Thanks to the knee doctor for editing assistance.
It was lunchtime on Friday at the Peanut Bar. The Idiots Club meets here, once a week to share our miseries. The membership is not very impressive, just four middle age guys with one thing in common: our wives are each cheating on us.
Bradley Cook, Ray Timmons, Karl Marshall, and myself, John Terrell, all went to high school together. We all married our high school sweethearts, and we all remained friends these past twenty years. Between the four of us, there are six children, two of them, mine. They are all either in high school or college.
The four us had no trouble keeping busy, because we had mouths to feed and bills to pay. The wives, however, were in a different situation. As the children grew into their teens, the women found themselves with a lot of free time. They spent it together shopping and going on different daytime outings. For the guys, we were pretty much limited to lunch on Fridays, and an occasional weekend Bar-B-Q or party at one of the houses.
Karl was the first to notice something was funny. At first, he figured it was just his wife, Betsy. He brought it up in conversation one day, and that opened the floodgates. None of us had anything definite that indicated that our wives were being unfaithful, but we all saw little things that indicated that something was going on. Bradley printed out a list of things that husbands should look for if they suspected their spouses were cheating. After going over the lists, each of us became paranoid. The weekly luncheon conversations turned into recaps of our wives activities over the past week. Soon, we felt that we were manufacturing things, just to fulfill some disastrous prophecy, which we were projecting upon ourselves. None of us had the guts to confront our spouses. We were married too long to risk alienating them if we were wrong. We were also afraid of the effect a wrongful accusation might have on the children. The biggest fear was that the suspicions might be true.
Ray had a friend, who had a friend, who worked at a private detective agency. We paid four thousand dollars up-front, for one week of coverage. We all anted up our share and gave the guy pictures, phone numbers, license plate numbers, and type of cars. He was going to start the next Monday and give us a report at our next Friday meeting. It was going to be a long week.
The girls were all pushing forty, but not there yet. They all looked good for their age. Karl's wife, Betsy, was tall and wore her hair straight down to her shoulders. There was no curl in her auburn hair at all. She had full bangs that came down to her eyebrows and made her eyes look deep and mysterious. That made up for her lack of body shape. She had small boobs and no hips to speak of, even after having two girls.
Ray and his wife, Jenny, had one son, who was away at college. He was an accident, while they were still in high school. Jenny was the short one of the bunch, just over five feet. She was also a little hippy, but dressed well, to conceal it. She dyed her hair blonde and wore it up, to make herself look taller. It didn't work. Jenny had the best personality of the bunch. She could always make you laugh.
Bradley ended up married to a feisty Italian girl named Carla. Carla had a body any man would die for. Her hair was dark, almost black, but not quite. It went well with her olive complexion. She never stopped talking. They had a daughter that looked just like her mother.
My wife, Marcie, seemed to be the leader of the pack. Marcie was not as tall as Betsy, but close. She had naturally blonde hair and wore it off her shoulders. I always thought she was pretty, but she had some acne scars from her teen years, that she had to cover up with makeup. She was self conscious about them, and I was careful never to mention it. I wasn't the most handsome guy in the world, but felt lucky just being with her.
By Thursday night, I was a wreck. Marcie was in good spirits and we had a great supper that night. My sons, Josh and Jordan, were out of the house by six o'clock, to places unknown. Their grades were good and they were never in trouble, so I didn't want to know what they were up to. Marcie and I spent the evening, alone in front of the television. That was our usual pastime. I was beginning to think that was probably where the problem was. I wasn't providing enough entertainment or excitement in her life. Of course, at this point I had no idea I really had a problem. Tomorrow, I would get the news, good or bad. I wanted to talk about it with her, but had no idea how to open the conversation. I sat there, deep in thought, most of the evening.
Shortly after Marcie went to bed, the boys came home. We chatted about nothing in particular for a few minutes, and then they went to bed also. I got a beer and stayed up, watching some really old situation comedy shows, until I fell asleep on the couch. The TV was still on when I woke up in the morning. The boys were just leaving for school.
"John, what is wrong? You seem out of sorts the past week or so. Is something going on at work?" Marcie seemed to be hovering.
"No, everything at work is fine, dear. I just have a lot of other things on my mind."
"Can I help? Is there anything I can do?"
I slowly got myself off the overstuffed sofa and started up the stairs. "I am afraid it is too late now. What has been done can not be undone." I left her with that deep piece of philosophical dribble, as I went to take my shower.
Thirty minutes later, I was on my way out the door. Marcie had coffee and a light breakfast ready, but I walked past her, without saying a thing. She looked worried and so she should be.
The rest of the morning seemed to drag. I thought lunchtime would never come.
Karl, Bradley, and Ray were already at the table when I arrived. I thought I would be early, but they all beat me there. We decided not to order any food, but all of us had a draft. Frank Perella was the "secret agent" assigned to our case. That was a weak attempt on our part, to attach some frivolity to what would otherwise be a gloomy endeavor.
"Well, gentlemen, I have reports here from four different days and each of them involve a different wife. Does somebody want to go first, or should I do it day-by-day?"
After we all agreed on the day-by-day, Frank started with Monday.
"To start off, each of your wives is seeing somebody. In the first four days, we just gathered information on when and where. We don't have any hardcore photographic or audio proof, because that would cost you a lot more money, and take more time."
He paused a moment, I guess for dramatic effect.
"Interesting enough, only one wife would have an affair on any one day. The other three would be her cover. They all left for the day together and all returned together. If they were shopping, the three, who were not meeting anybody, would buy something for the one who was. I can only assume that if there were a problem of some sort, they would all cover for each other. Any questions so far?"
There were no questions, so he proceeded.
"On Monday, they all left together in Marcie's car. It was the easiest tail of the week. At ten o'clock, they dropped Carla Cook off at 321 David Drive, and then proceeded to the Berkshire Mall. I went back to the house on David Drive and waited to see what transpired. A fellow named Steve Springer rents the house. He works as a body man at Henderson Ford in Terrytown. We discovered later, that there was a cell phone call made to the house, ten minutes before Carla was dropped off. The same cell phone was used in all the other meetings. It is an unregistered phone, but we have the number. We don't know which of the women actually has possession of the phone."
Bradley didn't look too well. He had a temper and seemed to be having a little trouble controlling it right now. Ray said something to him quietly, and he settled down some.
"About three hours later, a call was made from the house phone to the cell phone. Ten minutes after that, Marcie and the girls drove by and picked up Carla. She dropped each of them off at their respective homes. That was it for Monday. Are there any questions?"
Bradley was a bundle of nerves by now. "Can I have a beer?"
We ended up ordering five drafts.
Frank drank half of his beer and then continued. "On Tuesday it was Carla's turn to drive. They all went to Renninger's Antique Market, about ten miles out of town. After parking the car, they stayed together while they entered the market area. It was difficult to follow them in the crowded aisles, but it didn't take long for something to happen. There was a call made from the cell phone about ten minutes before they arrived. It was to the Dorchester Motel, across the highway from the market. Betsy Marshall slipped away from the group and left by the front entrance. I followed her, and watched as she crossed the road and entered room 114, at the Dorchester. Richard Tolliver had reserved the room the previous day. Mrs. Marshall stayed in the room for over two hours and then returned to the Market, where she met the rest of the women at the same spot that she had left them. They departed the market and drove home. Any questions?"
I couldn't help myself. "Karl, who the hell is Richard Tolliver?"
"He is our optometrist. I thought she was getting her eyes checked a lot lately." Karl slumped down in his chair, after finishing his beer. There were no smiling faces around the table. We decided to order another round of beer.
.... There is more of this story ...