Now, that’s funny!
Part 1 – Backstory
Okay, here’s some more backstory. That’s the only way this is going to work. Then, I promise, I’m done talking about Frank.
There were essentially three reasons why Frank (and I, to a certain, limited extent) were drawing the line at not becoming “romantically” involved, (besides the fact that I was seriously NOT looking). 1) He’s married. 2) He’s got women fawning all over him on a regular basis. (Yes, he has an admittedly huge ego!) 3. It would put a strain on our friendship/employer-employee/landlord-tenant relationship. He was serious about honoring his marriage vows and had every intention of trying to reconcile with his wife (and four kids). He did, however, express a mutual interest in our companionship, our cuddling, and seeing where things might go. He even told me, more than once, that he loved me. Our main focus, together, was to get to know each other, and to get him away from his past distractions so he could focus on putting his life back together. I offered him my (quite comfortable) barn as a sanctuary.
He had told me about two past dalliances of a sexual nature that he’d had with other women, both of whom were, at that particular time, in prison. He expressed regret, and was adamant about not becoming re-involved with either of them, although I had my doubts about one in particular, named Jessica. He even made me read several love letters she wrote to him from prison. She was scheduled to be released the Monday following the end of my vacation, and I (really) was prepared for things to become complicated.
Well, surprise, surprise. It wasn’t Jessica who showed up. It was Melissa, his other dalliance. She had gotten released early, managed to track Frank down – here – and later absconded with him on the last Friday of my vacation, after our previously interrupted, mystical Thursday experience (mentioned in a recent blog).
So, first, Frank left Thursday night during our mystical experience. He apologized Friday morning when he got back at 7 a.m. after I waited up for him all night in his “apartment.” (Go ahead, say it: I’m pathetic.) He said the people he took off with were friends of his and really needed his help. (I think, honestly, that our night was getting a little too heated, and he used them as an excuse to escape what I’m certain would have taken us across the line.) I said “what the -f- about me; when do I get what I need?” and he promised me the rest of the weekend together. We ended up spending most of Friday together, getting some work projects out of the way, scrapping some metal, running errands, moving him in. He was moving in, for real, a really good day.
That evening (Friday), just as we were getting our “party on,” a bunch of people showed up (Melissa included; she even came over and introduced herself to me) and Frank blew me off again. He said he needed to leave – only for a couple of hours – he’d be back. He told me the reason he needed to leave was because Melissa had told him that she found out after she was arrested and put into prison that she was pregnant – with his baby – which she subsequently miscarried while in lockup. Frank wanted to find out if any of this was true. Turns out it was, at least according to what Frank told me, which is what Melissa told him. At the time they were “dating” – a year or so ago if I remember correctly – they were both super-bad-ass crack-heads, so who the hell really knows, right? (BTW, Melissa is 23; Frank is 42; I am 56; who wins the age contest? Not that it matters!)
Of course, he never came back. Yes, of course, I waited. But this time I waited in my bed. And I left him a note telling him to come and find me when he returned, whatever the time, wherever I was. (Pathetic.)
Saturday morning, still no sign of Frank. He could be gone, or asleep in the barn. I’m pissed at him, so I’m not going looking. Around noon, Melissa shows up at my back door.
“Did Frank make it back last night?” she asks.
“Well, I haven’t seen him yet. He’s probably sleeping and when he wakes up I’ll have him get in touch.”
Of course, now I’m worried. Is he in jail? A hospital? Dead on the road somewhere?
I have to go look. The apartment is empty. Hmmm. Well, if Melissa doesn’t know where he is, then at least I know he didn’t spend the night with her. Not that it’s any of my damned business, right? Guess I’ll just do what I do best: wait.
An hour and a half later, Melissa’s back.
“Okay, I didn’t tell you the whole truth ‘cuz Frank thought you might get mad. He got arrested last night, and he needs you to go through his bags, find his cell phone and call his attorney.”
This is where I’ll stop with the intricate details, and move into a shorthand version of the story. The rest of it is a joke, complete with punchline. (P.S. After proofreading, I think I know I admit I am incapable of shorthand, so you might as well settle in for a bit.)
Now that’s funny!
Part 2 – Drama on Steroids
I had made it clear to Frank from the beginning that, as long as there was minimal drama, controlled drama, I was willing to step outside of my comfortable little box of a life in an effort to open myself up to the experiences he promised – and there were many, alluded to as well as actually experienced, in the course of our short time together. (Maybe someday I will expound on those experiences, but right now the feelings are still really too raw, if you can believe that after you finish this story.)
Well, Melissa brought drama, and I fought it from the beginning. And I am learning that Frank, despite his desire to find a sanctuary here with me, thrives on drama.
So, after spending Saturday with her, listening to the details of their run-in-with-the-law, and planning and plotting Frank’s rescue from yet another bad decision, Melissa and I went to the courthouse to visit him on Sunday. She told me I looked pretty, like 5 times. I was dressed to kill, for Frank. That’s funny! We two, her and I, together in my car, (we have the exact same purse. That’s funny!) 45 minutes there, 45 minutes back, and 4 hours waiting to get in. She shared “their” history, I shared “ours.” Without meaning to (really), I was claiming my “territory.” She was his past. I was his present, and maybe a part of his future.
The two of us, me and Melissa, had together 10 minutes with no privacy from each other, to visit Frank through a glass door with a speaker hole. It was one of the most uncomfortable days of my entire life. He seemed a hell of a lot more interested to see her than me, but I convinced myself that he was embarrassed for me to see the reality of his world. (Details may be disclosed at a later time.) He could barely make eye contact with me (and I with him). I said simply “What were you thinking?” He said, “I wasn’t.” I said, “My door is still open and I’ll keep the home fires burning.” (Pathetic.) He said, “Thank you.”
On Monday, Frank was supposed to go in front of the judge in Hartville where he was being held. He was also scheduled to be in court in my town (Mountain Grove) on the same day to appear on a previous “failure to appear” warrant. That’s funny. City Hall, where he was supposed to appear in my town, is a mere 20 feet away from where I work. We share a back alley. That’s funny. I couldn’t be there; but Melissa could. And she made sure that Mountain Grove went to Hartville to get him. Score one for the ex. (That’s funny.)
Melissa texted me later on Monday saying that Frank made it to both court appearances, and that Hartville would be holding him for at least a week or more. She said she had no other details except that he was removed from the courtroom and taken back to his cell. I was concerned that Frank might not be getting all the help/information that he needed (and neither was I), so since I already had his attorney’s phone number, I decided to call and see if I could consult with them or be kept apprised of his situation. This was Tuesday morning, before I went to work.
Wanna take a guess at what they told me?
“Well, we can’t share details with anyone unless he comes into the office and signs a release.”
I confidently replied, “I’m certain he would sign a release, but he can’t come in because he’s being held.”
“No, ma’am. He was released yesterday. You can call the jail and ask them yourself.”
Which I did. And he was. That’s funny!
I stewed for days, wondering if and when Frank would show back up here. On Friday, Melissa texted me to say “Frank’s back in town.”
“Yeah, I know. Released on Monday. Why the lie?”
She claims she didn’t know. I don’t believe her. Frank later claimed that he was “staying with friends” in Hartville. I don’t believe him. From this point forward, I really tried not to believe anything.
Now that’s Funny!
Part 3 – Emotional Overload
Things really started to go downhill from there. (Really, downhill???)
Frank came back, with Melissa apparently glued to his side. Every day for a week, when I saw him, I saw her. Most nights he didn’t stay here, and never told me where he was or what was going on. The only work being accomplished was demolition on Damien’s camper, which I had benevolently offered up to Frank as a bonus project for extra money for his legal situations (and there are many.) (Pathetic. Red flag upon red flag upon red flag. Am I really that starved for excitement? I was, when it was only Frank. But this is too much!)
I finally reached the end of my rope and called a meeting with Frank on the weekend. An alone meeting. No other people allowed. On the appointed day and time, he showed up, with Melissa and Troy (another associate) in tow. I was flabbergasted and asked if there had been a change of plans. He referred to them as “free labor” and said not to worry, we would not be bothered. We had a huge fight, worked it out, and managed a 2-hour “meeting” before outside distractions took him away, yet again. At the end of the meeting, I made it clear that Melissa was not permitted to stay here; I was not opening my world to anyone else, not this way. I was not going down that road again. (Can you say Traumatic Stress Disorder, seriously, in many ways? And Frank was well aware of it all.) Once again, he promised to honor my wishes.
Can you guess what happened next?
10:00 p.m. the night of the meeting. (Actually, the meeting got postponed/delayed yet again after another aborted Saturday attempt. Now it’s Sunday.) I’m getting ready for bed, walking the dogs. As I pass the barn, I hear loud music. I look in the little window (yes I’m spying; it’s my property for crying out loud! Then why do I feel guilty?) and there’s Frank and Melissa, side-by-side on our (my) couch, listening to my (our) music. Rocking away, having a good old time. Just like we used to do. I am livid. Later, I see Melissa on her phone in the driveway and I finally get my bitch on (I need to take a class). I tell her that she – or they both – need to leave. Now. And they do. (Why don’t I feel better?)
Emotional meltdown, for a solid week. Every day I come home and check the barn expecting Frank’s things to be gone. Nope. Glad. Sad. Hateful. Hopeful. For a week, I am steeling myself for the inevitable. If I have any self-respect whatsoever, I have to end this. They could drag it out forever.
A week later, however, it becomes clear that Melissa is moving in. (Why she’s moving in is another long story, having to do with her family, as well as the people on whose couch she had been crashing since her release from prison.) She is taking showers in my house, all very casual like this is just the natural course of things, cooking meals, an overload of groceries is appearing (a really funny story), a women’s touch is showing up in the apartment, including her clothes. I have to admit that she is a good tenant: she puts everything back exactly how she found it, she cleans up after herself…I’m trying to be nice…I’m searching for my inner bitch…I cannot deal with this…it must end.
I change my mind every day. I pray. I cry. I mourn. I take a day off of work. My cat dies. Life gets really shitty for a minute. Then I have an epiphany. How can I get something out of this? I am on the verge of hating Frank at this point, but I am also mourning the loss of a damned good handyman who has already saved me hundreds of dollars, and the potential savings down the road go into the thousands. If I am to move forward, which is what this was all about in the very first place (as opposed to the second place, which was the emotional wake-up call I got without asking), then I am going to have to compromise. Sacrifice. Take advantage of a second free laborer.
I call another meeting (of the Frisco Street Art Farm Tenant’s Association. That’s funny!). I make a cute little poster, keep it humorous, offer refreshments, let everyone know that it will serve everyone’s best interest to attend said meeting. It starts well. Outside by the pool, fire being tended by Frank. (Three’s a crowd, but I’m trying!) A little bit of socializing to break the ice. Once the real meeting gets underway, however, I make a mistake by addressing the emotional aspects of our situation first. I feel that needs to be done, and agreed to by all parties, otherwise the rest of the agenda will be moot.
I simply ask, that out of respect for my feelings (my feelings for Frank, as well as my having to get used to the idea that those feelings which he stirred in me are not going to have an outlet anywhere else for awhile), that they, Frank and Melissa, keep their PDA (public displays of affection) to a minimum in my presence. They agree. Eventually, we end up moving the meeting inside to the apartment so I can refer to my 8-page agenda (that’s not funny, it’s true!). Within minutes, they are all over each other and a really huge fight ensues between me and Frank which goes on till nearly 4:00 a.m.
Till (later) the next morning.
You’ll never, in a million years, guess what happens next.
11:00 a.m. the “next” morning:
Melissa comes into the house asking if I have any medicine for an upset stomach. Frank’s not feeling so good. Heart palpitations, chest pains, blood pressure through the roof. I have no idea what Gas-X or Beano is going to do to help, but I offer it up as peace token. A few minutes later, Melissa texts me (from the barn):
“Frank needs to see a doctor. Do you have the number for the walk-in clinic?”
I agree to drive them (it’s like 4 blocks away), but they won’t see him because no one has any money. So off we go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital, Houston, MO, 45 minutes away. The three of us, in my car, after our huge fight, no sleep, and me and Melissa with matching purses. And apparently some kind of shared mission to save our man. (Can you tell I haven’t quite let go? That’s funny!) Five hours later, after watching them freaking cuddle on his hospital bed (funny, seriously, I wanted to smack them both, and the administrator person kept asking me the nature of my relationship with the patient, that’s funny), I went shopping at Wal-Mart. (I could tell you a story about the guy I met in the parking lot of the hospital who was beat up by 5 people while sleeping in a bed at a friend’s house while visiting for his birthday, but I won’t.)
By the time I got back from Wal-Mart, Frank was ready to be released, but he needed meds. Hmmm, wonder who has any money? Yeah, I paid. ($13.92 for the price of hope. Pathetic.) Another trip to Wal-Mart, back home and done. Really. For good! Right? Now, that’s funny!
Now, that’s funny!
Part 4 – We’re almost there. Hang on!
Okay. Time to get down to business. I’ve gone through my mourning period. I’m sleeping better (I’m not waking up at night wondering what-the-f is going on. I now know everything. I’m not happy, but hey, my future is on the line. I can adjust.)
We, the three of us now, ugh, settle into a routine of sorts, I guess. For a week, things seem almost normal. Except for one thing: THERE IS NO FREAKING WORK GETTING DONE. Still. Everything is about Melissa. Melissa’s Dad. Melissa’s Mom. Melissa’s sister. Melissa’s upcoming Family Reunion. This (past) Saturday. And I’m invited. The three of us should camp out. It will be fun, Dawn. There will be single men. It’s three hours away and I’m sure the only reason I’m invited is so I can drive.
I actually consider it, for a minute. (Yeah, that’s how starved I am for stimulation, but only by one person at a time, please. So, I said no thanks.) And now that I know that they’re leaving for a day, maybe two, I can’t wait. Bring on my solo weekend, please!
If you read my earlier blog, you will remember me mentioning last Thursday-that-wanted-to-be-a-Friday. On that particular evening, Melissa informed me, early on, that she and Frank were heading to Marshfield (about an hour away) to deal with her family drama, trying to appease a certain situation with her Dad in time for the upcoming Family Reunion. (“Have you decided if you’re coming yet? It would be so much fun?” “No, thanks, I’ve got a freelance job to work on,” I lied. Wimp. Where the hell is my inner bitch when I need her?) I assumed they wouldn’t be back that night, but, guess what? Yeah, around 9:00 p.m. I hear an unknown woman’s voice outside my living room window, engaged in a heated discussion on her cell phone.
Later, as I’m walking the dogs, I hear a commotion coming from the barn. Angry voices. Sounds to me like a fight is going to break out. I dump the dogs back in the house, barge into the barn and YEA ME!, I suddenly find my inner bitch. I let everyone have it with both barrels: “I will absolutely not have this in my home.” I go on for quite awhile. Melissa’s sister (a drug addict with outstanding arrest warrants, according to Melissa) pleads with me to not call the cops. Frank’s response is to say, yet again, “We’ll leave if that’s what you want.” Why can’t I just say, “Yes that’s what I want?” Because I want my house fixed, damn it. We are talking about a difference in $10,000 or more in selling price and that’s a helluva lot of money. And damn it, he promised.
I walk away again, more or less leaving the ball in his court, my favorite way to play a game.
Now, that’s funny!
Part 5 – The Punchline
Saturday, August 9, 2014: 3:00 p.m.
They finally leave for the reunion. Bliss. I remember this feeling from not so very long ago. Relish it. Soak it in. Yum. I’m not really expecting them back tonite, but you never know, so I will take advantage of it by checking out the barn and seeing if they are taking care of my place.
I cannot disclose what I found.
Okay, I will. A love letter from Melissa to Frank, written in the very notebook that I provided him on our very first move-in date. A special notebook, I might add. Melissa’s clothes, hung all neat and tidy on hangers, on my exercise equipment. A small pantry area for their non-perishables. Curtains in the window. All very neat and tidy and cozy. Frank’s items as they always have been, bags and totes. And the letters from his sons, which I framed for him in an effort to help him keep his focus on what is important, sitting center stage on the end table. It’s a very nice space…I like it better than my house; I have for a long time. Frank knew that too. I told him that while we were making it his home. Now it’s not mine anymore. Or his. It’s theirs. That’s just not right. Whatever.
Sunday, August 10
(a.m.) No sign of anyone. Happy? Sad?
(p.m.) Still no sign. This is ridiculous. I put a notice on the apartment door calling for a work meeting Monday at 5:30 p.m.
Monday, August 11
(a.m.) Still no sign. The notice sounds confrontational, so I take it down. (Inner-bitch nowhere to be found either.)
(p.m.) I put up a new sign, short and sweet, with “please” in it.
Tuesday, August 12
(a.m.) I checked my cell phone just before bed last night. This morning there are 3 new messages. The interesting one begins as follows:
(From Melissa:) “Frank and I are…”
I love anticipation, so I waited and waited to open the text in full. What might it say? Frank and I are moving out? Frank and I are in jail? Frank and I are breaking up?
Are you ready?
“Frank and I are getting married Saturday, and you're invited.”
Now, that’s really funny!
P.S. There is a much longer postscript, (even though I promised I was done talking about Frank [there are big promises and there are small ones], but I suddenly realized that I failed to mention, that while in consultation at court with his attorney this past Thursday, August 7 (one of the afore-mentioned deadlines), Frank learned that his divorce had been finalized back in May, or was it March?. Funny, or not, you be the judge. I think it's hilarious, and I think God has a really twisted sense of humor!