This morning my wife announced that she wants a divorce. My reality shattered. Her feelings for me has been diminishing in favor of this new guy.
We’ve been married fifteen years and have two daughters together. Within the last three months, she knew him in our bed, introduced him to our children and has asked me to leave so that he may replace me. I didn’t want to believe it.
From our bedroom, we argued. Our bitter discussion continued to the living room. I was mad and angry, and I wanted to smite her. I didn’t. In my rage, I picked up a clay vase, made by her now deceased mother, and I threw it past her head. The vase hit the wall and broke in pieces.
My wife was stunned. Never in our relationship had I have an outburst like that. Our children, who were observing from the corner of the hallway were petrified. My wife took up anger and yelled for me to leave. In turn, I matched her volume and told her that this is my house. The arguing ended when my eldest daughter raised her voice in asking for me to go. Nothing else mattered.
My wife repeated my daughter’s words and they bit like a viper. My life was crumbling. I was dealing with feelings I had never experienced and worst yet I don’t know how to comprehend it all.
Jena, my daughter, trembled and fell back against the wall as I approached her. I knelt down and gazed upon her face, I asked her if me gone was what she wanted. She couldn’t bear to look at my pitiful face. Out of the side of her head, she said, “Yes. We needed you here. John was. Where were you?”
That was all I could bear to hear, it was too much. While in my blue pajamas and satin robe, I left. I didn’t want them to see me cry. I left my car in the driveway because there is nowhere for me to go.
I walked for hours crying and reflecting. As the sun rose, so did the activity within the world. No one spoke a word to me until after the tears ceased its flow. I received the occasional “Hi,” or “Good morning,” or “How’s it going?” No one ever stopped to know how things were going, they simply walked by.
The cold-shoulder the world gave me reminded me of something I heard long ago “The love of many will grow cold.” My limbs shivered in the simmering heat.
At that time, I pondered on how many people I passed by in my lifetime who bore pain as deep as mine and yet I never bothered to care. I never gave them a second thought. It dawned on me, this is how we display our humanity. I dwelled on the subject and came to the conclusion that without genuine love there is no purpose in living.
These past few years, all I’ve done is work for my family’s sake. Our home was being foreclosed and I offered up my job in search of a better. In memory of my older brother, I minored in business administration and entrepreneurship. A friend of mine ran a somewhat successful business in leadership hiring and I asked for a job. He was reluctant to hire me but after two months I was the top executive, my brother’s dream.
My job consisted of traveling and managing. Due to the nature of my work, I wasn’t able to spend much time with my family. My work provided and they were able to live an abundant life. Even though I did all that I could for them, my wife told me I wasn’t home enough and begged me to quit. It took over a year, but I had finally come home for good. My old boss even gave me my job back. It appears, however, that I am too late.
Now here I am, in the park. As I sit, my bare, throbbing, beating feet rest. Bright colors of all sorts surround me. The sun smiles from above through the calm blue sky. People of all sorts play with their children or pets on the vibrant green grass. A woman pushing a stroller passes me by while enjoying a conversation on her cellphone. The world seems to be happy and yet, I hide my face from this beauty because it’s not something I can endure any longer. I look down, pondering. The wound of losing everything in a single day is still open and this sight only fuels my frustration.
Birds in a nearby tree joyously chirped creating a harmonious song. An older woman holding a bag full of seed sat next to me. The birds came down for a visit as the lady sprinkled seeds on the ground. Their company is welcoming.
A young lady approaches me and asked ‘Are you okay?’ I plainly replied, “My wife wants a divorce so she can be a guy named John. My daughters like him more than me and asked me to leave my own home.” She said “Oh” and walked away.
It’s been thirty minutes and the lady with the birdfeed is ready to leave. As she stood on her feet, I ask if I could continue feeding the birds. She gives me the bag. Time drifts by and my watch beeps, it’s noon. The bird food runs empty and the birds leave.
Is it now an appropriate time to contemplate my end? Being too busy not only took away my family, it also drove a wedge between my friends, other family members, and I. The only comfort I will find now is with my friends in the business sphere. That level of work, however, is too stressful and it’s only good for financial increase, not happiness. It’s that lifestyle that took my family away in the first place.
What is this? A young man with a huge grin is standing before me. I was so lost in thought, I didn’t notice him approaching. On his shirt read ‘Laughter, the greatest medicine since death.’ Being around him makes me uncomfortable.
Stretching my legs to leave, I began gaining distance away from this strange man. He called to me and said, “Do you need a drink?” I should keep walking, but I do need a drink. The boy can’t be a mature man yet. In other words, he can’t be over the age of twenty-one. I can’t help it. I need this.
We walked to the curve and entered his vehicle, a pink mustang. I would question his sexuality, but as the engine started a sermon begins to play. I haven’t been religious in years. The young man pulls out of the curve and ships off a question, “So, why are you in pajamas?”
Again, like I told the young lady from earlier, I answered, “My wife has been seeing this new guy and my kids prefer him over me.” His grin grew in size.
“I have no idea what you’re going through, but, we’ll learn and get through this together.” Am I in the presence of a sociopath?
Only a few minutes has passed and we are already parking in front of a bar. Before we exited the vehicle, the young man said, “You don’t need to pay for anything, the tabs on me.”
In the bar, we sat near the counter and I ordered the most expensive bottle of liquor they held. The bartender asked the young man if he would like a glass to which he answered no.
“Why aren’t you drinking?” I asked
“Proverbs 23:29-32,” he answered.
I don’t know the verses. When I was a Christian, I was taught that liquor is a mocker and is poison to the body. Why are we in a bar?
“If you are a Christian why did you bring me to the bar?”
“Proverbs 31:6-7,” he replied. The next time I have a Bible I’m going to look up those verses.
The young man continued the conversation, “I never got your name.”
“It doesn’t matter?” I answered.
“Well, I am none other than The Orlando Gray. I’m sure you’ve heard of me.”
“No, I haven’t.”
What kind of joke is this? The Orlando Gray? That can’t be his real name. He’s lying to me and that’s a sin.
It seems like only minutes were wasted when hours had passed. I drank two bottles of liquor and I’m not drunk enough to have the illusion of happiness. It’s time to leave. I can’t stand being near this sociopath any longer.
“Where are you going?” Orlando called out as I walked toward the exit. I ignored him.
“You can’t leave until you pay.” The bartender declared.
“He’ll cover the cost,” I said before walking out.
“Is this the bill?” Orlando yelled, “He only ordered two bottles!” I was already outside.
It’s nightfall and I forgot my wallet at home. If I had it I’d buy a hotel room, but that doesn’t matter anymore. My wife and children abandoned me and because of neglect, I also lost everyone else in my life. There is nothing left for me to live for. The only thing I can do is keep walking. The wounds on my feet don’t hurt as much as the wounds pressed upon my heart.
On the plane home, I fantasized about being a part of my family again. I desired to satisfy all of my wife’s desires. I wanted to a father to my little girls again. That dream collapsed right in my face. At least, the night sky is beautiful, mysterious and comforting.
A pink mustang pulled up beside me, I walked faster but it kept pace. The passenger seat window rolled down and Orlando spoke, “Guestroom and a hot meal. Hop in. It’s cold.”
Does it matter how I die? Whether it’s by my own hands or by the hands of this sociopath I still die. I might as well scoff down my last meal before sucking my final breath.
The drive is quiet – no stereo, no talking. We pulled into the driveway of a decent looking house on the bad side of town. His house is colored white putty with an accent of olive green. The grass is bright green and it looks recently cut. His home isn’t great but it doesn’t look bad. Perhaps I misjudged Orlando, I wonder what the inside looks like.
We exited his vehicle and walked along the marble path leading to his porch. On the porch, Orlando didn’t bother with keys the door was unlocked. Why wouldn’t he lock his door? Anyone could come inside and steal his possessions.
I was not expecting mountains of books and paper to be what lied inside. There are piles of paper everywhere.
“Come in.” He said as he himself went inside. His eyes guided his feet through the mess and I followed behind him. On a table laid an open book of what looks like medieval torture methods and next to it the Holy Bible. I knew something was wrong with this guy.
“You’ll be sleeping in the basement.” Orlando announced, “I like to carve things down there and hear the screams of the machines. I get so caught up in my work that I binge work, working and sleeping. And eat on occasion.”
“Lead the way,” I said. He led the way smiling.
At the basement door, Orlando turned on the lights and led the way down the steps. I want to know what he meant. Is this kid really a sociopath? As I descend down the steps, I see what he meant. His basement looks like a shop for woodcraft and pottery.
“The futon is over there,” he said.
The futon lies in the middle of the workshop and it appears to be clean. It’s green with purple sheets and it looks new. I could sleep down here.
“I will heat you up a veggie patty and bring you a cup or organic apple juice.” Said Orlando before ascending upstairs.
All around the basement, I see wooden statues of the head of a disfigured person. This person has an abnormally large nose, a huge forehead, wavy hair, devious eyes, huge lips and a wide grin. He doesn’t look human. Is he wearing lipstick? And there are several wooden and clay busts of this same person all over.
Orlando came back into the basement shortly after and I asked, “Who is this person?”
Orlando adorned a grin similar to that of the many of busts. “He’s many things. Some people call him a psychopath or sociopath, whatever your preference. Again, some call him a murderer. Some identify him as a comedian or as their Freddie Krueger. I identify him as similar and as inspiration. Also, he’s my biggest money maker. He does things I’ve dreamt of doing. Once my favorite colors were black and gray and because of him, they are now green and purple. Although we walk two very different paths. He always has a special place in my heart. And in my work.”
I was right from the beginning, this child is a sociopath.
“I’ll set your food down on my woodshop table.” He continued, “I’m going to grab some rope and climb a tree. That’s my nightly exercise. You’d be surprised. People would steal rope from a tree. Why I wonder.”
“You have rope?” I questioned.
“Can I see it?
Orlando looked at me with suspicious eyes. He waited a moment before answering my question. “Sure. You want me to sit in a chair too.” He was being sarcastic.
“Yes, that would be helpful.”
Oddly enough, he complied. Orlando stayed tied to that chair as I turned off the lights and headed upstairs. I can’t understand how someone can willingly be so stupid.
Free from the psychotic idiot, I’m now interested to see what trash make up this man. My exploration starts in the refrigerator. He must be keeping the real food put away for himself. Who eats veggie patties? Could he be a vegetarian?
I’ll be damned. After finding my way into his kitchen, his refrigerator is filled with fruits, vegetables, soy milk, bottled water, and various organic juices. In his food cupboards are various grains and cans. Orlando may be a vegan. He has bananas and on top of the refrigerator. I guess I’ll treat myself to a couple of those.
Continuing my exploration, I go into Orlando room. In his bedroom, I find that it is as messy as the rest of this house. Papers are piled up on his bed, names are connected and pinned to the wall, books are stacked everywhere and clothes lay everywhere. I’m surprised it doesn’t smell. Am I in the house of a conspiracist?
Onto the next room. The next room is unlike the rest of the rooms in this house. It’s clean. On one side of the room, there is a neatly stocked bookshelf. Against the wall is a desk filled with yet more paper. The most strange thing about this room is that in the center of it is another desk with a desktop computer on it. Next to the desktop is a little green notebook.
I’m curious to know what type of things Orlando searches. Is he some saint or does he have secrets? What’s this? There is no protective screen lock, so I guess I can intrude on his privacy further.
As the desktop screen appeared so did a word.doc. It reads like a synopsis. The story is about a girl who contracts Morbus and is dying. There is someone in a city not too far away with the ability to save her. The problem is, Morbus is contagious and would kill those who would seek to save her before they could reach the city. One person who is willing to risk it all is a man named Diego. Her older brother.
The literary conflict must be man vs. nature seeing that this story is taking place on a journey. Or perhaps man vs. self. Either way, I don’t care. What does interest me is the theme. This thesis claims that this story teaches a lesson in unconditional love.
With everything that I’ve been going through, I may need that. This day seems like a slope going down continuously. I’m not one to delve off into fiction, but a story sounds much better than reality at the present. I can’t find the folder with the chapters, perhaps that’s what he’s hiding. The tiny green notebook doesn’t contain anything other than statistics. Doesn’t matter, I have something better than the novel, I have the author.
Back inside the basement, I turned on the lights to find a smiling writer.
“Thank you.” He said, “For helping me get rid of my night fear of moving shadows and strange noises. Turns out I was afraid of my own shadow. The noises, however, are likely rats. I need to take care of those.”
I took a chair and set it in front of him. “Can you tell me more about the synopsis on your computer?”
“Hey!” He yelled, “Never look at a man’s first drafts! That’s like peeking into the bathroom right after I got out of the shower! You defiled me with your eyes!”
I’m not in a playing mood, but I kept calm. Orlando kept smiling.
“It’s a novelette titled To Save a Life. I’m still in the process of developing it and I hadn’t planned to turn it into an audiobook. Still, I’ll tell you the story but it might be a little rough. I hope you’re ready for this. Because now, I’m going to take you on a journey.
To be continued…