I was sitting at the dinner table when it first hit me. My two daughters were telling me that they had both been selected to attend a weekend band camp in the Poconos. They would leave next Friday afternoon and return Sunday evening.
Suddenly, my pork chop lost its flavor. It was Monday and I had a really bad feeling I would be going to Cleveland next weekend. It was a tremendous shock, yet I felt calm and rational. Had I been blind? Had I missed the signs? Had there even been any signs? Was I jumping to conclusions?
I realized the answer to my last question would come tomorrow at work. There was still one piece to the puzzle. I felt dead certain that piece would fall into place tomorrow. The girls helped their mother clean the kitchen while I sat there, replaying the past few months in my mind. Try as I would, I could remember no unusual behavior or actions. If there had been any signs, they were small and imperceptible.
A short while later the girls called me in to watch the movie they had rented. As I sat next to my wife, Michelle, I wracked my brain. She and our daughters laughed through the movie. I have no idea what the film was about.
I managed almost no sleep that night and I dreaded going in to work, as I never had before. Around midmorning, my worst fears were realized when I was called into my boss's office.
"I know it is short notice, Eric, but I need you to fly to Cleveland this weekend to handle the Jenkins account. I planned on sending Jeffers, but I think you understand this account better. Can you go, Eric?" asked George Stowe, the account manager.
There it was. Part of me reveled in solving a riddle with almost no clues, while another part of me was ill. I thought back to the conversation I had overheard a week ago.
I had taken the elevator down to the lobby after work. Then I remembered I had left my car keys in my desk. I cursed to myself as I pressed the button to take me back up to the fifth floor and my office. As I picked my keys up, I noticed a letter I had planned to mail, so I headed for the room where we place our outgoing mail. To reach that room, I had to pass George Stowe's office.
George was a few years older than I. He was a rugged man with an easy manner and a roving eye. I often wondered why his wife never caught him fooling around. He made tomcats look scrupulous.
"If your kids do make that trip next weekend, I'll be sure to assign him to handle an account in Cleveland," boomed George with a chuckle. "Your pussy will get a real pounding from my big cock for two days straight. I'll tell Marge that I have to go to Cleveland. She never cares where I am as long as I leave her ice box alone."
"Some poor schmuck is going to have his wife fucked senseless by that asshole next weekend while he's doing some shit job in Cleveland," I smiled to myself. "Someday George will fuck the wrong wife and find himself in some deep shit."
With that thought, I put the letter in the tray and, like Elvis, left the building. I forgot about the entire thing. At least I forgot about it until dinner last night when my daughters told me they were going away for the weekend!
I had no reasons to be suspicious. I had no clue that Michelle knew George more than slightly. We never traveled in the same social circles. Yet, somehow, I would have bet a year's pay that I was going to be sent to Cleveland for the weekend. It came as no surprise when George explained how badly the company needed me to wrap up the Cleveland account. It would have been more of a bombshell if it hadn't happened.
I have always enjoyed chess and over the years I have become quite good at it. Michelle quit playing it with me years ago. She complained bitterly about my methods.
"You are supposed to capture the other player's king, Eric, not see how many of his players you can knock off!" she would rant. "Why the hell do you have to be so devious?"
I never bothered to respond to her complaints. Chess isn't a bang-head type of game. It requires finesse, and the ability to turn shit into shinola. I felt that if your bishop is going to be lost, make it work for you, or at least make it hurt your opponent. I developed a knack for turning impending doom into a positive situation. It sometimes took several moves, often away from the apparent conflict, but it was almost always successful.
I came to realize that life isn't too much more than a complicated chess game. I found that if I concentrated on a problem, and ignored the pain of a short-term loss, I could make a bad situation work for me. George fucking my wife would be difficult to put a good spin on, but who said the game would be easy?
"I'll tell Michelle tonight and plan on leaving Friday, George," I responded. "I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity. You won't regret it."
"I'm sure I won't, Eric," chuckled George. "I'll be fucking your wife before your plane lands!"
He didn't actually say the part about how he'd be fucking Michelle, but I read his mind as I left his office. I knew why he was so jovial. He was having a little laugh at the expense of an idiot cuckold husband. I wondered if he would be sharing that little anecdote with Michelle after he plowed her garden.
Over the years, I had learned to think things through, rather than panic and do something stupid. George had my queen. Now I had to knock off some of his rooks, bishops, and knights to get to his king. The question was; how and where should I strike? Would I have the necessary pieces? Perhaps I would, if he didn't realize that I knew he had captured my queen.
The most difficult part of the game for me would be acting like everything was fine at home. Odd behavior on my part would be noticed by Michelle immediately. It was a real shame, but I now viewed her as an opponent rather than my partner. That was not a good feeling, but a very reasonable one, given the circumstances. Mata Hari had nothing on Michelle!
I began to wonder why I was so certain she was fucking George. Couldn't it all be coincidence? Was I paranoid? Letting fear destroy what had been a good marriage, or at least I had always felt it was, would be really stupid. I decided to test my 'unfaithful wife' theory before I took any drastic action. It would also give me time to plan my next few moves and anticipate George's, as well as Michelle's.
If George was fucking Michelle, they had to communicate from time to time, though I had never seen any indication of it. How hard would it be for him to call her at work, or vice-versa? I wasn't a sleuth, or even suspicious, so all they had to do was be cautious. That afternoon, I came up with an idea or two to see if I was the odd-man-out in a love triangle.
"How was work, Sweetheart?" asked Michelle as I came through the door. She always got home half an hour before I did.
"Same shit, different day, Darling," I grinned. "I was thinking that since the girls were going away to band camp this weekend, we should do something together."
Was there a flicker of annoyance on Michelle's face? Was I imagining it?
"Ah, yeah, well, we probably could do something," responded Michelle. "I did promise my mother I would stop by her place on Saturday, but we could work around that. Is your weekend schedule clear?"
Why would she ask that? I hadn't traveled for work on a weekend in almost a year. Was she fishing, or possibly trying to remind me I was going to Cleveland so George could fuck the shit out of her? This was going to be an interesting game! That is, if it was a game and not my imagination.
"I have no plans," I lied. "Why don't we go to a show and dinner in the city Friday evening?"
There were two things about Michelle of which I was certain. She loved to go to shows and she hated to waste money. If she believed I was not going to be around, she would be reluctant to buy the tickets. George was not a theater kind of guy and the chance of being recognized at any restaurant we frequent was too great.
"It's kind of sudden, Eric," wavered Michelle. "We may not be able to get tickets."
"Michelle, we have gotten them on shorter notice than this. Do you want me to go on line and see what I can find?" I asked.
"No, I'll check into if you are so set on a show. Who knows what you'd pick?" bitched Michelle. "I'll take care of it, as long as you are sure you will be able to go."
"Why wouldn't I be able to go? Did you hire a hit man to whack me? Did you read my horoscope and see impending doom for me?" I laughed. "Have you been chatting with Dionne Warwick again? Or was it the tea leaves?"
"Okay, Smart-ass. I'll see about getting the tickets tomorrow, okay?" grinned my once loving wife. "I can do it at work and be paid while I'm looking."
The next day was Wednesday and George called me into his office just before lunch.
"You're getting packed and ready to go to Cleveland this weekend, aren't you, Eric?" he asked. "Did your wife understand how important this is to the company, and to your career?"
Why was he asking about me getting packed? I'm 53 fucking years old and don't need a nurse maid! Could it be Michelle had told him I was making alternate plans for Friday night? The way he mentioned how important it was to my career was a good touch. It was an implied, or inferred, threat. I wasn't sure which word was accurate.
"Not to worry, George!" I chuckled. "Michelle doesn't give me any shit. I have her ironing my underwear and folding my socks. I even told her I was going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and to have my Sergeant Pepper jacket packed."
George looked at me funny, but didn't seem able to form a response, so I smiled again and left his office.
.... There is more of this story ...