(Attention: This story contains profanity, suggested drug use, adult themes, and is intended for mature readers only.)
(continued from yesterday’s post, After the Fight…)
Monday, June 28, 1999 – 6:15 pm
Lily knew there was no more time to stall. Regardless of Justin’s drug habits and work habits, and of all the neglect she has felt in the past year or so, she knew that having an affair was inexcusable. Yet, she learned that with Cody, offense was the best defense.
“I am sorry for what I have done…”
“What? What did you do, exactly?” Cody would in no way let her off so easily. He wanted her to say it.
“Running off like that and…”
“And what? What exactly did you do?” He was not going to let her off the hook for this.
“ I had an affair with Charles, and…”
“You ran off and fucked some other guy!”
Lily, was beginning to fume with anger. “Yes. I fucked Charles. I fucked him, and you made me do it!”
“What the fuck did you just…”
“I never would have done that. Never! You drove me out of our own home because of your stupid drugs. You left me all alone while you worked in the studio. You left me here with nothing else to do but study Kung Fu. I’ve spent more time with Charles in training in the last year than I have with you.”
“No. Not like that. I mean real training. Without you around, it was the only thing that interested me. I get bored around here. So, I trained. Every day. Charles had been making moves on me for a long time, and I laughed them off every time. When I saw you stoned in the basement, I just wanted to hurt you. And I wanted to feel some pleasure that I haven’t felt in a long time.” She paused. “I didn’t feel anything, except guilt. But, I was so goddamned angry with you, Justin. You have been too busy for me lately, and we haven’t had any real time together in a long time. We hardly make love anymore, and when we do, it is so fleeting because you are either tired, or you are heading off somewhere.” Lily was sobbing again. “I guess you are also too stoned lately to want to make love anyway.”
“You can’t put this all on me. I will own a lot of that, but I will never believe that I made you fuck another man. If you did that, you must have been thinking about it for a long time. And, it probably wasn’t your first time.”
“It was”, Lily moaned. “I swear it.”
“You’ll have to excuse me for not taking your word on that.”
“Well, I guess I don’t blame you for not believing me, but I swear on my life that I have never done that before.”
“I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but I have never cheated on you, Lily. You know that I have had had many opportunities, and I never cheated on you.”
“I know. But, I never gave you a reason to.”
“Don’t give me that shit! You have a beef with your husband, you talk it out, or you leave. You don’t cheat! You just don’t do that. That is a level of betrayal that is simply unforgivable.”
Now that Cody had said that word—unforgivable–the real crux of the issue was out. Cody had to ask himself if he could really forgive her or not. Lily wondered the same thing. She wanted to equalize their crimes by comparing drug addiction and neglect to infidelity. After all, were they not both different kinds of betrayals? But she knew that she had crossed a line to which she may never return. She could have left Justin, but she never wanted to. She was afraid to confront him because he was so busy and tired, and a little fragile. And, because she was afraid of the truth.
Lily was certain that Justin would choose his work and his friends over her if given an ultimatum. Sure, they had a strong bond that they once saw as unbreakable, but it was now fraying at the ends. She knew it. Surely Justin did, too.
Once again, the deadly silent stare between them replaced the words they needed to speak. Neither knew what the other wanted, or where the other would go. Twenty minutes into this confrontation, and they still did not know how it would end.
Jamil was right, Cody thought, I do want to forgive her, but I just don’t know if I can.
“So, what do we do, Justin?”
“I don’t know. I don’t even know what I want; let alone what is possible at this point.”
Lily began to sob again. She was afraid that Justin would throw her out of the house and end their marriage, but she tried to believe that was not possible. Hearing him admit that he did not even know what he wanted to do crushed her, and she feared the worst.
After finding Cody in the basement last Friday, stoned and apathetic, Lily wanted to believe that she had had enough. She knew about the drugs, and she was tired of being neglected. She imagined that she would break their bond finally by betraying him, and then she would move on with her life. Now, she knew that was not what she wanted at all. She wanted things to go back to how they were before Dutch Oven, MGHB, and all the drugs. She remembered the happiness they shared together, on a daily basis, on the road with the Manatee, and especially at home during his off time. That was what she wanted.
She hated how much Justin was working these days, and she hated all the extra time on the road touring that they have had to do in the past year. Life had become chaotic with the success of Dutch Oven, and she hated it. She wanted her old Justin back.
But now they were set on a frenetic pace bouncing back and forth between Sacramento and New Britain; between Dutch Oven’s commitments and Colonel Manatee’s commitments. Before Dutch Oven and MGHB, Justin worked only half the year with the Manatee, and then they spent the rest of the year in Sacramento. That, of course, opened the door to working with a side project—to working with his friends—and that is how this mess all began.
Lily only wanted her Justin back.
Cody broke her train of thought. “So, what are you going to do?”
Cody was certain that she would want to go, and he was prepared for that possibility. But, after careful consideration, he knew that was not what he wanted. If she chose to stay, he would take her back. He did not know how the marriage would survive in the long run, but he would take her back.
“I just don’t know how we even got here, Justin”, Lily cried. “In just five short years, we are already like an old married couple that barely acknowledges each other anymore. I just wanted to feel something that I was missing so badly, but I don’t want Charles, or anyone else for that matter; I want you, Justin. But I don’t want the person you have become.”
Cody acknowledged her plea with a subtle nod. He felt ashamed. He knew that she was right; he had changed. He allowed an obsession control his life, and it affected his relationship with the one woman he believed that he would ever love.
“I am not sure what to do about it right now”, Cody said. “I have so many demands piled up so high, and I can’t just walk away. I need to find some sort of balance. I need help.”
“I could have helped you all along, but I felt like your Sacramento bands were like a private club closed to the public.”
“But you could have let me in. You always did with the Manatee, so why not here?”
“I don’t know. I guess I just wanted to hide that lifestyle from you, even before I got submerged in it.”
“Well, you had your mistress, and I had my own.” Lily tried to joke, but was met by Justin’s piercing eyes.
Cody simply brought the conversation back to topic. “So, you are unhappy with the way things have been, and you had an affair with another man. I’d say the choice is yours, Lil; what do you want to do? You can either stay, and we’ll try to make it work, or you can go, and we’ll just start off on our own.”
Lily could not believe her ears. Was he giving her a choice? No ultimatums, and no threats, but a choice to stay or go.
“If you go, you’ll get a nice chunk of alimony or a settlement of some kind, so you won’t have…”
“If you think for a second that I give a shit about the money…”
“I’m just saying it’s there.”
Lily was disgusted, but also a bit relieved. She was happy that he offered to let her stay and work on the marriage, even if she had doubts that much would change.
Lily smiled, walked over to Justin, and squeezed in beside him in his chair. “I would like to make this work. I love you, Justin, and I don’t think that I could ever love anyone the way that I love you. But with so much hurt and betrayal between us, do you really think that we could fix this?”
“Maybe the only way to fix this is if we don’t trust each other for a little while. I hope that we will again build that trust up, but for now, maybe we just have to keep an eye on each other. I don’t know if that sounds right, but I think it may be the only way, for now. And then, if we cannot get past the trust issues, then we will have to talk about splitting up.”
They gave each other another long, hard, and silent stare, except this one was soft and loving.
“I love you, Lily, and I am sorry for the hurt I have caused you.”
“I love you too, Justin, and I am so sorry that I hurt you, too.”
With no more words between them, they held each other’s hands and walked back into their bedroom to show each other exactly how much they loved each other.