I was nervous. Karen, my wife of eleven years, had told me to meet her at the Tumbleweed Inn at 3:00. I knew that the bar would be pretty much empty at that hour, and whatever it was she had to tell me would have little to do with partying with her. I didn't know how right I was.
The TI was where she and I had met thirteen years before. I had a bad feeling. I had suspected that she was cheating on me with a coworker. I was afraid that this meeting would be where I got the news.
There had been signs: late nights at the office where she was a secretary to the boss. Disinterest in sex, at least with me. New clothes, provocative clothes, in her closet—clothes she never wore around me. And, reduced—much reduced—interest in communicating with me. We hardly spoke even at meals, fewer and fewer of which she was ever even home for.
During the past several months it had been mostly me and the kids eating and her coming in with some lame excuse and perhaps a dessert from the market for the children: Max 9 and Megan 10. Her disregard for me was one thing, and it hurt, but her putting the children on the backburner really pissed me off.
There were but few cars in the lot when I pulled into the TI. I had resolved to play it cool if she was going to do and say what I suspected was the case. I suspected a "tell all" due to a conversation that I had partially overheard two nights before: "Yes ... okay ... I agree ... Tuesday ... yes yes ... I'll get him there..."
Well, it was Tuesday, and it was three o'clock, and she had gotten me here. I sat in the car for a few moments thinking. What if she was with the asshole? What should I do? The advice my dad had laid on me years before came to me; they had served me well more than once in my business: "Do nothing son unless you 'know' what to do. Say nothing. Let your antagonist figure it out. The less you say the more he will worry. And, if he doesn't worry; then, he is vulnerable, and you can make plans to take care of things at a date and time of your choosing. Remember, if you open your mouth they will know what you're thinking immediately, even if you don't realize it. Just shut the fuck up and walk away. Take care of business later after you have all of the facts and your plans are in place." I smiled. Gawd! how I had loved that man; I knew he was watching over me at that very minute. I said a silent prayer of thanks for his advice.
Inside I saw her sitting at the bar with a man I didn't recognize. But, that was not a big surprise. My company, Steinbeck Inc., which I had founded ten years ago, claimed all of my time during the day, and I had little opportunity to mix with the folks at her place of work. I was an electrical engineer, and my company designed wiring and other electrical schema for a full dozen construction companies needing the services I could provide. I walked over to the two of them.
She sensed my presence and turned. "Hello Mark," she said. Not hello honey, no peck on the cheek, just hello Mark.
"Hi honey," I said. And I said it pointedly. "What's up?"
The man turned and faced me. "Mr. Steinbeck, or would you prefer I call you Mark? I, we, bought you here today to let you know that your wife and I have been having sex together for some time. She has made it clear that she is tired of sneaking around and having to make excuses, so I convinced her to just simply tell you."
As I have said, I was half way prepared for this, and the recorder in my jacket pocket gave me an edge; I hoped I was getting it all. I waited. I said nothing, after all dad was watching, and I didn't want "him" mad at me for being stupid.
"Mark?" said Karen waiting for me to say something, but I remained silent. She must have decided I was in shock or something, so she started talking. "Mark, it has been so hard keeping this from you. I don't want you to feel hurt. I have no intention of leaving you. It's just—well—sex with Jason here is just too much for me to give up. I hope you can understand. I just can't keep this from you any longer; you deserve to know," she said.
I wasn't sure just how aware she was of how stupid her arguments sounded. Karen had not finished college, for obvious reasons, but I had never considered her actually dumb until that moment. As for the military genius she was trading me in for—well—enough said.
I walked to the end of the bar where the barkeep was trying not to hear what he couldn't help but hear. I ordered what was on tap. He brought it. I sipped it, saying nothing.
The two of them watched me. I could see confusion on both of their faces. I finished my beer and left. I could feel their eyes following me as I exited the building. I felt good. For the first time in months I felt that I had the upper hand. I might have been imagining it, but it was definitely how I was feeling. I went directly home; the kids would be waiting for me.
I kissed the kids hello, and laughed and told them it was going to be a good weekend for them. They yea'd and cheered, and we went to get ice cream and I told them of my plan, which I had formulated earlier that day. They would be staying with their aunt Susan and uncle Dak for the weekend. They loved my sister and brother-in-law and they them. Sue and her husband, an ex-army ranger, had been unable to conceive; hence, Max and Megan had become their favorite people in the whole wide world. I knew that Sue and Dak were going camping for the weekend, and now the kids were going to be going with them. That would give me the chance I needed to handle the things that had to be handled.
"Everything okay, Mark?" said Dak. The man had an uncanny knack for picking up on things.
"Truthfully, no," I said. "I'm divorcing Karen. The kids don't know so..."
"I figured," he said.
That brought me up short. "What?"
"I've noticed some things," he said. "So has Sue. Karen actually made a play for me last Christmas? I blew her off, and she made a joke about it trying to cover herself, but she couldn't sell it, not to me. Sue made me not tell you; sorry I didn't now."
"It's okay. I'm just grateful you guys are here to take care of the kids for a couple of days. I need time to get my ducks all lined up.
"Listen Mark, if you need me for anything—"
"Thanks, Dak, I'll keep it in mind. But, I think I can handle this. It'll be messy, but I have evidence, and this is not a no-fault state, so nailing the assholes shouldn't be a problem. After I leave here, I'm heading over to Henry's to get things underway.
Henry Morgan was my company's more than competent attorney. He was by all accounts at least 120 years old, but still sharp as a razor blade. He knew every judge and every worthwhile attorney in the state let alone in the city. Karen could not have not realized what I was capable of doing if I found her cheating. I had to figure that she had come forward with all of this—I have a fuck buddy—stuff in order to short shank anything I might do if I were to discover them by accident. It was very faulty reasoning, but the more I considered it the more it made the only possible sense: she was scared I would find out and sandbag her. Well, I was going to do just that.
"Yeah, Henry, that's about it." I had come to his home unannounced and had surprised him. I had given him the recording and the name of the barkeep who had been a witness to the bizarre meeting with my wife and her fuck buddy only hours earlier.
"Okay, I will have them both served on Monday. Are you going home?" he asked.
"Yes, I guess so. I don't want to tip her too soon. I will be kicking her out as soon as you tell me they've been served."
"Okay, Malcom will interview the witness and get him to sign an affidavit tomorrow even though it's Sunday. Speed wins in this business. Hit 'em hard, hit 'em fast, and leave 'em bewildered and sucking hind-titty, I always say," he said. I liked the way this man thought.
"Yes," I said.
"Sorry about your marriage, and especially about Max and Megan. Anything you need—"
"Thanks Henry, I appreciate it." I left feeling very-very good. I had an ex-ranger and a real nasty-ass lawyer running point, now all I had to do was sit back and let the shit hit the fan.
I had told Henry to deny her anything whatsoever; she was to get nothing. He said it wouldn't be a problem. With any other lawyer, I knew, I would probably have to give her half of everything, but her actions, as proved by the recording, according to Henry, would give him the leverage to crush her in court. If Henry said it, it was true; that was a something I knew to be absolutely certain. I was feeling better and better as I drove home for possibly the last weekend I would be spending with my soon to be ex-wife.
Arriving home I was shocked to see a strange car in the driveway; it had to be Jason's. It was getting dark. I wondered if I would be lucky enough to get a pic or two of the lovers. I parked a couple of houses down and snuck up to the house as unobtrusively as I could. The lights were out. As I neared the house, I saw Rex Stottlemeir, my next door neighbor pulling the trash out to the curb: Rex was a cop. I stood directly beside the strange car and looked at him. He saw me and waved. I nodded. He'd seen the car, I was glad: it was yet another witness. I noted the asshole's plate number. I would give it to Henry tomorrow along with Rex's name and address and maybe a couple of pics.
.... There is more of this story ...