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Exiled by Ryan and Niki Traynor Chapter 4

Chapter 4

June 2, 2013 Noel put down his journal written on a crude Mead notebook and thought to himself. How the hell could this have happened? How could this have happened to me? I’m a good person or at least I thought I was.
He ran through the events over and over in his mind and gritted his teeth as depression cloaked every essence of his being. Where did it all go wrong?
His mind raced back to the day he met Cheyenne Tisdale. He was nothing more than a bright eyed eighteen year old with his entire life ahead of him full of promise. He had gone out to the theater with a group of friends to see an action movie. His best friend had decided to invite Cheyenne who took a liking to Noel right away. She was a year younger than him and they knew each other from high school. It just so happened that the two ended up sitting next to each other during the film. Noel remembered watching her smile wide as one of the main characters gave a speech about how he was one of God’s unwanted children. He thought it was little bit weird, but shrugged it off and asked her out on a date the following weekend.
It had seemed so long ago. She agreed reluctantly to see him and they went out to dinner Saturday night. It had seemed as if everything went perfect and he thought that this might be the girl he would marry someday. Years passed by with the ups and downs of a typical relationship. They grew up together in the suburbs of Chicago and shared many sweet moments mixed with a dash of passionate fighting and a hint of overzealous spontaneity.

Three years passed by in the blink of an eye and Noel found himself down on one knee mid afternoon in Orlando, Florida. They had gone there on vacation because Cheyenne had said several times she always wanted to visit Disney World, but never had the opportunity as a child. After much hesitation, Noel proposed in front of the castle. He knew it was cheesy, yet at the time, it didn’t seem to matter. Cheyenne looked as if she was going to burst into tears and jumped into his arms. She sobbed for almost twenty minutes before regaining her composure and whispering ‘yes’ into his ear softly.
Just another strange moment that Noel overlooked with erroneous confidence. He was just so relieved she had stopped crying and accepted his proposal that all else was completely overlooked. He assumed they were tears of joy and threw himself head first down the rabbit’s hole. Cheyenne said she wanted to wait at least a year, which they did while Noel made all of the preparations. Everything from a church for the wedding to food for the reception were taken care of by the groom, which was different to say the very least. Nonetheless, enthusiasm was felt equally among the excited couple. So, everything proceeded according to plan without a hitch. September rolled around with surprising abruptness and they crossed the aisle in front of seventy- two people, not including the reverend.

Noel’s older brother Sean warned him that things had seemed a little bit off just as the reception was coming to a close at a local country club called Villa Olivia. A trace of anger fluttered through the groom’s mind before the comment was quickly laughed off. Sean apologized with deep sincerity and the siblings toasted to the joyous occasion. They tipped back a couple of glasses filled with Red Bull and Jagermeister, cleverly called Jager-bombs. He assumed jealousy or maybe envy had reared its ugly green face, still he couldn’t help but wonder why he had even bothered getting angry. His brother had a fantastic girlfriend and a one year old son. They even planned on getting married in the near future. The repression that was often experienced over the last year instantly kicked in and the newlyweds headed out on their expensive honeymoon to the Fiji Islands.
That week seemed like a lucid dream. No fights, no drama, no responsibilities. He opened his eyes the following Monday and it was as if he had returned to real life. His job remodeling houses awaited him and his mind switched from just married to work horse just as smooth as silk. Cheyenne went back to work that Wednesday, but he knew she would start bitching about something much sooner probably that very night. Honeymoon’s over baby, he thought to himself with a sly chuckle jumping into his grey Dodge Ram.

Married life was very similar to his previous life because the couple had already cohabited for almost a year and a half before the wedding, so Noel thought he knew what he was in for. Boy was he ever wrong. Expectations rose, fights increased, and sex decreased, along with the ability to come and go as he pleased, not that he had always been that inconsiderate. He knew much of this was coming but he also truly believed that a family might be on the way as well, which would make it all worth it.
They discussed it for the next eight months and finally decided to take the plunge. Condoms made their way into the wastebasket and sex increased at an alarming rate, which was always nice. Noel envisioned a strong baby boy who he could teach to play sports and how to play music too. He had typical male daydreams of watching football together and cheering for his favorite team, the Chicago Bears. He would teach his son how to play video games and maybe jam with him on the guitar. It all seemed a little bit whimsical, but it was human nature to hope for the best.
Almost ten months passed by without any luck. Noel made an appointment at a fertility clinic known as Shady Oaks so they could examine his sperm count and do a thorough check up on Cheyenne. Tensions were beginning to build and they needed to know if they had the capacity to produce children. Furthermore, each one secretly wanted to know where the fault laid so blame could be amply assigned. It was childish, but many young marriage partners have a lot worse intentions than that. Twenty-six days later, the couple met with Dr. Malkezedech for introductions and initial testing. The building was very nice and their doctor seemed extremely friendly, but both looked worried and little bit stressed as they left the physician’s office. The following week Noel was required to produce a sperm sample and blood work, while Cheyenne was given a pap smear, had her hormone levels checked, as well as her thyroid, and a full pelvic examination. Afterwards, Dr. Malkezedech went over their options concerning pharmaceutical fertility drugs, techniques to use during sexual intercourse and future appointments. He advised them to be hopeful and to keep trying. “Sometimes it takes a little bit longer than average,” he said just before they left.

A week and half later a nurse called from the clinic to inform them that all tests appeared to be normal, which really was great news. Yet somehow their optimism was overshadowed by despair and their anxiety manifested itself in blood curdling arguments. One night in early December, Cheyenne got off work and walked into their three bedroom, two bathroom home located in a subdivision called Meadow Ridge. Noel was playing his guitar on the couch next to a half drunken bottle of tequila on the coffee table. The television was muted and turned to ESPN displaying NBA highlights. Immediately, she tore right into him for a long list of petty reasons that might have been overlooked under different circumstances and Noel fired right back. It went on for a couple hours and ended when Cheyenne kicked Noel in the stomach while he was bent over looking for the remote control after it had slid under the couch. In his drunken stupor, he mouthed the words fat ass bitch, which he knew would strike a chord despite the fact that she was only one hundred and ten pounds. What a charmer.
Noel reeled on the floor as his wife burst into tears and stomped off into the bedroom. The kick to the gut sobered him up like you wouldn’t believe and he got to his feet, unsure of his next move. He thought, should I go apologize or should I tell her what she did was completely uncalled for? (Even though he knew he’d crossed the line.) The pathetic husband sucked it up and walked slowly to the bedroom door with his head held low. He twisted the doorknob and walked into the room and grabbed her from behind.
Noel whispered in her ear, “I’m sorry.” Cheyenne turned around and hugged him around his neck tight.
“I’m sorry too. Are you alright?” she sobbed. “I’ll survive baby, but you got me good.” She cried a little bit harder and he responded, “I’m just joking. It’s nothing more than a scratch. For a minute I thought a mosquito flew in the room and bit me.” Cheyenne couldn’t help but giggle in between soft whimpers. She took her fist and hit his chest playfully as he held her in his arms.
“You know I really hate you sometimes and I’m not fat!” she murmured as the anger returned to her voice. Exasperated, Noel picked her up and carried her to the bath room connected to the master bedroom and stepped on the scale revealing the weight of two hundred and sixty pounds. He put her down and the scale sprang back to a buck fifty. Her face turned maroon as Noel said, “Now let’s see how much you weigh after I take off all of your clothes.”

“Shut up, I’m still mad at you,” she stated flatly. Her furrowed eyebrows slowly raised and a smile broke through the tough exterior. She looked down at the ground, which reminded Noel of a small child kicking dust around with her shoes. He let out another burst of laughter, swooped in and kissed her. She bit his lip to let him know he wasn’t going to win that easily, but soon gave into his advances. He yanked her back into the bedroom, threw her on the bed and took off his shirt. That night a child was conceived.
Cheyenne found out she was pregnant a month and a half later after puking her brains out on her lunch break. Her head hung over a white toilet in a small stall located on the nineteenth floor of the Carson Building. She worked for a decent sized law firm as a paralegal for almost two years, a job that would be coming to a close by the end of the year. Three pregnancy tests later, the apprehensive couple accepted what could only be described as a milestone. The miraculous news was astonishing to both of them, so they went out and celebrated. Noel took the new mother to a classy seafood restaurant called Johnson’s. He promised her that he would quit drinking and smoking since she was no longer able to indulge in such vices.
This was the first time Noel realized how intense sobriety could be. It altered his relationship in ways that never could be imagined. It’s sad when two people realize how different they really are when they’re stone cold sober. This should have been one of the happiest times of their lives but disagreements about everything ruined much of what could have been enjoyed. Cheyenne’s body transformed, which left her feeling a bit self conscious, to put it mildly. She had nothing to take the edge off and at times considered having an abortion in secret. Telling her husband about these vicious thoughts was out of the question. However, the constant pervading look on her face said it all. She was miserable and could not find relief down any normal avenue. Much of the overwhelming strain was taken out on her downtrodden partner.
Noel had tried to comfort her irritations using various methods. Massages, breakfast in bed, never ending trips to the store, flowers, candy, consoling words, sex, cuddling, jokes and special trips out of town were all performed in vain. He tried not to see her as an ungrateful brat, yet, she lashed out at him at every opportunity. He took the brunt of her despondent outbursts occasionally shared by family and friends. Most of them told him he was good man and a few close family members even confessed to feeling sorry for him, but it was his brother who told him straight. Sean had said flat out that she wasn’t just acting like a bitch; she was an “unappreciative bitch without a soul”. They both had a good laugh, but Noel shrugged off the comment just as he’d done many times in the past.
Noel had finally beat his addiction and found himself a better man for having done so, but he could tell it wasn’t the same for his aggravated wife. In fact, it seemed to have an opposite effect on her entirely. He couldn’t even count the number of times she had claimed to want a drink over the last eight months. As month nine finally rounded the corner, Noel breathed a sigh of relief knowing it would all be over soon.

A few weeks later, Cheyenne’s water broke and she was raced to the St. Joseph’s Central Hospital. The labor lasted for a staggering seventeen hours before a newborn baby popped out.
The umbilical cord was cut; the baby was washed, and then placed in her mother’s arms. She was a little girl weighing in at seven pounds three ounces. A little tuft of fuzzy hair sat atop a cone shaped head. Her blue grey eyes sat behind half closed eyelids and her skin appeared to have a reddish tone as it began to oxidize for the first time.

The exhausted mother held the baby in her arms and began to cry. She managed to tell Noel that her name would be Lilith, one thing not previously discussed during her pregnancy. He looked on his family with optimism despite the fact that he knew something was wrong with the entire scene, something airy and insubstantial. It could not be seen with the human eye, but it lingered in the hospital room nonetheless, following them home three days later. Lilith’s condition was deemed normal and healthy, which should have been a good sign of prosperity, but in spite of that, a dark cloud hung over the Brighton’s home from that day forward.
Not long after Lilith was born, Cheyenne developed a terrible case of postpartum depression. Noel picked up the slack in every way he knew how, but her condition seemed to worsen as the weeks passed. It got so bad she even refused to hold her baby daughter, which angered Noel even though he didn’t show it. He decided to take some time off of work so he could watch the baby and take care of the daily routines of everyday life. Dishes, meals, household chores and errands were quite cumbersome while he took care of Lilith. Cheyenne spent most of her time in bed and was found pacing the house during late night hours on the days when Noel had the energy to get up to use the bathroom. Finally, one night around two a.m. Noel confronted his wife while she sat on the porch swing by the back door. “How much longer is this going to last?” he inquired.
Her only response was, “What?” “You’re acting like a vampire, neglecting our child, refusing to take part in anything resembling real life. I don’t know if you realize it but I’m doing everything and I can’t just quit my job because you refuse to participate as a parent. Now look, we have options. Maybe we can hire on a nanny or you can get a job while I stay home with the baby. I don’t know, but one thing I do know is you can’t keep shutting me out like this.”

Cheyenne laughed, not in a pleasant way, but with a guttural tone and she turned her head to the night sky, ignoring her husband’s concerned dialogue. She pulled out a pack of menthol cigarettes from her bathrobe along with an old Zippo lighter with a skull engraved on it. She lit the smoke, took a deep drag and exhaled a large thick cloud of burnt tobacco leaves. Noel looked at her with disappointed eyes and then stared at the cloud as it dissipated into the moonlit night sky. The air was calm and crisp, which could have been enjoyed under different circumstances in another time and place. Sadly, this was the last thing on either one’s mind. Noel spoke to his distant wife while trying desperately to feign indifference, “I thought you quit more than three years ago.”
“Well, I started again,” Cheyenne replied casually as if she didn’t have a care in the world. “They’re only cigarettes, you know. I don’t understand why you always overreact this way to everything I do.”
“You know I care about you and more importantly I’m worried about you,” he said with a longing tone in his voice. “I don’t want to see you fall back into a bad habit that’s as pointless as smoking. You’re the one who encouraged me to quit, remember?” She lifted her hand and waved him off like an obstinate child.
“I’d like to be alone,” she said in a monotone voice lacking any real inflection. “Don’t do this Chey, please talk to me. Let’s try to work this out. I can help you if you let me try. I know you don’t feel like yourself, but I’m her for you, baby.” Lilith’s crying could be heard in the background, yet Noel continued his persistent rhetoric, “C’mon babe, come inside and the ditch the cigarette. Do it for me. Let’s go check on Lilith together.”
Cheyenne stood up from the porch swing and turned her back to him with her arms crossed. Another cloud of smoke drifted into the cool air and a light breeze swept it away just above her head. Her hair blew calmly and Noel truly thought he was getting through to her.
Lilith’s cries became louder and he knew he’d have to go check on her right away. He walked up behind his sullen wife and touched her arm gently. She ripped away from him and spun around furiously. With a burning scowl, Cheyenne took the cigarette and put it out on her forearm screaming, “Is this what you want?”

Noel gasped in horror and slapped the smoldering cigarette out of her hand. He stared at her in disbelief as she simply turned around to stare back up at the sky. The baby wailed in the distance and Noel stormed off, leaving his wife to sulk, and wondering if he had smelled liquor on her breath. Did her breath seem to have quite an acrid scent or was it just mouthwash mixed with the tobacco? Noel didn’t know nor did he care as he walked up the steps toward his helpless child. On arrival, it was discovered that she’d wet her diaper and also left behind a foul gift. After she was changed and put back down in her crib for the night, Noel ventured back downstairs and on to the back porch only to discover Cheyenne was gone. He called his brother three times before he finally answered the phone. Sean sounded groggy and said in an annoyed voice, “Shit man, do you have any idea what time it is?”
“I know I’m sorry,” he responded. “Cheyenne’s gone and I don’t know where she went. The car is still here so she either left on foot or called someone to come pick her up. I was just hoping I could ask a gigantic favor of you.”
“Let me guess... you want me to come over and watch your kid while you go out and search for your stupid wife? You know I have work in the morning right?”
“I know, I know and I’ll make this up to you. We had a fight and I just need to make sure she’s okay. I wanna find her before she does something stupid,” Noel said rapidly.
“Fine I’m on my way over,” Sean said wearily. “But we’re gonna have a talk about your wife when I get there. You need to wake up, little brother and open your eyes. Anyway, I’ll see you in about twenty minutes.”
“Yes, of course. Take your time and thank you man, you have no idea how much I appreciate this.” He put the phone back on the receiver and went to the refrigerator to grab a cold can of coke. He went back to the living room and sat down on the blue suede couch going over the scenario again and again in his mind. His mind swirled wondering where in God’s name Cheyenne had run off to and why she was acting so suspicious. He went to the bathroom and heard the doorbell ring as he was washing his hands. Sean entered into the living room with bags under his eyes and a snarled look on his face.
He spoke right away, “Noel I don’t where the hell she went and neither do you, but who really cares? You need to leave this bitch and file for a divorce. She’s loose cannon and you two are like water and oil.” Noel absorbed this piece of information and thought back to his days of working at a local fast food joint. He remembered one of the cooks throwing half a bucket of ice into the deep fryers. The oil had been heated to three hundred and sixty-five degrees, so when the frozen water made contact, it exploded outward like a volcanic eruption. As the memory flashed through his mind, the things his brother said appeared to make perfect sense. While Sean rattled on, pounding away at his point, Noel looked at the clock hanging above the television and saw it was three twenty-one in the morning. He watched the minute hand tick its way around until Sean jolted him back into the conversation with a nudge on the arm.
“Are you even listening to the words coming out of my mouth?” he asked quite perturbed. “Yeah of course, keep going,” said Noel apologetically. He had to keep in mind his brother was doing him a great kindness even being there at all, so he snapped out of it and gave the guy his full, unbridled attention.

“This has been going on for how long?” asked Sean impatiently. “A while, probably three weeks,” Noel said. “And this is just an escalation from the nine horrible months when she was pregnant? Forget it, I already know the answer. So what are you going to do if you find her? Say you’re sorry even though none of this is your fault, continue to take off work, put on an apron and make
dinner as if everything is normal until she has another outburst. This is bullshit man. I wish you would stand up for yourself before things really get out of hand. I hope you know she’s gonna keep walking all over you as long as you let her. I mean seriously you told me she refuses to even hold her own child. That is really messed up. I can sympathize with her depression, I really can. When Natasha gave birth to our son we had some pretty rough times but this is absolutely ridiculous. If she’s not willing to work through it then it’s only gonna get worse. You hear me? ” Sean paused.
“Yeah, yeah I hear you!” Noel yelled. “Listen I’m sorry I’m putting you in this position. I know you have a family of you own to get home to, but the sooner you let me go out and find her, the sooner you can go home and forget about all of this nonsense.”
“You’re really going to scour the streets in search of your missing wife? Let me rephrase that, in search of a woman that left you and Lilith? You’re not going to find her. Hell, I don’t even know where to look, do you?” Sean said stubbornly. “Just let her blow off some steam. She’ll be back.”
“Please just give me an hour to find her. If I don’t have any luck I’ll come straight back here and you can get the hell out of here. Alright?” he said almost pleading with his older brother. “Go, but before you leave, gimme the remote,” Sean said lying down on the couch and adjusting a pillow behind his head.
Noel rushed out the door and hopped into his old Dodge Ram. He drove the streets for hours, but couldn’t find her anywhere. Finally, he went home to admit defeat and woke his brother up. Sean was a good man and didn’t say ‘I told you so’ even though Noel could read the statement all over his face. Noel let him out and went straight to bed. He was awoken three hours later to Lilith’s cries accompanied by another dirty diaper. He changed her and gave her formula, which she drank with a satisfied look on her face. Then, he considered having a cup of coffee and a hot shower, but instead opted for more sleep.

Sometime just before noon, Noel made his way out of bed and jumped in the shower. The recollections of the previous night flooded into his stream of consciousness as the hot water poured over his face. He saw Cheyenne burning her arm and he felt as if a tear might escape, although he managed to hold it back. Lilith was wide awake when he took her from the crib and brought her downstairs. As he walked down the stairs, Noel noticed Cheyenne sprawled out on the couch and anger, mixed with relief, poured through him. He brought Lilith back upstairs, turned on the baby monitor and put the receiver in his pocket. He walked right up to his wife and woke her up asking, “Where were you?” She waved him off, turned around and pulled the blue afghan draped over her body on top of her head.
Lunch became the first thing on the agenda. Taking care of his hunger was a slight relief from the stress building in his mind. The dark cloud seemed to engulf the entire house and the family that resided within. He felt like he needed to get out and vent to someone, but his list of sympathetic individuals had grown quite thin. His parents could not deal with the information, his brother didn’t want to hear it and his coworkers were... well, at work. Desperation urged him to pick up the phone and dial a number he hadn’t dialed in over six months. A gravely voice picked up on the other end, “Yeah?”
Noel tried to sound upbeat and responded, “What’s up man, how you been?” “Who is this?” responded the scratchy voice followed by soft coughing, which switched to harsh hacking. After sufficiently clearing his throat the man said, “I don’t want what your selling shit head.”
“Freddy, it’s me, Noel.” “I know, I’m just joking with you man. Where the hell you been at? Oh yeah, wife, kid, job. Living that quote unquote American dream,” he said with a snicker.
“More like American nightmare. Look, I was just wondering if I could stop by?” he asked hesitantly unsure of what the answer would be. It had been a while since they’d even spoken to one another.

“Nah man, I’m busy. You know how it is, meth labs to run, hookers to drop off.” He paused to laugh. “What kind of a question is that? Just stop by, you know you don’t even need to call. Damn it man, how long have we been friends?” he asked as if he’d finally woken up during the course of the conversation. “Shit, bring the family. I’d love to see Cheyenne and the baby.”
“Well I was I hoping to bring the baby, but Cheyenne is a little preoccupied being a stupid asshole right now,” he stated sadly.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, trouble in paradise huh? Well, mi casa es su casa buddy. Get your ass over here.”
“Cool, thanks. I’ll be right over,” Noel said and hung up the phone feeling a tiny bit better. Old Freddy Macmillan had been a childhood friend. They’d known each other since the sixth grade and been best friends up until relatively recently. Actually, Freddy had introduced him to Cheyenne way back when and even gone with them on that very first movie outing to see Fight Club. The family had really become top priority as soon as Cheyenne became pregnant. No more late nights bar hopping and going to local shows. No more trips to Vegas and New Orleans. Noel had become a family man and accepted his new found role in life with enthusiasm. Now, it had seemed fool hardy and presumptuous to think Cheyenne was prepared for parenthood just because he was ready to dive into this lifestyle head first.
As he drove over to his old friend’s home located in the Buena Vista Apartment Complex, he remembered many of the good times they’d shared along the way. Pulling into the parking lot, Noel felt a bit of nostalgia seeing as how he’d helped Freddy move into the complex almost five years ago. The tan colored buildings had been recently repainted and the lot looked as if it was repaved the previous month. There were many other improvements that would never have been noticed if you weren’t familiar with the place. However, Noel knew it like the back of his hand. Many of the units had new windows, shutters and front doors. The roofs were sparkling with new shingles and many of the rusty old vents had been either spray painted silver or replaced entirely. New bushes had graced the perimeter and many of the half dead trees had been removed, stumps and all. Even the swimming pool seemed to have been completely refurbished along with the basketball courts, which at one time had their fair share of graffiti.
He unbuckled the baby’s car seat, walked up the pathway and knocked on the door with the numbers fifty-two attached to the trim overhead. Shuffling could be heard as Freddy made his way to the door. Noel assumed that the place would be littered with trash and spewing smoke, but upon entry, he found it to be relatively clean. It even smelled as if some sort of air freshener had been used recently on the premises. Noel walked in, stood on a fresh brown carpet and let out a whistle. The counter tops and cabinets had also been upgraded along with a fresh paint job and new appliances. Noel commented, “I can’t believe this is the same place. It looks completely different.”

“About time, right? I was about to move out when I was given a notice that the place was under new ownership. They promised massive changes including a raise in the rent. At first I was skeptical, but I was happy to pay the extra money once I saw they were serious,” Fred responded.
“Where’d you stay while they did all this?” Noel asked with interest. “They had me shacked up in an older unit for about a month and a half while they renovated my humble abode. Kicks ass doesn’t it? And the ladies love it bro. Check out the bathroom,” he said with a wide grin pasted ear to ear.
Noel set down Lilith and walked into the bathroom expecting to see some slight changes, but was really impressed when he turned the light on. “Damn, it looks like the Marriot or something in here. This place might be a little too good for the likes of you now. Hey, I’ll help you move out if you need me to, so I can move in.”
“Don’t try to tell me things are really going that bad between you and Chey,” said Freddy. He was the only other person besides her family who called her that, but they had all grown up together so Noel never found it to be odd. “Don’t worry Bright, you guys’ll work it out.” Now that was a name reserved specifically for Freddy and few long lost friends from high school. Freddy continued to speak, “If she gives you a hard time, I’ll elbow drop her and then put her into a sleeper hold for you. Better yet, just gimme the word and I’ll put a hit out on her. I know people.” They burst out laughing. Noel felt a little bit better as if coming here brought him back in time to a simpler era when his relationship had been fresh and unblemished.
“Maybe I’ll take you up on your offer, but in the mean time I gotta tell you what’s going on.” Noel unloaded on his friend telling him everything that had occurred over the last year. Even before they had stopped talking, much of his personal life was omitted in their conversations. At this point, Noel felt like he had nothing to lose. It all spilled out like a rushing torrent, yet Freddy took it all in stride. He didn’t seem to judge either of them partially because of their history, but mostly because he’d lived a pretty wild life and little came as a shock to him anymore. As Noel came to a close with his story telling the crown jewel of what had occurred the previous night Freddy lightened the mood with a bit of reminiscing.

They talked about the time they’d gone over to a girl named Anna’s house on New Year’s Eve. Freddy’s older brother had one of his drunken friends drive them because they were only fifteen years old at the time. Not to mention, they didn’t have any friends who had a driver’s license. They had a hard time finding her parent’s town home and there was quite a bit of snow on the ground. A few hours before they drove over there, another snow storm had begun, which wasn’t abnormal.
They were coming upon the right set of town homes and everyone in the car was looking around frantically. The driver turned around and asked them if they even knew where they were going. Right as he finished asking the question Freddy saw the right address, pointed to the left and yelled out, “It’s over there.” The driver turned around just in time to side swipe two cars and rip off their side mirrors. They’d never seen so many sparks flying off the side of a car before. They jumped out of the car and ran up to the door as their ride tore off into the night. They laughed their asses off, thinking about what a stupid move that was.
Noel went right into his buddy’s fridge without asking and felt like he hadn’t missed a beat with his friend. “So you came here to vent and hang out today, but tonight we’re going out. Ask your parents to watch Lilith so we can stir up some trouble,” said Freddy with a sly grin. Noel looked up in protest as Freddy spoke up, “I’m joking man at least about the trouble, but we are going out to tonight. You need a break from being a husband and father for one night. Trust me, after you disappear for a short period of time Cheyenne will return back to normal.”
“Dude, I haven’t had a drink in a long time,” said Noel. “Nobody said you have to drink, but you are coming out. The last thing I’m gonna let you do is go home without a breather from her crap. If everything is as you say it is, then you really don’t deserve this. But I’ve seen you take a lot of shit from her over the years. Watching you two is one of the reasons I’m still single.” Freddy patted his friend’s cheek.
That night they went out to a local bar by the name of Coaches. An hour after they got there, Freddy persuaded Noel to loosen up and have a few drinks. Freddy met up with one of his girls and they drank the night away. Around four in the morning they stumbled out of there and grabbed a cab back to Freddy’s apartment. They stayed up until the sun rose, crashed out and woke up late the next day.
As Noel departed, Freddy told him, “So let me guess, I won’t be hearing from you till next year?” Noel shook his head saying, “I’m sorry about disappearing. I hope there are no hard feelings, but you better believe we’re keeping in touch. By the way, you’re coming to dinner tomorrow night, so clear your schedule punk.” And with that, he left.

Things remained pretty rocky between Cheyenne and Noel. The night Freddy showed up for dinner, Cheyenne had thrown a fit and refused to get ready or participate in making food, which wasn’t any big surprise. Moreover, Lilith seemed to be acting a little bit strange. Noel chalked it down to her being unhappy about her parent’s marital problems; he had read somewhere that children have a sixth sense for that sort of stuff. When Freddy arrived, nothing had been prepared, so the two friends headed out to a Mexican restaurant down the street and brought home plenty of food.
It was quite shocking when they arrived to find Cheyenne dressed makeup and all, opening a bottle of wine she had dug up from inside one of the closets. It looked to be an old gift from the wedding. Freddy walked right over, gave her a hug and lifted her off the ground. She laughed as they exchanged greetings. After dinner, they retired to the living room and caught up on Freddy’s life including his most recent flings and his new job. He had begun working for a machine tool company that made different parts for heavy machinery such as cranes, bulldozers and steamrollers. After his rent was raised, he was forced to search for a better job. Although he was notorious for switching jobs every few years and this was just the excuse he needed. Noel assumed his friend got bored and wanted a change of pace before he broke down and brought a high powered semi automatic machine gun to work. Freddy was presently dating two separate girls that weren’t marriage material much less long term relationship material. One of them was simply referred to as ‘the stripper.’ The other was a stockbroker with a promising career and sounded very interesting, but was likewise a control freak. He’d tried to break up with her on numerous occasions, but each time ended up back at her place fighting and then making up, leaving Freddy lying awake in her bed wondering if she was also the master of manipulation.
The three old friends tiptoed around the obvious and kept the conversation centered on Freddy, which was filled with jokes. Nothing ever seemed to get too serious and when they did, he had a remarkable capacity to put a spin on those particular touchy subjects. His personal dilemmas were made to appear less of problematic and more of a foible; something that would run its course and eventually work itself out in the end. For instance, Fred’s drug addictions and alcoholism had been somewhat of a mess, but didn’t seem to go away. It was all fun and games when they’d participated in the occasional pot smoking and mushrooms. But as they polished off the rest of the wine, Freddy gingerly walked out to his car and came back with a bottle of Johnny Walker Red; something neither of them had drunken in years.

With Lilith put to bed snugly, fresh glasses were pulled from the cupboard and the night proceeded in full swing. They talked about the college years as if it’d been one big party minus the relentless school work. Noel caught Freddy looking at Cheyenne awkwardly, the way he used to in high school, and wondered if his friend still had a bit of school boy crush on his wife. He laughed and brought up the time Freddy had asked out Cheyenne on a date at the beginning of senior year. She had only been a junior and Freddy thought he’d strike while the iron was hot. She turned him down gracefully, but managed to salvage a friendship out of the uncomfortable situation. Not long after, Noel had stepped up to the plate and hit a home run, which didn’t seem to bother Freddy.
The night came to a close and Noel was feeling better about his relationship. He insisted Freddy stay the night and sleep on the couch, so he didn’t have to drive all the way back to his apartment and risk getting a D.U.I. They all retired for the night and Noel made love to his wife for the first time in months. The world appeared to have aligned on its proper axis and turned smoothly once more. Noel fell asleep truly believing everything was going to be okay.

You can read all of the chapters here.

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