Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Please read the earlier chapters first.

Click here to read Chapter One.
Click here to read Chapter Two.
Click here to read Chapter Three.
Click here to read Chapter Four.
Click here to read Chapter Five.
Click here to read Chapter Six.


T H E   H O L Y  R E D E E M E R  L O N E L Y  H E A R T S  C L U B

Teri did indeed like Mexican food so I invited her out to lunch at The Hacienda, a fabulous Tex-Mex restaurant about five blocks away from the cemetery.

Thank God it wasn’t a date, because I made the classic first date mistake: Talking about your ex. As soon as we sat down, I just started talking about Gina and I didn’t stop for about twenty minutes. I described with surprising honesty my emotional ambiguities at every step of our relationship. To make matters even worse, I also revealed how I had essentially chosen my mother over Gina. That’s another big no, no. Girls don’t like guys who choose their mothers over them. Geez. As I was listening to myself, I was thinking, “Oh my God, you’re going the full Norman Bates.”

Still, Teri took it all in stride. She let me tell my tale of woe, and then she told me about her ex. Her ex was actually an ex-husband: Charles Allen Carson. She said they were mismatched from the beginning. She was a somewhat naïve Catholic high school teacher. He was a much worldlier plumber well-versed in the art of love. She met him at a bar while she was at a going away party for a friend. He swept her off her feet with flowers, romantic dinners and adventures. They went white water rafting, spent long weekends in the Bahamas and even went skydiving. With Chuck, Teri finally experienced things she had only read about in books. It wasn’t until after they married that she learned that their entire courtship was financed with credit cards. 

Things went bad soon after the wedding. Her husband feigned a back injury at work and she had to support him while he battled endlessly for worker’s compensation and disability. With only one salary, his credit card balances became a real burden. Chuck’s answer was always more credit cards and the debt grew steadily. Teri said she didn’t know how to react. She always looked down on people who let material concerns like money ruin their marriages. She considered them shallow. To her, marriage was as spiritual as it was physical. Love always trumped money, except; she sadly discovered, when she found herself in that situation. Her resentment grew daily, but divorce was out of the question. She was a good Catholic. Plus, a divorce could endanger her job at the high school. She couldn’t divorce Chuck unless he gave her a valid reason for an annulment. Fortunately, he obliged when she discovered his affair with a former co-worker that began well before their marriage. Now she was free again, maiden name restored, but not interested in marrying again anytime soon.

“I’ve always been an excellent judge of character,” she said. “I could always tell how my friends’ husbands would turn out, who’d be great, who’d be a loser, but Chuck totally blindsided me. I didn’t see this coming at all.”

Silence, then, after taking a sip of her Corona, she added, “I’m never getting married again. I can’t trust myself to make that kind of a decision.”

“I think if Gina and I got married, we would have stayed married,” I replied, “But I don’t think I would have made her happy. Not really.”

“Then its good you didn’t get married,” she said. “If happiness looks out of reach, it’s best to walk away before anyone gets hurt.”

“Too late for that,” I replied. “I definitely hurt her.”

“And now you’re hurt.”

“Yes,” I said honestly. “I guess.”

“I hurt my husband, too,” Teri replied, and she then smiled. “Or at least my lawyer did when he convinced the judge not to pile half of his credit card debt on me.”

“Maybe our expectations are the problem,” I added, more seriously. “When I look back on my family tree, I don’t see any divorce. None. Not my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. They all stuck together. But you’ve got to ask yourself how many of them were truly in love the way we expect it today? No one ever wrote any romance novels about my ancestors, but you have to imagine that they at least found their niche with their spouses.”

“Would that satisfy you?” she asked, meeting my eyes seriously. “Just finding your niche with someone.”

“Yesterday, I would have said no,” I replied, “But today, I’m not so sure.”

Teri gave me a weary smile before raising her bottle of Corona. “A toast to The Holy Redeemer Lonely Hearts Club.”

I raised my bottle and tapped hers.

“To our first annual meeting,” she said. 

We both took a drink, then I added, “First annual? Does that mean you anticipate another meeting?”

“Well, Mr. Rick Bakos,” she replied, “If you’re looking for romance, you’re barking up the wrong tree, but if you’re looking for someone to document a cemetery with or discuss genealogy, I think there might be another one.”

“Good,” I replied and I meant it. It felt nice to have a new female friend with similar interests to talk to without any romantic expectations. Strangely, I always found it safer to talk about things of the heart with women rather than men, particularly safely married women who had no interest in me. I don’t know why. I guess it was because I always felt competitive with guys, even my closest friends. I never wanted to seem weak around them. I always thought I was reasonably transparent with Gina about most things, but I could never really talk to her about our relationship. When I had problems with her, I turned to a couple of married women at work who would let me cry on their shoulders. They all thought I was a fool and that I should have stayed with her. 

After the meal, I tried to pay the check myself, but Teri insisted on paying half. She didn’t want us to get off on the wrong foot. Then we took out our cellphones. She told me her phone number and I dialed her, allowing her to capture my number. Our devices were now connected. When we left the restaurant, there was no friendly kiss on the cheek or even the shaking of hands before we walked off to our cars. That was a relief.

I was happy. I had a new friend, and, in all honesty, I didn’t make them often.

Click here to read Chapter Eight.

Copyright 2016 by Sean Paul Murphy.  All Rights Reserved.

Be sure to read my memoir The Promise, or the Pros and Cons of Talking with God.

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