A look at the soul of a bereft man
|[w.c. 733] "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest"
Tentative steps echo along the stone walk way where the pools shimmered in the morning sun that glistened off the sand embankment. In his heart, Lee only saw pools filled with caked up mud. His eyes only saw buildings once teaming with life, as now barren and held together by crumbling mortar.
He continued on to the courthouse. He hesitated long enough for the four columns to coalesce into a building. With the comprehension formulating, so did the colors of the day. The harsh red hues were filled in with the cool blues and greens of his real worlld.
He pulled out the letter from his lawyer once again, slapping it against the palm of his hand in steady impatient rhythm. He knew the content of the letter, but nevertheless tore it open to scan it quickly. He refolded the letter and commenced again the irritating tapping across his knuckles. He threw back his head in a long exasperated sigh as he debated whether to file or not for divorce. Lee had put up with his wife’s addiction for a long time and he was more than sick of it. The letter directed that if he wanted to proceed with the divorce, he had to call his lawyer, pay a retainer, and make an appointment to go over 25 years’ worth of assets and debts.
Lee knew Tammy would not make this easy. If she ever got sober long enough, he could see her trying to pull herself together long enough to venture out to replenish supplies. He half hoped that she was still passed out because when she was in the throes of sobering up, she had a wicked mouth directed straight at him.
The tears welled in Lee’s eyes as he recalled her pretty years. When he met her, she had thick red hair, sky blue eyes, a curvaceous body, and a flirtatious nature. He knew going into the relationship that she liked to drink, but he did not care. He was not much to look at, and he knew it. All he had to do was make lots of money because that was what this gorgeous woman craved.
He grabbed his cellphone and punched in her number. The memories came flooding back – the effort to make it work, the enormous amount of money it took to get custody of his stepson, the ridiculous amount of money wasted to put her son through an Ivy League school on a B average, the constant moves from house to house to avoid anyone or government body perceived as a threat, and the ever present lies he had to tell about not knowing where she was or what she was doing.
Lee’s heart ached that the constant need for the bottle was so intense for Tammy. She invariably chose that valued treasure over him. Even when he moved out of the house, she chose the bottle first and him last. Lee had hoped that when her son moved to another state far away she would change, but she continued to dive head first into her addiction. In his heart, he knew the “reasons” for her cloying dependence. He tried to be there for her and support her; but the grip of alcoholism was greater than anything he could offer.
Lee rolled his eyes at the cheery message on the answering machine. When he heard the beep, he said “Hi, Tammy. It’s me, Lee. Call me when you’re sober.” That was a mean-spirited thing to say, and he no longer cared. When he hit the “end call” button, he prepared to wait several hours before she was well enough to call.
He hated this manipulative side of himself, the part that thought of evil after evil trick to “get even” and to win whatever battle he fought with her. For years he stood by helplessly as the woman he loved devolved into a caged animal. He was powerless as he watched her life being spent foraging for her daily supply of beer, and staying out of sight and thought of her predators. Yet, in the most honest part of his being, he loathed that he chose to let her drink while he built a separate life for himself.
Lee quit pacing when he saw his lawyer approach. The closer he got, the scenic backdrop slipped back into the barren, orange wasteland to mirror his emotional