Thanks to the Hip and Knee doctor for editing assistance.
My wife had been working on her special project for four months now. It wasn't only her specific project, but she was the lead person and was responsible for it's success. The project was designed to save her company, Bixler Enterprises, and I don't have the slightest idea what it entailed. The last four months had been difficult because of the hours she was forced to work. It was important to her and to the company. Chances were that Bixler Enterprises would go under if the project did not go through.
Sarah had a bachelor's degree from Albright and an MBA from Wharton. She was the smart one in the family. I started work as an auto body man right out of high school, and after twenty-one years, I was still an auto body man. I didn't mind, because I liked the work and the pay was good. It was good enough to pay for Sarah's college and to raise two kids. We didn't live the Life of Riley, but we made out okay. The kids were gone now, and with both our incomes, we were doing pretty well.
Sarah got pregnant within three months of our being married at age 18 for both of us. For the first few years that we were married, we lived with my parents. They had a big empty house, since my four brothers and sisters were gone. It meant that we had a built-in babysitter while Sarah got her first few years of college out of the way. Because of the two pregnancies, the four years degree took six years. It was rough, but she made it. I always had work and never lacked for overtime, if I needed it.
After Sarah finished at Wharton, we rented our own place. She had job offers with some large firms, but they all required us to relocate. I didn't mind, but Sarah wanted to stay close to home. That is why she chose to work for Bixler Enterprises. They paid her well, but most important to her, they gave her responsibility and the opportunity to advance. Sarah was a hard working, dedicated employee.
The presentation would be at the Radisson Hotel in Philadelphia, on Thursday. I took a few days off to help her, if it was necessary. As it ended up, all I really accomplished was having something ready for her to eat when she came home. I knew nothing about her work and didn't really want to. High-level corporate business was boring to me.
Business executives were coming in from Europe, Asia, and South America. The company was paying their airfares and providing rooms at the Radisson while they were here. It was expensive as hell, and from certain things that Sarah had said, the company was over extending themselves financially. Her presentation was important to her, to the company, and to over two hundred employees.
Things seemed to be going well until Tuesday evening. Sarah came home with a new outfit: a gray power suit with a white blouse. She arranged everything that she needed to take with her on the bed in the guest room. When it came to housekeeping she was normal, but when it came to work, she was meticulous. I didn't understand why she needed to take her fancy underwear, but I didn't say anything. In addition to her presentation attire, she had a few nice little cocktail dresses for social functions before and after the event. I always avoided functions like this, but I felt obligated to volunteer to go with her, if she wanted me to. She thanked me for the offer, but told me it wasn't necessary.
All of the handouts and equipment that she needed had been carefully packed in the trunk of her Volvo before she left work. She was driving herself to make sure that everything got there in perfect shape. She had all day Wednesday to prepare, and all night Wednesday to socialize with the guests. Sarah was so good at what she did that I felt it was better if I just stayed out of her way.
Finally she was done. She had checked and double-checked everything. All she needed now was a hot shower and a good nights sleep. I guess my mistake was checking things after Sarah started her shower. I thought I would be helping, but it didn't turn out that way.
I was rearranging things on the bed when a small white envelope fell out of the side pocket of her make-up case. The envelope came from a pharmacy, but not the one that we usually use. There were ten pills inside. I had no idea what Preven was and the instructions were confusing. "Take one pill as necessary and take a second pill twelve hours later." I thought that they might be something that she got for anxiety or nerves, but the instructions didn't make sense. The prescription was in her name and it was filled on Monday. I put the envelope back, as she was finishing her shower. I decided I wanted to find out more about Preven before I mentioned it to her. Of course if I did mention it, it would indicate that I was going through her stuff. I hate dilemmas.
While Sarah was getting ready for bed, I went to our home computer and punched up Preven. Ten minutes later, I joined my wife under the covers. I lay awake all night wondering why my wife had gotten a prescription for the morning after pill, especially, since I had gotten a vasectomy ten years ago.
I was up early the next morning, but not rested. I took a long walk hoping that it would clear my head. Reluctantly, I started back to the house, afraid of what I might do or say when I arrived. My son, Josh joined the Navy after high school and was in his first year stationed in San Diego. Our daughter, Gloria, married her childhood sweetheart last year and just moved to Dallas. It was just Sarah and I. I missed the kids, but I was looking forward to growing old with her. She was the only woman I was ever interested in and now it was all turning to crap. If Sarah was having an affair, she hid it well. Of course, I never checked up on her. I never looked through her E-mails or cell phone calls. I had no reason to. There was no way I could have known about what she did at work, or after work. I trusted her completely.
"John, where the hell were you? Do you want eggs or anything?"
"No, just coffee." I didn't feel very talkative."
"What is wrong, honey. It will only be for three days. You can come if you want to, but you will be bored to death."
"No. I don't really want to go, but I hate leaving you alone. I worry when you are gone."
"That's sweet dear, but everything will be fine. I am not planning on leaving the hotel the whole time. I'll spend most of today making sure the conference room is set up property, and this evening sweet talking our potential customers. Tomorrow, I will probably not even get a chance to pee. I'll get home as early as I can on Friday. I promise you a great weekend, if you know what I mean?"
"That all sounds good, but you can't blame me for being worried. I am an auto body man, and I have a beautiful, and successful wife. Sometimes I get the feeling that you might suddenly be interested in advancing your marriage situation as much as you are in advancing your career."
"Stop that, damn it, John. I have always respected what you do for a living and I have never indicated otherwise. You raised two great kids and put me through college. You are a great husband, a great father, and a good provider, and don't you ever forget that."
I finished my coffee as she cleared the table.
"Do you want me to call you?"
"No, that's not a good idea. I will have my cell phone off and I am going to turn off the room phone at night so I can get some sleep. I'll call you every chance I get."
I helped her load the car. She was as fussy about that as she was everything else that was work connected. It would take her three hours to get to the Radisson. At least she would miss the going-to-work traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway. I stood on the porch and watched as she left. I never asked her about the pills.
I spent the rest of the morning on the porch. I don't ever remember worrying about anything as much as I did this. I felt little and insignificant. I felt out of my league. I was a small-town guy with a mediocre job and a successful wife. It was a mismatch. I should have seen it earlier. I felt stupid.
The best suit that I had was a blue blazer and a pair of slacks. At least I had a few ties, even tough they were ten years out of date. I just finished dressing, when the landline phone rang.
"Hi Honey. I just wanted to let you know that I got here okay."
"You made good time. I assume the traffic wasn't too bad."
"Everything was good. I'll call you later tonight. I have to go now. They are unloading the car for me. I am in room 714."
"Sarah, I might be at my at my parent's or brother's place tonight. If you call, call me on the cell phone."
"Okay. Love you. Got to go."
I took my time driving into Philadelphia. I didn't go straight to the Radisson: I stopped and got a cheese steak first. It was going to be a long night. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I parked in the garage area of the hotel and just waited. Sooner or later, I had to go into the hotel, I just couldn't figure out when to do it. The cell phone call helped me make up my mind.
"John, I just wanted to let you know that I am all settled in. I am going downstairs now to meet some of the people and have supper."
"You didn't forget anything did you?"
"No. Everything is perfect. I have it all laid out in my room for tomorrow."
"Do you need anything?"
"No, John. Relax. I am going to turn off my phone. I'll call you tomorrow morning."
"Okay. Have fun."
"It's not fun, John. It's work."
.... There is more of this story ...