As he slid into his late model, black on black, Mercedes Benz SLR, through all of his ministrations in starting the car, checking and pulling into the stream of traffic and driving away, Storm never noticed the woman above him, pressed up against the window, watching him pull away-
Storm moved through traffic expertly maneuvering among those cars that where adamantly opposed to pushing beyond the speed limit, his thoughts strayed to the first moments of his meeting with woman whose bed he had just departed. His mind drifted as he drove the suburban streets, the post coital buzz had subsided, replaced with a warm light lethargy and he remembered the day, several months ago, when his life took an unexpected turn.
Seven Months Before
Carrick, his best friend from college had called him early on a Friday afternoon.
After the usual back and forth, trying to catch up on what was going on in each other’s lives the question that he was dreading finally was asked.
“So how is Julia?” asked Carrick. Storm could almost see the pensive look that probably framed his friend’s face.
With anybody else, Storm would have issued a carefully crafted answer of pretense, but with Carrick he knew he did not have to and he could be honest. “I can’t answer that Carrick and it is frustrating the hell out of me.”
“So she is still drinking?” Carrick questioned.
“Yeah, among other things. Carr, I found prescriptions in her nightstand for stuff I don’t know anything about.” Strom answered while running his hands through his short, black curls in frustration. “The baby thing just blew her mind. I mean we changed the program regarding our marriage, decided to be more traditional – because she wanted to have children, and her having the last miscarriage, that just broke her.
“Storm, you have to keep the faith. Our girl is still in there. She has gone though a lot and I have no doubt that she will pull through this as well.”
“Carr, I have kept the faith. I am keeping the faith, but it has been more than a year and with every week it gets worse. She has completely pulled away from me. She doesn’t leave the house anymore. She won’t see anybody. My God, she has lost so much weight that it’s scary.” Storm took a breath and continued with his voice filled with anguish.
“I feel like if we were the “real thing,” you know started out like a regular married couple, or decided to get hitched after having had fallen madly in love ,I could reach her. But she knows the truth and she knows me too well for me to lie. We were no better than any fifteenth century arranged marriage. . Since we were babies our families had us betrothed. Hell, for the first few years of our marriage we didn’t bother to stop seeing other people. We were no better than housemates with benefits-when the mood hit us. She knew that I would have continued our lives that way indefinitely, but then she caught the ‘baby blues’ and decided it was time for us to have a kid.”
Storm stared absently out the window of his office. “That is when all this bullshit began”.
“You did not want to have a baby.” Carr questioned with sympathy infused in his voice.
“It’s not that I did not want to have a baby. Damn! Maybe it is that I did not want to have a baby. The biggest issue is more that I was indifferent to whether we had a baby or not.” Part of me did not want to bring a child up in the way that we all were brought up. Parents that coexisted, people who married as a tool for dynasty building. God knows I love Julia, but she has always been my buddy, we never had that “in love” thing. I am not sure I am even capable of that ‘in love’ thing”
“So did you tell her that?”
“Are you kidding me?” Storm chuckled. “You know how it is when Julia gets in Tsunami mode. She laid the ground rules; no more sleeping around, we were going to do regular married people stuff, and let the baby making begin!”
“I know mothers of young ladies all of the world were doing a dance that Julia was finally putting the brakes to your sluttish ways.” Carrick offered with a laugh.
“Hey man, it must take one to know one. In our day, you, Julia and I could wreak havoc on any population over majority. Stop acting like you were Mother Theresa, now that you are shacked up with someone you love.” Storm retorted.
“I have no idea what you are talking about.” Carrick responded with all innocence.
“Yeah right, Coming from the biggest Man-Whore I know, I take you calling me a slut a compliment. If there was a man who by all rights should have his dick spontaneously combust for all the frequent and varied action he has been involved in, since he found out what could be done with ‘little C’, it should be you.” Storm smirked.
Carrick leaned back as he answered the man who knew more of his secrets than almost anyone in the world, “First of all, I can provide notarized, verifiable evidence that ‘Little C’ is pretty huge. Secondly, when I think of some to the straight debauchery that we all got up to when we all were living in
“The vision of Julia regally presiding, participating, and initiating scenes that hard core porno mags would be ashamed to publish, makes me confident that she will pull herself out of this. She was the only one who could keep us in line and not even blink. All I pray is that we can get her back.” Carr almost whispered as he finished.
“Well she put the brakes on all of our extra-curricular activities and at first it was kind of funny. We didn’t know the first thing about “regular” married couple’s activities. So we did what we saw our parents do-we joined stuff. All of the sudden, can you believe it, JULIA JOINED THE JUNIOR LEAGUE!” Storm flat out laughed.
She went up for election for the town council and she had roped me into a whole bunch of community organizations. My schedule was a blur and when I wasn’t meeting with some 'concerned citizens for whatever', I was having sex with my wife, or at work. Storm continued to chuckle at the memory.
“But the tide turned when she found out we were having trouble conceiving normally. She took it like a test of her womanhood. EVERYTHING was on a schedule. I was beginning to believe that she was the southeastern authority on fertility, or maybe the baby making Gestapo. Everything had to be cleared by her; when was the optimal time for us to eat, when was the best time for us to have sex, even my choice of underwear had to pass her inspection!” he stated in an affronted voice.
“You know Julia can be intense, but this was insane skirting the border of obsessive. And I am not going to even discuss how the fertility drugs made her just plain frightening” Storm said with a shudder.
“But then we got pregnant and she was ecstatic. Then she had the first miscarriage. She got pregnant again and she had the second miscarriage. The depression she fell into, between each, was almost mind numbing. Finally, when she wanted to try for the third, I argued the best I could for her to stop and just regroup. The doctors told us that we would be hurting our chances to have a viable pregnancy if we continued on the rollercoaster…”
“You know, beyond us three, the world thinks of me as some cold hearted bastard. Pretty much most in the business world would wholeheartedly agree that I am a complete asshole and I have worked hard to hone that reputation well. But for Julia, for Julia I would do anything and damn it she knows it and she has never been above using that knowledge against me.” Storm spoke with irony.
“What happened?” Carrick quietly prompted though he knew the story all too well, but he sensed his friend had to talk it out.”
“It’s like she felt that God was sending her a message that was basically ‘fuck you’, and you know how well Julia takes it when someone gives her ‘the bird’. It became her mission in life to get pregnant again and have the baby survive. She dropped all the activities that she began in her effort for us to be for a regular family, she stayed away from work and she took up a baby making vocation.”
“I screwed-up! I should have put my foot down and told her no more. She plead with me, begged me, to try one more time. But like a pussy, I gave in. And that last pregnancy almost killed her. Good forgive me, but maybe it should have. When she woke up from surgery after going into premature labor and I hand to tell her that the baby was gone and she had to have a hysterectomy. She died. All the things that made her ‘Julia’ just slid away right before my eyes. She just faded to black.”
Storm took a harsh breath and continued, “The first six months of silence I think I could have dealt with. It is the slow decline of these last six months, with the help of the alcohol and these fuckin’ drugs, that is making me loose all my patience. This shit is not my wife. Julia kicks ass and takes names, and now she is just letting everything she cares about slowly slip away.
“But why am I telling you all of this? You suffered through it right along with us.” Storm said with a wry smile. Carrick, I would have gone crazy a long time ago if you had not stood by us. Thanks.”
“At the risk of doing a poor Gladys Knight, Elton John and Dionne Warwick impression, ‘That’s What Friends Are For’ you know I love you guys. There is not any way we could have made it out of boarding school without the other. I love you both and I will do anything in my power to make this better for you both.”
“Along that line,” Carrick continued “I have come across some information regarding a doctor who has had made some impressive inroads with people suffering with substance abuse. Her name is Dr. Lisa Whittmore and I found out that she is giving a presentation regarding her state-of-the-art program tonight. Moreover, she is based near you. What do you think?”
“Would I be an asshole if I told you that that 10 years ago, I would have never believed that I would even be considering this type of shit? Now, I’m desperate. If I can find anything that will bring Julia back to a tenth of the person she used to be, I would fuckin’ dance on the ceiling.” Storm answered with relief.” Give me the time and address.”
“Look, I had my personal assistant call ahead and make sure you are on the list for attendees. I figured you would pretty much do anything to help Julia. Remember, I am pulling for you. Let me know how the presentation goes – you can call me anytime tonight.”
“Carrick…” Storm began, not knowing how to begin to thank his closest friend for offering his ear and support.
“Storm, you don’t have to say it. I know that if I was in a tough spot, you or Julia would move mountains to help me. I've got a meeting in five so I talk to you later?”
“I will let you know how it goes after I see the information. I will talk to you soon.” Storm hung up his line, hoping that tonight would mark the end of his living and breathing nightmare.
Later that evening, as Storm entered the hotel and conference center’s meeting room with his usual ”important person here” swagger, his attention was immediately drawn to the other individuals in attendance. Everyone, it seemed, had expressions that relayed their various degrees of desperation. Couples, singles, black, white, and every thing in between were represented. And Storm new that either they or someone they knew were in some real trouble. Class or color did not mean a thing, so Storm took his $1,500 designer shoes and found himself a seat, determined to check his ego at the door.
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