"Why don't you just tell me what you did each morning before I moved in and I will figure out how to work around that? I really don't have a set routine like you do and I can make it work for me. My make-up is pretty much good-to-go as soon as I get out of the shower." He smiled at her and hoped she would just lay it out for him. He hated trying to guess what was going on in her head.
"I am a little bit of a routine freak, aren't I? Okay, so I get up at 6 and come out to turn on the coffee. Then I head for the shower and I do everything except get dressed. I come back for my coffee and sit here and look out at the river while I drink a cup. Quiet and a time to create or think about my schedule for the day, I guess, that gets me organized and off to a good start. I don't want to have a big conversation until I get through that cup of coffee. Then I go get dressed, make the bed and fix another cup of coffee to take with me to work. I make a quick breakfast, scarf it down, load the dishwasher and head out the door." It sounded very rigid to her and a bit boring, but it was what she had done for many years. The house was always left clean and she felt in control of the day to come. Week-ends were nothing like that, unless she had a craft show.
"Okay, how about if I come out and make coffee, you head to the shower from bed? Then I will make breakfast and when you come out, you can eat, enjoy your quiet time and I will take my shower. That takes like 10 minutes. I will be leaving before you do, but I will have time to load the dishwasher while you're making the bed and getting dressed. Sound good?" All Paul wanted was to slip into her life and not disrupt it anymore than just being around was going to do. The rest of the day, work was the same and the evenings were pretty much as they had been. He just didn't go home at bedtime.
She thought over what he had just laid out and thought it would work.
"Let's give that a try. What do you wanna make for breakfast?"
"I'll decide that when I see what we have and what looks good, you'll just have to eat or pass! Just like you do at dinner time. You choose, you cook and I eat. Reverse at breakfast!" This made her smile. What a sweet man she had married.
The days went on and turned into months. This marriage was becoming more than comfortable and both were settling into their new life with few problems.
The areas of concern were little things. Pet peeves, if you will, can undo you, if you allow that to happen. His list, had he made one, would have included the fact that Adriana could not go to bed or leave the house if everything wasn't put where it belonged. She would walk through the house and quickly pick up his things to put them away or throw something away or put something in the dishwasher, whatever he hadn't put in it's proper place, was done. It drove him a little nuts because he would take care of those things, just not this second. She saw no reason to wait.
Her list would have been very short, besides the not taking care of things before bed or before leaving the house, she would add that he misused words from time to time and it nearly drove her insane. When he was telling her he was going to do something or that he had done something, he would say, "I went and took that paper over to them." If he wanted her to pick something up for him, he would say, "Do you mind getting me (insert item) whilst you're out?" There were other words, the plural of you. He put an 's' on you, quite often if talking to a group. "Yous can make that happen." She corrected him constantly. His language skills were quite acceptable with the exception of a few catch phrases. He was trying very hard to make this change for her. He'd been saying these types of things his whole life, not an easy change to make, but he was surely trying.
At work, Paul had been bothered by more annoying pranks during the night and had finally lately decided to hire a night guard. It wasn't cost effective, but he wanted to know who was responsible and why.
It took only 4 days for the guard to spot, photograph and give chase to the vandal. It was around 2a.m. and the mercury lights gave the entire building site a twilight kind of lighting. One could see figures at quite a distance, but not details. The shadowy figure the guard spotted was wearing a hoodie with drawstring pulled to conceal most of the face. The build was average, couldn't tell male or female, but he headed in the direction of the movement with every intention of identifying this figure. It moved quickly completely unaware of the newly placed guard, in and around equipment heading straight for the newest concrete pad. It had been poured this very afternoon and would eventually be the welcome entry to the entire museum. Right now it was a steel frame with concrete flooring, completely open to anyone looking for a place to leave a mark.
Quietly, the guard stalked along the inside of the building while keeping an eye on the possible vandal through the not yet installed windows. They were on a cross-hair path meeting near the front entrance, he surmised. The figure was not trying to be invisible because he/she assumed there wasn't another soul in the area. Once the street was not in clear view, the figure stood tall and simply walked with haste toward the target area.
About 6 feet from the target the guard pulled out the silent camera and snapped away. Taking somewhere around 15 shots, mostly quite close, but the hoodie not giving him a really clean face shot. He knew these photos could and would be enhanced, if he wasn't able to apprehend this person tonight. He had not called the police yet. He stayed in this inconspicuous place to await an actual illegal act. He didn't have to wait long. The figure surveyed the new floor and the steel frame and drew out a can of neon lime paint. The design being painted, for the camera, was a spiral type of drawing. Very similar to the other painted images from other nights. The guard made the call to the P.D. in hushed tones and then went on to apprehend the painter. As an off duty officer, moonlighting to pay his mortgage, he knew exactly what to do and how to lessen the chances the perp would escape. He approached at an angle that would leave only one way out and it would lead the perp to the river. Not the best choice for escape, but a possibility. Police would be up and down river from this site, just in case.
He drew his weapon and he was completely unseen and unheard until saying, "Police. I think that's enough. Put the can down and slowly turn around. I am armed and would prefer not to use the gun." His voice was louder than he meant it to be, but it had the desired effect. Turning to face him, the can in the left hand, the first thought was to paint this intruder. But that would be an assault on an officer and that wouldn't be good. So compliance was the choice.
"Pull that hood down with your right hand." He had noticed the paint in the left, must indicate perp is left handed. The woman before him was nice looking, mid to late 30's was his guess. She almost smiled at him. "Who are you? Do you have ID?"
"I do, in my car. I'm Carmen Hailey."
"Why are you doing this?" He was still standing about 5 feet from her and the gun still pointed at her midsection. He heard the back-up pulling in the lot behind him. He didn't turn to look, but she looked over his shoulder toward the rushing patrolmen.
"Because I don't want this museum to be flawlessly constructed. I want the people behind it to be annoyed and dismayed. I don't want to do permanent damage, I just want to make a ripple. Ya know?"
He didn't. "Are you talking about the financial backers?"
"No, the builder. That Paul guy."
"Did he do something to you?"
"Nope. Never even met him."
"His wife once caused me some disruption and it was life changing, but I'm not evil, I just wanted to make a mark on his work. I keep reading how well this project is going and how fabulous this guy is and I don't think she deserves to be, ah, I don't know, such a big shot, I guess. As his wife, she'll be at all the celebrations when this place opens and I didn't want it to be, like ya know, perfect for her. I never hurt anyone and I never did anything here that couldn't be easily repaired. I wanted to be annoying.
I know it sounds insane, I have a good life now and I don't know why I felt like I had to do something, but I did. I did."
The woman Paul had seen watching the first night. She hadn't noticed him because she had never seen him before. He had seen her years ago in the Walgreen store near the hospital. It was where he did all of his drug store shopping. He would remember her when he saw her again.
She was arrested, a misdemeanor charge of public vandalism and then Paul would have to decide if he wanted to pursue the charges. He could request full compensation, but hearing the story she told and signed at the P.D., talking it over with Adriana, the decision was made not to give it any more attention. Let the police handle it and just move on. They had the pictures to back up the guard/officer's word and the back-up officers had heard her confess. Adriana did ask if he would mind if she tried to see Carmen while she was in custody. He thought it might be a good plan, but only if the police agreed.
No one at the P.D. cared if she talked with Carmen or not. They didn't even know who she was or what her connection was with Carmen. So they immediately took her down to the visitors area to have a seat. There was nothing between them except a chest high counter. They were each seated on a stool and an officer was stationed on each side, one behind Carmen and one behind Adriana. They could hear the conversation, but said nothing.
Adriana began speaking as soon as Carmen was seated. Carmen looked shocked to see this woman here at the jail.
"I wanted to come and see you. I wanted a chance to tell you that I was mentally impaired when we became friends and there was no way you could have known. I didn't even have a clue. I didn't know what had happened or that I had done it until much later and then, I began a long and difficult road to recovery and regret. I wanted you to know how sorry I am everyday for what I took from you, Carmen. You were such a good friend and I was such a horridly damaged person, I wanted to own you. Share you with no one. I don't expect you to forgive me, I just wanted a chance to tell you. I hope you can let it go, the hate you probably feel for me, is not going to hurt me nearly as much as it will hurt you. All of my illness was rooted in hate and hurt. Please, for your own mental health Carmen, let it go." She began to stand to leave and Carmen reached out and touched her arm.
"Sit a moment longer, please."
Adriana sat and made full eye contact with Carmen. Up to this point, she had been looking at the counter or at Carmen's hands.
"I have had plenty of time in here these few days to think. My lawyer can't get me out until Monday or Tuesday, so I'll have more time. They are bringing my studies to me though so I won't fall behind in school. I know what I was doing was stupid, I knew it when I started, but it was something. It was something to let you know that I was still here and I didn't forget. I realize now that I'm only punishing myself. Maybe that was part of my plan. Get caught, get punished. I don't know. I only know the spiral looking back at me when I painted it, was symbolic of what I wanted to happen to you and your new husband. Spiraling down and out. That was my goal. Now my goal is to get on with my life. I am sorry. Kind of."
"Kind of? Then you aren't sorry." Another of Adriana's pet peeves jumps into her face. If you're sorry, you're sorry, period. Not kind of, not sorry but, plain and simple sorry. Nothing else is an apology.
"No, I am sorry I felt like I had a score to settle, sorry I got caught acting out my revenge. I'm not sorry I wanted you to be bothered by something for which I was responsible. I'm sorry I thought that would make me feel better, it doesn't. I gained nothing but a big lawyer bill and a few days in jail. I will have a record now and you will go on with your wonderful life. I'm an idiot and I'm sorry for that. I'm also sorry that I fell to the depths of a mentally ill woman who was completely lost. I'm sorry, too, that I failed to comprehend what you had been through and what you have done to overcome all of that. I failed, Adriana, to accept that you have indeed become the good woman I first believed you to be. I'm sorriest about that. You do deserve to be happy and I know that today."
Tears were flowing down her cheeks, but her voice sounded steady and calm as she recited almost in monotone all her sorrows. Carmen had come to know these last few minutes that she had forgotten it was Adriana who had once saved her life. She was the good one, not the 'others' who had taken the love of her life away. Carmen now understood that Adriana was a good woman, a good friend and probably a good wife.
Adriana was thinking of her aide to Carmen's future and knew it was the right thing to do and that Carmen would be fine soon. She rose and smiling at Carmen, made her exit.
She shared their talk with Paul that evening. Telling him as near to exactly what had been said as possible. She was happy to know that it was over and Carmen would pay a small price for her bad judgment. Paul had been told that the penalty would be probation for 6 months. He had arranged to pay her legal fees, anonymously, of course.
Life is full of good and bad days. It is full of good and bad people doing good and bad things. But the life Paul and Adriana had begun was very heavy in the good department. Even living with each others pet peeves, living with each others quirks, this life was better by far than anything either had ever know before.
What the future holds is any one's guess, but if Karma exists, a happily ever after is in store for these very special people.