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Clean Break

“Laura I know you think it doesn’t matter to you, but I don’t want to wonder if you’re happy while I’m away. I don’t want to feel guilty because you went to the show by yourself again. I don’t want to hear about everything you handled alone. It is not fair to you and it’s not fair to me. You spend so much energy keeping this empty life warm for me. I don’t want you to do it anymore.” I left the base this morning with a list of things I needed to do, get my haircut, grab some stamps, and end my involvement with Laura.

Stupidly I thought ending my time with her would be quick. We don’t live together. I don’t have any of my stuff at her place. It shouldn’t have to be this tedious.

“Rich, I don’t think like that. And our lives aren’t empty. This isn’t some fairy tale re-enactment. I know what you expect from me. I’m the native in this town remember. My father went to work every day up on that hilltop and some nights he didn’t come home. It was normal. I don’t expect to have you on my heels at every turn, I could get used to it, but I don’t expect it.” Laura didn’t look upset. She was getting louder and her tone changed but she had a great poker face.

My attempt at starting a good old, go fuck yourself level argument had failed miserably. I needed Laura to have a bit more self-preservation; an ounce more would have gone a long way towards making her see that our time together had run its course. Laura wasn’t going along with my process. She knew what I was up to and she wasn’t making it easy for me.

There had been many times I ended relationships badly purely by accident. Eventually, I figured out the right pattern to follow to ensure a nice clean break. There was the rational beginning, the I’m not going to be around, argument. That alone was enough to plant the seeds of descent in the minds of most women. Then I made sure I wore dark clothes, no uniform, just a dark gray shirt and jeans, no cologne, or jewelry of any kind. You need a blank canvas, nothing that gives off any warm and fuzzy feelings.

Goodbye sex is an option most of the time. Usually, I would take steps to move things in that direction but I needed to be free of Laura today. I need my extra time back and I didn’t want to waste any more of hers. I didn’t require her to hate me. I just needed her to let me go.

My heart was never in it with Laura. She is beautiful and funny, educated and independent but there’s no magic. Laura, like the others, was a distraction from how lonely it is to want what you can’t put your hands on anymore. I was glad I didn’t marry or create any entanglements along the way, I could have, but I didn’t want the hassle.

I felt panicked; the panic you feel once you realize you averted disaster, missed a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer or found a tripwire that nearly got you dead. I needed to be free to pursue other interests but Laura wasn’t going for it.

“Look, I can’t continue to monopolize your time when I have no intentions of taking our relationship any further. I thought you knew me but I could see how disappointed you were the other night when you opened your present. You obviously don’t agree with my desire to have a casual relationship. I can’t waste your time anymore.”

“Is all this because of my birthday gift? I admit I wanted there to be something else in that box but I love the fact that you picked out something for me. You saw that watch and you thought of me. I love that.”

“I went to a jewelry store because it seemed like that’s what I should do. I asked the salesman what he had that was classy. He suggested the watch. He said it was useful and went with everything. I took his advice.” Laura finally looked angry. I had succeeded in upsetting her but I didn’t know exactly why.

So I didn’t pick out the gift myself, big deal. If that was the last straw I needed to toss on the pile to put her on the right track, then so be it. Money well spent in my opinion.

“You know the bakery is not the place to talk about all this, come by the house, have dinner with me, we can talk about what’s actually bothering you.” Laura finally looked agitated, but still composed. I couldn’t crack her shell; it was too perfect. She wasn’t giving up on her own.

“Laura look around, the bakery is empty, and there’s nothing bothering me. I can’t see you anymore. I think it’s better that I don’t come over for dinner. This isn’t because of something you’ve done. I care for you. I want you to be happy. I think you want the same for me. This thing we had together has run its course. There is a point where you have to go all in or cut and run. I’m choosing to cut and run.”

“So you get to decide how the time between us ends. I don’t have a say in this? I have no problem with a casual relationship. That is what we've had for almost two years. I don’t need you; I enjoy spending my time with you. We have exactly what you say you want. So at least tell me what your real problem is. I can see that you have your head all screwed up with something. You have never told me why you had to leave suddenly Monday night. Is that what all this is about?”

“You know I can’t talk to you about my work. Do I have a problem, Jesus Christ yes I have a problem? Regardless, my extra time is going to be spent other places and I don’t want to think of you waiting for me to call with weekend plans. You need to be free to see whoever you like, do whatever you like, and not be waiting for me to show up.”

“I need to be free to do whatever I like? Other places, wow that’s not even inventive. It’s code for you want other women or is it just one woman that has you so flustered?” Laura got very close to me as if she was trying to smell the deceit on my skin. She looked like she wanted me to kiss her but I had no desire to kiss her. Many things had changed in just a few days time. I just wanted to leave.

“I have some things to take care of in town before I head back up top. I wanted to talk to you face to face, explain myself as best I could. I’ve said what I came to say. When we met you were out having fun with your friends that’s the way I’ll think about you.”

“Keep my phone number handy Rich. When these other places get too serious and you find yourself alone; give me a call. We can revisit your long-term commitment issues.”

“Goodbye, Laura.” She wasn’t usually mean and maybe she wasn’t trying to be. But I didn’t want to talk to her anymore. I put my sunglasses on and walked back to where I parked my Harley.

The first day I meet women I feel something. Everything is new and you never know what’s going to happen. But by the last day, I usually feel nothing for them. Today I’m not sure what to think. I didn’t need to explain my situation to Laura. There was no upside to telling her that I drugged my married ex-fiance, tore her away from her home, and brought her to the base. And things might not work out because she thinks I’m an asshole and she might be on trial for three counts of murder. But I’m going to dump you so I can be clear of conscience to pursue her. There was no upside and honestly, it sounds like the ramblings of a crazy old man.

Freedom is the thought for my day. A dirty secret has been drowned in soapy water and wiped away without a trace. I didn’t love Laura; I didn’t use her or take advantage of her. I just didn’t love her. I cared for her and enjoyed her company.

Laura knew what she was getting when we started up but it felt strange to be with her so long. It felt empty. I needed to find a shred of something in her. Something, about her or me that would turn into more than what we had. No amount of time would make that happen. I allowed myself to be lulled into a long-term partnership with a woman I didn’t love but liked a bit more than average. That’s not enough. I should have ended it with her months ago. I got lazy. I got too comfortable and too lazy.

I took the liberty of arranging certain legal documents for Calynn and her ex-husband to sign, well soon to be ex-husband. She doesn’t see it yet but her situation is the same as mine. Time is not going to help win back her holy roller husband. He is weak and simple and has no business with a woman like her. He isn’t even the same species as we are. He is like a human sheep and she and I are like flying tigers.

There was a problem with Caylnn’s first husband. He was convinced by a purist cult that Caylnn was a demon. They influenced him to burn the evil out of her. They convinced him that God would cleanse her of her dark powers if he burned it out of her in just the right way.

She trusted him and went off with him for the weekend like she had done many times before. He started the process by drugging her, then he put her in the tub, filled it with water and added a gallon of holy water so God could help him save her soul. He took the wooden crosses the cult leader gave him and proceeded to burn them into her forehead and her palms. The holy water was acetone. It floated on top of the bath water and burned the engulfed the room once he lit the crosses on fire.

The fire department put out the blaze. The room plus the two on either side were decimated. The Coroner took her body to the morgue. Caylnn woke up in a drawer when the drugs wore off. Her skin was too charred to find a pulse and besides who could have survived such a huge fire. One of the several horrible memories she has lost that I hope she never regains.

That first husband didn’t live to see his next sunrise. Caylnn found him in his car driving to meet the cult leader. She waited until he got to the meeting site and proceeded to implode his torso. I can only imagine it was a horribly painful death. Police reports stated that onlookers saw two black mist silhouettes exit the car when the door was opened.

I would have happily killed him for her. But we didn’t meet until three months after it happened. She didn’t have to leave her hospital bed to exact her revenge. I guess it all happened quickly enough for her. I have only read the reports and seen the pictures but my God it was gruesome. The man looked like all the air was sucked out of his lungs as he was crumpled like a beer can and cooked in the driver's seat.

Gerald was the one that collected the remains and froze the man’s body. He waited for the appropriate time to list him as killed in action. He let the man and his family have some dignity. I know he did it all to cover Caylnn. There was no way to charge her with anything; she was over fifty miles away and barely conscious when he died. Gerald covered up a murder with a cool head and a steady hand. He is a man capable of many things.

I can understand why the idiot tried to cast the evil out of her? He wanted his wife back even if he had to burn her alive to accomplish it. The cult must have been very convincing to get him to go through with their plan. Their leader disappeared shortly after the husband. Not a trace of the man has ever been found. The two entities she pulled to do her bidding long distance disappeared into the pavement of the parking lot. The witnesses unlucky enough to see the black mist escape the car were told that they suffered from CO2 poisoning and had a shared delusion.

This lie she has been living with husband number two has to end. I don’t think this man would ever try to set her ablaze, but I doubt he will be able to accept her. That kind of betrayal might be just as painful as fire. A quick and clean break is better in the end. It’s the only way to go.

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