Healing Hands of Time
Copyright© 2010 by Joe J
I was broken out of my self-pitying reverie when Mitzi pulled to a stop in front of her immaculate three bedroom Cape Cod style house. Mitzi received the house free and clear, in lieu of alimony, as part of her divorce settlement. She got the house, children and child support when her husband of nineteen years took up with a twenty-two-year-old bookkeeper at the accounting firm at which he worked.
To her credit, Mitzi did not mention my problems as I followed her, zombie-like into the kitchen, even when her twin eighteen-year-old daughters looked at us in wide-eyed surprise. Mitzi's daughters had recently graduated from high school and were slated to start at state in the fall. Thankfully, all three of the Morrison kids had prepaid tuition accounts set up when they were infants.
Dallas and Dakota Morrison looked more like Mitzi's younger sisters rather than her daughters. The girls weren't identical twins, but they both shared Mitzi's petite build. Dallas also shared her mother's strawberry blond hair and blue eyes, while Dakota had wildly wavy brown tresses and her eyes were green.
When Mitzi finally broke her silence, she was all business.
"Take your bag down to Todd's old room in the basement, then come back up. I'm going to change and I'll be right back. Girls, you come with me," she orchestrated.
I nodded and opened the door leading down to her partially finished basement. Todd's room was a small bedroom with a single bed right past the laundry room and mechanicals. Todd was Mitzi's oldest child. He was a sophomore at state, and was currently involved in some sort of soccer training camp run by the college. He wasn't slated to return home for another two weeks. I threw my bag onto the bed and headed back upstairs with the paperwork from the process server. The Xanax had kicked in by then, and I was unnaturally calm and detached.
I was sitting at the small four seat table in the kitchen's breakfast nook with the contents of the envelopes spread out in front of me, when Mitzi dropped into the chair to my left. She had changed out of the slacks and blouse she wore at work, into a pair of denim shorts and a Jimmy Buffet t-shirt. Mitzi was a very attractive and well preserved woman to be over forty and the mother of three.
"Any hints in there?" she asked, pointing to the spread out papers.
I shook my head.
"She says irreconcilable differences."
Mitzi nodded her understanding and then asked another question.
"How about the restraining order, why does she think she needs that?"
"She says my military experience and time in Afghanistan might make me prone to violence. She could have a point there," I replied.
Mitzi snorted derisively.
"Bullshit! You are the most easy going guy I know."
I shrugged noncommittally and passed her the section that enumerated the financial settlement Lindsey was proposing.
She studied the documents for a few minutes then cocked her eyes up at me.
"WOW! You can tell the woman's a lawyer. These financials are incredibly complete and the account balances on what you owe are current to the close of business yesterday."
"Read on," I said.
She flipped to the next page and started reading. Then gasped and looked back up at me.
"She wants the house and half your business, Josh. How can she get away with that?"
I sighed and thought back to how I'd titled the house and incorporated my business.
"I gave her the house as a graduation present. Both our names are on the loan but hers is the only name on the deed. When I incorporated J&L, I listed her as co-owner. I never imagined something like this, and I wanted to show her how important she was to me."
Further conversation was tabled when Dallas and Dakota bounced into the room to announce they were going to order pizza and go pick it up. I wasn't hungry, but I pulled out a couple of twenties and handed them to Dallas.
"Buy two, make one of them a meat lover's with jalapeño and it's my treat," I said.
Dakota plucked the money out of my hand while Dallas was speed dialing Pizza Hut on her cell phone. Once the pizza was ordered, both girls kissed me and their mother on the cheek and scampered out the door.
Forty-five minutes later, I was listlessly picking at my pizza as the three Morrison women did their best to divert me from my troubles. Dallas and Dakota were especially talkative as they quizzed me on the engineering curriculum at state. Both girls were math whizzes and were leaning towards a degree in electrical engineering or computer science. I thought they'd be better off with the engineering degree, but then again, I guessed that I might be slightly prejudiced. I finally promised them that I'd hook them up with my sister Shelby to get the other side of the story as well.
Mentioning my sister made me think that I'd have to tell my family about Lindsey and me. I cringed at the thought, because I knew along with telling them, I'd probably also have to ask to move back home temporarily until I found another place.
At the age of thirty, I was moving back in with mommy and daddy, my tail tucked between my legs like a whipped dog. How freaking sad was that?
After a fitful night of more tossing and turning than sleep, Dakota Morrison drove me back to the office Saturday morning so I could collect my truck. Before I hopped into my truck, Dakota surprised me with a tight lingering hug and a kiss on the lips.
"Mom was right, that bitch is crazy for letting you go," I heard her mutter as she walked back to her car.
I sucked it up, drove straight to my parent's house and told them the whole sad story. They were appropriately sympathetic and once again volunteered their basement. Dad even went with me to pick up some of my stuff from the U-Store-It over on Tenth Street.
I gave a surprised grunt when I opened the storage unit and saw the neatly labeled and professionally packed boxes stacked inside the ten by ten foot room. There was even a manifest, listing every item in every box that someone had taped to the inside of the door. As with everything, Lindsey had been thoroughly efficient in exorcising me from her life. In the end, I took the manifest, a large garment box of work clothes, and a much smaller box that was labeled as containing my laptop and back up hard drive. The rest I left to go through at a later date.
When we made it back to the house, Shelby Jane was there with mom. To her eternal credit, my sister wasn't there to gloat. Instead, she hugged me tight and told me how sorry she was for what I was going through.
Shelby helped me unload my stuff from my truck and quickly and efficiently set up my computer. Mom and dad still had a cable modem with a wireless router, so I was in business in only minutes. I put away my clothes and mounted my thirty-two inch flat panel television to the wall. Shelby helped me put fresh linen on the bed and presto ... it was as if I had never left. That thought depressed the hell out of me.
Shelby, however, wasn't going to let me wallow in self pity.
"Let me see the papers, Josh. Mitzi told me how bad she's raking you over the coals, but I want to see for my self," she demanded.
I flipped her the manila envelope.
"Lindsey wouldn't screw me over, Shel; she's entitled to everything she asked for."
Shelby clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth, but didn't say anything. She rapidly read through the divorce petition and then zeroed in on the proposed settlement. When she finished reading, she held up the document and stabbed it with her index finger.
"She is proposing that she assume the mortgage on your house and buy out your equity for fifty-thousand. It has to be worth three times that. And where did she get that kind of money anyway?" Shelby asked.
I shrugged wearily; none of this mattered in the least to me.
"Let it go, sis. I don't want the house anyway, if she isn't there to share it."
Shelby did let the house go, but she immediately focused in on my business. And in the end, she convinced me that I at least needed to maintain a majority ownership so decisions could be made without Lindsey's involvement. Right then I could not have cared less for the company, but I had people who depended on J&L for their livelihood, so I scratched out the fifty — fifty split and changed the numbers to fifty-one and forty-nine.
Sunday, I pretty much stayed in my apartment, coming out only to pick at the meals my mother prepared. But I wasn't down there sulking or feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I was planning on how I could get my wife back. Listen, I was a Ranger, and a Ranger never quits, and I'm an engineer, a man who solves problems, so determination replaced my despair. All I needed was a plan.
The first order of business was to get Lindsey to at least talk to me, so I decided that I'd mosey over to her law offices Monday morning, and drop off the changes I'd made to the settlement documents. I wasn't planning on the divorce moving forward; to me, the documents were merely a conversation starter.
The next morning, I was already in my office when Mitzi arrived at eight. She peeked her head into my office and gave me an inquiring look.
"I didn't expect to see you looking so chipper or dressed so smartly this morning," she said.
I flicked an imaginary piece of lint off the sleeve of my corduroy sports coat and shrugged.
"I'm going to try to see Lindsey today and convince her to drop this divorce foolishness. I love her, Mitzi, and I am going to do everything I can to win her back."
Mitzi clearly looked as if she disagreed with me, but she nodded her head in understanding and ducked back out of my office. I sighed and leaned back in my chair. I knew Mitzi was worried about me dragging out my pain and suffering by not making a clean break from Lindsey. I appreciated her for caring about my heart, but I wasn't interested in the least in Mitzi's doubts.
It was shortly after nine that same morning, when I eased my truck in one of the too small spaces of the parking garage connected to the modern high-rise building that housed the offices of Crossman, Fielding and Blakemore. CF&B occupied the top three floors of the twenty story office tower. The elevators in the building's lobby only ascended up to the eighteenth floor, which was the law firm's reception area.
I stepped off the elevator and into the plush reception area. A very pretty and immaculately-dressed young woman behind a horseshoe shaped desk gave me a dazzling smile.
"Good morning," she said in a friendly and well modulated voice, "welcome to Crossman, Fielding and Blakemore. How can we help you today?"
"Good morning," I replied just as courteously. "I have some paper work I need to personally deliver to Missus Fuller."
"Certainly, sir, may I have your name please?"