Home » A Wasted Life » Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen

Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen

I continued to enjoy working.  We were still going to our restaurant to “have a beer.”  One night, J*** told me that he had gotten into it with a woman named M*****.
He had taken this woman from virtually opening mail to having the office adjacent to his.  He saw something in her, I guess.  What the altercation was about, he didn’t tell me but it ended with him yelling to her that she didn’t know what she was fucking talking about and her telling him that he was insane.  This of course, happened in the middle of the newsroom.
A black-tie event was coming up and I had to work. There was no way that I was going to beg off of work to go.  Work was a  responsibility and not to be put aside for personal pleasures.
I had never missed a day of school nor had I ever missed a day of work.  At the end of the school year, my name was the only one called for perfect attendance.  I always got some good-natured chiding about it but it didn’t really bother me.
I asked J*** not to drive to the event so he got one of his editors to come pick him up.   That made me feel a lot better.
I had gotten home from my shift, cleaned up and was waiting for J*** to come home.  I heard a car pull into the driveway and I went to the back door to wait.
J*** opened the screen door to the patio and just stood there for a few seconds.  He finally took a few steps, wobbled and then stopped again.  I thought he had seen me and was messing around.  He finally made it to the back door and I opened it and let him in.  He smelled like a brewery.  I don’t think I had ever seen him that drunk.  I got him to a chair and sat him down.  He reached out and put both his arms around my legs and kept saying “I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.”
I asked him if he was sorry for being so drunk and he said “no.  I’m so sorry for what I did.”  My mind never entered the realm of possibility that he had done something dishonorable at the event.  I patted him on the back and said “lets’ get you to bed.”
I got him upstairs and had to literally undress him.  I can’t believe I got his clothes off without him falling down.  I wasn’t as mad as I usually was because he had been driven home and had just apparently had a good time.  He woke up in the middle of the night and was trying to find the bathroom.  He missed it by a wall and knocked my lamp over and broke it.  I woke up and asked him what he was doing.  I got him to the bathroom and told him he broke my lamp and I was going to go clean it up.  He said “I’ll buy you another one.”
A few weeks later, he called me while I was at work.  That was an extremely rare event.  He asked me if I was going to get off on time and I told him that we were actually on the way back to base, so it looked like it.  I asked him what he had been doing and he said he had been out on the boat.
Then he asked me how many calls I had run.  I told him I had run five.  He asked me if they were any good and I told him not really.  Then he asked me where I was.  I hesitated and said “on the way back to base.”  The next question was “how many calls did you run?”  I said “five.”  Then it was “were they any good?”
I looked at B****** and she looked at me and said “P****, he’s drunk!”  I was a little embarrassed but it was obviously true.
I got home and he was standing in the kitchen, weaving back and forth, holding onto the counter.  I was livid.  He had driven home while he was so wasted that he could barely stand up.  Again, he didn’t understand why I was mad.  Again, he got mad at me for being mad at him.  I just went upstairs and got ready for bed.
A new guy had come to work for us and everybody knew, including me, that he had a crush on me.  I was steadfast in letting him know that I was not available.  He never passed up a chance to talk to me and was always asking me to go to dinner with him.  I reacted with humor as much as I could and reminded him repeatedly that I was married.
B****** and I were getting into the ambulance one day and he came running over and once again asked me to have dinner with him.  He said he had heard that my husband was out of town.
I told him that J*** was in Denmark, paying golf.  He laughed and said “you just think he’s playing golf.”
I immediately jumped into J*** defense mode and said “listen.  I would bet my childrens’ lives that he has never been unfaithful to me.”  I remember having just a micro twinge of “what did I just say”, but I dismissed it.  My faith in his fidelity was unbreakable.
I think it was becoming more and more apparent that the vice president of the paper was after J***.  He didn’t say much but the indication was there when he did talk to me about things.
The fractures in our relationship were again starting to show, maybe from the stress at the paper.  I wouldn’t want to go to a particular function because I was just tired of being ignored.  He still didn’t understand and was now making that reluctance my fault.
He screamed “you’re supposed to be the fucking Queen and you don’t like anybody.”  He was right.  I didn’t like many of them but mostly, I didn’t like him.  I didn’t like the way he acted when he was drunk.  I didn’t like the superior attitude he had.  I didn’t like the way he ignored me.  I didn’t like the way he refused to defend me to anybody.
I didn’t like the way that he never bothered to try to include me in any conversations.
L*** T***** C******, the woman who gave him the bumper sticker that read “I’ll try to be nicer if you’ll try to be smarter”, was going to take a job as the publisher of another newspaper.  There was a big “going away/congratulations” party and we went of course.
When we got to her house, J*** immediately started drinking.  I immediately retreated to my corner and just watched people.  At one point, I was going to go tell J*** to slow down on the drinking.  After several hours of drinking, he tended to get uninhibited, boisterous and say things like “I’m God.”  I was walking over to him and A***, the vice president, stopped me and shook my hand.  Then he went over to J*** and shook his hand.  What happened next is so unbelievable that it left me wondering “who is this guy?”
As soon as A*** turned around, J*** was crouched down, walking behind him in Groucho Marx fashion, giving him the finger and acting like he was trying to stick it up A***s’ butt.  His tongue was sticking out and the scowl on his face was the ugliest thing I had ever seen.  He followed him for about ten feet and obviously didn’t care who saw him.
Did he not think somebody was going to tell A*** what he had done or did he think because he was the great J*** H*** nobody would dare say anything?”  He struck fear in everybody and most likely used that as leverage.  He enjoyed having that power over people, I think.
I was embarrassed and I wanted to leave.  It did briefly cross my mind to wonder at that particular moment, if people thought I was like him.  I reasoned that they probably didn’t.  They just thought I must be unbalanced because I was still consistently getting the “how can you stand being married to him” questions.
Not long after that incident, on my day off, I was sweeping the front porch.  Since we lived on a cul-de-sac, I could see cars coming up the street.  I looked up and saw J***.  It was 11 o’clock in the morning.  I wondered why he was coming home now, because he had just gone to work an hour or so earlier.
I went back in the house and J*** came in, went straight to the refrigerator and got a beer.  He said “come sit down.  I need to talk to you.”
We sat down and he said “well, babe.  You’re looking at the soon to be former Executive Editor of the C********* P*** & C******.
I asked him what happened and he said “I got to the office and the phone rang.  I picked it up and L**** asked me if I had a minute.  I told him yeah and he said ‘come on down.’  I went down to his office and the HR person was sitting there, so I knew something was up.”
Then he said that L**** said “J***, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life but we’ve decided to make some changes in upper management.  We’ll give you a years’ salary and let you keep the car.”
I was strangely calm and I’m not sure why.  Maybe it was such a surprise that I was temporarily in shock or maybe it was more that I wasn’t really surprised at all.  I knew his volatile nature and I also knew that someday, despite his brilliance, his treatment of people was no longer going to be tolerated.
Editors had been threatening to fire him for years.  Now, it had finally happened.

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