Saturday, February 5, 2011
From Good to Gonzo
This is part one of "To Serve and Protect". I finally settled on a title. I hope you like the first installment. All comments are welcome.
When Calvin and I first met, I had just lost my maternal grandmother, my Nana, to ovarian cancer. Nana had raised me, so it was really like losing my mother. I was on my way home from the funeral home, after finalizing the arrangements, when Calvin pulled up beside me at a red light and blew his horn. I looked over and he motioned for me to let down my window. I did it, reluctantly.
"Smile, pretty lady," he said. "Everything is gonna be all right."
I looked at him and smiled, but then I was overcome with emotion and tears started streaming down my face. I couldn't believe Nana was gone. I missed her so much.
"Pull over into that service station, sweetie. You need to calm down before you tear somebody's car up."
I did as he advised, against my better judgment. He could have been a rapist or murderer, but something in his voice made me feel comfortable. I watched him get out of his van and head toward me, so I got out of my car too. Without hesitation, Calvin grabbed me and hugged me. I hadn't wanted to wet up his shirt with my tears, so I started to pull away. He pulled me closer.
"You got a name pretty lady?"
"Shanell, and you are?"
"I'm Calvin. It's so nice to meet you."
It was nice to feel a warm body after feeling so cold for the last couple of days, but I didn't tell him that. As he caressed the back of my head, he spoke softly into my ear. Calvin told me that no matter what was wrong, he would do whatever it took to make it all better. I finally got myself together enough to give Calvin my number and take his. Before we parted ways, he kissed me. The kiss was so strong and intense that it felt like he was trying to alleviate all of the pain that I was feeling. If I had been in a different state of mind, I would have slapped him silly, tore his number up, and threw it in his face. Instead I found myself craving the comfort that I knew he could give me.
Calvin called me later that day. He listened intently as I relayed the details of my feelings that morning. He seemed to really care how I felt, and from that day on, Calvin and I spent a lot of time together, going to the park, seeing movies, and going out to eat at least once a week. Sometimes we would just stay home and cook dinner together. His specialty was shish kabobs, and I loved them. He was excited when I made Fettuccine Alfredo with grilled chicken.
I accompanied Calvin to his family reunion that August, after only dating a month. "I only take women I care about to my family reunions. The last time I took someone was my junior year in high school," he said. I felt very special because it had been at least ten years since he had graduated.
The Parker family reunion was a three-day event. On Friday, there was a picnic, Saturday was the banquet and Sunday, everyone went to the church where one of Calvin's uncles was pastor. Calvin had a huge family--two sisters, five brothers, and too many aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and in-laws to name.
"Why don't you have any kids?" I asked Calvin.
"Because I've been waiting for you." I thought that was so sweet, I wanted to cry.
Calvin loved kids and often had nieces and nephews over for the weekend. They would order pizza and play Nintendo most of the time. It was all right, but I wasn't used to a lot of children running around. I only had one sister and neither of us had children. Both of our parents had been only children so we didn't have much family.
Calvin and I got married after three years of dating. I was happy with him. I tried to get pregnant for a while, but when nothing happened, I just figured that it wasn't meant to be. Call me selfish, but I kind of liked the fact that I had Calvin all to myself.
I kept myself busy while he worked. Calvin made good money as an auto mechanic, so I didn't have to work if I didn't want to. But I did bring in a little money here and there from the sale of my handmade crocheted items that I sold to neighbors and friends. Nana had left me a substantial sum of money, which I had invested wisely. I had also rented out the house that Nana and I had lived in to some old friends.
Even though things had started off perfect, the last twelve months or so of our relationship, Calvin seemed to do a 180-degree turn around. He avoided me whenever possible. When I called him on his cell phone, just to let him know that he was on my mind, he snapped at me and hung up the phone in my face. I didn't know what had gone wrong in our marriage and Calvin refused to enlighten me.
Growing up, Nana had often told me and my sister, "Don't start nothing you can't finish." So I always tried to be the same person and do the same things for Calvin that I had done to win his heart in the first place. If boredom was the problem, I hoped that we were close enough for Calvin to tell me how he felt. I considered myself to be open-minded and was willing to do anything to make our marriage work. Of course, I couldn't do it alone, but Calvin did nothing to help. In fact, he made things worse.
Whenever I needed someone to talk to, I called my friend, Marie. Marie and I had worked together for a few years before my resignation from Wal-Mart.
"What do you think is wrong with Calvin?" I asked one night while Calvin was out.
"Girl, ain't no telling. I do see him at the club sometimes. He comes in with his boys, but he dances with this one female almost the whole time," Marie confessed.
"Do you thing he's dating her? Have you ever seen them leave together?"
"The club closes at three and Julia and I always leave at around two to avoid being trampled. Calvin and the chick are usually still there when we leave."
I didn't want to believe that Calvin was cheating on me, but I knew that there was always that possibility.
Calvin often did things to express his irritation with me, from cursing me out for no apparent reason to threatening to leave me. It saddened me at first and made me wonder if he was seeing someone else seriously, but I grew used to it. I told myself he was just going through a phase, and would be okay before long. But I soon found out that it was so much more than just a grown man's temper tantrum.
A couple days after my conversation with Marie, Calvin woke me up at 3:00 AM, pressing a cold pistol to my temple. I knew he had been drinking by his alcohol-tainted breath. "Hey, baby," he cooed.
I was speechless. Tears sprang into my eyes as I stared into my husband's face.
"Why did you call me half a dozen times? Don't you trust me?"
"I was lonely," I whimpered. "I just missed you, that's all," which was mostly true.
Sometimes I would feel an eerie aching when I was alone, but that night the conversation that I had with Marie had popped into my head when he said he was going out. I couldn't help but to call to check up on him. I knew there had to be an explanation behind why his feelings towards me had changed so drastically. The other woman probably had a lot to do with it.
"Maybe I should put you out of your misery. I wish I had known you were so worrisome before I married you," he said, grinding the barrel of the gun into my face.
I messed in my pants. I couldn't help it. I was afraid that Calvin was going to take my life just because he was sick of me. A moment passed before Calvin caught a whiff of my accident.
"Huh, you scared, ain't it?" he asked.
Check out part two and part three of this story.