Dear Mr. Shepard,
I have taken the liberty of packing your wife's things, along with my own, and have disrupted your family of four, and left it without a mother/wife component. The following is an apology without saying sorry, and I have carefully detailed what has happened since the last time you have seen your beautiful, young, and too crazy for the both of us, or any other man to hold down, wife.
Carla had been seeing me for a year and half before we ran together, and every patiently-waited Tuesday we'd meet during her work break, and stay with each other for two hours in my cheap hotel room, in the scent of mildew, fake flowers, and that lingering smell of morning air. I used to work down the hall from your wife, and before we met in person I had left her anonymous love letters. I grew obsessed with your wife, from her smile and laughter to how her eyes stared endlessly into mine, I hadn't experience that caliber of spirit and character your wife had, and I was endlessly devoted to her without even knowing her name.
After a series of love letters and with the last one, ending with this note, "I want to run away with you." She couldn't take the mystery anymore, and perhaps I was too slick for her, passing by without change of face or mood; I was a stone fox, with my romance novel devices. Finally, one day at work, after receiving my last anonymous letter, she simply got up from her chair, stood high enough so half her body was peering out from the top of her cubicle walls and said loudly and sternly, "YOU WILL STOP, AND SHOW YOUR FACE NOW!"
I looked down from the hall, and saw this crazy, beautiful, and impulsive woman in all her beautiful for the first time, I coughed, and when I caught her attention she looked over, and I smiled like all wolves do before they run in for the kill. She was mine now.
She was the first woman I made love to in a bathroom stall, and during the act I was there with her, hearing her voice, and the voice between her thighs, and wondered what had just happened. I was with the most incredible woman of my life, and had a hard time adjusting to the placement of desire and reality. I pulled the biggest catch of my life with one of the cheapest baits a fisherman has, and yet it was never about the bait, but how the fisherman pulled his line, ever so slowly; keeping the tension high, and the mystery unbearable.
The day we left hadn't been planned for more than a day, and was devised by your passionate wife at work one afternoon. She called me up the day before our departure, telling me to meet her there tomorrow at that time, 3:30pm, sharp and ready with everything I owned that mattered. I had been previously fired for reasons I could imagine, and often wondered why your wife hadn't received at least a warning; perhaps her charm was her greatest defense. I had received the call while I was working a forklift at the warehouse I worked at, and I almost hit my best friend, Philip, backing up, who was also tired since we usually worked the night shifts and was completely nocturnal at this point. I remember jumping down to Philip and yelling, "I'M FUCKING LEAVING!", and I smiled and hugged Philip hard and took off into the blinding light of an open giant garage door. Philip called me on my cellphone two minutes later and said we still had four more hours and he wasn't covering my ass again. I said I quit, and he was a little pissed off but took in a deep breath and said, "Go get her, bitch." I felt my ass being phantom-slapped as I kicked off into mid-day sun in my brown and gray El Camino.
On the road I called Phil back for my last night here drinks, and I knew I was going to have to get really hammered since it was going to be hard to sleep that night. Philip got off work at 6pm, had to run home to have dinner with his girlfriend and son, and then he'd meet me at 8pm for our ceremony. I had a few hours to kill so I drove upcountry to the shooting range, and just listened to the firing rifles and handguns echo across the land and up the mountains just before they're resonance stopped. I smoked a few cigarettes with the locals and ran into Carlos, who I hadn't seen since Gabriella left me years earlier. He felt something profound in seeing me again, and cried like men do when it has been a while since you've seen a good friend, and we hugged like men who had lost a connection to our past in our present. He invited me to have dinner at his place with his wife, Sofie, but I had told him I was going for drinks with Phil, and that it was my last night in town. Carlos pulled out a sack of weed and rolled up the largest joint I've ever seen and then made another one equally as fat, and said, "Take this for the road, and we'll smoke this one now".
Carlos told me of how Sofie was, how they had their second child a few months ago, and he showed me a picture he held a deep sense of pride on, out from his breast pocket was his second and beautiful son, Theo. I wanted Carlos to come out with Philip and I, but knew he would and he had a family waiting for him at home. Carlos was a hardworking and loving man, and our time as wild coyotes was now and has been over for years, he did the growing up for the both of us. The joint was burning our fingertips and we looked down to the ground beneath us, and said, “Well”, at the same time as each other and turned to see the landscape weeping before us. I felt a chill run through my back and in my hands at the sight of those cold and still mountains. I thought it would be poetic to just walk off towards them, waving my hand behind me to say goodbye to Carlos and our time in Helena but Carlos got up, and said, “You’ll be back, man. And when you do return we'll spend some proper time together, and you’ll have to tell me of my time away.” I said deal, and hugged him one last time. "Until we meet again, amigo", said Carlos.
As I was pulling out from the parking lot, I looked to Carlos' truck, and stopped. I left my car idle and ran up to the big red F-150, and opened the passenger side door, and left the joint Carlos gave me earlier on the seat with the words written on it, "Until we meet again, amigo".
I was twenty minutes early when I arrived at the bar, and decided to started drinking before Phil. Everything felt different. The journey hadn't begun, I was still in the same spot, and yet I was on the road with the love of my life, I have changed to someone of risk and adventure; I am a traveler with love in his heart, I was a bandit stealing your wife.
Philip arrived five minutes late, and I wouldn't have noticed if I had been watching the clock tick down the time before tomorrow at 3:30pm. Philip and I ordered pints of the finest Mexican beer the bar had, and down them one after another recalling our many adventures in hunting, and the women we had loved, or just slept with during our friendship. Between us there were eight or so dead rabbits, two raccoons, and one deer. There was Sally, Rebecca, Kim, Mary, Lindsay, Georgia, Kelly, each with a sudden feeling felt by the sound of their names being presented before our Dos Equis', and each had their own pint this night as we drank to forget, and we drank to remember our best of times, in drunken laughter, in sick jokes, and wild animal sounds and domesticated dog barks.
The night was rolling to end when Philip stole a kiss from our too-friendly bartender and she told us both to fuck-off, as we threw bills around where we were sitting and stumpled out the door into the cold Montana night. Philip said in a drunk and stupid voice that he loved me, that he really did love me, and then acted like he was going to kiss me too, and then all of a sudden he sobered up for a moment and cleared his voice, and said, "I really am going to miss you dude, seriously". At that moment Philip looked like the most together person I have ever drank with. He hugged me, and then got in his car, and left. I was too drunk to drive home that night, so I just slept in my car.
I woke up that morning to tapping at my window. An older man who said he was the owner of the bar was there and said I should leave now. I heard her voice say her first words of the day, “Who was that?” I looked over as if I had found life in a cup of coffee, and there was the bartender, using my coat for a blanket. I asked her what happened last night, and she said that her boyfriend was too drunk to pick her up and asked me if she could stay in my car until he sobered up to come get her. She then told me he would be here any moment now and fell asleep again. I panicked, and then told her I'm driving her home. She got up and gave me back my coat, and opened the passenger door and gave me a kiss on the cheek before she closed the door behind her. "Thanks", she said through the frosted window as I started the car.
For a moment I left like pulling up beside her and asking her if she wanted to come with me, and when she asked where I'd said anywhere but here. I realized it may be a while before I am free to the vast world of women, with each a different shade of me will resonate, and be lived, and we'll learn the hard way to live with each other; failure. I was running away with your wife now, and she was mine, as I was hers, and it scared me. I had never been married before, and though each relationship I had I was loyal for the most part, I felt for the first time in my life that she was the one.
I looked at the bartender from my rear view mirror, fading to the distance as I drove to nowhere to kill the six hours I had left. I thought of the people I would like to see, and many places to just sit and admire the landscape but was overwhelmed by a city that has known me for too long, each place had a certain significance with a certain person. I watched my memories of Helena pass me by as I drove on, and when I arrived back at my hotel I thought of the first time I made love to your wife, how it was still so hot rich in forbidden pleasure and secrecy. Inside that cold place I realized I couldn't have lived here another day without Carla; that this place was depressing without her warmth, and that in more ways then I knew at that time, we had built a home being lost in each other's company as one world ended and another started.
All my things were useless to me now; a collection of used books I had no interest in reading again, a half-broken stereo, some dirty clothes I had washed in a couple of months, and my old drawings I only kept because Carla liked them, telling me they were each special to a particular moment. And so that was the only thing I kept, everything was thrown away, and I wanted to start all over with your wife.
I fell asleep on the floor looking at a collection of Polaroids I had of Carla, and woke up with only two hours remaining. Everything felt vital and instrumental in the moments before our departure, as I looked from the blinds to view a cold and overcast sky and the city sitting idly beneath it all; I didn't need closure, I was finished with this place.
With the time remaining I drove around, and even passed by your house to see that forbidden fortress you had Carla all to yourself in, with your children from your previous marriage, and I felt the sadness of that place. I wondered if it was why Carla wanted to run away, to be in mixing it up again, and being on the edge. Perhaps she was never meant to be tied down, and I saw a future of misfortune coming my way the day I get tired of the secrecy of our love, and being on the road; without a place to call home. Will I fail Carla like you have, and will I lose her the same way.
Towards the end of your street I forgot all about you until today. It has been a couple of months since Carla and I have been on the road. On some days I am too tired to keep going, and it seems to disappoint Carla but she says ok, and we rest, and each day I see how much I can take. On others days I feel like I can do anything with her, my love is endless. She still makes me smile, and I love her more and more each day to spite my tiring spirit. She is doing well, I think this was for the best.
Eventually my time in Helena was over, having been filled up by the landscape and memories that may have been relived for the last time, I appeared in the parking lot of your wife's work, and waited for twenty minutes before she appeared. She hadn't brought everything, and I worried she'd want to run back home and grab a few things. I had forgotten about her car, and she had opened the trunk and looked at me, waiting for me to wake from my thoughts before I got out and helped her. “What about your car?” I asked, and she said a friend had paid her already for it, it was going for cheap, and she had left the check at home for you to cash. I thought it was an unfit way to say goodbye to your husband of five years, but then thought running away out of the blue was also just as bad, at least she didn't burned the house or something worse.
So there we were, in an El Camino with a full tank, and an endless road before us. I had no regrets, and I could say neither did Carla. We were and are living our lives the way it should've and always been; without borders and boundaries, without ties and routine. Some people weren't meant to be put in the system of everyday; that they're bodies and minds are too free to be confined to a cage, or house of cards. And as I finish this letter, I cannot ask for the end of bad feelings, for you not to hunt my very existence down with thoughts of violence and even worse, I just wanted you to know, how I felt, what has happened, and to give you a reason to feel the way you do, now knowing the truth. I included no return address for reasons you and I need not explain, and Carla and I would rather not be seeing you anytime soon. We hope to be forgotten not forgiven.