We left Dairy Queen. I had worn heels to work of course and was trudging alongside Helena on top of 4 inch shooties back toward the garage where she’d left her car for the oil change. I had cried all my makeup off and dug through my purse as we walked looking for a hair clip. I scraped up my hair and untucked my shirt. It was 1:30 in the afternoon and I still had mountains to climb. I peered over at Helena’s slight frame. She was short and tiny, built like a 12 year old boy really, but she exuded power and strength and I was so glad she was there in that moment.
I was still sniffling from my good long embarrassing cry and she reached over and patted me on the arm, “We’ll figure it out, you know we will.”
I looked down at the ground and said, “There’s just so much to figure out. I can’t stay there. I won’t stay there and Harlow’s in school and I have no car. I mean it’s just overwhelming at the moment.”
We reached the garage and Helena went inside and came back out to tell me it would still be a little longer. We sat on the hitching post bar in front of the tiny garage and I slumped. She gave me a cigarette out of her pack and we lit up and puffed. We sat there side by side in silence smoking and contemplating.
After what seemed a long while, she suddenly said, “Look, I’m not here to tell you what to do but I say we go figure out what’s up with your car, then we get Harlow picked up from school and get some supper. On the way back to your house, we’ll get some boxes and start packing and you can come and stay with me and your brother for as long as it takes to get you straight.”
Millions of thoughts scattered through my brain as I tried to put it all to rights in my head. I looked at her and asked, “Don’t you think you should ask Wayne first?”
She shrugged, “Nah. What’s he gonna say? No? He’s not even home anyway and not due back for 3 or 4 months. Chances are you’ll be all good and ready to go by then. You got income tax coming, yes?”
I nodded and she continued, “Well there you go. You can just pay whatever’s extra on the utilities and help with groceries and save the rest to get yourself straight and with your income tax, you ought to be right as rain in 4 months tops.”
I almost started crying again and she could sense it. She changed the subject and began telling me we would be on the edge of the school district and Harlow could go to the “good” school. I thought about my candy girl then and wondered how she’d take all this. I thought about telling Freddy and how happy he’d be that there was no more Tucker. Then I thought of Tucker. Locked up and safely gone from my life…maybe I could do this.
We got her car and went to the impound lot. It was an auto parts store with a lot in the back and I could see the loaner car the dealership had given me when I pulled up, locked safely behind the chain link and barbed wire. Getting my car out of law enforcement initiated impound ought to be easy and cheap… said no one ever.
I went in and up to the counter and said what sounded unbelievable to my own ears and made me feel like trash, “My husband was arrested and you impounded my car.”
The man asked for my name and then rudely told me that there were no cars registered to me on the property.
“I know that but it’s a loaner from the dealership while they work on my car.”
He cocked an eyebrow and said, “Well then the dealership is going to have to authorize you to get it in writing or send someone after it.”
My heart sank but I quickly asked, “How much is the charge?” He went through an itemized spiel about each and every charge and I’m thinking, just bottom line it dickhole.
“Grand total is $293.38.” He sounded so pleased with himself. I told him I needed to make some phone calls and he looked very unimpressed.
I called first, my stepmother. “Hey.” I began tentatively.
She heard the apprehension and panic in the one word I’d uttered and her answer was as tentative as mine, “Hey.”
“Um, Tucker’s been arrested. He was writing payroll checks to himself on my old ranch account and he’s locked up until at least Tuesday. They took the car and impounded it and I have no money to get it out. Helena’s going to help me move out but first we have to get the car situation taken care of. Can I borrow the money until my next check or until the next one or income tax or something so I can do this?”
I don’t remember exactly everything but I do know that the fact that I was willing to leave Tucker loosened the purse strings on the other end. She gave them her credit card number over the phone to pay the impound fee and then I had to call the car lot.
They were wonderful to me. They had dealings with Tucker previously on his repossessed truck and none of them liked him. They sent a worker over with a car and a statement. He picked up the loaner, gave me the keys to the car he was driving and he, Helena and I all caravanned back to town to the dealership.
The owner of the local lot and about 5 more in the surrounding areas happened to be there that day. He was slightly shorter than me in my heels, muscle bound and completely bald. He looked a little scary but came right up as we arrived and shook my hand. He said, “The next time this happens, I don’t want it to be my problem. I want it to be yours, so we’re going to get you into something today.”
I smiled and told him he could rest assured that this particular problem would not be happening again. He smiled and loaded up in his truck and left. What followed was 4 ½ hours of paperwork and waiting and test driving and just general tortures. I was standing outside and calling Harlow to tell her to go to the neighbors’ until I could get home when the phone signaled an incoming call. When I looked at the number, I knew. I knew it was him.
I told Harlow I’d check in with her later and I clicked over. “Hello.”
“Oh baby!! Are you okay? I was so scared but it’s gonna be alright, I need you to call…”
I cut him off. “You NEED me to call? You NEED me to do what?! No I’m not okay and what the fuck is wrong with you? You can’t possibly think that only months after getting me out of the last mess you got me into that I’d be fine with you potentially getting me into an even bigger one?”
“Baby, I’m so sorry, I told them you had nothing to do with it. They know it was all me. This can be all fixed and I can get out of here if you...”
I stopped him again. “Do you have any idea what I’m doing right now?”
“I’m standing outside the car dealership trying to figure out what they’re going to do about getting me something to drive that they don’t have to worry with the next time it’s impounded. I’m trying to figure out how to pay bills and rent and food for my daughter with the negative 2 bucks you’ve left in my account and the whopping 2 dollars in my purse. I’m trying to figure out how clear out of this cluster fuck of a situation. I’m not real worried about what YOU need me to do right now. You can rot where you are for all I care.”
I was shaking. I hadn’t really committed to leaving him high and dry before, not ever and here I was doing it.
He called back several times over the course of that visit to the car lot. By the time I drove out with my “new” truck, I had just silenced my phone. Helena went home and promised to be over the next day with my brother’s truck to help me pack.
I called Harlow and check on her and drove home and dragged myself into the shower and crawled into bed, our empty bed. He wasn’t going to be sleeping beside me any longer. I was alone again, really alone. No more sex I didn’t want. No more sex I DID want. No more bad. No more good from him. No more of any of it. I knew it, I felt it. I started crying again but this time it was not the silent humiliation in the Dairy Queen. I was glad Harlow wasn’t home because it was out and out wracking sobs. You never know when the last time will turn out to be the last time until it just is.