Charlie stopped doing coke after the Superbowl. Not because he was sorry about what he had done, but because he was broke. He was working for us and we were paying him almost nothing.
Without the coke, Charlie was relatively calm. More and more, it was Gabbie who was out of control.
In late February Gabbie started a second job, working overnight. She took care of newborn twins four nights a week, from 10pm to 6am. The two jobs and the lack of sleep left her deliriously exhausted all the time.
During her few "off" hours, if she wasn't sleeping, she was at the bar. Because she was constantly sleep-deprived, any alcohol hit her very hard. If she had just two drinks at the bar, she was smashed.
Throughout the endless drama of the previous three years, our kids were oblivious to Gabbie's behavior. They all knew Charlie, but didn't think much about him. He was our 'worker man'. Even when they talked about Gabbie being gone all the time, they didn't complain. If someone called and asked where Gabbie was, our ten year old would say, "Oh mommy's out partying with her friends," as if every mother did that.
Not once did any of them say, "You smell" or "You're drunk!" Nor did they make any derogatory comments about Gabbie to me---which is somewhat amazing because the kids are expert complainers.
Gabbie was careful about how she handled herself around the kids, and she was smart to do so; I had zero tolerance when it came to destructive behavior around them.
Twice in March Gabbie seriously tested my patience because she was drunk in front of the kids. Both times she and Charlie got into huge fights that caused her to come home very drunk and reeking of booze while the kids were still awake.
The first time I was able to get her to leave quickly, before the kids had a clue.
The second time was much worse. In addition to being drunk and tired, Gabbie was very emotional. For a long while she yelled at Charlie on her cell phone. It was humiliating just watching her. At one point our daughter interrupted to ask what was wrong. The question silently put me over the edge. I could put up with a lot of shit, but if the shit was going to start to affect the kids...well, that would be it.
I calmly handled the situation, without alarming our daughter, but inside I was fuming. The whole situation made me anxious and angry. Looking at and smelling Gabbie made me want to wretch. For the first time ever I was thoroughly repulsed by her; I wanted her to leave and never come back.
Usually I didn't see Charlie at night, so I was surprised (and annoyed) when he came to the house drunk and alone one Friday night in early April, at around 8:30pm.
"You've got to go and talk to Gabbie."
"Why? What's going on?"
"The cops want to arrest her."
He told me where she was, about two blocks from the bar, on one of the nicest residential streets in town. When I got to the area, the police had blocked off the street. I was initially skeptical of what Charlie had said, but now I was very worried.
I parked the car a half-block away and went on foot to see what was happening. Once I got past the rotating lights of the first police car, I saw Gabbie standing in the middle of the street, surrounded by three cops. She looked tired and drunk.
As I approached, one of the cops stopped me and started firing questions at me. Was I her husband? Did I know where she had been? Did I know who she was with?
The cop was obviously trying to get information out of me before I could talk to Gabbie.
I decided to be truthful but tight-lipped; I didn't know what he was after. When I said I knew who she was with, the cop asked for a name, so I told him, "Charlie." His eyes lit up. He asked for his last name. I had to pause. The cop really wanted an answer but I wasn't sure if I should tell him or not. Better safe than sorry, I thought. I told the cop I didn't know his last name, which was a lie.
The cop nodded and looked at me for a few seconds. Then he explained that Gabbie was belligerent and drunk in public. If I had not come, he said, they would have arrested her. If I promised to take her home and keep her there, she would not be in trouble. With that said, he let me walk to be with Gabbie.
She was standing with the two other cops. As I came near, one of them stepped forward me and gave me another lecture about Gabbie's drunken behavior. The same lecture I had just heard.
When the second cop was finished, he allowed me to take Gabbie home. On the way back, she told me what happened...
She and Charlie got into yet another vicious, drunken fight. They were yelling at each other while he was driving them in his truck. He kept yelling at her to get out, and when she didn't, he pushed her out, while the truck was moving. One of the neighbors heard that whole part of the argument, saw Gabbie get pushed out, and called the police.
When they arrived, all they found was a drunk, uninjured Gabbie. They questioned the neighbor who made the call and learned what happened. As much as they complained about Gabbie being drunk in public, what really angered them was that she wouldn't tell them who pushed her out of the truck.
Once I knew what had happened, I realized I was stuck with a major dilemma.
Gabbie had been hurt AGAIN by Charlie. Gabbie's response? Protect him from the police.
I hated Charlie and wanted him to disappear forever. Now that the cops were actively looking for him, I could easily turn him in for domestic violence, rape, and maybe a third DUI. Even better, I could tell them Charlie was in the country illegally. In all likelihood, he would be deported.
It would seem like an easy decision to turn him in. So what was the dilemma?
There were two reasons I hesitated. First, putting Gabbie's happiness ahead of everything else had become a permanent part of my DNA. It was simple: if Gabbie liked Charlie and I hated him, Gabbie's happiness trumped my hatred. I'm sure a lot of people would be offended by that idea, but that's just the way I was. Pleasing her was so automatic that most decisions required no thought. I knew what made her happy without ever having to ask. Turning Charlie in would NOT have made her happy.
The second reason I hesitated to turn Charlie in was because it would have been an empty victory.
Charlie and I had been battling for Gabbie's heart. I couldn't understand what she saw in him. I couldn't even understand why she talked to him. But for whatever reason, she was enraptured. The only way I could truly be rid of him was for her to hate him, as I did. If I got him deported, I would make him a martyr, someone for Gabbie to pity. And I would be the asshole who made it happen.
I was determined to beat Charlie. But that would only happen if Gabbie rejected him and committed to me, all of her own free will --- just as I chose her instead of Jim, so many years ago.
As much as I wanted to, I did not turn Charlie in.
On April 14, I was writing a casual email to fellow blogger/stud NewLeaf of My Travels Out Of The Closet. While in the middle of writing it, I stopped because Gabbie called me at work. The call was deeply disturbing.
After we hung up, I had to tell someone about the conversation. Poor NewLeaf. I unloaded on him. Here's the important part of what I said:
Last night Gabbie was off. She slept from 7pm - 7am, very good for her.
The oldest kid went for a day trip today and left at 6:30am. When she found out he didn't say goodbye to her when he left and I didn't know what time he was going to be home, she kind of went nuts.
Because it's Spring Break, the two younger ones were being taken by Gabbie's mother for an overnight. Gabbie was pissed they weren't ready. They mostly were, just minor stuff.
Gabbie went really nuts. Screamed at the kids, eventually stomped off, late, to work.
I haven't talk to her all day since then, until a minute ago.
What started as a routine argument about how I don't keep the kids organized and the house clean enough, eventually ran the whole gamut: another snide comment about how she's been waiting for me to leave, "to live my true life"; how I turned the kids against her (actually I encourage them to worship her, she turned them against herself); how I don't give a shit that we're broke.
The conversation ended with her saying that once the house sells she's going to get her own studio and give me the kids. I'll "see how I like it then!"
So apparently at 3:30pm pacific time today my wife of 19 years, 11 months and 359 days told me that she's leaving me.