Thanks to the hip and knee doctor for editing assistance.
I assumed my wife, Lisa, would be happy when I told her I didn't have to work all week. I am a heavy equipment mechanic and unfortunately, I end up working a lot of hours. Lisa had a three-day vacation planned with her sisters at Lake Wenona. They usually rent cabins and the families spend three days swimming, hiking, and having fun around the campfire. I had already told the wife that I wouldn't be able to make it and she seemed to understand. It was the middle of the week. I make good money, especially on the overtime. I missed most of these outings so I was really glad when I could get some time off.
"Hi honey. Good news. I'll be able to go along with you guys this time."
"That's great Bob. I am sure the kids will appreciate it and you will have some fun too."
"If it is ok with you, I am going to take the dirt bike along. There are some designated trails up there that I would like to try. I'll only do it if you are ok with it. I don't want to cause any problems."
"That's good. There is a lot of mountain at Lake Wenona and you should get in some good rides. Enjoy yourself."
Lisa was preparing supper while I went out to get the dirt bike ready. It wasn't really an off-road bike. It was a two stroke that was street legal but could be used off-road if you didn't get nutty about it.
I didn't have too many chances to use it around home.
Supper was ready at about the time I got done. We usually ate together every night. Lisa and I had been married twelve years. We had three children; Tammy was eleven, Josh was eight, and Terry was seven. We had a nice little frame house with a big mortgage and things were going great for the Connor family.
After supper was cleaned up, the kids settled in for some TV and I grabbed a shower. Lisa was finishing something up on the computer when I popped in to get out my trail maps. I noticed that she quickly deleted something and logged off when I came into the room. I made out like I didn't see it, while I rummaged through the closet. She smiled and left the room, so I quietly hit the shutdown cancel button. After making sure she was downstairs, I opened her mail. There was nothing in the inbox, and if there was, I was sure she would have deleted it. I went to the deleted mail just in case. Lisa was a very cautious person, especially when it came to her e-mails. I never questioned her about it. She usually double-deleted everything. There was never any record of any incoming or outgoing mail of hers. This time, however, she had been in a hurry, and I noticed she had deleted the file but had not deleted the deleted file. There it was.
"Change in plans. Bob will be coming up with the family. You can still come, but I will have Karen put you in the last cabin. We should be able to have time together because he will be riding his motorcycle. See yah. LC"
The message went to dthompson at zebra.net
This was not good. Who the hell was D Thompson and why was he coming to our family gathering? What did Lisa's sister, Karen, have to do with setting this up?
Lisa was washing some clothes that the kids wanted to take along for the outing, so I pulled her high school yearbook off the shelf. It didn't take me long to locate Don Thompson. There was even a picture of Lisa and Don together at the prom.
I was never a very clever guy and I was never a very suspicious guy. I guess I should have been. I assumed our whole marriage was fine. I met Lisa about two years after she had graduated from high school. I was three years older than her and had a good job. After going out for about six months, I asked her to marry me, and she accepted. Now, I was wondering why? If she was going with this guy in high school and she was still seeing him, why the hell did she marry me? I made a good living, even thought I was never very ambitious. I worked hard for my family. I could care less for myself. I always figured it was worth it for them, but now I wasn't sure.
I never liked kids, but I loved my kids. I would do anything for them simply because they were mine. I was a very protective father. It was going to be an interesting weekend.
The kids wasted no time getting down to the lake. I ended up unloading everything, including the motorbike. Lisa's sister Kathy was there with her four kids. The youngest sister, Cora, was divorced and had three little ones. Kathy's husband, George, didn't make it. It looked like I was going to be the odd man out for the weekend, except for the extra guy who was going to be in the end cabin. After getting settled in I noticed a dark green Durango parked by the last cabin.
We all had a quick lunch and I announced I was going for a ride. I had the bike all ready and grabbed the video camera before leaving. The bike was a noisy little sucker and I was sure that Lisa was counting on that, so she could be assured I didn't sneak back. I went about a quarter mile, let the bike idle for a while, and then shut it down. It only took about ten minutes to walk back to the campgrounds. The three sisters were sitting around the picnic table chatting while the kids were scattered all over the place. About that time, a tall good looking fellow, who I assumed drove a Dodge Durango, came over to the table. All the girls greeted him warmly. After about ten minutes, he got up and walked off. He went around the cabins and over toward the changing rooms. I started to work my way over, when I saw Lisa leaving the table and coming our way. Don entered the back way of the ladies side so no one would notice, and Lisa followed in a little while. I quietly entered the other side and turned the video camera on. I didn't even take the lens cap off because there was nothing to see. I worked my way over to the adjoining wall and could hear them talking.
"I am really sorry Don, I had no idea Bob would be coming today. I'll try to make it up to you. He will probably be running around on his motorcycle most of the time, so all we have to do is watch out for the kids."
"It's Okay Lisa. I understand. I am a little disappointed, but I am sure it will be great regardless."
"They are going to have a little sing-a-long thing tonight by the cabins. I will sneak down to the lake and we can have a swim together like old times. Kathy will see to it that Bob is kept occupied."
"I don't know if I can wait that long."
"Silly boy. Lets see, I think I can take care of you a little bit so you can make it till dark."
I could hear the sound of a zipper and some clothes being removed. As Don started to moan it was evident that he was getting a blowjob from my wife. I listened carefully and could hear her slurping and humming as she worked on him. Finally, he started to moan and breath a little faster. After a few coughs and the sound of spitting, Lisa started to giggle.
"Ok, Don, that should hold you until tonight. I have to get back to my sisters."
I sat there stunned. I was heartbroken, but what the hell did I expect. I was sneaking around, trying to catch her, and I did. I guess I was disappointed that it happened at all, but I knew it was going to. I stayed in the bathhouse another ten minutes after they left, trying to figure out what to do. It was depressing as hell and I hated being depressed. I didn't get any video but I did get ten minutes of good audio on the camera.
I walked back to the bike and then took off on a long, rough ride. I needed something to cool me off. It would be so easy to confront Lisa and have it out, but it was just not my style. Actually, I didn't have a style. I was just non-confrontational about most problems. For twelve years I thought I had a great marriage, and now I find out I was just a provider for my wife and kids, a necessary convenience.
I spent the better part of the afternoon surveying the area around the beach. There was a long grassy slope going down to the water's edge. The beach was narrow with rocks and woods on the sides. There was a fire pit in the middle, about fifty feet from the beach. Lisa, Kathy, and Cora had taken the kids on a hike up to a local waterfall. I took the time to collect and arrange a lot of wood in the fire pit. I put kindling on the bottom and carefully stacked up some nice, dry logs on the side. I found some cardboard that I was able to layer on the bottom to help in starting. There were not many people at the site, so I didn't draw any attention. I didn't notice Don anywhere.
When everybody got back from the hike, I took Josh and Terry out into the woods and we cut about twenty nice roasting sticks for marshmallows. I told them to keep it a secret for tonight. They were excited about it. I gave Tammy two big bags of marshmallows, and again explained what we were going to do.
Evening came and everybody was gathered around the picnic area. We had a good supper and the kids were winding down for the day. Kathy was being very chatty and sticking close to me. She was asking me to help her to do frivolous little things and being extra friendly. I kept an eye on Lisa, but tried not to be too obvious. Finally, the sun was down and there was only a slight bit of moonlight. There was an ongoing argument as to what we were going to do the rest of the evening and it looked like ghost stories was winning by a slight margin. All of a sudden I noticed that Lisa was gone and Kathy was very close by my side. I got a very detailed explanation about how Kathy's husband, George, was redoing their kitchen. She was making a great effort to keep me interested, but my mind was elsewhere. I finally excused myself to go to the cabin for the video camera. Since it was in the opposite direction from the lake, Kathy did not seem too concerned.
It was too dark to take any video, so I didn't bother to get the camera. I grabbed two cans of charcoal lighter and some wooden matches. By going behind the cabins, I was able to dash down the slope to the beach without Kathy seeing me.
There was just enough moonlight to keep me from killing myself. As I got closer, I got quieter. I could make out two figures in the water. On the grassy area near the beach was a blanket. Lisa and Don had left their clothing and underwear on the blanket along with two towels. I carefully lifted all four corners of the blanket and walked over to the fire pit. I emptied one can of charcoal lighter on the wood, and then placed the blanket on top, and added lighter fluid. With a quick flick, I threw the barnburner on the pile of combustibles and jumped back. I was still too slow. I singed my eyebrows and the hair on my arm when the pile of wood erupted in flames.
That was the signal. Tammy and Josh jumped up and started yelling. "Marshmallow roast. Everybody to the bonfire."
All the kids started running down the hill to the fire pit. I looked over to the water and saw Lisa. The light from the fire was reflecting from Lisa and Don's eyes as they stared at the hoard descending on them. I could see Kathy at the top of the hill looking like the world was going to come to an end.
The kids were quickly spread around the fire. Josh handed out sticks and Tammy had the marshmallows. Lisa was trying to hide along the side of the dock as I slowly walked out. I looked over at her lover.
"Hi Don. I'm Bob, Lisa's husband. Nice to finally meet you."
He seemed flustered and didn't say anything.
"Lisa, can I help you up the ladder so you can join your children around the campfire?"
"No, damn it. Just go over to the blanket and get our towels."
"Sorry honey. I'm afraid I used the blanket, towels, and clothing to start the fire. Great fire, isn't it?"
"No, Bob no. Why the hell did you do that? How are we going to get out of the water?"
"I am sure Kathy will be more than happy to help you. I am going home."
Kathy passed me on the dock as I was leaving. I went up the hill and no one even noticed me going. I got my jacket and the videotape out of the cabin. Using the valve stem tool from the dirt bike tool bag, I removed the four valve stems from Lisa's SUV. She would not be able to get them fixed until the next day. I took a pair of pliers and tried to open the petcock on Don's Durango but couldn't budge it. I ended up hitting it three times until it just broke off. The Dodge wasn't locked so I reached inside and took his registration out of the glove box. I realized that Lisa could just take one of her sisters' cars, but I figured she would wait to get her own.
I turned my cell phone off and left the campsite on the dirt bike for the highway. It was a long way on an uncomfortable vehicle. I didn't get very far because I had to stop and refuel the sucker, as well as mix the gas and oil. At least it was late and the roads were not too crowded. I leveled it out and started to knock off the miles. A green Durango passed me at a good clip and I noticed some white vapors coming from underneath it. About ten miles further down the road, it was pulled over. Don Thompson was leaning under the hood trying to figure out what the problem was. I went flying by unnoticed and headed for the next gas station. A bigger gas tank would have helped.
I grabbed a cup of coffee after filling up and pulled the Durango registration out of my pocket. Don lived in Pottsville, which meant I could cut over right now and be there in less than an hour. Of course, after I got there I had to find the address. That took another hour. He lived in a modest frame house, just south of town. I couldn't tell if he owned it or rented it. Anyhow I figured he wouldn't be home for a while so I broke a kitchen door window and let myself in. Don had a little computer area set up in his bedroom. I found a nut driver in the desk drawer and took the side off the CPU. After removing the hard drive, I looked around for anything else that might be interesting. There was a CD album type book on the corner of the desk that contained about twenty discs. I grabbed it and the hard drive and left. Less than two hours later, including another gas stop, and I was home.
It was at a time like this that I was glad my pick up had a king cab. I was able to get my clothes, PC, and some household items behind the seat. I gathered up a bunch of personal papers and documents and went to a motel on the other side of town. It was three AM. I had to get a little shuteye because tomorrow would be a busy day.
As tired as I was, I was still up early. It took me a while to tap into Don's hard drive, but I eventually got it. Don appeared to have saved all the e-mails that he and Lisa had written to each other. Most of them were saved in his documents file, but a lot were still in his mail. I started to read them but didn't have that much time. It would have taken me the whole day to read them all. I glanced at a few here and there to get an idea what was going on. They were definitely having sex but the e-mails were not filthy. I didn't find anyplace where they said anything derogatory about me. On the contrary there were several remarks made that indicated just the opposite. Lisa had commented on the great job I did putting in new kitchen cabinets and Don replied that he wished he were as handy as I was. It was a little odd. Here were two people that were cheating on me, but were not dumping on me in any way. I was confused.
The CD's were another confusing story. There were no pornographic pictures. There were lots of pictures of them together doing all sorts of things but not a thing that was dirty. In one set of pictures, her hair was dark and short. That was when she was carrying Tammy. The next set it was auburn, when she was having Josh and then long and dark when she was pregnant with Terry. On all the pictures, Don was beaming like a proud father. That really hurt.
It was time to get going. I made the usual rounds. First, I closed all the bank accounts and credit cards. I quit my job and collected all my vacation pay and sick leave. I cashed in my life insurance policies and cancelled the cell phone services. I made arrangements to have the utilities turned off at the end of the week. I was sure that I was going to miss something but I did the best I could. I stopped by the family doctors office and had a nurse take a DNA swab with instructions to send the results to my lawyer. Then I went by the lawyers' office and filled out the papers for the divorce. I told Seymour to give her nothing and offer child support only if the DNA showed them to be mine. At this point I held out little hope. I left two thousand dollars in the checking account for Lisa and her kids. I said she could have the house, but had to make the payments herself. I left two signed power of attorney forms in case he needed them. I signed one form to help her sell the house.
Yuba City was a long way from Reading. I had enough money to support myself for a long time but knew I had to start working to keep from going nuts. I felt pretty certain that I left a few messes behind, including a breaking and entering charge in Schuylkill County. I had no idea what things I had skipped out on at home that I was legally responsible for, and didn't care too much. I also wasn't very clever when it came laying low. My car registration, driver license and insurance would be good for a while but eventually I would have to get myself updated and run the risk of being discovered. Bank accounts and employment could also trigger problems.
Every morning gangs of men looking for day work would be gathered on certain key corners. Potential employers would drive by and pick out the ones they wanted, paying them straight cash on an independent contractor basis. No SSN were required, and no forms needed to be filled out. A day of hard work was rewarded with some untraceable cold cash. I didn't mind the work or the poor pay, but I found that I was unhappy not being able to talk to my fellow workers. I started to pick up a little Spanish and things got better.
I ended up being a regular pick by the Sutter Nut Growers foreman. They grew walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios. The work was demanding and did not require me to use too many brain cells. I slept well at night.
After about a month, I borrowed a cell phone from one of the supervisors and called my lawyer. He had served Lisa with the papers. She did not want anything from me but was insisting on some support for the children. She hadn't provided him with any DNA test results. I told him that I would not pay any support for somebody else's kids. Her parents and sisters were helping her with expenses until she could get a job. She had put the house on the market. If everything went Okay, the divorce would be final in four months. Don Thompson had not turned a report into the Schuylkill Country police. I guess I didn't have to hide any more.
I spent my evenings reading the e-mails and looking at the CD pictures. About four years ago, Lisa and Kathy took a weekend cruise to Nassau. Lisa spent the cruise with Don Thompson and Kathy was with another fellow, not George, her husband. I was able to find out from the e-mails that his name was Richard Witt. It was not a pleasant set of pictures to look at. From the pictures, it became apparent that Lisa and Don shared a cabin. I had loved Lisa and would do anything for her. I had a hard time accepting all the new information that I was finding. How could I have been so stupid?
Sutter Nut Growers had two big tree shakers. One of them was broken since I started working there and today the second one broke. The company had to get a service man to come up from Sacramento to fix them. They were going to cut the workday short and send everybody home so I ask the supervisor if I could look at it. It only took about an hour for me to get it up and running. All my amigos were happy because they got to finish out the work shift. I spent the rest of the day working on the second shaker, and finally got it running at about seven that night. Everyone else had left earlier, so the supervisor, John Forman, offered to give me a ride home. On the way to the house, he offered me a regular full time job as an equipment repairman, which I immediately took.
About a month later, I came home from work and found a Budget rental car in my driveway. George Mitchell, Kathy's husband had found me. He was sitting on the front porch and gave me a half smile as I walked up to the house. I wasn't real happy to see him but tried to be congenial.
"How long have you been waiting, George?"
"About two hours. I could use a cold beer if you have any."
I got us both a Fosters and we sat down at opposite sides of the Formica kitchen table.
"What would be important enough for you to fly almost three thousand miles to see me, George?"