After six months, Paul made a mistake which broke the chains, he held me by. He sat in bed after sex while I re-dressed and bragged how much better he was than wimps like William and my husband. He asked.
"You have any contact with Billy boy since your big blow up?"
"What blow up?"
"What blow up! His bitch caught you and him fucking! She hit you with a shoe! God, I wish I could've seen it. Babe, it's a good thing you're rid of wimp Billy. As soon as I saw your rich bitch ass, I knew you needed fucking by a real man."
"You have nothing to do with William and me. How do you know about a shoe?'
With a big grin, as letting me, his stupid bitch, in on the obvious he chuckled, "Babe, who told his bitch to leave work and catch you fucking Billy Boy? Who? Me! When I saw your big diamond ring and fancy clothes, your car, I knew you were a rich married bitch there to get quick fuckie, fuckie by Billy boy. Drove by a week later, snuck up to the garage, sure enough, your car was hiding there. I called his bitch to let her know her lover boy was home banging his rich bitch. She told me she whacked you with her shoe. God, I wish I could ‘a seen it."
I was stunned. It was obvious. I was an idiot not to figure it out. I turned, saw him for the first time as he was, not the fearsome brawny hulk with no social restraints but a boorish sneak. Suddenly my mind cleared, free of his grasp, lucid again.
A wave of nausea swept me as I looked at him, grinning smugly among the rumpled sheets, so pleased with his cleverness. The realization of my stupidity sent waves of revulsion as I looked back at him. He was nothing more than a verminous debaser, an emotional grifter, crudeness’s avatar. While nauseated, I still feared him and said nothing while he kept laughing at his sagacity of sending her to catch me in the act and then picking me up as William's replacement. His laugh grated my ears. He finally stopped and said, "I heard you tooted your horn!"
"I did, you happy?"
He got out of bed and sat naked at the little table.
"Babe, get me a beer out of my truck. I laughed so hard my throat’s dry."
The latter was an oblique throating threat but spent, he couldn’t carry it out. We had come to the motel in separate vehicles. I could just grab my purse and leave but reconsidered. I needed time to decide my escape, not just from the room but from him. I needed to pretend nothing had changed by his revelation until I knew what I was going to do.
I brought him his beer. I left him sitting naked at the little table, laughing over his adroitness. As the motel room door closed behind me, I knew he was history. I was going to be brave, and be free, free of his threats, his blackmail and reclaim my pride, wipe him from memory.
I knew I had to risk everything, including exposure but I was determined to break free. I told the office personnel never to take his call or allow him in, to keep the front door locked. That he was a crooked contractor attempting to blackmail me into paying a bill for deck work never done.
I changed our home phone to unlisted, told my husband there was a crank making threats and went to the police. I said he was harassing me and I needed a restraining order. There, I learned he was on parole, a lucky ace card I could play to trump his threats. I wanted more than the ace card, I wanted back up.
Like many men, hubby extended his penis with a gun collection. I never touched them but now asked for a "lady" gun. He immediately bought a 380 Sig Sauer semi-automatic, pleased with my wanting a gun and even more pleased to take me to shooting practice.
I practiced through boxes of shells, my target an imaginary Paul until I was a dead-eye as hubby called me. I obtained a concealed weapon permit and kept the gun, not chambered but clip loaded in my purse. If Paul attacked, I was shooting him dead. His debasement had caused a fundamental change. I could kill.
When Paul eventually managed to get through to me, calling the office with some excuse, he said he needed to talk to me. I told him there was a restraining order against him. He already knew. Part of the procedure was the police informing him so.
He turned on his best charm of how he was sorry for everything, how I had changed him so much for the better and how he missed me, a woman with class. I replied if he called again, came to the office or house or even drove by I was calling the police but if I saw him first, I was shooting him dead and hung up.
The restraining order, if breached, was a parole violation and damped his ardor. I wanted to believe he was afraid that I would shoot him because of what he had done to me but he probably wasn't. I knew despite everything I couldn't shoot him on sight. I worried he would go berserk and try to kill me or worse my husband. Then I would shoot. The most realistic fear was his exposing me, somehow telling hubby or those in the office. My fear slowly faded as he dropped out of my life, unseen. I suspected he took consolation in bragging on construction sites of the rich old Asian bitch he banged.
Previously I was contemptuous of a woman who let a man use her. It just didn’t make sense a woman would allow herself to be a victim. The only positive result of Paul was learning I was not immune or so clever but was as vulnerable as the next. I vowed never to allow a man to debase me again and changed to having sympathy for abused women. To redeem my self-esteem, I again reviewed who I was, what I had become and how to better myself. My first effort was to eliminate Paul from memory but as you've read, you know it was not successful.
I visited two doctors to check for STDs experienced terrible embarrassment and of course, felt stupid. Sitting in humiliation at the doctor's office confronted me with the extent of my being used and guilt for allowing it. I hated him, the first time I hated anyone but I hated myself more. The second batch of negative test results relieved the physical cloud of anxiety but not the spiritual. Free of him, on reflection, I couldn't understand how I could jeopardize all that was important.
While lucky, I felt dirty and thought my life a lie that didn't deserve respect. I thought of the older woman I worked swing shift with and her admonishment about not losing a good husband. I mentally thanked her, hoped she was well, then realized I was now about the age she was back then.
During my soapy shower mortal sins, I appeared unblemished walking to and from the communion rail but knew I lived in mortal sin. Rededicating myself to husband, business and kids I appeared unblemished but my debasement shadowed me, Paul’s execrable debasement clung to and besmirched my actions, even if not visible to others. I wasn’t only guilty but dirty, unable to be clean.
Yet life went on. Shortly after Paul, I turned forty-three. With the kids out of college, employed and married or soon to be so, I had other things to concentrate on to help me forget. As a family, we all had success.
Only I was tied to a secret debasement, an unacknowledged failure among winners. My secret puppet shadow blocked the rays of family and middle-aged happiness.
Author Notes: While rid of man who abused her, she can not remove the stain on her mental image of herself.