Thanks to the knee doctor for editing help.
It was unusual for me to be working on a Saturday. The only reason I was in Lancaster today was to placate a special customer. I work for a manufacturing company called Paitone. We make telephones. Not your usual phones, but industrial phones that will work in abnormal or dangerous surroundings. They are sturdy and explosion proof. Our biggest customers are refineries, factories, oil platforms, and similar harsh environmental operations. Today, I had to solve a small problem at a large grain elevator and I was already done.
I was topping off the gas tank before starting back to Reading when I had a pleasant surprise.
"Terry Harrison, what are you doing down here today?"
It was Monica Whitmer, an old family friend. Monica and her husband, Brian, used to live just outside of Reading and we had socialized on several occasions. It had been a while and it was good to see her.
"Hi Monica, just here for half a day doing at little work in Manheim. How have you guys been?"
We made small talk for about ten minutes and I ended up following her to their house for a family barbecue. Monica was from the coal regions and Brian and his family was from Lancaster. Most of the people at the gathering were Brian's relatives.
I called my wife, Darcy, to tell her some old friends waylaid me. She and Monica then spent ten minutes chatting. I felt better letting my wife know I was delayed.
It was a non-eventful gathering except for one small thing. I was introduced to Brian's father and two brothers as well as a half dozen off-spring. Each one of them had the same smile. The canine tooth on the right side of their mouth protruded outward and when any of the men or children smiled their lip would curl up around the tooth in a pixy-like grin. My curiosity got the better of me.
"Monica, I need a little help here."
"Do you need more beef or more ribs?"
"No. No. I'm fine. I was just wondering about the unique smile that all the kids have and also Brian and his brothers."
"Oh you noticed. It's hard not to, especially, when you have a whole group of them together. It is a gene thing. Brian, his brothers, and their father all have the funny little tooth in the front. They pass it on to their kids and their kids will pass it on to their kids. It is sort of cute, don't you think?"
I smiled and let her get back to her hosting duties.
I had a lot of time to think on the drive back to Reading. Darcy and I had been married twenty years. I met her in college and we seemed to click. A few years later I started work with Paitone and have been with them almost nineteen years. We have two eighteen years old twin sons, Ron and Rob, who start Penn State in the fall and a cute little daughter named Jenny who was fourteen. We were counting on the boys getting student loans and grants to pay for their college and hoped Jenny would do the same. Darcy and I had a good life, a comfortable house and two nice cars. I would have vested rights in the company pension plan in two years and we had a nice retirement account set up. The company had asked me to relocate several times over the years but Darcy was dead set against it. Other than that we got along fine. Our sex life was good if not exciting and there seemed to be no problems in our marriage or relationship, until now.
Darcy had a light supper ready because she knew I would not be able to eat much after the barbecue. She asked how every one was and expressed her regrets for not being there. Jenny sat across the table eating quietly. The boys were off somewhere doing what ever it is that boys their age did. Everything was OK until Jenny looked up and smiled. Her right lip curled over her protruding tooth and she looked like a little pixy. I lost my appetite completely and excused myself from the table.
There was no doubt in my mind that Jenny was Brian's daughter. It was about the time that Darcy got pregnant with Jenny that our sex life and our relationship in general started to cool down. Darcy never denied me sex, but the spark and the passion was missing. I assumed it was a natural thing and didn't dwell on it too much. I had gotten used to the mediocre lovemaking and expected it would stay that way for the rest of our lives. I wanted more and would have enjoyed more but did not want to become a nag about it. Now it all became clear on a different level. From her frequent trips to Lancaster over the past fifteen years I could only conclude that the affair was on going. I do not have a confrontational nature but I felt I would have to mention it to Darcy and I was hoping I could do it in a civilized manner. Hundreds of other questions started to form in my mind and by bedtime I was a complete wreck. I told Darcy I wasn't feeling well from all the greasy food and slept on the sofa that night.
I spent the whole next day in the garage working on unnecessary projects that I had let go for too long. I was trying to kill time and think. The possibilities were endless. I had to take some action and it had to result in some sort of satisfaction. I wasn't prone to revenge but I did want to limit any chance that my actions would somehow benefit Darcy and her lover.
My first consideration was taking care of the boys. Even though Jenny was not mine, I still loved her and didn't want to do anything to hurt her. While I didn't want to hurt Darcy I also wanted to make sure I didn't end up supporting her and Brian for the rest of my life. I knew for a fact that I didn't want to spend any more time with Darcy than I had to. Her reaction at the time of confrontation would probably determine what I would be doing in the next few days. I decided the best time would be after Sunday supper.
Darcy was a pretty good cook and supper that night was great as usual. Ron and Rod excused themselves before dessert to go see some friends. Jenny finished her dessert and after she went to the living room, it was just Darcy and I sitting with coffee.
"Something has been on your mind all day Terry. Want to tell me what it is?"
I guess I was being a little obvious with my brooding. "I was just wondering how long we were going to wait before we told Jenny who her real father was." I didn't know how else to bring it up.
There was a long pause at the other end of the table followed by a deep sigh. "It is amazing how long it took you to figure it out." She remained stoic as her eyes went from the middle of the table up to mine. "I don't think she has to know until she is at least eighteen or she has some sort of medical problem where it becomes necessary. Everything is fine just as it is. We can't accomplish anything by telling her now."
"Is that fair?"
"Fair to who? A stable family life is important to a girl her age. She doesn't need to know. I'll tell her when the time comes. For now just keep your mouth shut."
I was amazed. I had just told my wife that I was aware of her infidelity and she ends up dominating the conversation and making demands on me. In my mind she was supposed to be apologetic and sorry for what she had done but that is not how it was going. She was acting as if she did nothing wrong and everything was going to continue as it was, if I liked it or not. My first reaction was to jump down her throat but it was about that time that I saw a slight movement in the hallway by the dining room. Jenny had been listening to our conversation. As I paused I could hear her scurrying away. I decided to lay back and take the calm approach.
"Should we consider a divorce?"
"I just said it was important to maintain a stable family environment for a few more years. A divorce is out of the question. What would Jenny and I do if we separated? I think it would be better to wait a while until she is older and everything is stable financially."
Things suddenly became clearer. In two years I would have vested rights in the company retirement fund. In addition to part of my salary, Darcy would also be entitled to part of my retirement plan when she turned sixty-five. The bitch was planning ahead, way ahead. I had a lot of thinking to do now. I sat still, saying nothing.
"At least we don't have to endure the pity sex anymore. That is a relief."
"What are you talking about?"
"For the last fifteen years I have been having sex with you whenever you wanted it, so that you would not become suspicious. It went on a lot longer than I thought it would because you were so damn slow in figuring it out. At least that is all over now. We don't have to pretend anymore. I will probably be taking more trips to Lancaster from now on also."
I sat for a few more minutes and neither of us said anything. "I'll move my stuff in the guest room while you and Jenny do the dishes. I don't want to impose on you anymore than I have to."
"Your acting like a spoiled brat, Terry. We can share the same bedroom without having sex. It is better for the kids."
I didn't reply. The guest room had a sofa bed that was uncomfortable as hell but I didn't have to sleep with the bitch any more.
I was up and out of the house before anybody else had even stirred. I didn't want to have to answer any questions about the sleeping arrangements with the kids. After grabbing a quick, diner breakfast, I headed for work. I was laying awake most of the night making plans. It would be a busy day.
.... There is more of this story ...