The following is fiction and not to be taken seriously. It has no graphic sex but a very adult theme. You have JMC, who wrote and volunteered, to thank that most if not all the grammatical mistakes have been fixed. Please write and tell me what you think. Good and bad, I love to hear from the readers. As to the voting, I don't pay any attention.
The bridge was neither long nor wide. A simple wooden structure spanning the narrow but deep gap between the disappointments of the past and the uncertain future. To introduce myself, I am Lyle Jedermann, now thirty-eight years of age. A man formerly distinguished from other men only as the husband of Gloria, thirty-six, and the father of Robert, age twelve, and Anna, age eight. A very satisfying family situation but having a weighty set of obligations. To meet my obligations as a husband and father, I had been working for Countryman Real Estate for five years before Gabriel Zilo purchased the company from Bernie Schleifer.
Real estate was not my original career, or even my preferred choice. I began my working life after graduating from Law School. I was by then married to Gloria for three years. She was pregnant as I exited Law School. It was not a very promising job market for young lawyers, but Gloria's pregnancy gave me a strong incentive to find a job capable of supporting a family.
My first job offered was working for a law firm that specialized in representing banks in closing residential home loans. It wasn't the job I had dreamed of but it was a job. While I was at Law School, Gloria had slaved away as a bank teller to support us both. She had earned enough to pay the rent and put food on our table. I worked a few part time hours doing whatever I could get, to supplement her income. Loans and scholarships paid my tuition. But I had indentured my future to the Department of Education. With Gloria decidedly pregnant at my law school graduation, I took the job that was offered. It was but the first of many concessions to the strict requirements of married life.
Back in those ancient days, banks lent money to individual home buyers to purchase houses. Looking back, it was a gentleman lawyer trade. I sat at a house closing table to represent a lending bank on the closing of a mortgage. The buyer paid the bank a fee of around $500.00 for my services. The law firm received that amount plus another $500 from the title insurance company. All told a nice thousand dollars earned every time we shook hands at the end of a home closing. The firm, of course, received the money and I got a minuscule proportion of it as salary.
I guess all good things must end and honest avarice must be replaced by the bad and the purely greedy. All too soon after my wife, Gloria gave birth to our second child, the little banks were swallowed by the large banks who were in turn consumed by the big banks. Retail loans became a thing of the past. Banking became a wholesale trade. Everything was scaled up to an industrial level. I came to work every morning to find a stack of files for home loans that were to be closed that day.
I assume the profits were enormous but running between rooms where simultaneous house closings were taking place left me with a disturbing feeling that things could not continue at such a rate. Seven years into my legal career I had advanced, not to a partnership, but to the eminent status of a private contractor. I earned my income on a piecework basis. At $75 per closing I earned a good income, when you consider I closed seven or eight loans a day, five and sometimes six days a week. But could this last? I had this nagging feeling of impending doom.
Bernard Schleifer approached me. Bernie, as he preferred to be called, was looking for what he termed a smart kid with a law degree to join his company. His principle contract closer was retiring to the Sunbelt just when Bernie was looking to expand.
Bernie's Company, Countryman Real Estate, held the deeds to the Scarlet woods development. This development was a hundred approved sites, with a site plan proposing four hundred more. It was two miles from the Tech Park with the International Foundries chip plant. Two thousand high tech jobs were on the drawing board and Bernie was ready.
Schleifer was a builder/developer. He was not a salesman or a financier for the small scale. If you needed to raise a couple million by selling a banker your development dream, then Bernie was your man. But he could not sell a housewife on adding real stone counter tops or her husband on a variable rate mortgage.
Oddly when Bernie and I got together it was a perfect fit. I loved the home sales, and I was a details man. It was all those paper shuffling closings. I had also learned the value of profit centers from my former employers. I sold Bernie on the value of owning his own title company, home insurance agency, movers, gardeners, and you just name it. We quickly became a full services agency with a single purpose. Our function was to sell more homes and to get everything we could from all that goes with them.
Bernie started building and doing it in a big fast way. I ran the office and everything else. Bernie did the big deals and I the small. He made the big money and I was his well-paid employee. He saw the crash coming. Bear Stearns was the tip of an iceberg. Lehman Brothers Investment Bank was the ship that actually struck the iceberg.
The day the roof caved in Bernie was smiling. "What goes up must come down, but real estate will always go up again. If we can survive this in reasonable shape, we'll be set for a great expansion."
Bernie bet the market would come back. I buckled down and squeezed out every nickel which he then invested in a bigger, better Countryman Real Estate. Bernie had only one problem with this - he was a big fish in a small pond, and he wanted to go swim in the ocean.
One evening over an after work drink he delivered the news.
"I've sold out," he said.
"Take it easy. The new owner will make no changes. At least not right away."
Bernie was right again. When I met Gabe Zilo, my first impression was of his youth. He was not yet thirty and had managed to buy Bernie out. He had both height and youth on me, and he was a handsome blond Adonis. The very image of a boy wonder business superstar. I guess I should have been jealous of the younger man but he was too charming and affable to resent. He was also great to work for.
Bernie was a man in his late fifties. He was ambitious but he was essentially cautious. In contrast, Gabe loved putting it all out there. Everything on the line, all the time. It was apparent from the beginning that his deal to buy Countryman Real Estate had stretched Gabe's resources. Gabe was more finance than a builder, more manager than a salesman. He loved the quick buck and, as the real estate market came back, his gamble on Countryman was clearly paying a dividend.
Bernie was taking off for Florida, the big casino of the real estate game. I wished him luck on the night before he left.
"Come with me kid," he said.
"No, because I'm no kid anymore. I have a wife and two pre-teens to support," I said.
"Ok, but some day you may live to regret it."
I hoped not, but I did check the job market. What was left of my old firm was not much. Steven Pender, one of the younger partners, had managed to hold on through the crash. He was happy to hear from me, but he was paying a third of what I now made. So I put my nose to the wheel to make sure that Countryman stayed afloat. But all in all, I was happy working for Gabe, as we called him. He treated me well and let me pretty much run the day to day of the office. Did I have my doubts about him? Yes, but the only grievance I had with my boss was minor.
Bernie's never sprang for a formal company Christmas party. Gabe went to the opposite extreme. He hired one of the plusher Saratoga resort venues. Admittedly in their offseason, but still at considerable expense. The ensuing party on the first Saturday night in December was for the staff, the contractors, bankers, and realtors. It was a big plush party, and one heavily attended.
Gabe presided over it like a King. Well, it was his money and maybe there was a legitimate business purpose to all of it. My grievance came about midnight but had been building all night. You see I had arrived with the hottest woman in the place on my arm.
I married Gloria straight out of college. We were both barely twenty-two. She worked at a meaningless job to support us all while I was in Law School. I will be eternally grateful for that, but she sprang the pregnancy on me. Going off the pill as, I studied for the bar exam. The pregnancy may have been for the best in the long run. We were good parents and we still are.
As I struggled closing houses, Gloria raised our toddlers and went nights to get her Ph.D., in child psychology. When our youngest child went back to school, Gloria went back to work. She found a job with the State DSS. She also began what I now refer to as her running career.
Gloria was what might be called plump. She was only fat if you compared her to some starving runway model. But at thirty, she went from two days a week swimming at the YWCA pool and running only after our kids to the loneliness of the long distance runner.
Each morning my wife rose early to do five miles cross country. Each evening she would do a half hour of sprints. She has the best times of any of the local women runners. Only the national competitors beat her times in the local 5K and 10K races. She has been three times to the New York City Marathon finishing in the top one hundred women.
I'm no couch potato. I hit the gym, at least three times a week, and try to get a twenty-mile bike in on the summer weekends. But I have more than 5% body fat, and I do not have a body that appears to have been sculptured by Michelangelo. I had supported Gloria in the efforts she had made. I watched her rise before dawn, and return covered in sweat as I woke the kids. I was proud of my wife.
So when I walked into the Christmas party with this tall raven haired beauty on my arm, the conversation eased and people turned to see, Gloria the spectacular. She was just over 6'2" in her three-inch heels just my height. Her raven hair fell to her shoulders. When she runs, she braids it into a ponytail that flaps provocatively behind her. That night it shimmered in the ballroom lights.
Gloria had gone all out for the party. She had on a new form-fitting black dress. The scalloped dress showed just the hint of her cleavage and was immodestly short to show her fabulously long runners legs. That dress made sure you noticed her flat stomach and her sculptured ass. She was an object of warm-blooded art. My wife was no longer the plump girl. She was the beautiful woman on my arm.
Gabe lost no time in greeting us and stealing Gloria away to dance. While I will admit they made a lovely couple, he is taller and fitter than I, his attention seemed to be pushing the foul line. He stepped over just before midnight with a passionate kiss under the mistletoe.
I am not a jealous man. Yes, I have a hottie for a wife, but I trust her. We have been through a lot of hard times together, those Law School years, raising the kids, paying school loans. We had been through illness including a miscarriage. I pity couples who have never struggled together. I believe it is the difficult times that bring you together and make your marriage strong. Gloria and I had suffered together, and we loved each other.
Gloria had been drinking and clearly enjoying the attention. I put it down to that. I retrieved my wife and took her home. Nothing more was said, and she acted like nothing had happened. Just too much drink I told myself.
Six months later it was Memorial Day weekend. The half year had been good in real estate. Countryman's numbers were way up. The last week in May had been the hottest market in a decade. The company operating account was flush with cash from home sales all due to be wired transferred out the first business day of June. We cleared the checks and then electronically paid the banks when the office opened after the three-day weekend.
"You coming to camp for the weekend?" Gabe asked.
Gabe had rented an Adirondack mountain lodge for the Memorial Day weekend. He had talked of nothing else for weeks. His invitation was for Gloria and me, but it was something I wanted to avoid.
"Don't know what Gloria's plans are," I said trying to put him off.
"Oh, she's on board. Looking forward to it."
I gave him a quizzical look.
"We spoke on the phone," he hurriedly said.
Why didn't I believe him? But after he left, I called Gloria, and Yes, she was very enthused. I suppose that was the last moment to stop the train wreck. But I just didn't see it, I both loved and trusted Gloria.
Mapquest told me the ride up to Gabe's place would be no easy slog. I drove my Honda accord to the rental place and checked out a four-wheel drive SUV. The map said the last twenty miles was on mountain roads and the last three a dirt track. I have been in the Adirondacks before. They can be a brutal set of mountains.
Gabe's place was South West of Saranac Lake. The drive took almost four hours. The GPS reached only as far as the last five miles. We came off the County road onto two lonely miles of semi-paved road ending in a wooden bridge.
The bridge was narrow but looked sturdy. Recently repaired, it crossed a ravine. The gap was not very wide, but it was deep. This type of topography is common in the Adirondacks. The difficult terrain is the reason it has remained wild.
I crossed the bridge slowly wondering if there was another alternate way out although the GPS map showed none. I had the feeling of a mouse entering a trap. I wondered if there was a cat about.
Three miles further on the rutted unpaved road, we arrived at a two-story lodge house. It was built in a meadow on the mountainside about a thousand feet below the peak. Looking to the north, a dozen Adirondack mountains were visible. We had reached a remote spot where what was intended to appear to be a rustic lodge house had been built.
I pulled the SUV into a well-maintained parking area next to three comparable if much more expensive looking vehicles. Everything looked new and meticulously maintained. The lodge itself was one of those modern log structures that only look rustic. They are modern architecture with a traditional facing. I big comfortable modern building pretending to be a nineteenth century mountain retreat.
Rich was the impression intended. Gabe had once again gone overboard to impress. I had no doubt who he was seeking to impress, and it was not me. They greeted us on the broad porch with its Adirondack chairs and accompanying décor. There were six of them in all, three young men, Gabe and two of his college friends. Ken Lewis was the shortest about 5'10' but built like a weight lifter. He was in his late twenties like Gabe. Ken was beginning to bald and not as handsome of face as Gabe, but physically he was rippled with muscles that showed through his tight tee-shirt and cargo shorts.
Glen Sachs was the second college chum. About six feet tall with a lean body and curly blond hair, better looking than Ken. He stood with his arm tight around a blond woman. She was introduced as Sharon. She was a good looking woman with a lot of curves and an ample bust. She had to be at least late thirties maybe more. A good eight to ten years older than Glen.
A slightly younger woman, named Robin, was standing next to Ken and clearly with him. She was a short bubble brunette in her early thirties and very well put together with breasts that looked a size too big for her small frame. The last member of the party was a tall woman with long auburn hair. This was Paula Henry, and she was one of those women you describe as handsome for lack of a better word. Definitely female with attractive but sharp not entirely feminine features. She had an appearance that said she was smart. She knew it, and you better too. Of the women, she was clearly the youngest and was a school friend of the boys.
Everyone was very friendly and overly happy that we had, "MADE IT." But the whole greeting was off center. Gabe was clearly welcoming my wife with me as an afterthought, and his friend Paula was fixing me with the stare that you might give a lab animal before you dissect it.
They had held dinner for us. So we made only a quick bag drop at the second-floor bedroom room we had been allotted. Our little suite was right next to the master suite that Gabe occupied. We all took seats in the great room. A massive forty by forty-foot living room, dining room, and playroom combination. Here at the big oak table, we feasted on prepackaged microwave dinners of the gourmet variety. The food was good if low effort, and expensive. Wine had been provided in great quantities.
I watched my drinking as much as you can when your host is attempting to constantly refill your glass. After dinner, the now convivial group adjourned to sit by the gas fire pit on the terrace. There the hard liquor and marijuana came out. This was clearly to be a weekend of booze and mild drug use. It was by careful interrogation and sharp observation that I began to investigate my situation.
On first appearance, I was on a casual holiday weekend with my boss, his two friends and their dates. However, it seemed more contrived than that. It took only a few minutes to discover that Robin had a fiancé somewhere but not here and that Sharon was married with two kids and a husband at home. Sharon and Robin worked together and were supposedly at a health spa together having a girls only weekend. The infidelity was treated casually and as a matter of humor.
Paula kept giving me the eye, and she did not seem to fit this group. You might think that she was with Gabe, but she took no offense to his openly flirting with my wife. He was actually sitting between Gloria and Paula most of the night. Gabe kept talking mostly to Gloria. My efforts to engage Paula in conversation were met with polite interest only. She was sending me signals not to try and start anything.
About Midnight, I could feel that the pleasantly buzzed partiers were ready to adjourn to the bedrooms to complete the evening's festivities. But they were waiting for something.
Suddenly Gabe turned to me and said, "Lyle you must be tired after the long drive."
"Yes dear, why don't you go up to bed and I will join you in a bit," my Gloria said.
"Hell, not before I have another drink," I said grabbing the bottle, "unless you are saving it, Gabe."
I gave him a smile as I said this but I was internally cursing this pig who was trying to seduce my wife. I was also wondering what Gloria was playing at. She had fallen in with him all night like she had at the Christmas party. Could she be infatuated? Was my wife of sixteen years crushing on my boss?
It was a waiting game that night but one I won. Eventually, Gloria left for the bedroom with me.
In the room allotted to us, Gloria slipped into the shower alone. I did not try to join her. There seemed no point. She was acting a little cool toward me. When she came out of the shower, I slipped past her to take my own. I expected to find her beneath the covers when I came out, but she was sitting nude on the end of the bed.
"Please," she said patting the bed next to her.
As I sat down, she turned to me and said," I want to have fun this weekend. Life has been rough for us. But I've worked very hard, and I think I deserve a break."
"I have no problem with that. You have been a great wife and mother through times that have not been easy. You put me through Law School and raised kids on my meager salary while going back to school. You struggled to earn the great body you have, and you still contribute more than your share to our household. I'm proud to be your husband."
In response, she bent and took my cock into her mouth. Gloria was never big on blow jobs. Getting oral sex yes, but not giving. That night she took her time to give me pleasure and asked nothing in return.
The morning light, streaming through the undrawn blinds of the large bedroom window, woke me. Normally, Gloria would have been up well before me getting in her morning run. But her liberality with the alcohol and pot the night before was having its effect. I drew the blinds as I got out of bed hitting the small en-suite bathroom with its stall shower. It was a small bedroom but more than adequate in its amenities.
I was showered, shaved, and downstairs before anyone else. I decided to inspect my surrounding before the others got out of bed. I crossed from the great room onto the patio with its fire pit and built in outdoor barbecue. The patio continued into a raised deck area that held a small pool and sauna. Open water seemed a risky proposition in spring in these notoriously cold mountains, but as I reached the deck, I realized the whole complex was heated. A higher slope of the mountain was covered in solar panels. The pool area was thereby heated and probably the house as well.
Passing through the deck area, I came to what was a small barn. It contained no animals but was filled to capacity with ATV's, Snowmobiles, and gardening equipment including several small tractors. As I walked past this building I could hear a small stream in the distance. The stream was about twenty yards beyond a locked shed with a small flue in its roof. Looking inside the one small window, I saw a generator and fuel barrows. Thus was stored the gas for the power sports and a generator for emergencies.
Someone had thought of everything. The place was an isolated world unto itself. It was apparently ready for any eventuality. The stream was small and shallow. I thought too small for fish until I saw one jump clean out of the little stream.
"Do you fish?" said the voice from behind me.
Startled I turned to find Paula behind me.
"No, but I did when I was younger and had more time."
"Pity, it might give you something to do this weekend."
"Do you fish?"
"No, like you—no time. How about some breakfast and a walk up the mountain? Seems a waste to come all this way and never reach the top," she said.
Paula had put the coffee on in the stainless steel brewer. The kitchen larder was stocked with ready to microwave breakfast. I opted for instant Oatmeal as did my companion. No one else was up.
"They will probably all sleep late. How about that hike," she said smiling.
Paula apparently knew right where the trail started for she led us right to it. The summit did not seem all that far, but an hour later it seemed just as far as when we started.
"You sure you want to go to the top?" I asked.
"Why? You going to wus out old man," she said.
"Just wondering what the others will think when they don't find us."
"Don't worry, I doubt out absence will be a concern."
We finally reached the top, and I would guess from the sun being almost directly overhead it was close on Noon.
The mountain top was a bit of a disappointment. It was a fairly flat area with rounded edges. Two ancient wooden benches had been set looking east, back toward the lodge and a collection of peaks to the south and the east. A haze dampened the long view although the air felt crisp and clean. At mid-day, there was a cool breeze, but nothing uncomfortable.
My companion took a seat apparently determined to enjoy what there was of a view.
"You don't mind?" she said, "I would like to rest for the trip down."
"No, the old man could use a break," I said.
This earned me a smile.
"So Glen is a broker, Ken a banker, and Gabe, a developer, but we spoke all night, and I never heard what you do?"
She gave me an appraising look. Apparently decided what the harm.
"I'm a regulator. I work for the government, low pay and very boring," she said.
"You ever regulate anyone we know?"
"Oh, not lately. When we were in college, it seemed, I was always needed to help the guys out. You know cover for them with the angry girlfriend or provide crib sheets for exams. They've always been out there on the edge. It's what makes them who they are. You know exceptional young men."
"So that's your job? You cover up for them?"
"What's the good of closing the barn door after the horse is out. It won't help getting the horse back. Regulations only hold things back. Better the bright people get a hand up, and the rest get pushed to the side to make way. It's best, in the long run, everyone benefits according to their merits."
"So what's your function this weekend. You didn't seem into the party last night," I said.
She paused as if the question had caught her off guard. I stood and walked to one side where I could see the road that led down the mountain. There was no other road only the one way out, the single exit. I turned looked hard at Paula. Had she even thought of this. The others were I realized in a moment of gestalt completely blind to everything but their own physical appetites. But was she? Clearly, she was looking. She must see the problem same as me?
"I'm just here as the designated sober person, I guess. Making sure that all goes well. That nothing untoward happens. Any problems get diverted. I don't want to interfere unless absolutely necessary."
"You mean unless the golden boys need you."
"I don't think I would put it that way, but certainly you can see what's best for them is best for everyone in the long run."
"Should we go back down?" I asked.
"What's the hurry the way back will be faster."
"Yes, fast but steep and maybe dangerous. You can fall hard."
"Why worry, when you are on top," she said but rose and started walking down.
We arrived at the lodge without incident, but my bad feelings had increased.
We found the others at the pool. My wife in a black bikini, I had never seen. Her body was shockingly exposed by the brief expanse of material. The other women were little better. As Paula and I approached, I saw my wife sit in Gabe's lap and give him a deep sensual kiss.
"We're back," Paula called causing Gabe and Gloria to break the kiss.
Gabe smirked like a bad little boy having been caught stealing cookies but knowing he will not be punished.
My wife's smile was too broad and obviously false, "Hi where you been," she said as if she were talking to some casual friend.
There was an awkward silence following that. I could feel my fists clenching. But just then Paula grabbed my arm.
"Well, we obviously missed lunch and since we hiked to the top of the mountain we deserve some food," Paula said as she dragged me off toward the lodge.
I could hear a little-muffled laughter as we left the pool area. I don't know what Paula made to eat. If I ate, I don't remember. She forced a Johnny Walker Black on me. It was straight and burned my throat.
"Think before you act," she said, "this is just one weekend in a good marriage, and you have a family to think about."
When we returned to the pool area, the couples had adjourned to the Jacuzzi. The men were laughing the women giggling. My wife was still in Gabe's lap. I couldn't see his or her hands beneath the water, but I assumed they were both busy. A joint was being passed, and it was clear everyone was high. Paula took a seat where she could watch and where she was positioned between the Jacuzzi and me.
I made a great showing of getting another drink and then walked pointedly away. I dumped the drink when I was out of sight. It is an odd feeling, jealousy mixed with arousal. I was proud of my wife in one way and very disappointed in another. She had worked very hard and long to make herself over from the chubby girl I married. She was now a beautiful athletic woman and rightly desired.
I took pride in the fact that men wanted nothing more than to slip into the embrace of her strong and loving arms. But what had happened to her soul while she built that fabulous body? Seeing her with Gabe was oddly sexual. I could envision those perfect bodies joined in intercourse. A nightmare vision at once terrible and arousing.
I wandered the Lodge grounds making sure of how things were situated. Killing time and dreading where things seemed to be headed. Realizing that ultimately I might need to be in full possession of my faculties. I went to our bedroom deliberately forcing myself to try to sleep.
As I lay trying to quiet my thoughts the question of why my wife of sixteen years was flirting and kissing another man would not let me rest. We had been through so many hard times together, our early poverty, illnesses that struck the children, and the never ending grind of making ends meet on a middle-class budget. We had just started to climb to a secure and comfortable place. The kids were reaching that age where they could care for themselves.
My wife had a good if modest career. I was now making good money after so many lean years. Our debts were in hand, and our future bright. Why throw that away for a man as shallow and vain as Gabe Zilo. Beneath the charm and the brash bravado, there was nothing. Strip away the bright exterior and there was nothing beneath.
Gabe never developed a site plan, build a home, or worked a sale. He was the head of a business others ran. He was the money man, the rich kid. The wunderkind coming from nowhere, whose only asset was a self-created image. What was Gloria thinking? She had said that she just wanted to have some fun this weekend. Was this the fun and where did it end?
I did sleep, and when I came down stairs again they had moved into the great room. Dinner must have come and gone. The drink was still flowing as the joints were passing around. Gloria was back in Gabe's lap. There was no pretense that they were not making out. The bikini tops were off on all the women including Paula, who seemed to be sharing Ken with Robin.
I walked right through the room headed for the kitchen and food. I was microwaving a dinner when Gloria came in.
"How you doing?" she said.
"I've been better," I said.
She seemed to hesitate and then she let me have it.
"I'm spending the night with Gabe," she said.
"I've noticed," I said as the microwaved dinged.
She gave a kind of funny smile as I turned to the microwave.
"No, I mean in his room tonight."
I stayed very still. I had my back to her. It was important that she did not see the pain she was causing me at that moment.
"I see, and our sixteen years of marriage?"
"That's why I can do this. It's just for the weekend. Next week I'll be all yours again," she said.
"Oh, and Gabe won't mind?"
She wrapped her arms around me from behind while burying her head in my back, "of course not, silly. Gabe likes you. He says you two are going places together. This is just a fling. A little fun for the weekend..."
"Ok?" she said, this last was punctuated with a hug.
"Do I have a choice?" I said.
"Not really, it's decided. I'm just telling you, so you know," she said.
She let go, and I heard her leave the kitchen. I walked to where the kitchen looked out into the great room. They were already at the stairs. As they ascended, Gabe looked back. He gave me a grin and a thumbs up like we were in it together. He said something into Gloria's ear, and she turned and gave me a wave and a smile.
I turned back to the kitchen. Apparently all we had been through together meant nothing. My wife had forsaken and humiliated me. I threw away the microwave meal. Instead, I made coffee - it was going to be a long night. As the water boiled, I heard someone enter the kitchen.
I turned to find Paula watching me.
"I wouldn't have expected caffeine. Wouldn't alcohol be more appropriate?" she said.
"To each their own," I said. "But tell me what is your function here?"
In response, she shrugged, "I try to help out. See things remain calm."
"How are you going to do that? Sleep with me."
She laughed, "No, I don't go that far, but cheer up you'll get your wife back and maybe a bonus."
"So," I said, "there's money involved."
"Isn't there always. You can't make a fuss because you work for the man. You have a family to consider. What can you do but take what you are given? It's their world, not yours. It's just the way of things."
There was a sharp scream of pleasure from upstairs.
"She seems to be having a good time," Paula said smirking.
"Well, that's fine. A pleasant weekend for all in the mountains ... You know these rocks have been here a long time. Our existence is just a blip to them. Thousands of years ago they were covered in thick layers of ice that scoured them and cut the streams and the gorges that we now must bridge to make our world livable.
"We sometimes forget just how precarious our existence is. Take away one little piece and our world falls in. It is only then we see what an illusion it is."
Paula laughed, "My God, you're a philosopher!"
"No, just a man who is aware enough to know what is important. Trying to separate the real and eternal from the illusions."
She must have decided that I would cause no problem for she left me to my coffee and my pain.
Around 1 a.m., I climbed the stairs. As I passed the door to the master bedroom, I could hear my wife's loud cries and moans of pleasure. She had always been very quiet in our love making, but I guess he was better. He was younger and had far more stamina. A better lover all around. I assumed my wife had found the fun she was searching for in his bed.
I took a shower then redressed in my warmest clothing. It would be cold outside. I tried to ignore the noise coming through the walls as I waited. It was past 3 a.m. when the stillness finally settled over the house. I gave it another thirty minutes and then crept downstairs.
In one of the kitchen cupboards, I found a flashlight and candles with matches. A necessary precaution, I assumed for when the power was cut by a harsh reality.
The night was truly dark out, the moon having set. You could hear the night sounds of the mountain, but they seem to be silence itself to a city dweller. I found the barn without difficulty and a twenty-gallon plastic gas can used to bring fuel to the motorsports. I also found a lug wrench. The generator shed door had a padlock but the hinge mechanism was rusted. The wrench made short work of it. The lodge proprietors had provided a good hand worked siphon to pump the gas.
It took not ten minutes to fill the can with gas. It took a few minutes longer to walk around the lodge building to where my rented SUV was parked. I put the gas in the back, removed the hand brake and put the truck into drive. I let it roll as far as it would go down the road before I started it and drove away.
I slowed as I approached the bridge. I navigated carefully across it. When I reached the macadam road, I stopped. I took my time and made sure the gas soaked into the wood of the bridge. It was a well-made and sturdy structure. It was something carefully made, the work of experienced builders, craftsmen who made things. People of substance had installed the bridge so those who live off the sweat of others could have a fun weekend.
The fun was about to end. I dropped a match. It sputtered, then it caught. A finger of flame rose as I moved back. A roaring blast of heat and fire followed shortly. I heard the crackle as the wood of the bridge as it caught the fire. The flames must have been visible for miles. I turned to my vehicle and drove off slowly. No need to hurry. All those who might see were now trapped on the other side. I was sure to be far away before they were aware of their situation.
About the time the dawn was breaking, I was pulling off the interstate for fuel. I filled the SUV up and left the empty gas can by the pumps. Someone would find it. With it went the only connection between the fire and me.
I turned the SUV in about 9 am and retrieved my car. I showered again and dressed business casual for the office. I had two more little things to do to end my association with Countryman Real Estate. Bernie had been a good boss, but forgetful. He often would call for me to retrieve something he had forgotten in his office. I had a key to every door and every file cabinet.
Gabe was a careful and meticulous individual when it came to his office and personal possessions. He had a big new Mahoney desk with a built in safe. Unfortunately, for him, he kept the combination in a file marked safe. It was in a locked cabinet, but I had the key thanks to Bernie.
Twenty minutes after entering the Countryman offices I had the password diary out of Gabe's safe and was logged into the company accounts. It would have been easy to walk away with everything, but that was not my plan. Theft would gain me nothing but a jail term. I simply swept the operating account into another account. When I first began work for Countryman, we had established a trust account for deposits. With each new development, a new trust account was established, a requirement of the State. The original trust account was a long forgotten.
The old account was in the records, but no longer on the books. It was an empty account until I sweep almost twenty million into it. I moved all our cash, and for good measure, I maxed out the line of credit.
My actions may seem a hollow gesture. Nothing was being stolen. It was all still there. But it would take several days to find and recover that money for use. Tuesday morning bright and early the electronic fund transfers would hit an empty operating account. Hundreds of payments would bounce. I wasn't sure how much damage would be caused, but we were always into the banks for more than we had. We existed on credit. Take away that credit and times would be tough at least for a bit.
Countryman would need to work to recover its good credit. The longer the shortage lasted, the bigger the problem. With any luck, Gabe would still be up on the mountain Tuesday. I would be gone, for my next action after placing everything back was to type out my resignation. I was getting ready to leave the office after placing my resignation letter on the desk of Gabe's secretary when my cell phone rang.
I looked at my phone a picture of Gloria came up. I ignored the call. A moment later the phone chimed with a voice mail. I shouldn't have listened, but I did.
"Baby, where are you? They say the car is gone. I'm worried. Call me," my wife said.
About a half hour later. The phone rang again. It was Gabe.
"Hey Lyle, You OK buddy? Gloria's real worried. Give her a call. Like now!"