Frank was not a stupid man. He could see that his wife was unhappy, and with more than just the heat being out. He knew there was the underlying tension that still existed in her mind because of his years of drinking. And that with Jim coming down to fix the problems with the boiler, Jim one of his old drinking buddies, he knew that things were coming to a boil in her head over it. And to be honest with himself, he knew she was right as far as she went, to be concerned about it.
For a second he played with a thought. It was a small thought. Nothing outlandish. Nothing insane, he thought. He could always bring up the emotional upset over what she had done before he began drinking. When she took his heart and stomped on it. When she cheated on him. He still saw those days like they were happening before his eyes. They were still, after all these years, a painful shock.
Back in the early days he had always played it straight. Dudley Do-right was what people called him, Mr.Clean Marine. ”Hard charger” is how his bosses described him. H worked hard for his money, worked all the time. And that did something to his wife of two years. He didn’t realize it at the time or he would have done something about it. She was lonely, at home all the time, with him on job sites most of the day every day, seven days a week for months sometimes. Then when he came home, he was bone tired, had no energy for anything. He would often fall asleep on his favorite chair within minutes of getting home. He’d eat dinner, take a shower, and fall asleep almost immediately.
She was frustrated. She wanted her husband, and he was there more for his work than for her, and she was not happy about it. She tried talking to him about it, about giving her more of his time. He told her he would try to do everything he could. But when he said “If we want a better life together in the future, I have to do the hard work now. I love you, but we need the money and they need me too. I’ll do all I can for you.”
He tried. For weeks after that first conversation about her wanting him around he made a real effort to be there for her, and she was the apiest woman in the world. But work began to encroach again and now things were too busy there for him to get her the time she wanted with him. The seven day work weeks began to pile up, the 12 hour days began to come back to back again. Agnes thought it felt like she had lost her husband. There were nights that she cried silently to herself over it.
Frank found that out later. All he new at the time was that he was busy, and tired. He tried to make time for his wife, to give her everything he could of himself, but work and life left him with less than what she wanted.
And then she met Kevin. Kevin was strong and something of a party animal and had just broken up with his girlfriend, so he said. He had long thick black hair and deep blue eyes and the beginnings of a beard. He was 29, she was 26. He said all the right things to Agnes, from the very first time they met in the parking lot of the local supermarket.
He was there when Frank was not.
Frank was beginning to remember first meeting Kevin when Agnes snapped him back to reality. He had been standing in the middle of the living room for a few seconds remembering all this when she said “Do I have to hold your hand to get this cleaned up? We haven’t got all day. ” Frank responded with just a tinge of steel in his voice “No honey, I’m on it… I was just thinking…”
That’s it from here, America. More later, perhaps.