As I sit on the tailgate of my truck, I think back over the last few years. There has been sadness, anger, retribution, happiness, and most important my love for another person. My wife and I had a difficult event to deal with but now we can see a light at the end of the tunnel; and it's not a train coming that will run over us.
I hope I have time to finish drinking the three fingers of Gentleman Jack in my glass. You see I'm expecting guests to arrive any minute now, don't you know. Well not guests really; I don't think those guys will be coming here to socialize. You see the police are coming to arrest me. AGAIN. Ah, here they come now.
Okay I've been arrested, without resisting I might add, and transported to the jail. Once again I was booked, given prison clothes, and put in a cell. It's not my first time at this party you know; I have been here twice before. I will have to wait until tomorrow morning some time before I can go before a judge to be arraigned and held over for trial.
There is another guy in the holding cell; he looks familiar. He was stretched out on one of the beds and raised his head as they brought me in.
"Hey, didn't I see you here about six months ago when I was in here for being drunk and disorderly?" he said. "I'm Dale by the way."
"Yes that was me. I remember you too; I'm JJ. My hands were bandaged and you helped me get some water," I answered. "What are you in for this time Dale?"
"Drunk and disorderly again. When I'm at my favorite bar and that asshole that stole my wife comes in, I get drunk and disorderly."
"Why don't you change bars?"
"That prick took everything I had; my wife, my car, my house, and even my damn dog. I'll be damned if he's going to take my bar," he said indignantly. "So what are you doing back here again, JJ?"
"It's a long story Dale."
"We're not going anywhere and we got nothing but time," he reminded me.
"Guess you're right. Okay, the reason I'm here actually happened about a year and a half ago and my visits to these modest accommodations started then."
My name is James Jerrod Kelley and I met my wife Cynthia when I was 31. A little later in life than most young couples but she was worth waiting for. It wasn't that I was repulsive because the women I dated, and there were a lot of them through the years, said that I had roguish good looks.
They didn't seem to mind the scar on my face that runs from my right ear across my cheek almost to the corner of my mouth; the ladies said that it made me look dashing. Whatever that meant. I'm a little over six feet, with very dark hair which makes my blue eyes stand out. I'm well built with muscles earned from hard work and not from a gym.
I rescued Cynthia and her vintage Mustang from the side of the road. Her car had broken down and I pulled over to help her. Cynthia was a tall, leggy, tight bodied, redhead with green eyes and a sprinkling of freckles across her nose. I like to think that I would have stopped even if she hadn't of been so pretty.
Cynthia was wearing a man's shirt tied below her breasts, a pair of cut off shorts, and wedge sandals that made her legs look like they ran all the way up to heaven and back. She wore very little make up and looked sexy and wholesome at the same time. I was in lust at first sight.
I parked my big Ford truck in front of her car and walked back to see if I could help her. She was leaning on the fender of her Mustang with the hood up, looking into the engine compartment. Cynthia's hands were a little dirty and she had a smudge of dirt across her cheek.
"Having car trouble," I asked? Dummy of course she's having car trouble, I thought shaking my head.
"Yah, it won't start. I pulled over to look at a map and now it won't start," she replied with a puzzled look.
"If you like I can take a look." I meant look at the car, I was already looking at her and her cut offs. I own and run a small auto repair shop so I should be able to at least find out what was wrong. Worst case scenario I could have it towed to my shop if I couldn't fix it right there.
"I couldn't impose on you. I'll just call Triple A," she said.
"Let me see if I can figure out what's wrong. I try to do a good deed every week and I'm running behind this week," I playfully teased her with a smile.
Cynthia laughed, stepped away, and waved her permission for me to check out the car. I looked inside the engine compartment and saw the problem right away. The battery connects were badly corroded so the car started a few times that day but wouldn't do so now because of the corrosion.
I told her to wait a second and went to my truck for my tools; a wrench and a can of Coke. Loosening the connectors with the wrench, I poured some of the Coke over them. In case you don't know, Coke is almost as good as baking soda to clean battery connections.
I scraped the inside of the connectors with my pocket knife and retightened them and told Cynthia to try to start the car. The engine caught on the first try and I closed the hood. I walked to her window, explained what the problem had been and suggested that she have new cables installed. I told her there was an auto repair shop about a mile away that would be able to do it quickly while she waited.
"The name of the place is "J J's Auto Repair" and you can follow me if you like. By the way I'm James Jerrod Kelly," I introduced myself. I usually introduce myself with my full name.
"Hi James Jerrod, I'm Cyn," she returned the introduction and then laughed at my double take.
"Sin?" I asked, not believing that I heard her correctly.
"No, not Sin, as in SIN. Cyn as in Cynthia Reynolds," she told me with a big grin. She was enjoying my embarrassment.
We shook dirty hands and she agreed to follow me to the repair shop. As we pulled up in front of the office, one of the two mechanics that worked for me came out to greet the two vehicles. "Hey boss, what's going on?"
"Hi Sam, put new battery cables on this Mustang as quick as you can; the lady's in a hurry," I ordered. "If we don't have the cables run over to Mel's and get them; he always has parts for these vintage Mustangs.
"You bet Boss," Sam answered. He walked over to Cyn, took her keys, and pulled her Mustang into one of the work bays.
"J J.'s Auto, James Jerrod, now I see," she said smiling.
"Yah, my friends and customers call me J.J."
She sobered a minute and said, "I hope this won't cost too much, I don't have a lot of money with me."
"Have you got $20?" I asked. When she nodded I said, "Good, take me lunch at Billy's and we'll call it even."
We went to Billy's for lunch while she waited for her car. Billy's is a bar and grill that serve the best burgers in town. As we ate we talked and I learned more about Cyn. She had just moved to St. Louis from Little Rock, Arkansas where she lived with her parents on a large farm.
Cyn had traveled around the U.S. for a year after college and then worked in Little Rock for about three years before moving to St. Louis. She was starting a job at a big insurance company here and Monday would be her first day.
She was curious about me too so I gave her the ten cent version. "Grew up in a little town in southern Missouri and went into the military after high school. I was a pretty good jack leg mechanic and spent my military career in the motor pool. After 6 years in the service of my country I mustered out to go to college." I stopped to get another beer and at Cyn's insistence I continued.
"At 24 I wouldn't have felt right about asking my folks for money for school so I worked my way through college as an auto mechanic. I didn't have the time or money or the inclination to party much and got a degree in mechanical engineering and by not taking summers off I was able to finish in three years. After graduation I decided that I would rather work with my hands on cars than sit at a desk doing drafting on a computer. Now I own and run J.J.'s, that's my story and I'm stickin to it," I finished with a smile.
Cyn listened without interrupting and then she finally got to the question that almost everyone gets to at some time, "How'd you get that?' she asked as she pointed to my scar. "If you had an eye patch and a parrot, you'd look like a pirate," she kidded me to take the sting out of her question. The big smile she gave me helped put me at ease.
"Ah yes, my beauty mark," I said. "It's the result of not learning how to duck." I hesitated to go into depth about the scar.
"C'mon there's got to be more to it than that. What happened?" Then Cyn muttered to herself something like "oh shit" and said. "I'm sorry; it's none of my business. I shouldn't have asked."
She started to blush and I could tell that she was embarrassed. "It's okay Cyn, don't worry about it. The story isn't something I just put out there at the drop of a hat." I smiled at her, now it was my turn to put her at ease.
"It happened while I was in the service. We were in some shit hole third world country and three assholes decided it would be cool to blow up our motor pool. I was working late on a Humvee, saw them, and tried to stop them. The scar is a result of that confrontation." "Were they able to blow up the motor pool? Is that where you got the scar?" Cyn wanted the whole story, I guess.
"No they forgot or didn't know that every U.S. Marine is a trained rifleman, even motor pool mechanics. My training enabled me to stop them but I got too close to one of them and he cut my face, ergo the scar." Telling that story always embarrassed me a little; I guess that's why I don't talk about it very often.
"Now young lady, let's talk about how you are going to pay for the repair on your car," I said with a grin, trying to lighten the mood.
"You told me that taking you to lunch would be enough," Cyn answered with surprise.
"I did, but I changed my mind. Those cables for a vintage Mustang cost more than regular cables, so lunch won't cover it." I paused for a few seconds and added, "I think that if you let me take you to dinner Saturday, we can call it square."
She went from a concerned look to laughing at me in just a few seconds. Then she put on a frown and said, "I don't know about that."
"We've had a nice lunch and I enjoy your company and I really would like to see you again, Cyn."
I took her back to the shop and her Mustang was finished. Good ole Sam, always on top of things. Cyn and I exchanged phone numbers and made the date for Saturday. I watched as she drove away and when I turned around Sam was looking at me with a big shit eating grin.
"Get back to work," I told him with a matching grin on my face.
That Saturday was the start of a fast forward type of romance. We went from standing still to a hundred miles an hour in one date. We didn't jump each other's bones right away. In fact it was six weeks before Cyn spent the night with me and then it was just a little kissing, a little caressing, and the rest of the night we cuddled and snuggled. We woke up the next morning and I knew that lust was turning into love. It just seemed that we fit together.
I wanted to take it slow with Cyn. There was something special here and I didn't want to screw it up. I had a previous relationship that was based mostly on sex and it didn't last. About ten weeks into our full court press romance we spent a weekend finding out that we did fit together. Yes, I mean sexually.
It sounds hokey, but that whole weekend was wonderful. I wasn't sure if she felt the same way but I was thinking of a church, a wedding, kids, and a life together.
We dated hard and fast and when Labor Day came around we both took the week off to visit our respective parents. Little Rock, where Cyn's parents lived is about 5 hours south of the small town in southern Missouri where my folks live. We decided that we would make the 3 hour drive to my parents and spend a couple of days and then go to visit Cyn's folks.
I introduced Cyn to my mom and dad, James and Mary and they adopted her right away. We spent one day visiting and letting Cyn meet the rest of my family. My brothers John and William teased me that Cyn must have mental problems to be running around with me. My sister Molly told me that Cyn was too good for me and started telling her stories about me growing up.
I was able to pull Cyn away before I got too embarrassed and took her to meet the rest of the clan. There were a virtual cornucopia of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins that she had to wade through. They all fell in love with her too.
As we were leaving to visit Cyn's parents, my dad pulled me aside and said, "I try not to interfere in your life, but don't let this one get away son. She's definitely the pick of the litter and a keeper." I had to agree with him.
We got to the Reynolds farm just in time for lunch; I met Cyn's parents and we talked during the meal. Harry and Molly welcomed me like I was a long lost relative. After the two days we spent on their farm I got the impression that I had been adopted by the Reynolds the same way Cyn had been adopted by the Kelleys.
Our trip had made up my mind so a few days after we got back, I asked Cyn to marry me. It maybe wasn't the most romantic time to "pop the question" because I was rebuilding the carburetor on her Mustang. My hands were dirty up to my elbows so I had her take the ring out of my shirt pocket. Cyn giggled at the timing but she put the ring on, kissed me, and said yes.
The wedding was at a small neighborhood church and the reception was at Billy's Bar and Grill. Both families attended in force and we had a great party after the wedding. There was a weekend honeymoon and we moved into the apartment above my shop and lived in marital bliss. Well not really bliss but close enough and we were happy.
Even though we had dated for several months we still had adjustments to make actually living together. If things became a little tense I would pick Cyn up and sit down holding her on my lap. She would struggle and eventually start laughing. Once she started laughing we would make up, by the way the makeup sex WAS INTENSE.
Our life was almost perfect for about a year, every day we grew closer and started to talk about having children. My business had prospered and increase to the point that I had to hire two more men, one full time and one part time. Cyn had received a couple of promotions and was enjoying her career.
Our apartment above the shop was close to 2000 sq. ft. set up with three bedrooms and 2 baths so instead of buying a house we opted to buy a small cabin on a lake close to the city. It was a weekend get a way type of place but more comfortable than most with indoor plumbing, water, and electricity. It was only a two hour drive so it was close enough that we could go to it every weekend if we wanted and would be a great place to take children.
Cyn's last promotion not only came with a large raise, it gave her more responsibility. Along with the increase in salary she also got an increase in the stress level. She started to bring the stress of the job home and it affected our life.
One evening after a bitch and moan session from Cyn about her job, I told her to chill out and take it easy. Wrong thing to say, I guess. For the next five minutes I got a full ration of "You don't know the pressure I'm under, the new boss expects miracles, and you don't understand etc. all said with increasing anger in her voice.
I walked up behind her, put my arms around her, picked her up and sat down holding her in my lap. Cyn got angrier and I was subjected to another tirade. She yelled at me to let her go at once and I yelled back not until you calm down. Usually when I held her like this Cyn would start to giggle and then laugh in two or three minutes.
This time I held her for another five minutes while she told me all of my short comings and then she started to cry. Whoa, what the hell was this? Cyn never cried; she got mad, she took action, she fought but she never cried. Even a stupid man like me could see that there was more to this than her just being mad at me.
After a few minutes Cyn stopped crying and turned to hug me. Okay, now I can find out what's going on I thought.
"What was all that about Cyn? Did I do something wrong? Are you okay?" I asked with real concern in my voice.
She shook her head and looked at me with red rimmed eyes still filled with tears. Cyn sniffed and said, "No you didn't do anything wrong, I did. Something has happened at work and I should have told you about it. My only excuse is that I wanted to handle it myself."
Now I was worried. Cyn was a fighter and never let anything or anyone get the best of her. "Okay, you've got my attention, tell me what's happened," I requested strongly; actually it was more like an order.
She told me that when she got the last promotion she got a new boss, Tony Johnson. After two or three weeks Cyn found him to be an over bearing, brown nosing, less than talented jerk. Johnson came on to Cyn suggesting that she could improve her standing in the company if she was "nice" to him.
Cyn laughed at him and told him to go to hell. As she turned to go back to her office, he grabbed her arm and Cyn being Cyn almost knocked him on his ass. He cussed at her and told her to get out. She got out alright and went to Johnson's supervisor and made a complaint.
Johnson was called into the supervisor's office and denied the allegations. The supervisor warned him and let him go. He told Cyn that it was a case of he said, she said and without evidence there wasn't much that could be done. Cyn told me that every day since then, Johnson had made some snide little sexual remarks to her. He never did it in front of anyone or loud enough for anyone but Cyn to hear.
By this time I was ready to have a talk with Mr. Johnson and said so. "That's why I didn't tell you. I didn't want you to get into trouble and thought I could handle it. But it's getting to be too much," she confessed.
"Okay now it's my turn young lady. I'm going to have a talk with good old Tony. Wait I promise not to break his face but this has to stop. I would tell you to quit but you wouldn't and truthfully I don't want this ass to force you to leave. So, I'll have a discussion with him," I told her.
I helped her off my lap and while Cyn went to make some tea I went to the bathroom. I needed to be by myself for a few minutes. My image in the mirror was not an image of a nice person. The last time felt and looked like this was the night that I killed the three terrorist that tried to blow up the motor pool. It was a look that I thought I would never have again. I hope Cyn hadn't noticed my eyes, they looked wild and dangerous.
Cyn had a doctor's appointment the next morning before she went to work, nothing wrong just a regular check up. She left for appointment and I left for her work place. She wasn't aware that my "talk" with the infamous Tony Johnson was going to be today. Never put off kicking someone's ass to tomorrow if you could do it today was my motto.
Johnson and my wife worked in a division that insured industrial and business properties and buildings. I talked to the receptionist and explained to her that I wanted to speak to the head of that department about insurance for my business. In just a few minutes Tony Johnson himself came to the lobby to meet me.
He greeted me, introduced himself, and invited me to his office. I introduced myself and suggested that we talk in the court yard explaining that it was too nice outside to be cooped up in an office. We found a table in the sun and sat down. He started his spiel about insuring my business and its properties but I held up my hand to stop him.
"Tony, I'm not here to talk about business insurance, I'm here to talk about health insurance. To be specific, health insurance for you," I told him boring a hole in him with laser like eyes.
I held up my hand again when he started to respond. "Let's not waste anymore time, okay? As I told you my name is Kelley." I paused to see if he would make the connection and when he didn't I continued. "I'm Cynthia's husband and it's because of your actions toward her that you may need health insurance."
Now he began to understand and started to bluster as he stood up to leave. I motioned for him to sit down and when he didn't I grabbed his arm and forced him back into his chair.
"Cynthia told me a strange tale last night and I wanted to give you a chance at rebuttal before any action is taken."
"Mr. Kelley, I don't know what Cyn alleges that I did but she has a very active imagination and is sometime prone to exaggerate or misunderstand things. I think that she possibly..."
"Quiet Tony," I interrupted him. First let me tell you that her name is Cynthia or Mrs. Kelley; you don't have the right to call her anything else. Let me ask you about a few things, you know just to get your side of what has been happening. I mean I want to be fair after all." I was baiting him because no matter what he said I believed Cyn's story.
Cynthia told me that you propositioned her, promising advancement in the company. She told me that you lied to your supervisor about it and ever since she reported your actions you have been making sexual asides and comments to her."
The whole time that I was talking, Tony was shaking his head no. And every time he started to say something I would hold up my hand to stop him. He took direction very well, I thought.
"Your boss couldn't do anything about you because it's a "he said, she said" type of situation. I understand his position; I don't like his decision but I can understand it. However, it's lucky for me and unlucky for you that I don't have to worry about witnesses, or law suits, or getting my company in trouble if I mishandle the situation. I only have to believe my wife and by the way I DO." The last part was said in a very forceful manner.
Tony tried to get up again and again I pushed him back down. I think at this point he didn't know what to do. He kept looking around the courtyard for other people but we were alone. Apparently no one else wanted to enjoy the nice morning.
"Relax Tony. I'll be done soon. You will stop your little sexual asides and comments to her, you'll make no gestures or comments that are inappropriate and I stress this part, YOU WILL TREAT HER WITH RESPECT. I'm not going to explain what will happen if you don't comply with my requests. Let's say that I don't think you'll be a happy camper if Cynthia tells me you are still bothering her. Do we understand each other Tony?"
He sat there, not moving or saying anything. So I asked him again, "Do we have an understanding Tony?"
Tony still didn't say anything but he nodded, rather vigorously I thought. I motioned for to him that he could leave and watched him almost run back into the building. On the way back to my shop I stopped to get donuts and coffee for my guys. I was please with myself that I hadn't reverted to the old J.J. The old J.J. would have broken an arm or given Mr. Johnson some other memento of our discussion.
"So what happened, sounds like you handled it pretty well. What caused you to end up in jail with me?" Dale was really interested in the story.
I had stopped talking because one of the jailers and came to the door. He and I were casual friends; I worked on his car and we had gone fishing together a couple of times.