|The Face of Forgivness
Author: Autumn-Freeze PM
A woman runs out on her husband & daughter. He's angry. He has no use for faith...or does he? Chapter 2 has been added. This story is now complete. Please R&R! Thanks!Rated: Fiction T - English - Spiritual/Hurt/Comfort - Chapters: 2 - Words: 10,205 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 04-30-10 - Published: 04-16-10 - id: 2797531
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Face of Forgiveness
Children often look like one side of the family or the other. Sometimes they look like a combination of both. Occasionally, they have a look all their own. Lainie at 15, was, as they say, the 'spitting image' of her mother. No one knew this better then Barton Clymer, her father. Every time he looked at his daughter; he saw the image of his wife, Janice.
Barton's wife, Janice Clymer, decided she needed to run off and 'find herself' 3 years prior. It had been a summer morning that day. Lainie had attended a girl's sleep over at a friend's house the night before. Barton and Janice had breakfast together at 7:00 am, prior to his leaving for the machine shop where he worked. "I'm picking Lainie up at ten. Then we're going grocery shopping, and taking care of a few other errands," Janice said as Barton kissed her goodbye.
"Okay, I'll have lunch with the guys in town since you two are going to be out. See you after five. Love you Janice".
Somewhere out on that horizon, Out beyond the neon lights, I know there must be somethin' better.. (From the song "In The City" (by Joe Walsh)
Janice simply smiled at her husband. That was the last time he was ever to see her alive. When Janice failed to pick up Lainie by 10:40, Lainie called home. When the landline went to voice mail, Lainie called her mother's cell phone. It too went right to voicemail. Lainie then called the machine shop. "Hello Mr. Sutton? This is Lainie Clymer, can I speak to my dad?"
"Sure sweetie, I'll get him."
"Dad, mom hasn't picked me up yet. I called the house, and her cell, there's no answer".
Barton looked at his watch and muttered "What the heck? To his daughter he said, "Um, can you stay there till I find out what's up?"
"Sure, Clara's mom says I can stay for lunch if mom got delayed."
Trying to hide his growing concern, Barton said, "Great, I'm sure it's nothing. I'll see what's holding your mom up. You have a nice time with Clara." Clara March was a member of the youth group at the church Lainie attended. Barton and Janice knew Lainie was perfectly safe with the March's. All the girls at the sleep over were from that church. There were no boys, or anything untoward about a sleep over at the March home.
Neither Barton, nor Janice had much use for faith or church. Barton's parent's and his younger brother Carl were Christians, whatever that was supposed to mean. The 3 of them started taking Lainie to church when Lainie was 9. Lainie was 11 the day she came back from church, jumped into her father's lap and announced, "Guess what daddy? I accepted Jesus today!"
Barton listened with half an ear to his daughter's description of what being a Christian meant. What he was actually listening to was the ball game on TV. Every now and then he would say, "That's nice." or "Really?" Finally, he told her, "Tell her Mother all about it."
Janice said to her daughter, "That's great, now help me get everything ready for dinner."
Neither Barton nor Janice minded if Lainie went to church with Barton's parents and his brother. Then they could sleep in on Sunday morning. They also admitted all the families from the church were decent, upstanding folks. They politely attended Lainie's baptism, but took no real interest in the event.
Whenever Barton's father or brother would try to discuss faith with Barton, Barton would say, "Save your breath, that jazz isn't for me".
Janice's mother in law often tried to discuss with Janice why faith and Jesus meant so much to Lainie. Several times she asked Janice to attend a women's tea and bible study. She promised no one was going to preach to her, just to come and listen. Janice simply said, "Maybe another time."
Barton got into his pickup. Before putting the key in the ignition and staring the engine, Barton unlocked the glove box and took out a stainless steel Taurus .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol. He checked the magazine; it was full. He then racked the slide and chambered a round. He set the pistol on safe. Barton not only had a license to carry the pistol; he knew how to use it. There had been several burglaries and attacks in residential areas recently. He didn't think that had happened, because the crime had been on the east side of town, and their next door neighbor was a police officer, who, like all police in town took their marked police unit home at the end of their shift. But he was taking no chances. Barton impatiently worked his way through traffic until he got out of the industrial area and made his way home.
Instead of opening the garage door with the remote, he drove past his house and parked the truck at the curb several houses down. His house looked quiet. There were no strange cars in the neighborhood that he could see. Un-tucking his work shirt, Barton slipped the pistol into his waistband, just behind his right hip as he exited the truck. There were no windows in the garage doors, so he could not see if Janice's car was there. Barton used his key and went in through the side door to the kitchen. What he found on the kitchen table was worse then finding a burglar.
Take a run and hide yourself away, Foxy fox on the run, Foxy fox on the run, Fox on the run and hide away (From the song "Foxy fox on the run " by The Sweet)
Janice's house keys, cell phone and garage door remote were lying on top of a hand written letter. The brief letter went on to explain that Janice was bored in her marriage, and motherhood wasn't for her. She had put on a brave face for 14 years, but had never found true happiness. She explained that Barton had never wronged her. She blamed no one except herself for failing to find her place in marriage family or community. She told Lainie to study hard in school and mind her father. There was no mention of love. The letter was simply ended with "Janice".
A quick search of the house revealed most of Janice's clothing as well as their luggage was gone. Nothing else was out of place. Janice's car was gone. Not believing it, Barton went next door to the Ronson home. Charlie Ronson was a police sergeant, and Barton knew he had just got off shift.
The door to the Ronson home was opened by Emily, Charlie's wife. Emily was surprised to see Barton home so early. "Hi Barton, what's up?"
"Oh, hey Emily, can I talk to Charlie?"
"Sure, come in."
Barton choose to stand in the hallway by the door instead of going into the kitchen where Charlie was drinking coffee and reading the paper. Barton noticed the edges of the wallpaper had begun to peel in the hall.
"Hi Barton, want a cup of coffee?" Charlie said as he walked to the hallway.
"No thanks. Charlie, I need you to come over to my place if you got a minute."
"Sure. I'll be right back Em."
On the walk back to Barton's house Charlie quickly assessed several things. Barton was not smiling. Barton had never been abrupt before. He had always been the type to get around to things after a bit of conversation. He was home way to early for lunch. He had walked over instead of calling. Barton was huge bear of a man, well over 6 feet, and strong as an ox, but the loose shirt didn't hide the fact that he had a pistol tucked into his waistband. Charlie knew Barton was licensed to carry, but why in the late morning, and why in the neighborhood? It all added up to bad things, very bad things. Charlie knew Barton to be a very responsible family man. He also remembered the time in high school when a young tough had picked on Barton's younger brother Carl. Carl was thin and short. He was a good musician. He played the piano and the violin. The tough guy caught Carl alone at school. He stole Carl's violin and pushed him into sticker bushes. Carl's shirt was torn and he has bloody scratches on his hands and face. Carl found Barton with Charlie and a couple of other friends. Barton listened quietly, then asked Charlie and the other two boys to take Carl to the boys' room and get him cleaned up. Barton disappeared, he returned 12 minutes later holding the violin case and a $20.00 bill. The tough guy had a black eye and limped for a week. He told everyone he slipped on some stairs.
Charlie was glad he was still in uniform, with his radio…and his gun.
Barton let Charlie in and pointed to the note. Charlie read it and asked if he could look around the house. Barton made an indicating gesture with this hand and nodded his head.
Charlie had been in this house many times. He knew where to look, and what he was looking for. Charlie asked Barton to step into the living room and not touch the items on the kitchen table. Even though this was unofficial, Charlie knew what to ask.
"Geez Barton, it looks like Janice left of her own accord. I don't see any indication she was taken against her will. Was that car registered in her name or yours?"
"Hers, it was left to her by her last living relative; her uncle Jake, when he passed on."
"Okay. Barton, can you check you bank accounts on-line?"
They went to a corner of the living room where a small computer table was set up.
"Sure, hang on. Well I'll be! She reduced her account down to just $5.00 yesterday. Not only that, she took Lainie's college fund account down to $5.00 too!"
This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around ... (From the song "Life During Wartime" (by The Talking Heads)
Charlie noticed Barton had picked up a cork coaster from the holder in the middle of the coffee table and was nervously shredding the edges. Barton's face was also turning a shade of red. Charlie didn't want to insult Barton, but he was worried about the pistol tucked behind Barton's hip. Charlie would also be willing to bet $50.00 the pistol had been racked, and was cocked & locked. "Barton, I need to ask you for a favor. This is a favor as your friend and neighbor, not as a cop. This is your home, and you have your moral and legal rights. This is strictly a personal favor. Would you be willing to remove you pistol and unload it for me...please?"
Barton considered Charlie for a moment. Then he removed the pistol and pointed it straight up to the ceiling. He removed the magazine and ejected the one live round in the chamber. It hit the coffee table and rolled across it. Barton snatched up the loose round and put it back in the magazine. He laid the unloaded pistol on the coffee table and placed the magazine several inches away. "Breathing easier now Charlie?" Barton asked in a casual manner.
"Yes, as a matter of fact I am. Now, that college fund account, whose name is it in?"
"Well, it's in Janice's name."
"Okay, technically, in the eyes of law at least; it's Janice's money."
"Soooo, she can just waltz out of here, steal from Lainie and get away with it?"
" Janice is an autonomous adult. If she really wants to run away, there's no law that's going to bring her back in chains. The account is in her name Barton; it doesn't constitute a theft. Do you know her email password? If you do, let's check it, see if there is anything, well…"
"See if she got a boyfriend, right? Yeah, I do know her password."
A brief check of the email account showed nothing of interest. Nothing had been wiped from her computer. A check of her cell phone also showed the call log intact. No strange numbers were on the phone.
"Under these circumstances a missing person's report can't be filed. There's nothing to indicate foul play. But I recommend you file an incident repot with the department. It's simply a report that shows you called and reported her gone. Here's why. You want it on record you called as soon as possible. You need to take pictures of the table just as you found it. Also of the open closets and drawers, etc. Keep that note in a safe place. To me it looks like Janice just took a walk, but, should something, well, bad turn up, it would look suspicious on you for not reporting it."
"Yeah, I know Charlie. Like if her body was to be found in Eastern Meadows Forrest, I'm suspect number one."
"Don't take that personal Barton. The husband, wife or significant other is always suspect number one. Besides, often a spouse just gets nervous, questions everything, takes it on the run, regrets it; and comes home a few days or a week later. Sometimes it takes months. If she doesn't show up within, say 6 or 7 months, then most likely she never will."
With a sigh Barton said, "Yeah, okay, thanks Charlie. I'm sorry to have disturbed you.
Guess I'll call Mr. Sutton and take the rest of the day off. I have to pick up Lainie and explain to a 12 year old that her mother has run away."
"Would you like to have Emily and I come over when you tell her? Would you like your parents or your brother here?"
"Nope, guess I'll have to get used to being both daddy and mommy. Now is as good I time as any. You can see yourself out, right Charlie?"
"Sure, hang in there Barton."
Barton took the pictures, and closed the closet and drawers. He put the note up for safekeeping. On the way to pick up Lainie, Barton did something he hadn't done since being single. He stopped at a liquor store and bought a pint of bourbon. He hid it in the truck. Then he went to get his daughter.
"Daddy, where's mommy?" Lainie asked when he called to pick her up.
"Baby I'll explain in a few minutes, when we get home."
Tears were in Barton's eyes as he drove the short distance home. He pulled his only child close to him across the seat. Barton picked up his daughter and carried her into the house. By then Lainie was weeping too. She knew intuitively that her mother wasn't dead, but that something bad had happened.
After Barton explained to Lainie what he found, and about the note, she asked, "Doesn't mommy love us anymore?"
"I'm sure she does, but she must be terribly confused right now, just like you and I are. Mr. Ronson said that adults that run off, that they often come home in a week or so. But, sometimes, they just stay gone."
"Do Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Carl know yet?"
No, but I guess I better call them."
Barton's parents, both retired, rushed right. After hearing the details and reading the note, Barton's mother suggested it was time to pray. Barton started to leave the room. Barton's father put his hand on Barton's sleeve and said, "Son, wait."
Barton shook his father off and sat outside in the back yard. Occasionally he looked in the window as he watched his parents and daughter all holding hands and praying.
After awhile, Barton politely asked his parents to leave. He took a call from his brother after his brother returned from work. Barton asked Carl not to come over, that he and Lainie were fine.
Both he and Lainie were very quiet that day. That night Barton tucked his daughter into bed and they clung to each other for a good 5 minutes. Again, both were in tears. "Daddy, I scared, I'm scared for you and me, but mostly, I'm scared for mommy. Where will she live? Will she have enough to eat? I tried talking to mommy about Jesus, but mommy doesn't know Jesus, that's what I want most, for mommy to know him."
Lainie is so sweet, so innocent how could Janice be so cruel? Mother gone; and all this poor kid can think about is how will Janice get along. Worried about Janice knowing Jesus too! Blast you Janice! These were the thoughts running through Barton's head. His simple reply was, "Lainie, I don't answers to any of those questions. But, I can promise you this: I'll never leave you, ever. I'll always watch over you. Anyone that tries to hurt you will answer directly to me. Believe me, some fool would rather try to sandpaper a wildcat's nose than tangle with me. You go to sleep baby. I'm going to sit in your chair for a while. Good night, I love you Lainie."
"Good night Daddy. I love you too. I'm gonna say my prayers now."
Barton tuned out the prayers; he had his mind on something else. After Barton was sure Lainie was sleeping, he went quietly to the garage and got that pint of Bourbon.
I wanna get drunk till I'm off of my mind ... One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer (From the song "One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer" (by George Thorgood and the Delaware Destroyers)
He sat at the coffee table and took a small swallow. It burned going down, but, so what? Janice had burned both he and Lainie. Burned them good! Ran out on them just because she wasn't happy! La-De-Da. Happy, what's happy got to do with anything? Besides, Barton had never hit, cheated on, or cursed at Janice. He hadn't chiseled her on money, or ever come home drunk. Well, Janice had sure chiseled Lainie out of her college fund. Eyes of the law, it's her money just 'cause the account was in her name! What a load of manure. Janice was a thief, a sneak, and a weak-willed sorry excuse for a woman!
The only thing Barton regretted about today was the bold-faced lie he told Lainie about being sure that Janice still loved them. He was completely sure Janice couldn't give a hang about either of them. Barton shook the bourbon bottle and watched the amber liquid slosh back and forth. He whispered to the bottle, "I hate you Janice." Barton chugged the rest of the pint and passed out on the couch.
Lainie found him sleeping on the couch the next morning. Lainie wrinkled her nose because her father smelled of sweat and liquor, but still she crawled on the couch next to him. Barton's eyes fluttered open. He was hung over, but sober. He glanced at his watch. Good, it was still early; he hadn't overslept. He hugged his daughter, and thought, what will I do with Lainie today? "Hey, morning baby. I, I guess I slept on the couch. I need to call your grandparents, see if you can stay with them today."
"Grandma told me yesterday She can pick me up if you want her to."
"No, I'll just shower and change my clothes, you can get yourself some breakfast, right?"
And so it went for one and a half years. Barton and Lainie adjusted to life on their own. Every Sunday morning, Barton's Parents or Carl would pick Lainie up for church. Barton always politely refused the invitation. Lainie would talk to Barton about salvation, about the hearts of people, and how only through the sacrifice of Jesus could the condemnation of sin be forgiven. Barton could not refuse when his daughter wanted to talk about faith. He let her talk as long as she liked. But that's as far as it went.
Streets don't have much pity, When you're down, that's where you'll stay… No one's there to catch you when you fall… (From the song "In The City" (by Joe Walsh)
Charlie Ronson was now on day shift. One night the Ronson's invited Barton and Lainie over for dinner and to watch a new DVD. The next day Charlie got a call from the Clifton Co. Coroners office. They had a body in their morgue. It was a female. The effects contained a driver's license in the name of Janice Clymer. The previous night, during a bad rainstorm the driver of a car observed someone walking at the edge of the highway. An 18 Wheeler sped past, and the driver of car driver saw the person get struck and fly off the road into a rain filled ditch. The 18 Wheeler kept going. The driver of the car stopped. The woman was already dead of a broken neck when he pulled her body out of the ditch. He had no information on the 18-wheeler. There was no cell signal in that area. The driver noted the mile marker. He had to drive for another 30 minutes before he was able to gain cell signal and call in a 911.
Barton dropped off Lainie off at his parents and asked them to take her to school in the morning. He neither told them or her anything other then he would be gone all day. He drove the 275 miles to the Clifton Co. Morgue to look at Janice's body. A police detective, Detective Winchester met Barton at the morgue.
"Yep, that's her." Barton said quietly as the drawer was opened. He had already looked at her effects. He recognized the dark blue hoodie jacket she had been wearing. It was her favorite.
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey, I ain't got time for that now ... (From the song "Life During Wartime" (by The Talking Heads)
"I assume you'll be making arrangements to transport the remains sir?" the morgue attendant asked.
"What's that? Heck no! She's all yours Sparky. Potters field, cremation, whatever you do with indigents."
"You're one cold-blooded piece Mr. Clymer!" Detective Winchester exclaimed.
"And then some. You got a problem with that detective? I wasn't driving that truck. I know it, and so do you. So, if you don't mind, or even if you do mind, I'm leaving."
"Not that you care Mr. Clymer, but we have zero leads on the truck. That area is lousy with deer that get hit by cars, trucks. The victim was wearing dark clothing. We feel the truck driver thought a deer had been hit", Detective Winchester said.
"You're right, I don't care. I do want a copy of the death certificate though."
The morgue attendant handed Barton the form to file to attain a copy.
At the insistence of Barton's parents, Barton did take Lainie to see where her mother was buried. She placed flowers on the grave and Barton stepped away when she prayed.
Within the year, both Barton's parents passed on. First his mother from a stroke, then his father died of a sudden heart attack. Lainie cried hard and mourned their passing, but she also talked of how they were both in heaven with Jesus now. Barton asked Lainie if they would see Janice. Lainie got a very sad look on her face and went to her room.
Time passed, Lainie was now 15 and the 'spitting image' of her mother. Sunday afternoons Lainie cooked a big meal about 1:00 pm for herself and Barton. More often then not, Carl stayed to have dinner with them. One Sunday after church Carl and Barton tried to help Lainie serve the meal, but she told them to sit and relax at the dining room table.
I can't seem to face up to the facts, I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax... (From the song "Psycho Killer" (by The Talking Heads)
A huge crash was heard from the kitchen. Carl and Barton rushed to the kitchen. A hot bowel of mashed potatoes slipped through the mitts Lainie was wearing, and the bowel shattered on the floor. The bowel had been from a set Barton's great-grandmother had passed down. It had been Barton's mother's favorite bowl set. Lainie was leaning against the counter with a frightened look on her face. Barton looked at his daughter; all he could see was the image of his wife. Barton lost control and screamed "JANICE!" as he swung his fist.