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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Control (01/30/06)

TITLE: Joey Self's Control
By Kris St. James


Joey Self was married to an attractive woman named Lauren. Not beautiful, but attractive. They have a wonderful four year old daughter named Jessie, a new mini van, a BMW and a house with a pool in a gated community. Joey was an accountant with a large company and made a decent salary. Lauren was an attorney with a large firm and made a killing. She was offered a partnership with the firm and her time at the office began to grow.

Soon, Lauren began taking business trips to New York. Eight out of ten phone calls to their home were for her. Most callers were men Joey had never met. Two weeks out of the month, Lauren shared a company apartment with another female attorney in New York.

Sitting around the house was becoming monotonous and Joey’s mind began to wander. He soon found himself renting movies that contained a lot of sex scenes and nudity. His time on the internet was spent searching for pornography and he acted out his fantasies as lonely people often do in this situation. He felt guilty, but it gave him a temporary escape from his loneliness. He justified it by saying it was just a fantasy; all men did it, and it clearly wasn’t the same as actual sex with another woman. Surely God would understand. Besides, Lauren would never know. He’d keep it under control.

Before long, Joey began to indulge his fantasy life during his lunch and free time at work. A female coworker came into his office unexpectedly and saw his monitor before he could minimize the window. She filed a complaint and Joey was fired.

He was too ashamed to tell Lauren, and his self-loathing only increased. Some days he kept Jessie home, taking her to a local restaurant that had an indoor playroom where she could eat chicken nuggets and crawl around inside the colorful plastic tubes while he searched the classifieds for jobs, hoping to cover up his termination. Still, he refused to admit he’d lost control.

Occasionally, a beautiful woman brought her daughter there to play. She dressed fairly provocatively and often did not wear a bra. She often made eye contact and sat at the table across from his. He could scarcely take his eyes off her.

Joey interpreted her eye contact as an invitation. The next time she looked at him, he introduced himself. Jessie continued grabbing chicken nuggets and disappearing into the multicolored jungle gym. He worked up his courage and made a move.

After a while, Joey realized he hadn’t seen or heard Jessie in a while. They both looked around and noticed the other little girl hiding under the slide, obviously upset.

“Cassie, where’s Jessie?” he asked, panicked. She cried and pointed above to the yellow tube they had been playing in all morning. Joey scrambled up the slide and finally worked his way into the tube. He saw her limp, purpled body laying there. She had choked to death.

Lauren was devastated. Her lawyer instincts told her to sue the restaurant, but in the end, it was Joey’s fault. Why was he there with Jessie and not at work? His sin had finally found him; his secret was revealed. She filed for divorce.

Three weeks later, Joey was still unemployed and living with his parents where he drank himself to sleep every night. His life was out of control. He hadn’t been to the cemetery since the funeral. He couldn’t bear to see Jessie’s name and the tiny speck of time permanently engraved in the polished granite.

Finally, he drove himself there and staggered drunkenly to the stone, a bottle in his hand and a handgun in his pocket. He sobbed uncontrollably, everything a red, watery blur until he passed out on her grave.

Cold, heavy rain drops spattered hard against his face and he opened his eyes to see Lauren standing over him. He sat up and the gun fell out onto the wet grass. They both stared at it silently. Finally, Lauren knelt beside her husband and softly stroked his wet hair.

“I never wanted any of this! I never wanted to hurt anyone! Please forgive me! Dear God, please forgive me!” he sobbed. She began to cry along with him. He pulled himself up and embraced her as she gently stroked his head, comforting herself as much as him.

“Come home”, she said. “Let’s straighten this all out. Let’s start over.”

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This article has been read 1179 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Chris Clement02/08/06
This story represents the darkest side of a battle that men have to fight every day: control of their desires. You took it to an extreme but I'm glad you did. It drove the point home. Powerful stuff.
Suzanne R02/10/06
Wow - heavy! The ray of hope at the end was refreshing. And you certainly brought out clearly what a mess we create when we don't exert that self-control. Thanks.
Beth Muehlhausen02/12/06
Glad to see a ray of forgiveness at the end. A good discussion of the progressive nature of sin - how baby steps eventually lead to destruction. Just a technical note - there was a verb tense discrepancy in the first paragraph. I appreciated your deep and honest portrayal.
Brandi Roberts02/13/06
Kris, you had me in tears with this one. Well written - a powerful message! Thank you for writing this!
Kris St. James02/13/06
I wanted to briefly comment on this myself. This not an easy subject. I believe it's even more "taboo" than extramarital sex, but that's why I brought it up. This is a plague on our society and we have to start talking about it in some way. The major point I wanted to make is to address the lie that lust is a private sin that does not affect anybody else. False. There is NO SIN that does not affect everybody you love. But more to the point, this kind of behavior is as destructive (and addictive) as any drug or alcohol. The internet brought with it quite a bit of freedom, most of which I enjoy greatly. But with all freedoms come responsibilities. I have heard it said that prior to the internet, child pornography had been nearly stamped out in the US. No longer the case. My character Joey wasn't involved in that (most folks caught in that trap aren't, either) but he was trapped just the same. Being the parent, I am very concerned about how the cheapening of humanity through pornography will affect them. People have become objects of self-gratification, and objects of self-gratification are merely consumables, easily discarded when the "new" wears off. I sincerely hope and pray that anyone who reads this in the futire will consider the dangers involved. If you are someone who is struggling in this regard, there is hope. There is always hope. 1 Corinthians 10:13

No Temptation has seized you except that which is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out that you can stand up under it.

May the God peace rein supremely in your lives.
Kris St. James02/13/06
Boy--and edit button on the comments sure would be nice! (I really can spell and write intelligible sentences!)
Gary James Smith01/26/11
Great write Kris, how true it is in soceity today. Satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.