I had gotten off work early. A localized power outage downtown had shut us down. I'm Red Benson; the Red is short for Redeker, and no I have no idea where such a name came from, supposedly my grandmother came up with it. Oh, and I have brown hair not red.
I work as a lathe operator in a machine shop: XL-Fabrications. The pay is good, the work dirty, and the days can sometimes be long. It was Friday. I headed home a little before 11:00AM, way earlier than my usual 5:00PM. Sally, I knew, would be glad to see me. I'd be taking her for a fancy lunch at the Hyatt; and then, the way I figured it, she would be required to reward me.
My smile was as wide as all outdoors as I entered the home Sally and I had shared since our marriage twenty-five years before. She'd been barely nineteen at the time and me twenty-one. Yes, immature, but we'd clicked and made it work, unlike many who'd married so young.
There was a car parked in the driveway, a Chevy Impala, I didn't recognize it. Sally had a visitor. She had not mentioned expecting anyone during breakfast. Breakfast was always for us. No matter how hectic our life and schedules became, breakfast was our time. Since she hadn't mentioned who might be coming over, I assumed that the visitor was a surprise. I was about to discover just how big a surprise it was, not to her but to me.
No one in the front of the house, I headed down the hall to the bedrooms. Our bedroom door was partially open. What I saw killed my heart. My wife was getting a serious banging from a man I'd never seen before. It was a minute or so, I'm not really sure, before they realized that I was there. Sally shrieked. Red!
Without a word I turned slowly and walked out. I headed for the Scoundrel, my favorite watering hole. I needed a drink—or eight or ten.
I was predictable I guess. She found me in less than two hours. She came up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I jumped. "Jesus!" I said.
"Sorry for startling you," she said. "Can we talk?" When I turned to her, she noticed my reddened eyes and puffy cheeks. I could see it distressed her. She clearly realized that she was going to have a harder time than she thought selling whatever excuse she'd brought with her for the occasion.
"Fuck you," I said, literally sneering at her
"Red, I am so sorry you saw that, but frankly it's not the end of the world. What I—we were doing was just fucking. There was no love, no permanency, no commitment, nothing but sex." The bartender ten feet away was trying his damndest not to listen. "You were not ever supposed to know about it, and then you never would have been hurt. I never denied you anything Red, and I never will. It's just that, I need more than you can give. I need more, I just do.
"Then why the fuck are you here? Go get it. Just leave me alone," I said. "I got along fine before I met you; I'll get along fine now. Just leave me the fuck alone."
"Red! Wake up! And stop the awful language, please." She was clearly worried now, and I loved it. But, she was far from through. "I am not leaving you for that man, or for any man. You're stuck with me," she said, trying to sound comforting. "I love you, Redeker, and I always will; but I need to have you understand where I am coming from here. I promise to treat you as I always have, heck maybe even better; but I just have to have my little something on the side from time to time. Okay?"
I was stunned. I was near to going insane with hurt or rage or something! I didn't know which way to turn or what to do. I just looked at her. "Okay? Are you fucking crazy! No, I am not all right. I'm hurt and filled with hate. I don't know how to say it any clearer than that," I said.
"Red, I said I was sorry. I really, really didn't mean for you to see that. God, how awful it must have been for you. I'll never be able to forgive myself for being so careless. Redeker, I'm begging you. Please come home. Please!
"Right now I need to take you home and help you to forget that scene you witnessed a little while ago. You'll see, it'll be fine. Just leave everything to me."
I was too overcome to argue further. My mind, my very soul was in turmoil. The travesty of the things I'd witnessed was more than I could get my head around. I had to think. "Leave everything to you? Trust you? I don't think so," I said.
That I was crushed would be an understatement of heroic proportions. She had made me her cuckold, and she was trying to make me like it, or at least accept it. And she had as much as said that she intended to continue doing it.
We had a daughter, grown now and living on the East Coast with her husband of three years and their two boys. I was mortally concerned that she—they—would find out what had happened. Could I tolerate my daughter knowing that I was a cuckold? No! My humiliation was already way beyond the pale. For Janie to know that her father was a wimpy nothing in his wife's eyes would have been far too much for me to bear.
I was confused and scared and angry and sad—mostly sad. My wife of twenty-five years didn't love me. She said she did, but she didn't. She couldn't if she could do this to me, talk to me the way she had. Treat me like a little boy who needed to be comforted while she was out getting laid by every sport in town. I had to think.
I didn't know how I hadn't seen it coming. There had to have been signs. Something! I decided I'd have to call Janie, our daughter soon. I couldn't let the woman have the edge in that conversation. Janie had to know that her old man wasn't some wimpy little shit.
I was already getting to the place where I knew that my marriage was over. She, my cheating wife had to realize that too If not now, then sooner or later.
I was not sure about moving out immediately; that was a complication. But, even if by some miracle some miserable vestige of our marriage were to somehow stumble on, I had decided that sex between us was done forever. She'd said I didn't satisfy her, so her allowing me mercy fucks to placate me wasn't about to happen. I had some pride, damaged certainly, but I still had some no matter what.
I don't know how we got home. I don't remember driving. She was saying something about picking up my truck tomorrow. I climbed the steps to what had been our happy home like a condemned prisoner going to the gallows.
"Come on baby, let momma make you better," she said. I looked at her like she was the one who was insane now.
"Red? Are you okay, baby?"
I finally got some sense of grit back in my belly. "No, Sally," I said softly. "I'm—I'm..."
"I know, baby, you're hurt, and I hurt you. I can't tell you how awful I feel. I'm going to make it up to you, right now, my husband. I'm going to make this right between us. I promise you." She was smiling. She felt in control, and I could smell it, see it. She was wrong.
"Sally, you just told me not half hour ago that I couldn't satisfy you. Was that true?" I said.
"Red, I said that, but I wasn't thinking. Of course you satisfy me. It's just that I need..."
"'More than I can give you, ' I think were your words, which means that I don't satisfy you," I said.
"Sally, I am not going to accept a mercy fuck from my own wife and call it love. I need to be loved for real and appreciated for what I am and what I have. I won't be bothering you for sex again as long as I live," I said.
I was crazy wasn't I? I had just burned my bridges. I'd told her we were done with sex between us. I hoped this wasn't going to come back to bite me in the ass. But divorce—did I really want it? Why didn't I know? I couldn't live with a woman who thought as little of me as she did. Could I? Jesus, I was confused!
"Red, of course we're going to have sex. And it's not going to be any mercy fuck either. I do love you. I don't love anyone else, certainly not Rod Wilson, and he knows it. You have to believe me," she said. "Come on. Let's go upstairs and let me show you how much I love you. You sure as hell will be able to tell it's no mercy fuck. It'll be just like always, even better."
"No," I said.
"I said no, Sally; and I mean no, never again. I still have a smidgen of self-respect left, Sally. I will not be the butt of your lover's jokes or the recipient of your mercy or his, the asshole stud you brought into our bed!" I was beginning to raise my voice. "I will be sleeping in our daughter's room for now.
"Tomorrow's Saturday, it'll be a day for me to think and make decisions. I have loved you more than my life for going on a quarter of a century. I thought you felt the same. I guess I was only half right," I said. "I suspect now that you hold me only in contempt, and for sure he does. Someday, he'll pay, mark my words, Sally. You best not be around him when I come down on him because it ain't gonna be pretty. I can promise you that."
"Red, Rodney is a good man. He and I, well we fill a physical need that we both share, but Redeker it's not love, not by a long shot. I keep telling you that. Can't you understand what I'm saying! He just fills a physical need that sometimes overcomes me, and that's all."
I just couldn't believe the things that she was saying. Surely my wife of so many years couldn't be that stupid. I mean, if she was, how could I have not known it? Was I dumber than she was? I guess I had to have been.
She tried to grab my arm, but I yanked it away from her and headed out to the patio deck in the back yard. I grabbed a Lite beer on the way. "Fuck you," I said.
She looked frightened by the suddenness of my words and actions. I guess I was frightening if it came to that. She backed off and let me go. My back to her as I headed out, I didn't see the tears that began to stain the sides of her cheeks.
The house was stone silent that first night. The morning came and the sun drenched my daughter's room waking me from a fitful sleep. The curtains had been taken down a few days before, Sally had intended to wash them, but so far had either not washed them; or, if so, she had not put them back up. At any rate, there was no protection for me from the gleaming rays of the sun god, so I got up. It was 6:03.
Sally was still sleeping. I was glad. I wanted to be alone for a while. I decided that I would work in the yard. It was going to be a hot day, but I needed to sweat. I needed to do something mindless and mechanical, so that I wouldn't have to dwell any more than necessary on the events of the past twenty-four hours. And that was the catch-22: I needed to think, consider, plan.
She came down as I was sipping my second cup of coffee. "Red?" I looked up.
"Yeah, I can't fool you. It's definitely me, your wimpy-ass husband," I said, making an attempt to not sound too sarcastic.
"Red, stop that right now! You are no wimp. Not to me, not to anyone. Red, are we okay? I'm frightened," she said.
"Is that a serious question?" I said. "You're getting what you want from good 'ole Rod aren't you," I said. "You've got nothing to lose the way it looks to me. If I stay you've got your lover, if I go you've got your lover. Isn't that about right?"
"Red, it's not like that," she said. "Not like that at all."
"Oh? What is it like then? What am I missing. Are you giving him up? Other men? Did I miss that?" I said. "If so, I swear to you, I didn't hear it."
"Red, you're not understanding me..."
"I'm gonna work in the yard. You do whatever you want," I said. I got up and walked out still holding my coffee mug.
Saturday and Sunday were, somber, I think is the word. She never left the house, and I didn't either. Meals were silent affairs too except for the occasional pass the salt and pepper and such. I had called my boss at home and taken the whole following week off; I didn't tell the whore. I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate on work. I would probably have cut off my arm or drilled a hole in it or something. But hell, a hole had already been drilled in my heart, so what would a hole in my arm matter. One good thing about it all: the yard looked great.
It was on the third day, Monday, when things came to a crashing head. It was kind of an accident. It had gotten really hot, and I had come into the service porch where we had a small refrigerator that I kept stocked with soft drinks and beer. I'd pulled myself a cold one when I heard the phone ring. I heard her come into the kitchen to answer it.
"Hello ... No I can't talk ... No, we have to cool it for a while ... No, I said, he's hurt ... He's hurt real bad ... I can't be traipsing around fucking you ... No, you'll just have to employ the five sisters for a while ... No, I don't know how long ... But, he's ... Listen, he'll be going back to work next week ... Yes, yes, maybe then ... but only maybe ... I'm not losing my meal ticket just so you can get your rocks off ... Forget it ... He makes a living ... You make me cum ... The living's more important..."
I stood there frozen. When she turned around to hang up the phone she saw me. Her hand went to her mouth. No words came out. I was dirty and smelly and now I was also really really mad. I went up stairs to pack. She stood aside as I took yard long strides past her.
"Red!" she gasped, finally.
I turned and snarled at her, "Tell good 'ole big dick that he's gonna have to get a job," I said.
I don't think I had ever packed two bags as fast as I packed those two bags that morning. She tried to get me to talk while I was packing, while I was coming down the stairs, while I packed up the pickup truck; but I just brushed her off. I finally saw her begin to shed tears as I pulled out of the driveway. Tears of greed, I thought, not tears of grief. I smirked, I shoulda been a screen writer.
I was at my usual spot at the Scoundrel when a friend came in. "Hey Red, how yuh doin', man. Aren't you working today? It's fucking Monday." he said, slapping me on the back.
"No, I took off. I got problems," I said.
Granger and I talked the place closed that night. I think we'd each had about a hundred drinks. The barkeep, who was becoming more than slightly familiar with me, bought us a final round.
"Red, that flat sucks," said Granger, "but that's the way women are, some women anyway. I love my dog. I know she's gonna be faithful. Women I'm not so sure of," he said, and guffawed.
"Yeah, I guess," I said, already half drunk.
"You know how you can tell who loves you the most, I mean your dog or you woman?" he said.
"Well, you lock 'em both up in the trunk of your car for an hour on a really hot day. Then, you let 'em out and see which one is glad to see yuh!" he laughed till his sides ached.
"Okay, okay but what about that idea you said you had," I said.
I got a friend who is good at findin' out things. He's not a private dick but he has equipment. We gonna sandbag those two," he said. 'Ole Granger gonna take care of his friend."
The keep kicked us out. It was 2:20AM. We were sloshed, I sure as hell was. But, on the plus side, I was still ambulatory.
"You wanna have some fun?" said Granger.
"Huh? It's two in the morning," I said, stumbling along behind him.
"I know a couple of women who—do their business late at night like this. I think it would do you good to get some tender lovin' care," he said.
"What the hell. Yeah, let's go for it. Oh wait, gonna cost us?" I asked.
"Never mind that, tonight's on me. You can pick up the tab next time," he said.
"Okay, you got it then," I said.
A half an hour later the buzzer sounded and Granger got the door. I was sitting in his kitchen, where we'd been talking, sipping my third cup of java. I heard the voices of several speaking all at once. The two whores and Granger came in all smiles. The tall one frowned sympathetically when she saw me.
"Hi, mister," she said. "My name's Carie." I smiled back at her.
"Hi, mine's Red," I said. She was pretty. Not runway gorgeous, but pretty. Slim, five-eight or nine, one-twenty-five or so. Dark hair, olive complexion, maybe Italian, I thought. Pretty. The other girl, obviously Granger's, was not real hard on the eyes either": blond, a bit over weight, voluptuous would have been the operative term; her breasts had to be 40Ds. Kim was definitely a wide-body built to care for a man.
Greetings done, Granger announced that this was an all night affair and that breakfast would be at 9:00AM and not a minute sooner, maybe later, but definitely not sooner. He laughed, everyone did, even me. Thoughts of Sally were banished for the moment; Carie had my undivided attention.
The next two hours required concentration on my part. Carrie sucked me, fucked me, and thrilled me during the entire time. In spite of being in a state of extreme inebriation; I was finally able to get it up for her.
At various points during the evening I cried, I laughed, and cried some more. I blubbered about my unfaithful, greedy-ass wife. I snarled my hatred for the slimeball who'd cuckolded me. I lay with my head on the breasts of a beautiful woman intent on comforting me. It was the strangest fucking night of my life. It was also the strangest night of fucking of my entire life. But it was a night that would change my life too; I just didn't know it at the time.
As described, that night with Granger and the whores changed me. The problem was I didn't exactly know how it changed me. Carie, who I suddenly had a thing for, was loving and kind and good and pretty and available, but I was still married—wasn't I? None of that withstanding, I had to make up my mind how I was going to deal with my so-called wife. Dump her? That was a possibility, a real possibility. Maybe not dump her? I couldn't get my head around what I'd heard her say about me on the phone. But, Granger convinced me to go back home to monitor things while his friend worked at putting a torpedo in the traitors' boat.
I was supposed to keep my eyes and ears open, and, to plant a bug in my phone that would help his pal with what he had in mind. Anyway, after two glorious days with Granger and the whores, and no contact with my wife, I found myself at home again; it was Wednesday evening. I also found myself in possession of a little device that Granger's friend had had delivered to him, us, the day before; this as a result of a call by Granger to that friend. My weepy wife couldn't do enough for me; her motives suspect or not.
She'd met me at the door. She knew I was coming; I'd called her.
"God! Redeker, I am so glad to see you. Please say you're staying. Please," she said. I could see she was shaking. She was actually afraid. She wasn't faking that.
"You been fucking him while I was gone?" I said.
"Redeker! No! I've just been here waiting. Hoping, praying you'd come back to me," she said. I didn't know if I believed her or not. I guess I did. She'd have been afraid to chance it at that point.
She was hurting. I supposed she really was worried about who was going to be buying her groceries. Well, I was hurting to, and right then I didn't have much of an appetite.
She hugged me and I let her. She did not, however, try to kiss me. I think she knew that that would, at the very least, have been premature. "I don't know about staying, Sally. I'm still undecided. I guess I came home to see if there was anything left to salvage of this marriage," I said. "But, I'll tell you right now, if you intend to keep on cuckolding me, we're quits, and not as friends." It was Wednesday. I had several more days before I had to get back to work.
That I was undecided was almost an outright lie, and it did not bother me in the least to lay it on her. She and her lover had betrayed me big time. And, I was fairly certain, given her attitude, that they would again, but what the hell; I could play that game too; I already was, and now I had allies.
I settled into Janie's room. Sally didn't like it. She would have preferred to work her magic on me, and that she could well have done. She was one pretty girl, and playing the damsel in distress made her all the more appealing phony or not. Add to that the horny sonovabitch that I was at the moment, and well, she could have easily out flanked me.
For the next day or so, things were pretty quiet. It was the afternoon of the second day, Friday, that I got the chance to tap the phone. I fumbled and jumbled it at first, but I eventually got it right. Now, whatever she was planning, if it included someone else, I would most likely be privy to it. Well, not me exactly, but Henry, Granger's friend. Of course her cell phone wasn't covered, but I would try to get hold of it from time to time to see what calls were in the log unless she had been smart enough to delete them.
Monday, I returned to work, and that kept me occupied during the day. But, I did wonder what I would eventually find out from the bug I'd planted.
At first there was nothing on the phone except routine calls. The remote recording device that Henry had had me plant was state of the art. He'd evidently done work for the local PD in times gone by. He was in demand even now, in spite of the fact that he was in his seventies, because of his expertise in electronic surveillance.
Sally and I were talking again—civilly. I saw no reason to be an asshole too. There was the remote possibility that the leopard had changed its spots. We even had sex on two occasions during the next few weeks, obviously breaking my vow to never touch her sorry ass again. It, the sex, was not planned, it just happened, and it was good. It always was with Sally. And, did I mention that I was one horny bastard, wimpy or not! Freud would have approved my satisfying the demands of my id.
We were sitting at the kitchen table when she finally made her play. "Red?"
"Yes, Sally?" I said.
"Red, you been home a month now and we really haven't talked. Could we? I mean would it be okay with you?" she said.
I hadn't been exactly faithful to her during the period. I'd been in fairly constant platonic contact with Carie, my caring whore. She and I had had established a rapport; and, I needed what she could give me. We hadn't had sex since that time with Granger, but we'd had lunch a half dozen times. She'd meet me at the shop, and we'd adjourn to the nearest Denny's or IHOP. Like I said, we'd established a rapport. She was good for me.
I answered Sally. "I guess we have to talk at some point, Sally. I know it's been kinda tense these past weeks. So I suppose maybe now would be a good time."
As I said, we were sitting at the dinette table. Each of us had a cup of tea in front of us. Neither was speaking. Not at first. It was the thunderous silence of literary genre at its most profound.
"Go ahead, Sally, it's your show," I said.
"Red, first of all I want to apologize again for everything," she said. My actions were unconscionable and unforgivable, my words too. That said, I am still asking for your forgiveness, if not now, whenever you're ready."
"You apologize, Sally, but how do I know you won't fuck him or somebody else again. I mean if I can't satisfy you, and I know you think I can't. Why would you want to stay with me except for the living I can provide? How can you explain your words on the phone that day? I mean was I only ever just a meal ticket to you?" I said.
"Oh my God! No, Red. I don't know why I said that. Or wait, maybe I do. It's true that you are the one who takes care of me. You are the one who makes me feel secure. You are the one who feeds me and clothes me. So yes, you are my 'meal ticket' if you like. But that is hardly all there is too our marriage. No, Redeker, it is a whole lot more to me and to us than that," she said.
"And the other thing?" I said.
"He means nothing to me, Red. He didn't then and he doesn't now. I have to believe that you know that," she said.
That day on the phone, you were already setting up another fuck session with him. You saying you wouldn't be doing that now?" I said.
"That is exactly what I'm saying, my husband, never again. Never!" she said.
"So, if I decide to forgive and forget, you're saying I'm not going to find out you've been putting out for him or somebody else down the line?" I said.
"No!" she said so vehemently that I almost fell off my chair. She giggled when she saw my momentary distress. "I mean no, absolutely not. Never, never will I betray you again, Redeker."
I listened and wondered. Yes, I know, those who have not been in love like me could easily think me the densest of the dense. And, maybe they'd be right, but a man's needs, feelings, hopes, dreams die hard and in a sea of tears. Maybe I was grasping at the unreachable star, but it was my heart that was broken into pieces not someone else's, and I was not asking for sympathy. I was thinking of giving her a chance.
I extended my hand. She took it. I pulled her to me. She knelt on the floor in front of me. I held her face in my two hands.
"Sally, I want to believe you. I do. I don't know if I can. I don't know if I can forgive you, at least at the moment. And learning to satisfy you... ? Plus, I have even less hope that I can learn to trust you again. But for the life of me, I do love you so. Even with all of the bad that's gone on here; it doesn't alter those feelings. I am going to try it one more time," I said. My heart was very nearly coming apart inside of me. I was shaking with fear and uncertainty.
"Oh my God," she screamed, as she launched herself into my arms. We kissed and hugged, and for a little while all of the bad seemed far away. We were new again and in love, at least I thought we were.
After a little bit, I held her at arm's length. I had a little more to say. "Sally, I need to say one more thing, and you need to believe me. You really need to believe me, Sally. Sally, if I am wrong. If you betray me..." I paused and looked her in the eyes. "I am telling you now. The very titans on Mount Olympus will not be able to stay my vengeance. Are you hearing me, Sally? Am I clear? Do you believe me? I cannot go through what I've been going through again, not again."
"Yes, my darling. Oh yes," she said. I knew that at that moment she was telling the truth. The question now was would she be able to withstand the temptations that surely would beset her at some other time, some other place. I was dubious, hopeful, but dubious. But, I was going to try; and, I was going to do my level best to see to it that she did too. Proactive didn't even begin to describe my determination.
I would meet with Granger and Henry the next day. I wanted them to back off, but only on Sally's end. I needed them to find what they could on the asshole. I fully intended to arrange for him to have a new one. I was going proactive big time.
"So you got whatever you need, Henry," I said, looking straight at the man.
"This guy really got under your skin, didn't he?" said Henry. "Yes, I've got more than enough. If he's even been seen spitting on the sidewalk I'll have his ass up so tight he'll have to devise a new way to take a shit."
"Redeker, nobody's said it, but somebody's got to," said Granger. "Sally's just as guilty as the asshole. Keep that in mind while you shaft the bugger."
I looked over at him. I took a sip of the booze, my third round. "I know, Granger. Believe me I know. What I'm going to do about that, I don't know. If she never fucks up again, she's probably going to have herself a get out of jail free card. But, if she betrays me again, George Armstrong Custer at the Little Big Horn will have had a better day than she's going to have here."
The other two joined me in hoisting their glasses and we tilted each other like Knights Templar crossing swords in brotherhood before the last battle.
The next several weeks were pretty much ideal. I worked, came home, had sex, and generally lived the life of husband and father. So again, life at home was comfortable, predictable, and happy—maybe relieved would be a better way of looking at things. Too, I was still in contact with Carrie, she was my rock, and she wasn't pushing it; but I had the sense that she knew something that I didn't. Oh the mind of woman, I thought.
I got a call from Granger on a Monday afternoon. I met him at the Scoundrel after work. Henry was with him.
"I think we've got him," said Henry. "He's been playing around with several women, not just your wife, Red; and mostly they're rich, the women that is. They actually, some of them, been paying him for sex; and they, the women, again some of them, have been writing him off as a business expense. He on the other hand has not been reporting these monies—mostly cash and large cash at that—as income. I have several friends at the IRS and they are very interested in his new Bentley and him of course. A Bentley, I hasten to add, that he paid cash for. The guy's got balls, and a big head. Thinks he's mister God's gift to the female of the species. Uh, and evidently the women think he is too."
I rubbed my hands together in glee. "Let's nail the bastard," I said.
My drinking buddies looked at each other with a strange expression on their faces. "There's more," said Granger. There was a long pause. Granger and Henry both looked away.
My heart sank. "She's doing it again isn't she," I said, my tone soft and sad.
"Red, I'm sorry," said Granger. "I know how much you've been hoping for a better outcome." He pushed a manila envelope he'd been holding under the table toward me. "Pictures."
"Do I want to look?" I said.
"No. Give them to your lawyer, and let that be enough," he said.
I nodded. I didn't know if I would look at the pictures. But, I couldn't look at them right then. "Thanks," I said. "I don't know what I would have done without friends like you."
"Red, a question, kinda off the subject. Are you still seeing Carie? I tried to call her for a date, but she said that she was leaving the business. Said she had a guy she was interested in. I asked if it might be you, but she was coy about it. Wanna update me?" he said, looking askance at me.
"It's just casual at the moment," I said. "But the way things look I might be considering something more permanent down the line. But, right now..."
"Yeah, I know. Let's deal with the current problem first," He said. I nodded.
"Red, we'll stay on this. I guarantee you the asshole isn't gonna be havin' as much fun as he thinks he is, not close," said Henry.
"Nor her either," I said. "She just got done burning her get out of jail free card." Granger nodded. Henry took a drink, but it was clear they both agreed with my obvious decision to make her pay too, and pay she would—literally.
I returned to the house that had, but a few hours before, been my home, our home. Now, a tomb would have felt more inviting to me. It was mid afternoon. I had taken off work to meet with my confederates. Sally would not be expecting me at the house. She was sitting out back on the patio. She was nursing a drink and relaxing. It was not time to tip her off to the cataclysm that was about to engulf her and her lover. I felt a strange calm.
I joined her on the patio after grabbing a beer on the way out. I decided to relax too. Within a very few days such scenes with my wife of twenty-five years would be no more. It was sad, but I didn't feel sad. I felt—I didn't know what I felt—maybe indifferent.
"Hi", she said, as I plopped down on the chaise lounge next to hers. "You're home early."
"Yeah, I was fagged out, and took a couple of hours of comp time," I said, lying in my teeth. I was surprised how easy it was to lie to her. She'd made me that way by lying to me without apparent remorse. I hoped that in my case it didn't become a habit. I leaned back, took a sip of the golden elixir and thought of—Carie. I smiled. Now, I was feeling good. It made no sense, but I suddenly felt very good.
"So what was your day like?" I asked. I wondered if she had been fucking him today.
"Okay, I did some laundry and a bit of house cleaning. Nothing special. I came out her just to relax," she said. I said nothing. After a while I got up and she followed me into the house. The evening was a carbon copy of many before it. Tomorrow, I would be taking care of a number of things. First on the list was a trip to my lawyer's, Carl Feldman. He was a Lion on the Serengeti Plains of business negotiations, and he would be so in divorce negotiations too.
I arrived at Carl's a bit early. But he saw me and waved me right in. He and I had met at the Scoundrel years before and often bought each other rounds. Just random drinking buddies, but there was a connection there. He liked me and I liked him. One of the attractions between us was the fact that we were both USC fans—go Trojans!
"So it's a divorce is it?" he said, opening the conversation.
"Yeah, she shagging some guy and it looks like nothing is going to stop her. I caught her once already. I've had a friend gather massive evidence against her." I pushed the envelope that Granger had pushed across a different table to me.
He opened the envelope and looked at the pictures. "Jesus, you must have gone nuts looking at these," he said.
"Haven't seen them," I said.
He studied me. "Smart," he said. "Unless you get off on this kind of stuff, it's better that you never do." I just nodded.
"I know generally what they are; and that's already more than enough for me," I said.
We talked for a little while and he laid out for me the things I needed to do to maximize my position in a no fault state like California. Credit cards, the bank, car title (mine), life insurance, all of it. The bank was my first stop.
I cleaned out ninety percent of our collective accounts leaving only enough to pay the next months bills. I was going to abandon the house: too many memories; she could have it and the mortgage; she'd get a little out of it if she sold it, but she sure as hell wasn't going to get rich. Everything else was handled the same day.
I would need to call and inform Janie, but that would wait until I had my betrayer served. Carl assured me that it would be three days hence, on Friday. When I called our daughter, I wouldn't embellish her mother's crimes, but I was going to call a spade a spade. I was not going to be the bad guy.
One final act had to happen. I was going to quit my job at the shop. I wanted to make sure that no alimony would be paid. I had enough cash to carry me for quite a while. And, if I had to, I'd leave the state, even the country. Mexico was a possibility. But, I didn't think I'd have to go that far. Anyway, if I was broke, my betrayer would get nothing. Her asshole coconspirator could take care of her—after he got out of jail—well, she could hope.
Friday dawned dreary and rainy. But, for me it was the beginning of a new phase in my life. I made a lunch date with Carie Anders. I needed to talk to her. We met at the Crystal.
"Hi," she said, taking the seat opposite me that the Maître'd proffered her.
"You sounded funny on the phone and not funny haha either," she said.
"I don't doubt it," I said. I looked meaningfully at my watch. "Right about now my wife is being served with the papers."
"Served? Oh my God served! You mean with divorce papers." She was clearly excited. Inside, so was I. But, I wasn't callous enough to let it show.
"Yeah, she's continued to cheat on me, and I found out about it earlier this week. You and I..."
"Yes, I know, Red. We've been treading water. I'm going to say something that I hope you won't take wrong. I am going to ask you to just hear me out, and then if you have something to say, you can. Okay?" she said.
"Yes. Go ahead," I said. I was glad she'd taken the initiative. I was still trying to figure out how I was going to handle our relationship now. It was certainly going to be entering a new phase at the very least.
"Red, my career these past six years has not been something you'd want to be sharing with all of your friends and relatives. Your married daughter comes to mind for one. That said...
"I'm a whore, Red. And, frankly, I'm a good one and proud of it. I've never subscribed to the puritanical crap that prostitution was somehow evil. Personally I don't believe that God, if there is one, would be that petty. But that's just me, others may differ.
"I don't know how you want to deal with that or me, I mean long term, but I have no expectations. I just like being around you. You make me feel safe; I need that sometimes, and I hope we continue. But, like I say, I have no expectations," she said, finally. She had finished with a flourish, and now she folded her hands in front of her and waited for me to say something.
"Carie, I love you. As for your history, I'm sure you were the best at it. As for what others think, you can't know how little that matters to me. If you want to keep it a secret, fine. If you want me to hire a skywriter to announce it to the whole damn community, I'll sign my name to it in the clouds. As for Janie, she's gonna find out and she's gonna find out from us. I hope she can handle it, and frankly, I think she can and will."
"Wha..." She had clearly lost it when I announced that I loved her. "What did you say?"
"I said, dear heart, that I love you, and that your history as a first class whore is a matter of pride to me too, and yes I know that sounds peculiar as hell. I hope I'm not being too vague here." I was smiling like a possum, and she was doing her best imitation of a weeping willow.
She pulled back from me and looked me straight in the eyes. "Redeker, I swear by all I hold dear that I will never betray you—never! And of course I am through with the business."
"I know," I said. She—we—embraced for a long time. She was licking and kissing my ears and neck. God how this woman could turn me on. But now it was time to get serious.
"Carie, one thing, the divorce is going to take a little time to become final. We will need to be careful until it's finally settled. I don't want to hand the other side any ammunition." I looked at her hoping she was understanding me.
"Of course," she said. "But that doesn't mean no lunches or anything for six months does it?"
"No. We can still see each other, just not..."
"I can live with that," she said. "It'll be worth it.
"Redeker? I know what you'd say if I asked you. And, I know you'll probably say you don't care; but I am going to have myself tested. I want you to know—well, you know, be confident—right?"
My cell phone rang. I killed it, and it rang again. I didn't even have to look to know who it was and what it was about. The battle was about to be joined.