I didn't have a clue. Not even a smidgen. One day I had a wife and the next day I didn't.
I got a call from my wife at work and she told me that her sister was in trouble and she had to go and help her. She told me that the kids were at my mothers and I would need to pick them up when I got off work. She told me she would talk to me later and then she hung up. I didn't get the usual "I love you" just the click of the phone being put in its cradle.
I didn't understand why I needed to pick up the kids up at my moms. The twins were fifteen and could have walked home from school so why were they at my moms which was twenty miles away? Oh well, I thought, I could get the answers when she called me latter.
It made even less sense to me when I drove to moms and found out that Janet had picked them up at school and had driven them to moms. That made no sense at all. It was only a ten minute walk from the school to our house and the twins were old enough to take care of themselves until I got home.
I asked the girls why their mom had brought them to their grandmothers and they told me that they didn't know. All she told them was that they needed to go to grandmas until I could pick them up. The girls did say that she seemed agitated over something and I put it down to her being worried about her sister.
When we got home I told the girls (Janice and Jessica) that we were on our own and to figure out what they wanted for dinner and I'd get started on it as soon as I changed out of my suit and tie. They told me that they would handle dinner and for me to sit down and relax.
The first inkling that I had that something was not right was when I went into the bathroom. Something was off. It just didn't seem right. It took a minute for it to register that none of Janet's things were there. Her hair dryer and curling iron weren't on the counter where they had always been. None of her cosmetics were there. I looked under the counter and saw that the shampoo and all of the other things she used were gone.
I went into our large walk in closet and found that her side was completely empty. A quick check of her dresser drawers showed that they were empty also. Concerned, I got on the bedside phone and called Janet's sister Jasmine. I found out that not only was Jasmine not in trouble of any kind, but that she hadn't spoken to Janet in over two weeks. Next I called Janet's parents and they told me that they hadn't talked to Janet all week. As I hung up the phone I had to accept the obvious. Janet had packed up and left.
I went all through the house looking in all the places where she might have left a note and found nothing. It finally occurred to me that Janet had taken the girls to my moms to buy her time to pack up and get out. My having to go from work to my mom's and then get home would have taken me an hour and a half. More if mom had asked us to stay for dinner.
I went on line and checked out our checking and savings accounts and found that she hadn't touched them. She had told me that she would call me later so all I could do was wait for her call.
The call didn't come.
At ten to eleven I accepted that the call wasn't going to come. I spent the next fifteen minutes on the computer and did some internet banking. I had no idea if Janet had overlooked the money in her haste to leave or didn't intend to touch it, but I was going to make sure that if it was an oversight on her part she was not going to be able to correct it. After moving funds around I got on the phone and cancelled every credit card she was on and then I went to bed.
I didn't sleep at all that night, but still, tired or not, I had things to do. I woke the girls up a half hour early and told them I was taking them out to breakfast before dropping them off at school.
Over breakfast at the Village Inn I told them everything that I had found and then said:
"It looks like your mother got tired of us and ran off and left us."
The two of them looked at each other and then Jessica said, "She has been acting funny for a couple of weeks. I wonder if that has something to do with it."
"Acting funny? How?"
"Stuff like hanging up the phone when we walk into the room. Not being home when we got home from school and maybe a half hour or so later coming home and rushing upstairs to take a shower. Twice she put the clothes she was wearing in the washing machine. No other clothes; just the ones she was wearing when she got home."
I doubt the twins knew it, but the behavior they had just described was the behavior of a cheating wife. And I hadn't a clue. What is it they always say? The husband is always the last to know?
I told the girls that we would have to make some changes. They were going to have to take over some of the things that their mother used to take care of. Cooking, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and things like that. I told them I would cook on weekends and be responsible for my bedroom and my home office. I softened things somewhat when I told them there would be a hefty increase in their allowances to go along with their increased responsibilities.
I dropped them off at school and then I drove downtown and was waiting at the bank when the doors opened. I took care of what I needed to do there and then I went into work. Not being one to let grass grow under my feet I got on the phone as soon as I sat down at my desk and called several friends who had gone through divorces. I got recommendations on divorce attorneys and then I called one and made an appointment.
Next I called Jasmine and filled her in on what I knew. I figured that sooner or later Janet would call her sister and I wanted to stay in touch with Jasmine so she would call me and fill me in on whatever she was able to find out. Next I called Janet's parents and brought them up to date and then I called my parents and filled them in on what was happening. My father suggested I go down to the police station and file a missing person's report just to cover my ass.
"The longer she stays gone and no one hears from her the more people will wonder if there wasn't some sort of foul play. Put the cops on it up front."
I saw the wisdom of that and I made it my next order of business. I used my lunch hour to go to the station where I was told I couldn't file a report for another twenty-four hours and that even then there wouldn't be much effort put forth in looking for her.
"See it all the time. Wife gets bored with her lot in life and takes off. They usually come back. We will send out notices to hospitals and other law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for her, but if there are no indications of foul play we have to assume that she just wanted to get away."
That was pretty much what I was thinking so it didn't really come as a surprise to me that Janet wouldn't be a high priority with them. But I had put them in the loop and that is all I was looking to do. I wasn't all that sure that I wanted to find her anyway. With what the kids told me added to the fact that Janet didn't have a car and so had to have help in moving her stuff convinced me that she had run off with another man. Why would I want her back?
Janet had been gone two days when I met with the attorney. Most of what I got from him wasn't encouraging. We lived in what was called a 'no fault' state and everything we had would be split fifty/fifty. The divorce would be expensive because we would have to find her to have her served. There were private investigative agencies that did that kind of work, but they were expensive. His best advice was for me to do nothing until she came back or let some one know where she was. Or let Janet do the divorcing and if she didn't after a year I could divorce her for abandonment. After careful thought that is what I decided to do.
The twins and I had another sit down meeting after I had talked with the attorney. I laid it out for them. We were on our own. The thing that was most surprising to me was that the twins didn't seem to care one way or another. It was a couple of months before I found out why.
It seems like over the past year their mother had been distancing herself from them. The connection that they once shared with their mother disappeared and they thought that they knew why. Janet was already making her plans to bail out on us.
A month went by and then two and no one heard from Janet. And then what my father had feared happened. Janet's Uncle Steve began making noises that his niece would never have just up and walked away like that and he pushed the police to look deeper into her disappearance, Uncle Steve's best friend was the Mayor so his pushing had some weight behind it.
The police dug and dug and they found nothing. I mean that literally. They got a warrant and some kind of ground reading radar and went over my back yard. They found readings that they didn't like in two places and they actually dug up parts of the yard. They found bones! Apparently the people that owned the house before us had a dog and a cat that had died and they had buried them in the backyard.
They interviewed the twins, all of Janet's relatives and my mother and concluded that Janet had taken off on her own. Uncle Steve wouldn't accept it and one day, after having several drinks to build up his courage, he came after me. He told me he knew I'd done something to his niece and he would beat it out of me if he had to. I turned my back on him and started to walk away and he hit me from behind.
.... There is more of this story ...