Today, I had some deliveries to do for work and it was getting past lunch, so I made an unannounced stop at home for my lunch break. We all know how that turned out last time.
On my way home, the Incident played through my mind. I imagined my alter ego reacting. Sometimes I imagine this alternate version of myself in different scenarios, handling shit like I never could with these damn human feelings and fears in the way. I always wonder, if society was crumbling, would this guy come out to play? Let’s call him Joe.
Joe looks like me but he stands a little taller because he’s more proud than I and certain that every decision he makes is gospel. Like me, he believes in loyalty and doing the right thing but his ideas are twisted so that “the right thing” is only what serves him and his people. Fear, love, and empathy are annoying little feelings that keep a man from taking action so he has no time for such things. Joe is me after being hurt so much, the systems that allow me to keep being a good person have shut down.
Joe doesn’t mind catching his wife with another man. That would allow him to mete out justice, something he feels is his obligation, but the truth is, he enjoys causing fear and suffering and anything someone does “wrong” gives him the excuse he needs to justify his sadism. Yes indeed, every day’s a good day when you’re Joe. He can do no wrong and no one can hurt him. Not like me.
As I drove to the house, these thoughts and fantasies kept spinning around in my head. I started feeling like something bad was going to happen. I became anxious to get home.
As I pull up to the driveway, I see Carol’s car sitting there. Memories of seeing the truck there torment me.
I walk up to the front door. Unlocked, of course. Just like before.
I open the door. Sounds from the bedroom again.
I walk up to the master bedroom.
I look inside.
There she is.
She greets me with a kiss. I smile, almost laugh and hug her tightly. She continues putting away laundry, “Forgot your lunch?” She asks. I hear the sounds of my children coming from downstairs.
“Yeah, I also forgot you had to pick up the kids early. Guess my head is just somewhere else today.”
It is somewhere else. It’s in the past. 3 months minus a few days ago. What’s more, it’s been pushed aside so it’s not even Jack revisiting the Incident. It’s Joe.
Joe gets out of his car and walks by Rick’s truck. Someone’s in trouble, he thinks, knowing what this means.
He tries the door. Unlocked, of course. Inside he sees shoes on the ground and voices coming from the bedroom. Someone’s in big trouble, he thinks with a smile. Did they really think I wouldn’t know? I have eyes and ears everywhere. He’s been waiting for this day.
He walks upstairs and glances into the master bedroom. There is that slimy little prick on top of his wife, on the bed Joe and Carol share as husband and wife. They are so completely unaware of Joe’s presence.
“Excuse me, may I interrupt?” He says with a smirk. “No, don’t leave on my account. In fact, I insist you stay.” The smirk disappears and he gives his cold, dead eyed stare, a look that chills others to the bone. A look that tells the recipient that this is going to be horrible, but if you disobey, it’s going to be even worse. “Sit your ass down. Right there on the bed.” A moment passes but it might as well be an eternity of torment. “Now,” he says as a grin widens on his face, “we have some very important things to sort out. Let me begin.” And so, the nightmare begins.
I eat my lunch at home, sitting next to Sarah as she watches TV. That little girl was a brat of a baby but does she ever have my heart. Downstairs is my son, playing video games. He’s older and the little kid cuteness is nearly gone but is he ever a handsome and caring boy. They are both so much happier with mommy and daddy home, together.
After I’m finished my lunch, I go upstairs to say ‘bye’ to Carol. She’s laying on my side of the bed, watching TV now. She looks beautiful. She smiles at me and puckers her lips for a kiss before I go.
This is my new memory of coming home unexpectedly at lunch time. How much easier would my life be if that’s what I came home to 3 months ago? But we wouldn’t be where we are now if I did. We had to lose each other to want to be with each other again. Did it have to be such a trauma? It wouldn’t be a trauma for Joe, but Joe doesn’t love or feel loved. I do.
Maybe the feeling of love is worth all the suffering we experience from loving. It sure felt good to be loved today.