Three Strikes And A Home Run
I walked out of the courthouse a free man once more. My heart was heavy but my anger was subsiding. To my surprise I hadn't gotten screwed too badly this time. I headed for the public parking lot and my trusty old F150. It was a forty mile drive home and I really needed to get on the road. My children would be home from school soon and I needed to be there for them. I had a neighbor woman who watched them when I was busy but with their mother gone I felt I should spend as much time with them as I could.
I came opposite to the door for a little hole in the wall bar just down from the police station and for some reason I entered. The noise level dropped several decibels as the patrons turned to look at me. I knew I didn't belong. Every person I could see inside wore a Law Enforcement uniform or a badge somewhere on their person. Of course all were armed as well. I stood for a moment to let my eyes get more used to the darkness after the bright August mid afternoon sunlight. I almost sighed out loud when I felt the ice cold air surround me. The thermometer on the corner bank showed it was 108 F on the courthouse square. There had not been a breath of wind. My shirt was wet with sweat but only part of it had come up during my walk from the courtroom. The courtroom had been too hot and I had been sweating from nervousness as well. I was sure my body odor was way too noticeable.
I moved to the bar through smoke so thick you could cut it with a knife. Even in this day of health conscious people the clientele smoked like chimneys. It was a tension reliever as much as anything for them and they didn't seem to care if it reduced their capability to run after perps. I glanced once more around the room and took an unused seat at the bar. The bartender looked at me for a moment then she wandered up to me. She stood looking at me with a raised eyebrow and spoke not a word. She had let me know by her silence I was not welcome there. I leaned on the bar and said, "Dos Equis Lager. No glass."
I watched the bartender turn and saunter to the coolers in the middle of the bar. She rummaged around for a moment and pulled the bottle from the back. She popped the top and walked back to me. The bottle thumped loudly when she placed it before me on the bar. "That'll be $4.75."
I took a deep pull on the bottle and sat it back down carefully. Damn, that was the coldest beer I had tasted in a week. Of course Leo's claim to fame was their promise of the coldest beer in the county. They kept the cooler set at 30 degrees F. I reached into my pocket and pulled my wallet out. I found a five and dropped it on the bar in front of the tender.
Once again nothing was said as she picked up the bill and walked toward the cash register. I watched her ass wobble inside her faded jeans. When she turned away her breasts wobbled inside the loose shirt she wore. It was plain to see her D's were not restrained by any damn bra. As she moved away almost waddling her ass cheeks bounced around in her pants like two raccoons in a burlap sack. Cora had been tending bar at Leo's for as long as I had known of the place. When her husband Leo died she became the owner and only full time employee.
Without a word my twenty five cents in change was slapped onto the bar in front of me. She turned once more and waddled away. By now I had already downed almost two thirds of my Dos Equis. The bartender was studiously ignoring me. I wondered if I would be allowed another beer if I asked for it. I watched the other patrons in the back bar mirror as they resumed their interrupted conversations. The noise level increased once more.
I had maybe one or two more swallows of beer left when a group at one of the tables decided to leave. Two of the patrons stared at me when they walked past on the way to the door. The third officer, a plain clothes officer stopped beside me. "It's been a long time Dean. Why did you come back," he asked.
I looked up at the big bastard and wondered if I could take him down again. After all these years I still wanted to try. I was in better shape than I had been years before and he looked much softer. I thought I could take him but I really didn't want to try. The last time had not ended well for either of us. I let myself relax and the tension drain from my body. "Stupid I guess Sean. Just got out of court and decided to get a brew before I headed home. No law against that is there? I just had my third strike and got rid of another cheating skank. I needed a brew before I headed on back home." I laughed then continued, "But you probably know all about that. I'm sure you or someone you know has been sampling her cheating ass too.
Sean smirked at me and said, "No, I suppose legally you can drink anywhere you're man enough to but you make a lot of people nervous. Why don't you find somewhere else to drink? Somewhere you don't bother the other customers and you'll be more welcome. Hell none of us want a loser like you in here. Makes us look bad to be seen with a loser that can't satisfy his women and keep them from cheating on him."
I laughed and said, "Oh, I will; hell, I have. I know better than to have a drink in here with my old friends. What are some of them afraid I'll be gunning for them still? Or did some of them fuck Paula too? If they did tell them I don't give a shit. I learned my lesson when you fucked Terri. You still with the cheating skank?"
Sean tensed and leaned toward me. I knew he was still married to my ex and I also knew things were not all roses in their household. They were both screwing around and had separated several times and got back together. I was surprised their marriage had lasted the seven years it had. I had only been married to the skank eighteen months before she cheated on me and I threw her to the curb. I wondered why Sean didn't do the same thing. I guess some guys just don't give a damn about things like that.
When I found out Sean had been fucking my first wife I took matters into my own hands. Several nights when I was on duty I drove out of my patrol area off and on until I finally saw what I expected. Sean's car was parked in the street near my home. I pulled into my driveway and walked into my home. Sean and Terri were in bed together cooing and cuddling after a session of loving. All that saved me from jail that time was the video cameras I had secreted to cover the bedroom and living area of the house. I slammed the door back as I walked into the bedroom and it bounced off the door stop. That startled the drowsy lovers into frantic action. I walked into the bedroom and stood at the foot of the bed staring at my ex friend and soon to be ex wife.
Terri screamed at the noise and seeing me glaring at her. She cowered back against the bed headboard and pulled the sheet up over her to her chin. I could see the fear in her face. Sean jumped from the bed and started toward me. I had known him long enough to know what buttons to push verbally. As soon as he stood I began verbally attacking him. I told him to get his ass out of my house. I also told him I was going to his home and tell his wife what I had caught him doing. I had my cell phone in my hand taking pictures as we confronted each other just in case the video camera wasn't operating for some reason.
With an oath Sean slammed into me and knocked the cell phone from my hands. He pulled his hand back to hit me once more when I tore into him. I kicked him in the balls then slammed my knee up in his face as he bent forward. I pushed his head down into my knee as it came up. He fell to the floor out cold. When I walked past him I kicked him once more for good measure. I'll let you guess where I kicked him.
I told Terri to be out of the house before I got off duty. I picked up my phone and walked from the room, out of the house and back to my cruiser. I had the cameras I had set up in my home feeding into a computer in my locked office so didn't worry too much about the video I hoped to have of the little tryst. I went straight to Sean's home. It was nearly three a.m. when I rang the doorbell at the Michaels residence. A very sleepy looking wife came to the door. When she saw me standing in the door in uniform she screamed and said, "Oh, Noooo, please not Sean!"
"Yeah, Sean but not the way you are afraid of Mrs. Michaels. I just came from my home where I found him in bed with my wife. I have pictures if you want them."
"Nooooo. That can't be. He's supposed to be at the station tonight. He's Sergeant of the watch."
"No, I'm afraid you've been misled Mrs. Michaels. He was off duty today. Jackson is Sergeant of the Watch. Now, do you want me to send you the pictures? If you do give me your e-mail address and I'll get them to you in a day or two."
"No. I don't believe you. Sean wouldn't do that to me."
"Yeah, he would. Here look." I showed her some of the pictures on my phone and she collapsed on the floor crying. I felt bad for her but good about bringing more pain to good ole Sean. I turned away from the crying woman, smiled to myself and walked back to my cruiser to resume my patrol.
About thirty minutes after I left the Michaels home I was called back to the station. I was removed from duty and placed on suspension without pay for leaving my patrol area and for attacking an officer in the performance of his duty. Get this, Michaels and Terri had told the Lieutenant that she had called him for help because she thought there was an intruder in our home. I had supposedly been coming home for a little loving when I saw Sean in the house and went berserk accusing them of cheating on me and attacked him!
Of course I used the video I took from my house to defend myself of the charges made against me for attacking Sean. Those pictures saved me from being incarcerated for attacking Sean. They also cost him a reduction back to the ranks and suspension from the force for a short time. No, Sean had reason to hate me in his eyes even though I felt totally justified in what I had done to him.
Well, that marriage went into the toilet and so did my job. I was fired for my transgressions and taken to the cleaners by dear sweet Terri. I lost the house and half of our savings. I was ordered to pay support to her but thankfully that ended in less than a year when she married Sean after his divorce was final. Sean hated me with a white heat. I could see his fists clenching with his desire to strike me. I almost wanted him to but I hoped he wouldn't.
I glared at Sean and waited. It was his move. Finally he smirked at me and said, "Yeah Terri and I are still married asshole. No thanks to you. I know you're the one who keeps sending us the incriminating pictures. Why don't you get a life and leave us alone?" He laughed and continued, "Or not. Hell you may be doing me a favor. She's heard so often that I'm a cheating bastard and seen so many pictures you sent that now I could cheat on her and she wouldn't believe it. You've caused some problems but I gotta admit you have helped me too."
I almost told him I wasn't the main person taking the pictures and sending them to him and Terri. I had been taking some of Sean one night and another officer had seen me. He and some of his brother officers liked what I had done and began to do it also. There were a lot of officers that hated Sean's guts for one thing or another. Some of them hated him for the same reason I did. They were making his and Terri's life pretty miserable. I also didn't tell him I had only sent one set of photos. I wasn't following him or her and never had been. The one picture I had sent I had just accidently seen him with another woman in a bar shortly after my divorce from Terri. I really couldn't care less now one way or another.
Sean turned and walked jauntily out the door. I squinted my eyes when the sunlight burst through the door as he walked out. One of my last remaining friends in law enforcement came in as Sean left. When she saw me sitting at the bar she smiled and began walking toward me. Jackie and I had been in the police academy together. She had gone into the Sheriff's department when I went into the city police force. She glided across the floor and took the stool beside me.
Our taciturn bartender looked up at Jackie and raised her eyebrows. "Usual," she asked.
Jackie nodded her head and pointed at my Dos Equis bottle then held up two fingers. In moments a beer was sat in front of each of us. Jackie handed a ten to our host and waved her away.
We each took several sips of our beer then Jackie looked at me in the bar mirror. "I was in the courthouse earlier. I saw you in family court. Heard about Paula. Damn Dean you sure can't pick them can you? What is it now three?"
I sighed and nodded my head yes then said, "Yeah you know it is. Sean got the ball rolling with Terri. Hell that one only took about eighteen months. Then there was the kid's mom Suzie. At least she lasted almost five years before I caught her with the damn football coach at her school. Patty was really a surprise though. Shit, we were only married nine months when I began to suspect she was stepping out on me. Guess I should have known that would happen. Damn, I was an officer and knew how"
I looked at Jackie and saw her face tighten. I hurriedly continued, "Sorry Jackie. I shouldn't have gone there. Hell, I didn't mean all of the women on the force were like that I just guess I'm bitter. She was a damn dispatcher for Christ's sake. Oh, hell, I don't know what I mean. Crap."
Jackie smiled and placed her dainty little hand on my forearm. "I know Dean. Hell, it's a job hazard almost. There is so much tension and testosterone in the air that we are all tempted. Some of us just don't have the willpower to ignore the temptation and go home for our release."
"Yeah, whatever. I notice you and Ed haven't succumbed to the temptation though. If you guys and some of the others can do it why couldn't Patty or Sean for that matter?"
"Hell, you know from your time on the force Dean. Some people are just weak. Some are serial womanizers like Sean. Now cheer up drink your beer and get home to those kids." She shook her head and said, "That's one I'll never be able to figure out. I still can't believe Suzie just took off for an overseas job and left those darling kids with you. How can a mother, hell how can any parent just take off and leave their children like that?"
"Don't know Jackie but I'm damn glad she did. I really thought when the court refused to let her take them out of the country she would stay here or try to take them anyway. I love having them home with me. Little Howard finished kindergarten this year and Stacy was in first grade. Everything is still new and exciting for them and they have such a zest for life. I couldn't stand it if she had stayed here and kept primary custody of them. Sometimes it's hard working and arranging for them to be cared for properly but I wouldn't do it any differently for love or money."
Jackie and I both finished our beer at the same time. We sat a moment just enjoying each other's company. Finally with a sigh Jackie stood to leave and said, "Guess I should go. I still have to fix supper for Ed, get some laundry done then get to bed in time to be fresh as a daisy for the morning shift." I stood and followed her out of the dim bar into the glaring light and heat of another August afternoon in southwest Missouri. We had both parked in the same lot so we visited as we walked to our vehicles.
On the way home I thought about my last failure in the romance department. At least this time I had been smart enough to get a prenuptial agreement from Patty. We each walked away from the marriage with what we had brought into it and split the small amount we had accumulated in the little over a year it had lasted. I had been operating the family farm when my second marriage had failed but did not own it yet. Because of that I had only been required to divide bank accounts with Suzie. She had been very angry about that. For some reason she thought my mother had signed the farm over to me when Dad had died. Actually all she had done was turn over the operation to me. I suppose since Mom referred to it as my farm Suzie thought that meant I owned the land, equipment and animals. Now I wondered if that was why she had married me?
Mom died shortly after Crystal and I divorced and I became the owner of the farm then. It wasn't a very large farm—only about two sections—but I made a pretty good living on it. In truth I made more profit on the farm than I would be making as a patrolman if I hadn't lost my job. To top that off I enjoyed the work and freedom much more on the farm. Some days if I didn't feel like working I could just say screw it and goof off. Life was hard but I loved it on the farm.
I got home about 45 minutes after I left Joplin. My two kids and their sitter were in the back yard. The kids were playing in their little wading pool while Tammy sat at the picnic table reading and watching them. Stacy jumped from the pool and came running toward me when she saw me. Howard followed behind slowly. I gave both the kids a hug and walked to the kitchen for another beer.
I came out and sat at the table across from Tammy. "Hey Dean. Is it all over now?"
"Yeah, I'm outta the ballgame now Tam. I just had strike three in the bottom of the ninth inning." I sat looking out over the brown dry grass in the yard. I could barely see the small stream separating my yard from the south field through the trees that lined the stream bank. I let my mind wander to a more pressing problem than the end of my third marriage. I had to start feeding my cattle hay almost three weeks before and I was worried I would not have enough to get through the winter if it didn't rain soon.
This was the worst drought in 65 years according to news reports. Cornfields that normally yielded between 150 and 200 bushels per acre had already been chopped for silage because the grain was so poor it wasn't worth letting it mature to combine. Other crops were doing just as badly because of the lack of water. Many farmers were already selling cattle they would not normally sell because they could not feed them. It was expected to get much worse before it got better.
I could survive thanks to my crop insurance but things would be tight. At least I was able to irrigate some of my grassland by pumping water from the stream that ran through my farm. I looked over at Tammy and saw her watching me. I tried to smile then said, "Well, guess I can watch the kids for the rest of the day Tam. Why don't you get on home? I don't think I'll need ya tomorrow but I'll call if I do."
That fall Stacy was in second grade and Howard the first grade. Shortly after school started Tammy came to see me. "Dean I'm not going to be able to watch the kids after school much this year I'm afraid. Things just aren't getting any better for Jack and me. Jack's already working part time at the feed mill but we're going to lose the farm if I can't find a full time job in town to help out. I'm sorry I can't stay on with you. I just need more money to get us past this damn drought. I'll watch them until I get a job or until you find someone else but you'd better plan on finding someone real soon. If you still want me to watch the kids some and we can fit it in with my work schedule I can still do that though."
"Crap Tam. I'm sorry to hear that. I don't know what I can do but if you and Jack need anything and I can help let me know. I sure hate to let you go. The kids love you so much. Do you know anyone that can help?"
"No not right off hand. I'll keep my eye out though. Sorry."
In early October Tammy stayed to talk to me one evening after I got back in from the field. "Dean, have you found a sitter yet?"
"No, I did find one old woman in town that would be willing to watch them part time but I can't find anyone who wants to come out here and watch the kids in our house. Most of them aren't willing to stay late the nights I am still working in the fields or they want a guaranteed full time job. Why? Did you finally find work?"