This is just a short one, to warm you up for the two almost novel length stories that are coming. Enjoy.
In the end, after enough time had gone by, and I could look back semi-objectively, it was just plain stupid. No other reason, just a person jumping to conclusions, not checking, and doing something unforgivable for what she thought justified.
Even after she realized her mistake, her pride dictated Hell would freeze over before she admitted she had done anything to be sorry for. I hope her pride keeps her warm at night, and her ego keeps her from ever realizing what she is, a shallow, stupid woman that only thinks in terms of what’s in it for me.
Did it hurt? Damn right it did. Was I mad? Angered beyond descriptive words. Was I over it? Mostly. It still hurts when I see a family with small children and I think it should have been us swinging the little girl around while she screamed and giggled, or tossing a ball to a small boy, praising him like mad when he caught it. Then again, I thank God, or Karma, or just plain good luck that it happened before we’d had children. I can’t abide the thought of being a part time father.
We were young, even now, three years later, I’m only 28, and she’s 26. We married when she was twenty-one and I had just turned twenty-three. We had our dreams, the house, the kids, nice cars, the whole ball of wax. Suburban Utopia.
Anita was not drop dead gorgeous, but she was very pretty. Reddish blond hair, green eyes, five seven, 115 pounds. Well distributed pounds. When she put the warpaint on, wore the LBD and four inch heels, guys lost their train of thought, and stopped looking where they were going.
Everybody said I was handsome, in a rugged way. I was never a pretty boy, but I was all right. Six two, two hundred pounds, with almost no fat. Pretty good muscles from my job and the gym, light brown hair worn long, and gray eyes.
We made a handsome couple.
We were also rednecks, in the complete use of the word. It was just the lifestyle we were raised in. We were strong on family, and despised promise breakers, especially when the promises included wedding vows.
Most of our friends had also married young, and they were already starting to break up. Three divorces so far, mostly over money and cheating.
We were pretty lucky. I started out three days after high school graduation at a new place, specializing in smaller parts for cars, mostly German. It paid really good for someone with just a high school education, and I showed my gratitude by doing the best job I possibly could. I learned every machine, took every overtime hour I could get, even worked with the mechanics until I could set up the simpler machines on my own. I worked my way up until I spent most of my time training new hires.
It got me noticed, especially after the shift manager caught a new employee on her cell phone, something forbidden except at break. She was watching a little instructional video I had made, just to make sure she understood her job. She was playing it when he saw her. After she showed it to him, he checked with all the trainees, and they all had their own file to pull up if they ran into any problems.
I got called into the office, and the plant manager, the shift manager, and a woman from HR were all waiting for me. Wondering how I had screwed up, I waited for the axe to fall.
“So, Bud(yeah, even a redneck name)what have you got to say for yourself? Bonnie told us about your training video. You realize you violated company rules by using cell phones, right? What do you think we should do?”
I was scared, but then I got pissed. My theory had always been when in doubt, attack. Screw them all, I was only trying to make the company more productive.
“I think you should let me put the videos on the work station computer, so they can pull them up on company sanctioned equipment. You guys keep me moving, training three to four people at a time, and it really helps them when I’m somewhere else. If you think that’s a bad idea, you should go ahead and can me.”
They wee a little taken aback that I had gone on the offensive, they just wanted to yank my chain for a bit before suggesting the very same thing.
When everybody settled down I was given a dollar more an hour and named Training Coordinator.
‘Nita was tickled to death. She had been working full time and taking a partial load of classes at the local college, working for her degree as a Registered Nurse. If she took a full load, she could graduate in less than a year. We talked it over(we always talked every major decision over back then), and she went to part time so she could concentrate on school. I picked up even more overtime, but a year later me, both sets of parents, all our siblings and friends sat in the auditorium as she walked across the stage. She was the first one on either side of the family with a college degree.
Even though I was a trainer, I was still based on third shift. It let me come in early to train the second shift, and stay over to work with the ones on first. Plus, it maximized my time with my honey.
‘Nita looked around at several entry level positions, but the pay was a little low. She was told time and again after she had a couple years of experience her wages would increase. She talked to a couple of girls at both locations, and found out they had a habit of letting nurses go right around the two year mark, to get someone cheaper.
Then one day a friend had an accident and we took her to the E R. They were swamped, and very shorthanded. ‘Nita finally asked a nurse when she got a break why there weren’t more on duty.
“Can’t find anyone willing to work the hours, especially the weekends at night. Too bad, really. The pay is outstanding.”
Her application was accepted, she got an interview, and two weeks later she was one of the third shift nurses on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And the nurse was right, the money was really good for someone just starting out.
She was scheduled for thirty hours a week, but soon was working forty plus. Between that and my job, the money was rolling in. We decided early on not to change our lifestyle, and socked the money away. Our doublewide and four acres was getting closer and closer.
A year went by. We learned to schedule our time so we could be together as much as possible. We usually had breakfast together if I didn’t have to work over, and the bedroom time was as stellar as ever. We managed to sleep at least part of every day together. Life was good. Then I stumbled into something that could possibly make our life much better.
I had a buddy, one of my closest friends, who was Mexican by descent, coming into the country when he was six. He struggled a little at school, and me and Billy started helping him, since we all lived within sight of each other.
He still had trouble with some words, and it’s how he got his nickname. We were on the high school baseball team. I was third base, he was catcher, and Billy played first. A guy hit into right field with the bases loaded, and the outfielder made an outstanding catch, tossing the ball to Billy, who shoveled it off to me, throwing so hard he almost knocked my glove off. I tagged off and threw a cannonball to Juan, who blocked home plate and nailed the guy. A triple play, very rare in the sport. Juan was yelling, trying to shout “Yippie!, but it came out “Zippy!”, which reduced us to tears and earned him his nickname.
Despite his Hispanic heritage, he was about as redneck as they come, down to the ratty ball cap and the jaw full of Redman. He even had a rebel flag tattooed on his bicep. He was an all round good guy, worked hard, helped his parents with the bills because he still lived at home. He didn’t drink much, was well mannered, and had only one vice. His hobby, his passion, was carp fishing.
Carp fishing is in my mind proof that people will find a way to gamble on anything. You went to a stocked pond, paid your fee, and fished. Carp is almost inedible, but the point was to catch one that won the hourly jackpot, the twenty-four hour jackpot, and the holy grail of carp fishing, the weight fish. A weight fish was a fish of a designated weight for that particular pond, chosen at random when a jackpot was hit. You paid so much an hour to stay in the pot when you fished, and if you were lucky enough to say, catch one that weighed eleven pounds and ten ounces, the chosen weight, you won the jackpot. The jackpots would build for weeks and even months sometimes, until someone hit it. There was often hundreds, even a thousand plus in the pot.
It sounds expensive, and it is if you get in every pot. They even had an hourly pot for the smallest carp caught, and you could tie up a hundred bucks or more pretty quick any given night. It was too rich for me, trying to save for a house, but he was single, made good money, and loved it. He even won once in a while, but I’m sure if you added it all up he was seriously in the hole.
Every serious carp fisherman had his own special bait, and Zippy was no exception, concocting blends until the smell made his mother banish his efforts from the kitchen. He had just won a big jackpot, so he bought a small prefab building Billy and I helped set up. We even helped with his blending from time to time, if we could stand the smell. The rotten chicken blend still makes me gag when I think about it.
Billy went to college to be a pharmacist, so he could take over his Dad’s drug store when he retired. We were sitting around one day, and Zippy started talking about his latest bait concoction, and how bad it was. Billy started talking about how different compounds would interact with each other, leaving us both in the dust pretty fast.
“What I’m saying, boys, if we can find the perfect interaction with the perfect ingredients, one that attracts the fish, we could make a bundle.”
We thought about that for awhile, and decided to try. Most of our experiments at first were terrible failures. I secretly suspect the first few batches we came up with ran the fish to the other side of the pond.
I studied carp as much as I could, hitting the internet while ‘Nita worked. There was a surprising amount of information out there. I found out they were scavengers, but were attracted to heat, which I mentioned to the guys the next time we were together. Billy grinned, and the next week he brought a chemical with him from the pharmacy, an over the counter, strictly legal liquid. It interacted with the compounds in the dough, heating it up. We tried it the next week(well, Zippy did. Billy and I weren’t ready to plow any cash into the actual fishing yet)with mixed results. The first few times he nailed fish pretty regularly, but then the dough started melting, and the fish got the bait and not the hook. He still won three jackpots that night, largest fish of the hour and the night, and the weight fish. It was a very nice payout, almost seven hundred dollars.
The bait was doing well enough to get him noticed, so he started rotating ponds, careful not to fish any one more than once every three weeks. Owners didn’t like it if you won too much, other guys would show up, see you, and go somewhere else.
Zippy’s Mom helped us figure out how to keep the bait on the line. She wouldn’t go near the bait shed, but she and her husband sat with us in their backyard one night, listening to us complain. Mom laughed, whispered something in Spanish to his father, and went into the house.
“I’m giving you these for an experiment. If it works, you can buy your own.” It was a pair of pantyhose, with a small run. She saved them to hang her garlic and onions from her garden in, tying a knot between each bulb, a very efficient storage system.
It worked! The bait stayed, for the most part, in the little ball of pantyhose, but it gave easily when the carp bit. Once the carp was off the hook, Zippy would put fresh bait on and start over.
It was still a hit of miss proposition. It was my idea to add ground chicken livers, along with the blood they came in into the mix. Billy suggested coffee grounds, something to do with chemical balance. Zippy came up with using yellow grits to bind everything together. Our percentages went up significantly with the additions.
Then, as with most great discoveries, we perfected the concoction by accident. Billy was helping his parents clean up a shed, and his mother handed him a full grocery bag full of old cosmetics and perfumes to add to his trip to the dump.
He had a bucket of bait on the back of his truck, and no one knows exactly how, but some perfume fell onto the screen top of his bait bucket. He kept it in an old fridge so it would hold together, and then put it in the screen topped bucket to warm up before he used it. He went straight from the dump to the carp pond. Sighing, he tried to blend the perfume in as much as possible to dilute the smell.
The fish went crazy. Carp fishing is a hit and miss proposition, you might get two bites back to back at the beginning of the night, and yes, it was a nocturnal past time, because the carp didn’t bite as well in the heat of the day, and then not get another hit the rest of the time you were there. This time though, he got five bites in forty five minutes, and won the hourly pot.
He went on to win two more during the night, plus the 24 hour prize for biggest fish. The owners were starting to look at him, so he reeled up and packed it in.
He was almost screaming when he called us the next morning. We met at the shed, and he explained what happened, down to the perfume. We checked online, and the perfume was still on the market, at a moderate price.
We made another batch, guessing the amount of the perfume, and Zippy went to another pond all the way across the county, and the results were the same. He won three hourlies out of four, and wisely left.
We had a council of war. I had pulled up a map of all the carp ponds in a seven county area, surprised to see there were fifty one. Zippy gave us a quick tutorial, taking us to a pond in the middle of the day, when there was no one else around.
Billy and I had gotten a couple of Zebco 33 Classic reels on five and a half foot poles apiece, since you were only allowed two rods in the water at one time. It was a good, multiple purpose rig, and was nothing like the expensive equipment a lot of the people used. Plus, it was good cover, making us look like a couple of good ol’ boys who had no idea what they were doing.
Which, for Billy and me, was pretty true.
We decide early on not to ever be at the same pond at the same time, and to fish one and move on, not coming back for at least a month.The last thing we wanted to do was establish a pattern, or become too well known.
The first night I went, I bet I gave the others an entertaining evening, because it seemed I was doing nothing right. Still, seven hours later, I had won four hourlies, three for biggest and one for smallest. Just short of six hundred bucks, not bad for seven hours. Everyone congratulated me and put it down to beginners luck. Billy didn’t do as well but still won four hundred, and Zippy won five. Almost fifteen hundred, in cash. Not bad for a night’s work. We put it all together in a coffee can in the shed. Four weeks later we had sixty three hundred, and the can was starting to get full. We all agreed we would wait until the end of fishing season, and divide it up.
We hid our bait, too, putting it in buckets of commercial carp bait, after we threw the original away.
“You smell like you’ve been dumpster diving with a cheap whore,” ‘Nita told me one morning when I came in late. She was well aware of our experiments, because I told her everything. I laughed and showered, staying in until I had all the stink off me. I put on a pair of boxers and walked into the kitchen. ‘Nita was on the table, naked, legs spread, looking at me through hooded eyes.
“Come and get your breakfast, big boy.”
Boy, she didn’t have to tell me that twice. I ‘ate’ breakfast, wondering if the two orgasms she had added any extra calories, then flipped her over, lay her top on the table, and did my best to pound the shit out of her. She was screaming, the table was moving, things were falling off the counter, but I didn’t stop. We rode the table all the way to the wall and made a dent in the drywall. It was probably the most intense sex I’ve ever had. I think I passed out when I finally released, because I came to my senses as she tried to get me off her.
“Sorry babe,” I said, as I stood up on wobbly legs. “You’re gonna kill me one of these days.”
She gave a satisfied smirk, then grabbed me by the ... well, you know what she grabbed me by. “Time to take this to the bedroom. I haven’t had breakfast yet, and I want it now!” Instead of ingesting calories we burned them up, finally slipping into an exhausted sleep. We didn’t wake until almost six, unusual for us. “Nita just grinned, grabbed me, and said “Oh boy! Time for supper!”
It took us an hour to get out of bed, and forty-five minutes to shower together. Famished, we ordered two pizzas, and ate all of one and part of the other. Life was great.
Then we got greedy. The weather was starting to cool, and most places shut down for a few months, starting back up when it got warm again. We decided to grab all we could while we could. We were fishing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
We didn’t notice, but we were being watched. A lot of pond owners talk to each other, and Billy and I became famous for our ‘beginner’s luck’. Zippy was getting a lot of attention also, a Mexican stands out in a bunch of pale, overweight rednecks. Especially one who is handing them their ass on a regular basis.
Things had gotten a little tense at home along about then too. ‘Nita was beginning to resent me spending so much time away from her. I never told her how much I was making a week, wanting to surprise her with a wad of cash when the season was over and tell her to start house hunting. I talked to Billy and Zip, and we agreed to take a week off. Billy’s wife was starting to complain as well.
We were still experimenting with the bait, trying different perfumes mostly, so I would often come home smelling of a new fragrance. I found out later it all came apart when ‘Nita went to Walmart for our weekly shopping, and ran into a friend of hers, the cashier in the line she was using. They caught up on their friends and families, then Jane surprised ‘Nita by leaning forward and inhaling.
“What was that for?”
“Just seeing what brand you were wearing today. Bud was in here to do his weekly shopping yesterday. I swear, between perfumes, pantyhose, and condoms, it’s amazing you can walk. I’d like to be a fly on your wall some night.”
‘Nita didn’t know what to say, so she just grinned and nodded. I had told her we had figured out a way to keep the dough on the hook, but hadn’t gone into details. When she got home she tore the house up looking for my stash, not knowing it was all at the bait shed.
The condoms came into play by accident. Zippy grabbed the wrong bucket and didn’t realize it until he got to the pond, so he put in a panic call to Billy, because he lived near their house, telling him to grab an extra bucket before he went to the pond he was going to fish.
Billy dropped the bait off, and then they found out they didn’t pack the pantyhose. Zippy was about to give up in disgust when Billy smiled. He went back to his truck and pulled out a package. It was a six pack of condoms. “You’re here, you might as well try,” said Billy grinning.
It took three before they got it right, tying it tightly to the hook and putting tiny cuts around the sides. To their surprise, it worked really well, lasting longer than the pantyhose. We each started carrying a pair of pantyhose and a dozen rubbers in the dash of our trucks.
‘Nita, in full jealous mode, searched the house before I got home, and then waited until I was asleep to check the truck. I have to wonder, looking back, how she must have felt when she opened the dash and pulled out two pair of pantyhose and a package of condoms with two missing. It didn’t help that both pair had been worn by Billy’s wife, she had given a few pairs to us after they laddered on her. ‘Nita could tell they had been worn.
My girl had always had a hot temper, and she fought to control it constantly. Today though, she let the demons loose. I woke up to a truck with four flat tires and one rear view mirror missing. I found my rods in the driveway, obviously run over by her car, the reels mashed flat. She’d left me a note on the bathroom mirror, written in lipstick.
“You Bastard! Gone fishing my ass! Just to let you know, two can play this game, asshole.”
I called her mother. I called her friends. I called the hospital. Nobody had seen her, but one friend said she’d called.
“What did she say?”
“Nothing I would repeat. My advice is if what she said was true, you’d better run. And if it’s not true, you need to find her quick.”
That didn’t help my mood any. I tried to get her all the way up until I went to work, using a truck I borrowed, and called her on my breaks. At four in the morning I said screw it, and told the shift supervisor I was leaving. He seemed to think it was a good idea. “You’ve been ... off, all night. I hope whatever is bothering you isn’t catching.”
I stopped at Walmart on the way home, and bought two new 33 Classic reels and two Ugly Sticks, really durable rods that would bend all the way double and never break. I still needed to fish this weekend, if I could get ‘Nita calmed down. Maybe telling her about the money would help. Maybe I could even get her to go with me, and see how I spent my nights while she worked. Maybe it would calm her fears.
I noticed the car, but people were always parking in the wrong spot when they visited someone in one of the apartments. It stood out though, a BMW mixed with all the compact cars and old trucks. I was just happy to see ‘Nita’s car.
I grabbed my bags in one hand and the rods in the other, balancing while I opened the door before finally letting the bag go and turning my key. It had swung open about half way, and a deaf man could have heard them.
“That’s it baby! Right there! How you liking this married pussy now, big boy?”
It was ‘Nita’s voice, along with some guy grunting.
Now, a reasonable man would have found out exactly what was happening before he reacted. A thinking man would have gotten evidence and burnt the bitch to the ground. A wimp would have just turned around and left, or sneaked in to watch. A redneck would have just kicked ass.
I was never known for my reasoning abilities or my intelligence. The last man that called me a wimp has a partial to remind him every day that wasn’t the best idea he’d ever had. I was a redneck, and rednecks tend to react violently.
I kicked the bedroom door off the hinges, catching my loving wife and some asshole in bed. She was riding him reverse cowgirl, so I looked her right in the eyes. She went pale, then red. “How’s it feel, mother fucker? Sucks being screwed over, huh. Now you...”
That was all she got out when I slapped her so hard she went off the bed. I recognized the guy, one of the ER doctors and a known pussyhound. She told me once she couldn’t stand him, he’d screwed up two marriages already, and the administration had warned him to stay away from married women. Looks like he didn’t listen.
He jumped up, deciding to bluff his way out. He was a gym rat, and liked to brag about his black belt.
“Calm down, dude. She came on to me. Is it my fault you can’t keep her satisfied? I’m going to get my clothes and leave, it looks like the fun and games are over, at least for tonight. Get out of my way now, and you won’t get hurt. You don’t want your ass kicked by the man that just fucked your wife, that would be just too much. Keep a little dignity, and move.”
I looked down at his balls, surprised to see them average sized. I figured they’d be the size of grapefruits with his attitude. He must have seen it in my eyes, and crouched down into a fighting stance.
In my rage I had forgotten I still held the rods in my hand. One night at a pond I saw a guy trying to wrestle in a monster. His buddy was helping him when the line snapped, and the rod whipped back. It him his friend right across the cheek, and the welt stayed there for the rest of the summer. People into inflicting pain should check out a rod. They’d probably throw every whip they owned away.
He never expected it, who used a fishing rod as a weapon? I was either good or lucky, because my first swing caught him right on the end of his dick. He let a high pitched scream out as the rod snapped forward, hitting him at the peak of the arc, and tried to cover his family jewels, so the next one went right across his knuckles. The next one caught him on the neck, and he went down, lying with his ass up, still trying to protect his crotch. I gave him two good whacks when I heard the hammer go back.
“Bud! Stop this instant or I swear to God I’ll shoot you! You got no right to act this way after what you did.”
She was holding my Colt Python, the same gun that Rick carries in The Walking Dead. And it had .357 rounds in it. My rage evaporated.
“So then, it’s not enough you fuck a guy in our home, on our bed, now you threaten me with a gun? I hope whatever set you off was worth it, because we’re done.”
For the first time she looked uncertain, then set her face in a scowl. “I’ll say when we’re done. This was just a little punishment, but if you don’t toe the line it’ll happen a lot more often. Now, move aside and let him go. Be happy I’m not asking you to apologize.”
I looked down at him trying to crawl out the door, then up at her and grinned. “Fuck you. Pull the damn trigger.”
Her eyes got wide, that was probably the last thing she expected me to say. I didn’t hit asshole with the rod again, but I helped him to the door, kicking him in the ass every time he tried to stand up. I’d left the door open and a pretty good crowd was outside, attracted by the yelling and screaming.
They scattered pretty fast when ‘Nita fired, though.
I didn’t feel anything and there was no blood, so she must have missed. “Next time will be in your ass!,” she screamed, as she lowered the pistol to point at me again. I looked up, seeing the hole in the ceiling. Good thing all the duplexes were single story.
Some concerned neighbor had called the cops when the screaming started, and they were just getting out of their car when she made the threat. Their weapons came out and they were crouched behind the car in seconds. It must have been quite a sight. She was naked, outside by now, holding that big pistol. Her partner in crime had been trying to crawl to his car, still naked, but when the shot went off he put his hands over his head, not knowing who held the weapon, and started begging me not to kill him, apologizing for screwing my wife. I was fully dressed, and just held my hands up in the air. I bet they played the bodycam tapes for months, looking at her.
They were screaming at ‘Nita, she was screaming at me, and asshole was screaming he was sorry, and please, please don’t shoot him.
She was wavering, looking at the cops and then me. She swung her hand towards the cops, and I grabbed her, knowing fully well they were an inch from blowing her away. She let go of the pistol and I threw it towards the cops, wrestling her to the ground. We were in cuffs almost instantly.
In the end, we all got a free ride to jail. I got charged with assault on the doctor, as well as domestic violence for slapping ‘Nita. She was charged with assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon by pointing a gun, communicating threats, indecent exposure, and discharging a firearm in the city limits. If they could have found anything, they would have charged the doctor, but in the end they let him go. His wife had to come and get him, and bring him some clothes. She divorced his ass, named ‘Nita in the complaint, tried to sue the hospital, so it all became public record.
I promised not to press charges against her for threatening my life with a weapon, if she agreed to drop the assault charge. She agreed reluctantly, not wanting any more publicity. The doctor could have made my life very uncomfortable, but he saw the writing on the wall and took off for parts unknown. It took his wife almost a year to find him, working in a clinic overseas. She already had most of their assets, but he had to pay child support, retroactive at that. All in all, I dodged a bullet, pun intended. The DA decided he didn’t want to be ringmaster of this particular circus, and let us go. ‘Nita had to go through anger management counseling and do two hundred hours of community service for pointing the gun at the cops, though.
Zip and Bill came to bail me out, using part of our fishing money. I refused to bail ‘Nita out, and her folks had to come and get her. It gave me time to get home, grab most of my stuff, and get out of Dodge.
I didn’t hear from ‘Nita for three weeks. My thought was she was waiting for me to apologize. When that didn’t happen she called me, dripping sarcasm and ordering me home.
“As loving as that invitation is, I think I’ll pass. Don’t call me anymore, Anita. We’re through. I don’t know what kind of wild hair you got up your ass, but I never cheated on you. Not once. I don’t give a fuck what you heard, or what you imagined, or what you were thinking. I will never be able to trust you again, and I’d have to sleep with one eye open if I came back.”
She knew she was in serious trouble when I called her Anita instead of ‘Nita. Her tone changed immediately. “Look, I may have made a mistake here. Why don’t you come home and we’ll discuss it like two adults.”
“No. Wait, let me think. No. Hold on, while I give it serious consideration. Okay, not no, but HELL NO.”
I hung up and didn’t answer the phone again until the next day. I knew she was due to be served at two, and at two thirty my phone rang. It was her, of course, and instead of demanding and threatening she was crying. I told her gently I was sorry it had come to this but there was no way I would go back to her. “I’m sorry, Anita, I truly am. But I can’t go back and I can’t get over how easily you trashed our marriage, so this is the only way forward. Please don’t fight it.”
She fought it, delayed it as long as she could. Finally the judge got tired of it. I never showed up for any of the proceedings, I couldn’t see the point. Maybe I should have, because the Judge issued an order for marriage counseling. One session apiece, and ten jointly. I made sure to stipulate that if, at the end of the counseling, I still wanted the divorce, it would go through without hindrance. If not, I would ignore the order and take my chances at jail. I was hauled before the Judge, and he listened as I told him my reasons. He looked at me sadly, realizing he was wasting everyone’s time, but agreed and complied Anita to do the same.
She got to pick the counselor. He was a young man, in his thirties. I had a question right off the bat at our private session.
“How long you been doin’ this?”
He didn’t seemed surprised and smiled. “Longer that you think. This is my sixth year.”
“Any good at it?”
I don’t think he expected that. He kind of puffed up. “Really good. One of the best. My reconciliation rate is one of the highest in the state.”
I frowned. “What if I told you I wasn’t here for a reconciliation? That I was only here because it looked like it was the only chance I had of getting the divorce to go forward? If you think you can lead me to the water of getting back to my wife, you’ll find it hard to get this mule to drink. The first time I think you’re not being objective, the first time I think you’re pushing an agenda that ain’t mine, you and me are through. I checked your record too, and was surprised to see four complaints, three from men and one from a woman, saying you didn’t really care about resolution but your numbers. Oh look, the time’s up. See you next Thursday. Six sharp.”
He looked a lot like the carp I hooked, gasping in the net.
The first two sessions were kind of difficult. He told us to sit together on a love seat facing him. I chose a recliner. I could see the frown he was trying to hide. The first hour was pretty much about her and the ‘little mistake’ she had made. So was the second. When she started out doing the same, I pulled out the newspaper I’d brought along and started reading. Both of them looked at me in surprise.
“What are you doing?”
“If I wanted reruns I’d watch some old television series. For two and a half hours you’ve let her ramble and have made no effort to push her to focus. If that’s what you want, fine. Carry on. I’ll just sit here quietly and read.”
He was pissed. You could see it in his eyes and his body language. “Bud, if you don’t...”
I stopped him. “We ain’t friends. Call me Mr. Hart if you want to address me. I don’t call you by your given name, do I?”
He was confused, and I wondered why. Had he not been listening to me?”
“Sorry, Mr. Hart. I’m just trying to establish a rapport with you, to make things easier. You have to participate, though, or I’ll tell the judge.”
I shrugged. “Tell him. I had my lawyer look the paperwork over pretty good, and it says I’m required to attend. It doesn’t say a damn thing about participating. So why don’t you stop and focus on the real issue here, how to prepar
That pretty much ended that session.
Well, he did tell the Judge, who brought me in for a meeting, saying I had to at least make a good faith effort. “Let me be clear here. In no way am I saying you have to take her back. That’s your decision and after the sessions I’ll accept whatever you want. But you might want to listen, see how things went South so fast. It might help you in any future relationships.”
He was a pretty sharp old goat, I guess that’s why he was a judge.
So, I did some due diligence(my lawyer taught me that)and was prepared for the next session. I handed both Anita and the counselor, Bob, a sheet of paper.
“It’s a record of all the times I was fishin’ when she thought I might be fooling around. Those guys keep pretty good records, so you’ll see the times I arrived and the times I left, or at least the times I cashed in my last pot. And if think I was having romantic interludes at a carp pond, you’ve obviously never been to one. The smell is not exactly a aid to romance.”
I looked at her. “Look, maybe I should have explained about the condoms and pantyhose, but I didn’t see a need. You only half listened when I told you about what I was doing anyway. You had your hobbies, the occasional night out with the girls, shopping, that sort of thing. Did I think you were cheating? No. I think you might have danced a little too close a time or two, or let hands wander where they shouldn’t a little, but I TRUSTED you. So I didn’t check up on you, didn’t search your car or look for motel receipts. I didn’t look in your panties to see if there was something there that shouldn’t be. If I had thought something was up, I would have talked to you. Why couldn’t you do the same? We’d still be together, house shopping, and talking about kids. Instead, we’re in here with a total stranger, telling him all our secrets. At least you are. The less I speak the calmer I am, and when it gets down to it, this is nobody’s business but our own, and I resent tremendously the fact that we’re here at all.”
It was the longest I had talked in the sessions, and they were so stunned it took them a minute to get going again. Then my phone dinged. “Oh look, times up. See you next week.” I was out the door and gone before the could react.
I sensed it the next time we were there. Something had changed. Anita looked me in the eyes, and she wasn’t crying. “You talked last week. Now it’s my turn.”
I nodded. Looks like we might have made a little progress here.
“I realize now there is no way we’ll ever be together again. I broke that and it can’t be fixed. I just want to tell you some of what I was thinking. You were the perfect husband. You didn’t drink much, you held a good job, and you didn’t fool around on me. I was so proud of you.”
“All the nurses at work, at least the younger ones, were either divorced or fooling around. I was so lucky we had the same schedule. Most of them were having affairs because the husbands were taking advantage of all that weekend freedom to hook up, and it was mostly revenge.”
“I bragged on you so much. Then you started fishing. Suddenly you weren’t home while I worked. I trusted you at first, but then you started fishing more. The time apart grew longer, and all my friends said the same thing. ‘He’s got a girlfriend.’
Then a week before it all fell apart, one of them told me she saw you with another woman, and you were laughing and even hugged each other. I wanted to ask you then, but was so afraid of the answer. Then Jane told me about the perfumes, condoms, and pantyhose. What was I supposed to think?
You know I’ve always had to fight to control my temper, but I couldn’t this time. My only thought was to hurt you the way you hurt me. So I hooked up with Dr. Sleaze, he was available and willing. Even then, I was never going to tell you, it would be my little secret when I thought about you cheating.
Then you came home early and it all went to hell. You weren’t supposed to be there. You were never supposed to know. I was so ashamed until my anger took over. Only the shock of you slapping me calmed me down.
Even then, when you were whipping asshole with that fishing rod, I knew we were over. I only pulled your revolver out of the nightstand to keep you from killing him. I have to admit though, that my anger was still there, and my finger was itching to pull the trigger.
When you looked me in the eyes and told me to pull the trigger, at that exact moment I knew I didn’t matter to you anymore. Just like that, the rage started going away. I was still confused when the cops showed up. I even considered shooting in their direction, so they would kill me and end the pain.”