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As surreal as the moment was, it did happen.

I can get around that idea now.

The events that preceded the moment operated as a funnel that excluded any other conclusion, but however eventual the moment, I was blindsided nonetheless. And what hurts more than that?

She'd been acting a bit, uh, differently for quite some time. Looking back, I suppose it was rationalization on my part- and the infrequency of the behavior on her part- that led to my inactivity. That, and the fact that this sort of thing just didn't happen to normal folks. We were, of course, normal folks if there ever were any. That's probably my best defense at this time, but please withhold judgement until the end.

I don't usually come this clean with strangers, but y'all know how crazy a woman can make you if you don't understand the 'sex'al basics', as my dear departed Dad used to say. "The sex'al basics are this", he'd slur, "women aren't really people. They got a whole dif'rent set of values." My Mother had left us when I was four. I vaguely remember her- a wisp of blonde hair, a comforting hand, and a strange shaking that didn't stop.

And the screaming.

Neither television nor the movies had ever depicted an individual screaming while alone. Not like Mom. She didn't leave, per se. She was 'taken away'. Being very young, it never occurred to me to ask just where the hell 'away' might be. I guess I know now.

And my Father provided my only access to a world-view.

Looking back, I realize he must have been a broken man. He was still a good man, don't get me wrong, and he was pretty much right about what he said, but I expect he might just have been, I dunno, swayed by circumstances?

But I don't blame him. I acted in the best interests of everyone involved.

I married young, against the wishes of my Father, to a perfect person. She was the be-all of my existence. She had a magical way of easing the pain- absorbing it somehow. I suppose she didn't know that. I never discussed it with her. To what end? Happiness requires no questions, it just is.

If only she'd understood.

The anger she began to display was certainly displaced. She wanted to be involved in the world more. How could I explain to someone who hadn't been there what a mistake that might be?

Now I'm sounding crazy.

Of course she'd experienced the world on a limited basis, but that one time when the jackpot hits and all hell breaks loose is something to be at least considered, right? Not, admittedly, to someone who hasn't been in attendance when it happens, but that's where trust comes in. She needed to trust me.

After all, I loved her.

And I'd seen it happen.

The bitching was, of course, a matter of being. She was, after all, a woman. But the screaming was insufferable. I could see that her mind had begun to go. She didn't know what I knew, she had to know it, and therefore she was being irrational. Irrational to the point of screaming by herself.

That was my clue.

I needed to do the best thing I have ever done.

Dad used to say, "The best thing you could ever do is to help someone you love regardless of cost to yourself". He'd mention historical figures who'd done so. One of them was Jesus. While I wasn't necessarily raised in the church, I understood sacrifice. I understood what it meant to do the right thing no matter what. I'd let him beat on me because it was right- he was a good man. He didn't beat me because he didn't love me, quite the reverse. I tried to learn what lesson might be there. How could one beat one's own son, whom he loved, without some higher reason? To my credit, I learned my lessons well.

The moment occurred while I was drinking, but I could always keep a level head at such times and am NOT using that as an excuse. She came to me in numbers, which, at the time, meant two. Her friend was a younger man from her work. Dad had told me about how these college educated men had bought the whole idea of altering the world toward the female, irrational, idea of things and I was ready. I remember it verbatim.

"Mr. Howard?"

"Yes." I said. Nothing more, just that.

"From what I've heard, and I happen to believe it, you just might need some help."

Help. I needed some 'help'. What a nut.

"We want you to be happy. Do you understand?"

All the time, I was staring at her. I knew I could ascertain what was really up by gauging her reactions. The pleading eyes were there, all right. The wetness that had become a staple in the Howard Household was indeed present. But there was something else as well. Pop had taught me to recognize it as fear. Not just fear, but terror.

Now I ask ya, when have you ever come to the aid of a person with your prevailing emotion being fear? She was scared, all right. And I knew why. She was afraid that I might not buy it.

The thing about what a bull leaves in his wake is that the longer after he disappears over the horizon, the easier it is to see it for what it is. A bull, after all, is an intimidating presence, but the leavings are decidedly worthless. Dad taught me to recognize it while still steaming.

I wouldn't allow what happened to my Dad happen to me. Experience, after all, is the best teacher.

If I didn't love her, she'd be alive today. So I loved her.

Her existence had become insufferable. She was, without a doubt, a woman. I learned too late that that meant that she was doomed one way or another and to align oneself to such a pitiful creature was a mistake from the start.

There is no God, by the way. What God would create such a glorious being with the fatal flaw of self-destruction?

Had I to do it over again, I wouldn't have tangled myself with one. Males, being the only coherent of the species, should resist any entanglement. Pop was right. One doesn't take the mailbox home. One merely deposits the mail. Emotional entanglement is obviously rewarding at first, but once doing so, we will always do the right thing- to our eternal detriment.

Makes you think, don't it?

If, after hearing all of this, you still decide that I'm a criminal, then I feel sorry for you. Society is made up of individuals, and the more individuals that are buying the bull, the further society as a whole slides down the slope of ignorance.

Death is the best gift, the most holy gift, one can give to another if the circumstances merit it. And men are the ones who can truly decide such an issue. The peripheral death of the male 'college product' was unfortunate, but equally positive.

One learns from the mistakes of others.

Failing that..

I dunno..

A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

k (stream of consciousness, folks. Not a finished product. But what do you think? Kill me if you want, but as a sketch??)

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