I stood there in the shadows watching them. Stunned? Oh no, much worse than stunned, I was destroyed. My wife of twenty-six years was naked and on her knees, in front of our living room couch, sucking him off. Him? He's her boss at the William's Travel Agency. I never had a clue.
I had decided to come home for lunch. Trace went home every day at noon; she only worked mornings. I had intended to surprise her, yes it's a cliché; hell it's the cliché of clichés that a cheated on spouse shows up where he or she is least expected and ends up crying his or her eyes out. Well, I knew that would be me soon enough. Oh yeah, who am I...
I'm Jesse Pearson, age forty-six. I'm a financial planner at a local bank. My wife? Tracy Pearson, age forty-five. We're what I would describe as an average couple, we do okay financially, and we get along well in and out of bed. Me personally? I'm five-eight, my brown hair's thinned a lot over the years, but I think I look okay; I take care of myself. Her? Pretty, especially for her age, at least I think so. Evidently so does Hank, uh Henry, Williams, her boss: black, six-three, two-fifty, certified asshole.
I am watching something surreal, at least to me. He's lifted her up off her knees now and has settled her up on the couch, again on her knees, butt towards him. I watch as he pushes into her. I snap another picture; I do love these cell phones; they do so much more than enable conversation. There was an irony in that, I mean in the cell pics: they were the proof I needed.
Tracy's parents and grandparents—on both sides—had divorced because of infidelity; evidently it was something in the genes or water or something. But, as fortune would dictate, before she would marry me, she made me go with her to a lawyer. I had to sign a prenup. It stated that if either of us was caught in infidelity, the other would get everything. She wasn't taking any chances she had told me the night I'd proposed, not with the history her family had. The history? In all four divorces referred to, it had been the men cheating and the women hurt. Well, she sure as hell had reversed that trend, and I had incontrovertible proof of it. Oh, and for the record, I had never even thought about cheating on her. I had righteousness on my side; something I was discovering didn't mean fuck in affairs of the heart. God, how I was hurting! But, I wasn't so hurt or so stunned that I couldn't think.
My marriage was very likely over. Our two kids, Melanie and Mark, both off at college a hundred miles away, would be upset, I was sure; but life is what it is. I would be talking to them soon.
I slipped out and away. I had to think long and hard about how to play this. I considered crashing their party, but the guy cuckolding me might well have killed me; he was so fucking big! But, that wasn't even the main reason I was sneaking out with my tail between my legs. I was purely afraid that she might tell me that she didn't love me anymore. Suspecting it, even knowing it, was one thing; but hearing it from her would have been infinitely worse, oh yes far worse. Yes okay, my marriage probably was over, but I loved her, needed her. I just didn't know what to do, not yet at any rate.
I had taken care of a few things after having left them to their pleasures at lunch. First, back at work, I downloaded the pictures I'd taken of them to my work computer. I had also done some checking. Mister Williams it seems had his accounts at our bank! I was pretty sure he had, but I wasn't totally sure; my work had little to do with floor operations; my job is to handle stock trades and high end loans.
I knew I couldn't touch his accounts; there are laws, but I was pretty sure that if he would cuckold a man in his own home that he would probably cheat in other ways too, maybe on his taxes or on his business associates or perhaps even on his own family; hell, he'd already done this last. I'd know very shortly about any of the rest of it. I was going to bring Mr. Williams down if I could, and I was pretty sure I could.
And then there was Tracy. I was going to get everything anyway, but I was going to make sure. I put in a seal order on our safe deposit box; that's where we kept one set of the original prenup papers; Matt Grossman, our lawyer, had the other. I took care of some other banking stuff: transferring funds and killing cards and then I relaxed. I may have been her cuckold, and his, but they were not going to profit from it, and I wasn't going to slip quietly into the night either. There would soon be a typhoon of shit for the two of them to deal with.
The work day over, I headed out to Tribes, my favorite bar. It was there that I made the decision. I would try to save the marriage. I would find out somehow whether or not she loved me, whether this was just a onetime thing. Okay, I knew in my heart it probably wasn't, but I didn't know for sure. I had to know for sure—I mean twenty-six years!
I waved goodbye to Fyfe, the barkeep, threw a ten down on the bar, and headed out.
I parked in the garage. I could smell the stew she was making even in there.
"Hi honey," she said. "How was your day?"
She seemed almost happy to see me. "A little rugged, but okay, I guess. Smells good," I said.
She seemed pleased at my words. I guess if she was going to give herself away to another man, she wanted to make sure I was happy in other respects. Well, the game wasn't over yet. The next hours would tell the tale. But, all of that could wait until I had had dinner; I did love her beef stew.
Dinner was normal. We talked about our day. We made plans to go to Bev and Mike's anniversary party the following weekend. They were having it at Tribes, always a good idea, I thought.
We watched a little TV; well she watched TV; I watched her. She was so calm and collected. Had it been me cheating on her, I would have been a nervous wreck, feeling guilty as hell. But her? Nothing, not even a sidelong glance. Could I have been dreaming? Well, maybe, but the pictures were no dream and I had them. I even had a set of poor quality downloaded ones with me. I hoped I'd not need them, but one never knew.
We headed upstairs to bed. The moment of truth, I thought. I smiled at her. She looked at me funny. Her first slip? Well maybe.
"I'm feeling frisky," I said. "And you are looking awful good tonight." She smiled at me, but it seemed forced, but that might just have been my imagination.
"Well, I should hope so," she said, finally, "this hairdo cost me plenty." She smiled again.
We were soon naked and in bed. I was a little more attentive than usual. I kissed her lightly then more earnestly. I felt up her breasts and butt. Working myself down her body, I kissed her more southerly lips and made agreeable love to her. She lay languidly as I had my way with her. Soon, I was banging her vigorously. She lay impassive, but smiled up at me periodically. In a word she was bored. And, in another word, I now knew. Her love for me was dead or dying. My love for her? Also dying.
Rather than carry on with the farce, I pulled out of her. I got up.
"Where yuh goin'?" she said confused.
"I'll be back in a moment," I said. "Then, I'll let you be."
"Huh?" she said. "Let me be? You just fucked me."
"No, I made love to you," I said. "Well, at least I tried. But, I'll be back in a second. Just relax." She looked more than a little nervous. I was about to clear up any and all reason for her to be concerned.
Still naked, I hustled downstairs, found my briefcase, retrieved the photos, and headed back up.
I placed the manila folder on the bedstand. I went in to shower. I was soaped up pretty good when I heard the scream. Then nothing.
I rinsed off and dried myself. I went back in to face the storm.
I'd only been gone minutes, but she looked terrible. Her face was streaked and she had on her old robe; it was a tattered thing, but comfortable, she'd always maintained.
"Jess—please—you've got to listen to me. You've got to," she said. Now, she was begging.
"Oh, really? What do I need to hear, Trace? I'm all ears. One thing I gotta ask though, in my house! That really hurt, yuh know?" I said.
"Jess, it's not what you think?" she continued to plead.
"Well, I'm sure glad of that, Trace, because if it was him fucking you, as I originally thought, we're done you and I," I said. "So was it?"
"Was what?" she said.
"Was it him fucking you?" I said.
"Jess—no—I mean yes—but I mean it's not what you think. I don't love him. I love you, only you. Didn't I just get done proving that to you?" she said. The hope in her voice was palpable. She was praying it was enough.
"You mean when we—I—made love to you just now," I said.
"Yes, exactly that," she said. "It was wonderful, right?"
"Hell no it wasn't. I was hoping that I was wrong, Trace. That you would at least love me too. That you would show me at least as much passion as you showed the asshole today. Maybe then we might have worked something out. I mean twenty-six years. Jesus!
"I know couples sometimes kinda get bored with each other after that much time. But, you couldn't get even a little interested in me tonight; it was obvious. Hell, I almost couldn't get it up to screw you it was such a turnoff, I mean your bored attitude. But, you are pretty, so at least I was able to get one last fuck in before the end," I said.
"Jess, you're wrong, I loved what you did to me. I know I was relaxed because you relaxed me—uh—uh—with your tongue." She was getting desperate.
"What about with my cock?' I said. What about that? Tell me, is he bigger than me? I'd really like to know."
"Jess, what kind of question is that? Size doesn't matter that much to a woman. You are plenty big enough for me; you know that," she said.
"Still didn't answer me, Trace, I really want to know. I have a right to know don't I. I mean if you're going to go out and fuck another man, shouldn't I at least be able to know if I have a chance to compete with him?"
"Jess, that's crazy!" she said.
"Still haven't answered me, Trace. I'm losing my patience." I said.
"Okay, yes, he's a little bigger, maybe an inch or so, but that's it. And it means nothing. I love you not him," she said.
"Thank you for answering me. And, since you're in such a talkative mood, answer me this: why?" I said. I leaned back against the dresser. I still had the towel wrapped around me.
"Jess, I can't..."
"Yes, you can. This will be your only chance. Toss it and what little hope there is for us dies with your refusal," I said.
She nodded, resigned to do as I asked. "You said it yourself, Jess, you're boring in bed. I was afraid to tell you that; I know the male ego well enough by now.
"He came on to me in a weak moment. The first time was a year ago. So..."
"How often?" I said.
"Four other times," she said.
"Where?" I said.
"All of the other times were in his office. He pulled the blinds closed and did me over his desk. There that's it," she said, softly. "Jess, I am so sorry. I just needed..."
"Needed something you weren't getting from me," I said.
She didn't say anything. She just looked at the floor her hands folded in her lap.
In that instant I was pretty sure I had been the one to blow it. I didn't realize that she had felt that way. I hadn't realized that I had let my woman down. In a way, I had driven her to look elsewhere. It didn't excuse her. She should have talked to me, yelled at me, kicked my ass out; but she didn't; she fucked another man in our house instead. So, what to do now?
I had been gonna kick her out right then. But, I saw a sliver of hope for us. She hadn't lied to me; I felt sure of that. Could I forgive her? Could I trust her again? I began to pace the floor.
"I need time to think, Trace. You move into Mark's or Mel's room tonight. We'll talk again in the morning. And, Trace..."
"Yes?" I could actually feel the hope in her voice.
"This isn't over. And Mr. Williams is not home free no matter what. You understand that?" I said. "Oh, and one more thing, you are done working there, you do get that?"
She looked disconcerted when I said that. She seemed about to say something, but she just nodded and rose to go into one of the children's rooms. I figured it might be Mel's room she would choose because it had its own bathroom. Mark had always had to use the one downstairs.
The morning would bring a whole new set of challenges. I'd be able to think of something by then. I already had a few ideas.
She was up before me and the coffee was made. It was a work day, but I was going to call in. We had things to do and a long day of decision making to get through. She sat across from me stirring the whitener into her coffee.
"So what now, Jess?" she said. She could see I had a pad in front of me with some writing on it. She couldn't read it of course, nobody could; my scrawl was indecipherable to all but trained surgeons.
"First thing is we drink our coffee, have a couple of warm rolls, and then we call our respective workplaces," I said.
"You still gonna make me quit?' she said, looking up from her stirring.
"Is that a serious question?" I said.
"No, I guess not," she said.
"Why, you still wanna work there with your fuck buddy? Tell me now and we'll go to plan B. I mean right now," I said.
"No, no, I just liked the work. He and I will never speak again, no matter what," she said.
I didn't say anything. I couldn't believe that she had actually asked me if she really had to quit. There were other travel agencies. Why was she so in love with the place?
"Jess, are you going to divorce me? Please, don't keep me in suspense. I fucked up royally, but I want to stay married to you if you will let me," she said.
"No. I have decided that we need to try to get by it. But, it will be on my terms and some of the terms will not be pleasant. I will not stand for being a cuckold. I love you, but I don't love you that much, no man would," I said.
"Okay," she said. The hope had now become something else—maybe gratitude.
Our conversation was but half over before the phone rang. I got up to get it. It was loverboy. "It's for you," I said. I got only her side of the conversation.
"Hello? ... Oh, no, I know it's late ... No, something's come up ... I will be in later ... no ... no ... maybe an hour maybe two ... okay, bye." She hung up.
"Why didn't you tell him," I said.
"I have to go in one last time, Jess, I have to get my stuff. I even have my laptop there. I intend to tell him then. Is that okay?"
I was fuming, but her computer was $2,000 worth, so I guess I had to say okay. "Okay, but you may be gone for no more than an hour. If you are, the doors will be locked when you return. Am I clear?" I said. I had a plan; this could work out for me, her going in one last time.
"Thank you," she said. "I will be back within an hour, I promise. Anyway, I guess I oughta go up and get cleaned up and dressed." I nodded and she headed upstairs.
My little micro-recorder was going to be in her purse. It could record for as many as 55 hours. What she said to him would be on it unless, by some accident, she discovered it. Her purse had numerous pockets and subpockets. Women! I found a little subpocket that I was sure she would not be looking into—well, I hoped, and stashed the recorder in it.
She was down the stairs, dressed casually, not her usual formal workwear and out the door. We didn't kiss; well, she wouldn't be gone long.
Her trip took an hour and thirteen minutes. I decided to be lenient. I knew they hadn't had time to fuck, but they had had time to talk. That was one conversation that I wanted to hear.
"You're late, but not by much. You okay?" I said.
"Yes, I'm fine. I just feel funny, I mean quitting like that; it was embarrassing," she said.
"Hmm, well, I felt kinda funny watching him fuck you yesterday, so maybe we're a little more even now," I said. She looked sad. I had a bad feeling, but I wasn't sure why.
I was able to get my recorder out of her purse when she adjourned to the bathroom a little bit after she got home, but I wasn't going to be able to listen to it until later when I knew she would probably go shopping at the supermarket.
She left to do her shopping at 2:00PM.
Her car was moving slowly down our street as I pulled the little device from my jeans pocket, rewound the recording, and punched play.
Sounds of the street and traffic. "Shit-shit-shit!" I heard her say to no one a she drove. She clearly was upset with herself, and probably with me.
The next minutes were essentially silent until I heard her open her car door and her getingt out.
"Hello, Margaret, Mr. Williams in?"
"Sure, go on in, Tracy, you know the way." Sounds of doors opening and closing.
"What's going on, Tracy? Why did you sound so funny on the phone?" said the asshole.
"Hank he knows. He saw us yesterday, and he has pictures," said Tracy. "He's making me quit working here as of now. I'm here to get my stuff, and then I have to get right back. I mean right back. I'm on the clock."
"Oh my God!" he said. "What's he gonna do? Are you and I finished? Tracy I love you. I know you love me. What can we do?" he said.
"Does this answer your question?" I heard her say.
"Huh? What are you doing?" he said.
"Getting naked. But, you have to do me fast, and then help me pack, so I can get back in time," she said.
I listened a little longer to the banter and the sounds of him fucking her. I knew what I had to do.
I pulled a couple of suitcases out of the closet and started throwing her stuff into them. I called a locksmith who was able to do a rush job; he was a guy the bank used; he needed my support.
I had her packed, though badly, and the locks changed in the three hours she was gone. It occurred to me that she could have met him while shopping, but I doubted that.
The locksmith was just driving away when her car pulled in. She started to get out, but I held up my hands to stop her. I picked up the suitcases on the porch beside me and brought them to her. Her eyes got big. "What?"
"Shut the fuck up and get out," I said. "You better go back to work; you're going to be needing your job."
"Jesse, I thought..."
"Not after what you did with him in his office today," I said. "We're finished. You're his lover, whore, nooner whatever, and you and I are done. Say hello to big dick for me, okay," I was all but snarling at her.
"Oh my God! How? You couldn't..." she was flustered, confused, frightened.
"I was there," I lied. Well, actually, I sorta was there. She looked at me as though what I said made no sense. And, of course it didn't make any real sense. But, I loved the fact that she was totally out of the loop.
"Jess, if you really are kicking me out, I do need to get my stuff," she tried.
"Make a list. And, while you're at it, it might be useful for you to remember the prenup you made me sign," I said. "Call me tomorrow or the next day, and I will let you get whatever else you're entitled to." I turned and walked in. She was still standing by her car shocked and flustered.
I watched from an upstairs window. She put her bags in the car and just before getting back in, she flipped me the bird; she had to know I was watching her. I flipped it back at her, but she didn't see me do it.
The kids were seated around the dinette table having been summoned home by me.
"Yes, dad she did call us. She said you kicked her out, but that you had reason," said Melanie. Melanie was our first born; she is twenty-one. Mark her brother was nineteen.
I smirked, "Reason?" I said. "I had reason. I called you guys here to let you know that your mother and I have irreconcilable differences. For obvious reasons I'd rather not get into them with you. But, I will say this. Your mom has a boyfriend. She likes him better than me, and as far as you two are concerned that's pretty much the long and the short of it."
"Dad! Mom would never do that to you," said Mark. "She loves you. She told us so today.
"Both of us, right, Mel," said Mark
"Yeah, dad," she did.
"She didn't say anything about her boyfriend then?" I said.
"No, dad. She said you were really mad about something, but she wouldn't tell us what. She said you'd have to do that," said Melanie.
"Typical," I muttered, "leave the dirty work up to me.
"Kids, I just did tell you. She's got a boyfriend. She's—well—doing him. Now, we have to leave it at that, okay?" I said. I had not intended to put it out there for them. I only wanted them to have a heads up about the impending divorce. But, now I'd had to lay some of the facts out on the table.
"Dad, she said she told you she loved you but you just wouldn't accept that. She didn't say anything about another man. She said she hoped you'd do the right thing and not make things worse than they already were," said Mark.
"Dad, I know mom loves you. I know she would never have—well—you know with another man. We believe her, Dad. You gotta take her back. Solve the problem you've got with each other and take her back. I know you can work it out dad."
"Did she give you a number to reach her?" I said.
"Yes," said Mark. "She's staying with a friend from work for the next few days."
"Call it." I said. Mark started to object. I raised my hand to stop him. "Just call her, and ask about Hank?" This was getting way too deep for me. I didn't want to use the pictures, but I was not going to be the bad guy in this no matter what.
"Take the phone in the other room and talk to her in private. I will wait till you're done," I said.
Mark took the phone into the other room and made the call. He was gone for some little time.
He came back and had a smile on his face. "Mom said to tell you hello, dad, she'd been crying. I talked to Mrs. Williams too, and she said she hoped you'd come to your senses."
It was surreal. She was gambling that I'd be willing to overlook her double betrayal because of the kids and our twenty-six years. But, the kids had not seen and heard what I'd seen and heard. But more than that, she was staying with him and his wife! The woman had balls of steel. I'd never played poker with her, but now I was glad I never had; she'd have cleaned me out.
"Get her back on the line," I said. "I want to talk to her." He dialed and handed me the phone.
"Mrs. Williams, may I speak with my wife, please ... Yes it's me ... Tribes in thirty minutes ... no, the kids won't be there ... not for this one ... no, thirty minutes and not one minute more." I hung up.
"You two stay here. Your mother and I are going to discuss a couple of things," I said.
She was already at a table in the back. He was with her: big mistake.
"What's asshole here for? He's got four seconds to get out or I destroy both of you," I said, literally sneering.
"Jess, he's here to apologize..." she started.
"Get out of here fuck face before I take you down," I said. I knew he'd probably kill me, but the truth would be known then wouldn't it, I reasoned.
He ignored my ridiculous threat. "Mr. Pearson, please, give me a chance. Just two minutes and then I will get my fuck face out of here if you say so," said asshole.
I glared but raised my hand in a signal for him to continue; I still stood.
"Mr. Pearson—your wife and I—well we haven't been..."
"Hank let me; then you can have your say," said Tracy. "We haven't been honest with you, Jess. But, I haven't cheated on you." I looked at her like she was crazy. I had pictures and she'd seen one of them. "Yes, yes, I know what you're thinking, but I wasn't cheating on you, not really."
"Not really?" I said. Now I was confused.
"Jess, Hanks been fucking me for twenty years, not just the five times I admitted to," she said. I hoped beyond hope that the recorder in my coat pocket was getting all of this because nobody would believe me if I told them. "What I mean is that I have been your wife, your faithful wife for all of that time. The only thing I have done was have sex, extra-curricular sex, with Hank, to kinda fill in, well, the gaps in my sex life. I never told him I loved him. I never denied you in bed. He never got more than you; every time I did it with him I did it with you the next day, sometimes the same day or night..."
"Sloppy seconds for me? You rotten..." I was getting mad.
"No, no! God no! I never gave you sloppy seconds, never! I was always douched and showered if we did it the same day as Hank and I did it. God, no, please believe me on that one whatever else you may think of me," she said.
"Why should I?" I said. I turned to Mr. Williams, "Does your wife know?"
"No, she's ill. Been ill for almost our whole married life. That's why—well that's why I came on to your wife—to—fulfill a need I had," he said. "And, please, Mr. Pearson, no matter what you decide to do, don't tell Maxine. It would kill her. Do what you want with me, but don't tell her."
"Jess, I have a proposal I hope you'll consider," she said. I stared at her, my eyes signaling her to continue. This was all crazy, but no one could have claimed it wasn't interesting; and, I was recording it.
"First and foremost I want us to remain married," she paused. "Second, and I know at first blush this is going to seem, sound strange. I want you to consider Hank here your brother husband."
"Huh? What? I don't understand," I said, and I didn't.
"Well, it's simple really. Hank and Maxine will remain married, and he will remain her dutiful husband as long as she lives. You and I will be as before. But—Hank will be kind of a second husband to me—I mean since you know everything already. He'll be like a brother to you, a brother husband. Unofficial of course, but for us the real McCoy," she said.
I stared. I had no words. I couldn't breathe all that well. I took a shallow breath and I must have flushed or taken on an indeterminate expression.
"Sounds good, huh?" she said.
"You're fucking crazy both of you. We're done here. Please go straight to hell," I said.
"Jess! What are you talking about! I thought I made myself clear. I mean..."
"Shut the fuck up. I will not be your cuckold, and certainly not his," I nodded in the direction of asshole. "I will not accept getting the occasional mercy fuck just to placate me. Frankly, I deserve better than that. I deserve a wife—a real wife." I stormed out leaving the two morons to talk it over.
I pulled into the garage. The kids met me at the kitchen door.
"Well?" said Melanie.
"I'm divorcing her. She met me there with her lover! She told me I had to accept him, but that she'd let me have a mercy fuck every now and then," I said. Okay, I stretched the truth a little, but it was how I felt. "Ask her if you don't believe me!"
Mark was already out of the room and pulling his cell phone to call her.
I burst out crying. I couldn't help it. Melanie came to me. "Dad," she said, putting her arms around me. "Don't worry. It'll work out all right. Mark and I are here for you."
Helluva thing a man having to lean on his baby to get comfort in a bad time like this, I thought. Shoulda been my wife not my kid. I was dying inside.
Mark returned. He looked at me sympathetically. "She is with someone; he actually answered her phone. I don't know what to say dad. I'm sure Melanie told you were here to support you. I, we, do want to talk to mom too, but things don't' look too good at the moment, I have to admit."
"Thanks, Mark, that helps," I said, as I wiped my eyes.
We talked for some time about what I was going to do. I told them to expect a divorce and that very soon. There was no way I was going to be her willing cuckold.
I approached Matt the day after the meet with the Tracy and asshole. I told him to expedite it. He said he would.
"Are you really going to crucify her financially, Jess," said Matt.
"Absolutely. She's the one who insisted on the damn prenup and she's the one who screwed me over by screwing her boss then daring me to like it or lump it. Well, I'm lumping it. I want it done fast, public, and rude, okay?"
"Okay, you are within your rights. I will have her essentially destitute by the end of the week. You know what to do at your end," he said.
"Yes, I do, and I'm going to enjoy the hell out of it. Just like she did telling me the things she told me."
I called in to work and took the rest of the week off. I had to get things handled by the week's end. I wanted out of my sham of a marriage and I wanted it sooner rather than later.
She was served at her work place two days later. She called me.
"So it's over? Twenty-six years down the tubes?" she said.
"You should know; you ended it," I said. "How many other husbands do you think would have taken your offer of occasional mercy fucks seriously? I don't think too many. You're good lookin' but not that good lookin'."
"Jess what's this stuff about mercy fucks? I love you. We would have made love just like always, maybe even more than before. God knows I feel I had a lot to make up for hurting you like I did," she said.
"Exactly, you'd have done more because you felt you had to, so that I wouldn't feel left out, not because you wanted to," I said. "That's the definition of mercy fucking. You do know that?"
"No! No, it's not. I wouldn't be doing it to make you feel better—well in a way I would—but mainly I'd be doing it to make sure you knew I loved you and only you.
"Look, can't we try to put this behind us? I'll do anything to make this right. I'm already looking for a job elsewhere. I have to stay here until I get one, but I will be out of here as soon as I can. Doesn't that say something about where I'm at?"
"Too little too late, Trace, you blew it by fucking him when you went to get your stuff at the office. I don't trust you anymore. You're a liar and a cheat. I have to go. Goodbye," I said. I hung up.
The divorce was final six months later.
My life post divorce was quiet and boring and lonely. The kids understood, or so I thought, but, too, they clearly thought that I had been too hard on their mother because I had cut her off without a dime. I knew also that they had taken to contributing to her financial well being at first using some of the college money I had sent them. But soon the woman was able to make it on her own; she had gotten a job at a different firm. The thing that really pissed me off, though, was the fact that she had kept up her liaison with the asshole.
It was almost Christmas, almost exactly a year and a half after the divorce that things really came to a head.
I had avoided seeing or even hearing anything about my ex for the entire time since the divorce. The kids were under strict orders to tell her nothing about me, nor did I want to hear anything whatsoever about her. They went along, well, until the Christmas just alluded to that is.
"Dad," said Melanie, softly. "I am graduating next month, just thirty three more days, and then Charlie and I are getting married."
My eyes popped open and the smile on my face seemed to please my daughter. I knew about the grad date of course, had been planning on it. I was a little nervous about probably seeing my ex there, but it was one of those "can't help it" things that divorced people just had to do, I supposed. "Honey, that's great! When's the event?" I asked.
"The week after I grad, daddy," she said. "Uh—mom's going to be there too, I mean at the wedding. Is that okay? I mean I know you don't want to see her, but this is kind of a special day. Is that okay?"
"Yes, and I expect she'll be at the grad ceremony too," I said. I had to laugh. "Of course. I won't have a problem with that. Tell her that. Tell her I won't even mind if she shows up with asshole."
"Daddy, he's not that bad. I mean I wish you wouldn't keep calling him that. It's water under the bridge, okay?" she said.
"Okay, okay. I can put up with him for one day. I promise to behave," I said. She relaxed a little. But, then she started to fidget.
"Honey?" I said.
"Dad, I have a big favor to ask of you," said Melanie. I narrowed my eyes; this didn't sound good.
"Dad, mom feels left out of my life. Mark and I spend a lot of time with you, and hardly any, at least in comparison to you," said Melanie.
"Yes. And, well, she asked if maybe it would be all right with you if Mr. Williams walked me down the aisle?" she paused to see how her announcement was received.
"Huh?" The shock was so sudden and so thunderously hurtful that I couldn't really talk. I kinda choked out my words. "She is asking if the man who took her away from me to do my job?"
"Well, but not really, dad. He will never take your place in my heart, never. It's just that mom feels so left out, so much less since you divorced her..."
I interrupted her, "Mel, I have just one question: are you going along with this?"
"Well, I said I would ask you. You know. You got everything in the divorce; she didn't get anything. She just wants some little thing to kinda make her feel a little more like she's, well, our mom. Mark thinks it's maybe a nice thing for us, you, to do too," said Melanie.
"I have to go. I have to do some things. I forgot I—I—I have to do some things," I stuttered. The divorce was bad, but this was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
"Daddy, please..." I stood and walked out and then walked fast and then ran. She was saying something yelling something, but I was running literally running from her. In her high heels she was not catching me, not hardly.
My stomach was imploding in on itself. I felt faint. In that moment, I knew my wife, my ex-wife, had won. I could not share my daughter in any way shape or form with that man, no more than I could share my wife. In that same moment, I knew what I would do. Before the day was out I would be setting the wheels in motion remove myself from my family forever. Helluva thing.
I drove directly to Matt Grossman's office. He greeted me. We sat down. After signing all of the necessary papers, I called Max Winters, my boss at the bank.
Max was upset that I was quitting, but after I told him the deal; he understood. I told him I was coming to his house right then. I had keys to turn in and some computer access codes he would need.
Matt had my power of attorney to sell the house. All of the proceeds were to go to the kids. I also left a letter with him for them explaining my wishes. But, I put no limitations on their use of the money. I just told them to finish college no matter what, and told them I hoped they had good lives.
"Mark come here," called Melanie. The lawyer was seated at the dinette in Tracy's apartment. In front of him was a manila envelope.
"Kids, I'm here representing your dad. He asked me to give you these," said Matt. He pulled out a letter and some other paperwork that looked like receipts. "You can look at them at your leisure, but I need to tell you a few things first."
"What's this all about, Mr. Grossman," said Mark, looking about as worried as he actually was.
"Your father has left town—for good. He told me to tell you he loved you both, and he wouldn't stand in your way or cause you any more heartache than he feels he has already caused you." He looked at Melanie.
"Mel, I've known you and your family all of your life. Your dad just could not bring himself to upset your wedding. He could also not bring himself to share you with the man who had cuckolded him and taken away his wife. So, he opted to just take himself out of the picture. He wishes you well, and prays your marriage will be wonderful and lifelong, unlike his own..."
"What the fuck!" screamed Mel. "He's gone! Without a word! Gone!"
"Mr. Grossman, you have to help us find him. This is all wrong. We just thought that ... I mean mom thought..." Mark said.
"Mark, he's gone. I have no knowledge as to his destination..."
"The house! There must be a clue in the house!" said Mel.
"The house is cleaned out; everything is gone but the furniture. He left instructions with me to give all of that to your mother. I am expediting the sale myself. The proceeds are to be divided between you; it's all in the letter. He gave you everything, no restrictions.
The sobbing began in earnest. Even Mark, the heman, couldn't help himself. The lawyer let himself out.
Tracy sat across from her children. Her look was drawn and distant. "I am so sorry, Mel. I didn't think your dad would do something like this. I was just hoping that the bitterness he felt for me and Hank might melt a little if we could be maybe a little more like a family again. I guess I messed up. Well, hell, it wouldn't be the first time would it?"
"Mom, dad has never gotten over the breakup. He thought he had to do it, the divorce; and he is bitter. It wasn't just you finding someone new. He had some crazy notion that you were trying to make him happy to be cuckolded by you, and that you actually wanted him to share you with Hank. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but he believed it. I don't know; his thinking was all crazy and mixed up. I should have seen this coming. I'm a Psyche major for crying—out-loud!" said Mark.
Tracy began to cry. The children tried to comfort her.
"Mom, about the wedding..."
"You're right, Mel. Hank will not walk you down the aisle. If your dad ever returns, or if we, I, can find him; we will not have to explain how he was replaced in his duty.
"Mark, you will have to walk your sister down the aisle. Okay?"
"Sure mom. I will be honored.
"I mean if it's okay with you sis?" She nodded her assent.
"This was to be the happiest day of my life—now?" said Mel.
"Honey, I know your dad, he would not want you to change anything. He'd want you to be happy."
The year since the wedding had been one of rebuilding for me, rebuilding my life. I had made a few new friends in Mexico. I had all of the money I needed to make a life there, and I was happy I'd gambled and went south instead to California where I had originally considered going.