He stared at her until, feeling tears welling in his eyes, folding the sports jacket over his arm, lifting the suitcase he opened their bedroom door quietly. Tempted to look in at his children, but afraid of awakening them—walking down the five steps, going into the kitchen he put some cash onto the counter.
Hearing him, Mercy came up from her bed in the family room.
Stooping, taking her muzzle in both hands, “I love you, my puppy.” Choking up, he pressed the Dalmatian’s head to the side of his face.
Going to the hall closet, putting a winter jacket on and taking his overcoat, opening the front door quietly, Mitchell Lipensky left what had been his home.
Des Plaines/Skokie, Illinois
November 14, 1963
Waiting till she heard the closing of the front door, going downstairs, Marsha stood alongside the kitchen window watching as her husband opened the car door, pulled the seat back and placed the suitcase, his coat and sport jacked onto the rear seat.
Moving further to the side so he couldn’t see her, easily seen in the well lit driveway, Marsha looked at her husband as he looked back as, crying, thinking, Come back, Mitchell! Come back and admit it to me and tell me you love me more than her and that it’s over with her.
Knowing Marsha. Knowing his wife, knowing there was nothing he could say, adding to his fathomless sadness, a light, sleety rain was falling.
Mitchell stood alongside the Ford convertible looking at the dark window of what had been his kitchen, thinking, Go back! Go back and save your family! However knowing how easily Marsha’s anger could and would erupt, and also knowing there was nothing… there would be nothing he could say or do that would or could reverse what had happened. Sighing, swiping his hands over his face and damp eyes, getting into the car, starting the motor he backed the Ford out of the assigned parking space, put the car into “D” and drove through the community driveway.
Mitchell gone, taking a pain pill before returning to bed, thinking…
Recalling the times she had left Mitchell. Thinking of her justifications for leaving Mitchell, thinking…
With the exception of that first time in the first year of their marriage when she had purposely goaded Mitchell into slapping her so she might justify flying to Chicago the next day, thinking…
Of their three separations, in the mind of Marsha Lipensky, the first was the only—though Marsha would never admit this to her husband or anyone else—the first separation was the only of the three that she took full credit for.
Thinking, Marsha lay staring at the ceiling until a square of light appeared behind the drapes and she heard the awakening sounds of thirteen month old Samuel.
Hating what she had to tell her children. Hating the thought that she and her marriage had become a statistic, wearily leaving the bed that had been hers and her husband’s, putting a robe on, Marsha Lipensky went into her baby’s bedroom.
Unwilling to sit at the curb in front of the home of his parents until they awoke, needing time to pull his thoughts together, Mitchell drove to the A&P in downtown Skokie.
The light sleet gone—sounding as the staccato rattle of drumsticks on a drum—marble sized hail pounded the canvas top as the Ford parked among the cars of the overnight stocking personnel.
Turning the lights and motor off, his mind in turmoil, thinking…
A touch of déjà vu, his mind went to another unbearably depressive rainy day in May of 1957 when, coming home from work he had found that Marsha had packed his clothing into cartons leaving them on the floor in the middle of the living room with that terrible note telling him to “Get out.”
His mind went to yet another terrible day—less than a year later—in April of 1958 when Marsha took his baby and disappeared… Just disappeared!
Thinking that even now, even after five continual years of being together, Mitchell was still at a loss regarding Marsha’s rational for their separations. Except, of course, for the first separation within the first year of their marriage when he had slapped her. That separation, Mitchell took full responsibility for.
The temperature within the car lowering, turning the motor and heat on…
Then on again.
His mind spinning, spinning, until…
Hail gone, pouring now, parking as close to the phone booth as possible…
At the sink brushing her teeth, Who could that be? Glancing at the Baby Ben on the shelf above the sink—‘6:02’ Thinking, Who’d call now? Spitting the foam in the sink, grabbing a towel, wiping her mouth on the way. “Hello.”
Never hearing from him this early, “Mitchell?”
“Hi, baby. Hope I didn’t wake you.”
Hearing the tone of his voice, “What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong?” she repeated.
“I’m out of the house.”
Not sure she heard right, “What? And what’s that noise?”
“I’m calling from a phone booth in Skokie and it’s pouring like crazy, and I said that I left my house.”
“Of course you wouldn’t call from home.” Becoming slightly annoyed. “And why so early?”
“I told Marsha that I love you.”
Quiet, absorbing what he had said, “You told your wife that you love me?” she questioned.
Without saying how it came about. “Yeah, baby. I told her that I love you and she told me to get out. So I packed a bag and I’m in Skokie, calling from outside the A&P.”
“My God, Mitchie!” Her heart jumping. “Where are you going to stay? Come here, why don’t you! I’ll make breakfast and we can figure it out.”
“Thanks, baby. But I’m going to talk to my folks after we hang up… Look, I’ve a nine-thirty appointment with Sinclair that I can’t miss, but I’d love to see you when I’m done.”
“This is unbelievable, Mitchie!” Stretching the phone cord, walking to the window, she twisted the blinds open. “You really did it!”
Feeling no joy in this, “Yeah,” he said softly, “I really did it.”
Hearing the sadness in his voice. “I love you so much, baby, and can’t wait till we’re together! But your kids? How are they going to take this? How are you taking this?”
“Sammy’s too young to realize, and maybe even Ellie because she’s only two and a half, but Mikey’s over five and he’ll take it very badly. But,” rationalizing, “maybe in the long run it’ll be for the best; not having to listen to Marsha and me argue all the time.”
“And you, baby? How are you taking this?”
“It happened so suddenly that I’m still a little numb. But, Liz, you know how much I love you and how much I’ve… we’ve prayed for a way for us to be together. So I guess now we can.”
“No guessing about it, mister!” Her hand flat upon her chest, feeling the beating of her heart. “We will be together… forever!”
Elizabeth and me together, forever! His mood brightening slightly. “With you, baby, ‘forever’ sounds just fine with me!”
“I love you, Mitchie,” her voice catching, “and can’t wait to say, ‘I do.’”
Can this really be happening? “Me, too, honey,” he said. “I can’t wait either.”
Quiet a moment. “Our jobs, Mitch? Think we’ll lose our jobs over this?”
“No, I don’t think so. She said I’ll be needing money, lots of money to support her and the kids so… At least that’s what she said; that she won’t call Transco.”
“That’s good, baby, that’s real good!”
“Yeah, it’s going to be real hard, you know, supporting two homes.”
“Mitch,” she said emphatically, “I work, too, you know! I’m paying rent here and I’ll keep paying the rent here! And with both of us working money’s not going to be all that much of a problem. Don’t worry, Mitchie we’ll get along just fine!”
“Thanks, Liz. You don’t know how much I appreciate hearing you say that! But you'n'me, we’re going to want our own family one day, and…”
Recalling the arguments with her ex-husband, “Mitch,” she said assertively, “I’m in no hurry to have a kid so, please, don’t worry about it!”
In all of their discussions Elizabeth had never mentioned the desire or showed the slightest interest in giving birth to a child of her own—of their own.
But now that that discussion was in the process of becoming fact? But now that marriage was a forthcoming actuality?
“Know what? It’s starting to snow and I’ve nothing important to do downtown, so I think I’ll hang around home today. So, yeah, when you’re done with Sinclair, come right here!”
“Thanks, honey.” Opening the accordion door, looking skyward at the heavily falling snow, “I really need to be with you today!”
“I know, baby, and I want you with me today… Drive carefully, okay!”
“Yeah, I’ll take the El downtown…. Bye, Liz.”
Though having a key, not wanting to walk in on his folks at 6:15 in the morning, ringing the bell…
…He heard the clatter of nails and paws on the linoleum floor, then the swishing sound of a long tail along with excited panting and, as the door was opened, stopping for a quick perfunctory pet, Cricket ran past Mitchell to urinate in the mounting snow.
Holding her robe closed, glancing skyward at the falling snow then at “Mitchell,” taken back at seeing her son this early in the morning, “what are you doing here?”
“Marsha and me,” coming right to the point, “we’ve broken up.”
“Marsha and me, we’ve broken up.”