About The Divorcer
The Divorcer: A Novel
Chapter 1: A Mutt and a Sphinx
“I’m thinking about your happiness.” He flashes a practiced smile, places a warm hand on the listener’s shoulder. “I’ve seen this a thousand times. All will be well.”
It only takes a moment for Cole Cavanaugh to reanimate a dribbling despondent into something resolute. And so it goes again. The resolute, Cole’s client, walks away with firm and free steps. Like a prisoner unshackled for the first time in years, ready to really witness a sunrise, to really breathe.
Selling futures. People futures. That was Cole’s job. The essence of it, anyway.
“Send the next one in, Clara.” One in, one out. All different and all the same. All that crap. People at the supposed nadir of their lives, whatever that life was or was meant to be.
“But maybe he’ll take me back,” the next one pleads.
“Oh he’ll take you back, but the other girls, he’ll keep them. You deserve better. You’ve earned better.”
“My church frowns on divorce,” cries the following. Pedestrian. Always a workaround.
“Look, I’m not a member of the Cloth, but God doesn’t want you unhappy.”
He has become an institution of his own to the denizens of Fort Worth, Texas. Not that he pays a great deal of mind to their opinions. He’s been called a necessary evil, plain evil, an emotional war profiteer. Whatever.
“Isn’t it a valuable institution? Worth preserving?” asks another. The invocation of the word institution snaps him back. He’s been drifting. It can be monotonous at times.
One in, one out.
He watches another striding out of his office, scribbles a few notes, sits back in his chair. A look at the clock. It’s one of the only items on his desk. He doesn’t want people wasting time, getting distracted by a picture of him holding a fish or a keepsake from a dearly departed ancestor. Time is the regulating principle, the baseline for his business. He looks again. Almost five. A few minutes until the last consultation of the day. A moment to think. He tries not to. Overrated.
It was not always so. Fifteen years ago, Cavanaugh was fresh out of Harvard Law, wide-eyed, a champion of the downtrodden. He had a small criminal law practice, defending the innocent, protecting the rights of the proletariat from whatever overweening hand held sway. Bright, attractive, chest pushed out at the ills of society. Why not?
A woman. That’s why not.
The woman. Her name was Elise Bennett. Gorgeous, erudite, fun at parties, good with his friends. She walks down the street and guys stumble into oncoming traffic staring at her. They date. Never an argument, never a disagreement on how many kids, where they’ll live, how big the ring should be. Nada. They get set for the big day. A marriage for the ages, to have and to hold a woman of his own. The woman.
Then it comes. He’s feeling proud. All his college buddies are patting him on the back, saying what a lucky boy he is, whispering not quite out of earshot how much they’d like to so on and so forth with her. He doesn’t mind. His thoughts are toward the altar, the launching pad into the perfect life. They walk out, a line of fresh-faced men, wait with nervous anticipation in front of eight hundred well-dressed attendees. Cole’s big brother Craig holds the ring in his sweaty hand, the trumpets blast out their march, and here she comes.
The dress is majestic. The veil is lifted. Beautiful as ever. She always will be. They come together, the preacher says whatever the preacher says: The Gospel of this, the Book of that. He can’t hear it. Then the perfect moment slows down. He says I do. Did she say I do? It’s starting to get weird. The gears of fate are grinding. She seems scared. Something stonier than mere nerves. A pall gathers over everything, from his shoulders to the balconies and right up into the vaulted ceiling. He clears his throat as moments becomes morass. To react or say anything at all would be an admission of defeat. Doesn’t matter. She never gives him the time.
Full sprint. Don’t know how much the dress cost but it’s ruined by the time she hits the door. He’s standing there, a frozen figure of fun. The consummate fool. Embarrassed isn’t the word. There is nothing in the lexicon for the utter disaster that is now his life.
Elise Bennett. The greatest thing to ever happen to him turned Great Destroyer.