There I was, sitting on a stool in the neighborhood bar crying my eyes out, figuratively at least, even if no actual tears were coming down. I knew I wasn't the first man to discover that his wife was cheating on him; I wasn't the only man whose wife was cheating on him, and I certainly wouldn't be the last man whose wife cheated on him. Knowing all of those things didn't make me feel one bit better.
Part of the bitterness of the whole thing came from the fact that just about everyone but me knew about it — I know, I know, what a cliché. I hated being the cliché. All of my wife's friends knew, but of course they wouldn't tell me. Everyone at the bank where my wife worked in the loan department knew. A lot of my friends knew, but they were afraid to tell me; worried that my first reaction would be to put a fist in their face, which was probably true. I guess they were smarter than they looked. And I wouldn't have believed them anyway.
It was finally my boss who broke the news to me.
He called me into his office at the plant and asked me to sit down. He took a deep breath and said,
"Sven." (That's me.)
"Yes, Mr. Johnson." (That's him.)
"I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your wife is having an affair with her boss at the bank."
I jumped up and was about to punch him, when I remembered that he was my boss, after all. He winced and kind of cowered a bit when I jumped up. His hands and arms went up to cover his face.
"Boss, I don't think that you should be talking about my wife like that if you know what's good for you." I growled at him.
Oh yes. I'm a pretty fair sized fellow, and usually I'm pretty mellow, but when my dander is up my Swedish berserker genes sometimes show. A crazy-mad 6' 5", 280 pound pissed-off Minnesota Swede gets people real nervous.
"Sven, I'm REALLY sorry to be the one to tell you, but everyone here respects you, and we've been hoping that you would catch on yourself without our interfering. But we finally decided that true friends would let you know, since just about everyone else in town does," my boss said, kinda looking down at his desk and just glancing up at me every couple of seconds, trying to avoid my increasingly blazing blues eyes.
"You better have something to back this up, boss," I said, my temper just on edge, and slightly in control.
"I do, Sven," he said, as he pushed over some photos and invoices from the local hotel, "We knew that you wouldn't believe us if we didn't have some pretty strong proof for you. Sven, I'm so sorry, and I'll do anything to help you through this. Time off, money for a lawyer, whatever. You're a good man and I don't want to lose you, but we figured you would be even madder about things if you found out about it some other way and realized that we didn't tell you, even though we were aware of it."
"My son-in-law is the manager of the hotel, and my daughter works at the bank with them. They helped us gather the evidence to show you."
He continued, rambling on for awhile.
I didn't notice though. I was looking at pictures of my wife Sally and her boss, Glenn, doing the nasty just about every way that I had ever heard of, and a couple that I never believed anybody would ever do.
Well, my temper just drained right out of me. It was then the weeping inside started. My voice almost choked when I turned to Mr. Johnson and said,
"Boss, thanks for telling me and getting me the proof. This is so hard, but you're right I wouldn't have wanted everyone knowing except me. You are a true friend and a good man," I told him.
"Well," he said to me, slightly nodding his head as he said it, "to tell you the truth we knew how hard you would take it, and it was up to me to tell you."
"That was pretty smart of all of you. Because you're the boss and I respect you, I wouldn't just smack you," I nodded.
"Actually," he said looking up with his hands turned to the ceiling, "I drew the short straw."
He paused, thinking for a minute before he went on,
"Why don't you take the rest of the day off, to think about how you want to handle the situation, and such, and let me know."
I left work. I was surprised at how many of the big guys I work with were coming up and putting their arms around my shoulders and telling me to call them if I needed anything, or just to talk. I thanked them, but honestly I knew that talking with my co-workers about my grief and anger wasn't my way.
Instead I stopped at a bar on the way home to consider what tomorrow would bring to my 15 year marriage to Sal.
So there I was sitting alone at the bar nursing a beer,
thinking and drinking,
drinking and thinking,
and thinking that life was just stinking.
Then I noticed, it really was kind of stinking in the bar. Yuck, a kind of sulfur or sulfur-dioxide smell (yes I know, I'm not stupid — rotten egg smell.) The septic system must be backing up again. That's what I get for sitting down at the end of the bar, close to the restrooms, I thought. But I was feeling too low down to even get up and move.
Just about the same time I noticed the smell, I heard some guy's voice behind me.
"Hey Bub, what's got you so down?"
I was just about to tell whoever it was to piss off when the stranger offered me his hand,
"M' name is Lou."
It was a firm handshake, and Lou was at least as big as I was. He was a handsome devil, or at least I figured a woman would find him handsome. He was as dark as I was blond, with a deep tanned looking face, with short dark hair, and a solid chin. Most likely worked outdoors a lot. He wasn't smiling or being funny - if you know what I mean. He had a serious look on his face and he looked me straight in the eyes.
"Sven," I introduced myself.
"Don't mean to intrude or anything, but I've been drinking at the other end of the bar for awhile, and you look like someone who has a problem that needs solving," he said.
"Well," I began, "I'm not sure whether I should kill myself and be dead — or kill my wife and be lonely and in jail — or kill her boss and be cheerful and in jail. Maybe I'll kill both of them, and be lonely and cheerful in jail."
I think that I had too many beers by this time.
Now, darned if I know why, but found myself pouring out my troubles to this stranger. He was a great listener, he didn't interrupt, but you knew he was REALLY hearing what you were saying. My heart just let all of my sadness and anger about my cheating wife come out, how much I loved the woman, but how I wouldn't allow myself to be a cuckold.
When I was more or less talked out, I sat there for a minute. We both just sat there for a minute, sipping at our beer, thinking. Finally, he turned and said,
"Sven, here's what you do. Go home and throw her clothes into a couple of trash bags and put them by the door. When she gets home, tell her that you know about her cheating, that you have pictures and evidence, that you are divorcing her, and throw her out. Then throw her stuff in the bags out after her. I'm going to do something for you that I haven't done for an eternity; I am going to help you out of this mess. No strings attached. I promise that within two days she will be begging you for forgiveness and to let her back into your life. Then, if you want her, you can have her back. If you don't, well, you can tell her its too little, too late."
With that Lou turned and walked out of the bar. I knew then that I had too much to drink, because I swear that when I looked at him as he walked away, I saw a ... well, you would think I was crazy if I told you. Anyway, with a greatly lightened heart, and a plan to follow, I went home.
I got right to work. You know, it doesn't take long to empty a bunch of drawers into a couple of trash bags. The stuff on hangers took a little longer. I was going to have to let her come back for shoes, there were too damn many of them, but I threw a couple of pairs into the bags as well. I actually got a cardboard box for all of her bathroom things. I was trying to pack her jars and bottles of woman's potions, gels and lotions, not to destroy them.
Like Lou suggested, I stashed the bags and the box off to one side of the door. Sally would probably think that it was trash waiting to be taken out.
A few phone calls and the credit cards were canceled, even her cell phone was only a quick phone call — it would be turned off by the morning. The bank account would have to wait.
By the time Sally arrived home, I was more or less sober, and I was pretty damn angry again. But I wasn't feeling helpless and on the defensive anymore. I was ready to stop being a cuckold and start being in charge again.
I think that she knew as soon as she walked in the door from the garage that something was wrong. I told her to sit down at the table in the kitchen. She complained that she wanted to change out of her work clothes.
"Sally, just sit down. You can change at your new place. Right now, your clothes are sitting in a bag by the front door," I told her, my eyes looking hard at hers.
"Sven, are you well?" she asked, "What are you talking about 'my new place'?" she asked, with a glint of fear in her eyes.
"You don't think that I am going to let you continue to live here with me, while you are fucking your boss and cuckolding me." I barked at her, with a cold stare in my eyes.
She hesitated for just a moment. I have to give her credit — she was fast on her feet. She came back on the attack.
"Sven, are you crazy. Where did you get an idea like that? I am not having an affair, with my boss or anyone," she replied, trying to sound sincere.
"Sally," I responded, in a rather terse manner, "Everyone in town knows about your affair. Everyone at the bank knows, all of my friends know. Lying to me about it doesn't make things better, it make it worse."
"Oh, come on Sven, don't be absurd, how can you possibly listen to malicious gossip like that!" Sally said firmly. She was getting her feet back under her, and for a minute, she figured that she could pull it off.
Until I held up some of the photos, fanned out like a hand of cards. She tried to grab them, and I pulled them back.
"Oh no, my loving wife, I will keep my hands on these, and the other evidence of your infidelity, for the divorce," I said triumphantly. "But you are leaving this house immediately. Tonight. Call up your lover to come and get you."
I took a shot in the dark,
"That is if he can get away from his wife and kids to deal with you."
I could see that my dart had struck home.
Now she was crying. At least I should let her stay until tomorrow. She could explain. She really loved me. It was only sex. I didn't understand. Blah, blah, blah.
I understood. I understood the entire time, as I took her house and car keys from her (we could argue about the cars in the future, ) and I understood when I took her arm and led her out the front door, threw the trash bags of her clothes out after her, and placed the box of toiletries on the front step. I stood with my arms folded, watching her from the open door. With her cell phone, she called up a woman friend from work who arrived in her car shortly.
Then, before I closed the door, I said,
"You can take some time to think about your affair and your marriage. We will talk in a couple days and decide where to go from here."
I turned and closed the door and locked it. Sally stood there looking at the door like a deer caught in the headlights. She finally, slowly, picked up her things and took them to her friends car and disappeared into the night.
Surprisingly, I slept pretty well that night. Lou seemed to exude a confidence about him, that when he said things would work out in a couple of days, I believed him.
The next morning I was first in line at the bank. Now you can understand my dilemma: our checking account was at the same bank where my wife was a loan officer. But the loan officers didn't have the kind of fixed hours that a teller has, so I figured that Sally wouldn't get there right as the doors opened.
It turned out even better, Sally had called in sick. I had the bank make out a cashier's check for all but $100 from our account. The only thing that the teller asked me about was whether Sally was feeling OK. I told her I didn't have a clue, since I'd kicked Sally's ass out the night before.
I guess that I threw the fox in the hen house with that remark. Funny, before I got out the door three of the tellers came up and whispered to me that I'd done the right thing, and two of the others slipped me cards with their phone numbers on them and told me to call them if I was dumping Sally. Real loyalty in that place!
When I got back home, there were about ten messages from Sally. I guess that she had found out about the credit cards when she tried to rent a room at the local motel. So she had to stay with her friend until her next paycheck. The message she left after she found her cell phone wasn't working any more wasn't very nice, in fact, she was pretty pissed about it.
When she finally got around to going to the bank and found less than $100 in our checking account she went through the roof. Maybe Glenn, her boss, would lend her some, I thought with a smile.
The last message she left was entirely different from the earlier ones.
She had a completely different tone, I guess because someone at the bank had told her about the reception I had gotten from her fellow workers. At least that's what I think she was saying, I was having a hard time understanding her through the blubbering, but I'm pretty sure that it was something like,
"Don't even think of taking that hussy Betty out, and Mary Lou would probably give you some horrible STD!"
Hmmm ... fancy that, Sally calling that nice young woman Betty a hussy; after all, Sal had been the one screwing that little wimp Glenn!
The last call was from Lou. I returned his call.
"Lou, this is Sven. How ya doing?" I said.
"Burning it up, Sven. Now tell me what you've done so far," came Lou's reply.
So I described the goings on of the last twenty-four hours.
"That's good, Sven," Lou finally spoke, "Don't you answer any calls from Sally. Things are in the works that will break in the next twenty-four hours. So you just play it cool, and go out and have a good time. Is there anything that you could do that would get you out of town until tomorrow night?"
"Oh, sure, you bet. I could go out fishing at the lake. My brother owns a little cabin out there that he lets me use whenever I want."
I thought about it for a second,