Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stephanie's Story

HIS WITNESS TO EVIL **********************************************************************************Last week, I shared John's backstory. Now, I'll share Stephanie's.

Startled by a crash, Stephanie woke and fell from the couch to the floor. The boom reminded her of the episode last winter when a car skidded into their front porch taking out a corner post. Gripping the leather cushion, she sat up, swept her hair from her face and stared into the darkness that was her living room. The red display of a digital clock on the entertainment center read three forty-two.

Another thump vibrated the floor seconds before the door which lead to the garage burst open. Light spilled across the carpet. Gene was home, finally.

“Damn kids.” His words were slurred and the alcohol he’d consumed over the last six hours while at his weekly poker game preceded him by about twenty feet.

More rattling.

“Stephanie, I’m caught. Get this damn thing off of me or I’ll—“

“Will you keep it down?” She scurried to her feet and hit the switch to the high-hat lights above the fireplace. “The kids are sleeping. They have to get up for school in two hours.”

“This is my house and I’ll yell at them for leaving their freakin’ bikes lying in front of the door anytime I want.”

Em’s bike had been parked against the wall where. Gene probably knocked it over making his not-to-steady way inside. Arguing with him while he was in this state of mind would do her no good. He’d only get more boisterous and eventually wake the kids just to scold them for something that was his own fault. God, she was tired of Gene’s partying. He was married and a father. Would he ever grow up?

The sadness which filled her cemented the truth in place. He never would.

Gene fell forward and she grabbed him under his arms before he hit the floor. As he struggled to free his foot from between the railings of Em’s bike, he leaned on her. “My, God. How much did you have tonight? You didn’t drive home, did you?”

Em’s bike clattered against the garage’s concrete floor. “Damn straight I did. “

“You’re drunk.”

“So. “

Over his shoulder, she caught a glimpse of their wedding portrait and wondered where that happy, young couple went wrong.

Disgusted, she pushed Gene away. “So you’re a cop.”

“Yeah." He shrugged and then scratched his stomach, pulling his tee shirt up over the flat abs he worked hard to maintain. "Don't worry. The guys won't ticket me.”

She folded her arms across her chest in order to keep from reaching out and strangling some sense into him. “What about hurting yourself, or God forbid, someone else?”

“I didn’t, okay.” With dithering steps, he made his way into the kitchen and flipped on the lights. “What’s to eat?” He barked over his shoulder. “I’m starved. Rosie got pissed with Tony and threw the pizza we ordered at him. ”

Steph raced after him hoping he wouldn’t reach the pots and pans before she could block him. His buddies probably ordered the pizza after midnight and the delivery guy woke Rosie’s seven-year-old twins. Poor Rosie.

She stepped between Gene and the stove. “Why don’t you go get a shower and I’ll—”

His frown turned wolfish as he grabbed and pulled her close, grinding his hips into hers. “You’re hoping I’ll fall asleep aren’t you?” He nuzzled her neck. The strong smell of beer turned her stomach. “After I grab a couple eggs, I’ll be ready to take care of you, babe. Why don’t you whip them up for me?”

Not in the mood to be manhandled, she pulled away from his clutch. “Stop it, Gene. I’m not in the mood for your games.” Stephanie turned only to be stopped by the bite of his fingernails on her arm.

His eyes narrowed. “I said I’m hungry.”

“And I want a divorce.” She yanked her arm free. “See who gets what they want first.” ******************************************************************************************* Will Stephanie find love again?


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