This time last year, Impounded Love was featured in New Love Stories Magazine. It made their November/December issue because it has sort of a Christmas theme included.
I'll be doing half of it today and the other half tomorrow, so stop by and leave a comment. One lucky winner will receive a really nice 2011 purse/pocket calendar. Without further ado...my gift to you. I hope you enjoy this story I wrote for my sister.
Impounded Love by Ginger Simpson
Gwen Spencer scanned her cheery living room and sighed. It had lost its appeal. All the time she’d spent decorating in her favorite southwestern motif now seemed a waste. Snuggled in her sandstone-colored easy chair, with knees bent and feet tucked beneath her, she stared at the telephone. If wishes came true, it would ring at any second and she’d hear Brad’s voice.
She raised her gaze and peered through the window. An overcast sky hid the sun, and gray shrouded the fall-colored trees in the front yard. A few leaves drifted to the ground, carried by a light breeze. Within weeks, the branches would be bare—as empty as her heart felt at the moment. The visual hint of the late October chill made her shiver. Where was Brad? Was he warm and safe? The fire she’d started earlier flickered bright beyond the hearth and kept the room toasty. She hoped her husband had a coat. Tennessee nights were cold this time of the year.
The silence overwhelmed her and, with a sigh, she stretched out her legs, stood, slipped her feet into her fuzzy slippers, and shuffled to the stereo. She flipped through the plastic CD covers housing her music collection, the ones she and Brad had selected together. She paused and let them fall back into a neat row. The songs held recollections of happier times. Today marked ten years since she and Brad had married, and she never expected to spend such a special occasion alone. Favorite tunes would only enhance her pain. She forced a smile, remembering what someone once told her. “If you play country music backwards, you get your dog back, your house back, your man back, your life back.”
If only it was that simple. Her heart clenched with fear and the momentary glee faded. This time Brad wasn’t coming home. He’d been gone for over a month. The personal time she’d requested from work had almost expired, and it was time to get on with life. Time to get back to the job that would sustain her financially.
With a shrug, she wandered into the kitchen and opened the bottle of wine she’d purchased a few months ago for their special day. She filled a glass and went back to her favorite spot in the living room. She plopped down and took a long, slow draw from her goblet. She favored a light, fruity taste over the more bitter offerings.
“Happy friggin’ anniversary,” she muttered and raised her glass into the air. Her gaze drifted back to the phone. Did he even know what day it was?
She decided to watch television and reached for the remote. The TV screen flashed to life with the evening report and more bad news: Floods, murders, rapes. Was there no end to life’s disappointments? Her mind wandered, and the anchor’s voice became only a murmur in the background.
Visions of her wedding flashed before her. She’d been the happiest bride in the world. Brad stepped into her life to fill a void left by another man. She never dreamed of finding love a second time, let alone discovering someone who treated her like a queen. Although divorced for two years between weddings, saying vows to Brad felt like the first time.
What had gone wrong? Somehow during the years, drugs became the “other woman” and held more appeal than Gwen did. When had he started taking them? And why didn’t she see it? The first five years were blissful, but afterwards, telltale signs were there. She guessed she chose to ignore them. Because he always came home, she accepted his pitiful excuses for his short disappearances. Relieved to see him, she never doubted his sincerity. Until the truth became crystal clear when a packet of pills fell from his pants pocket on laundry day.
When questioned, Brad at first denied they were his, but then relented. He promised he only used methamphetamines to get through a stressful time at work and swore his problem had nothing to do with her. Funny. Then why did it his drug addiction spill over and make her life miserable? He eventually couldn’t hold a job, or didn’t want to. His excuses always made him the victim.
Gwen lowered her head and grasped the back of her neck to ease the growing tension. All this time and no word, when would she get a clue and move on? His dependency had a bigger hold on him than she ever could. If he gave a damn about her, he would have at least called before today to say he was okay.
She reached for her wine glass and took another gulp. The smooth sweetness passed through her lips with ease, but struck a sour cord. She clenched the slender stem and gazed into what remained of the rosy liquid. A grimace tightened her mouth. Was drinking pink Chablis to ease her pain that much different than Brad taking pills? She stood, marched back into the kitchen in bare feet, and emptied the wineglass and bottle contents down the drain. Faith in God would be her strength, not alcohol or drugs.
She started upstairs for a hot shower. The phone rang. Her heart seized, but she patted her chest and took a deep breath. If she answered, she’d probably find it was her mom. She called every day, but not usually this early. Still, she knew Gwen wasn’t working right now.
“Mrs. Spencer?” The man’s voice on the other end wasn’t familiar.
“Yes.” She held her breath.
“This is Officer Gilliam from the Dickson police department. I believe we have a vehicle in our impound lot that is registered to you.”
Gwen exhaled. “Is…is it a white pickup?” The words stuck in her throat, but she pushed them out. Brad drove the Toyota she’d purchased before they married. She’d never bothered to re-register it in both their names.
“Yes. A 1999 Toyota long bed. You should make arrangements to pick it up as soon as possible as fees are assessed everyday it’s here.”
It was her truck, and fees were the least of her worries. “Why do you have it? Did you arrest…” Her knees wobbled and she sank into her chair.
“I don’t know the particulars, ma’am. I’m just the person in charge of notifying the owners. When you come to claim it, be prepared to pay whatever fines are owed. We don’t accept checks, but will take money orders and credit cards.”
“How could I possibly bring a money order if I don’t know the amount?” She vented her frustration on the wrong person and immediately bit her lip. “I’m sorry, that was rude.”
“No problem. I should have told you each day your truck remains impounded, we charge one hundred dollars. Since it’s taken me some time to track you down, we’ve already had your vehicle for ten days. Are you aware you haven’t changed your address information with DMV and that your registration has expired?”
“Yes, and I’m sorry about that. I guess it slipped my mind.” Her thoughts raced with what might have happened to Brad.
“Well, before we can release your property, you’ll have to pay the renewal and accumulated fees when you come in.”
“How do I find out what happened to the person who drove the vehicle?” She balanced the phone on her shoulder and wrung her hands.
“You can either call back tomorrow and ask to speak with Sergeant Calhoun, or come in and see him personally.”
Gwen thanked the man and hung up. Her mind was a whirlwind of worries. If Brad didn’t have a vehicle, how was he getting around? Was he in jail? The hospital? Dead? A cold chill peppered her with goose bumps. Brad couldn’t be dead, but she wouldn’t know until tomorrow.
Gwen felt as though she’d barely gone to sleep when her alarm sounded. She slapped at the button atop the clock and struggled to open her eyes. She hadn’t mentioned anything about Brad to her mother when she called. Everyone in the family assumed they were doing well in their new home state, and Gwen didn’t want anyone to know that her second attempt at marriage was another train wreck. She glanced at the empty pillow next to her, wishing it was all a bad dream.
Most of her night had been spent tossing and turning, trying to find answers to all her questions. She didn’t remember what time she’d finally fallen asleep, but recalled seeing strands of light creeping through the blinds.
She stood, stretched her hands high over her head and rocked from side to side. Her spine crackled and released some of the pent-up stress. A visit to the police department didn’t count high on her list of favorite things to do. They might confirm her worst fears, and although she vowed to get on with her life, she wasn’t ready for bad news about a man she still loved. Gwen dropped her arms to her side, and with shoulders slumped, headed for the hot shower that’d gotten lost in last night’s melee.
Afterwards, she dressed and stood in front of the mirror and pulled a hairbrush through her tangled locks. She was barely forty and already strands of gray frosted her brown hair. God, she didn’t want to grow old alone. Her eyes misted with tears, and she decided to forgo makeup for sunglasses. Her room brightened. Evidently yesterday’s clouds had moved on… at least those in the sky.
To be continued...