I saw her in the rearview mirror, standing there looking as if she were just about to be hit by a runaway freight train. It was a miserable way to end a marriage of over twenty years, but I had given her a chance and it wasn't my fault that she made the wrong choice.
Belinda and I had met at my cousin's wedding reception. She was a friend of the brides and had come to the wedding with a date. I took one look at her and knew — just knew — that she was meant to be my life partner. I ignored the fact that she was there with a date and I moved in on her. I asked her to dance when her date went off to use the bathroom and as we moved around on the dance floor I told her that I hoped her date wasn't too attached to her because I intended to make her mine. She laughed and said:
"Well in that case I hope you have a good memory" and she told me her phone number.
While I was committing the number to memory she said, "Oops, here comes Jeff and I am his date."
I walked her back to the table she was sharing with some friends and she introduced me to them and then she gave me a wicked smile and said to those at the table:
"Remember the name. He says he is going to make me his. If he manages you just might see him around."
That got a few laughs from the people at the table and a murderous stare from Jeff. I raised her hand to my lips, kissed it and said, "I'll call you."
I called, we started dating and a year latter we were married. Over the course of the next twenty years we had a very good life together. She bore me three children, two boys and a girl, and she did a marvelous job of raising them and spoiling me.
Our youngest had just departed for basic training and Belinda was at loose ends so she went looking for a job. She found a job as a secretary for a local auto parts company and she had been on the job two weeks when one morning she told me that she was going to be late that night. I asked her why and she told me that she was going to stop after work for drinks with some of the girls she worked with to get to know them better. I didn't even think twice about it, I just said:
"Have a good time sweetie."
"Thank you honey, I'll try not to be too late."
I'm normally in bed by nine-thirty because I get up at five so I told her not to wake me when she got home. The next day I asked her how her night had gone and she told me that she'd had a good time.
"There are a lot of nice people working there. Honey, would it bother you if I joined their little group? They stop every Thursday night after work and I'd really like to get to know them better."
Why would I mind? I had my bowling league on Thursday and I wouldn't be home until nine anyway so I told Belinda to go ahead and enjoy. A couple of months went by and sometimes Belinda would be home when I got home from bowling and sometimes she wouldn't get in until after I had gone to bed. I didn't think anything of it. Why should I? We had been married for over twenty years and Belinda had never given me any reason to wonder or worry about what she was doing.
The dark clouds stated appearing on the horizon about five months after she had started her job. I didn't recognize them as such at the time, but looking back I can almost pin point the time that things began to change. Belinda was always talking about the people she worked with; about how this guy was this and this woman was that and so and so did such and such. The one she talked the most about was Carla.
Carla was three times divorced and was currently single and she swore she would never tie herself down with a man again. She dated a lot, had no steady boyfriend and my take on her, from what Belinda told me, was that she was a round-heeled tramp. Apparently she and Belinda had become good friends and Carla would share her exploits with Belinda who would then pass them on to me over the dinner table.
"You'll never guess what crazy Carla did Monday night. She and James, I told you about James didn't I? Anyway, she and James had stopped at a bar after work and after about an hour James took her to his place. She had never been there before and she didn't know that he had a roommate. She and James were having sex when the roommate walked in on them. It was an awkward moment, but Carla diffused it by saying that she had enough for both of them. Can you believe it? Both of them? I can't even imagine something like that."
A week later on a Friday night it was, "You know what Carla did last night? A guy she'd never met before asked her to dance and an hour later she left the bar with him. Thirty minutes later she was back and Barb said, "What's the matter, find out he had a wife and dump him?" Carla said, "No, I did him on his back seat and then he took off." Isn't that just outrageous?"
I got one or two of those stories every week, but the light bulb never went off over my head. I could never understand what Belinda saw in Carla and how the two of them could get so close that Carla would share her sex life with Belinda. I supposed that it must have been an opposites attract kind of thing. After a couple of months of being regaled with Carla stories I made the comment that she sounded like a real whore.
"That's probably the reason she has been divorced three times; got her ass caught cheating."
Belinda didn't say anything to that, but the Carla stories stopped.
A little more time went by and one day I read in the paper that the auto parts company that Belinda worked for was having some financial problems and that bankruptcy was possible. I mentioned it to Belinda and asked if it was going to affect her.
"It could if they actually have to go Chapter 11, but we are all hopeful that it won't happen."
The next day she told me that it was going to affect her after all. "They are reorganizing and it is going to mean that I'm going to have to work late some nights"
"What does that mean, some nights?"
"I guess it means that some nights I'm going to be asked to stay late."
"Oh well, I guess it goes with the job. I just hope the extra effort pays off for you."
"I hope so too. I like the job and I like the people I work with and I don't want to have to start over again some place else.
Two days later she called me on my cell and told me that she would be working late that night. I asked her how late and she said she didn't have any idea, but they had told everybody they were going to order take out around seven.
"All right sweetie. If you aren't home by the time I go to bed I'll see you in the morning."
After that, one or two nights a week Belinda had to work late. There was no more in the papers about the parts company so I guessed that whatever they were doing as far as reorganizing was working. A couple of more months went by and then it was the end of bowling until the summer leagues started. I went home after work and around seven I got tired of watching TV so I decided to go down to the lounge, have a drink or two with my wife and meet a few of her co-workers.
I walked into the lounge and looked around the room for Belinda and finally spotted her out on the dance floor with some guy. They were dancing pretty close and I saw the man's hand slide down her back and come to rest on her ass. When she didn't push the hand away or step back from the man I suddenly decided not to have a drink with her after all. Instead, I looked for a nice dark corner to sit in.
For the next two hours I sat there, sipped beer and watched as Belinda danced with the same man. When I first came in he walked her back to a table where she was apparently sitting with a half dozen other girls, but after a half-hour or so and three or four dances she went to the booth with him where he had been sitting.
For the next hour and a half she stayed with him. Every time they danced Belinda was molded to his body and his hands were all over hers. I was getting more and more steamed by the minute and the only thing that kept me from going over and raining on their parade was that I wanted to know more about what was going on. When they finished a dance and went back to the booth and she slid in next to him instead of sitting across from him and then kissed him I got up and went outside. I got in my car and moved it to where I could see Belinda's car and then I sat and waited to see what would happen next.
I had no idea how long I was going to have to wait because I had no idea of when Belinda usually came home. If she wasn't there before I fell asleep I usually slept too soundly for her to wake me up when she came in. It could have been ten or it could have been three in the morning. It was ten-thirty when Belinda came out of the bar with the people she had originally been sitting with before joining the man in his booth. The group scattered to their cars and drove off.
Belinda got in her car and sat there for about five minutes before the man came out of the bar and got in the car with her. They talked for about five minutes and then they slid towards each other and started necking. From where I was sitting I could see Belinda's sweater when it was pushed up on her shoulders and that told me that the man's hands were on her tits, but I couldn't actually see what his hands, or hers, were doing. What I thought I saw was arm motion that indicated that the man was getting a hand job from Belinda.
.... There is more of this story ...