Late at night, I hover over my keyboard, glazed eyes watching me win yet another game of Solitaire. It’s a true twilight zone sensation. I know I’m wasting time, yet I continue. I could be reading a good book or at least a magazine article.
Then my mind slips further away from this semi-alert state. My fingers open up Google Earth and I look at photos of the massive complex that houses my ex-husband – somewhere among the thousands of other federal prisoners locked up in that rural North Carolina prison.
I’ve done this search before, so I’m not trying to find out anything new. I know there’s no point in this activity and that it isn’t productive for me. I don’t miss him and hardly ever wonder how he’s doing.
He’s had health problems over the last few years but now is generally doing well. When I realize he’ll be released in two years, I don’t feel glad, but rather somewhat apprehensive, hoping I don’t have to deal with him or his needs when that time comes.
My thoughts slide more, away from the not-fully-awake situation I’m in. I sit in a daze, staring at the screen and wonder about a man I used to know. He was head of a large, highly respected company that heat treated steel, mostly jet engine parts. He was intelligent and also loved to laugh. His jokes were funny and he seemed genuinely kind. Everyone liked him. Original research that he completed on new processes benefited his company.
Then, he was accused of murdering a stripper and burning her body in northern Connecticut. He was arrested as he was attempting to board a plane and later was sentenced to sixty years in prison.
When we heard the news of his arrest at the company from an employee who had read it in the newspaper, we were speechless. There must have been a mistake. He was so nice – no one you would every expect to give a rival a shove, much less shoot anyone. What was he doing with another woman when he seemed to be such a respected family man? For some time I was sure it was another person with the same name who had been accused of this heinous crime. Our friend and business associate couldn’t have done this terrible thing. But it seems, he did.
Searching the internet, I find out which Connecticut prison he’s in and then take a look at the location on Google maps. God knows why I do this. There’s no point. I’m never going to contact him.
I think about how it’s hard to really comprehend what people are like under the face they present to the public, even those we think we know well. What thoughts, desires and intentions bubble below the surface of a person’s mind? I certainly was oblivious to what went on in my former husband’s mind. And what about the respected family man and businessman who murdered? Was he always a person different from what everyone saw? Or did a number of events crowd out his ability to make moral decisions and he snapped? It’s impossible to know.
Every once in a while I think about how wrong we were about this man we thought we knew well. Every once in a while I think about my ex-husband and what turmoil churned up his desires and life in such a way that his world fell apart and his life ended as he knew it. Then my thoughts drift off. There’s no way to truly know what’s under the surface of a person’s thoughts and behavior, if he chooses to hide them. I’m grateful for my family and friends who allow me into their lives and honestly, as far as I know, express themselves in words and actions. Every once in a while I wonder what I might be missing. But I’ll never know.