It was a day home early from my trouble-shooting job. I hope Karen was ready for me. Two weeks on the road wasn’t fun, but maybe tonight would be. Oh damn, David, Karen’s brother is visiting. He’ll probably be around for a few days. Damn and double damn!
These thoughts traveled through my mind when I had to park in the street because David had parked in my spot next to the side door. I opened the trunk of the car and pulled my suitcase from the back. As I opened the door into the kitchen, I could smell some steaks marinating. Hope they are big enough to feed all of us. I’m hungry.
We lived in a nice ranch, Karen and I. My name is Jim and I’m forty-four. Karen is two years younger. David was in between us in age and he was only eleven months older than my wife. Karen never won any beauty prize but she was just right for me. Her upturned nose and freckles that got darker every summer went well with the smile that was always on her face. Below her neck she was nicely proportioned with a small pair of breasts. Kind of a little bubble ass and long legs made for an attractive woman. Again, her smile was what brought her onto my radar screen when I started looking for someone to settle down with.
I dropped my suitcase near the door and headed through the living room and down the hall. I was thinking that David was in the spare bedroom where he stayed on the rare occasions he visited with us. Beyond, our bedroom extended across most of the end of the house. David’s room had the door wide open and it was empty. Three steps later I could hear Karen. She was making the noise she always made when she was about to climax. The sounds were coming from the partially closed door to our bedroom.
I peeked in. Karen had her legs wrapped around David as he was lunging into her with the last few strokes of his orgasm. Well this was an unwelcome surprise!
I headed for the desk in the living room. My father’s pistol left to me from his estate was in it and loaded. I opened the locked drawer with the key that was taped on the bottom of the drawer next one down. I stared at it lying there. I put my hand on it. I pictured in my mind Karen lying cold and lifeless on the bed with blood all over.
Crap, David had two kids and a sickly wife. I also could never convince my daughter Michelle I had the right to kill her mother. Then I thought about laying terrible guilt on them and use the gun on myself. I didn’t want to do that. Hell when they found me dead, they might laugh about it and I would dead for nothing. One more thought before I made a decision—I would try and act as if I didn’t care.
I decided not to interrupt them, so I returned to the kitchen. I’m sure there was an explanation of what and why they were doing it. Right now I was hungry. I went out onto the little stone patio where we kept the barbecue and fired it up. I put the steaks on as soon as the grill was the right temperature. I threw some onions on mostly because I liked the smell.
Maybe those two in the bedroom would smell them too. Karen always made potato salad so I got that out of the refrigerator along with a fruit salad and the already made pitcher of iced tea. I turned the steaks and sat down to wait for the meat to get to medium rare. Actually I was waiting for my wife and her brother.
I ignored Karen when she came into the kitchen. David was a couple of steps behind her. “David, I’m eating the steak that Karen was preparing for you. I don’t think you had better stick around. Why don’t you get a different place for tonight? When you do, call and tell Karen where you are staying because she may want to let you know what has developed here. Who knows, I may want her to join you.” I pointed at the door.
David started to say something but I said, “Go, now!” He went.
Karen freshly fucked and I could tell freshly showered now, was sitting at the table. I went out and tested the steaks. Umm, done just the way I liked them. I loaded a plate for each of us and passed Karen hers. I poured Karen a glass of tea. “Eat,” I commanded. Somehow I didn’t want tea so I retrieved a beer and poured it into a glass. Karen was watching me all this time, trying to gauge what my attitude was.
“Jim,” Karen started to speak.
“It can wait. I’m hungry. Eat.” I guess she was hungry too, because she started to pick at her food. Soon she was eating along with me. Now it was my turn to watch her. She caught me looking at her.
“Damn Jim, you do know how to cook a steak. Best I ever tasted.”
“This one of David’s tastes pretty good too.” Maybe I wanted to start showing her how much I was hurting, so I said, “It looks like I am sharing my wife, but I will be damned if I will share my steak.”
Karen jumped up and ran into the living room. I could see her curled on the couch. I could hear her sobbing. I hoped it wasn’t just for effect. I wasn’t buying into that!
Suddenly my steak turned to sawdust in my mouth. I picked up our plates and fed what was on the table into the garbage disposal. I took time to start the dish washer and then went in and sat down across from Karen. “Tell me about it,” I demanded. “How long has this been going on? —And more importantly, why? I saw you. Jesus Christ, your brother put horns on me.”
“It is pretty complicated. If I tell you I love you, can you at least believe that?”
“Well, before today I would have sworn you did love me. Is there anyone else I should be wondering about?”
“God, no! Why would you think that?”
I just stared at her not saying a thing.
It finally came to her, that if I couldn’t trust her to be with David, why would I trust her with anyone? I wanted to hurt her more. “What is Michelle going to say when I tell her that I caught her mother screwing her uncle? Tell me that?”
Michelle was our only child. Michelle was in her third year at college. I had wanted a large family, and we had struggled for three years before we were blessed with Michelle. You can imagine how much I doted on my little girl. Yes, and thought of her everyday, too.
Karen looked like I had kicked her. She curled into a fetal position on the couch and just lay there. She didn’t even close her eyes. I wanted to go to her and almost did. Then I remembered what had transpired in the room at the end of the hall. I got up and found another beer in the refrigerator. I wasn’t thinking. I stood there shaking it. I absently opened it, spraying beer all over the kitchen. As I cleaned it up I thought, how apropos, a mess just like my life has turned out to be.
Karen came out and sat down. She was dry-eyed and I could tell she wanted to get this over with. “Do you really want to know? Can’t you tell I really love you? I haven’t been near David that way for over ten years. This isn’t lust or love of the attraction type. It is our way of coping with different problems.
“You don’t know it now, but you have been a beneficiary of all this. If you find out how, it might destroy you and me besides someone else whom you love. Do you want that?”
Bullshit, I thought. No way was this a plus for me. She’s crazy in the head. “Well tell me anyway. I’ll decide for myself. Start at the beginning.”
“Okay, I warned you. I still think it best if you learn to live with what you have seen, forgive me and David, and we move on.”
I was shaking my head no. I guess it boiled down to a matter of trust—trust that wasn’t there anymore.
Karen realized that I was adamant. She paused, making sure, and then spoke. “It started when David was thirteen and I was twelve. You hardly knew my father. He didn’t even come to our wedding because he was too drunk. Not only that, he beat us repeatedly: Mother, David, and me. He never seemed to need an excuse. Mother claimed it began when she became pregnant with David. Two months after David was born Mom was pregnant again.
“Mom knew while in the hospital having me that this was what the rest of her life was going to be like. Pregnancies and beatings would be her life from now on. She begged her doctor to do a procedure. She confided what her life was like to him.
“The doctor had known her all her life so he complied. He used the excuse that she had not been ready for the second pregnancy so soon after David’s birth and couldn’t withstand a third in such short period after another recent birth. That eliminated one problem, but didn’t help with the beating ... and they continued.
“To cope, mother would have us into her bed or on the couch and snuggle with us. We needed the security that she supplied. It was pure escapism, for we knew in our hearts it would never be any better. When David was sixteen, Father found us cuddled with mother in bed and threw us out of the room. It seemed like he beat on mother for hours. Why didn’t we do something or tell someone? He was a master at this, beating without leaving marks.
“When he finished that night, mother was just a shell. She feared him. God, how she cringed from him, especially when he came to take her sexually. Father pretty much ignored us so we started cuddling together ... and Mom too when we were very sure he wouldn’t come around. I think now, miserable as she was, we extended her life. Finally she gave up. She had one of her lucid moments and made us promise that we would take care of each other. She died that night.
“David and I had been lying together, planning terrible retribution on our father. We never did anything, but we wanted to. We discovered how nice it was to be to be close and eventually started to fondle each other. Nothing serious happened until the night Mother died. That night was the first night that we were physical to the point of making love. Fucking, if you want me to say it. It was our way of saying goodbye to mother and moving on from what we felt was a major crisis.”
I was caught up in Karen’s story, and eloquent as she was, I believed everything she was telling me.
“David and I knew that this was wrong and we pretty much stopped our cuddling and all of the fondling between us. The next crisis was when I was seventeen. Father was still around gathering the social security check. He used to watch me and I was fearful of him. David had moved out, but before he left he cornered Father and told him if he ever laid a finger on me either to hit me or abuse me, that he, David, would be on him until death. Father believed him as David was now man grown.
“I wanted to go to the prom and I wouldn’t consider anyone except David to take me. He escorted me and I had a wonderful time. Later that night, it just was so right to make love. He was my savior. I felt Mother would have approved. I used to talk to her all the time when I was alone. She would have let me know some way if she disapproved, I’m positive of that.
“David fell in love with a girl. It was a poor choice. I could see it. I didn’t say anything for I thought he might feel I was jealous. I wasn’t, I just wanted him to be happy. When his wife dumped him, he came to me. I consoled him by holding him like we had done together so many years. It ended the same way you saw us today.”
I didn’t know what to think. Karen explained how these crises came about and how she and David dealt with them. It worked for them, but what about me?
“Jim, you came into my life and I fell in love with you. I still love you as much today as I did when I met you. We’ve had our own problems. We were having a hard time conceiving after we were married. It wasn’t from lack of trying. You must remember? Those were joyous days, yes, and glorious too. We just knew we were going to have as many kids as you wanted. We even went so far as to bank your sperm and my eggs, for safety sake.
“Two weeks after we did that my father died. I went to the funeral with David because you were tied up with business. I was intimate with David after the funeral. It was a ‘Thank God’ we didn’t have to worry about father anymore. He was out of our lives for good.” Karen seemed to make a case for screwing David.
“The last time before today that David and I made love (or fucked) if you still hate me, was ten years ago. That was when you had that auto accident and none of us thought you were going to live. I called David to come be with me and Michelle. Yes, we were intimate that one night. It was the way to cope, not thinking you would live. The next morning when I went to the hospital I was informed that you were going to live. If you had died, I was ready to give Michelle to David and join you in death. That is how much I love you.”
Karen was looking into my eyes and I believed her! This happened ten years ago. What about today? I voiced the thought to her, “What about today? What brought this on?” I had to know.
“David needed me. Suzy, his wife is dying of breast cancer. His two kids and he are distraught. We did together what we have done in times like this. You would never have known if you hadn’t come home today. My love for you has never wavered since I met you, but I can’t regret being with David either.”
The phone rang before either of us could say more. I let Karen pick it up. It was David as I suspected. I got her side of the conversation.
“No, we are just talking. Actually I am explaining about you and me.”
“No, he hasn’t made any threats towards either of us.” Karen put the phone against her chest so he couldn’t hear and turned to me. “There is more I have to say. I think you need David to be here with you. Can I ask him to come back?”
“What the hell, sure, I guess so. I’m hurt some, but I guess I’m not really mad if you told me the truth. Go ahead and ask him.” Who’s crazy? Me, I guess.
David agreed to come back when Karen asked him to. “He’ll be here in a few minutes. He is just down the road at Motel 6.”
David brought more beer, which eased an awkward moment when he came in. I did, I really did shake the hand of the man that had just a few short hours ago screwed my wife. I couldn’t believe myself. Karen should have told me all of this before, so I wouldn’t have had such a shock. Well maybe not.
Karen opened a bottle of wine. I stuck to beer and David stayed with my choice. Karen was nervous now. I thought the worst of it was over, but the way Karen looked, it wasn’t. Why did she want David to be here along with me?
“Jim. I really don’t know how to tell you something that I’ve kept secret from you for years. This is really going to hurt and I know I may lose you. Just remember we sometimes make choices and a result happens. I didn’t know how to straighten it out. I want no secrets between us, so I’m going to tell you. I did it for love of you and until today I thought it never would come to light. Telling you now is another measure of my love.”
David was as puzzled as I was and showed it. “Jim, when we banked the eggs from me and the sperm from you, I had them checked for fertility that same week.” Tears were flowing from Karen’s eyes now. “My eggs were okay, but not your sperm. It showed a low probability of you being able to fertilize my egg. Surprisingly, I became pregnant two weeks later and Michelle was carried full term.”
“You remember I said that I became pregnant two weeks after we banked the sperm. At that time I was being intimate with David at the time of father’s funeral. I suspected then that David was the father of Michelle. I still suspect that, though I have never known for sure. After all the horror stories about incest I prayed that Michelle would be alright. She is so all right isn’t she?”
David put it all together. “You mean the celebration of father’s death, produced Michelle?”
Karen and David looked at me. I don’t think this had sunk in to me at all. I know I loved Michelle and I was willing until the last few minutes to go along with Karen and David’s incest. This was different. All my life with Karen I had been living a lie. Thinking always I was normal, I find I was no damned good at conceiving the baby I loved as much I loved its mother.
I needed time to think. “David, Karen tells me Suzy is very sick. Is there any hope at all?”
“There is always hope, but about only a 20% chance of her beating this. I don’t know what I am going to do without her.”
Then it hit me, this man had a rough childhood and was about to lose his life’s companion. He was also being left to raise two motherless children. What Karen and David did was just a form of survival and had been that way most of their life. I had a very badly bruised ego, but I didn’t doubt Karen’s love.