He tried to reach for my hand to hold it, but I drew it back like his were armed mouse traps. I didn’t want him to touch me…EVER…again. He told me that he still loved me, and was actively looking for work. More lies. My sources said that he never left the apartment, not even for food. I didn’t even want to see what science projects were underway in the fridge. I was afraid they might attack. It took him over an HOUR to sign in 5 places! He was complaining too much. My back-up kept poking his head around the door. Well, I had promised him food after I was done.
I left the stick pen, the paper towels I sat on, and only took the plastic bag I had put the papers in. I didn’t want to contaminate the car with any microbes that I might’ve picked up. The first order of business was to feed my companion; after that, the lawyer, then the hazmat team would be called to take off my first two layers of epidermis.
It was a no contest divorce. He was getting every single thing that he put into the marriage, which was absolutely NOTHING!!! And that’s what I told the judge when we appeared before her. When my lawyer introduced my ledger into evidence, you could’ve heard a feather drop. I had to struggle to keep the smug grin off my face. He was screwed and even his public defender knew it. But to be fair, the judge ordered that he would get a month’s rent of the apartment and $1,000 for alimony for each year we were married. $10K and $1,200 rent were fine. I had it and could write out a check right there, if that would be okay? But could I have a receipt? Please?
The judge snickered, but turned it into a cough, pronounced us divorced and that it would be final in 90 days. I could’ve danced out of the court room on the ceiling. My mother decided it would behoove her to make an appearance…of course, the divorce was MY fault because I didn’t “support” my husband…if I never saw the old hag again I would be very happy. She sat her bony ass on HIS side of the courtroom: that told me everything I needed to know. She was bending his ear as I exited. I had never given HER money, except for the excessive rent she had me pay when I started working and before I moved out, and just sent 2-for-a-dollar bday/sMother’s day cards to her. As much as she had tried to make me into her milquetoast/wishy-washy/don’t make waves image growing up, it just made me more stubborn, obstinate, pigheaded, bullheaded, mulish…well, you get the picture. I would never ever BE her, NOR her little puppet any longer. I wasn’t a dumb teenager. I was 30+ years old! I knew what I was doing, where I was going, and what I wanted to do with my life.
Take it or leave it!
Don’t let the screen door hit you on the ass on the way out!
My way or the Highway!
I wrote out the "Good Frickin Riddance to Bad Rubbish" check,took the receipt and off I went on my merry little free from the sponge (no offense to sponges) way. Go me!
I had been renting a little studio apartment, and had my furniture in storage. Unfortunately, my ex got the idea that I was stalking material. He’d “hide” in his shit box of a car, which you could hear 5 miles before you saw the loud orange colour. It was his pride and joy…I STILL have no idea why. If I had ever seen him having sex with the tail pipe, it probably wouldn’t have surprised me in the least. He could be found lurking outside work, my apartment, or in the grocery store aisles. One time he even tried to follow me into a dressing room at my favourite department store! At which point I had him carted off by the local cops and slapped with a TRO. Then it was the incessant phone calls. And the letters, sometimes 2 or 3 at a time, proclaiming undying love. There was no way that he could love anyone if he didn't get the hint that I didn't wanna have anything more to do with him, the dumb-ass. I put a trap and trace on the phone, and opened the letters with white gloves and put them in Ziploc bags in a box. Security at work was informed not to let him in, and my boss was very good at staggering my hours, and having someone escort me to the garage when I left.
I finally sat down with my boss, and asked for a leave of absence. Having that dipstick following me all over was too much of a distraction, and it wasn’t really making the firm look good to have it’s name in the police blotters every other week. It was sadly given, with lotsa hugs and good lucks tossed my way by my fellow cube rats. I cleared out my closet of an office. I was waylaid by my boss who said that I could continue to work from home and would lend me a neato laptop to use. I’m amazed my eyeballs didn’t fall out and roll around on the floor…The only stipulation was that I would just have to check in at least once a day so that she would know I was okay.
Security helped my out to the car with my stuff, and there was the asshat…figured. I waved sweetly, then flipped him off. When he saw me with the muscle, he took off. I made my way back to the apartment. My ex was parked outside almost as soon as I got there. It was deffo time to relocate. I took another picture of him and Moby Orange…I had stacks. LeSigh…
I set up the laptop and since my place came with wifi, I started to look for houses, farther away from the city. There were a few I had to look up. If I didn’t know the names they were either out in West Bumblefuck or South Jesus.
I found a likely looking bedroom community that sounded interesting. It was sorta halfway between two of the big cities. That was doable. There were buses, commuter rail, and easy access to the major roads, so I didn’t have to drive into town if I didn’t want to rack up the miles on Ye Olde Tempo.
Just to keep said AssHat on his toes, I continued to act as if I was going to work. I’d run a yellow light, and he’d be stuck at the red…hehe Yeah, very juvenile of me, but it was fun.
The packing was pretty easy because there wasn’t much that I hadn’t put in storage. I had a desk, my bed, some towels, dishes, rudimentary items like that.
I put a bid in on a place which was on a dead end street off a side street off another side street. I had my trusty stack of internet directions to help me find it. It was a lovely little bungalow at the end of the street where it stopped abruptly at some woods. It needed some paint on the trim, but it would be all mine from the uneven back yard to the original piebald front door.
One of my new neighbours introduced himself, bringing over a jar of honey from his hives…mmm. He was also a pissah gardener. I had free rein to visit and we got to be very good friends. He was like the neighourhood watch all by himself. He knew who belonged, and who didn’t. And it was a good thing too…that sonuvabitch ex found me again! He put a tracker somewhere on the car…grr. But I found it and tossed it in the trash.
He parked in front of the house…I ignored him.
He knocked on the door…I ignored him.
He tried getting in…I called the cops.
I was really getting sick of it all and it was causing all sorts of health problems for me. Especially the day that it felt like a volcano went off in my head, and I was flopping around the floor like a landed fish. I was hoping that I would be found before my liver was eaten and my eyeballs were gobbled like grapes by the chickens. I called Mr. Jim. He called an ambulance for me and would look after the girls.
Well, after a lovely weekend spent in two different hospitals, numerous tests, enough blood taken to keep Elizabeth Bathory swimming lapd, and some amazingly wonderful chow, if you could believe it, I was diagnosed with a fucked up heart beat…how lovely…and I had never had any signs up until now…they stuffed a pacemaker/defibrillator in for shits and giggles. Wasn’t that nice? I would be stuck at home for 4-6 weeks, unable to drive or do much else physically…The only redeeming part of that was that I wasn’t harassed by my ex for a whole weekend. Woohoo!!
All the neighbours brought food, did some shopping, and laundry for me…It was wonderful! Except for the circumstances, I coulda been the Queen of Sheba. After a follow up exam, I was cleared to drive, and informed that I needed to build my strength back up and to lose some weight. That's where I started this story. I asked if I could just mail it somewhere with no forwarding address. Have I mentioned that doctors have no sense of humour? Running was thought of, but quickly cast aside…I don’t run ANYWHERE! Unless maybe there’s a big bear behind me, or a very cute guy in front of me. Walking was suggested as an alternative. I didn’t wanna cruise the mall at the butt crack of dawn with all the old folks. Traipsing along the main drag would get you squished like an indecisive squirrel. So I asked Mr. Jim where he walked, since I knew he did it most every day. He took me to the absolute end of our street, and showed me…Oh my Gods!! It was amazing…there was a little dirt path that went by a big meadow and there were nature paths and a 2 and a half mile bike path, which you could walk on too, if you were careful that the pedal pushers didn‘t mow you down…Wow…I didn’t even know it was there!!! It was nestled in between my new town and a neighbouring one and taken care of by both. I hugged and kissed Mr. Jim for showing me. Even though I HAD to friggin’ do it, I KNEW that I was going to like wandering there, and seeing what critters might be lurking in the “wilderness“. I wanted to figure out what lived in the area. City people nevah think of this shit. I hadn’t, so I asked Mr. Jim. He said that depending on when I went, what time of day, how many idiots let their dogs loose, and the time of year, what I might see. I headed off to the bookstore for a field guide so I could keep track. He also mysteriously added that there might be other things that wouldn’t be found in any guidebook. Bullshit! I thought, he was just trying to fake me out…Silly me…I shoulda known better. He grew up in the area. He KNEW!
I went and bought nice top-of-the-line sneakers, special excercise clothes, a pedometer, the whole deal, but the first time I tried to walk, I thought I would die three steps in…I only did 5 minutes before I wanted to call an ambulance. Mr. Jim laughed and left me gasping and panting on a bench while he continued. Almost an hour later, I was okay to go and we walked back to the house. He said that I’d do better every time. He was right there.
We walked the bike path every morning, and sometimes at night too as long as it was cool and light enough out. I enjoyed walking with him. He would point out some of the trees as we went along. I knew a maple from an oak, and that was about it from this city slicker. As we spent more time together, I could tell the various maples apart and could find sassafras, sycamore, and hemlock too. All the types of sparrows were a pain though…quick and small and didn’t oblige me by standing still long enough to me to let me look them up. There was a main entrance to the park from both towns. One side you could drive right to the big lake in the middle. We did that one time. Mr. Jim showed me where the snapping turtle hung out and not to aggravate him unless you wanted to be minus a few phalanges. Umm, no thanks…I wouldn’t wanna swim anywhere near him either. We actually saw him in totality one day, basking on one of the docks. If you had told me he had been around since the Cretaceous, I woulda believed you. He was the size of a dining room table!! Even his little brethren resembled Gamera of Japanese horror film notoriety.
I settled into a nice routine. Wake up, have coffee, and get dressed. Feed the girls. Walk with Mr.Jim. Tele-communicate with work starting about 9. Break for lunch around noon. Finish up around 5. Feed the girls again and myself and Mr. Jim three times a week. He'd bring nice veggies from his garden for me and the birds. It was actually a pretty nice/good life…except for asshat's continuing presence. I got a license to carry…pepper spray and mace. I didn't think I'd be coordinated enough to use an actual firearm, not even a peashooter.
By the start of the summer I could actually keep up with Mr. Jim. It was great to have someone to walk with. The doctor and nutritionist were happy with me, too. I lost a couple of sizes and about 20 pounds. I still had more weight to go, but I was doing alright and felt better. And I had something else to look forward too: seeing all the neat woodland creatures in their natural habitats.
Midsummer, we’d still walk, but Mr. Jim seemed like he was slowing down. I tried pressing him on his health. He slammed shut like an unhappy quahog. He was a pipe smoker, but it had never seemed to have been an issue before. One day in early August, I knocked on his door because he hadn't come over for our breakfast together. He didn’t answer and I couldn't see inside because the drapes were still drawn. We had keys to each other’s houses so I let myself in. Unfortunately, he was gone. He had died peacefully in his sleep. I broke down and cried. Then I called 911, even though there was no use. Looking and feeling like a marble statue usually equals deadles. Answering all the police questions was horrible. I felt like *I* had done something wrong, but I had only touched him to feel for a pulse in his wrist and his neck. Our neighbours came out to see what was going on. I noticed a Crow sitting in a tree nearby and a Blue Jay on the same branch...that was rather odd, I thought. They didn't usually get along. There was also a pair of Red Tailed Hawks soaring over the house calling, as the body of my dear friend was wheeled out on a gurney wearing a body bag.
His family now came out of the woodwork like flies over a nice, fresh, steaming pile of shit. As soon as the police heard that it was a natural death from the Medical Examiner and cleared the scene, they went through the house like Grant through Richmond…They had a yard sale before he was even buried! I was appalled, but I had no right to say anything: I wasn‘t a part of the family, just a close friend of Mr. Jim‘s. Even the other neighbours were aghast. They had seen Mr. Jim’s family only on Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving for the 30 odd years that he had lived there. The things his family considered junk were precious to me, and on Tuesdays before the trash men came, I would go dumpster diving. I got a vintage piano stool, some bird houses, and braided rugs to remember him physically. All of us were begrudgingly invited to the wake, the funeral, and the collation afterwards. I think we would've crashed anyways. His three kids did rather generic eulogies at the church that would’ve been better suited to a stranger on a bus than their own father. There was lots of tsk’ing and headshaking from the neighbourhood contingent.
Before the end of the funeral the priest asked if anyone else had anything to share. I got up to speak. I hadn't been intending to, but I felt that I HAD to, to remind his family of the wonderful man and dear friend, we had lost. My knees were clacking together, but I looked at his empty shell just lying there in his casket, and knew that it was right for me to speak, that he wouldn't have had it any other way. I had NO idea what I was going to say, but I know that every word was truly from my heart. I told about the changes he had helped make in my life from the jar of honey when I first moved into the neighbourhood from the city, generously giving his neighbours veggies from his own bountiful gardens, supporting my ill-fated attempts are gardening, up to our walks in the park and identifying the animals we saw as we went along.
When I finally looked up from the podium, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, even from the family. Casting my gaze around, there was a flock of strangely dressed mourners in the shadows at the very back of the church. They must've come in while I was talking. They all had on reflector shades like from the 80’s so you couldn‘t see their eyes behind the lenses, floppy hats that covered most of their faces, long trench coats or capes, and a couple even had gloves on even with the humidity and warmth of the summer day.
The neighbours all came up to me and expressed their condolences for MY loss: I seemed to be the only person completely broken up about Mr. Jim’s passing. I thought I’d run out of tears. There was a couple of perfunctory nods to the actual family, who had ignored me, even at the wake the previous night. The group at the back waited until the very end to approach: they didn‘t even flick an eyeball towards his survivors, but came straight to me. The spokesman for the group reached out his hand and told me that he was “Sorry the most for the losings of such a wonderful, caring, natural person…and a void remains that must be refilled.” “Natural person?” WTF was that? I smelled wood and mulch and leaves with a twist of petshop…weird as Hell cologne. He backed away with a nod, and the whole pack left as one. I didn't know that things were going to get interesting around my home from that point on…
I made it through the graveside service, and the evil glares during the luncheon back at the church facility. Mr. Jim had wanted to be cremated, and sprinkled over his beloved park, but his family buried him in a plot that was nowhere near where any of them lived, and that wasn’t right either. I don’t know if they thought someone was gonna visit him or dig him up or what. Maybe it was going to be out of sight out of mind. I could only HOPE that he would haunt the whole bloody lot of them.
His family ripped out all his vegetable beds and threw away his compost. I snagged everything I could get my hands on and I KNOW I wasn’t the only one who crossed the street with buckets or wheelbarrows. The mature vegetables I gave away as much as I could to the food pantry, then to the neighbours and I kept a few for myself and the girls. There were tomatoes, peppers, cukes, zucchini, summer squash…too much for any one person and 4 hens to eat and I found myself wondering why.