Thanks to the knee doctor for editing assistance.
I was always fascinated by the large glass panels, which separated the airplanes and the passenger terminals at airports. I couldn't imagine how they manufactured pieces of glass that large, and how they were transported and installed. Today, nothing was moving outside: nothing except the snowflakes. They drifted down like little parachutes, swinging from side to side: big, heavy, wet flakes of white cold. They started coming about two hours ago. That was shortly before I was supposed to be taking off on a five-three day business trip. The last message over the intercom indicated that the delay would continue for at least two more hours. It wasn't deep enough for the snow plows to get out, but it was too heavy for the planes to take off.
The Castlebury Airport wasn't that big, but it was at a convenient location to be used as a hub for different airline connecting flights. I called home a few times to let my wife, Marsha, know that the flight was delayed, but there was no answer. I figured she was out shoveling the walk. She thought it was better to shovel three or four times with light snow, than one time, with a thick cover. I was the one that usually did the shoveling, so I was sort of glad that she would get to enjoy it while I was gone.
Marsha and I had been happily married for twenty-two years. We had two sons in college, so when I had to take my trips, she was left alone. Once in a while, she would go along if it was an interesting location, but usually she was content to stay home. The best part of the trips was the "welcome home sex," when I got back. It always seemed to make the separation worthwhile.
Watching the snow had a slightly hypnotizing effect on me after a while. Stretching my legs seemed to be a good idea, so I wandered over by the VIP lounge. I recognized one fellow traveler sitting at a table with three other stranded souls. He noticed me as I entered and waved.
"Eddie, sit down and join the 'Cheating Hearts Club'." I remembered that his name was Duncan, but I had never met the rest of the bunch.
"I assume you are all Hank Williams fans?"
"Sorry, Eddie. You missed on that guess. Hi. I am Archie." The biggest guy at the table held out his hand as a gesture of welcome. The rest of the group quickly followed. "The truth is, we are all victims of cheating wives. When we figured that out, we formed the club. All this happened within the last hour, of course."
The explanation was accompanied with a chorus of moans and cynical laughter from around the table. The youngest guy in the group, who identified himself as Bryce, called the waitress over and ordered another round of drinks. They were about three rounds ahead of me at this point, so I was the only one who was completely sober. I was a poor drinker at best. As the newest member, I got to pick up the latest tab.
"Sorry fellows, I would be happy to sit and chat about your marital woes, but I can't join your club since I am happily married."
Cedric, the oldest member of the group, thought that was funny. After a sarcastic, but friendly laugh, he looked around the table. "I think our newest member is in denial."
It appeared that a little good-natured ribbing was the initiation to join the informal, impromptu group. But, I didn't mind.
After about ten minutes of generic chitchat, Bryce looked over to me. "So, Eddie, tell us. What is your loving wife doing as we speak, and what is your secret for keeping her happy?"
"Well with the snow coming down as it is, I assume she is out shoveling off the driveway."
"Why do you figure that she is doing that?"
"Well she is not answering either the house phone or her cell. She must be outside."
"Would she normally expect you to be calling her now?"
"No. I usually wait until I am settled in. Tomorrow morning sometime."
A low groan spread around the table after I uttered that. They were all expressing disbelief in my statement.
"What. What the hell are you trying to say?"
Cedric decided to speak up. "Let me get this straight. You leave the house, on a trip, out of town for a week, and your wife, all of a sudden, is not available on the house phone, or her cell phone. Does this happen much, normally?"
"What do you mean?"
"Think about it. How often is your wife in a situation where you can not contact her on one of the phones?"
"Never. That is why I believe she is out shoveling the driveway."
I was rewarded with another round of groans.
I took out my cell and dialed our home phone and Marsha's cell phone. There was no answer on either of them. I ended up having to contend with four smirks from four cynical drunks. The hell with it. I needed another drink.
I was trying to think of a way to get the guys to lay off of me for a while. "How did you vagabonds get to be so bitter about all of this? Lots of couples split up. It's not a big deal nowadays."
"Well, we all split because our wives had affairs. None of them were what you would call normal divorces, they were all the results of infidelity on the part of the wife."
"And how did you all find out about these 'affairs'?"
Archie sort of volunteered to go first.
"I was just getting ready to go to work one day, when I caught the tail end of a conversation my wife was having. All I heard were the words "hot tub," and "wine." For the past few weeks before this, my wife, Joan, had gotten into the habit of erasing the phone calls from her cell phone, immediately after she was done. I noticed her doing it, but didn't think anything about it, until this point. For some reason, things did not feel right. Between her recent attitude, and the bits from the phone call, I got curious. I waited until she walked out of the room and then picked up her phone. She had eight speed dial numbers. All of them were family or friends except the last one. I could not figure out why my wife would have the number of a nail salon pre-loaded into her cell phone. I wrote down the number and left for work."
I got the feeling some of the guys heard this story before, but I was anxious to hear the rest.
"My secretary had no trouble at all finding out who the "nail salon" phone number really belonged to: Todd Mitchell, a local real estate agent, and friend of the family. I made a few phone calls and discovered that only two motels in town had hot tubs, and only one room had been reserved for the day. I called my wife and asked if she wanted to meet for lunch. She said she couldn't because she had to meet her friend, Janet. Since that was bullshit, I figured she was going to meet Todd over the lunch hour. I loaded his phone number in my cell, and left for the Rainbow Motel."
Duncan ordered another round of drinks, but I switched to coke.
Archie continued with the account of his wife's dalliance. "Todd arrived at the motel, before I did, and parked his Mercedes in front of room 117. I parked a few spaces down from it. I only had to wait a few minutes, until Joan's Civic entered the back lot. I got out of my car and leaned on the fender. The expression on her face was unforgettable, as she recognized me. She knew that I had seen her, and had no option except to park and get out. She tried desperately to convince me that Janet was meeting her there and they were going to just drive one car to the restaurant. I didn't say anything, but just smiled. She stopped talking, and I took out my cell phone and dialed the new, pre-loaded number. When Todd answered, I said, "Joan is going to be a little late today, and they are towing your car away." My wife stood with her mouth agape as Todd jerked the door of the motel room open, to see what was happening to his Mercedes. By that time, I was standing by the door. When he rushed out, he tripped over my extended leg and fell right on his face. A swift kick to his genital area completed things. I quietly got into my car and drove to the lawyer's office. Six months later, I was a free man, and so was Todd."
"I take it that you had no idea anything was going on, until you happened to overhear part of a conversation?"
"That's right, Eddie. I found out later that they had been together for almost a year. I trusted my wife, and had no reason to doubt her fidelity. There is nobody more gullible than a loving husband."
Duncan stretched out in his chair, unsuccessfully trying to turn it into a recliner. "Maybe you should try your wife again, Eddie. She might be done shoveling by now."
When neither the house phone nor her cell phone got answered, I was rewarded with a round of moans and eye rolling.
Bryce leaned over the table. "Eddie, do you have a neighbor you could call, just to see if everything is Okay?"
After flipping through a small telephone book I had in my coat pocket, I called the old guy who lives across the street. He was retired and enjoyed being the eyes and ears of the neighborhood. Cedric ordered another round of drinks. He switched to coke also.
"Well, what the hell did he have to say?" I didn't notice who asked the question.
"Marsha left the house about two hours ago, just when the snow started. He hasn't seen her since. The driveway and sidewalk have not been shoveled."
As expected, a loud, long groan emanated from around the table. It was as if they were all saying: "I told you so." at the same time.
It was Bryce's turn to entertain the group. "Well, at least I saw it coming. I don't know how long it was going on when I started to pick up on the little things. Sadie and I had three kids in high school, and I was on the road far more than I should have been. The only good thing was that she kept the affair secret from the kids, and never brought the guy to the house. At least I think she never did. I finally faked an out-of-town trip, so I could check things out. It was pretty cut and dry. He picked her up at the mall, and they went to a motel, about twenty minutes from our house. I watched from the outside as they took the elevator to the third floor. I am a pretty laid back guy, but I will resort to violence if I feel it is necessary. I went home from the motel, and got a cooler filled with canned soda, a crossword puzzle book, a baseball bat, and a lawn chair. I took my time driving back to the motel."
Duncan ordered a large plate of nachos from the bar.
Bryce continued with his story. "The desk clerk gave me a funny look when I walked in, but he didn't say anything. I set myself up right by the third floor elevator door, and waited. I took a good leak before leaving the house, so I wouldn't have to leave my post. My reward came about two hours later. Sadie came out of the room with her friend, and immediately saw me sitting there. I recognized the guy as a neighbor from down the street. He was married with two kids. She ducked back into the room, and I could tell she pulled him along, by the way he moved."
"That wasn't it, was it?"
"No, but nothing exciting really happened. Over the next fifteen minutes he peeked out of the door several times. He decided to confront me, but when he walked out of the room, I stood up with the baseball bat in my hand and he quickly returned. Finally, the motel manager came up on the elevator. We argued for several minutes. He asked me to leave and I refused. He ended up threatening to call the police, and I told him it was a good idea. Twenty minutes later the police arrived. I told them that I feared for her life, and that she was being held against her will by a rapist. It was a ridiculous story, but it did get the cops into the room, to talk to Sadie and her boyfriend. Ten minutes later, the police came out of the room. Their demeanor had mellowed a little. In a quiet tone of voice, the officer told me that my wife was afraid to come out of the room, because of what she had done. She asked them if they could take her to her sister's house, but wanted me to leave, before she would come out. I left and went straight to my lawyer's office. She got the kids and the house, but I got my freedom. Sadie's boyfriend also found himself single, but not by choice."
Another round of drinks showed up. We had no news about the delayed flight.
"Eddie, do you have any close family friends or acquaintances that Marsha might be confiding in, while you are out of town?" Duncan was trying to be tactful, but the question still stung a little.
"Most of our friends are married. The only guy I can think it might be is one of Marsha's old college friends, who just came back to town, about six months ago. At first, she mentioned him several times, but lately she hasn't brought up his name at all. I didn't like him because he was a little smarmy."
"How friendly were they in college?"