Hanson arrived home from work late, and he came into the house through the front door as usual. He slowly pulled the door to a close. It shut quietly behind him with an almost imperceptible click. He did not lock the deadbolt, which was odd, as he always remembered to lock it when he came in, and he always-reminded Stacey to do the same.
Stacey stood waiting in the living room to greet him just as she did every day. Hanson and Stacey both made a habit of greeting one another each evening when he walked in the door. They both knew that this was important to the health of their relationship, and they received one another eagerly and attentively, each day without fail.
When they had gone through marriage counseling in the past, the therapist suggested that they make an agreement to practice greeting one another in such as manner.
Stacey was the one who had insisted that both attend therapy for the problem with their marriage. Obstinately set against it, Hanson first refused the idea; but when the problem got worse, Stacey eventually insisted that Hanson make a choice.
She told Hanson that they could go through counseling, work their problems out, and get their marriage back. Alternatively Hanson could choose not to go to marriage counseling with her, and they would just deal with the problem by accepting things as they were—which in other words meant that Stacey would leave him if he did not go through counseling, because she would be damned if she was going to live that way any longer.
Psychotherapy turned out to be a lot of work and they both went through the emotional ringer in the process. When they finished the sessions however, they both were grateful that they had gone to seek help. Hanson would be the first to admit this fact. He had changed for the better in the process.
That was two years ago and things between them were far better now, the past two years had been like when they first got married, they were happy all over again.
However, this present evening, when Hanson came in late from work and silently closed the door, he walked in the house without looking his wife in the eyes. Stacey’s face began to beam with a huge smile at her husband’s arrival, but suddenly the smile fell from her face when she noticed his averted eyes. They focused inwardly, were dark and brooding, and he appeared deeply absorbed in his thoughts. It took Stacey off guard when she saw that Hanson’s face was red and saw his nostrils flaring as he inhaled heavily.
Stacey did not speak; she just stood still and watched him worrisomely, trying to gain some sense of his mood. When Hanson walked past her without saying a word, Stacey was immediately aware that something was very wrong.
Stacey’s mind quickly rewound the memory of Hanson coming home from work the evening before this one, and she quickly reviewed everything that had happened then.
Yesterday, Hanson came home from work on time, and when he came in the front door, he found Stacey standing in the living room as always. But things had been very different.
Hanson came in and pulled the door closed behind him hurriedly, slamming it with a bang. He immediately looked his wife straight into the eyes. He also remembered to lock the deadbolt, but did so abnormally, without turning back to look at it.
Hanson advanced towards Stacey who absorbed his intense stare but did not speak a word. As Hanson walked towards her, his steps were forceful, deliberate. He just kept walking, never stopping, as if he was a wind-up toy, too tightly wound. He walked right past the side table without placing his briefcase on it. As he walked on towards his wife, he simply swung his arm to the side and let loose of the brief case handle. It went flying in an arc and Stacey jumped, startled when the briefcase hit the floor with a crash.
Ever since Hanson had first opened the front door, he had been staring straight into his wife’s eyes; he never lost eye contact with her. It was an intense, penetrating gaze.
He moved silently, as he walked toward his wife, advancing one measured step at a time. Suddenly, he began to snap his fingers loudly. He snapped them repeatedly. A strident crack of the fingers coinciding with each advancing step he made towards his wife. She still did not speak.
Hanson had a slight grin as he closed in on his partner, gliding theatrically in long, dramatic, tango-like dance steps. Stacey smiled widely, trying not to laugh as the rhythmic snapping of fingers grew louder. Soon Hanson’s dance steps brought him upon his wife. Finally, in a pinnacle of dramatic passion, he seized Stacey in his arms. Hanson brought a supporting arm behind her back, and placed his hand between her shoulder blades. He then forcefully pulled her into his body, bringing them bosom to bosom, much like a swashbuckling pirate who seizes the helpless, starry-eyed damsel in a romance novel.
Stacey was playing along, reacting to Hanson’s drama with her own creative acting. With wide eyes, she was the distressed feminine captive, overwhelmed physically and emotionally by a rogue. Like a Southern Belle who had been shocked into a state of panic, Stacey began to swoon; she histrionically threw the back of her right forearm across her forehead, holding the pose in a pantomime of hopeless, fainting resignation—her head turned to the left side. Her eyelids fluttered, then they soon shut, and her body went limp.
Stacey fell back onto her husband’s supporting arm and Hanson stopped her fall, holding her in the bottom arch of a large ballroom-like dip. She slowly opened her eyes, becoming vaguely aware of her surroundings, and that she lay in the arms of a scalawag.
He pressed his face near to his wife’s, then whispered into the ear of the feminine form in his arms, “Shhh….say nothing… do not tell me how you got into the house… do not speak at all my love.” Then he demanded, “Just… kiss me, damn you! Kiss me with a passion like you have never kissed any other man!”
At that point, Stacey burst out into loud laughing. Hanson, holding her in the dip leaned in, grabbed her such that she could not move and spoke in a Spanish accent, “All right senorita, if you will not give me the kisses I demand, I shall have no choice but to force my kisses upon you, for I am enflamed with el fuego de Amor!”
Hanson, in reckless abandon, began to cover Stacey’s checks, forehead, and eyes with ridiculously awful, wet kisses; he kissed her hungrily and insatiably, while making the clichéd moaning sounds of, “Mwah! Mwah! Mwah!”
Almost like a dog licking her face, he wet her retreating expression with dozens of juicy smooches. Stacey exploded into squeals and giggling. “Stop it…Ewe! That is sooo gross… Help! Someone call animal control! Yuk…I am infected with foaming dog spit…rabies!”
Enjoying this whole surprise capture, the pirate quickly started to smack kisses up and down both sides of the damsel’s neck.
Stacey desperately tried to duck her chin into her exposed neck, but she could not. Soon she was in a terribly painful pleasure, she laughed so hard she could not breathe, and she began shrieking. “Stop honey! Stop it! It is funny for you but not me! Stop—this is tickle torture! Hanson, stop! I am serious. Please, honey. I mean it! It is not funny anymore—it hurts!”
At that, he instantly released her, he stepped back a few feet, and squinted his eyes at her, to see her more clearly.
He saw that he owed his wife an apology, “Oh, I am terribly sorry; this is really frightfully embarrassing,” he expounded. “I am sorry dear wife of mine; I thought you were out of town at your mother’s house. I am not wearing my contacts. Everything was out of focus.
I simply assumed that you were the house cleaner. She and I are sleeping together now, I probably should have told you about that. But I swear we only sleep together on the days when you are not here.”
“Ha, ha” Stacey smirked dryly. “Gosh, so we have no maid tonight? Then it looks like you are washing all the dishes!”
“I always wash the dishes Stacey, every night. In fact, I don’t think that I have ever—not washed the dishes.”
He had fallen into her trap. She smiled, “Yes, but this time I want you to do a good job for once.”
He smiled back at her hopefully, “As long as you sleep with me tonight.”
She drew herself close into her husband’s body. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and pulled her face close to his. Her eyes glowed with an assured smile. She whispered, “I always sleep with you honey, every night, and I always do an exceptional job.” He was speechless; he could not deny the statement.
She grabbed the back of his head with both hands and pressed her lips into his; she gave him a true kiss, a long kiss, a deep kiss. The kiss originated three fold. Her kiss came from the heart, from the mind, and from the loins.
It was the kind of a kiss where for one brief moment the clock stands still. And in that lull, one is totally in “the now.”
Her husband was hushed for a second looking at her with awe. He wondered how he had ever been so lucky to wind up with a woman like this. He was very happy, and his wife was happy too.
Then he said, “That was the most….that kiss was…resplendent!”
He then abruptly pushed past her, and walked away, this action leaving her open-mouthed with disbelief. She spun around to see him briskly walking into the kitchen “And where do you think you are going Mister?”
Now she had fallen into his trap. Hanson said, “Where do you think I’m going?” he looked over his shoulder and smiled, “I have to go do the dishes…”
That was the scenario yesterday.
Stacey’s mind immediately snapped back into the present moment. She watched as Hanson walked from the front door toward her, he continued forward and then simply passed by her. His face red and breathing heavily, he did so without looking her in the eyes, and without speaking; she turned and watched him head for the couch. Hanson walked with heavy steps, feet almost dragging, and then he dropped down onto the leather couch. Gravity pulled his weight and took his body down deep into the cushions. He came to rest in a seated slump, still holding his briefcase, which was sitting on his lap. He let go of the briefcase and it slid off the couch and came to a gentle rest on the carpet. Hanson’s elbows fell upon his knees; His upper body sagging forward, his head dropped into his open hands. His face was slack and he rubbed his temples. He drew a deep breath, held it, and then let out a long sigh.
Stacey quickly reviewed the day mentally for something that might be upsetting him so. Nothing about that morning had seemed odd to Stacey. Hanson also called her from the office at lunch, as always, and he had been in good spirits, so as far as Stacey knew, nothing was wrong between them at all.
Stacey knew her husband well, and she knew how to deal with him when he was upset. She silently walked to the couch, making sure to give him physical space. She sat at other end, lifted her legs and feet onto the couch, she turned sideways toward Hanson, and sat with her hands wrapped around her raised knees. She just sat there silently, looking at him with soft empathetic eyes. After eleven years of being married to him, she knew her husband well; she knew not to initiate a conversation. It would only irritate him if she tried to pull words out of him now. She was prepared to wait and only speak if he began to speak to her first.
“I know you are looking at me, I can feel your eyes on the side of my neck,” said Hanson with his head in his hands.
Stacey said nothing but just listened patiently.
Hanson said dryly “Stacey, I don’t feel like talking about it, o.k.?”
“O.k. we won’t don’t have to talk about it right now, honey.”
Hanson sat up but did not look at Stacey. He clumsily dug in his pocket for a box of Marlboros. He put a cigarette in his mouth, and held a book of paper matches in his fingers but did not light the cigarette. It bobbed in his mouth as he spoke, “No, I don’t think you understand. I do not want to talk about it. Not now, not later.”
He struck one paper match and tried to light the cigarette but the flame went out, “damn it!” He lit a second match and this time the cigarette caught the flame. He inhaled deeply, held the smoke in his lungs a long moment, then slowly letting the out the smoke, he French curled the stream of smoke, inhaling it again through his nostrils.
Stacey was abrupt, “So, when did you start smoking again?”
“It’s no big deal Stacey; I’m just going to smoke a few cigarettes. I’ll just finish this pack and quit.”
She shook her head, “do you remember the last time you smoked ‘just a pack?’ You did not stop smoking when you finished the pack. If I am not mistaken, you did not stop smoking for almost a year, and then you had a terrible time quitting. You almost couldn’t.” She suddenly shed her irritation for concern, “Maybe we should talk about whatever is on your mind?”
“No, I don’t want to talk about it, I specifically said that a few moments earlier,” he curtly snapped out. Then he paused and lowered his voice. “Look I am just going to smoke a few. I promise. It is just to calm my nerves…I had one hell of a day…”
Hanson finally noticed that the ash on his cigarette was getting so long it was about to fall off. He looked for a place where he could put his ash. He spotted an empty coke can on the coffee table at the end of the couch, directly in front of Stacey. He stood up, stepped over to grab it. He leaned over so far that he almost lost his balance.
Stacey looked at him and her eyes flashed with fury. He did not see her and he went back to the end where had been sitting. He remembered his cigarette ash again and flicked it in to opening at the top of the coke can just as it was beginning to fall.”
Stacey was furious and blurted out “You reek of alcohol, so now you are going to start drinking again too?”
Hanson said nothing. He did not look at Stacey, he took a long drag off his cigarette, and the ember tip flared and glowed. He squeezed the back of his neck with his left hand, trying to loosen the tension, he held the smoke in deep, and long, then tilted his head back, and exhaled a jet of smoke, which rose into a cloud.
“Hanson, I asked you a question. Are you drinking again? You reek of alcohol it is coming out of your pores. Well tell me are you drinking; you are you drunk aren’t you? Answer me damn it!”
“It’s no big deal Stacey. I had a horrendous day, so I stopped and bought a few beers and drank them on the drive home. It was just to calm my nerves.”
“Oh, so you are not only drinking you are drinking and driving too?” Stacey’s voice became something sounding of fear and anger at the same time, “I can’t believe this! We went to therapy for six months; we almost lost our marriage because of your drinking!”
“Baby, would you calm down? I am not drinking any more. I had a few beers and now I am stopping.”
Stacey yelled out, “Hanson you are an alcoholic and you cannot just stop drinking! You never did. You never will. You can’t.” She moved closer to him on the couch. “Where is the rest of it, do you have three more six packs in the car, as you always did before? Did you think you would just sneak out into the garage and drink, and then come back in and I would not know exactly what you were doing?”
Hanson raised his eyebrows in a submissive way, “Look Stacey, I got fired today, ok; management downsized and let five people go at the office. I was one of them.”
“So what, you can always get another job. But not if you are going to start drinking again!”
Hanson quietly belched, “Look, it was a mistake, I know that, it just sort of happened by itself. I will stop tomorrow. I’ll finish the ones left, I will go to bed, tomorrow will come, and I promise I won’t drink again”
Now Stacey was almost in a rage, “Like hell you won’t, you said you had already stopped drinking! Now you are saying you will stop tomorrow. What you mean is that you are going to keep drinking tonight until you pass out. And if you do not have enough in your car to put you away, you will drive drunk to go and get more. We have been through all of this before. And you will not stop drinking tomorrow either; you will drink every day from now on, all day. You will drink repeatedly. And you will not stop drinking each day until you pass out. Then it will all start over the next morning!”
Hanson just looked at his lap, absorbing her anger.
She demanded, “Did you at least call your sponsor?”
Hanson was irritated at that, “Calm down honey, you are acting like a bitch.”
Stacey immediately flushed dark red. She wanted to slap him. She felt like putting a hard, dry pop flat across his mouth. But she stopped herself when she realized she was on the verge of being out of control. She put her hands flat on her face, pressing them against her eyes. She took a deep breath. She slowly let it out. Forcing herself to act calmly, she spoke in a soft, monotone voice. Stacey asked again, “Did you at least call your sponsor?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Well, what did he say?”
“Bob told me to call him when I was sober and he hung up on me.”
Stacey fought to hold back her tears but her tremulous voice belied her despair, “Oh, Hanson, I cannot believe this is happening. You have not had a drink in two years.”
He said nothing. He dropped his cigarette in the opening of the can and set it on the table quietly. He did not want another cigarette but he did not feel comfortable just sitting there vulnerable, so he fumbled for his smokes and lit another cigarette, he winced as some of the smoke caught him in the eye.
Stacey spoke sharply, “Look I told you if you started drinking again…” She pointed her finger in his face, “You choose now, either pack your things and let me drive you to rehab tonight, or I am packing my bags and I am leaving. I cannot be here tonight with you like this. And I do not want to start living with an alcoholic off the wagon again!”
Hanson put his head back into his hands. He remembered circling the block around the convenience store before buying beer. He must have circled the block eight times, but he ended up pulling in, parking, and going into the store. Drinking the first one had happened so fast that he did not even think it about any of this. He almost did it all as if he was unaware of it.
After the first beer, he was ruined. He thought to himself, one is too many—a thousand is never enough. It was hitting him hard when he realized what he had done.
He came out of his deep thoughts when he heard Stacey loudly demand, “Well, are you going to pack so we can go to the hospital?”
Hanson said in a soft voice, “Maybe you should just pack your bags Stacey.”
Stacey bewildered said in disbelief, “What just like that, you are picking drinking over our marriage?” Her eyes were hopeless yet pleading.
He shook his head. “No baby, never; I would do anything to keep you, Stacey. I love you, I love you more than anything; you are my wife.”
Then a flush of relief flowed over her. It was like warm water. She said in a nurturing tone, “Well then get your suitcase, and we will go to check you into to rehab right now.”
He nodded his head…Then he paused…And then he shook his head slowly, “No, I can’t go to rehab again Stacey. I just cannot. I am so sorry.”
With a touch of fright in her voice, “I don’t understand what you are doing Hanson. You said you would go, you don’t want to go now?”
“Of course I want to go to rehab. I want to go more than anything. You know I love you. I love you so much. I am so sorry this happened.”
Crying and in a distressed, in a tearful anger Stacey demanded, “What are you doing Hanson. Are you playing a game with me! Are you mocking me? Is that are you doing?”
“No of course not baby.”
Now in a hot anger, Stacey said, “Then I don’t understand, do you want to go to rehab or are you saying ‘no’?”
She was at her wits end. Stacey screamed, “God damn it! Stop it you bastard. Answer me! Are you going to go to rehab tonight, right now, Yes or No? ”
There was a long pause.
“I can’t go to the hospital again. I am sorry. You don’t understand.”
Stacey was getting confused and scared, “Honey, please, for God’s sake, going to rehab is the only way you can break this cycle. We went through this before. You know you cannot stop any other way. You remember all of this; I know you do.
It took you twice, but the second time through rehab you did it; you stopped. You will just have to do it again. Then things will be back in control”
She entreated him, “Please pack your clothes honey, come on, I am here for you. I love you; I am your wife. I am here for you.” She gently said, “Come on honey, we are going to the hospital to check you in… let’s just take off now. Go get some clothes and I will take you to check in. I will bring your toiletries to the hospital tomorrow so you have everything you want.”
He said nothing.
“Well, come on, just get a change of clothes, I’ll drive you, I need to get the beer out of the car, meet me in the garage.”
“I cannot go Stacey, listen to me, you don’t understand. I can’t.”
Screaming, Stacey roared, “No, you mean you don’t want to go to rehab!”
“No Stacey, I mean I can’t”
“What are you talking about, Hanson! Communicate with me”
“Ok, I’ll just tell you, I got fired today Stacey; we don’t have any medical insurance as of five o’clock today. I would go to rehab tonight, gladly, but the hospital costs $1,000 dollars a day. Rehab is 30 days long. We do not have $30,000 dollars cash. I cannot go to rehab. It would bankrupt us.”
A chill came over Stacey at this realization. She said to him as if talking to herself, “All right, I understand now.” She pulled back her hair on the sides tightly with her hands, “Ok, I understand now, you would go to rehab, you are willing to go, but now you can’t. We don’t have the insurance to do it.” She sullenly began to walk away.
“Stacey, wait, we are talking. Sit back down, where are you going? Please sit back down and talk to me.”
“Yes, you can.”
“No I can’t, Hanson”
“You mean you won’t, Stacey.”
“No I won’t, you are right. I won’t talk to you about this”
“Why won’t you talk about it?”
“Because I am going to the bedroom; then I am going to pack a suitcase, I’m going to stay at my Mother’s.”
“Ok, I understand honey. I am wretched. How long will you be staying? When will I see you again? If I am sober tomorrow will you come back and see that I can stop on my own.”
She paused as if deciding whether to say nothing or to speak.
She finally spoke,
“I’ll see you when we meet to sign the divorce papers. I’m filing tomorrow with a lawyer.”