What Goes Around

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Be careful what you wish for.

Submitted: January 27, 2015

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Submitted: January 27, 2015

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Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, is what Roger was thinking when he read the story in the newspaper that morning.  Terra had always been a loose cannon.  That is what attracted him to her in the first place.  Roger was better than almost anyone at selling pharmaceuticals.  No one got doctors and hospitals to sign up like Roger.  That led to the big house and the expensive cars.  And that led to Terra.

She had been chewing her way through men for a while before she set her sights on Roger.  He never had a chance.  Once she sniffed the cash, and the obvious fact that Roger wasn’t even remotely a ladies man, it was all over.

Within a year, there was an engagement ring on Terra’s finger.  Then wedding bells not too long after.  You wouldn’t accuse Terra of being inefficient.  But you could accuse her of finally stopping the act and showing her true personality.

It took a while for the truth to finally sink in on Roger.  It must be tough to think you’ve found this beautiful woman who is passionately in love with you, then have to face the fact you’ve been duped.  And it’s going to cost money to get out.

No matter how many times you try to make it work, the end result is the same.  Because a marriage can only work if both people want it to work.  Things were working for Terra exactly as she had planned.  When the divorce was finalized, she walked away with a house, a car, and a lot of cash.

Roger was crushed when everything went down.  He spent a year staying in the apartment, watching TV, sleeping late and not doing much, whenever he was not at work.  But Roger was made of strong stuff.  He kept the job going through the worst of the times.  No matter how bad he felt, he pushed the emotions down inside when he walked through a client’s door, and put on his best salesman smile.

As time passed, the pain dulled, and Roger started feeling human again.  The money kept coming in as always, so Roger bought another house.  He thought about finding a girlfriend.  He missed the good times he had with Terra, even though he now knew it was never real.  It sure felt real while it was happening.  Roger knew it could happen for real.  But he had grabbed the first hot thing that showed up in front of him, and he got burned.  Instead of a girlfriend, Roger got a dog.

Everyone knows that a dog is a man’s best friend.  The instant that golden retriever jumped out of the car and started running in circles around the yard, Roger knew he was going to be okay.

Likewise, Terra knew she was going to be okay, now that she had Roger’s money.  She was a smart girl, she knew how much she had, and how she had to spend it to make it last.  The problem for Terra, was the one thing she didn’t know.  She didn’t know herself.

Terra had been poor all of her life.  She had learned early how to use her looks to get what she wanted.  It had taken her a while to work her way up to Roger.  By then, her act was as polished as any Broadway show.

Terra knew that both of her parents were alcoholics.  That was the main reason the family was poor.  She knew she liked to get drunk when she could.  She made the same assumption many people make, that she could handle it.

When she was younger and poor, her drinking was kept in check by economics.  When she, or the current boyfriend, ran out of money, the sobering up began.  As she worked her way up the boyfriend ladder toward Roger, she stayed focused on the prize.  She allowed herself an occasional bender.  That won’t slow you down for long when you are young and healthy.  But once the checks cleared and the title to the house was finally in her name, there was one thing she hadn’t counted on.

Terra hadn’t counted on temptation.

With Roger gone, no more meetings with attorneys, and a thick bank account, the world was at Terra’s feet.  But alcohol is a cruel master.  Now that there were no barriers between her and her favorite poison, she began experiencing the same issues other alcoholics face.

There was one other thing.  If you don’t have any money, other people can’t take your money away from you.  The more you have, the more likely you are to attract leeches.  The previous Terra would have been too alert to fall victim to any connivers that had her in their sights.  She was an expert.  But the haze of constant drinking, and the arrogance of thinking you are smarter than everyone else, is a dangerous combination.

Terra quickly fell into the local party scene.  Crowded nightclubs, loud music, booze, weed, the usual stuff.  Then the parties started happening at Terra’s house.  That way, she didn’t have to drive.  It was no problem, she had a lot of money.  A fact that became apparent to handsome, smooth talking Tyler.

While Roger was slowly but surely climbing out of the hole, Terra was just as surely sliding down in to one.  And now, she had Tyler to help.

Tyler was a male version of Terra.  Not as ambitious though.  He didn’t have a master plan.  He was content to go from girlfriend to girlfriend, as long as they had a place he could crash, and had money for blow.

When Terra met Tyler, the good times got way better.  She already knew how to drink.  Tyler showed her how to mix coke and alcohol together for a much more potent high.  The alcohol makes all your troubles go away.  You are free as a bird.  But alcohol is a depressant.  The more you drink, the more your body slows down.

Cocaine is a stimulant.  Hard core users can go days without sleep.  They feel invincible.  Alcohol takes the edge off of the coke.  The blow keeps the booze from sedating you.  It’s a perfect combination.  Or not.

Life was a great big party for Terra, now that she had Tyler, and she lost track of how much money was being spent.  You can spend a lot of money on alcohol.  But you can get a case of beer for twenty bucks, and it will take a while to drink that much.  You can put that much coke up your nose as fast as you can inhale.

It was a complete surprise to Terra when the first check bounced.  And another surprise a few days later, when she woke up and realized that Tyler was gone.  He knew the money had been spent, he already had a few prospects in mind for the next mark.

If Terra had actually spent every dollar she had, things might have worked out better for her.  But that night, when she had drank the last drop of alcohol left in the house, she still had a twenty dollar bill left.  Enough money to drive to the convenience store to get more. 

When Roger picked up the newspaper the next morning, he saw a picture of his old car, wrapped around a tree.  The headline noted that the city had just racked up its 15th traffic fatality of the year.

Roger contemplated the irony.  He had offered Terra everything.  She could have made him happy for the rest of his life.  But when it ended, about all she had to show for her life was a twenty dollar bill.

Roger, on the other hand, was doing much better.  He had a house, a great job and a golden retriever.  Now, he even had a girlfriend.  The secretary at his newest client’s office was kind of shy, and she wasn’t nearly as pretty as Terra.  But she was smart, friendly, and had a nice smile.  Roger surprised himself when he asked Ellen for a date.  He was surprised how easy it was for him to make her laugh.  He was surprised how quickly they figured out they were meant to be together.

Then Roger realized, Terra had given him all the experience he needed to have a successful relationship.  Even though it was never real, he went through all the same things and made all the same mistakes as everyone else.  It occurred to him that the pre-Terra Roger would never have had the courage to ask Ellen out.  Without Terra, he would have never been able to bring a shy girl like Ellen out of her shell.

EPILOGUE

Roger dropped Ellen off at their daughter’s house, she was going to spend the day babysitting the grandchildren.  He’d been retired a few years now.He and Ellen spent their time going on cruises, playing golf, and hanging out with children and grandchildren.  He often joked he may have to go back to work to get some rest.  There was one other task on his list today.  It was June 21st.  He drove the Lexus to the cemetery and walked to the familiar spot, where he’d been going every year on this day.  Terra’s birthday.  He placed the solitary red rose on the marker, as usual.

Roger knew that no one else would visit her grave.  In her life, she had never made the kind of impression on even one person, that would make them miss her when she was gone.  Not that Roger missed her, he didn’t.  But he felt sorry for her.  And the annual trip to the cemetery was cathartic for him.  It gave him a chance to compare what his life could have been like, to what it actually was.  He smiled as he drove back into town.


© Copyright 2017 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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