A potential plot idea for a bigger story.
I had a good husband.…
After the birth of our first child, we decided it would be best for me to stay at home and take care of the household. Our son was born with a bone malformation called hip dysplasia that impeded him from walking, so he needed more care than an average child his age. The grief of my child’s ailment was a constant battle that took a toll on our family and its unity, not to mention our finances. Our insurance was a never ending labyrinth of bureaucracy that usually ended in denial or on a good day a minuscule partial payment for services.
Keeping up an upbeat attitude was harder and harder for me.
“I need to pay the bills,” he said. So he began working on the weekends as a bartender to make more money. Day after day, my husband began to come home later and later and drinking almost every night he was actually home. He was always weary. When he looked at me, he usually darted his accusatory eyes that were hiding his true sadness. It seemed like he never wanted to be home anymore and I was always alone.
A couple of months after he started his new job we still struggled to pay our mortgage and were short $1000. Despite coupon clipping, we were also short on the grocery bill. I knew that money from my husband’s tips would not exceed $400. It never did. That weekend, however, my husband came home with $500 cash for the groceries and he also paid the mortgage. When I asked him how he paid the mortgage, he said:
“Don’t worry about it. It’s paid isn’t it?” He glared at me as he said this; I didn’t ask any more questions.
A month later, I got a traffic ticket in the mail about not stopping at a red light. It had a picture of my husbands’ car making a right at an intersection at 3:32 pm on a Monday when he was supposed to be at work. When I asked him about it he said:
“I’ll pay it. Don’t worry about it.”
I nodded politely.
“It’s just that it’s not your normal route home,” I said quietly expecting an explanation.
“I sometimes take that road home,” he said curtly. I nodded again and left it alone as he continued sipping his rum and coke. I thought it was odd to take a turn on a road to go south when you needed to go north to get home.
Three weeks after that, I was so immersed in going through the motions of what’s for dinner, how was your day, sitting on the couch watching TV, that I began to forget the ticket and brushed things off as a one-time incident. We settled into our comfortable routine, the one where we were really familiar strangers living in the same house and pretending that everything was fine.
Our son was still not getting any better and surgery at the time seemed like the only option, and for that, we needed to wait until he was five. We continued to grieve, each in our own way, him with the bottle and I keeping the home tidy.
One day after a regular doctors visit, our son and I were settling into the house when I was startled to hear a knock on the door at 3pm.
“Hi, is Brian here?” said a strange man asking for my husband.
“No. He is at work. Who are you?” I asked bewildered.
“A friend. Can you tell him that I stopped by?” He gave me a Mona Lisa smile and walked away.
The man was probably in his forties, dressed casually in jeans like any regular citizen, except his demeanor warned me. He knew something I didn’t.
Over the next few weeks, I did and said nothing about the strange visitor to my husband, because he seemed more agitated than usual, his hands began to tremble. His face was red and at times, the vein on his forehead throbbed into sight.
One particular day he said:
“If anybody comes by the house, it’s for work. They are asking questions to all the employees.”
“Ok, honey,” I said in a low, sweet, automatic tone.
I knew, he knew somebody came to the house with that comment but I also knew his office job was not the kind to send a stranger at 3pm in the afternoon.
I arranged a day where I had no obligations and had my mom watch my son for me. That day after my husband left I borrowed a car from my mother’s friend and I fashioned myself in an unassuming way as to blend into the background.
I followed Brian, and Instead of going to work, he turned onto the south side of town and got into a house whose door was opened by a dubious woman looking at both sides before letting him in.