Divorce, Sort of

Dick was drinking again and driving, of course, and having blackouts. He would go out for cigarettes and then bring the car back hours later with unexplained dents and scratches. He came home once with blood on the front seat and no idea how it got there or to whom it belonged. Nothing was leaking from Dick except alcohol vapors. Gen speculates that he picked up a hitchhiker who was already injured or whom Dick himself beat up. Nobody knew for sure, but Gen was concerned that the cops would come knock-knock-knocking on our door. Dick's behavior and Gen's tension escalated until a fight broke out and Dick took off with the car. Again.

I heard Gen yelling during the night after she put me to bed. Next morning, Dick was gone. As I think about it now, it should have seemed routine and expected, a thing to be taken in stride since it happened so often, but instead it made me angry. That day, school photographs were taken. I remember the photographer kept telling me to smile, but I couldn't do it. Finally, he snapped the picture anyway and wow! the fury in that child's five-year-old face. Gen kept the pictures for a while, but none of them exist now. Gen said she thought I was mad at her. I just remember being mad.

All Dick's absences seemed to last a very long time to me, although my sense of time was filtered through a child's outlook. Still, this time it was long enough for Gen to file for and receive a divorce. I remember sitting in the divorce lawyer's office while Gen and the lawyer talked things over. The lawyer was a woman. She had toys and a little table in the corner, ingended to keep the kids occupied and quiet. Smart lady.

While Gen was getting a divorce, Dick was in Colorado, continuing to do bad things to the car while drinking and driving. He wrote a bum check for the repair and ended up doing time in a Colorado jail. What a guy! The jail time dried him out--and sober, he got homesick. He and Gen negotiated a homecoming and a commonlaw marriage under the 24-hour cohabitation law of Kansas (which is how Gen tells it).

Dick brought Gen's Country Squire station wagon back with a ruined engine and new door locks. I guess he couldn't afford to fix the engine, but the door locks didn't cost quite so much. They were steel cylinders that had a vertical slot carved into one side--the first kid-proof door locks. The idea was that you inserted the tip of the ignition key and used it to lift the cylinder, which was too slippery for little kid fingers. Dick was very proud of them and said he had them put in because he loved us so much.

That assertion didn't make much sense to me, any more than Gen's taking him back makes sense to me now. Even so, I was glad to see him and so was Gen. The cycle began anew, as always, with a honeymoon phase--a commonlaw honeymoon this time, I guess.