I had just gotten home; it was Friday, and I was looking forward to the weekend. My wife was waiting for me. Not waiting for me as she usually did with a smile and a peck, but fidgeting—and seemingly determined about something. Something was up, and it didn't look good.
"Hi honey," I said. I stopped and looked at her. "Something wrong? Where are the children?" It was Friday and the kids should have been home.
"The children are with mom until Monday. John, I have to talk to you. I have to tell you something, and I need you to listen and to try to understand. Oh my this is going to so be hard," she said looking down.
She saw my concern and tried to reassure me. She said, "It's not something bad, but—well—it might be hard for you to get where I'm coming from, at least initially. But, if you think about it and if you love me; you'll at least try to understand. Can you do that for me?" she said. Her voice was almost pleading.
"I guess so. I will try to understand," I said.
"Thank you," she said. "John, it's something that's been on my mind for a long time. Something that at first may sound dumb, strange."
"John, I want to have sex with other men."
"Huh?" What?" I started to laugh, but the look in her eyes did not invite humor. I stopped. "You're serious, aren't you? You're divorcing me, is that it?"
"No-no-no!" She cried. "I love you more than anything. I will never leave you, John. You can be sure of that. This is just something that I need to do. Since I just flat refuse to cheat on you, to sneak around, I need you to try and understand my need to—well—do this. I need you to agree to allow me this chance. Can you understand what I'm saying?"
At first I was speechless. But then something else began to take over inside of me; it was anger. "Understand? No, I don't understand," I said. "And, I don't agree to any such thing."
"John—I—I—I'm going to do this whether you like it or not. I was hoping I could get you to understand this need I have. I have never cheated on you, and I am not going to do so now. I am letting you know up front. I promise to take precautions and to deny you nothing in our bed. But..." She could see my mind was wandering. I wasn't hearing her anymore, or maybe I was; I just wasn't reacting like she thought I should.
"John Mason, are you hearing me? This has nothing to do with us. Nothing, am I clear?" She paused and watched for my reaction. I didn't move. I just sat there staring. I appeared to be all but catatonic. My wife of seventeen years had just destroyed me and expected me to actually like it, or at least tolerate it. I didn't and I wouldn't, not ever!
"John? I need this. I am getting to the stage in life where I really need this; please understand. I was a virgin when we married. I have never known another man. I hardly even ever made out before I met you. I really, really need to know what it is all about, sex I mean. The difference the—I don't know. I just need to try it. It's only about sex, not love, never love except with you."
I continued to stare. I was afraid to say anything; I wanted to kill her. My wife wanted to explore other men. Not even a man, but men. The most shocking part of the whole mess, and it was a big-ass mess, was that she expected me to be okay with it.
"John, say something," said his wife.
"Veronica..." I couldn't finish. I rose and headed upstairs to the bedroom, our bedroom, what had 'been' our bedroom, now it was nothing to me. I was sick and broken spiritually, my body was devoid of sensation, I was giddy with fear. It had only taken her fifteen minutes, maybe less, to destroy our marriage. I sat on the bed thinking, or rather trying to think. I knew I had to get out of the house and away from my wife, a wife that was about to cuckold me. And, she was going to do it—how had she phrased it—whether I liked it or not!
I had been a marathon runner in college. Running or long range walking always helped me to clarify my thinking. I decided to walk, to walk far. I changed out of my suit and into loose-fitting jeans, a Henley, and my two-hundred dollar running shoes. I grabbed my wallet, a cap, and my sun glasses. I went back downstairs.
Veronica was still sitting where she had when she announced her plans to experiment sexually with other men. I stood for a moment staring at her once again; she seemed a stranger to me. I looked back at her, my hand on the doorknob, "Who are you?" I said. I turned and walked out the door.
"John! Where..." Her words were lost as I slammed the door hard behind me. I moved at a rapid pace. I was already past the neighbors' house when I heard her yelling for me to come back and talk to her. She caught up to me and ran-walked beside me until she was out of breath.
"John, where are you going. You—we need to talk. I love you. I am not doing this to hurt you. There is still an us, really. I love you. Please come back. John..." She gave up; I think she'd collapsed on the sidewalk, but I didn't turn to see; I couldn't look at her. She was in no way able to maintain the pace I was setting. I could still do a marathon in under three hours no sweat. Soon I was two blocks up the street, and she was no longer anywhere to be seen. I turned the corner and changed gears: I went into overdrive, as I called it, I was cruising; I could go forever at this pace and maybe I would.
We'd met in college. She was handing out cups of water to participants in a 10K tri-meet. I had won the race that day. I had won, I later told her, because I was trying to get back to find her before she got away from me. I had caught her just in time, just before she would have been lost in the crowd of fans, family members, and supporters.
We'd hit it off immediately. She was a secretary to the dean of the business school. She'd never finished college, but she had managed to land a sinecure of a job because of her attention to detail and her ability to navigate around the printed word. I was a grad student at the time in Electronics and Computer Science, a double major.
We dated for six months before we had sex, and it was mind blowing. Though a virgin the girl could fuck and she loved it. It never occurred to me at the time, but she was a natural born slut, there were signs; she just never became one.
Four Months after my graduation, and fourteen months after we'd met, we married: I was twenty-six, and Ronnie was a year older than me at twenty-seven. Yes, and I'll say it again, she was still a virgin at age twenty-seven.
Calli and John, Jr. came along in years nine and ten of our marriage respectively, and we prospered. Ronnie was still a secretary for the dean, and I was working as a computer systems engineer for Peters Ltd., a company that was doing cutting edge research and development for the military.
My boss, and the owner of Peters Ltd., was Bill Shuler, a sixtyish bachelor with an almost manic work ethic. Bill and I were not merely boss and employee; we were close friends.
Veronica and I had now been married seventeen wonderful years, or so I had thought; that is I had thought that they had been wonderful. Evidently Veronica thought otherwise.
During the past several months, Ronnie had become, well, antsy. No biggee, just kinda short with me on occasion and less often with the children as well; this last had caused a couple of pretty heated arguments. Being short with me was one thing, but not with the children: I wasn't going for that. I considered that she might be going through the change of life. I wasn't much up on female biology, but I was aware of some things. I had been meaning to check into it more, but I just never got around to it. Now, as I walked, I wished I had.
"I don't know where your brother is, Roberta, Bobbie. He just up and walked out of the house and I haven't seen him since 5:00PM Friday," said Veronica. "That's why I called you. I've been frantic. I'm really worried, Bobbie. Bobbie, what am I going to do!"
Roberta Mason could have been my wife's twin, and they had more than once been taken as sisters. Both had flowing red hair, curvaceous figures and the cutest freckles that any man could want. Roberta was maybe an inch taller the Ronnie at five-seven, but otherwise they were near clones of each other. But Bobbie was very different in personality. She was tough minded, slow to speak unless challenged to do so, and still single at age forty. No, she wasn't gay, but she liked being independent, and so she was.
"Are we talking about our John, my brother?" said Roberta Mason. "This is not like him."
"We had a little tiff, and he just up and walked out. I tried to get him to talk to me, but he wouldn't," said Veronica.
"Ronnie, we'll find him. I don't know what you two argued about, but if he walked out on you, and his children, it had to have been something pretty bad. I don't suppose you'd like to enlighten me," said Bobbie.
"It's personal," said Veronica. "And, it was certainly nothing that should have caused him to leave us! I told him a dozen times I loved him. Why can't he get that through his head!"
"Well, I don't know, but when we find him, I'm gonna find out. Anyway, you waited long enough to call me. He's had two days head start," said Roberta. Her words carried a hint of sarcasm. The two sisters-in-law got along well; but Roberta, a psychologist, always felt that Veronica was a little ditzy.
"Which way did he go?" said Roberta. "He was on foot, you say. What was he wearing?"
"He went east toward Baxter. A dark green tee-shirt and jeans. A Cubs baseball cap too, I think," said Veronica.
"His coat?" prompted Roberta.
"No, he wasn't wearing a coat."
"Geezsus, Ronnie, it's freezing out there. He didn't take a coat! He didn't drive his car. Well, he couldn't have gotten far. We should be able to find him. Toward Baxter?"
"Well, he can't be heading there. It's more than a hundred miles away. But, you say in that general direction. Okay, stay here and man the phone in case he calls. I have my cell; keep me informed," said Roberta.
"I will," said Veronica.
The road was icy, so Roberta Mason was driving under the speed limit. She was ten miles out of town when her cell rang. She pulled over to answer it.
"He's where! ... in Baxter ... oh my gawd ... all right ... I'm heading there," said Roberta and she hung up.
The lockup in Baxter, a town of a hundred and fifty, seldom had anyone in residence. But, tonight it had me. And, I didn't give shit. The meal was hot and the cell was warm. Life couldn't get any better than this, I thought sardonically.
I heard the steel door at the end of the hall clang open. I couldn't see who was coming but the footsteps alerted me to someone coming to see me. I was the only prisoner in the place, so it had to be me.
"Well, sailor," said my sister, "are you proud of yourself?"
I stared. "So she called you," I said.
"Yes, but I was already on the road looking for you. You better have a damn good reason for gallivanting around the countryside on foot with no coat. You know you have little ones and a wife at home worried sick about you," said Roberta.
"Yeah, right," I said sarcastically. "The kids maybe, but not Veronica. She didn't tell you, did she?"
"No, I guess not," said Roberta, her eyes narrowing. "She just said you had a tiff and then you left. She said she begged you not to go."
"Nothing like half truths to dump the blame off on somebody else. Well, we did have a little tiff, as she calls it. It was kinda hard for me to avoid since she announced that she intended to fuck other men whether I liked it or not," I said.
Roberta's face betrayed nothing. "What did you say?"
"Did I stutter? She told me of her plans to fuck around on me whether I liked it or not. I had to get out of there, so here I am all warm and cozy," I said.
The guard opened my cell door and shook his head. I think he felt sympathetic toward me.
We started walking toward the front receiving area.
"You've been bailed out. But you'll have to return by Friday to plead," said Morgan, the jailer. He handed me a paper; I didn't even look at it; I could do that later. "Look, pay the fine next Friday. It's only a misdemeanor. You'll have to pay off the damage too, but then it will be all done." I nodded at the logic of his advice.
The fight in the bar had been nothing, but a couple of chairs had been broken and a table damaged and a mirror also broken. The bartender, a not-too-bad-looking woman, had pointed to me as the troublemaker, so they'd hauled me off. I deserved it; I made no protest; I was too drunk to say anything coherent in any event.
On the two hour plus drive back my sister grilled me. Having told her my story, she was silent for some time. Then she began her analysis—I was her patient, and she was going to help whether I liked it or not. Women!
"John, women, go through changes men can't understand. It's a hormonal thing. It frightens us. It can make us feel insecure, lots of things," she said.
"I'm not an idiot, Bobbie, but other women don't go out and fuck other men in order to get better," I said with conviction.
"Actually, they do, John. Sixty percent of men and forty percent of women screw around during their marriage. It's the biggest reason for the fifty-two percent divorce rate in this state. Veronica is going through that stage in her life now, and she needs your support."
I started to say something, but she raised her hands to stop me. "No, I am not saying that you should let her fuck other men. But, you need to talk to her, to hold her hand and to lead her out of the place she's at. She needs you; and, I'm afraid it's going to take a while. Women at her—our—age need their men to be strong for them, to support them and be their rock."
"Bobbie, I'm willing to do anything to help Veronica get by this. But if she lets another man stick his penis inside of her, we're through. No ifs no ands no buts—ever! And let it be known, if she does disrespect me, I will do my level best to destroy both her and her lover or lovers."
Bobbie was silent again. I hated it when she was thinking; it always felt like she was judging me.
The conversation shifted to less weighty matters. "You walked a hundred miles in two days?" she said.
"Yeah, so what. I can so I did. I needed to think," I said.
"Oh nothing. It was a helluva feat especially given the temperatures and road conditions at this time of year. What were you thinking!" she said.
She meant how could I not have thought about the conditions of the weather and the roads, but I extrapolated her words to mean my thoughts about Veronica, myself, and our marriage. Christmas was three weeks away. It was going to be a helluva holiday. What was I going to find under the tree we still hadn't put up, a used condom maybe with somebody else's sperm inside of it. I was angry. I just couldn't go home yet.
"Drop me at Peters," I said.
"But it's Sunday. John, you need..."
"I can't go there right now. I need to be alone for a while still. I'll go there tomorrow. You can tell her that," I said.
She seemed to understand. "I'll talk to her," said Bobbie. "She was pretty worried about you. I think she'll hold off on her plans, if she's really even made any, now that she knows how you feel about things. Just don't do anything rash, okay?"
"I won't. I just need to think some more," I said. She dropped me, and I saw her drive off as I went inside to my office.
Roberta thought that Veronica would hold off on her plans. I on the other hand wondered if she hadn't already acted on them, and if so, with who. Helluva a thing when a man loses trust in his wife, I thought. Helluva thing.
"Ronnie, he's afraid he's lost you," said Roberta, as she was shucking her coat and hanging it on the rack just inside the front door. She hadn't even been bothered with a greeting.
"Nonsense," said Ronnie. "I told him he'd never lose me."
"Nonsense? When you told him you were going to make love to other men? Get real, Veronica, any man would be thinking what he's thinking."
Veronica looked troubled. "He told you then," she said.
"Of course he told me, I'm his sister!
"How long did you think you could keep something like that a secret anyway?" said Roberta.
"It was just something I've always wanted to know about—okay to do," said Veronica, seeing her sister-in-law's look.
"Do it, and you've lost him, your children, and most of the friends and relatives who love you," said Roberta. "Don't you realize that?"
Veronica couldn't meet the other's eyes. "I thought, I hoped, that he would understand my need. It's something that has consumed me for a very long time, Roberta. I don't know if I can help myself.
"John has always understood me. He's just got to understand me this time too. I can't live without him, but I don't know if I cannot do what I so need to do with this other," said Veronica. "I can try, but I might end up just out and out cheating on him; that's the real danger, and I know it. You have no idea how overpowering this feeling, this need inside of me is," said Veronica.
"Actually, I think I do," said Roberta. "Why do you think that I never married? I'm not gay and I love men. But, I am educated enough to know that I could never remain faithful to one man only. So, again, I never married.
"But, Veronica, you are married, and what you are proposing is so bizarre, given that little fact, that you stand to lose it all if you don't clean up your act muy pronto," said Roberta.
"I guess you're right," said Veronica. "I was just..." She started to sob.
Roberta got up and went to her and held her. "It'll be all right. I will stay with you tonight, and tomorrow when he returns I'll be here to referee this thing."
"Thank you, Roberta, I don't know if I could face him given his anger."
"But, you have to give up this crazy idea of letting other men have you. But even more than that, you have to convince your husband that he has nothing to fear, and that may be one very large task now," said Roberta.
Veronica nodded. She allowed herself a small smile. Her sister-in-law didn't notice the slight narrowing of her eyes when she'd heard her last words, " ... you have to convince your husband..."