Gen was ambivalent, but didn't see any other course of action for herself than returning to Doug. Her workers compensation claim had not been approved. She was having lingering back pain and wasn't yet able to work. She wasn't quite ready to make a life for herself and she wasn't quite ready to forgive Doug, but the closer we got to Arlington, the more she seemed willing to give it a try. She called Doug frequently from the road.
Somewhere southeast of Wichita, we stopped for a picnic lunch under a bridge next to a river. A local sheriff's deputy came by to see what we were doing down there and struck up a conversation with Gen. Gen wasn't always skillful at relationships with her significant others, but she never met a stranger. The deputy enjoyed her company so much that he told us to wait right where we were while he went home to get his wife. They returned with fried chicken and apple pie, which they insisted we take with us for the road.
We got back to Arlington. I stayed for the night there, but borrowed Gen's car and left the next morning for Grottoes, VA, where Becky and Ted were living. It seemed appropriate to leave Gen and Doug alone. They had matters to work out and they didn't need my help.
A couple of days passed and Gen called me in Grottoes, asking me to come back to Arlington. She needed her car, she said. She sounded fine, like the whole Pat Thing hadn't happened and she and Doug were a happily married pair who had never experienced any domestic grief. I didn't ask questions.
When I arrived at their Arlington apartment, I found them in the living room, calmly dividing up their property, like adults involved in a friendly business transaction. Gen had decided she wanted a divorce and seemed weirdly sanguine about it--at least until Doug protested when Gen told him she wanted the blue Persian rug. The facade of adulthood fell apart instantly. I had seen communication between Gen and her spouse deteriorate many times before, but never so quickly as this time. Within 90 seconds, Gen was in tears, yelling, threatening suicide. She tore out of the apartment, headed for the roof.
After the door slammed, Doug started after her, but I stopped him. "Don't indulge her. She'll be back." We sat there for about 10 minutes. Sure enough, in through the door she came, red-faced and tearful, looking stunned that nobody came after her. Things were calm again.
During the next few days, Doug kept bragging to me about all the times he'd had sex with Pat. I was pretty sure he had two reasons for telling me: 1) he was a pervert and 2) he hoped I'd tell Gen. Big fat coward, he was. Couldn't do any of his own dirty work and never could stand up to Gen, which was a big part of their problem. Of course, Gen was a large woman and capable of violence, so it's hard for me to fault him for that. But not hard for me to fault him for the pervert part. I'll get back to that at some point. I caught a train back to Utah and Gen proceeded with her divorce.