Their honeymoon had been a weekend stay at a Best Western Motel. Back at the dorm their together time was short and rushed. His roommate, Jack, hated sleeping in the hall and it was all but impossible to convince Kate that Jack wouldn’t listen or watch them making love.
Kate’s roommate didn’t care for Blacks and threaten to call the dorm administrator if she caught him in their room again.
At the Best Western, they could take as long as they needed, and be as loud as they wanted.
It was sheer bliss waking up next to her in the mornings. It was something about the way her hair spilled across the pillow and the feel of her body next to his.
Their first twenty-four hours – all twenty-four hours — as a married couple were spent in that motel room. Hunger had been the thing that had forced them up and out.
They had showered together, dressed and walked the short distance from the motel to one of those little hole-in-the wall places where you can get two eggs, bacon, and a stack of pancakes for about five bucks.
They lingered over coffee, watching other people watch them. Even in the late eighties people still stared at couples like us, he thought, especially those blatant enough to demonstrate their love in public. Something, which they rarely did, up until then.
He remembered he had kissed her for the first time, in public, in that dinky little diner. They had gone back to the motel and had made mad passionate, and reckless, love. Much too reckless, he thought. But hindsight is twenty-twenty. Everything is always clearer afterwards than before.
Images, and sounds from those first few months of marriage, years ago, were burned onto the retina of his brain as if soldered there with a branding iron, while memories of that last morning with Kate were fleeting at best. No matter how he tried he couldn’t bring to mind what he’d said or what she’d said. What had they talked about that morning – the evening before? Had he kissed goodbye? Had Kate been anxious about going to work that day? Was anything different or out of the ordinary? All he could remember of that morning was watching her from the upstairs bedroom window and the feeling of completeness he’d had as he watched the way her hair fell across her face as she bent to pick up Kaila and load her into the back seat of the car.
He took another gulp of the coffee and forced himself to think back. It had been a painful time for them. Some choices no matter how much you wish cannot be undone.
It began three months after their honeymoon, or rather, on their honeymoon but manifested itself then. One bad mishap after another. It was like a domino effect.
First, Kate’s father made good on his threat and stopped paying for Kate’s college expenses.
Secondly, he’d gotten hurt. He reached down and rubbed his right ankle which, like the old folks say, acted up whenever it was going to rain. It surprised him how vain he was about limping on days like that.
He’d gone out for a simple lay-up and came down the wrong way and broke two small bones in his right foot. Two weeks, then three weeks later and the foot was still bothering him. After some prodding from Kate, he’d gone to see the team doctor about the foot. Even though he knew that Kate had probably saved his life by making him go, he wished a thousand times over that he had not gone.
The team doctor found that he had developed blood clots in the foot and was also suffering from high blood pressure. Good ‘ol doc reported his condition to the school and St. Lucas wasted no time in cancelling his scholarship.
Kate, the golddigger went out and found a full-time job, rather than let him quit college and ruin what remained of their dreams. “A sportscaster, she told him, would still make enough money that she would still be called a golddigger”
Everything else paled in comparison to the third blow to their new marriage. Kate was pregnant! They were going to have a baby. A tear had rolled down his face and had cupped under his chin before he realized he was crying. With Kate being the sole breadwinner in the family, they had a decision to make.
It was either keep the baby and live with hostile relatives for the next two years or?
It was the ‘or’ that they talked long into the night about. Both of them had bared their souls and admitted to wanting more out of life than the typical suburban existence of living hand to mouth and pay check to pay check. Together, they made the hard decision not to have that child.
Kaila was actually the second child they’d conceived. She was conceived two years after his graduation from St. Lucas and six months after he’d landed the job at WKXR TV.
He had met Sam right before his accident at and alumni fundraiser. At first, he felt like a slave on the auction block being looked over by the plantation owners. “Who do you think is going to make the highest bid on us”, he jokingly said to Jack. “I am”, came a response from behind them. “I’m going to give .. uh,… donate three hundred thousand dollars to St. Lucas over the next two years.” He remembered being so stunned he couldn’t talk right away. Sam Larson introduced himself to the two of them, shaking David’s hand while giving him the once over.
It was Sam who was the first to offer him a job. They had become quite good friends right from the start. Sam had taken him under his wing and began teaching him the ropes.
Unfortunately, word got around that his hiring and subsequent promotions were due more to adherence to the government’s new ‘nigger quota’ than to merit. That had made him work even harder and he began putting in longer and longer hours in an effort to prove himself which meant Kate was often left home alone with only Kaila for company.
He worked five days a week at the office and Saturdays were spent on the golf course with customers. On a typical day, he saw Kate for five minutes over a cup of coffee on his way out of the door. By the time he returned home at eleven or twelve at night both Kate and baby Kaila were in bed asleep.
Kate began talking or rather yelling about spending more ‘quality time’ – whatever that meant – together. He had insisted that the hours he put in at work were the only way of getting ahead. A black man, he told Kate, had to work twice as hard as a white man, just to stay even, and three times harder to get ahead.
It was during that turbulent time, that Kate decided she was going back to school in an attempting at earning her long over-due Liberal Arts degree. A degree, he’d often joked with Sam, qualified her to do absolutely nothing. But Kate, strong willed as ever, landed a job as a personal assistant to Peoria University’s top science professor, Dr. Peter Malcolm, as a means of paying her tuition.
Professor Malcolm’s field of study was aeronautics. The Federal government had recently issued him a grant to do a study on aviation safety. With the grant monies, Professor Malcolm was able to hire an office assistant. Kate applied for the job.
She was at the office, alone, the day the package arrived. It was an ordinary package, delivered to the office in the usual brown wrapping paper, addressed to Professor Malcolm, marked ‘Personal.’ The deliveryman told the police later that there was nothing unusual about the package. It wasn’t overly heavy, nor did it tick. The Police said Kate was most likely trying to open the package when it exploded, killing her instantly.