Good Cop, Bad Wife
Rebecca knew she couldn’t just leave the marriage. She had a seven-year-old daughter with the guy. He was a good husband and a great father, but he just wasn’t a good fit for her anymore.
Some would say that Jim was too good for her. He could have married lots of other women that were more beautiful and loyal.
Jim’s mother and three sisters never understood what he saw in the mousy woman he dropped everything for. She was plain, boring, and lacked a good education. The only thing that was good about her was that she kept a clean house and was a decent cook.
It surprised everyone when Rebecca announced that she’d been having an affair with a co-worker. Having worked at an insurance company where the highest paid employee in her office made half that of a policeman, it made no sense. Everyone was shocked that she’d leave Jim who was a decorated officer. To top it off, the new guy wasn’t half as good-looking as Jim.
“I told you she was a nutcase”, said Janet, Jim’s shapely half-sister. Jim had always harbored a secret crush for her, but since they were half brother and sister, there was nothing he could do about it openly.
Mrs. Jamison shook her head and stared off into the empty space where she could forget whatever she wanted to and remember things anyway that she wanted them to be. She began to daydream about the day she first met Rebecca. While everyone thought she’d make a great wife, Mrs. Jamison had her doubts. Her first impression was always right and she wished she would have acted on it sooner. If she had only told Jim that she thought Rebecca had the eyes of a whore, but the rest of her was like Betty Crocker, maybe she could have saved her son from this humiliation.
Jim stood up to get a better look at Janet’s cleavage in the mirror. Mrs. Jamison pretended to not be there, pretended not to see or hear anything. Janet had a habit of bending over like that whenever the three of them were alone.
“Janet? Can you get me a glass of water, please”, Mrs. Jamison asked in a startled manner.
Jim bent down to pick up Janet’s earring as he said yes, his eyes locked onto Janet’s gaze. Her seductive lips, smothered in fuschia stained gloss, quivered as if she wanted to ask him a question.
“Jim!” Mrs. Jamison repeated. “Go get your mother a glass of water.”
As soon as he left the room, Janet and Mrs. Jamison cut the shit.
“I never liked that harlot. Don’t shush me. I said since day one that I didn’t trust her.”
“Oh mama,” said Janet, “you never trust anyone.”
“That’s right. I keep my friends close but I keep my enemies much closer. What bugs me though is that I didn’t see this coming. Who does she think she is? Leaving Jim for a claim adjuster, that’s ridiculous. She’s stupider than I thought, that’s for sure.”
“Jim’s not as dumb as she is though.” Janet showed her a business card she’d been holding in her hand.
Mrs. Jamison couldn’t read it, her eyes were too bad. “What is that?”
“It’s my divorce lawyer. We are going to rip that mouse apart.”
“The only way he’s going to avoid child support is if he has custody.”
Janet smiled mischievously and nodded.
“Well, how the hell do you expect him to raise a little kid when he works long hours at night? I’m not a nanny. It’s bad enough I have to watch your kid when you’re at work.”
“Oh mother, it’s just temporary. Jim has to have a plan and swear to me. Shh. He’s coming. Mama, swear to me that you’ll agree to this? At least until…”
Jim comes back with a picture of ice water with slices of cucumber.
“Oh, isn’t that lovely!” Mrs. Jamison gushes.
“Thank you Jim,” Janet takes a glass he offers her and holds it with a napkin, like a proper lady.
“Here you go mama,” Jim hands her a napkin and waits for her to hold out her arm, but she is just sitting there on the edge of her seat.
“What’s wrong?” Jim asks in a regrettable tone.
“Oh, it’s nothing dear. It’s just that, you were such a good husband…” Mrs. Jamison begins to sob. “You deserve so much better. I was just thinking about your poor, sweet, innocent little girl. How sad it is that she won’t have a mother.”
Jim gives her an obligatory hug and tells her not to worry so much.
“Haley still has her mother, and she has me too. We’re gonna get through this together.”
Mrs. Jamison crosses her arms and huffs. “It’s not fair what she’s doing to this family. She is so selfish.”
Jim is heart broken, more than anyone knows. He was blind sided completely. He lived for his wife and daughter. Sure he cheated a few times, but she never knew and he never wanted to leave her. How could Rebecca do this to him, he thought. When his mother got mad for an injustice he was dealt, it somehow stopped his grief and desire for revenge.
“Look here Jim,” Janet snaps. “I got my lawyer’s card and told him all about your case. He said that as long as you can provide full-time care, there’s no problem with you getting full-time custody.”
Mrs. Jamison buries her head in her hands and cries.
“It’s okay mom. I’ll be okay. Don’t you worry. You always worry too much.”
Meanwhile, Rebecca is at her therapist’s office with her hands clasped over her handmade Spongebob fabric masked face.
“The heart wants what the heart wants," she explains as if she invented the cliche.
“And how did he respond to that?” Dr. Gorgona asks, her voice muffled through a medical grade facial covering.
“Same way he does everything, suppose. He said, ‘I can’t deal with this right now.’ Then he got up to get a beer, turned on the television, and tuned me out for the rest of the night.”
The therapist offers a moment of silence. After a minute, Rebecca clears her mucous filled throat as she reminisces:
“The day that I knew, I mean officially knew that I no longer wanted to be married to him, it came as a shock to me to be honest. It wasn’t like he did anything so bad to deserve it. I asked him, ‘why do you love me?’ You know what he said?” Rebecca chuckles sadly.
Dr. Gorgona offers a sympathetic smile that goes undetected.
“He couldn’t tell me why he loved me! He couldn’t even speak. It was as if every time he tried to talk, the cat had his tongue. Can you believe it? It was like he was stuttering like some little boy. Anyways, that night I lost all respect for him.”
The therapist jots some notes and then asks, “So, he was a good husband who deserved better?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it was all in my head, but I had a lot of doubts.”
Dr. Gorgona scribbled something, “What kind of doubts?”
Rebecca blew her nose and wiped her eyes. Her face was blotchy and red. She looked like a pufferfish underwater. “He told me I was crazy for thinking he was cheating on me, but I never fully trusted him. As weird as it sounds, I felt like I was lucky to have him and that he was bound to cheat on me. Maybe I wanted to leave him before he left me.”
Dr. Gorgona raises her eyes from her notes to pause. “Did you ever fully trust him at any time before or after your marriage?”
“No.” Rebbeca’s answer was quick and more definite than any other answer she had ever given to her therapist.
As if she had risen from the water, her voice grew clearer. "I knew I could never trust him, but I figured he was my best shot at having a happy life."
“Let’s go back to the time when you had an argument over the toothpaste. You said, ‘he told me that I was wasteful, that I wasted everything and that I was a spoiled queen who didn’t appreciate anything.’ How often did he accuse you of being, ‘a gold-digging premadonna’?
Rebecca takes a huge deep breath as she looks at the clock on the light-house nautical themed wall. She only had 15 minutes left before she had to leave to pick up Haley from school.
“Let’s just say that Jim assumed that all women were out for money. It's Los Angeles, right? That’s the way his worldview was. He assumed that all blacks had criminal minds and that all women were sluts."
"Uh huh," Dr. Gorgona kept on writing as she observed Rebecca. There seemed to be two personas. One Rebecca was sensitive and modest, the other calculating and proud.
Rebecca unconsciously lowers her mask to catch a fresh breath of air. "Oh yeah, his answer to why he loved me, I almost forgot...his answer was that, 'I take care of him'. Can you believe that?
"You mean like, er...you take care of him like a mother?"
"No. Ew...more like I take care of him sexually, and that I clean and cook for him. He told me that the reason why he married me was because I wasn't like the rest of them. I guess that's what makes this so hard. It's ironic that I'd cheat on him. Look at me! I'm no hot tamale. I was raised by a strict Christian, single mother, who escaped from my abusive father. My parents got divorced when I was about Haley's age.”
"So, he believed that you were better than most women?"
"That's what he told me. I guess that made me feel good that he didn't want me wearing make-up. I didn't have to dress up like other women who try to please their boyfriends or husbands."
"What about your new boyfriend? Does he also prefer the natural type?"
"Kyle? Oh, he doesn't care. He's not into fashion like Jim is. Kyle doesn't notice other people's shoes or care about what kind of car they drive. He's the opposite of Jim."
"But, Jim is good? Does that mean that Kyle is bad?"
Rebecca stunned herself with this revelation. "I didn't mean to say, well, maybe we both are bad. I feel more comfortable with him because, well, I guess that I must be bad too."
Dr. Gogona could no longer keep her silence. She put down her pad of paper and turned off the voice recorder.
"I'm not supposed to judge you or anyone. My job is to help you adjust to whatever is happening in your life. But, I have to say Rebecca that in all my life, I've met few people as decent as you are. I don't think you are bad. And, from what you've told me about Kyle, he seems like a stand-up guy too."
"Thank you Dr. Gorgona. That really means a lot to me. Can you tell me why I feel so bad then? Jim says I feel guilty because I am guilty and he says I'm going to hell for what I did to him."
The time was up. "I can't tell you why you feel the way you do, but we'll get there. What you are going through doesn't define who you are. You're not a bad person."
Rebecca reached out to touch her therapist's arm. There was a look of alarm on her face as if she had seen a ghost.
"Doctor? I'm afraid he might do something to hurt himself."
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