Which One?-pt. 13 (Image:Twenty-Four Dollars)

That was what was missing—the last piece falling into place—the train was moving again—gaining speed. Six years later I can’t remember the details after what Joanie would later call her “Big Blurt,” but I do remember quite clearly reaffirming my commitment to her.

“I will do whatever I have to do,” I said, “to bring you into my life—for the rest of my life. I will wait as long as it takes. My ex-wife,” I went on, “said she left me to make her own life better—not to hurt me. Of course I was hurt—I suffered more than I’m comfortable saying but it couldn’t be helped. The only thing I know to do,” I continued, “is act out of love and legitimate self-interest—not out of resentment, entitlement, fear and so on. The most important thing for me now,” I continued, “is what’s best for you. I won’t ask you to do anything for me—whatever you choose to do—do it for yourself.”

In the phone conversations that followed—and there would be calls every day—I made it clear if she choose to make a new life with me—to sever ties there—when she made the leap I would be there to catch her. I stressed she should take whatever time she needed—do what she felt was right—even if that meant marrying Phil. As it happened—I didn’t have long to wait at all.

On a Friday night a few days before New Year’s Eve—about a month after Joanie’s “Big Blurt,” I was getting ready for bed. The kids were at their mother’s. I had just gotten back from the gym and was watching TV to wind down before retiring when the phone rang. On the display I recognized Joanie’s sister’s number. I remembered her friend Ruseen was out of town and Joanie was going to be at her sister’s that weekend. It was Joanie and she was crying.

“I broke it off, Orion,” she began, “I broke off my engagement to Phil,” and she sobbed almost convulsively for several minutes before she could catch her breath and speak again. I could hear Barbie comforting her.

She would alternately cry and describe in snatches—what had happened. The whole thing was apparently quite abrupt and unanticipated—but in retrospect—had been building for some time. I learned that night and in later conversations there were some issues with Phil she had hinted at previously—like his drinking—which was a lot worse than she had related. In fact he had had his license to practice suspended once before due to alcohol-related troubles and now it was suspended again.

It also emerged he was pathologically jealous and a control freak—evidently there had been some jealousy problems in recent months. Earlier that evening he had told her he didn’t want her associating with her friend Ruseen and her own sister Barbie. When Joanie objected he shoved her and called her a “stupid bitch.” That was when Joanie ended it.

I sat helplessly listening—very glad she was there with her sister who I knew would take care of her during this crisis. I was thankful she was out of what turned out to be a bad relationship but as the gravity of the situation sank in I could feel a slight sense of fear come over me. I knew exactly what that was about.

I had told her probably half a dozen times if she decided to make the leap I would be there to catch her. She had leaped.

And now it was time for me to put up or shut up.

End Part 13

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2 Responses to “Which One?-pt. 13 (Image:Twenty-Four Dollars)”

  1. Jorge Maia Says:

    Hi Orion! Since you hadn’t post the pt. 13 on fotoblur, i dicided to come here because i’m attached to this story, and can’t miss a part, so i’ll write directly at the source :) A great conceptual image, and as always a beautiful and touching narrative. Another great writing moment. Greetings my friend.

  2. orion Says:

    Hi Jorge–sorry about the missing post–I was locked out of fotoblur for a day–I guess I forgot to add the missing story segment

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