wearing coveralls streaked with grease, as opposed to the body of a woman. There was no way to protect her, but I was willing, no, demanding to protect as much of her as I could.. I heard Patti rustling to wrap the sheet around herself.
Staring at her man, he appeared to be less tall, and also less angry than I would have imagined from the photos I had seen around their home. Various ages, many in military uniform, different color stripes and shoulder pieces of metal, the last a gold leaf. In nearly all of them the curved shoulder thing with the single word, “RANGER” The newest photos had him in the same Police uniform he was wearing now.
In a quiet, measured, professional voice, he suggested I dress. He turned, my bags still in his hands, what was half what I owned, a struggle for me to lift, he effortlessly carried as though they were filled with air.
As the figure in the doorway turned and disappeared down the hall I was able to break my paralysis and leap from the bed. I pulled the sheet around me, almost dumping Dot on the floor, and raced down the hall after my husband. I couldn’t even call after him; my throat was so dry and tight it was painful. Running down the hall to the back door I almost went right through the kitchen. I skidded to a stop when I saw he was sitting at the kitchen table with his head in his hands.
I could think of nothing to say. What exactly is the correct opening line when your husband of 20 years finds you in bed with another woman, only hours after making love with you himself? In a daze I walked over and mechanically began to make a pot of coffee. I could not turn towards him until it finished. I put the cream and sugar on the counter and got two mugs down. Filling them I set them down on the kitchen table, followed by the cream, sugar and spoons. I made one cup as I knew he liked it and pushed it to him, fixing the other for me.
“Thanks,” he said, in a voice that almost scared me because it was so calm. I expected yelling and screaming and accusations, not this. But then it was his way to get excited over small things. The bigger the crisis the deeper was the breath he took and the steadier he became. He took a sip Büyükesat Escort of coffee and looked up at me. He opened his mouth twice and closed it each time without speaking. Our silence was broken by the faint squeak of that old loose floorboard in the hallway.
Dot, dressed in jeans and a top walked hesitantly into the room. After all, if she had ever found herself in a situation like this it probably was not with a man with a 9 millimeter pistol on his hip. At the same time her presence actually reassured me. Perhaps somehow she could think of something to say, something that would break the silence in the house before it consumed us all.
“Dorothy, for heavens sake, I have no intention of shooting you.” A ghost of a smile flickered over Matt’s face. “I’m sure Patti has made plenty of coffee for you to have a cup too.” He sighed, almost with resignation. “Maybe I should I call before I come home. It might save problems in the future.”
“Matt,” I tried to begin. I could think of nothing else to say. I wanted to make some explanation, tell him I was overcome with a wild desire and a feeling that I had never had come over me. I wanted to beg for forgiveness. I wanted all of this to go away, everything except the memory of how Dorothy and I had made love that afternoon. I wanted to keep that and at the same time have everything else return to normal. I wanted him to be laughing and fixing a quick snack as he took a break, not sitting at the table with that empty look in his eyes.
I don’t know if his statements were meant to punish, Patti, or himself more, but I found my voice, and said, “Matt, you have no reason to believe a word I say, but I do not go around making advances at married women. I suppose you would be happy had I never seen the State of Georgia, especially this town, but don’t blame Patti. We were overwhelmed by something I can’t explain. If you think for one minute she is a wanton, you are terribly mistaken, and a fool.” Matt only glanced at me as I spoke, his eyes on his wife, the mother of his children, his life mate
“Perhaps I am Dorothy,” he said. “I will say I would feel less so if she were holding my hand right now instead of yours.” I moved to one side as Patti dropped my hand. I felt a loss as the distance between us widened.
The impasse was suddenly broken as my husband’s walkie-talkie went off. “Dispatch to 7-Lincoln we have a report of a major accident at Highway 27 and Crissom’s Crossroads. Ambulance and Fire enroute. Report of multiple injuries.”
He replied, “7L to Dispatch. Can anyone else handle this?”
“Negative,” came the reply. “You’re the only available unit and they need you there right now.”
“7L to Dispatch. I’m enroute.”
Matt rose to his feet. “I have no intention of issuing you an ultimatum Pat. No demands, no threats of ‘Her or Me’.” He ran his hand over his face and sighed. “It wouldn’t be fair to back you into Elvankent Escort such a corner, either of you.” he looked at Dot and then directly at me and for the first time I realized that was I saw in his eyes was fear. “I’ll be back and I pray that you will be here when I do. If not…” his voice trailed off and he walked through the door without looking back. I heard the door to his car close and he was gone. Following the sound with my eyes I saw the emergency lights go on as he reached the hardtop.
It was after his lights and siren faded that I collapsed, sobbing on the kitchen table. “What am I going to do Dot?” I demanded. “I can’t loose him; but at the same time I just found you and I know I can’t have you both.”
Sounding brighter than I felt, I asked her if she remembered, the film, Casablanca.? As she nodded, I told her, “I feel like Rick. I know you belong to him, you belong together. A part of me wants to take you with me in that truck…but, but,” stopping to swallow a tear before it formed for Patti to see, “That is another life we shared. In this one I know you are where you belong. I will NOT ask you to come with me. You may say yes, but I know at some time, some place you will realize you belong here.” Touching her lips to keep her from saying anything, I shivered at this perhaps ultimate caress. “I want you to have no regrets, ever.” I tried to make a laughing sound, and finally said, “The lines still fit. ‘Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday’. Someday we would part because you will always know that man is waiting for you back here where you belong.”
Silently, I went to the bedroom, looked around, memorizing every inch, taking the aromas into my soul, I packed and went through the kitchen to the truck, my bags from the Saturn safely stowed in the back bench. I found the envelope I had my money in and counted the $3,000 out. Going back to the house, I laid the cash on the counter, and took Patti into my arms, caressing her one final time. We kissed, not a passionate kiss, but a deep kiss of longing and fulfillment. I touched her cheek, turned, and was gone from her life forever.
Turning onto the blacktop in the same direction Matt had taken, I recalled the location of the accident, I was on Rt 27, and after 3 miles I saw a sign just before the flashing emergency lights at Crissoms Crossing. There were two lines of traffic, and Matt was directing it skillfully. As I passed him, I saw a saddness in his eyes. I pulled over after clearing the accident and waited, standing outside the truck, so he would not possibly miss me. When the wreckers and ambulances had left, the emergency lights packed up and the flares extinguished, Matt came over to me and in a professional voice asked, “May I help you, Dorothy?”
“You look cold, can I buy you a cup of coffee?”
He smiled with a surprised grin and told me to follow him. He had to turn in his cruiser and take his Ford Beşevler Escort from the Police lot. There was a coffee shop quite nearby. I stood outside until he drove into the lot. Ever the Southern gentleman, though his heart was in turmoil, he held the door for me and ushered us to what must be a semi private booth for the police. As soon as we were seated two huge mugs of steaming coffee were on the table, and he concentrated on making his coffee the perfect color he must have learned in long years separated from his family when he was in the Army.
When we were alone, I took his hand in mine, and told him, “I am going home. I will never come within 200 miles of here. If I see a woman who looks remotely like Patti, or a man similar to you, I will turn and walk away, anywhere I may be. I could have easitly fallen in love with her.” He visibly relaxed as we talked, and by the time the coffee was finished and he waved off second cups, he was smiling an inner smile.
I stood up, pushing him back into the booth, and whispered into his ear, “Unless you are such a fool you can throw away the most wonderful woman in the world, you had better get your ass in that car and get home.” I then kissed his cheek, and dropped a ten dollar bill at the register as I left the cafe, the little town, the State of Georgia, and the woman I could have fallen in love with in the care of her man.
I sat back down at the table and rank my coffee. Mechanically I rose and began doing the dishes. The routine proved to be a blessing, keeping my mind off the time passing. I continued to do other housework as the hours passed. Finally I heard the Ford car pull up into the garage. I waited, completely unsure of what was going to happen but knowing the next few minutes would decide my future as my husband came in and closed the door.
“She’s gone,” I said. Pretty obvious statement I thought but I had to say something, anything to keep the silence at bay.
“I know,” Matt replied. “She found her way to the crossroads and when I had the accident wrapped up we went for coffee.”
I stared at him in complete amazement. The two of them talking together? I faltered as I asked what they discussed.
“You, of course,” he answered. “She’s an amazing woman, Patti. She told me she could have fallen in love with you. What can I say?” he continued. “How could I blame her for that? She’s going home, and I wished her luck and happiness in her life. I don’t hate her.”
He turned completely towards me and took my chin in his hand. “Her last words to me were that unless I was such a fool that I could throw away the most wonderful woman in the world I damn well better get in that car and go home.” He paused. “I shouldn’t have needed her to tell me that. I’m sorry.”
“YOU’RE sorry?” I stammered. “after what I…”
“Shhhhhhhhhhh,” he took me in his arms. “I think that more was left here than was taken away. I think you have enough room in your heart to give that piece to Dot and still hold all of me in there too. Do you think so too?”
I stared. Not often in life do you get chances like this. I said a silent prayer of thanks for Dorothy, who not only had given herself freely but had given our lives a jolt that would keep in out of the rut we had let it become. I smiled and took his hand. “I’ll show you,” I said.
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