Thanks to the Knee Doctor for editing assistance.
It was a usual weekday supper. I didn't have much of an appetite but my two sons were tearing into the macaroni and cheese. Jason, 15, and Josh, 14, never failed to clean their plates. They were both active in sports and typical teenage activities. At the far end of the table, my wife Carla was overseeing the family meal, making sure that everyone had enough of whatever they wanted. It was like a picture that Norman Rockwell would have loved to paint. The boys finished up quickly and headed out for some street hockey, before it got too dark. I was nursing the last of my iced tea trying to get up the nerve to confront my wife. She was standing at the sink washing dishes as I rose from my chair.
"The next time you go to meet your lover, don't wear that red dress. You looked like a twenty dollar hooker going into that motel room."
She never turned around and as I walked out the door, I could hear the crash of a china plate hitting the floor.
I spent the next two hours mowing the grass. It finally got too dark to see any more and I had to quit. I didn't want to go into the house. I did not want to face her. I took more time than usual in cleaning the mower. It was a half of a quart low on oil, so I took care of that. When I went to drop the empty oil container in the trash, I noticed a brown paper bag tightly wadded up and forced into the bottom of the can. Inside were the red dress and a set of red underwear. The panties were stained but I didn't have any reason to save them. I already knew who did the dirty work.
Carla was in bed with the door closed. That was fine, because I didn't want to face her. The whole day started off wrong. I had the feeling Carla was cheating for several months. Since I didn't want it to be so, I tried to ignore it, hoping it would go away. It didn't go away. It just got worse. My wife is a fourth grade school teacher. She usually leaves for school when the boys do. This morning she had a doctor's appointment and wanted to get her eyes examined, so she took a sick day. I leave about the same time. I am a house painter. For the last few weeks I had been working on an apartment complex in Harrisburg, about an hour drive from home. When Carla announced her sick day, I decided to quietly do the same.
I have been painting houses for almost twenty years. I like the work and I am good at it. I was doing it when we got married, and it paid Carla's way through college. I always thought my wife was fine with my choice of work, but for the last few years I noticed her making comments that indicated that this wasn't so. When she introduced me to her friends she never mentioned what I did for a living, in fact, she seemed to go out of her way to avoid it. If someone forced the issue, it came out, but I could tell she wasn't thrilled. It was Okay when I was paying for her college and getting us a home, to raise the boys, but now I felt like I was a liability for her. I hated going to social functions.
Carla was a good teacher, she made more money than I did, and had better benefits. Her union medical benefits covered the entire family. She also had a nice pension building up. All I would have was social security. She kept herself in good shape. Even though she was only five feet one, she was impressive to look at. I guess it was her platinum hair that she wore very short.
I hung around down the street from the house waiting for her to leave. When she came out she had on the pretty little red dress. She looked good in that dress, and I always told her so. It was, however, an odd choice for going to the doctor's.
The doctor did not have an office at the Deska Motel. Carla parked the car and walked right up to room 117, knocked twice and walked in. That was all I needed to see, to confirm my suspicions. The desk clerk was young, and he was more than happy to give me the registration card, in exchange for a hundred dollar bill. I recognized the name, but couldn't put a face to it. Jefferson Gibbons was at a few of the functions Carla dragged me to. He had something to do with the school board or the school district. I couldn't remember which. Jefferson drove a BMW and he left it unlocked. It took me just a minute to get his registration out of the glove box. The car was registered to Jefferson and Darlene Gibbons. They lived at 321 David Drive in Lancaster. That rang a bell. I remembered he was on the Lancaster County School Board. It also appears that he was married.
That was pretty much the highlight of my day. I wandered around for several hours before heading home. Carla was there when I arrived and was as perky as ever. She wasn't wearing the red dress any more.
I didn't sleep at home that night. I slept in the truck behind the warehouse of the company I sub-contracted for. I was still sweaty from the late mowing but I didn't care. I needed coffee badly, and some eggs and toast went well with it. I tried to kill time before heading home. I wanted to make sure Carla was gone.
There wasn't much in the house that I was attached to. I grabbed all of my clothes and stuffed them in trash bags. I got a few papers that I felt I should have, my birth certificate, passport and other stuff like that. I made one quick phone call.
"This is Bob Terrell. We met at a few school functions over the past few years."
"I can't say I remember. What is it that you want?"
"I just wanted to let you know that your husband, Jefferson, spent yesterday afternoon at the Deska Motel in Reading with my wife, Carla."
There was silence on the other end of the phone. I waited for a response, but none came.
"That's all I wanted to say Mrs. Gibbons. Sorry to have to bother you with this, but I couldn't let it pass. Good bye."
Ten minutes later I was on my way to Colorado to see my Uncle Jack. I didn't like leaving the boys, but they were pretty resilient, and Carla could provide better for them than I could. She made more money than I did and was a better parent, except for the infidelity part. I did not leave a note or anything. I am sure she would get the point when she saw that my clothes were gone.
The boys got out of school at 3 PM, so about ten after, I gave Jason a call. He had a cell phone that allowed incoming calls but could only call a few preset numbers out. It seemed to work fine for us.
"Jason. Hi, this is dad. Are you on you way home?"
"Yah. What's up?"
"I just wanted to give you a heads up. I moved out of the house today. I am on my way to Colorado to stay with Uncle Jack for a while. I felt I should let you and Josh know what is going on."
"What the hell are you talking about? Why would you move out?"
"Jason, the easiest and nicest way for me to answer that would be to tell you to ask your mother. As far as I am concerned that would be a cop out on my part. Your mother decided she wanted to trade up. I think she was looking for someone with a better job or position. I am not sure. In any event it turned out that I was not good enough for her anymore. I'm going to stay away for a while so she can figure out what she wants to do. I'll call you every so often, when I can. If I remember correctly, Uncle Jack doesn't get cell phone signals."
"Come on Dad, can't you guys work it out here? Isn't there counseling or something?"
"Not for me son. Look, your mother has a good job and she won't have any trouble taking care of you guys. I'll try and call you sometime this weekend. Oh, and don't tell your mother where I am or that I called you. Take care of Josh, and try and stay cool. Bye."
I was just entering the great state of Illinois.
Uncle Jack lived just north of Raton Pass. It was more like New Mexico than Colorado. I don't know what he did for a living or where he got his money, but he didn't seem to have any problems. He had been married years ago, but caught his wife cheating and kicked her out. When I explained my problem he was sympathetic and understanding. I was invited to stay as long as I liked. He welcomed the company. Jack had a lot of land but it didn't look like it was good for much. It was too rough to farm and too sparse to ranch. In addition to the main house, there were several barns and corrals. He had a lot of horses that I found out later, were all being boarded. Folks would come on the weekends and ride, usually just in the summer. The rest of the year was less than pleasant.
Sunday afternoon, we drove into Trinidad for supper and some essentials I forgot to bring. I was able to get a signal for the phone so I called Jason.
"Son, I just wanted to let you know I got here Okay. How are things at your end?"
"Not good, Dad. I explained everything to Josh and he is really pissed at Mom. He is not talking to her. Mom won't tell us what happened. She claims she doesn't know why you left. I tried a couple times to get her to say something, but she just clams up. Josh and I are leaving her alone as much as we can."
"It sounds like you are handling it pretty well. I am sorry for the mess. Do the best you can. I can't get a signal at the ranch but Jack does have a regular phone. I'll try and call from there. Is there anything I do to help you guys?"
"We'll be Okay, Dad."
Interesting thing about Jack's place: every building needed painting, badly. I don't know how long he had lived there, but I would bet there wasn't a paintbrush on the whole ranch. At least I felt there was something I could do to earn my keep. There was a co-op near by and I bought all the five-gallon cans of red oxide paint they had. Of course it went on Jack's account. There were still several months of good weather and I was hoping to get most of the out buildings done. The main house would have to wait till spring.
The next two weekends I couldn't get Jason on the cell. I was starting to worry.
Two more weeks passed and I had not heard from the boys. It was over a month now. I thought I had given Jacks landline number to Jason, but now I wasn't sure. It had been over a month with no contact when Jack called me to the house phone.
"Dad, It's Jason. Josh and I are in Santa Fe and we need to get picked up. Can you come and get us?"
"What the hell are you doing in Santa Fe? How did you get there?"
"I can't talk right now. I borrowed a cell phone from a guy here and promised to keep it short. We are in the Sky Blue terminal. How soon can you get here?"
"Couple of hours at least. Get something to eat. We are leaving right away."
Two hours later the boys were in the back of the king cab, and we were on the way back north. They had no luggage. Josh immediately fell asleep.
"I tried to call several times, Jason. What happened to your phone?"
"Mom found out that you were calling. She got mad, took the phone from me and smashed it with a rolling pin. I was going to call the number you gave me for the house but decided to wait. I don't know why. I guess I was hoping things would get better."
"Since you are here, I assume things didn't get better."
"About a month ago Mom started going out at nights. She wouldn't get home till after midnight and she was always drunk. Some days she didn't even get up and go to work. She didn't bother to call in or anything."
"Was she by herself? Yes, at first. One night about a week later she brought a guy home with her. They were both stewed to the gills. They went right to Mom's room and started making noise. You know what I mean, right?"
"I know what you mean. What else happened?"
"About an hour later, Josh and I went outside and left the air out of all of the guys tires. We went across the street to Mister Simpson's place, and he let us spend the night in his guest room. Mister Simpson and us watched the guy, when he came out the next morning. Boy was he pissed. It took over an hour for the AAA guy to get there and blow all the tires up. Mom was standing out on the porch with a bathrobe on for a while. We went straight to school. When we got home that afternoon, Mom didn't say anything about it, to us."
"Did this happen often?"
"Only one more time. The next night, she brought another guy home and we did the same thing, only we cut the valve stems this time. They had to tow him in. He was really mad. Mister Simpson was getting a big kick out of it. From then on, she never had another guy at the house."
"Well, that seemed to work out pretty good for you guys."
"She kept going out thought, and usually she didn't get back until the next morning. Sometimes she drove home and sometimes guys just dropped her off. I don't know where she left her car. Oh yeah, one really odd thing I almost forgot. She bought about five or six red dresses, and every time she went out, she wore one of the red dresses. At least Josh and I were able to sleep and eat at home. We got a lot of phone calls from the school and the school district, wanting to know where she was. She slept most of the time. A couple of days ago, they fired her, sort of, I guess. There was some sort of union restrictions against them doing it, but they were not letting her go to work anymore. I am really not sure what all happened."
"I'm sorry about all that. If I had any idea it was going to happen I never would have left you there. Now, how did you end up here?"
"Last night, about midnight, some guy brought her home and pushed her out of his car with his foot. She got up and staggered to the porch and collapsed. We didn't know if she was dead or what. Her dress was all torn and she looked like hell. That's when I decided we had to leave. I told Josh to call 911 and I took her VISA card out of her wallet. I went to the computer and booked two flights from Philly to Santa Fe and had them hold the tickets at the counter. I wasn't sure they would give the tickets to a couple of kids though. I almost got tickets to Denver, but changed my mind at the last minute."
"Looks like it worked out Okay."
"We had to fudge it a little."
"What do you mean?"
"The EMT showed up and one of the guys called the cops as soon as he looked at Mom. They asked if anyone else was at home. The cops got there as they were loading mom into the ambulance. It turned out to be a combination of alcohol and cocaine. I didn't know Mom used cocaine."
"Neither did I son."
"They asked a lot of questions, especially about the car that dropped her off, but we didn't know much. A short while later, a lady cop came over to us. She was from family services and asked where you were. I told her that you were in Colorado and that you sent us some tickets. With my best, sad face, I told her that we had no way to get to the airport and needed an adult with us to be able to board. She made a few phone calls and ended up actually taking us to the ticket counter. I guess it was an easy out for her and it worked out great for us."
After the boys got settled in, Jack and I sat up till midnight discussing the situation. I figured Carla would start divorce proceedings after I left, but it looked like I was wrong. Of course I never thought she would turn into a rabid slut either. I guess she was holding in a lot of unfulfilled desires and was relieved to get to express herself. I am not very good at figuring out why other people do things.
Jack didn't have a computer, so the next morning I had to use the heck out of his phone. I finally got a lawyer in Reading that was more than willing to start divorce papers for me. When I mentioned Carla's name, he indicated he was aware of her problem. I guess these guys keep up with things that go on at the police station. He said her activities over the past few weeks would be easy to document and make the divorce a lot simpler. I had to send the lawyer a money order for two thousand dollars. That tapped me out, but Uncle Jack promised to back me up financially if necessary. The lawyer thought he would try and hit Carla up for child support payments, since she made more than I did. Of course, since she was now out of a job, it would make things difficult.
I had to contact the boy's school, and had no trouble getting a sympathetic ear there. I guess everybody that worked in the school system was aware of my loving wife's escapades. They agreed to forward all school records with no problem, and even copies of their birth certificates. I told the boys they could take some time off till the papers arrived.
Things went fine the next few months. Carla signed the divorce papers, but with no child support. She had lost her teaching certificate and was forced to find some other type of work. I don't know what she ended up with, but I am sure it was not as prestigious as her teaching position. All I had to do now was wait three more months. Jason and Josh were both doing well at the new school. They had a nice hike to the bus stop every morning. Jack and I refused to drive them. We told them it was a character building exercise.