Choices, Changes & Friends - 1970s After Divorce - MythMachine
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Chapter 1 – Introduction

During the early 1970s, the United States was in quite an upheaval. It seemed that there were protest marches of all types going on everywhere, against every thing, but especially the war, the government and the inequality of the sexes. But our four main characters:  BETH, CONNIE, MICHAEL and APRIL were never vocal concerning the Viet Nam war, nor the inequality of the sexes, and no bra-burning was considered. In their western suburbs of Chicago, a much smaller revolution was going on, but its momentum was building. Not related in any way to these other marches, as these participants had a much lesser-known problem: overdosing on Tupperware and other Home parties, as well, too many visits from their Avon ladies. It was truly a case of suburban-blight brought on by television-burnout and sexually-inept/non-attentive husbands. The wine, women and dance of their youth had turned into beer, the ‘ole-lady’ and TV. This might have been acceptable to their mothers, but not these ladies. They wanted more.

The heartland of America is truly different from the East or West Coast. Chicago, in all of its vastness, will never have the sophistication of New York, nor the experimental-taste of Los Angeles and it cannot begin to comprehend the slow-motion attitude of the South. Chicago has always been the melting pot of the great middle-class, whose main drive is the work ethic of ‘nose to the grindstone,shoulder to the wheel,’ meaning one must always work for a living and fun is almost a sin. Even the most-modern Chicagoan, in the 1970s was only one or two generations re-moved from the farm or Eastern Europe, where life was defined as an honest day’s work. This background also carried over to the separation of the sexes – man’s work and woman’s work, clearly defined and expected to be followed.

The 1960s were the catalyst to changes that made the 1970s explode, with no map or direction, much less a guru to answer the questions of what to do with one’s life after divorce. Thus, amazing mistakes, with irony sometimes realized from their naiveté. This path to discovery of learning lessons to grow up, has no yellow bricks, and never a castle of green or any other color in site. There’s not even a flagrant, hand-painted sign or writing on any wall that could guide or direct these ladies. When not a church-goer, where does one find a man to converse with, if nota bar. Yes, there were few choices, and fewer good-finds.

Perhaps the generation more than any other, which perpetuated the changes of all this, was the Baby-Boomers growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. It was in this era, that our four characters spent their formative, school years and got married, way too soon. The numerous rules, morals, regulations, etcetera, inundated by family-culture, society/religion and school, created either the adaptive or rebellious child.And usually, even the adaptive-child went through some period of rebellion, either in their late teen-years, or more effectively, in their twenties – after divorce.

The cure for a change, for these young housewives and mothers, was thought to be getting a job to get out of the house, and to regain some knowledge of self. Listening to ‘Ernie and Bert’ recite repetitive numbers and letters does become monotonous five days a week. But a job was not the solution, it was the beginning of awareness that PTA meetings, and exciting trips to the emergency room for their children was no longer satisfying for a twenty-five-year old woman. There was a whole other life to live that their mother’s had never told them about, and they believed it wasn’t too late to try for it. There was only one way for them to break-out of the mold, that their heritage had set-up for them. It was not acceptable, for they, the parents had never done it. “Being unhappily married is just partof living, and you have to learn to make the best of it.” They had all been told, or it had been demonstrated constantly in front of them.

Working in the real world, they began to see that they certainly weren’t living their own lives. So, when this little growing-revolution wanted more out of life, they then chose the alternative – divorce. They knew it would not be easy, as it held no guarantee of happiness, but winners risk – they’d also heard – and that theydecided to do. They also acknowledged that the dilemma did not solely lie with their husbands, children or family life. But it was easier to work on one problem at a time, and working on themselves not only seemed like a good idea, but they were certainly more cooperative about it.

Deciding what they wanted for themselves was not going to be quick or simple. Divorce was not the total answer. Yet, at this time, how could they have the right answers when they were still trying to formulate the questions about what they did want . . . from life, for themselves and in a good relationship. Whatever that was, and if they would know it when they found it, or if they ever would. There was an irony to all of this, that they would frequently and painfully learn.

The Past

Many women think

once they catch that golden ring,

they can ride-free on the carousel of marriage –

happily everafter.

Unfortunately, it usually turns out

to be a shabby merry-go round,

that ends up playing the same old tune.

Prologue – November,  1974

In the small kitchen, Beth popped the cork on the third bottle of Cold Duck. She more than realized she did not need anything else to drink – already at least half-drunk. But, it was her party, her special night, her twenty-ninth birthday – la-de-da. Astrologically, her Saturn Return, and thatwas supposed to be pivotal – April reported. And hopefully, the end of her turbulent-twenties almost upon her, what would be next – now, three-years after her divorce? As Beth raised the glass of cool, pink liquid to her mouth, she began to think of the future-racing toward her. By the time she reached thirty, she really wanted to have her life together. The joke being: “If you get all your shit-together, can you still carry it?” 

That meant she’d have to have her life-goals set – no more of this wild-living, crazies in the fast-lane. Her decision to experience ‘everything,’ that had been denied her growing up in an almost-cloistered middle-class, midwest-youth must be finished, as she settled-down to getting her life in control. The approaching maturity loomed with shades of remarriage, a good step-father for Jeremy, a well-directed career, etcetera, etcetera. Somehow, the should-be dream seemed more like a nightmare, and definitely not something she wantedto deal with at this time, or supposedly, happy occasion. In her Southern-falsetto-voice, with definite shades of Scarlett O’Hara, she mumbled to herself, “I’ll worry about that tomorrow . . . ”

It would almost be expected of her to get bombed, she rationalized. Once again, she took another sip, rather more a gulp of the soothing-alcohol – it wasn’t bad for the price. At least she never bought the cheapest, but the best her limited-budget could afford. Money was not thatmuch of a problem, except for the fact that no matter how much she had, she usually seemed to spend more. Her house-cleaning business was doing well, yet she expected more. She knew she was, or at least could be, well-accomplished if . . . allowing herself, yet not satisfied with herself. This discontent in her life popped its ugly head up, at the most inopportune times. Once again, she would try to drown it.

Another swallow, as she thought how philosophical – even prophetic she became when soused. Only pearls-of-wisdom rolled off her tongue – how trite, really? She snickered to herself, how she had all the confidence in the world about her success, when a drink in her hand. Yet, she knew she wasn’t real. She wondered how often the others had seen through her, and her true insecurities. They did say something once in a while that burst her bubble, but most of the time they went along with her hopes and dreams. They were her friends, and that was what they’re for,right? Only lie when the truth hurts, too much. Beth took a last sip before re-entering the living room – as if magically, through her colorful, ‘hippy-dippy’ plastic-beaded-strands across the doorway separating the rooms – and back into the laughing-group of female friends.   

She felt as if preparing to meet a new, waiting lover. She ruffled-up her long, curly-blonde hair, and fixed her well-known smile on her face. She started jabbering loudly, “Well is everybody readyfor another drink?” as if she had never left the room, nor the conversations mentally or physically. Refilling the glasses of each, she began thinking how truly-different they were from each other, her being the connector of them all. Her closest friends – the four of them – had been through so much together. Beth felt that she was the best friend to each of them, yet they weren’t best friends to each other. She brought them all together, and usually kept them so.    

Michael, seated nearest the kitchen doorway, was somewhat nervous, regularly running her hand through her shoulder-length, curly-red hair when she laughed. She’d be more relaxed once Mike got there, Beth’s older, married-brother. He’d become such a large part of Michael’s life, now they were lovers. Only with him, did she feel complete, and almost calm. Still, she was laughing – maybe pushing it – so her pretty ‘chipmunk’ cheeks buried her soft, olive-green eyes. She looked so much youngerthan her twenty-eight years. Maybe it was her free-lifestyle, since still rebelling against ‘the establishment’ in her own ways. Yet, with Mike’s teenage boys, she was totally comfortable – being so much that kid herself. Since Mike though, she had adjusted to the point, that she no longer said, or did too many things just for shock-value.

Seated next to Michael was Connie, so they could hold their own ‘stinging’ discussion of the others. Connie’s forte wasmouthing-off zingers, mainly learned from Cam, her married-lover. Collusion was not the usual-thing between them, but they’d recently became closer with the sharing of their clandestine-affairs. Connie was different in more ways that just looks. She was taller, and her serious-looking, olive-colored face was thinner. Her beautiful, usually long, dark-auburn hair was now just to the nape of her neck, and frosted all over in a long shag. It was a more fun-look for her, as she needed fun, excitement and male-attention.

Connie had a self-confident and hard-working view in her velvet-brown eyes, of a woman determined to make money – which she did at every opportunity. She was two years younger than Beth, but years older than any of them with her life/sex experience. Most people who met her, only saw the quiet-coldness that protected her on the outside, and seldom the soft-warmness, hidden inside. Connie and Michael did share the freedom of not having their children livingwith them, and accepted this as the best decision for the time being. Beth asked Connie not to pick on April – for whom she had little love. Except for a few zingers, she was keeping quiet enough, so only Michael heard her remarks in the small living room.

Part of the problem, April considered herself to be the intellectual-one, and maybe in aspects like exploring metaphysics, she was. Perhaps too, in being the only one at this time, who had found her creative interest andcurrent career – astrology. Being very good at it, one had to give her that, though she put drama into everything. She was pouring over the figures, working-up Beth’s Saturn Return as her birthday present. April particularly loved figuring-out Beth’s future, as she purported her chart was the most fascinating to work on. She even used it in the astrology classes she taught at the County College. 

Just finishing, as Beth topped off her glass with the Cold Duck, April in reality, was the only one among the four who did not drink to any extent. And, she reminded them of that on a regular basis. Taking off her glasses, she ran her long, thin hand through her now short, black hair. Leaning back, she stretched her small body like a cat, ready to make a significant purring-announcement for attention. Beth silenced them, and April read in her best contrastingly-high sing-song-voice. Her dramatics at work, with the center of attention – except for a few sighs, and a giggleout of Michael from one of Connie’s  remarks – they were all raptly listening.

“Well,” April began slowly, “it looks like another very interesting year for Beth – both in business and pleasure . . . ” Giggles went around, those knowing Beth’s amorous side.

The three other guests, very involved in some way with Beth, were entranced. The only real newcomer to the group was Lori. She was a cleaning-customer of Beth’s, who had become a friend over thepast six months. Lori was an artist, newly-divorced and though older, used Beth’s knowledgeable-shoulder to frequently cry on, and would regularly seek advice from her. Beth talked to her many times before and after Lori’s divorce. In the early-70s, no real women’s networking, or support groups existed to guide or inform those seeking a divorce, or even to consider the option of a more independent – less male-controlled life. 

Beth had invited Lori, to meet the friends she’d told her so many stories about. Lori, in her late-thirties, had never experienced some of the wild-times the four of them had gotten involved in, since their divorces just two or three years before. Especially Beth, who had been the ‘kid-in-a-candy-store,’ trying to sample as many men as she could, after such an arid-marriage. Lori sat quietly, absorbed in this interestingly-mixed group of divorced women. Considering some of the stories she’d heard, perhaps she expected a morespectacular, or vampy-looking group. But then, it hadn’t been that long before, they had all been middle-class, mid-American suburbanite-housewives. Perhaps they’d all taken the term – “do your own thing” too, literally.

Another one, in attendance of the reading was Sybil – Michael and April’s long-time acquaintance, and very-trying friend. Barely-thirty herself, rather pretty, but her unstable-personality could be very off-putting. She sat and drank, and bitched about onething after another. Granted, her life had been more colorful and ‘certifiable’ than any of theirs, but also completely erratic, and totally unbelievable. Any new fad, craze or language-phrasing-slang, she was the first to try and experience it, never considering any consequences. Beth had difficulty having empathy for Sybil, as she truly was her own worst enemy – quite self-destructive.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was Marie, Beth’s thirteen-year older sister. She still tried to catch her breath, having just arrived. As with everything else in Marie’s life – alway done at the last minute – her decision to escape her pathetic-husband and three, cloyingly-dependent daughters, to join in celebration. Although Marie looked much younger than her forty-two years, her beliefs were not. She could not let go of the supposed-security of her desperately-bad marriage, just ‘on-the-chance-of-happiness’ in the single-divorced life. But Marie did love associating,on-the-fringe of her sister’s divorced-friends’ lives. Perhaps, she believed she could absorb something by osmosis from a close proximity. It made her existence somehow more bearable, and sometimes even palatable. The Aquarius-Marie always lived in a dream-world, wishing she had tried a few of the things Beth and the others had done. Of course, Marie wanted only the good times. In her fantasy world, no hardships, broken-hearts or pain could exist.

April would be the first tohit thirty in just five-short months. She looked older, but then she had that kind of face, and looked twenty-five at eighteen. She smiled even less than Connie, and took absolutely everything seriously. Her small, dark eyes were penetrating, but it was her tongue that could cut-deep, saying whatever she thought was right, or needed to be said in her self-righteous way. Somehow, that ugly habit took something away from her looks. April crossed her short, thin legs and began her nervous leg-swing. This practice almost kept beat to the tone of her voice, stopping precisely when she was emphasizing some point in her dialogue. Of course, for more affect at a critical point, she stopped to light a cigarette and take a small sip of the wine. Connie groaned at the staging, but she also had become part of the captured-audience. Her hazel eyes rolled-up and sideways, until she got a snicker out of Michael.

When April had finished reading the astrology chart, Beth took over thefloor thanking April for her insightful proclamations. Once again, she’d said that Beth would do great things with her life. She would become a famous writer of books and poetry – she would be rich and famous . .  . etcetera, la de da. Beth went back to college shortly after her divorce, concentrating on those skills, and even considering going back into her advertising career, which had been creatively-challenging. The cleaning – party-servicing business she, Connie and Michael startedtogether was doing well, with over fifteen women working for them. But Beth still wanted something else – more. That damned discontent again! 

Beth tried to believe in herself and what April said. With another large gulp of the wine, and a drag on her cigarette, she continued to talk for a minute – whether they were listening or not. In her mind’s eye, her five-foot-seven frame carried maybe one hundred and forty-five, curvy pounds, accented by those bedroom, blue-green eyes, many men and women complimented her on. A sometimes-beautiful, brilliant person, who laughed and smiled all the time on the outside – the inside, well, another story. She had a statement she wanted to make to the world about life after divorce, and get the world to listen. The four of them had come a long way since those first, new days of freedom. Yes, they made a lot of mistakes, struggling to achieve small steps up from what they learned. Her drive was to share those accomplishments/mistakeswith other women, for them to be able to do better in achieving their freedom. 

Beth finished talking, and slipped into the recesses of her inebriated-mind, to think once again about all those steps, that had helped them change-grow in the past few years. How to grow up in one easy lesson – get a divorce! Of course, no one told them that the lessons actually take years to learn, with no guarantee that they would ever graduate to real happiness. Shit, it was a bitch togrow up, when you were already supposed to be an adult! She finished her part in the evening’s festivities, and willing to give the stage to whomever wanted it to babble on about whatever. Content in her mind to drink and smoke, she felt herself rise above the din-filled room. She mind-traveled back into the past, since in all truth – she was afraid to go into the future alone.

Section 1 – Backgrounds of the Four

When Do the Losers Win & Other Fairy Tales

Life in Fantasy Land is so grand –

until someone pops the bubble.

Did Cinderella live happily ever after,

or did she end-up with dish-pan hands?

If I kissed a spell-bound frog, would he

turn into a Prince, or would I turn into a frog?

If Sleeping Beauty was kissed awake,

would she have insomnia the rest of her life?

I’ve been patiently waiting on my front porch, for

my knight-in-shining-armor to take me away from all this!

Was Snow White pure and virginal,

or was she just neat and clean?

Crusader Rabbit will saves all from ourselves – I hope!

You’ve never been to Wonderland,

until you’ve been there with Alice!

When you wish upon a star,

It does make a difference who you are!

Fairy Tales won’t come true, they don’t happen toyou,

no matter what age you are.

Plunk Your Magic Twanger – Froggie! Tinkerbell is a Fairy.

April

Besides being a change-of-life baby to her forty-one year old mother, April Ramson, born in April of 1945, was an only child. Her over-weight mother, had a serious heart condition, while her obsessive-paranoid father made life difficult in weird ways. Beth didn’t remember April sitting in the next row, and two seats up from her in first grade, but as April told the story so often, Beth had shared her milk-money with her. April was plump back then, and very quiet. Sadness filled April’s mind, and gave her dark eyes that unspoken lost-look on life. The culmination of which was her mother’s death, that same year school started.

April could sit for hours in their small, house-trailer staring off into space, aching

from the loneliness. Not being allowed playmates or friends, because her father didn’ttrust anyone, she was basically by herself everyday that he worked. Her mother’s sister – Aunt Sissy and her Uncle Art lived next door, but she didn’t spend time inside with them, unless it was foul weather. April learned the last few years of her mother’s life to be quiet, and not disturb anyone. Even when older, and not in school, she stayed inside the trailer to sketch models from the newspaper for hours. Though, this only made her feel fatter and ugly.

April fantasizedabout being grown-up – as a slim, beautiful model wearing all those gorgeous clothes in bright, rainbow-colors. The drab-grays and browns or blacks that her father bought for her, had no excitement at all. They looked like miniature-versions of old ladies’ clothes. He would buy dresses big enough to last two years – first they’d bag-all-over, and second year, they were too tight. Aunt Sissy gave up trying to talk to him about April’s clothes, or anything else regarding her life, as her father wanted no advise. April’s fantasies and dreams kept her going from day to day. Yes, Cinderella was alive and well, living in the trailer-court waiting for her Prince Charming to come and put the glass slipper on her foot, as that would transform her into a beautiful Princess.

In the real world – from prior rejection – April was afraid other kids wouldn’t like her, so she didn’t try to associate with most them. Sometimes she’d go to her Aunt Sissy’s forconsoling, but she was ineptly-cool, having no children of her own. Truth be known, she didn’t even like them, and always held April at arm’s-length for any affection. With no real mother substitute, she appreciated the occasional attention from Beth, but there was little beyond their school contact.

Her father had difficulty being a single parent since he wanted a partner, not a little girl to take care of, in the limited time off from his structural, iron-worker’s job. Heresented the fact that she was alive and his wife was dead – which he blamed the stress of April’s birth, and natal-care as the major cause of it. He often became remorse, placing the burdens of his life on April – constantly telling her how lonely he was without her mother, and being stuck raising her. Besides being tight and stingy, with his money only for the necessities, he took his general frustrations out on April with physical abuse. She really never had anyone to teach her how to have fun. She sometimes talked to herself for hours, then the silence reminded her of the vacuum she lived in. This closed-mouth life was not typical of the opinionated Aries, she’d release in later years.

About a year after her mother died, her father decided to pack-up their trailer and pulled it to California. Perhaps he thought he’d get more work there, with all of the high-rise buildings his union said were being built. Now, April didn’t even have her Aunt Sissyaround, for the little comforting that she did get from her. Shortly after they moved into the new trailer court, some of the children there wanted to play with April. Her father was rarely around to yell and scare them off, so she was anxious to have some friends that wanted to play ‘dress-up.’

Without having had much adult supervision when around friends, she didn’t have any other clothes to play with, so April took out her own clothes to use. Not too long after they hadstarted playing, her father came home early from work. When he saw what they were doing, he slapped the unknowing, rare-smile off her face. The other children fled for their homes in terror, not knowing what was happening, or why. Her father dragged her into the trailer, beating and kicking her with every step. She never tried to fight back, accepting what she believed was just her fate. Hearing the screams over and over, the neighbors finally called the police. This was not the first, nor the last time she was so badly beaten, that she couldn’t go to school. Then, for the same lack of real reasoning that had brought them to California, he returned them to the same Chicago suburban-area trailer park the following year.

April continued to gain weight – food her sole-consolation in her meager life. Her thick, straight black hair was kept short, which only made her little, round face look like a malleable, pale-colored ball. Still, she was attracted to boys, even ifthey didn’t respond to her, as she wanted the same attention all the other grade-school girls craved. Ellis Cooney was April’s first crush, and with her size, she probably could have made two of him. He obviously didn’t feel the same about her. How flattered could a fourth-grade boy be, when the fattest girl in school was after him? Most boys that age, usually didn’t even like a pretty girl attracted to them.

At least with her return to the suburbs, April and Beth wereable to become better friends, with Beth frequently inviting her over during lunch break. Otherwise, April walked to the corner store to get something to eat, that often was not very healthy. The grade school in those days had no lunch program. Through Beth, April met several of her friends, and at least began to have more involvement with other girls, if not the boys. Most importantly, it gave her an idea of what a more ‘normal’ family life was all about. Mothers baked cookies and cakes, or those that worked full or part-time, bought them. They were there helping with clothes choices – whether home-made or store bought, and buying toys or board games to play with. Learning how to interact, April began to stop by either Beth’s house, or the other girls, who were on her walk home from school. Real friendships were being built, and she felt an acceptance she’d never known before.

By the fifth grade, April’s father moved them further west, out into a more ruralsuburban area. He’d bought a small house, and soon her Aunt Sissy and Uncle Artie moved out there, too. At her father’s insistence, April started taking care of the house and the cooking, which consisted mainly of hamburgers – all she was ever taught. For this, she was allowed to visit occasionally with her old friends back in Elmwood at Christmas and birthday parties. Her father drove her there, usually waiting in the car, and only rarely coming in to visit with the otherparents.

As April got older and more independent, she continued to not get along with her father. More from his moodiness – or probably depression – rather than lack of work, he went for long periods of time not working. The money they did have, she began to realize, he hid in the house because he didn’t trust the banks. But the furious and frustrated April never found it, no matter how well she looked. What good was her father, if he couldn’t provide the money she needed and wanted for a better life?

Sometimes there was no food at all, so she’d have to go over to eat at Sissy’s, or at the minister’s house, that she recently met. She still returned to her father out of guilt or feeling sorry for him, though she didn’t understand his strange behavior, and the occasional physical abuse of her. Now beginning high school, not having been exposed to, or at least a casual knowledge of any ‘good’ men, the first seeds were unknowingly planted tohate men, and their control over her. This was subconscious at first, as the real, ugly-truth was soon to come out.

* * *

No one knew about the strange relationship April had with her father, though she tried several times to tell Aunt Sissy. When she was eight, he started to sleep with her – he in clothes, her without. He told her whatever he did was not to be told to anyone. He also told her, that these were things the ‘naughty’ boys would do toher, if she wasn’t careful. (Almost directly out of the case reports of what most incestuous-relatives say.) At first, because she was so young, he only fondle her body and kiss her. Somehow, she knew it wasn’t quite right, but he was her father and she believed he was doing what was right for her – teaching her, protecting her – she trusted him.

Of course, it felt good to be touched, and it was the only affection he showed her. Before long, her father was having oral sex with her. He played with April’s genitals, almost making a game out it, as he showed her how to masturbate, even while too young to have a climax of any kind. As she matured, he played with her budding breasts, kissing and sucking them. He did not do any outward masturbation himself in front of her, as if fulfilling this was all for her to be aware of.

With age, not really wanting him to continue, as she didn’t want him near her, April again tried totell Aunt Sissy. But as she was about say something more specific, about the way her father was kissing and touching her, Sissy’d remind her that he loved her the best he knew how. Years later, she realized Sissy must have known, but didn’t want to acknowledge it, as that meant she’d have had to do something about it. By the time she was a high school teenager, her father was coming to her bed nude. She learned to manipulate him into working more, so she felt at least shegot money to spend out of the whole ugly process. But even that was no longer enough, as he began by pulling at her nightgown, and trying to place himself on top of her. When he tried to actually penetrate her with his penis, she pushed him off.

Finally, she decided she had to tell someone who might listen, and give her advice. The next day, she told an older girl at the bus stop who had befriended her. The girl was aghast that a father could do such things. She convinced April to go to the authorities, or at least to ask her Aunt Sissy for help in reporting it. Her Aunt didn’t want to believe her at first, but then April reminded her of all the times Sissy had been at the door, and it took so long for her father to answer. She contacted the authorities, and they put him in jail, but April never prosecuted him in court, as Aunt Sissy talked her out of it. In her own mind, and to his face, April never let her father forget how much she hated him. Still, hewas her father, and only direct blood relative. Even after he died, she had not relented in forgiving him for molesting her. The ugly-evil poisoned her, and unfortunately affected all her future relationships with men.

April began living at the local minister’s house after the abated court trial. A better alternative to the orphanage, where the court wanted to send her when her inconsiderate and insensitive Aunt refused to take her. On the more positive side, also at this timeshe met Wally on a blind-date. It was courtesy of his cousin Ron, who was in her class at school. April, now sixteen to Wally’s nineteen, he considered more of a pseudo-date. For Wally, known as a big swinger with a lot of girls, normally wouldn’t want to be seen with someone fat like April. What reason Wally did consider taking her out, April never understood.

From beginning to end, a strange date – if even called that since Ron came with him to pick her up, and sat in between them riding in the car to the movies. At the show, Wally bought himself and Ron popcorn, but they both offered her some, as she sat between them. Afterwards, they all talked about generalities, then Wally took her right home without any acknowledgement of the whole evening. She figured scratch that one, until a few days later when he called. April thought at first he must have her mixed up with some other girl, since he knew so many. He then told her he felt comfortable withher, and asked if she’d like to go for a ride. She knew he didn’t want to drive her through town, to be seen with her, but she didn’t mind. Being out with a good looking guy, who wanted to be with her was enough.

His thick, brown hair was set off by his soft, brown eyes, with a quick smile that made her feel almost happy. Wally’s shoulders seemed so broad on his five-foot eight-inch frame. The sort-of-real ‘dates’ continued on for several more occasions, with himnever making a move. Perhaps Aunt Sissy knew best about her not testifying, as her name would have gotten out regarding the situation. Considering April’s age, Wally must have believed she was a truly, innocent virgin, living with the minister and all. If that presumption worked for him, she had no intention of telling him anything different.

They talked about all sorts of things, with April being the talkative one, and for the first time the center of someone’s total attention. The usually quiet Wally began to open up to her about his life, more like to a confidential sister/friend. When he didn’t see her, he’d call her to talk about his problems with other girls and other things. One night, wanting more than just his friendship, she casually asked if she could wear his class ring – just for the night. He had no idea that she was already falling for him.

Interestingly, after Wally gave her the ring, there were no calls for a week, and noinformation from Ron regarding him. April kept wearing his ring, while blatantly informing anyone who asked about it, whose ring it was. The grapevine responded, and Wally told Ron to tell her to give his ring back. This hurt, he could of at least called himself to ask her. That night, coming out of a movie theater with a girlfriend, she saw him driving around with a bunch of his friends. As before, he ignored her when with them, but her confidence built up from being with him, she wasready to show him how she’s changed. When she saw his car coming around the block a second time, she went out in the street to stop him. Hands held high, with all the dramatics she could possibly create, she removed the ring without a word. She then slowly reached into the car, and dropped it into his lap. As graceful as a pregnant-gazelle, she walked back to the sidewalk without looking back, only glancing at her pop-eyed girlfriend now freaking-out. Thank God, Wally quickly sped away, because upon reaching the sidewalk April fainted.

Not quite two weeks later, Wally called her out of loneliness. This time when he took her out they would kiss, ‘neck’ and sometimes even ‘pet.’ To get more leveraged-freedom from under the minister’s watchful eye, April moved back in with her father, after his insisted requests. He agreed to never touch her again, or have any control whatsoever over her life. Wally was working for the county, and paintedballot-boxes green before the election. One night, she came home with ‘green-fingerprints’ on her white blouse, across her full breasts. She proudly taunted her father, but he knew better than to make any comment.

When Wally was laid off, without a lot of forethought, he joined the Navy. As several friends had already gotten their Draft-notices, he wanted to have a choice other than the Army. April started writing to him, again as a friend. But as time went by, the lonelinesscrept in and Wally’s letters started to be filled with love for the only girl who had listened, and seemed to care for him alone – faithfully. When he came home on his first leave, April tried to get him to have sex with her, but he wouldn’t. He’d known so few virgins, he felt she was special, so he wanted to save her. Though she had done little to reduce her weight, that was no longer a real concern for him – he’d fallen in love with the sweet-persona that she presented so well to him.

After Wally returned to the West Coast, out of a combination of curiosity and sexual frustration, April began running around with a guy named Billy. Though she knew his unsavory background, she kept seeing him because he did not have Wally’s scruples regarding her virginity – he definitely would have sex with her. So, sixteen-year old April lost her virginity to this twenty-three year old married man, who was also an ex-convict, bisexual and a drug addict. Definitelynot the Cinderella and Prince Charming story, she had dreamed of as a little girl, for it also happened in the care-taker’s house of the local mental institution. Still, being anxious to learn about sex, and he being more than happy to teach her. They devoured each other, like the world was going to end any moment.

Michael, April’s only close girlfriend, along with her boyfriend Tim, were the only ones who knew about the unlikely duo, and their wild, sex-escapades.Of course, as they continued to not be able to keep their hands off each other in public places, shortly everyone knew about Billy and April’s involvement, too. The woman who owned the coffee shop, where they hung out, told April’s father – basically because she was afraid Billy’s wife was going to kill April. She had threatened a previous woman, and she was crazy enough to do it.

When April got home at 5:30 that next morning, her father sweep her up into his car, and drove her to Texas to stay with a friend. He’d heard the rumor that she was also pregnant. She didn’t know if she was or not, but bleeding on the bumpy-ride down ended any problem she might have had. She stayed about three weeks in Texas, before taking a bus back. The whole incident scared April enough, so she stopped seeing Billy. Yet, through all this, she still faithfully-wrote love letters to Wally, with insinuations that her virginity was absolutely intact for himonly.

Next, April went into Chicago to pick up sailors coming in from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. Her dual-life was not acceptable to her father, but if he said anything, she’d increase her activity. As she continued writing to Wally of her love and virtue, it at last paid off when he sent her the specific wedding rings she’d requested. They were to be married when he came home on leave. She lost fifty pounds, but more to look good for her wedding photos, thanactually for him. She looked terrific, and let everyone know who had ever made fun of her when fat. It took her two and a half years to capture him – as she considered him a conquest. Not yet eighteen, nothing had ever before made April feel more highly respected, than to tote-around an engagement ring, backed up with love letters from an older guy in military service.

She greatly enjoyed all the new attention from her friends, as well the peer-group who had judged her so harshly. April admitted to Michael that she didn’t know if she loved him, as much as she worshipped him, regarding that he wanted to marry her. Wally on the other hand, would have admitted that marrying April meant regular sex, someone to cook, clean and care for him. Since she lost so much weight, he was sure she’d be someone that would be eager to please him. This fulfilled Wally’s insecurity regarding keeping a good woman. Besides April, couldn’t wait to get away from herfather. Neither one had a clue, or knew what the other was expecting in, or from their marriage.

Now it was all about the wedding, the dress and how April could make her father pay for it all. She decided in choosing her wedding party, from a mix of the old neighborhood friends she’d kept in touch with, and new high school friends who had been loyal to her. Pollyanna, who her father had always made a point to compliment – the pretty-blonde, younger sister she’d met throughBeth – was first choice as Maid of Honor. It was more to prove to all them, that she – April – could get married before any of them did. It also guaranteed that everyone in the old neighborhood would know of the wedding. Michael didn’t want to be Maid of Honor – being Bride’s Maid was more than enough to deal with. In her opinion, it was all getting very boring, with the date still being a long way off yet. April kept telling Michael, and anyone else who would listen, that Wally had changed her feelings about men. “He’s different, not like my father.” Naturally, she never spoke of Billy, or the other men she’d picked-up-with over the past year. Later, April would muse: “When you think you’re in love, they always seem different.”

Beth would only be getting an invitation, because April was still pissed at her from the scene she created in accusing Beth of trying to steal Wally from her. The first time Beth met Wally, he andApril had only gone out a few times, but she wanted to bring him in to meet her old neighborhood friends. So, Beth got six couples – friends who knew April – set to go for a Saturday at Brookfield Zoo. Though called dates, it wasn’t really that formal, with only a few of the girls going-steady with the guys they brought. Beth, always the flirt, teased around with all the guys, as her date was just a good buddy. But when she started in on Wally, April really blew her cool in abig way, revealing how insecure and jealous she was.

Wally, another guy and Beth supposedly got lost, for over an hour. Beth hid behind her own real virginity, as she’d seductively-tease with absolute fake-innocence. She knew nothing of what April had done with her sex life, since they were living so many miles apart. Beth laughed a lot, trying to have a good time, while-covering up her own sexual frustration, since it was 1962. By the time the three rejoined the others for the picnic lunch, Beth was getting looks like someone would put her in the lions’ cage. April, years later, brought up that Beth had tried to take Wally away from her, but she managed to hold on to him. Beth only shook her head and laughed. Wally was a nice guy, but to her – even back then – rather boring and not very clever.

April really didn’t know what kind of bed she had made for herself, until she was supposed to get laid in it. She counted up the actual daysshe’d spent with Wally, and it was about two months out of the two years they knew – dated each other. She began to realize, she didn’t know very much about him at all, and especially not about his family – most of whom were not planning to come down from Wisconsin for the wedding. Wally honestly told her about the women he’d been with, while on leave in the Orient and the West Coast. But April clung to her virgin story, as far as he knew. Her actions, on their wedding night,were an equal combination of scared of being found out and anxious-horniness. That feeling of wanting something you know about, but can’t show your knowledge of. In all her nervousness, she forgot to change clothes as they left for the expensive, resort hotel. She then insisted they drag-along Pollyanna, and Wally’s younger brother Doug, who had been Best Man.

The scene at the reservation desk qualified as a good imitation of a comedy routine, with the desk manager staring at April in her wedding dress, while Wally proudly announced for everyone to hear, “The Bridal Suite.” Pollyanna and Doug stayed almost an hour drinking champagne, since April wouldn’t let them leave. Finally when they left, she locked herself in the bathroom. Later that night, after the marriage was consummated, Wally was still surprised that the girl who had chased him so, would have hid in a bathroom. Maybe she’d been a bit over-convincing about her virginity.

Thefollowing day they left for Wisconsin, and April’s first meeting of Wally’s family. He had never talked about them, and in all reality she’d never asked, so she didn’t know what she was getting into at all. They lived on a small farm, which was rather run-down. Though they had lived there for fifteen years, his father had never put in plumbing, and there was only one electric line to the house. Wally’s five, younger siblings slept in the unheated, upstairs loft. He was not surprised, nor did hespeak against it, when the newlyweds got to sleep there, too. The middle of January, but not concerned, for they had their love to keep them warm – even if an audience.

During the night, April had to pee, but refused to go outside, so she suffered through, until Wally found a cup for her to use. They both wanted sex, but patiently waited until everyone sounded like they were asleep. When in the throws of hot passion, she never noticed if woke up or not. It was ignorant bliss, but still she insisted they move-up their plans to leave for Long Beach – privacy and indoor plumbing. And thus, the honeymoon was over, so it was time for her to become the hausfrau.

April attacked her long-sought after job of a housewife, like a true bull-in-a-china-shop. To say she was inept, was in error for Wally would eat anything, and cleanliness was not at the top of his list. She shouldn’t be criticized, because everyone is usually not a great, gourmet-cook whenfirst starting out. The one thing they did perfect was sex, which would keep him happy. They practiced sex five, sometimes ten times a day. April hoped that with the volume, Wally would become a more versatile lover. But then, she couldn’t make any suggestions of her own, or share comparisons, as she had no married friends. He, of course, thought he had satisfactorily gotten the job done.

* * *

The first disappointing incident was when April realizedWally’s problem with making decisions. He was sent to buy polish for the Admiral’s boat. Even with the product name on a piece of paper in front of him, he could not decide which one to choose. She stood there completely stunned at first, then she grabbed the right can of wax and walked to the counter. After a while, it continued to bother her that they were broke all the time. He didn’t want her to work, because he wanted them to be together whenever he had time off the ship, which was not regularly scheduled.

They lived on one hundred and eighty dollars a month. Seventy-five of that went for rent, which didn’t leave much for everyday expenses, much less splurges. Still, one day he insisted on going into town for a haircut, because the ones on the ship – although free – were not very good, he thought. When he returned three hours later, she could see him through the apartment window counting his change coming up to the door. Also obvious, he was drunk.She did not fully realize until then, that he’d come from a family where drinking was more than a social habit. With only bottle-return-money for her cigarettes, she’d been smoking cigarette-butts, and he went out drinking! Though these things hurt, she told herself that she loved him. Yet, she wasn’t sure about his continued feelings for her, if his drinking was more important.

Wally was soon to leave for his first, long tour-of-sea-duty since their marriage. He’d begone six months, and asked April to promise she wouldn’t cry at the ship, as it embarrassed him. When the day came, she stood on the ship surrounded by hundreds of crying-wives with their children, but her eyes stayed dry. She’d not break her promise, she would be strong. As their last moments slipped away, all that was left were their eyes staring at each other, telling all the deep feelings that neither one of them dared to speak. Their bodies had been absorbed into the masses of people with everyone – everything becoming a blur. It was the first time April felt Wally truly loved her. Even if he never spoke it aloud, his eyes had whispered every romantic word his inarticulateness could not say.

When the whistle blew, April slowly brushed her cheek against his. She knew she was not strong enough for a last kiss. She wanted only the memory of how they had been one hour before in bed. With all the strength she had left, she turned to walk off the ship, not lookingback once. As she reached the dock, she turned facing him, then reached her arm up, as if to touch him instead of waving goodbye. He then leaned over the railing, to reach his arm down to her. She knew she had gotten to him, and he would be in her grasp, as long as she wanted to hold onto him. She realized the power in the drama of her performance – and how easy it had been to do.

Her father – at Wally’s request – had come out to California to return April toIllinois, and he took her back to the apartment to finish packing. But she would not return to her old men-chasing days – when April was loyal, she was one-hundred-per-cent. The only time in the six months she went out, was to suburbia’s ‘every housewife’s favorite thrill’ – a Tupperware party. But loyalty could not be said of her husband, as the letters and pictures that Wally sent, obliviously to his wife’s feelings, were more than descriptive. With his braggart, insensitive ego, he wrote of the lovely, friendly Japanese and Filipino girls. Probably, as if to prove his prowess, the photos showed him with his buddies in bars surrounded by these lovelies. To him, this is what they did, as in the usual to be expected, with no apologies or excuses. Yet, no matter what he said or did, her stoic-faithfulness remained dauntless, for now. She may have accepted these military circumstances, but she would never forget them.

* * *

Bethwent out to visit April and Wally in Long Beach, the summer after she had started working in Chicago. It was 1964, after a year at the university, she started dating Bruce, and also commuting to Chicago with her childhood friends, sisters Priscilla and Pollyanna – April’s former maid of honor. They decided to take a vacation together out west, and while in California, stayed with April and Wally a few days. She had only recently rejoined him.

Beth hadn’t seen her in years,since away in college when they wed – taking her finals the excuse for not attending. The trip was both detrimental and beneficial to the friendships. The sisters picked at April, and tried to get her to side with them against Beth regarding Bruce. April refused to condemn a man she’d never met. Besides, Beth made him sound more like the man she wanted him to be, than the man he was. When April stuck by her, Beth knew they would someday again be close friends.

As for April, the marriage-bliss had worn-off. They weren’t “in love,” she maturely said, but they did have a ‘bond of love.’ She’d learned to live with him, and he with her, so married a year and a half, it had all the common-earmarks of lasting. Then, of course, she didn’t know how much she could change and grow, especially when she had gotten married at eighteen. Trauma of her miscarriage already tested their married life, a few months before. In her fifth month, April’d been exposed toGerman measles, so she knew the miscarriage was for the best. It was also, when she realized Wally could not handle any kind of serious or emotional problems. While she was in the hospital, he escaped from it all by drinking with his buddies. Not being able to face the pain of loss, he evaded it. She chose to take the reaction as, him not caring what happened to her. He didn’t talk of his feelings at all, nor come to visit her in the hospital. Again, this neglect in her eyes, added to thesoon growing list of love-infractions.

Almost a year later, Wally received his discharge from the Navy, and they moved back to the Chicago suburban area. April, again pregnant, so Wally’s factory job made them still pinch-pennies, and she didn’t work for fear of another miscarriage. Then, when she was almost in her ninth month, her Aunt Sissy died. Her Uncle and Aunt had been living in Tucson for some time, but she couldn’t take a plane in her condition, so her father went alone.

Though, she hadn’t been that close to Sissy, she was the closest thing to a mother that she’d ever known. But April was very concerned about staying calm for the baby’s sake. By that evening, she was pretty much under control until Wally decided to go out drinking with his brother. He couldn’t stand being around her so upset, with continuous crying, though she begged him to stay and comfort her.

He coolly replied, “Why should I mourn for your Aunt,when she never liked me anyway?” He took his stance, and the whole emotional situation made him easily agitated.

Shocked, but she tried to explain. “Wally,” she pleaded, “I’m not asking you to mourn for Sissy. I’m asking you to stay, comfort me and hold me . . . I just don’t want to be alone. It makes me feel better . . . to have you here with me.” She sat curled on the couch, hoping he would see how small and vulnerable she was.

That wholefamily-instilled-ancestry of showing emotions to not be masculine could not be changed, even if he did love her. He began to feel cornered, and thinking that a man sitting around comforting his wife was rather weak and sappy. Still, he did not have the communication skills to explain it all, or reveal his inadequacies and fears to her. Instead he said, “I gotta go, Doug is waiting.” With that, he quickly gave her a kiss on the forehead, heading out the door.

April’s voice trailed off, as it echoed against the closing door, “Wally, please . . . ” This new hurt opened her eyes even more about him. Soon, she was not only crying for her Aunt, who had never been capable of loving her the way she wanted, but also for herself not being loved the way she wanted. She’d been alone too many times already in her life, facing one crisis after another. She’d thought if she married, she’d never be alone, but she was wrong. Marriage was not the answerto her loneliness. Perhaps her child would help her be happy.

Sometimes April wished she had not begged her father to get Wally into the structural-iron workers’ union. But as he worked harder, and moved up in the ranks, she became aware of the money – specifically what it could do for her. If she had money, she felt no one could look down on her. It soon became Wally’s goal, too, having come from poverty. He never had any real money before, and it could makehim a big-man, especially when he bought most of the rounds of beer for his new-found friends at the bar.

Soon after their daughter, Deidra was born, they bought a track-house in one of the new developments that were sprouting-up all over the western suburbs in the mid-1960s. The little houses that looked like differently-painted boxes, sat on the curved, winding streets, with little sapling trees outlining the middle-class-maze. Perhaps there was safety in this anonymity, and at least April would never be alone, surrounded by so many other housewives. In time, just as a house is not a home, she became very lonely in this crowded neighborhood, where, she got to know few of the women.

The first time Beth came to visit, she absentmindedly left the address at home, and with only the description of the house color, ended up driving around the lanes, and avenues, and parkways for forty-five minutes passing April’s house three times. She feltlike Alice in Wonderland without the excitement of meeting the White Rabbit. Beth wondered if Wally ever went into the wrong house, after one of his drinking-episodes. Then the second time Beth was there, she drove in the wrong driveway, and rang the wrong bell. That neighbor, painted their box-house the same color as April’s!

On that first visit, April led Beth from room to room pointing out custom drapes, their color television, professional photos of their weddingand Deidra’s baby photos. Everyone of her possessions were regarded as if the price-tags should’ve been attached – to be more impressive. She droned on ad nauseam, expecting some gush or something of admiration from Beth. Yes, they were more than what Beth had, but also what she didn’t like or want. Yes, of course, proud of her house – better than the trailer she was raised in. And, she was glad to have someone over to show it off to, but that was not the sort of thing that impressed Beth. April wore her new financial status like a fur coat. At the same time, she never ceased to mention to people that she was the one who got Wally his job in the union.

April tried to act so happy those first few years, in her pretend-picture-perfect house in the make-believe suburb. Yet, her acting barely concealed how deeply, empty-inside she actually felt. The only pleasures she got were from playing with Deidra, and them continuously shopping for morepossessions for them both. Unconsciously, she believed they’d take the place of a husband who was never home, or spending any of his free time with her. Wally worked a new construction job that ran twelve to sixteen hours a day, six or seven days a week. Even when he did get off work early, he usually joined his buddies drinking, rather than coming home to her and Deidra. At first, April tried to understand he needed time to unwind, but his drinking problem had never been every night before.Each evening by nine o’clock or so, she threw away the ruined dinners she’d kept warm for him. Many of those times, after he did get home, she also cleaned-up his vomit, when he got sick from drinking too much.

The pile of money lying on the kitchen table, at the end of every week with the check-stub, showed her how much this man was making for himself and her. Somehow it was not big enough to fill the void that had come into both their lives. While the alcohol also ruined his sexual desire, hers was gone mainly from his inattention to her. Ironically then, they had been happier when pinching-pennies. As if for spite, sometimes April tried to see how much of the money she could spend. Beth shopped with her many times during those years, and could not believe how much she wasted on trinkets, toys and knick-knacks. She didn’t think about a hobby or interest to keep her occupied. Her obvious loneliness was quite pathetic, as she toted Deidra from visiting over atMichael’s house to Beth’s house, and then back to Michael’s again – trying to kill time. Each house was at least ten miles from the other, so getting gas with constant stops at McDonalds was her routine, along with whatever retail store they may wandered into.

The bitterness started building-up in her, until she had very little to say about or to Wally. What hurt her more than anything, when he was home, he still really didn’t spend time with her. If he went out, he wouldn’ttake her with, and when at home he usually slept the time away. As with many wives, April felt he was ashamed of her, and her fault he drank. The only times they had sex were when he came home not too drunk to get an erection, but drunk enough he didn’t know who was in bed with him.

April decided to go on a diet, realizing she’d let herself go long enough, using food once again for consolation. At only five-feet four-inches, she weighed over two-hundred pounds. The only way she knew to diet was to stop eating, and take those wonderful, little pills the doctor prescribed for her – in the language of their time – speed. Consequently, with this method, she was constantly fainting. Many times while shopping, she stopped in at Michael’s or Beth’s for something to eat before she passed out again. The weight dropped off quickly, and within nine months she lost almost a hundred pounds. She looked terrific, and of course, it changed her personality drastically.She became that teenager again, resentful of all those who had previously looked down on her, or didn’t feel her worthy of their friendship. And, Wally was at the top of that list this time.

Suddenly, April hooked herself-up with a company to start selling clothes at home-parties to build-up her wardrobe, as well get her out of the house several nights a week. She created a warm, lively-person from deep-down inside herself, who enjoyed being out on her own among lots of women.She soon realized that men began to notice her, nice men – the kind she’d never personally known in her life. Men who seemed to appear out of nowhere, and want to help her with this and that, as if she were fragile, or they simply wanted to be around her – to talk to her politely. To this she only observed, and politely responded back, without any encouragement for anything more. But it all was being filed-way for future reference.

Now, for two or three nights a week, there were no longer dinners warming in the oven. It was no longer unusual, for Wally to come home drunk to find his father-in-law there babysitting for Deidra. With no real reason to rush home, April sat to talk with her ‘new friends’ after the clothes demonstrations. She particularly liked these people, because they never knew the old, fat April, married to the drunkard-husband. To top it off, to her surprise, she had no problem talking, laughing and having a good time with thesestrangers either.

April enjoyed her slimness about a year, with her new vanity regarding it, as she worked hard to accomplish it. Soon with this pattern, Wally began accusing her of seeing other men. He could not understand why she needed to be out in the world, though communication with people was really all she wanted at this time. It was after eleven, when she came in to find Wally waiting up for her. At first she was happy by the surprise. “Well, hello dear.” She walkedstraight over to kiss him, but he got up instantly from the couch to cross to the end of the room.

“Where the hell have you been?” April quickly realized he’d had enough to drink to make him suspicious of the late hour. Usually, he was sound asleep when she got home.

Since nothing to hide, she calmly said, “I was at Margaret Cummings in Downers Grove giving a clothes party, just as I am usually doing when I’m out.” She went ahead to sit on the couch, as she was tired. When he didn’t have a response, she continued. “After everyone left, I totaled up her order, which by the way, I made over $100 in commission.” When his eyes barely blinked at her accomplishment, she went on. “She then had to decide what free-clothes she wanted, as her hostess gift. She probably tried on everything I had on the rack in her size.” She watched him, as he stood like a statue not moving or reacting.

“Afterwards, we had coffee andtalked about our kids.” She paused, then asked, “Where the hell do you think I was, standing on the corner selling these clothes?” She threw the one clothes bag that was still in her hand, onto the next couch cushion.

As he came alive, he became defensive, mumbling incomprehensibly. “How do I know that? . . . You could have been out screwing with some guy . . . or something?” He stepped forward as if gathering steam, “Since you lost all that weight . . . you’realways gone . . . and you don’t even fix dinner for me.”

April now responded with a raised voice, as he hit a real cord of discontent. “Why should I cook, when you’re never home in time to eat dinner anyway? I threw out more dinners than you ever ate! What difference does it make when you’re drunk, if it’s home-cooked or frozen, you can’t taste it anyway?” She got up from the couch to head to the bedroom, then turned. “Besides, if you did eat, you only threw-up . . . And I was the one to always clean it up – you weren’t!”

Wally could not handle the accusations, as he was supposed to be the one making them. Desperate, he yelled back, “That’s not true!” She burst out laughing at the ridiculous denial. “Besides, you didn’t lose the weight for me, you were only looking to get attention from other men.” He was the pathetic one, so April sat back down on the couch, and lit a cigarette to attempt to calm them bothdown.

“If you really want to know, I lost the weight for myself, and hoping that you, My Dear husband, might take notice of me enough to stay home, and be sober. Maybe even – hope beyond hope – want to make love to me in a sober-condition, so that you would know that the skinny-person lying under you was actually your wife. But, it didn’t work.” April slowly began to cry. Wally walked over to the easy chair and sat down. Shelooked over at him, and that possibly he might be listening to her, she wiped her eyes and nose to continue. “So, I thought I would at least get out among people before I went totally berserk, since you obviously didn’t care. It helped too, Wally,” she began to control herself, “because I’ve found out that very few of the women out there are any happier than I am. Even if their husbands don’t go out drinking with the guys, most of them still ignore their wives.”

She looked at him, staring at her with a very lost-look in his eyes. After a moment of contemplation, April decided it was his ignorance of their whole relationship, and not the booze. “What I’m trying to say is, that if I don’t see any really better marriages out there than mine, why would I be looking for another man to get involved with?” She decided not to add her true feeling, that most men were still just all alike – a bunch of self-centered, non-caringbastards.

Totally lost and confused, especially with the booze-affect wearing off, his spine was weakening in knowing what to say. It certainly seemed that April was telling the truth. All he knew was the he didn’t want to lose her, or his darling, daughter Deidra. His defenses were still up, but he took a different mode. “OK, OK. I’ll be home more often, and spend more time with you and Deidra, if you will stop being-gone to all these clothes-show-things, or whatever they are. You know I loveyou, and I want us to stay together.” He seemed to have heard her.

Once again, April believed him because, he was the only happiness she’d known in her life, for even these few years. She still had a piece of her heart left for Wally – she wouldn’t for long though, if he kept breaking his promises, which would chip that last piece away also. And so, the pattern was started with him changing – to quit drinking, while she believed he was doing it, and be so proud of him for it. Then, the trust being broken, as the promises were made over and over again, around they went. She could not get him to acknowledge at all, that he truly had a drinking problem, which even she knew was key to his success in stopping.

Then, they both made that most-fatal-mistake, that so many couples looking for the magic band-aid make – the commitment to have another child, to give him more responsibility and him reason for not drinking. It sounded like the easiest solutionwith both agreeing, yet no consideration of what kind of a marriage, they were bringing that unknowing child into. Question April should have thought of was: “Why wasn’t the first child – Deidra – enough to make him responsible and quit drinking?” Yet, Wally did do very well through most of her new pregnancy, then his ten-year High School Reunion came up. When she looked at the invitation, she saw it was close to her due date, yet relented for him to go ahead to Wisconsin. He had beendoing so good, and they had been getting along so well together. He was such a good father to Deidra, as well being so helpful to her during the pregnancy. She really didn’t want to test him, to see if he would go, if she did ask him not to.

As fate would have it, Wally had just gotten to Wisconsin – he took a week’s vacation to be able to visit with everyone and really celebrate with all of his friends – and April went into early labor. When she called to his home, his mother was the one who answered. After all the kids she had on her own, she saw no need to bother Wally, as he was bar-hopping with his brothers and friends. “. . . He works hard to give you a good life, so he deserves to have some fun, but do call back once the baby comes, as we’d like to know what you had,” she said.

April turned to Michael to see her through the whole drawn-out delivery, as she’d been down that path of a negligent husband, also. For April though, thisdestroyed the last love she’d been able to hold onto for Wally. He just could not be there when she needed him – not physically or emotionally. Yes, she knew he still loved her in his own way, but he was not capable of showing it. Then the crowning straw came – though he had a new, baby daughter at home – Wally decided to stay an extra day in Wisconsin, rather than returning immediately. Once back, April was cold to him, and remained controlled the remainder of their marriage.

* **

April quickly lost the pregnancy weight, and made real plans to change her life. Wanting to get more in touch with herself, she read a lot of metaphysical books, took hypnosis lessons the summer of 1971. She dragged along Michael to join in expanding their self-images. April soon had a crush on the instructor and another student, too. These classes were for learning to be a hypnotist, so the beginning of her interest in the occult, then astrology. The crushes went no place – just the necking and petting attention again – yet, also affirmed that she was attractive to some interesting men.

At the same time, Wally’s faults – short-comings became blaring issues. She’d begun rejecting him in bed when he was drunk, and when he wasn’t, she’d just lay there waiting for him to finish. April spent her days reading her metaphysics or astrology, and evenings with Michael practicing her hypnosis. Wally continued to drink, not even bothering to apologizefor his actions. Since he rarely read anything but a newspaper, he had no interest in her new activities, so their conversations limited. As April’s life expanded daily, the nothingness between them had to be acknowledged. More than nothing to talk about, he still didn’t want to take her out, though now slim. When at home, he fell asleep on the couch by ten. The money factor no longer had much influence over keeping her marriage.

Arguing or criticizing each other more, Aprilsimply went out more often, even if by herself. Several times she went to a small bar-discotheque, quite a distance from the house because she loved to dance so much, and felt better about it being thin. Tim Brennan, Michael’s husband, frequented such bars to drink and pick-up women. That particular night, he had Wally and a few other guys with him. April was dancing with a guy, when they both noticed her, and pointed her out to the others. Before Wally got-up to say something to her, she left with the guy. Though they went out the door together, they left in separate cars, but Wally didn’t bother to check that part out. Just a guy who had talked and danced with April – something Wally never did either – they were going for coffee.

An innocent incident, but Wally being a jealous, insecure husband with a wife he could now be jealous of, didn’t want to know the facts, of his own negligence being the cause. With prodding insinuations from his supposed-good buddies -especially Tim from his own usual experience – everything conceivable was going on in Wally’s mind. April got home long before he did, as they had kept drinking. She knew when he came stomping into the bedroom and flicked on the lights, he had somehow known where she’d been. She also figured he was so drunk, that nothing she said would ever convince him it was innocent.

April stared at Wally as he began his tirade. “Well, you think because you’re all snuggled in bed, thatI don’t know you’ve been screwing that guy you were dancing with at the bar?” He stepped closer, so April couldn’t get a word in as he continued. “You think if you go to some-out-of-the-way-place you won’t get caught, huh? Well, Tim and all of the rest of the guys saw you hanging onto him, and then leaving together. Go ahead, just try to deny it . . . I’ve got witnesses this time!” He started to sway in his inebriated state, then put his hand against the wall.

Though April felt it futile, she decided to make her statement anyway, and calmly began, “Yes, we left together, drove to a coffee shop in separate cars. I had an interesting conversation with a sober, intelligent man who was interested in what I also had to say. To my knowledge, restaurants don’t allow people to screw in them, even if you’re quiet and under the table. He kissed me lightly good night, and I drove home by myself.” She pulled herself up from under the covers, andsat with her arms crossed in front.

Wally, teetered back and forth in his wasted state, as leaning wasn’t helping, he was too far gone. April knew he’d pass-out any moment, and not remember a word either of them said. “You, asshole, can believe me or not. I don’t give a shit, and . . . I really don’t think you would have either, if you hadn’t been egged-on by your so-called drunken friends. I’m sure Michael will be interested where Tim was this evening. GoodNight!” She rolled over, scooted back down and pulled the covers over her head. Moments later, she heard him crash to the floor, somewhere between the bedroom and bathroom. She thought of getting up to check on him, then decided not to bother.

The first night April did pick-up a guy, was right after her hypnosis classes finished, and her crush ended. She and Michael were to meet Beth, and her single-girlfriend Carrie, at their favorite nightclub. They were running a little late, but still didn’t expect to find Micheal and April sitting with two guys when they arrived. Whenever Beth went out with the girls, she’d always let any men they met know she was married. Now when she started to say something, April give her a swift-kick under the table with a look not to mentioned it. This was hysterically funny to Beth, as the most exciting things April and Michael usually did was hold hands, or share a few naive kisses. They had created their made-up scenarios aboutthemselves throughout the conversation. They looked forward to the big excitement of the men, usually asking them to join them in their rooms at the adjacent hotel. They both declined, as did Beth and Carrie when the same men, posed the same request to them later.

April decided that most of the men she met were only interested in available sex, and not enough conversation first for the compatibility she was looking for. Since she wasn’t ready to take that big-step against hermarriage, she soon decided to just stay home and loose herself in her reading. If it hadn’t been for her interest in her growing collection of books, she really would have gone off the deep end. Beth and Michael began to worry, as she began to lose touch with daily life. April was only existing through her books, and gotten heavy into the occult, with some weird phenomena. Objects were flying around the room, her bed moved at night, and visions – talking to her dead Aunt and Mother. After several months of strange happenings, Beth knew something had to be done to get April back into the living world. She wasn’t even functioning as a mother to her children, once such an important part of her life. As well, she let the house go, only prepared the basics of sandwiches and TV dinners, too.

With Beth’s excitement of building a new house closer to where April lived, competitiveness turned to she also bought a new house – her husband made the most money, so she needed thebiggest house. But for April, this was not the best move – in the new house she had twelve rooms to wander around in, where the old one only had six. Beth called on a regular basis to talk her into going bar-hopping and dancing with her and Connie. “Honest to God, April, you act as if we’re jumping every man we dance with. We have a good time, and the music will put some life back into you!” She paused a second, and then continued, “Don’t you remember how you love to dance? Brucewon’t take me, and Wally doesn’t take you, so we go out and dance without them. There are always good, fun men available where we go. It’s just dancing with people of the opposite sex. You remember them don’t you?”

Sitting in that big, reclining-chair with her short legs tucked under her, and her arms crossed in front, she almost yelled “I’m not going to screw some stranger!”

“Who said anything about sex?” We all go together and come home together. If Connie wants to pick someone up, she’s on her own. I’m not really having sex except with Rob, and he’s with his wife on weekends.” Finally Beth pried her out, as she agreed to show up at the Cafe’ la France, where her and Connie worked, about ten o’clock that Friday night – and almost a smile on her face. As they headed to downtown Chicago, Connie made it clear that they were heading for the best places to dance and meet new, interesting people from all over. The music andcrowds slowly got to April, as once again she found some reason for living. There was a world out there that she could be a part of, and dance her little butt-off, at the same time. It was one of the better nights for them all to let go, and enjoy some fun just for themselves. Beth hadn’t known at the time, how close April came to losing her marbles. She also didn’t know, that April’s marriage was in a state as bad as her own.

Several times April then met Connie and Bethat The Place, a discotheque next door to the Cafe’. She picked up several guys there, and either made out in the car, or went for coffee at their place. She still only wanted someone to talk to, or pay some attention toward her. The fact that she never got a weirdo who tried to rape her, or continued when she said stop, was an absolute miracle. Connie’s favorite expression about April’s stupid habit was, “She is unfucking believable.” She never saw the danger in her being alone with some strange man, feeling she had good instincts about them, but it was quite a chance she was taking. In reality, they were the precursors regarding the 1977 movie, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, but luckier. Then, the end of November, April moved kids, clothes and furniture over to her father’s house. She’d asked Wally for a divorce, to no avail. They’d been battling constantly, but she lasted only a week there.

Her first real fling didn’t come until months after Beth’sdivorce. Having lunch to celebrate, April told her about meeting Dean at the large, singles apartment complex community center, they’d been out to a couple of times. They’d met some guys, but hadn’t had sex with any of them. Easy to get into the ‘private’ residents’ party – just give a name or apartment number. Beth noticed the Mail Center, so got some last names and numbers. She had tired of the married men at the Cafe’ always hitting on her, and wanted some bona-fide single guysto dance and talk with sometimes.

April was doing ground-work, she said for when she found someone she wanted, she’d have the experience then of knowing how to act, and what to say. She knew her marriage was a lost cause, and only putting in her time, as she had nowhere else she could go with her two daughters. She agreed on having sex when Wally insisted on it to keep peace, to be able to go out when she wanted. She felt it had been years since they’d actually, passionately made love. She so wanted the romance in her life again.

April met Dean the first week of February, when Beth was supposed to meet her there, but she got stuck working late. If April didn’t want it to appear that she was alone, she’d keep walking around like she was looking for someone she was supposed to meet. The ploy worked many times, even when true. The guys would notice and ask who she was looking for, or if they could help. On her fourth time past the fireplace in anhour, Dean stopped to ask, so in her sweetest, little-girl-lost voice, she said, “My friend Beth, she must have gotten lost or something. She was to meet me an hour ago. I really don’t know anyone, and I don’t know what to do – wait or leave.” She had continued to smile at him, as she glanced around and then back to him.

Needless to say, Dean was quite taken by her innocence, so being the White Knight, he offered: “My apartment is close by, would like to come over tocall Beth?”

April noted immediately that he remembered her friend’s name, which she took as a sign that he was paying attention. “How kind of you to offer,” she replied so sweetly. “And, not that I don’t trust such a nice guy as you, but you’ll have to promise not to take advantage of my predicament.” Up in Dean’s apartment, she pretended to call Beth. She and Dean then talked, as she very carefully asked about his work and hobbies. She glanced around, not to seem that she was scrutinizing his living quarters, yet avoiding to give much information about herself. Money, in and of itself, was still very important to her – she could not get involved with a man without money. Also, she wanted to make sure he wasn’t married. She didn’t want to be in the same boat as Connie and Beth – in love with married men. Beth said if a guy could afford Round-Tree Lake apartments, he had money, and one reason why they kept going back thereto party.

Dean turned on some music while April pretended to call Beth, then automatically took two wine glasses from the cabinet and filled them from a bottle – open, but corked on the counter. The convenience of it all did not attract her attention, as it should have. Dean then lifted a glass to April, which she took without commenting about not usually drinking, as he toasted her casually, “To finding each other.” She smiled, nodded and sipped some of the wine. Deantook that as his signal, leaned in close to her to slowly seduce her. She, at first, mumbled about thoroughly enjoying the attention. His hands had moved carefully over and under her blouse, with the kisses coming down her neck into her cleavage. April became caught up in her own film scenario, playing it to the hilt with little moans of enjoyment.

Then she whispered sweetly, “Need I remind you of your promise not to take advantage of me?” At no time had she pushed him, or his hands away.

He pulled his head back, as he couldn’t believe she was for real, and had to look at her face. “How can you say ‘no’ when your clothes are half-off?” Her face was almost blank, as she’d learned to separate sex and emotional involvement during the last few years with Wally.

April slowly and quietly replied, “I wanted to make sure you want me for myself, and not just my body.” The remark was probably one she heard in some movie toprove sincerity. Dean might have seen the same movie, for he resumed seducing her. Very dramatically she added, “If you really want me, you can wait until tomorrow!” This compromise put her in control of the final decision, and he was gullible enough to agree to her terms. She then speeded home to Wally, getting the first of her many tickets. She had no regrets on her choice to meet Dean the following evening. They made love the way she’d known it, long before. When she retold theexperience to Beth, only the soft music and candlelight were missing. She thought he was quite good, but it was her first comparison in years.

April had a thing about social/sexual diseases, in fact deep-down quite a hypochondriac about them. She was positive if she fooled around with more than one man at a time, ‘her clitoris would turn green and fall off, or something more absurd.’ Quite serious about it, she later warned the girls, they’d be committed to a mental hospital, because syphilis had eaten up their brains. Often self-righteousness was mixed in, since she’d not always practice what she preached.

Because of this phobia, part of her first affair was the pact that she and Dean made with each other. No matter how kooky it sounded, April proudly stated how she put one hand on her heart, and the other on her crotch, and Dean did the same thing to his heart and penis. They then swore not have sex with anyone else withouttelling the other one, or thus released them from their promise, and their affair. Dean more than agreed, or perhaps he believed: His penis in her bush, was better than two birds still in a tree. Or, as close to a ‘sure thing,’ as he’d get.

Connie couldn’t quit laughing, or retelling everyone she knew of April’s ridiculous game of being faithful, when she was the one married. April told Dean that they could only see each other once a week untilshe separated from Wally, because a lot of money for her was involved. She believed Dean accepted every word she said. It would have been hard to decipher who was doing the better acting. They kissed, caressed and passionately made love again to double-seal the vows just taken. Afterwards, April got her second ticket speeding home.

* * *

After a few times with Dean, while much deliberation and thought, April decided he was not all she wanted in a lover. Back out looking, not really knowing what she was looking for, but now knowing a little better what she didn’t want. She also believed, it would only be a matter of time before Wally accepted the facts and signed the divorce papers. Since she hardly cared, she went out as much as possible.

On Friday night, once again at The Place dancing and waiting for Beth to get off work, April wandered around. Al spotted her. Her eyes so wide open, she didn’t miss a single guy in theplace, yet he’d been watching her before she noticed him. She did look spectacular that night, as she’d been working on her make-up, hair and clothes. During one of the breaks in the live music, she sat down on the stage with her soft drink. Al came strolling up to ask, “Could I share part of your stage?” This, of course, made her light-up like a Christmas tree. Any reference to acting at all, and she had a script in her hand. Even with her playing the struggling-starlet, she was more sure ofherself than he seemed.

An instant, purely physical attraction to one another was made. He actually primped more for the evening than she had. Al wasn’t much taller than Wally, but his coal-black hair glistened, almost manicured in a mod-cut. While his close-cut beard and mustache were perfectly trimmed, without a hair out-of-place. The charcoal eyes had just enough blue in them, so they were believable. From head to toe, he looked like any moment he’d be cued to pose for some elegant men’s magazine. Yet, all the time he was trying to look like the total-package had merely fallen-together, without any effort of his own.

They immediately shared stories, with him as lost and mixed up as she was – or so it appeared. He began slowly, as if painfully, pulling every word out hurt. Yet, the words fit together quite well, a more objective person would have noticed how well-rehearsed. He was separated from his wife and two kids. “For now, I’m stayingat a friend’s house, to take care of their horses while they’re on vacation.” They talked continuously, squeezing in as much as possible until the band returned. After several dances, April knew she definitely wanted to know this man better.

Trying to talk above the band noise of the usual crowd chatter, became impossible, so April suggested, “Why don’t we go somewhere else more quiet and intimate, but maybe still dance?” Al’s shy routine was more elusive when hehesitated to the proposition.

“Are you sure you want to leave here . . . with me? I mean didn’t you have some friends you were meeting?” She looked at him wondering why such a good looking, well-built man would be so insecure about himself. Yes, he mentioned his wife made him feel so inadequate, because he didn’t earn very much money, as a city, gas-line repairman, but still.

April stared a moment more, then in her most-mothering, reassuring smiling-voice she said, “I’ll catch up with them later, I really want to spend time with you.” They drove to a small lounge with more sedate music. This trio began to play the theme from “Romeo and Juliet,” as if on cue. Touching each other for the first time, after admiring each other’s bodies, brought the intimacy up-close and very personal. From that moment, they were glued together like one single, fluid-body moving across the floor.

Though it was crowded,they never noticed another couple around them, or other movement, as catapulted into a dream-waltz, above everyone. A moments after the music stopped, their bodies regained contact to the floor again. Suddenly, April felt embarrassed. She felt she bared her most inner, personal feelings to this man, without saying a word. She couldn’t even look at him, so when they sat down, she began to apologize for flinging herself upon him. “I really don’t . . . usually throw myself upon men I’vejust met . . . ”

Al put his arm around her, to soothe the flustered, little girl and replying, “I felt the electricity pull us close on the dance floor, too.” She relaxed knowing she was not alone in her falling, and the conversation moved to more personal. She then suggested they go for coffee at the place where he was staying, since it was so close. This was not a coy game this time, she wanted him to make love to her, yet he had not made any direct passes, or even insinuated any intensions of doing so. Perhaps if she got them alone, he would get the idea to seduce her.

Minutes after they arrived at the stately, old country house, they were reclining in the living room listening to music and drinking coffee. The conversation reached the point where Al should have made some move toward her. Impatient, April turned herself to him in anticipation. He finally leaned over and kissed her lightly. Just about to break away, the electricity took overonce more, with the growing passion moving them into a prone position. She whispered, “Not here, take me to the bedroom.” In her script, but not her expectations, in one fell-swoop, Al carried her off to his bedroom. One could only think that there had been some magic potion in his coffee, to make such a change in his prior, shy-acting character into a daring-dude.

But no, it was only the beginning of his theatrics. April became so enthralled by this new role,she assumed she had inspired this transformation from the reluctant lover he first portrayed. He didn’t even want her to undress herself, he wanted that full pleasure of the scene to unfold his way. He slipped off her blouse with one hand, and with precision unsnapped her bra with the other. April became excited thinking of herself as real character out of Peyton Place, or a Jacqueline Susann novel.

Al kissed her almost methodically all over her body, moving from one area to another as she reached a fever pitch. Wally now seemed totally inept in his love making. This man had found erogenous-zones, that April didn’t even know she had. He took her leg and wrapped it around him, as he kissed up and down the back of her legs, moving slowly from her heel to the inside of her thigh. He lingered in the shallow-dip of her knee, while she began to squirm. With his free hand, he started to gently manipulate her clitoris. He moved up on her, never relentingwith the action of his hands or mouth. By the time he penetrated her, she was already dissolving with another climax. She hadn’t even realized he’d finished undressing her.

In between the rolling movements, he would whisper lines to her that she had always dreamed of hearing. It never occurred to her, they might not be original with him, or that she might not be the first he had whispered them to. So caught up with the fantasy and complete surrealism, of it all, she could notactually it happening to her with him. She was lost, in a time and space-energy created by Al, in fulfilling her search for love. When it came her turn to seduce him, she seemed to be only seconds ahead of him, as he’d position her or move, in just the right direction. To her, their bodies overflowed together, knowing what the other one wanted before words were spoken.

Hours later, as she watched the morning light come slowly through the windows, her eyes turned to linger on the beautiful sleeping form of her lover. April knew she had found what she had not known she was looking for. She smiled devilishly, recapturing in her mind every fine moment of the glorious hours before, and how he had satisfied needs she never knew she had. This hesitant lover – that she thought she had to seduce – was more than capable, and passionate in every way. “How was it that his wife could have overlooked this, or maybe even destroyed it?” What a silly questionof her, of all people to ask, April rationalized, when she felt that Wally had done the same thing to her.

April didn’t bother to go home after her ethereal experience with Al. Instead, she called Beth, and asked if she would cover for her. This time Beth couldn’t see how it would work. She felt so sorry for Wally that first morning, when he apologetically called her at six o’clock. He had already called Michael and several other friends, to no avail. He was waiting for theworst, or maybe perhaps the truth. He didn’t hate Beth for her divorce, but he feared April would do the same thing, if she continued to associate with Beth and her divorced friends. Again, guilt by associations – divorce was a social disease, being caught by discontented housewives.

Beth coolly told Wally, “April’s been here at my house all night talking. She’s just left to go for a drive and think things over before she goes home.” He wouldn’t have believed it, except it had actually happened many times before, when they had been fighting. Waking-up from the alarm going-off, and turning-over to see that April hadn’t been home, must have been a shock, since they hadn’t been fighting recently. He never thought she would leave the big, new house and security of his money

April waited tiII her father arrived to babysit the girls, and Wally left the house. She went in, ignoring all her father’s questions, changed clothes and tooksome money from the kitchen drawer. It was interesting that when it came to Al, it did not matter that he didn’t have any money or a prestigious job. All that mattered was the love she could give, and receive from this man – more than she had ever dreamed was possible. She thanked her father for coming over, still ignoring his questions, gathered the girls and went to Michael’s. She decided to start pressuring Wally again about the divorce. Maybe if she kept at him, he would give in and agreeto it.

April saw Al every night, going home when she absolutely had to. Her father babysat, and tried to understand what was happening, with Wally not budging on the divorce. The following Saturday, April was at Beth’s house with Al – Jeremy was with his father that weekend. They stayed after Beth left for work, to have a quiet place to talk. April then made her decision to leave both Wally and her kids. She could not leave Al, he’d become her “life’s blood,” she cried, without any hesitation. With him, she justified she was happy, and it had only been unhappiness with her family. For someone who had been so overprotective – to the point of doting on her girls – this was a landmark decision.

Things began to move rapidly, and rather desperately from that point on. April and Wally had several big fights which were more screaming, yelling-fits filled with accusations, nasty remarks and name calling. This escalated with her pushing him,and him finally hitting back at her. It was all she wanted, so in a fit of anger she picked up the wall-phone, and hit him across the face with it. She’d only been coming back to see the kids, and get him to agree to the divorce. But that accomplished nothing, as they only fought and he called her vile names in front of the girls. April and Al actually got into the house, even after Wally had all the locks changed. She took the color television, the new living room set and the bedroom set,besides her clothes.

April now felt she had enough with Wally striking her, and went to an attorney. If someone had said the year before that April would give up her big house, as well her two, spoiled daughters and the money, friends would never have believed them. She had everything most women wanted at that time, but Beth understood what was missing. April was lonely, since she didn’t have a caring husband, yet Beth also knew from her own experience, that April’s new found sexual-escapade would not completely fill that void she had. She and Wally had a good sex life when they were first married, but a relationship built on sex alone never lasts. Though she tried to warn April, there was not much Beth could say, for in the throes of sexual-ecstasy, April definitely did not listen to anyone.

Those first few weeks, April and Al spent every spare moment together. Her fairy tale had come true, with the total elation of her Prince on thewhite horse carrying her away to his castle. It didn’t matter to April, they actually stayed that first week and a half at his sister’s house with four kids running around. More like a fractured-fairy tale, but she ignored tacky-details over love. Finally, they got a small apartment in a building Al’s mother owned. Happiness was theirs for the taking, except when his irate wife – she had NOT filed for divorce – or hostile Wally brought them back down to earth.

WhenApril’s divorce was over, everyone was still in a mild state of shock. Connie and Beth had been her witnesses, which was funny considering Connie had never even met Wally. For the nine years of marriage, April didn’t have very much to show for it. She got to keep all the furniture she took, and an immediate compensation of five hundred dollars. There was also to be a small property settlement, once the house was sold. Some people felt that she didn’t even deserve that, because she had been the one to walk-out on him, and their two kids for another man. The price she paid for her freedom was higher than most, so she better enjoy it as long as she could. Reality could be a bitch, as well heart-breaking.

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