Loss of Control
by Cindy O’Quinn
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
3. Becky Smells a Rat
Owen Baker arrived home from work with beer on his breath and a bonus in his pocket. He asked, “How about I take you and the brats to Pizza Arena for dinner? The boss handed out our Christmas bonuses today, and I’m feeling generous.” He just wanted to go out and drink more beer. That was closer to the truth.
Becky didn’t tell him about her bonus. She knew him well enough to know that he would get blitzed and start a fight. She didn’t want the kids to be a part of it.
Tonight might be the night she would confront him about his visits to the stock room to see his woman, Wanda, and that just might be enough for him to tell her he was leaving her ass. Owen would tell her good-frigging riddance and accuse her of trapping him in the first place. He would add that he had his doubts whether the twins were even his or not. He was famous for his hurtful accusations.
She said, “The kids have already had their dinner. Why don’t I see if Martha can watch them for a couple of hours? We could drop them off on our way.”
“Okay. That’s even better. Less food to buy and more beer to drink. Does it have to be Martha? I think that pig is a lesbo.” Owen was starting to slur his words.
“Martha will do it for free and besides, she is my only friend.” Becky hated to admit it, but it was the truth.
Owen smirked. “Whose fault is that? If you would go out and try to make friends you might have more than one.”
She ignored his comment and called Martha, who was more than happy to watch the kids. Becky helped the children find their coats and get them zipped up. Owen smacked Lenny Jr. in the back of the head as he walked by. Lenny Jr. looked up at his mom and asked, “Why does he always do that to me?”
Becky lied. “He does it out of love.”
Martha met her on the porch and carried the still whining Lance inside. Lakin walked hand in hand with Lenny Jr. and of course she had a bottle stuffed in her mouth. Becky thought, She is going to have buck teeth for sure.
“I’m glad you called. The rug rats and I will have fun. Does this alone time for you and Owen mean y’all are going to have the talk?” Martha asked.
Becky said, “I don’t know what it means, but I sure smell a rat. Owen never offers to go out for dinner. Maybe he is trying to soften the blow before he tells me he has found greener pastures. I would rather the kids not be around for the fireworks if that happens.”
This made Martha hopeful that her friend would be taking her up on her offer. Deep down Martha had always been attracted to Becky, and the thoughts of them living together like a family sounded great even if the two of them couldn’t have a romantic relationship. Martha said, “Y’all be safe on the roads. It’s supposed to snow later, I think.”
“If he gets too sloppy, I will drive,” Becky told her friend.
Just before they arrived at Pizza Arena, it started to snow. Becky thought, It won’t amount to much, the flakes are coming down as light as feathers. She stepped out of the rusty old Chevy Malibu and saw that Pizza Arena was packed, and it was still early, only six o’clock.
Owen was quick to order a pitcher of beer, and a large pizza with everything except mushrooms. Becky liked mushrooms. She ordered a glass of water. Owen laughed and asked, “No beer for you?”
The smell of beer hung thick in the air, and it made her stomach lurch. “No. I may have to drive home, and the roads might be slick.”
Once more he laughed. “Designated driver, then.”
A young waitress brought out the drinks. She was very pregnant and looked not much more than a teenager herself. Owen stared at her ass as she walked away. Becky’s stomach did another flop, and she felt sick at the thoughts of him and Stockroom Wanda getting freaky at work and then him coming home to her. “So why the need for celebrating tonight? Things going well at work?”
He rolled his eyes. “As if.” He was smiling on the inside, thinking about Wanda bending over the stack of mailboxes in the stockroom. “Can’t a guy take his girl out for dinner and drinks without getting the third degree?” The first pitcher of beer was almost gone. He waved at the waitress and motioned for her to bring another.
The waitress came back carrying another pitcher and a large pizza. Owen asked, “Hey baby, you wanna play like I’m Santa, and come sit on my lap?” The waitress looked at Becky in horror and then hurried away from the table.
Becky remembered the thoughts she had about the mall Santa earlier that day. “You are disgusting when you’re drunk, and not much better sober.”
“Oh, you are not one that should judge. Look at yourself.” Owen was slurring worse now and “yourself’ came out like “you-sef.“
Becky decided now was the time. “How about Wanda? Does she look better than me?”
In his current state of two maybe three sheets to the wind, Owen couldn’t hide his surprise. “What the blazes are you talking about?” Then it dawned on him, Martha told her. “Did your lesbo buddy run her fat mouth? I don’t care if she did because I was going to tell you tonight anyway. Hell, yes, Wanda looks better. I’ll be packing my bags when we get home. Don’t dare threaten me with child support either. Fric and Frac look nothing like me. They can’t be mine.”
Pretty much what Becky had guessed he would say. “The quicker we get back to the apartment the better,” Becky told him.
Owen threw down money enough for the bill, but no extra for a tip. Becky felt bad for the waitress, but she couldn’t help her out. The money she had left was earmarked for snow boots, or maybe now it would go for groceries.
Becky got to the rust bucket before Owen. It had snowed at least three inches while they were in the restaurant. He tried to get in on the driver’s side, but she stopped him and took the keys. “You’re too wasted to drive.”
He was too far gone to argue, so he walked to the other side and busted his ass in the slick snow. Owen struggled to get up. He flopped down in the passenger seat and slammed the door.
Before they could leave, Becky had to clear the windshield. She smiled as she thought of him falling down. Too bad he didn’t break his neck. She got in the car and put the keys in the ignition.
Owen saw the smile on her face. “What do you have to smile about? Your gravy train is about to pull out of the station and leave you and the kids high and dry.”
“You can’t be serious. You? Gravy train? Not on your best day.” Becky laughed out loud.
Owen hauled back and slapped her across the face hard enough that her head hit the side window. “There you go. That should wipe that smile off your face for a while.”
Becky drew back her right fist, but he caught her hand before it could land up alongside his head. “No, you don’t!” He belted her in the mouth.
She heard the skin on her lower lip give way with a pop against her bottom teeth. Becky felt the warm blood and the metallic taste filling her mouth. She stared out the window through blurred eyes and knew she was close to losing all control.
The snow was coming down heavier. She opened the car door and spat the mouthful of blood out into the snow. The glow of the overhead light caused the blood to look almost black.
“Shut the darn door! You’re letting in the cold. Drive already, will you? Or can you not drive with a fat lip?” Owen’s speech was becoming almost unrecognizable.
Becky put the car in drive and slowly pulled out of the parking lot. Other cars had made ruts in the road so she tried to keep the Malibu in their path and out of the piled up slush.
4. Gerald and Tanya Stop Arguing
Gerald drove away from The Eagle’s Nest Restaurant. As he looked in the rearview mirror, he thought, That was my last dinner with Tanya.
The roads were a mess because no one had expected more than a flurry. A snowplow truck went by and splashed slush on the windshield. For a few seconds, Gerald couldn’t see the road. His knuckles whitened as they gripped the steering wheel. Tanya gripped the arm rest. “Be careful, Gerald.”
“I always drive carefully. Or do you mean drive extra careful because I have Bill Todd’s office girlfriend in tow?” Gerald gripped the wheel even tighter.
The snow was falling harder, and the wipers struggled to keep up with the heavy white stuff caking the glass. Gerald thought of their wedding day. He had been so happy, and Tanya had appeared to be as well. Now she was fucking Bill Todd, partner at Miller, Todd, & Brown. She was ready to throw him and their eighteen-year marriage out with the trash.
He questioned what he could have done differently over the years to have kept her happy. Who am I kidding? How could I compete with a partner in a law firm? He wondered if Bill Todd liked his job as much as he liked his job at Mountain View Rehab. He doubted it.
Tanya wondered if maybe she should text Bill when she got home, and let him know that she had told Gerald she wanted a divorce. Bill Todd had been adamant about one thing, and that was she could never contact him outside of work. He had told her that it would be too risky, and if they were to keep seeing each other they couldn’t chance it.
She thought about how he had worded it: continue seeing each other. They never saw each other outside of the office. All of their lovemaking had been at work. Could Gerald be right? No, she told herself. I’m divorcing Gerald, and Bill will divorce his wife, and we will be together.
In the last curve, just outside of Haney’s Point, another snowplow truck went by. Gerald scrambled to turn the speed up on the wipers. He looked down for a split second, and when he looked back up he saw the headlights through the Honda’s slush-smeared windshield. He heard his wife’s scream.
Everything was happening in slow motion. He could have just tapped the brakes, and veered to the right a hair. Instead, Gerald hit the brakes and the car spun counter-clockwise. The collision would be on Tanya’s side. Just before the crash he thought, Sorry, Tanya, but you’re on the bloody side.
5. Becky Sees the Light
Becky’s lip had stopped bleeding and was now throbbing like a pulse. She remembered every time Owen came home drunk and forced her to have sex, and how she had been relieved when those occasions became less frequent. She had lost count of how many times he had hit Lenny Jr. on the back of the head, or how many times she had asked for help with the twins.
Becky knew he would make her life a living hell if she did try for child support. She could feel the tires slip as she went up a small incline and wished the car at least had front-wheel drive. Owen also felt the slip and said, “You best not wreck my ride.”
“Like you could do any better in your condition.” Just a couple more miles and we will be back in Haney’s Point, Becky told herself. A snowplow truck pulled out just ahead of them. She thought, All I have to do is stay behind the plow, and I’ll have a good path.
The plow was throwing up slush, and it was covering the Malibu. Becky let off the gas and tapped the brakes. The car was still getting pummeled as she started around the curve. She saw the lights of the oncoming car. Owen shouted, “Scoot over, dumb ass@”
Was he yelling for her to scoot over or the other driver? She turned the wheel but the tires got caught in the slush and the car spun counter-clockwise. Everything from that point happened in slow motion. Becky looked over at Owen as he screamed one last thing, “You Bitch! I’m on the bloody side!”
6. Miller and Todd
When Mr. and Mrs. Miller heard about the wreck their maid had been in, they paid her a visit. They insisted on helping her out with the legal issues. The investigation was concluded, and the bad road conditions were ruled to be the cause of the crash.
Becky was entitled to a healthy insurance settlement which would help her provide for the children. She continued to work for the Millers because they had been good to her. It was during those hours of cleaning their house that gave her the most time to reflect on everything that had happened.
Becky and the kids moved in with Martha, not because she had to, but because she wanted to. Martha was a good friend, and she took a big load off by helping out with the kids. This made everyone happy. Becky often wondered if the wreck could be entirely blamed on road conditions, or perhaps she had indeed suffered a loss of control.
Mr. Bill Todd had come to Tanya’s funeral to offer his condolences. Gerald shook the lawyer’s hand and said, “Mr. Todd, I have heard so much about you from Tanya, especially our last night together.”
“Really?” Stuttered the lawyer.
“Oh yes.” Gerald continued, “We celebrated our eighteenth year of wedded bliss that night.” Gerald wondered what he should do with the life insurance money that Mr. Todd’s company had paid him. He knew he would remain at his current job. When he reflected back on that night, he remained unsure whether he had suffered a loss of control, or maybe it had been the road conditions. He hoped for the latter, but he had his doubts.
Copyright © 2017 by Cindy O’Quinn