She Bets Her Life

A writer and former compulsive gambler reflects on women and addiction.

Cyndra 5: J.B., Mr. Big-shot, freaks out

Why didn't my wife take her cell phone?

It's time for J.B. to tell his story.  You may not want to read it.  You are probably already on Cyndra's side in a marriage that seems more like a Vietnam Vet's description of that war:  Hurry up and wait.  Days of boredom and hours of pure hell.  But any story is a kaleidoscope.  Turn the lens 

For those of you new to Cyndra, J.B. and the kids, I began to write the story because I ached to write it. And sometimes a story aching to be written feels a lot like the jones to use.  Maybe that's why so many writers, artists, musicians and other makers become addicts.  I write Cyndra with commitment to my recovery, with respect for her, and with the conviction that often a story can teach more than a psych lecture or a professional paper. You'll find Cyndra 1, 2, 3 and 4 in earlier posts on this blog.   We begin where we left off in Cyndra 4.

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******

Cyndra still couldn't believe it had been so easy.  J.B. had screeched into the drive, shoved open the door and stopped dead in his tracks.  "Damn," he'd said, "you look good.  You look damn hot.  You gotta promise me you'll wear that dress when we have our real special time alone."  Cyndra hadn't said anything.  She'd just walked up to him real slow, pressed up against him for a second, backed away and grinned.  Tyra had pulled up, beeped the horn and Cyndra was gone gone gone.

And now, right this minute, she was sitting on the most comfortable chair she'd maybe ever sat in.  It had a seat that seemed to be made just for her butt, a nice high back and it was exactly the right distance from the glowing rainbow screen of a Cleopatra slot machine.  She'd just bet forty nickles and three golden tiger things had bounced down in front of her and there was music playing and a bunch of free spins about to happen at THREE TIMES THE NORMAL WIN and her damn sister was tugging on her sleeve, saying "Come on, we gotta get to the seafood buffet while the crab claws are still there...plus Tim's on in forty-five minutes.  Come on!"

"Wait up," Cyndra said, "just give me two more minutes..."

******

It shoulda been easy.  It looked easy when Cyndra did it.  Taking care of two kids, a baby and a toddler, not like the seven kids in his family, plus he kinda liked both of them.  But, L'il J.B. was yowling and Kelli was tugging on his t-shirt, whining dadeee dadeeee dadeeeeeeeee and it was about 100 and f--k degrees and he hadn't had a beer since the stashed one in his office at the Base.  Which had been two hours ago, two hours that felt like two centuries. J.B. was not a happy boy.

He'd fed L'il J.B.  He'd settled Kelli in front of the t.v. with a bowl of spaghetti-O's which was one of the three things she would eat.  He'd even nuked the bowl of tuna casserole Cyndra had left in the fridge and made himself eat it.  He wasn't used to solid food this early in the evening. He'd usually go for the three basic Food Groups: beer, beer and more beer.  J.B. thought about putting the kids in their car seats and heading into Ranch Foods in 29 for a case of Food Group, but it was 100 and f--k and he couldn't figure out what he'd do with the kids while he ran into the store.  He wasn't scared of much, but thinking of kids cooking in a car in the Mojave heat made him want to go back to being a hard-shell Baptist.

J.B. picked up L'il J.B. and held him close to his chest with the kid's head on his shoulder.  He'd seen Cyndra do that.  "Hey, Mini-me," J.B. said.  "Give us one of those bad boy belches."  L'il kept yowling.  There was a stink in the air.  J.B. patted his baby's butt.  Yep.  J.B. sank down onto the couch, hollered and jumped up.  He'd landed on one of Kelli's friggin' Barbie Dolls - and a half-eaten bag of pork rinds.  He held L'il out in front of him.  "O.k., you little booger, I know what we'll do.  We'll call mom!"

Kelli hadn't let go of J.B.'s shirt the whole time he'd been standing and sitting and jumping up. "Momeeeeee," she whined, "I want my momeeeeee."

"You and me both," J.B. said.  That instant he saw Cyndra's cell phone lying on the kitchen countertop.  "What the f--k!  You dumb b---h.  Sorry, Kelli, daddy said a bad word - make that two bad words."  He swiped the Barbie doll onto the floor.  Kelli shrieked.  J.B. dropped down onto the couch with his daughter attached to his shirt.  He tried to think of how hot Cyndra had looked as she went out the door.  All it did was piss him off.  That's how she'd hooked him. That's how he'd landed in Marine housing in the middle of hell, drier than the sand around him, with a piss-stinking baby and a sobbing little girl for company.  "I'll never have sex again," he said to his kids.  They just kept stinking and sobbing. 

Mary Sojourner, M.A., is the author of She Bets Her Life: A True Story of Gambling Addiction (Seal Press/ April 2010) and Going Through Ghosts (U.Nevada Press, 2010).

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