Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Control (01/30/06)
TITLE: Joey Self's Control
By Kris St. James
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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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