Checkers and Leesa previously appeared in "Gertie"
I was sitting in front of the television mindlessly watching a ball game when the doorbell rang, a surprise as it was after nine in the evening.
Already half-asleep, I pulled myself off the couch and went to the front door hoping it wasn't bad news, surprised when I opened the door to find Leesa Sandler standing on the porch.
It took me a moment to recognize her but it all came rushing back like a tidal wave. I gave her a momentary death stare but the look of defeat on her face quickly quelled my disgust.
I said nothing as I stepped away from the door, leaving it open as I returned to the living room, falling onto the couch and turning the volume of the television down.
Leesa appeared in the doorway a moment later and she stood silently, waiting for me to speak.
"I read about you in the paper," I finally said.
"Everybody has," she replied warily.
"You set the #MeToo movement back five years," I told her. "Every real harasser, abuser and assaulter is going to have cover now because of you."
"I know," she said with shame.
"Why'd you do it?"
"Because I could," Leesa replied honestly.
"You going to jail?" I asked.
"No, the plea agreement mandates probation, the public apology, and the letter of apology to him and the Police Department," she answered. "And a fine."
"You got off easy."
I stared at her for a long moment. She looked exhausted, overwhelmed, beaten, and lost.
Leesa hadn't changed that much in her appearance, a little thinner perhaps – probably not eating much – her brown hair lighter than I remembered it, with streaks of gray beginning to break through along her temples.
"What are you doing here?" I asked with suspicion.
"You let Gertie stay here when she was down and out," Leesa said.
"I'm done helping troubled women, Leesa," I said with bitterness.
"I could really use a hide out for a while."
"You once called me the classic enabler," I complained. "You said I was as sick as Gertie was."
"Now I'm as sick as Gertie was," Leesa remarked.
"You're drinking?" I asked with surprise.
Leesa had been the posterchild of sobriety and recovery when I knew her.
"No," she said with what little pride she had left. "But I'm emotionally fucked in the head, obviously."
I stared at her doubtfully. "How can I possibly trust you after what you did to that guy?" I asked.
"All I have is my word, Checkers," she said. "I promise I'll behave if you let me stay. I'm going to meetings. I'm in therapy. I didn't jump off the Blue County Bridge." She finally took a seat in the arm chair across from the couch. "But I'm nearly broke living off my savings. I lost my job. I had to move out of my apartment because of harassment. I'm poison in the community. I've been staying with various program people but it's starting to get complicated and unhealthy."
"Because of what I did," she said. "Nobody says anything to my face in the meetings but I know many have the same attitude you do – that I disgraced a movement and perpetuated a stereotype."
"Why'd you do it?" I asked again.
"I don't know," she confessed with a heavy sigh. "I was with that guy for five years. We met in the halls."
"You told me to stay away from Gertie because she was in the halls."
"I was only trying to help her stay sober and protect you from getting hurt by her again," Leesa said defensively.
"You should have followed your own advice," I said snidely.
"He was about to be named Police Chief and he dumps me," Leesa said. "I'm the one who helped him in Recovery. Kept him sober through his divorce. Stood by him through his challenges. And then all of a sudden I'm expendable because he's getting a title and a raise and I might not be right for his image?" She asked with resentment.
"Is that what he said?"
"Pretty much," Leesa grumbled. "It doesn't excuse what I did. I lied for revenge, some sick perverted mind fuck game that nearly destroyed his life and certainly ruined mine."
I saw the tears in her eyes.
"So the apologies were sincere?"
"Yes," she said, her voice shaking. "It was like I was having an out of body experience when I did what I did. I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway. I was obsessed. I was vengeful. I felt justified and scorned. I ignored and denied all the precepts of the program and the steps, everything I stood for, valued, and believed in just to try to fuck the guy over because of my own ego."
"How do you feel now?" I asked.
"Humiliated," Leesa said. "Incredibly humbled. Like I'm starting all over again at fifty."
"What about him?"
"There's a stay away order," she said with a sardonic smirk. "I try to avoid Greenville. He's getting on with his life. I don't suppose he'll ever forgive me and I don't blame him. What I did was indefensible."
"Of all the people out there, you came to me?" I asked with intrigue.
"I saw how caring, concerned, compassionate, sensitive, forgiving, and sensitive you were to Gertie no matter how many times she failed you," Leesa replied.
"Won't I be just enabling you?" I asked sarcastically.
"You'd be helping me," Leesa told me.
"You rode my ass a lot regarding Gertie," I reminded her.
"I was her Sponsor," Leesa explained. "It was my job."
I considered my options for a few moments and I swore I heard Gertie's high squealed voice in my head. 'Do it,' she urged in my thoughts.
"You were good to Gertie," I told Leesa.
"I wish we could have done more to save her," Leesa said with sadness in her voice.
"This is the first time I've seen you since the memorial service," I remarked.
"Four years?" she guessed.
I nodded affirmatively. "Why don't I show you around?" I suggested as I got off the couch.
Leesa looked like I had just taken twenty pound weights off her shoulders.
A/N – In Gertie, Leesa was described as "an older woman with white hair."
I used author's discretion here to make Leesa younger (a contemporary of Checkers) to better fit this storyline.
I was going to create a whole new character who lied about being abused but I thought Leesa's history with both Checkers and Gertie would add meaning to this storyline.