No Means Everything, Part 4

 

Last few sentences of Part 3:

One late summer afternoon, Alan was getting ready for work. He started yet another argument with Iris, yelling at her, fussing and fighting over some bill or another. It was money that usually set him off.

This time was different, though.

 

This time, he hauled off and shoved Iris to the kitchen floor. He kicked her in the ribs. He glared at her, hatred in his eyes as she lay there crying, her hands thrust in front of her.

“Shut up!” he screamed.

He dropped to his knees, his right arm raised to strike Iris, just as 2-year old Teddy, came scampering in. He looked down at his mommy, thinking, perhaps, that Mommy and Daddy were playing, because Iris saw his little face giggle with delight.

She was terrified, horrified. Alan glared at his boy, and jumped to his feet. He marched to the front door, throwing it open with so much force the doorknob smashed into the wall. The neighbors had to wonder at the screeching of the tires as he sped off in his fancy Mustang. Not one of them came to see if Iris and the boys were okay.

Iris reached her hand out to Teddy, asking him to go play with Ricky, in the playroom. Stabbing pain screamed at her. She raised herself up sluggishly. She walked across the room to the bay window, where she could watch the palm tree swaying in the breeze, a warm sunbeam flashing in her face. She sobbed. She was shaking. She was thinking.

Decision made, Iris turned from the window to pick up the phone. Trembling, her fingers repeatedly slipped off the dial. She reached her friend on the third try, crying and stumbling over her words.

“I need to move out. Now.”

They talked a few more minutes, Iris confessing what had taken place. Inside an hour, her friend showed up with a rented moving truck, a stack of packing boxes, and two big guys to help.

With an ace bandage wrapped round her ribs to minimize her pain, Iris and her friends dashed from room to room, packing the few things she really needed for now. After Ricky and Teddy’s initial confusion, they soon got carried away with Mommy’s new game of packing toys and trucks and books into their own boxes.

Iris got back on the phone to inquire into apartments for rent listed in the local paper. As soon as she landed one, they pulled out of the driveway, to a new life, on the far side of town.

She knelt down to the floor before walking out, holding her two boys closely.

“It’s right by the river, you’ll see,” Iris told them “you can come see Daddy here later. It will be like having two houses.”

She left a short note to Alan on her piano that she left behind that day.

Alan, I won’t stay in this house with you any longer. I’ll call you. Don’t try to find us. You’ll see the boys – later. Please, leave us alone for now. Iris

Several weeks later, an old friend stopped by to see how she and the boys were managing. They sat on the front porch watching the boys play with their new puppy. Iris had found a job, a friend to watch the kids while she was at work, and no, she was NOT going back to Alan. Yes, she’d already filed for divorce. As far as Iris was concerned, Alan could have everything, even the house. She didn’t care about any of it. She and her boys were safe. That’s all she cared about.

 

Later that year, sitting on the cold wooden courtroom bench, Iris listened as her front porch sentiments echoed back to her from her old friend in the witness chair. She shook her head, baffled as this so-called friend testified on Alan’s behalf.

The court awarded full custody of the boys to Iris, with visiting rights to Alan. Alan got the house, not a penny’s share to Iris. No child support order. No order for alimony.

Walking alone out of the courthouse, Iris felt a huge weight lifted from her. She was free.

She rushed home, grabbed up her little boys, loaded them into the car, and went straight to the beach. The sand, the sea air, the cold waves, the laughter – filled their day.

Little did they know the many wonders in store for them.

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No Means Everything, Parts 1-3

Part One

It was 1967. Iris lived with her mom and brothers on the California side of South Lake Tahoe. If you were standing in her room, you’d have heard any combination of rock and roll blasting the airwaves, including, but not limited to the Beatles, Paul Anka, Connie Francis, and the Rolling Stones.

She’d graduated high school the previous summer (’66) with her class, known officially and forever as the ‘Rebels’. After a wild and crazy senior year, full of class cutting, skiing, and hot springs soaking over the Markleeville ridge, she was delighted to be finished with South Tahoe High.

Iris got a work permit and a busgirl job in one of the casinos. Soon enough, before she knew it, she was 19, pregnant – and married. She hadn’t planned on being pregnant. She hadn’t planned on being married. But all those noes of hers, in the still quiet of a dark room, fell silent on Alan’s ears.

Six years older than she was, Alan drove a shiny black Mustang. He had striking blue eyes. He was her neighbor. Their moms were best friends. He worked with Iris’s brother. Iris was in love.

There were times, though, when she worried. She and Alan spent quite a bit of time in the house Alan shared with his mom and brother. It was during those family visits that Iris witnessed the man she loved being extremely cruel. He criticized, belittled, and blamed his mother for everything. His behavior, his words, his rage, gave Iris the shivers. She found no pleasure in recalling her own abusive household as a young girl. Iris did what most irresponsible young women did. She swept it to the back of her head. She kept quiet.

Alan told Iris he didn’t want a big wedding. She said that was fine, though secretly, she was disappointed. Alan arranged for a few days off work. He and Iris eloped to the Nevada ghost town of Virginia City, where the Justice of the Peace married them. The courthouse cleaning lady and the bar owner next door were the witnesses. Surreal, Iris thought. In the mirror behind the judge’s desk, she observed Alan, his arm wrapped tightly around her. Iris was in her favorite pale blue blouse and mini skirt. Alan was dressed in his typical every day black slacks, white short sleeve shirt, black shoes, white socks. No friends, no smiling moms wishing Iris congratulations from the mirror.

They recited their vows. Alan smiled with Iris’s grin as he paired the wedding band to her engagement ring. They kissed. Man and wife. They were married. They hopped back in the Mustang. They drove over the mountains, down to the ocean, to spend their honeymoon on Monterey Bay.

Iris ended up sick most every day. The fog was wet. She was cold. She just wanted to go home. Awake sometimes in the dark night, she worried over a conversation with Alan’s mother in which Iris had been warned to be very careful of Alan’s terrible temper.

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