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Kitty's Saga Chapter Seventeen: Shame Below Circumstance

Her trip with Stafford had been the needed escape Kitty was looking for. She had almost forgotten the whole ordeal with Gavin or the miserable campus life that had haunted her mind prior. Gavin did not let on that he knew about them, but Kitty found it unlikely that he would not have seen his credit card statement reflecting the accommodations for two. Kitty had expected Gavin to try to act like his aloof usual self when she returned until the situation with the nanny was addressed in more detail within the family. Kitty though found that Gavin was especially callous toward her in their passing exchanges. He now treated her as an unwelcome fiend and not a former intimate partner at all. Kitty assumed that he wanted to try to be loyal to the nanny, who now hid from Kitty entirely. As for Opal, she was to move to her selected retirement home in the summer, but no longer continued her typical drop-ins at the condo, instead opting for Gavin to take Guy to see her at her apartment a few buildings away. Kitty would have graduated by then and Guy would be going into a private elementary school that fall. It was the end of an era for the Alton family. For a moment Kitty missed when she and Gavin were a close couple, but then she remembered they had never truly been close, only together. In the meanwhile, the days were a slow come down from all that had passed in Florida for Kitty, at least she had the memories of Stafford in Seattle to keep her warm at night.

By the time Kitty finished her master's in the summer, she had been already networking with Blair for some months. It was a good way for Kitty to fill out the grueling time at the condo waiting for things to finally line up for everyone to move on from the life that they had been used to. Kitty told the withdrawn Gavin over dinner about her glee at being hired as a managing staff member for the Langham. Gavin never one to be impressed let Kitty know in his disapproving way that he looked down on Kitty for not being a corporate employee for a major hotel chain. Kitty became frustrated that Gavin did not appreciate her achievements, big or small. She was glad that now Gavin could be with the nanny, therefore, giving him less time to belittle her anymore. Gavin went from a general lack of engagement with Kitty to becoming her biggest critic throughout their relationship. Kitty had thought about going to couples counseling with Gavin, but why? He would always be the man she saw as a source of money and never as anything more. Gavin was a stepping stone to an ambitious person like Kitty. Once Kitty realized this cruelty of her nature she did not look away from her cold-hearted self but enjoyed it. She had chased Gavin into the arms of the unaccomplished nanny and she looked down on Gavin for not being able to do better. She was satisfied with the outcome of shedding Gavin. Her only regret was the effects the dissolution of her relationship with Gavin would have on Guy.

Going back to working life for a hotel was a bit of an adjustment for Kitty. The hours of a manager made it difficult for her to spend as much time with Guy as she had before. It was empowering to be able to meet each challenge at work, it was also wince-inducing to see Guy frown when she had to go to work. The weekends were trying as well. Gavin was always on his phone with the nanny when she was off for the day. Kitty found it rude. She had always made a point to keep Stafford separate from their family time. Gavin did not know how to juggle his sexual relationship with the nanny apart from his responsibilities as a parent. Kitty found that after their trip together, Stafford had gone home to put all of his efforts into his marriage with Marnie. Kitty had no sympathy for Stafford's lipservice because she understood that no amount of love would pry Marnie out of her addictions. Stafford was in the ring alone, he could not fight for Marnie, and she was not bothering to show up. Kitty wanted more from Stafford for once, some commitment. Kitty wondered if she only now cared about Stafford because she was single for the first time in years. Kitty was well aware that Gavin had been an icebox when it came to the idea of love. It didn't help that Kitty could not force herself to be accepting of the man she never felt an attraction toward. Stafford was her fallback, but he was still no prize to be sought after. Stafford was rough and uncaring, a future with him was one involving unreliability and pointless arguing with an inflated ego.

Occasionally on the weekend, Kitty would drive all the way to see Pam. Not because she was interested in Pam's well-being, but because it was an excuse to avoid Gavin. By the time she had finished school, Pam was released from the halfway house only to be returned before Kitty had time to visit her as a free woman. Pam did not last so much as one week before she was caught buying drugs from an undercover officer. To make matters worse, Pam had resisted arrest and scratched a female officer's face badly, only adding to Pam's likely harsh future sentence. Kitty asked her why she did it when she visited Pam in jail later. Pam told her that Kitty maybe it was for the better that she remained in prison. Pam explained that she liked the world she was familiar with, gesturing to the prison walls. Kitty did not try to understand Pam, but she did acknowledge that Pam was living her life by her terms no matter how the world saw it, Pam was where she wanted to be. Kitty's only consolation about Pam's probable eternal incarnation was that Pam was unable to overdose as their parents had as long as she remained under the care of the penial system. Pam probably realized this about herself too somewhere along the line.

Less than one week after Opal was off to her retirement community, Gavin and the nanny moved into a townhouse together that he bought. Kitty was the last to know though due to her many trips out of town, until one day she came back and found that all of Gavin's things had been packed up and taken out. The only things at the condo now were Guy's things in his room and the furniture Gavin already had when Kitty moved in. Kitty wondered if he would marry the nanny soon. She was wounded that Gavin had never even considered marriage to her other than to talk his way out of it. Kitty may not have wanted to marry Gavin, but the thought of it being an option would have been a nice gesture. Gavin did leave Kitty one parting gift, naturally, it was not for her benefit, but to ensure that she could live nearby for Guy. She got to keep the condo. He texted his intention after he moved out before he arranged for a lawyer to put the deed in her name. It was a smidge ironic because now that Kitty was working more than ever, she was the owner of the place that she occupied the least, aside from stopping in to shower, sleep, and change her clothes. Guy almost exclusively stayed with Gavin and the nanny in Lincoln Park. Kitty felt more rejected than ever when she would visit her son. Opal's observation in the airport was now a reality as Guy would only address Gavin and no one else. The father and son co-dependency had become unhealthy, not that anyone could explain it to Gavin who was impressed with his relationship with the child as it was. Kitty feared Guy would grow up to be like Gavin and Opal, too close to function in social settings.

None of this stopped the routines that Kitty followed from day to day. Monday morning was going to be easy for Kitty. There were few last-minute bookings and no major events to handle. The schedule was perfect, no modifications were needed. Kitty came to her office with a fresh cup of iced chai in her hand from the coffee shop that had opened up across the street. Her desk had no notes begging for her attention from the weekend. Blair had two weddings between Saturday and Sunday. One an ever-popular Midsummer's Night Dream theme for a young couple's first wedding. The other is a Cinderella princess theme for a middle-aged woman's third wedding. Kitty giggled to herself that only Blair could work with the different wedding planners for weddings as tacky as those and still have faith in mankind. The smile was still plastered on her face when the concierge knocked on her office door, behind him were a detective and a police officer. Kitty took a deep breath hoping no one had died in the vicinity, she didn't want to be the face of a public scandal.

"How can I help you?" Kitty said to them. The detective introduced himself, before explaining that Marmara Gunderson had been in an accident over the weekend. "We are aware that you have had an ongoing relationship of a sexual nature with Mr. Gunderson for some time." The officer standing next to the detective folded his arms in seeming disapproval as the detective spoke staring at Kitty. The detective continued on saying, "We are here to inquire if you had any reason to believe that Mrs. Gunderson's injury was suspicious." Kitty, had a thousand thoughts racing through her mind, "Am I being accused?" "Is Stafford being accused?" "Did Stafford hurt Marnie?" Kitty after a moment answered, "I only know what you just told me. I talk to Stafford a few times a month at most. I do know he loves Marnie more than anyone else and no one would hurt her." She paused for a second before saying "If he or I am being accused of anything, I'm going to need to speak with a lawyer before I answer anything else." She realized how incredibly insensitive and damning her last statement sounded. They took their leave by saying that they respected Kitty's wishes, but did not leave town anytime soon. Kitty sat in her chair once more, all of her strength zapped out of her from that single exchange.

Kitty had to find out secondhand what had happened to Marnie in the months that followed. Milly, Stafford's mother eventually told Kitty by mail that Stafford came home from work to find Marnie at the bottom of the stairs not breathing. Kitty thought to herself that it sounded like a typical night of Marnie drinking while on polypharmacy of barbiturates gone wrong. No one knew how long Marnie had been in that state before Stafford found her. Marnie's prognosis was that she was in a vegetative state indefinitely. Stafford took the situation with his wife far worse than anyone could have expected. Kitty never wished harm on Marnie, they had been friends. She did wish for Stafford to leave her friend though because she saw what Marnie's addiction was doing to Stafford. He could never get Marnie to stop wanting the bottle over him and it took a toll on the man. The thing that scared Kitty the most was that her peers were no longer the young up-and-comers that they once were. Age was the bearer of bad news. Consequences were on the horizon for a lifetime of foibles. From here on out Kitty knew that old age was not guaranteed.


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