Thanks to the knee doctor for editing help.
Callie and I had been at it for two days now: arguing that is. One of our close friends, Ben Sorensen, was having a birthday celebration and my wife's old boy friend, Clay Bixler, was going to be there. Clay, Callie, and I all went to high school together. Callie and I became a couple after she broke up with Clay over something I don't even remember. Clay went to Yale and I went to MIT. Although Callie and I remained a couple, she still continued a relationship with Clay. I never really knew how close the connection was between them but I always resented it. Even after Callie and I were married, Clay's presence continued to haunt me.
"Who the hell invited him anyway? You know damn well I don't like it when he is fawning all over you."
"Bruce, you have to get over this crap. You know very well that there is nothing going on between Clay and I. I married you. I love you. Clay is just an old friend who is fun to be with. You have been taking this far to seriously for far to long."
Callie was pushing thirty and looking great. Her hair was shoulder length and had an auburn tint to it. She was dark, sort of Mediterranean looking, and had full eyebrows and pouting lips. She was not too skinny and not too fat. She worked out a couple times a week, ate right, and knew how to groom herself to look her best. The sex was good but we were in no hurry to start a family. We were saving to buy a house first. Callie worked in an insurance office and I was busy inspecting refineries and storage facilities around the area.
"Sorry as hell, Callie, but I just don't trust him around you. How come he never married? How come he never even dated? I can't help believing that you were the only girl that ever mattered to him and I also believe that he would do anything to get you back."
"See what I mean, Bruce. You are getting paranoid about this. Clay and I are just friends and you know that. I am a little annoyed that you don't seem to trust me. Clay is coming to Ben's party, and we are all going to have a good time. Now get a hold of yourself."
Clay got a degree in American literature and had an entry level teaching position at a community college about two hours drive from us. I liked to get my hands dirty and ended up with a degree in petroleum engineering. I was hoping to use it to travel, but decided it was better to stay close to Callie. There was plenty of work within a day's drive, but it was a little mundane.
Callie wanted to mess around that night after we went to bed but my heart wasn't into it. She was a little huffy when I rejected her advances but she seemed to be trying too hard, like she felt a need to compensate for something. I guess I was getting a little nutty about the whole thing.
Sunday night arrived sooner than I wanted it too. Callie had been on the phone with Ben's wife, Amy, several times making party plans. I didn't like Amy too much. Ben and Amy had a daughter about three years old and for some reason I never thought the girl was Ben's. From remarks that Callie had made a few times I got the feeling that Amy cheated on her husband. The big problem was that she was just about the only friend Callie had.
It took an hour to get to the Sorensen house. There were about a dozen people there including Clay. Ben was a CSI buff and that was the theme of the birthday party. I tried to be congenial to Clay but it was strained. Callie and Clay were chatty and friendly most of the night. At times I felt she was baiting me. When present time came everyone gathered in the living room. For some reason, Amy insisted I sit aside of her on the couch. Callie and Clay were standing together on the far side of the room near the patio door. Everybody was cheering Ben on as he started unwrapping. After about ten minutes, I noticed that Callie and Clay were gone. I started to get up and Amy grabbed my arm.
"Don't leave now Bruce. We are just getting to the best part."
Her attempt to keep me there was very transparent and I was now getting seriously concerned. I tried again to get up but again she insisted that I stay. About that time, the lights went out.
In the dark we all heard Ben. "Here comes the best present of all; the ultraviolet blood and semen detector. Everybody look for the blue, glowing evidence." The room burst out in giggles as Ben flicked on the probe light. As the guests backed out of his way, Ben passed the unit back and forth around the room. Amy and I moved off the couch as he came near and everyone broke out in laughter when they saw the couch covered in bright blue spots.
"Looks like we can't keep that a secret anymore." Ben joked as he continued around the room.
All of a sudden we heard Callie. "What's going on? What is all the laughing about?"
Callie and Clay had just come back into the dark room from the patio. The room got completely silent as Ben turned the light toward the couple. Callie's mouth, chin, and the front of her blouse, were all covered in the bright blue glow. The front of Clay's pants also had a streak of blue. After a few seconds someone in the room broke the silence. "Girl, you are so busted."
Callie looked down at her blouse and realized what the remark meant. As the room burst out in laughter again, I was making my way out the door. I believe I was halfway down the street before anyone noticed that I was gone.
On the way home, my cell phone rang about four times before I turned it off. Luckily I didn't get a ticket because I made it in record time. While I was getting my stuff together at the house, the land line phone rang a half dozen times before it stopped. I grabbed everything I needed from the file cabinet, my laptop, and all the work clothes I could carry. I left the suits and pretty stuff for Clay. It took less than thirty minutes, and I was on my way to the cheapest motel I could find. I sure was glad Ben had his party on a Sunday because I had a lot to do the next day. I hadn't even stopped to think about what had occurred. I was moving on adrenaline.
The sun was shining on Monday morning. I guess I should have made a checklist but I was in too much of a hurry. The phone, water, and electric companies opened at eight, so I cancelled them effective on Friday. I grabbed a prepaid cell phone at Wal-Mart right after I had a quick breakfast. Chester Bunt was the only lawyer to open before nine so he got the job of setting up a quickie divorce. I signed the blank forms and prepaid him. Both cell phones were closed out next, and I paid a hefty fee for early cancellation. By that time the bank was open. It took twenty minutes to close out three credit cards as well as the saving and checking account. I took it all. Finally, I went by work. I explained the situation in detail to my boss and he understood. They gave me a check for sick leave, vacation time, and wages that were coming. I had no place to cash it, but I could use it to open a new account wherever I ended up. He called a friend in Galveston and got me a job in less than ten minutes. As I was leaving work, Ben Sorensen pulled up next to me and rolled down his window.
"Bruce. It's not what you think. It was a setup, a joke. You have to let me explain."
"Sorry Ben, too late to explain. By the way, get a DNA check on your daughter." The last remark was totally out of character for me, but I was really pissed off at his attempt to smooth things over. I regretted saying it. Bens face went pale as I drove away.
At noon I was eating lunch at a Cracker Barrel on Route 81. At last I was able to relax.
One of the smart things I did at college was join a fraternity. Not only did it help me get through a tough course of study but I also made some good friends. I called a few brothers the first chance I got and explained my situation. They promised they would take care of it for me.
For the next seven months, I was busy doing safety inspections on off shore oil platforms. I would fly out to the rigs and stay about a week. Between tours, the company had a few trailers at different sites where I stayed. I called Chester every few weeks to check on the status of the divorce. Callie refused to sign it, but did not file one of her own. I asked Chester what my options were, but he didn't have any ideas worth a shit. Some of the guys told me a detective had been snooping around looking for me. Next week I was in Aberdeen, Scotland. The North Sea is cold even in August but I stuck it out for almost a year.
I had to come home eventually. My old boss welcomed me with open arms. He was hoping I was back for good. I thanked him for all his help, but told him I couldn't stay yet. Chester Bunt turned out to be a dud of a lawyer. I was still married and he had no idea what I should do. Looks like I needed a new lawyer. I had a good bit of dough saved up so I decided to take some time off.
Callie was no longer working at the insurance company and she was not at the house. It was hard to ask anybody anything without letting them know I was around. I was trying to lay low. I drove down to check if Callie was with Clay, when I found out some interesting news. About a year ago, Clay was fired from the community college. They found three thousand pictures of naked children on his school and home computers. Although he denied any knowledge of where they came from or how they got in his computers, he was let go. There was not enough proof for a civil trial, but enough to get him fired. One of his coworkers said he moved to Iowa. I love my frat brothers.
I used to be clean-shaven and well groomed. Now I was sporting a full beard and a ponytail. I was about ready to move on to something new when I ran into an old high school buddy. He didn't recognize me, but I knew him right away.
.... There is more of this story ...