A man of God. A fraud. oh wait, I’m a stripper….

So yes, I married this man, without knowing that much about him.

I said my “I do’s”, my “til death do us part”.

I was her. That was me. I made my bed, I’ll lie in it.

My 17 year old post partum brain believed I was destined to be a mother and a wife to a southern baptist 29 year old lying man. His name is Bruce Ray Wells, do the research if you want. He is currently the author of a historical novel  “The Bermuda Hundred Campaign”.

DON’T you dare buy it.

I am going to make a long marriage very short here so pay attention.

He was a fraud. A con artist. He used his connections with the church to get his bills paid during hard times. He would leave us for DAYS, without food, diapers or oil for heat in the winters. I would sleep with Joshua on the kitchen floor surrounded by blankets with the oven door open and on high for warmth. I would send him for diapers, he would come back empty handed two days later. I was using safety pins and pillow cases for diapers. I had no phone, no car, no job, no money.

I would find stashes of pornography, videos, magazines, comics. Our phone bill reflected the use of 900 numbers in access of $800.00.

Man of God my ass!!

I recall specifically a time that he told me he had taken a job with a beer and wine distributor filling orders, loading boxes at night onto the trucks. One night I needed to reach him and I borrowed my neighbors phone (cordless) we had moved into a duplex. ( I am jumping waaaay ahead because I want to re-visit the garage apartment and 2 defining moments. I will go back I promise.)

So I borrowed the cordless phone, walked into my duplex and began calling all of the bars listed in the phone book. Literally, every single bar listed in the yellow pages, until I got to Southern Exposure. It was a topless bar off Jeff Davis Highway, not far from the garage apartment.

I started with my spiel…

“Hi, I’m looking for a Bruce Wells, there has been a family emer….”

oh sure, hold on……

My mind literally went blank, they KNEW him????

” Hi, this is Bruce, how may I help you?”

WHAT??? I didn’t speak. I froze. I never expected him to be WORKING there. I was on a mission to track down a patron, not an employee. I had a million thoughts all at once, mostly anger. I hung up without saying a word. I can’t tell you what led me to the plan or how, my memories blur, jumble together, fragment. I decided that if he could work there, so could I. I was a dancer.

I was a life long dancer. I called back, asked about amateur night and found out when it was and devised a plan. With the help of a very dear friend and she knows who she is and she is reading this, I was going to dance on amateur night. I was going to win. I entered as “sharkey” it was a name he called out in his sleep one night.

I drank about 3 vodka and cranberry’s. It was more alcohol than I had ever had in my life. The legal drinking age was 18 and I was that. We drove down there, well she drove. There was no DJ at the time, only a jukebox to choose songs from. I was scared to death.

I chose Aerosmith, Dude looks Like a Lady. I danced my ass off with my southern baptist husband tending bar. I won. Five hundred dollars. I could afford diapers and oil for heat. He freaked out, screamed and yelled. Hypocrite.

“I will continue to work here as long as you do” I boldly told him.

I will make twice as much I challenged him.

He could say nothing. I danced there for almost a year. I didn’t have to beg, borrow or steal for that year.

And he stopped working.

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