It just got to be too much, too many hints, too many inconsistencies.
Sally and I had been married a dozen years. When we wed it was for all the right reasons, but things had changed. We both 'grew', as they say.
For me, it meant I settled down and saw a future. At least that's what I called it. The bar scene bored me now, the loud music and drunks weren't fun any longer. The music was so loud I couldn't really talk over it, and it was important to me now to connect with people. The drunks were just that, drunks. When I stopped taking more than a couple drinks an evening the stupid things the drunks said and did stopped being funny clever and began being just stupid and inane.
I thought Sally was going along with me. She seemed to be as interested in the walks, quiet evenings at home and the loving sex as I was. We had stopped the bar scene and begun doing 'things' together. She seemed to agree with me that quieter, less rowdy diversion were at least as satisfying. Lord knows our heads hurt a lot less the next morning.
Well, that's what I thought until her business trips began to come closer together. She had a job with a cosmetics firm, and visited the firms customers regularly to push and demonstrate 'New & Improved' products in their line. The business trips had increased from one every three to four months until the last few months I realized Sally was flying off somewhere about every three weeks.
When I started thinking about it, the pattern of the trips had changed too. At first Sally had been heading to the airport in the morning. Arriving at her destination before noon, Sally would meet with the executives of the firm she was visiting over lunch. She would spend the afternoon answering questions and showing the advantages of 'New and Improved. The next day she gave demonstrations at leading area boutiques and department stores, usually lasting through the afternoon. Sometimes Sally would give an evening 'performance', but then she would fly back home that night. She always called me to meet her at the terminal when she arrived, no matter what time she was to arrive.
Now she was flying out the evening before, then doing her meetings and demonstrations over the next two days, presumably like before. But she was flying home the morning or early afternoon after what I had come to call her demonstration performances. At first she had been making a flying two-day trip, arriving one morning, staying over one night and flying home the next afternoon. Now she was spending three nights before returning the third morning she was gone and she didn't seem to want me to meet her when she arrived. According to Sally, she knew I wouldn't want to take the time off work to pick her up on a regular basis.
Now you're probably thinking I got suspicious because our sex life was suffering, but that wasn't really the case. Actually the night she returned from one of her jaunts were becoming some of the hottest sessions we had.
And that WAS one of the things that got me thinking. She was becoming 'inventive' some of those evenings. Some of the little quirks became part of our regular loving.
What got me really thinking about this a couple months ago was realizing that she wasn't available when I tried calling her in the evenings. She always called me just after our usual dinnertime here, but didn't answer the phone if I tried to get in touch with her later, say at 9:00 or 10:30. In one instance I tried calling after midnight and still couldn't connect with her.
She told me she was getting really tired after the flights in and the long days working with clients and giving demonstrations. According to Sally she just wasn't answering the phone. If I left a message she called me the next morning at work, usually around 8:15 just after I got to my desk. Needing to get some rest after the arrival flight was the reason she gave for flying out the day before. She told me she wanted to avoid the hassle of the late night flights after a long hard day of demonstrating to the public; that was why she was staying over the extra night. They all made sense, more so if I assumed she had little interest in being home with me.
I felt really crappy about the doubts I was having. Yet I couldn't help wondering what was really going on those three nights that she was gone and couldn't be contacted. I cared for her, a lot. And except for this, Sally had given me no reason to doubt she loved me. But this progression was eating into me badly. I was jealous, and letting it get to me, but it seemed to me there was reason. I couldn't put it out of my mind and it was beginning to affect our relationship whether she understood it or not.
Finally I decided I had to satisfy my doubts, get the monkey off my back so to speak. But there was no way I could let Sally know my doubts. If they were groundless she would be really pissed at me for questioning her. If there were some substance to them, she would be pissed, and scared. In either case the 'wonder what's' would still be there and nothing would be changed, except that my wife would be mad at me.
It seemed to me necessary for me to satisfy myself that my fears were hogwash. Still, she couldn't know I was doing it.
So when this last trip was scheduled, I arranged a few days off with my boss. Then I told Sally I needed to visit one of our suppliers on the days she was going to be gone. I promised to call her at her hotel the time we usually talk, as I would likely be gone overnight and wouldn't be home to take her phone call.
Sally was flying out late that afternoon to Phoenix. I booked a flight leaving that morning and arrived enough before her to settle in a room at the hotel where she always stayed. After changing into clothes she wouldn't recognize I drove my rental car back to the airport. When she walked off the airplane I was near the gate in a nondescript outfit, wearing a loud baseball cap and reading the National Inquirer.
A tall, distinguished man met Sally as she exited, giving her a very affectionate hug. I recognized him, having met him at a company banquet a couple years before. He owned the local distributor for the cosmetics line that Sally was going to demonstrate. Letting them go ahead of me I made my way to the baggage pick-up area and watched them gather my wife's suitcase from a distance.
Easily beating them to the hotel where Sally and I were both staying. I changed my shirt, and slipped on a sport coat. When my wife came in, I was sitting off to the side in the hotel lobby and watched her check in.
After getting her key, the two of them got in the elevator together. The man looked like he had already put in a long day, his hair was mussed and didn't seem to want to stay in place. He looked tired, but he also looked very glad to be with Sally. They and another couple were the only ones on the elevator when the doors closed, and I watched the floor numbers; the elevator stopped at the fourth and fifteenth floors. So I now new Sally's room was either on the fourth or fifteenth floor. I guessed hers was on the fifteenth, she usually wanted a room with some kind of a view.
Forty-five minutes later the two of them were still up there, which had me gnawing my knuckles. But this was a working trip after all, and it was not unconceivable the two of them were handling details of Sally's 'performances' for the next two days.
Checking the time, I saw it was 6:15 where we lived and a bit late for my evening telephone call. Going to the bank of pay phones, I dialed the hotel and asked for my wife. The phone rang at least ten times before the operator came back on the line to tell me my party wasn't answering. My stomach was churning as I put the phone down.
Walking over to the gift shop, I picked up a book on the newest fad in self-improvement, grabbed a local newspaper and went back over to sit where I could watch the elevators. Almost three hours later I recognized the man who had gone up with Sally as he came out of the elevator. He looked nicer than he had when he met her flight. In fact the man strutting through the lobby looked like a man who had just freshly showered and was perfectly rested. His hair was perfectly in place, and even looked a trifle damp. He certainly didn't look like a man that had just spent four hours discussing business.
Telling myself not to jump to conclusions I tossed the now read book on self-help in a trash can and walked over to the pay phones to put in another call. There was still no answer from Sally's room.
Going to my room I got ready for bed, then lay and stared at the ceiling. I'm sure I got some sleep that night, but I have no idea when or how much. It seemed to me I tossed, turned and stared at the ceiling or out the window all night long.
After taking my shower the next morning, I used a washable hair color to change my looks and dressed in a style my wife would not associate with her husband. Going back to the lobby, I used the pay phone again to call my wife's room. Again no answer, but I left a message that I had tried to call, and would be away from the office today, but would call her tonight after I ate. I knew her working day would be spent taking care of real business, not funny business, so I spent the day sightseeing the city.
That afternoon I was again in the lobby when Sally came back. I watched her get into the elevator alone. Then sat down to wait.
After giving her twenty minutes to get settled I moved to the pay phones and called her room. She answered almost immediately, sounding slightly out of breath.
.... There is more of this story ...