The door bell rang and I opened the door to find Willy standing there.
"What the fuck do you want?"
"To talk. To clear the air so to speak."
"I don't need to hear anything that you have to say."
"Maybe not, but I need to say it. It won't take long. May I come in?"
I stared at her for several minutes (looking mostly at her throat and wanting to put my hands around it and squeeze as hard as I could) before stepping aside and letting her come in. She went straight for the kitchen and I followed along behind her. She pulled out a chair and sat down and I took the chair opposite.
"How have you been?" she asked.
"How the fuck you think I've been after the hell you put me through?"
"Yes, well, that's why I'm here Rob. To apologize."
"Like that will help any."
"You aren't making this easy Rob."
"I don't have to Willy; I didn't invite you over."
As I sat there and looked across the table at her my mind flashed back.
I met Wilhelmina at a frat party during my junior year at State. She was the date of one of my frat brothers and as soon as I laid eyes on her I thought "lucky bastard." I won't say that it was love at first sight, but I was certainly taken with her. I couldn't take my eyes off of her and of course she noticed it.
When the party started to break up and just before she left she handed me a piece of paper and said "Call me" and then she was gone. I looked at the paper, saw that it was a phone number and then I sighed and dropped it in the waste basket.
It was a week later - to the day - when I saw her again. I was downtown having lunch at a small café when someone sat down across from me. I looked up and saw that it was Wilhelmina.
"You didn't call." I shrugged and she said, "I must be losing my touch. I kind of expected my phone to be ringing the next morning before I was even out of bed. You seemed interested. Every time I looked your way you were watching me. What happened to the interest?"
"It is a guy thing."
"A guy thing? Care to explain?"
"You were dating a fraternity brother and that made you off limits to me."
"Oh my, an honorable man. What a rarity in this day and age. For your information I was not dating Chad. Chad is my cousin and he took me to that frat party because I was curious as to what a frat party would be like."
She pulled out a pen and a note pad from her purse, wrote something on the pad and then tore off the sheet.
"I have to get back to work so let's try this again." She slid the piece of paper across the table to me and said, "Call me" and then she was up and gone. I called her that evening and we made a date. We started keeping company and three months after I graduated we were married.
Fast forward twenty-two years and three children later and I was sitting in my office at work when my secretary buzzed me and told me that there was a Mr. Sam Halley there to see me and I told her to send him in. When he came in he asked me if I was Robert Severs and as I said yes I was thinking "What an odd question. He was there to see me so why did he ask me if I was me? He took an envelope from his pocket and handed it to me and when I took it he said:
"You have been served."
He turned and walked out of my office. I opened the envelope and found out that Willy was suing me for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. To say that it came as a shock to me would be a massive understatement. As far as I had known Willy and I had a great marriage. I had certainly not noticed any wrong. She had seemed loving and affectionate. I thought our love life was a little better than adequate. We hadn't had a major arguments or disagreements in the last couple of years. It did not make a whole lot of sense to me.
Then I read the second piece of paper in the envelope. It was a restraining order telling me that I could not come within 500 feet of Willy, my children or my home and that I was not to try and contact them without some one authorized by the court being present. The divorce paperwork upset me, but the restraining order pissed me off.
I called Dave, our in house attorney, and asked him if he could recommend a good divorce attorney and when he gave me a name I called the man. It turned out that the man had been a classmate of Dave's and was also a close personal friend and when I called him for an appointment I was told that Dave had already called and paved the way for me. I was told to come right on down. As soon as I hung up I got on the phone and cancelled all of our credit cards except for the Visa and American Express cards that were in my name only.
I told my secretary that I was leaving and might be gone for the rest of the day and then I headed for the lawyer's office. On the way I stopped at the bank and cleaned out all of our accounts and emptied the safe deposit box. I had several friends who had gone through divorces and I knew how things worked and I wasn't about to fuck around and try to talk to Wilhelmina to find out what was going on which would give her time to run up the credit cards with cash advances and get everything out of the bank before I could get to it. Actually I was surprised that Willy hadn't already beaten me to the bank, but I guess she must have miscalculated. I saw her pulling into the bank parking lot as I was sitting in my car getting ready to leave.
Andy, the attorney Dave had set me up with, read the paperwork I'd been served with and said:
"Pretty much boilerplate. Custody of the children, child support, separate maintenance and the right to maintain the home. And you say you never saw it coming?"
"Didn't have a clue."
"Have you done anything to set your wife against you? An affair or something like that?"
"Not a thing. I've had plenty of opportunities, but I kept my pants zipped. Hell, I had all that a man could want at home. Why stray and take a chance on screwing it up?"
"Well, if it wasn't something that you did it must be something that she is doing or has done. Would you have any objection to my putting some one on her to check her out?"
"None at all, but right now my major concern is getting into the house and getting my stuff out and getting that bullshit restraining order changed so I can at least talk to my kids."
"No problem there. I'll need to make some phone calls, but I am pretty sure that we can get you in the house this evening, but the restraining order may take a while. We have no idea what she is claiming as the reason to keep you away from them."
"Doesn't it matter that Chris is nineteen and Dave is eighteen? Aren't they considered adults? Angie is only sixteen so I know she isn't considered an adult, but the boys? How can she keep me away from them when they are old enough to go out on there own?"
"Again, I have no idea until I look into it. I'll give you a call later this afternoon."
I left his office feeling a little more in control and went back to my office. Andy called me at ten after four and told me that he would meet me at the house at six and that he would have someone from the court with him.
"He will inventory everything you remove from the house so be very careful not to take anything that your wife is likely to fight you over. If you must then you must, but be aware of the problems that it might cause. I saw one divorce drag on for months over a coffee table. Also, I contacted your wife's attorney and let him know we would be there in case he also wanted to monitor things."
"What about Willy?"
"My wife, Wilhelmina."
"Her lawyer knows we will be there and I assume that he will inform her. She may choose to be there or not. I've also requested that the children be there, but whether that will happen or not I don't know. I haven't had time to get a court order for a court supervised visit, but I kind of let your wife's attorney know that you are amicable to a quick resolution of the matter and his getting the children there as a show of good faith would go a long way toward speeding things up."
"I don't know that I want to speed things up. What I want is to know why."
"True, but what the other side doesn't know won't hurt us. He did tell me that he expected you to return what you took out of the checking and savings accounts before he found it necessary to petition the court."
"No. I'm not going to do anything that will make it easy on her."
"The court will order you to do it."
"Until they do she can stand on a street corner and beg for food."
I can't tell you what to do, I can only advise, but you will lose this one."
"Yeah, but she will be nervous as hell and suffer until it happens."
Andy and a deputy sheriff were waiting when I got to what used to be my home with a rented trailer and two friends to help carry the large things.
"If your wife and children are inside don't say a word to them. I'll do all the talking. Can you handle that?"
"I'm paying you for your expertise so I'll do whatever you say."
"Good. Okay, let's get it done."
Willy and the kids were there and so was a man that I assumed was either her attorney or someone on her attorney's staff. I told the deputy what I was taking and he started recording things on a clipboard as I and my friends started carrying them out to the trailer. Chris started to say something to me and Willy told him to be quiet. Apparently Andy had been expecting it and waiting for it. He opened his briefcase and said:
"Your father is under a court order not to contact you, but I expect that I can get that order changed as least as far as you two boys are concerned since you are both over eighteen. I may not be successful in your case Angie, but I will try. The court order forbids your father from contacting you, but says nothing about your initiating contact with him."
He took three cell phones out of his briefcase and handed one to each of the kids:
"Your father does not have the numbers to these phones so he cannot call you, but his office and cell phone numbers are preset in the phones. You may call him and talk to him as often as you like. The bills will come to my office and I will make copies available to the court to show that the calls are strictly one way."
"Can he do that?" Willy asked the man with her and he told her he wasn't sure and that he would have to look into it.
"Well until you do there will be no damned calls." She turned to the kids and said, "Give me those phones."
Dave put his phone in his pocket and said, "No. I don't know how you managed to get a judge to let you cut me off from dad, but I'm not going along with it."
"That goes for me too" Chris said as he put his phone in his shirt pocket.
"As long as you are living in this house you will do as..."
"I'm over eighteen mom, and I can walk out of this house and there is nothing you can do about it."
"Same goes for me" Dave said.
I saw the slow burn come over Willy's face and I almost smiled. She turned to Angie and said:
"You aren't over eighteen. Give me that phone."
Angie tossed it to her and said, "No biggie. When I want to talk to dad I'm sure one of my big brothers will let me use a phone."
I left the house feeling pretty good about my kids at least.
"Thanks Andy. I loved seeing that shell shocked look on her face when you hit her with that phone gambit."
"It was a little dramatic and it wasn't really needed except for maybe Angie. I'm sure that what happened was just some bureaucratic paper shuffling. I'm betting that no one at the court even read the request for restraint since it is an almost common occurrence in divorce cases any more. If any one had read it and noticed the ages of the two boys the paperwork would have been kicked back to your wife's attorney for revising. I'm pretty sure I can get it set aside tomorrow."
I thanked him for his quick response in getting me into the house and he told me he would call me the next day when he knew more.
I moved everything I'd removed from the house into a rented storage unit and then checked myself into a hotel close to work. The next morning I told my boss of my situation and asked for a couple of days off to look for an apartment and situate myself and he approved the time off. I found a nice two bedroom ten minutes from work. It had a pool and an exercise room and was within walking distance of several restaurants and stores. I signed a six month least and set about moving in.
I was moving in the bedroom set that I had taken out of my old home when Chris called me on my cell and asked me just what was going on. I told him that I didn't have a clue that his mother had hit me with it right out of the blue.
"She says she caught you cheating on her."
I was stunned! I had never been unfaithful to Willy and I told Chris that and then I asked him to try and get a little more information from his mother as the restraining order prevented me from talking to her.
At eleven Andy called me and told me he had gotten the restraining order quashed as it pertained to the kids, but that it was still in effect as far as Wilhelmina and the house were concerned.
I heard from both Dave and Angie before the day was over and they told me the same thing that Chris had - that their mother said that I was cheating on her and she caught me. Any thought that I might have had about working thinks out with Willy were dashed when they told me that. The bitch was trying to poison my kids against me and I would never forgive her for that.
Three days later Andy called me. "I put an investigator on your wife the first day you came to see me and I think we have the answer. Your wife is having an affair with a man she works with. From what he has been able to find out so far it has been going on pretty hot and heavy for about six months. She probably decided that it was time to move you out so she could move him in. I think we should counter sue on grounds of infidelity."
"No, I don't want that. That would only slow the divorce down. If she has a lover I don't want her back. In fact, I don't want anything to do with her any more. Just get me the best deal you can and get it over with."
"I'd like to keep the investigator on her for a little while more and get some hard evidence. It might come in useful later as leverage."
The divorce took on a life of its own. Chris couldn't get any more out of his mother other than "she knew" I was cheating. She told the kids that as long as "they lived under her roof" they were not to see me or talk to me. In response to that both Chris and Dave moved out and took up dormitory living at college.
Six weeks into the divorce Angie called me and told me that her mother had moved a man into the house and into what had been our bedroom.
"I'm not staying here Daddy. I'll run away if I have to. But I'm not staying here."
I gave her Andy's number and told her to call him and then I called Andy and told him what was going on and he said he would take care of it. The next day Child Protection Services removed Angie from Wilhelmina's "care." They kept her for three days and then she was "placed" with me pending the custody portion of the divorce hearing.
My next call from Andy concerned the house. "Your wife's attorney just called. There is no money in the accounts so your wife can't make the house payment. It falls on you to do it."
"Call him back and tell him I'm not making any payments to keep a roof over Wilhelmina's boyfriend's head. Tell him to tell my wife that since she has moved her lover into the house he can make the payment."
"You are being a little short sighted here. The house is an asset and when the divorce is final you will be entitled to half the value of the equity. If you don't make the payments and your wife can't you could lose the house to foreclosure."
"Yep, and Wilhelmina won't get a penny.
"You do realize that you could be held in contempt of court don't you? The court did order you to maintain the residence in the original court order."
"Yes, but that was so my family wouldn't be disrupted, but all three kids are out of the house now and that changes things."
"It is still a valid court order. It is my duty as your attorney to advise you that you do have to follow the orders of the court."
"What are they going to do to me if I don't, hold me in contempt? So what? All they can do if they hold me in contempt is throw me in jail until I agree to do what they say. If I go to jail I'll lose my job and there goes Willy's chance for separate maintenance. Hey! She will be working and I won't. Maybe she will have to pay me alimony. No Andy, tell her lawyer I don't pay a dime on that house as long as her boyfriend lives there with her."
After months of bullshit the divorce finally was final. The day we signed the papers Wilhelmina asked for five minutes alone with me. I hadn't said one word to her since the day I was served so I figured what the hell, why not.
She sat down on the other side of the conference table and then she smirked at me and asked:
"Well Rob, was she worth it?"
"Was who worth what?"
"Was your affair with Helen worth all that you have been through the last several months and all that you have lost?"
"Oh come on Rob, I caught you red-handed."
"I have no idea what you are talking about."
"Deny it all you want Rob, but I saw it with my own eyes."
"I don't have a clue as to what you are talking about Wilhelmina and if babble is all you have for me we are done here" and I got up to leave.