Thanks to the knee doctor for editing assistance.
It was only a twenty-third anniversary, but I was still hoping it would be special. Unfortunately, a last minute business conference threw a monkey wrench into it. I finished packing a bag for the next three days in Baltimore, and sat down to grab a quick bite before leaving.
"Marcie, I promise I'll make this up to you. Torrenson insisted that I attend this seminar. I looked over the agenda and didn't see anything especially important, but he is the boss."
"Don't worry about it, John. I'll get even when we go to Europe for the twenty-fifth. We can go someplace nice this weekend when you get back."
Marcie and I have been married since college, and have two daughters, Janet and Rachel, who are both in college. I started working for Beeman's International about ten years ago and was doing well. I put in a lot of hours and was required to travel quite a bit. Marcie didn't seem to mind and found ways to occupy her time while I was gone. Our marriage was good and our sex life was fine. Other than my demanding work schedule, I assumed everything in my life was fine. We socialized occasionally, usually at office functions, but sometimes with neighborhood friends. The girls were both fairly independent, and only relied on us for tuition and some expense money. Both of them were working while they were on campus.
After Marcie and I met, we started dating, and the transition to marriage was a natural thing. There was no whirlwind romance, or storybook episodes. It was all just matter of fact and sort of boring. While I was average in appearance, Marcie was fairly good looking. I was a little more than six foot and towered over Marcie, who was a good six inches shorter. She usually wore heels when we went out, to even things up. She had dark brown hair, which was just starting to get a few gray streaks. They made her look sophisticated. She jogged about three times a week to keep her weight down. Marcie was a fine looking woman and any man would be proud to have her.
"I'll call you when I get settled in and give you the room number. We will probably be busy most of the afternoon and evening. They have some things scheduled pretty late. I won't call tonight if it goes on too long."
"Don't worry John. I have plenty to keep me busy. The girls dropped off some laundry this weekend, and the new book club edition arrived yesterday. Don't fret about me. I'll see you Friday evening."
After a quick kiss, I was off to Baltimore. It was a three hour drive, because I usually took the back roads. I hate the Interstate. The meetings started after lunch, so I had plenty of time to get settled in. I called Marcie to let her know I arrived safely.
The irritating thing was that there was nothing new being presented. I read the agenda before coming, but I was still expecting more. I couldn't figure out why they would send me to a redundant conference.
I was really annoyed after the last session of the afternoon, when they announced that we were all going out for a special celebration dinner to a Ruth's Chris Steak House. Although there were two in Baltimore, they were taking us to the one in Philly, where we had a corporate acount.
It was raining when we arrived in Philadelphia. They had two special tables set up for the group, in a special meeting room. At the prices they charge, I am sure they didn't want a rowdy bunch annoying the paying customers. After we all ordered, I excused myself to go to the men's room.
The lighting thoughout the restaurant was subdued, but I was still able to make out my wife, Marcie, sitting at a secluded table with Bob Torrenson. She was dressed to the nines. It looked like she had even had her hair done. She only goes to the beauty shop on special occasions, two or three times a year. Then I remembered, tonight was special, because it was our wedding anniversary.
As I stood across the room, things became much clearer. Now I knew why I was making so many overnight business trips and seminars. I had no idea Marcie was that close to Bob Torrenson, especially since he was married. We had never socialized with Bob and his wife and I didn't even know when or how they were able to start up a relationship. At this point, it no longer mattered. Looks like our trip to Europe would never happen.
It was a nice restaurant and I didn't want to spoil anyone's meal so I decided to be discrete. I walked to the side of the room by the restroom hallway. From there I could see Marcie and also view the conference room. I thought for sure Marcie would turn her cell phone off under the circumstances, but she didn't.
"Hi honey, it's John. I tried the house phone but there was no answer."
Marcie was trying to use her cell phone without being obvious. That is hard to do in a crowded, expensive eating establishment.
"Sorry John. I am down in the basement and didn't hear the phone ring. I thought you weren't going to call. What is going on?"
Bob had a disgusted look on his face as Marcie tried to keep her voice down.
"Just wanted to let you know that I am on my way home. The conference ended early. I should be home in about an hour. See you soon."
"What? Hold on a minute, John. The washer is acting up."
Marcie quickly put her hand over the phone and was talking to Bob. You could tell there was a degree of urgency in the conversation, by her facial expression and hand gestures. Bob whipped out his phone and hit a speed dial in two seconds flat. Across the room, the conference director was answering his cell phone. The conversation between Bob and the party room was very short. A look of fear crossed Marcie's face as Bob relayed what he had just heard. She put the phone up to her mouth slowly.
"John, where are you?"
"I think you know the answer to that. You look nice in that black dress. It goes good with the pearls that I got you last Christmas. Don't bother coming back to the house tonight. I will be moving out tomorrow. By the way, happy anniversary."
"John, wait, we have to talk."
They always say that. That must be the stupidest expression a women who is caught cheating can make, but they always say it.
It was raining like hell when I walked out of the restaurant. My car was in Baltimore and I was stuck in Philly. I started walking towards the downtown area. In less than a minute, I was soaking wet. Somehow, I didn't care. I felt my phone ring several times but ignored it. Finally, I turned it off. I decided it might be more prudent to save the battery. I felt bad about missing out on the free Ruth's Chris steak until I came to the cheese steak shop. I was depressed, but that was the best steak sandwich I ever had.
I guess the easiest thing to do, would be to rent a car and drive home, but I didn't really want to go home. Home was a comfortable place and all my toys were there, but as hard as I tried, I couldn't convince myself that going there was necessary. From the steak shop it was only a short walk to the nearest bar. After six drafts, I was ready for bed.
I woke up in a sleazy room that I am sure usually rents by the hour. My suit was totally wiped out from the weather the night before. Three blocks away was the bus station. I got a razor with a tube of some sort of shaving cream out of the vending machine, and a few minutes later looked half way presentable. A pair of chino pants and a polo shirt came to less than twenty bucks at a shop closer to town. The Goodwill got my suit and white shirt. By that time, the banks were open.
I don't live in Philadelphia, but most of the banks and other companies I deal with have offices or headquarters there. I quickly closed out my checking and savings accounts. I even took the girls college fund money. The mortgage department in the bank was not happy when I told them I wanted to concede my home loan. What confused them was the fact that I had over sixty thousand dollars equity, and there was no need to let the house go back. They had to agree it was a good deal for them, so they let me sign the release forms. They also said I had to get my wife's signature. I smiled and told them it was their problem. I canceled my bank credit card after paying off the balance.
I had a nice bundle built up in my whole life insurance policies. The company agreed to mail the checks to my sister in Savannah. Fidelity Mutual Funds also agreed to mail the checks for my closed out account. My cell phone battery died, but I was able to borrow a phone from a friendly secretary to call work.
The head of my department at work was not happy about my leaving. After the counter-offers he made to keep me failed, he politely demanded to know the reason why I was going with such short notice. He was not pleased to hear that Bob Torrenson had been keeping me busy so that he could nail my wife. I explained that it was already done and he couldn't fix it. Before transferring me to the personnel office, he promised that Torrenson would be dealt with. Personnel was more than willing to mail my final checks for pay, profit sharing, sick leave, and accrued vacation pay to my sisters place. A sympathetic secretary was also willing to give me Bob Torrenson's home phone number.
I made two more phone calls to cancel two additional credit cards. An hour later, I was on the bus to Baltimore. I decided to pick up my car and get the few things I had in the hotel room.
.... There is more of this story ...