This is a story where there is a whole lot of cheating going on. It evolves into a different lifestyle among the players they all can live with. If you don't approve of this sort of story, you don't have to read it. Otherwise, enjoy.
I came out the front door of the office building where I was employed. Glancing across the street to the little park, I saw Pop sitting on a bench nearest the sidewalk. He waved so I knew he had been waiting for me. I cut across, dodging three cars that held workers in a hurry to get home for the day.
"Hi Reed, I thought you might be coming out about now. I wanted to talk to you before I left."
"What do you mean? You leaving for the weekend?"
"No son, I'm leaving for good. I've had a week to get things together and I'm leaving next Wednesday. I just wanted you to know. In fact you are the only one that will know."
"Let's go get a beer and you can tell me all about it." Anyone would think I would be surprised at what my father had just said, but I wasn't really. You see my mother had divorced Pop seven years ago when she thought he had been fooling around on her. He hadn't, but being stubborn, he wouldn't deny what she thought was true. He figured that she would wake up and drop the suit before it became final. I had to plead Pop's case for him with Mom, but she was just as stubborn and the suit went forward. I think they both were shocked when they woke up and found that they were not husband and wife anymore.
Mom bought Pop's half of the house with a trust that her mother had left her. Pop lived in two rooms and Mom had the rest of the house. She kept house and did everything for him that she did when they were married, but he had to pay for the service. Needless to say Pop was bitter about the whole arrangement, but stuck around hoping Mom would relent. Neither one ever dated, Pop wanting to show that he had always been true to her, while Mom felt that Pop should woo and court her like he did when they were first attracted to each other.
I led Pop to a little bar down the block and told the waitress to keep the beer coming until I said quit. We made our way to a secluded booth in the back. The first round on the table I said, "Okay what's changed? You've put up with Mom's stubbornness for a lot of years, why now?"
"Reed, I still love your mother as much as I ever did, but I don't see anything changing in the future. In fact I think she likes the way things are now. I gotta tell you I feel less and less a man as time goes on." Pop ran his fingers through his hair. "I ran into an old sweetheart of mine who was in town the other day. She brought her husband's ashes back to be buried with his family. She was asking if I knew of a person to help drive her home to Montana. She said it was a much more tiring trip than she expected driving here alone."
"Do I know her?"
"No I don't think so and Sybil doesn't know her either for Merriam was gone before I met your mother. After I met her again a week ago, I started thinking, why don't I drive her. I've nothing really to hold me here except you and Emmy."
"What about Mom?"
"I guess I better tell you how Sybil treats me and it isn't just one time, it's every time I pay my housekeeping tab to her. You know the reason she and I got divorced was because she thought I paid a whore for sex. Well since then every month when I give her the money she says, "Here's my little whore monger come to get laid again. Lay the money on the dresser and come here."
Tears were falling from Pop's eyes. "I keep telling her I don't want a whore, I want a wife. Someone to sleep and cuddle with. Sybil just won't give it up. The last three times I could only get it up once. I told her that any good whore would give me head to get me hard again, thinking if she was going to act the part she might as well be treated like one. No way would she go for that. I've decided now that your mother is crazy."
This was a lot more information about my parents then I wanted to know, but I could understand why Pop was ready to leave. I shocked him with, "Can I go with you? I guess it is time to tell you that my marriage is shit, just like yours. Mom may be acting like a whore, but she at least is your faithful whore. I'm in a different situation, as Gracie really is whoring herself out. I found out two years ago by accident. She has been keeping three other guys happy for I don't know how long. Maybe our whole married life. I just don't know."
"How did you find out?"
"I had to go out of town for a two-day meeting. Gracie was changing the sheets on the bed in the morning as I was getting dressed. When I reached my destination, the main speaker was sick and had the meeting called off. I sat around and bullshitted the rest of the panel, but then decided I would come home that same night. Gracie was just going out when I came in and said she had a house to show, but she wouldn't be late. Would I be kind enough to start the washer and run the sheets through?"
I choked up when I thought back. "The thing of it was the sheets she wanted washed were the same ones that she had been putting on the bed that morning. When I inspected them I found that they had several spots of semen on them. There was enough cum juice on them so she must have had one lover two or three times or two or three lovers--maybe more than once."
Pop looked at me with compassion in his eyes. "You didn't confront her?"
"No, I wanted proof and I wanted to know who. The next day I hired a private detective to bug the house with both audio and video. That was two years ago and those little devices are still piling up proof for me. Every time I go out of town for more than two days, I arrange for the detective to come in afterwards and get what is on the camera. He then takes it and adds it to a tape. He has filled more than two ninety-minute tapes with her fucking three of our town's elite. Every segment is preceded by the detective saying when and where he retrieved that particular portion and then dated and time stamped it.
"Emmy is going to be eighteen next week and will be of age on Tuesday. She has seen excerpts of what her mother has been doing. I sat down with her last week and told her that I was divorcing her mother and why. You are aware that Emmy and Gracie have never got along and I have been the parent that has provided the love and support that has been denied Emmy by Gracie. She never would even change Emmy's diapers and always let me know when they needed changing by saying, 'The Brat is all shit again. Clean her up or get someone to do it for you.' That was from the first day she came home. Gracie has no mother's love for Emmy at all."
"Early on I knew that if Emmy was going to amount to anything it was going to be me that did it. When I first started talking about a college fund for Emmy, Gracie said if I wanted the 'Brat' to go to college I could start a fund for her but she wouldn't contribute. I was pissed--so much so that I made Gracie sign a notarized statement that she never would touch the fund for any reason. Right now that fund is in my name as guardian of Emmy and we own it jointly."
Pop could see where I was going with this. "So how much money is in the fund?"
"Five hundred ninety-seven thousand, forty-eight dollars and twenty-two cents. Emmy has done her part to contribute, too. She has always put in a portion of her birthday money, Christmas money and at least a tenth of any money she has earned. Next week my name is coming off the fund and Emmy is going to own it. My lawyer says this is perfectly legal and Gracie can't touch any of it."
"I bet you don't have much money left in your name do you?"
"Not much Pop, but then I don't need much. I do own my car and half the house. As far as liquid assets, I have about fifteen thousand and I have about forty thousand in my 401K account. I've always paid sixty percent of the household expenses so Gracie can't say I've been cheap." I started smiling. "There is another asset if I want to go after it. Gracie has a clause in her firm that there is to be no fraternizing between employees. She's been fucking one of the brokers in the firm. Also the mayor could be sued for alienation of affection and the same with the middle school principal. I just don't know how much of a shit-head I want to be."
"How much have you discussed this with Emmy? She may not want to see her mother humiliated like that if you sue her for adultery, and the others for alienation of affection and fraternization."
"Don't bet on it Pop. She has told me how the principal keeps smirking at her when she runs into him. I have a feeling he is going to get his if Emmy has her way. You know your granddaughter wants to be a lawyer and has been working part-time in Ralph Simmons' law office. She wants to get her feet wet, so-to-speak, before she goes to college to earn her own law degree. If I start the lawsuits and bug out with you, I just might give Emmy my power of attorney and let her run with it."
"How close are you to divorcing Gracie?"
"She gets the papers next week on the day Emmy turns eighteen." I was going to pry into Pop's affairs just a little more. "When are you going to tell me who your lost sweetheart is?"
"I guess it won't do any harm. Her name is Merriam Comstock. She was Merriam Simmons when I knew her. She is Ralph Simmons' sister. She lost her husband to cancer last fall and waited until this spring to bring his ashes home here to the east. I haven't seen her since the ninth grade in school and I haven't told her much about myself. She does know that I am divorced, though.
"I have to get away from Sybil and this would be the perfect chance. Whether I ever come back will depend on a lot of things. It was a mistake to have stayed in the same house with your mother. Anyway to make a long story short, I quit my job today and next Wednesday I'm leaving to drive Merriam."
"Good, you'll be here for Emmy's birthday party. Emmy is going to tell Gracie that she is moving in with her grandmother. Of course she thought you would be there too. Maybe this is a good thing and will help Mom when she finds that you are gone. You are going to keep me posted and up to date on your plans while you are traveling aren't you?"
"Of course I am. That is why I looked you up today. I want to find out how your mother takes my leaving. How she reacts will make some difference as to whether I come back or not. Boy we sure picked some winners when we chose mates, didn't we son?" Pop could deny it all he wanted, but I could see he still loved Mom.
Friday morning I informed Gracie that I was taking Emmy into the city to a show and we were staying over until sometime Sunday. This would be in honor of our daughter's upcoming birthday on Tuesday. "If you would like to go with us dear, I can get another ticket." Gracie looked at me as if I was crazy just as I knew she would. She never went anywhere with Emmy and me as a family.
Monday morning I called the private detective and asked him to come get the information (if any) from the recording devices. I also asked him to remove everything he had installed as I was ready to act on what he had collected. I asked for a vacation week from work and was soon closeted in the law office of Ralph Simmons and Associates.
Tuesday morning after congratulating Emmy on becoming an adult we went into the bank and I officially removed my name from the account I had set up for her education. Emmy was excited when she saw the amount, but not overly so. "You know Dad, this is in my name now, but it is still just as much yours as it has always been. I know why you have done this and I think it is a pretty cool way to outsmart Mom. She deserves it too."
"I'm just sorry that you haven't had the benefit of a mother who loved you. Don't be too harsh on her. I suspect that she couldn't help herself. At least you have survived your childhood and I am very, very proud of you. Some of the problem goes way back to when I first got your mom pregnant. She didn't want children and wanted to abort you. I convinced her to carry you to full term with the understanding that you were mine to raise. I think I did a good job of it too."
"You're the best, Dad. There is going to be a firestorm when you give Mom the divorce papers. When are you planning to do this?"
"Tonight after Mom and Pop take you to their place. There is a deputy sheriff that will be here at nine p.m. to serve the papers on your mother. If you see it getting near that time, could you move your grandmother and grandfather along. They don't need to see it happen and we will talk about it tomorrow. I have a couple of other things that are going to affect our family that you need to know about too, but it can wait."
"Okay Dad, whatever you say."
Emmy had invited her boyfriend and another friend to celebrate her birthday. Mom and Pop were early as per usual. Pop whispered to me that he was still leaving in the morning. I watched him as he gazed almost continually at Mom. It was as if he wanted to see her as he had when they were happily married. My heart went out to Mom, because she was so unsuspecting of what the next few days were going to bring when she realized that Pop had really left her.
Gracie blew in late as she almost always did where her daughter was concerned. As our friendly little group were having cake and coffee, Emmy announced, "Mom and Dad, I have talked to Gram and I am going to move over there and live with them until I go to college in the fall. I am going to keep working for Ralph Simmons through the summer and as I am an adult now I must see if I can support myself."
Gracie looked pleased. Her daughter was out from underfoot and I could see the thoughts in her head that the house would always be empty except for me. It would be so much easier to arrange her trysts. "Has Reed managed to put enough money aside in your college fund to send you to school? You know I'm not going to help."
"With what I put in, I think there will be plenty."
"Okay then Emmy, I guess you are on your own now.
"Does anyone want to toast the new adult?" Gracie looked at me when I said this.
I raised my glass. "To Emmaline Grover, new adult and all-around sweet girl. May you always be happy and successful." Emmy came over and collected a kiss, and then everyone but Gracie did the same. Gracie was looking at Emmy as if she were seeing her for the first time. Maybe she had a little regret that she hadn't been more involved. She must have decided it was much too late now as Emmy turned away.
The three young people went up into Emmy's room and collected arms of clothing and boxes to take over to her grandparents. "I'll be back tomorrow to get the rest of my stuff."
Pop said as he was leaving, "Don't wait too long to tell your mother I'm gone. I don't want to hurt her more than I have to." I'm sure Pop was having second thoughts, but he was stubborn so I knew he was leaving anyway.
I helped pick up the party table and Gracie and I had a chance to sit down for a few minutes. "I suppose now that Emmy is grown and moving out, you are going to want a divorce? That is your plan isn't it?"
"I thought so. I'll get a lawyer then. I suppose your lawyer is Ralph Simmons. That is where Emmy works."
"Yes he is." I was watching the clock and as the hand swung towards the full hour the doorbell rang.
Gracie said she would get it and went into the foyer. I couldn't see, but I could hear. "Are you Grace Grover and is this where you reside at 229 Elm Circle?"
"Yes I am Grace Grover."
"Ma'am, you have been served. Have a nice evening."
I heard the door close and Gracie came back into the livingroom with an unconcerned smile on her face. "Boy, you don't lose any time do you? I should have expected something like this."
Gracie sat and broke the seal on the packet of papers. I got up and went across the room to my desk and I unlocked the bottom drawer. I knew what was coming and wanted to be prepared.
"Adultery! No way. Reed, why did you put that down for cause. No, no, no!"
"Gracie, look at me. Tell me you aren't guilty so I can believe it."
She couldn't meet my eyes. "You can't prove it."
I set three videotapes on the livingroom table and several audio cassette tapes. I then opened the folder I was still holding. I picked out an enlarged still shot that had been taken from the video tapes. "This was two years and three weeks before Emmy's eighteenth birthday." I presented Gracie with a picture of her being royally screwed by the mayor. "This is the earliest evidence I have. I don't know when you started being unfaithful and it doesn't matter. Oh yes, about this last weekend. You were really busy. You managed to take care of all three of your studs from Friday night until midnight on Saturday."
Gracie was speechless. "I don't think you are a total slut, Gracie. You always kept it one on one, I'll give you that. Another thing, it looks like your lovers were getting quality sex from you--more and better than I ever got in fact. The disrespect you showed me by doing these things is just too much. Especially when you denied the same for me."
"Reed, if you hadn't caught me being unfaithful, I was hoping after we got Emmy out of the picture, I could become the wife you wanted. Is it too late now?"
"I'm afraid so, though I must say you're taking this pretty calm."
"I was getting tired of the deception anyway. Weird as it may seem to you, each one of the guys thought that I was being exclusively unfaithful with him. I not only had to keep you from finding out about me, but I had to keep the others from finding out about each other. This weekend capped it. Three dates at three different times in the space of twenty-four hours. It was impossible and I told each one of them--no more dates, I was going to be my husband's totally from then on."
She was looking at me expectantly when I said, "No, our marriage is ended. Actually it ended when you got into bed with whichever one you started cheating with the first time."
"You're pretty calm about this yourself. I envisioned if you ever found me cheating, you would throw my ass out in the street and make all kinds of scenes."
"I might have, but I was thinking of Emmy and what it would do to her if I labeled her mother an adulteress."
"What's different now? You're still calling me a prostitute."
"Emmy is an adult and has to live in an adult world. That's a lot different than being a teenager."
"In other words you let yourself knowingly be humiliated for two years by me, just to save your daughter from being shamed?"
"That's about it."
"Does Emmy know about this now? Have you told her?"
"Yes, I went over it with her within the last week. In fact, she helped with the divorce paperwork at Simmons' law office, and she helped organize the evidence."
"How did she take the fact that her mother is a cheating whore?"
"Not like I expected. Emmy is pretty well-grounded and knows these things go on. I did get a couple extra hugs and 'I'm sorrys' while we were putting it together. You have to remember you never acted like a mother to her. To her you are just another person she knows as she knows some of the other clients Simmons has."
"That hurts, but I guess I deserve it. How are you planning to split our assets? I'd hate to be thirty-nine and destitute."
"I don't want to agree to anything, even verbally. You get your lawyer and have him or her talk to Ralph. I don't think either one of us know the divorce laws too well. Let the lawyers get together and maybe we can find some common ground where we can meet in the middle. Simmons' rates are exorbitant, so I don't want to have that many hours to pay for."
"Sounds like a plan to me." Gracie looked like she was contemplating something saying finally, "You really have me on tape screwing? Do you want to watch it with me? I want to see how good I am."
"No! Come on Gracie. I'm trying to treat you with some respect which is more than you deserve. Don't push me too far. There is a limit to my tolerance. I have loved you and I still have some affection for you even though you haven't returned it."
Tears finally showed in her eyes. "I know Reed, it is just starting to hit me that we are going to be divorced. What was I thinking? It must hurt you an awful lot to have had a woman like me for a wife. One who hates the baby we made together and then asks you to watch her cheating with other men. I'm going to bed and feel sorry for myself."
"Morning Reed. I decided to take the day off and as long as you are on vacation, I thought we might do something together or just reflect on the last twenty years. I haven't made breakfast in almost that long and I wanted to see if I could."
I watched Gracie as she moved around the kitchen. She was still an attractive woman. I relented about keeping some information from my wife that was going to affect her life more than just me suing for a divorce. "Gracie, that is probably just as well--you not being at work, I mean. You can at least have some privacy when the phone calls start coming in."
"What do you mean? Who is going to be calling me?"
"I don't know who will be first but you can expect a call from the head of your real estate office. Also Rod Harris, the broker you have been sleeping with, I'm sure will be calling. Dennis Moore is going to be awful embarrassed very soon and he will call you likely at noon when he has a break from his students. Oh yes, I think His Honor, the Mayor, will have something to say to you, too."
Gracie's face blanched. "What have you done, Reed?"
I looked Gracie right in her concerned face. "I found out my wife has been providing services to three different people. We are partners, so I thought it would be a good idea to sue for payment of those services."
"Oh my God, is the shit ever going to hit the fan in this town. Damn you Reed, you have me positioned right in front of the fan too, haven't you?"
"God you are mean. I'll never live this down. No wonder you are divorcing me."
"I'm not divorcing you for cheating, although you have provided me with the perfect cause by going out and fucking around."
"Well, why are you divorcing me then?"
"Gracie, if it were possible for you to become the mother that Emmy wanted and needed from the time she was born," I paused for emphasis, "I would rip up the divorce papers. I probably then would carry you upstairs, rip your clothes off and fuck the hell out of you. If I couldn't satisfy you, I would make you teach me until I did. Your becoming the mother Emmy never had is impossible now, so the divorce goes forward with the reason you have provided me--cheating. In this way I'm keeping the world from knowing how poor a mother you have been for eighteen years."
My last statement was meant to be hurtful and it was. Gracie picked up her coffee cup and sobbing went into the living room. I continued to sit at the kitchen table. My mind drifted to where my Pop might be right at this moment. He was heading west with his childhood sweetheart. Then I thought of my mother, unsuspecting that my dad had gone and that she might never see him again. She would be calling tomorrow morning looking for me to tell her why he hadn't been home over the night.
Nine-thirty the phone rang. Gracie copped out, "Reed would you answer that? If it's for me, tell them I am unavailable."
I listened and then answered. "Yes I will tell her if and when I see her." I then answered the question of why I was bringing suit against the real estate firm. "Because your broker and my wife have been screwing. I think there is a clause in her employment contract that prohibits that behavior. Yes I do have evidence, but you will have to meet my lawyer to see it." The line was disconnected. I stood in the doorway to the living room facing my wife. "Gracie you don't have a job anymore."
Gracie took it well. "I expected that when you told me who you were suing."
Another call came in a little after ten. It was for me and it was a total surprise. I listened for several minutes and then hung up. Again I faced Gracie. "Guess what? You aren't the only one unemployed. My firm does a lot of work for the town and the mayor doesn't want to give out any more contracts to them if they continue to employ me. What was said was couched in more subtle words then that, but that is the gist of it. I must say, I didn't see this one coming."
"Reed, you must be devastated. I'm sorry I caused you to lose your job." This was unlooked for compassion from my soon to be ex-wife.
I tried to make a joke of it. "I have heard that you shouldn't fuck with the powers that be at city hall." I started grinning at how apt what I had just said sounded.
Gracie started laughing and then we both were. "Oh hell, let the machine answer the rest of the calls. Let's go for a ride and we'll pick up something to eat for dinner later."
I had in mind where I was going to end up when we got into the car. Several years ago on my birthday, Gracie had made reservations at a little out of the way lounge and dance place. We had a good time that night and whenever I saw their ad in the paper I remembered it. It wouldn't be open until early evening so Gracie and I had most of the day to kill. We circled the town and headed down the automile west of town. Gracie yelled, "Stop! Turn in here."
We had almost passed a foreign car dealership, so I had to brake suddenly to make the entrance. "I'm going to buy a new car before you get all my money with your damned old lawsuit." Gracie swung her feet out of the car and headed for the showroom before I had come to a full stop. By the time I was parked she was haggling with a salesman.
As I approached Gracie told me to keep out of this. Reaching an agreement on price she and the salesman went into the office, leaving me standing by this little two-seater with a soft top. Soon a couple of workers came out and drove the car off the floor. It took nearly an hour to complete the paperwork and when we came out to where the little roadster was sitting there had been a hardtop installed. "I had to settle for a black top as the matching red one wouldn't be available for a week. Follow me back into town Reed."
We pulled into my mother's driveway and Gracie popped out and headed for the door. Sybil met her and Gracie handed the car keys to Mom. "Sybil, tell Emmy the car is her birthday present from her mom." With that Gracie jumped into my car and said, "Let's go to wherever you were headed." We toured out through the countryside until I figured the lounge would be open.
I sat in the car holding Gracie's hand and remembering the last time she and I had been here years ago. I guess she was remembering too for we sat not saying anything. "Goody. Look Reed, they have added a motel in back since we were here. Now we won't have to go all the way home to make love."
"Gracie, we are getting divorced, remember? We aren't supposed to do that anymore."
"I won't tell if you won't. Who's to know? Come on Reed, we'll worry about all that tomorrow. Please."
I don't know which one was holding the other up as the last dance finished. We were both pretty drunk. Too drunk to drive anyway, so I checked into the motel. The clerk figured we were lovers and probably not married, but he booked us anyway. We didn't even have an overnight bag. When we turned the lights on in the room, I stared at Gracie. "I didn't plan this you know. I just wanted to remember one of the good times we had once."
"I know Reed. I've sure screwed our life up, haven't I? I'm so sorry. Sorry mostly for you, but a little bit for myself too." Tears were running down Gracie's face. "Would you take me to bed and hold me? Just make me forget for a little while how bad I have treated you."
At four o'clock I awoke with a raging piss hard-on. Quietly I eased out of bed and into the bathroom. It had been a long day and the dance hall had been hot and smoky. I stepped into the shower and started to soap up. Through the shower door I saw Gracie come in to relieve herself. Christ I was having erotic thoughts about the woman I was divorcing, but then it had been years since we had been in a bathroom together.
Suddenly the shower door was pushed back and Gracie stepped in. "I can see you are up to being seduced. Good, one problem solved. Now when we get out of here I want you to use the complimentary razor and I will show you how to make me into a quivering bowl of jelly. If you are going to be out dating women, this is the one thing you have to get right."
Gracie guided me with the initial moves and I guess I am a fast learner, for she was ready to quit before I was. Then we went on to the vanilla type sex I was used to. This was even better than it had ever been. Tired out, we caught a nap and then worked up to different positions before we had to check out at eleven. As we stepped into the car Gracie looked sadly at me, "You know, if I had known sex could be that great with you, I never would have cheated." We were silent, each with our own thoughts, as I drove back into town. I half expected Gracie would ask me to drop the divorce suit, but she didn't mention it.
When we pulled into the garage, Gracie put her hand on my arm. "Reed, stay a minute. I know when we go into the house we have to leave last night behind us. I thank you for returning to something we had when we were first married and that was before Emmy was born. Before you found out about me cheating and practically becoming a whore. I haven't treated you with any respect and Emmy was a child I didn't want.
"I really think I have a higher sex drive than you or you would have divorced me when you first discovered your unfaithful wife. Until the divorce is final, may I continue to live with you and be the wife you should have had? I know there isn't much I can do about getting Emmy to love me. It would be too little too late. If I get the chance though, I would like to show her I'm not all bad."
"That may not be as hard as you think. I think Emmy is smarter than both you and me. She is well-grounded in modern day culture. She knows that women have needs just as men do. I believe she has been sexually active for a couple of years. At least she has had the knowledge. We had that so-called-talk before her sixteenth birthday and I let her go out on dates soon after. She may never forgive you for not being a mother to her, but she will never show any disrepect.
"As far as I'm concerned, I would like to gain more extensive sexual knowledge from some experienced woman. You certainly qualify for that. Now that this is all out in the open I can see where I might gain a little something before the divorce becomes final."
"You mean I would become your resident whore? Is that what you mean?"
"Those are your words and you asked to stay. I was thinking of you more as a teacher. Labels can hurt. Most people would label me a wimp if I don't kick you out immediately, but as long as I'm gaining something, I can live with it for a little while longer. Let's just see how it goes for a few days before we go to a different option."
When we went into the house, there were seven messages on our answering machine. One was from Mom and one was from Emmy. There was a long one from Ralph, saying he had been contacted by lawyers representing those I had sued--all except a lawyer representing my wife. All were looking to see how much of a case I had and especially how much evidence I had to back up my claims.
I called Mom first. "Hi Mom, what's up?"
"Reed, your father wasn't home last night and I'm worried about him. He never stayed away all night before. Do you have any idea where he is?"
"I don't know exactly. Look why don't you come over and I'll tell you about it."
"You're not working today? How come you are home? Oh, and I don't think your father can be too far. His car is still here. Are you sure nothing has happened to him?"
"Mom, would you come over? I have some other things I want to tell you. Please."
Ten minutes later Mom pulled in. I told Gracie that she might want to hear what I had to say to Mom. The first words were, "Well, where is he? He isn't shacking up with some whore again, is he?"
"Mom, you better sit down. You aren't going to like what I have to tell you. As for where he is right now, I couldn't say. I do know where he is headed and I'd say he was about a thousand miles on the way to his destination. I'll just spit it out. For seven years you have held his feet to the flames for something he didn't do.
"A week ago a woman he knew slightly was looking for someone to help drive her home to Montana. He came to me and told me he was going to do it. He said he still loved you, but you weren't letting up on him and he didn't see things ever improving. He felt as if you were slowly emasculating him. He said he was even failing to perform when he was having the sex that you so sparingly doled out to him.
"Mom, Pop is only fifty-nine and should be having sex well into his eighties. So he just cut loose and has gone out to find a life that is more enjoyable and satisfying. I hate to say it, but it is you that has driven him away. He said he might look around out west and stay if he found something or someone interesting."
Mom crumbled right before my eyes. "But he can't leave, I still love him."
"He has Mom, you might as well face it."
"He told you we still had sex. Oh my God, I'm so ashamed. But doesn't that prove I still love him?"
"Yes you still had sex, but did you have loving sex? Sex between two people that love each other? Did you build him up and compliment him on the joy you were feeling? Did you make him feel like a man? You don't have to answer, for if you had he would still be here."
"Who is this woman that took him away from me? I don't know anyone in Montana."
"Her name is Merriam Comstock and she is a widow. She is Ralph Simmons' sister. Pop was pretty sweet on her when they were kids, but it was over before he met you."
"Do you think they are staying in separate rooms on the way?"
"Mom, drop it. You divorced him seven years ago. Get it through your mind he isn't yours anymore. You're still a fine-looking woman and if you will stop thinking of Pop you might find somebody you could love just as much as you do him." I had seen my parents in and out of love and this break might just be the best thing to bring happiness, even it wasn't with each other.
Gracie spoke up, "Are you going to tell your mother about us?"
"Right now. Mom, I'm suing Gracie for a divorce. Emmy is old enough now to be on her own. I've got irrefutable evidence of Gracie cheating on me so I had her served after you left Emmy's birthday party."
I don't think Mom believed me, because I was sitting there holding Gracie's hand in mine. "We are still pretty good friends. I learned a lot from your situation with Pop and on some level I guess we still love each other a little." My mind flashed back to last night and this morning.
Mom spoke up. "Reed, forgive her. I'll tell you one mistake isn't worth the pain of divorce."
"Sybil, it isn't that simple. I've been spreading my legs for more than one person over a period of several years. One of them is well-known here in town. Reed has all the sordid details of my cheating. If he doesn't go through with the divorce, he'll be labeled a wimp in the eyes of the whole town. Emmy knows all about me and I don't want her to think less of her father."
"So why are you buying expensive gifts for her, or don't you think a shiny little car is an expensive gift?"
"That car is a reward for her knowing that I am a whore and still treating me with respect that I don't deserve in public. You saw her at her party, she knew then. Did you see any disrespect towards me from her? I didn't. For reasons I don't understand, I have never been much of a mother to her. Everything that she is reflects directly on Reed's upbringing."
Before Gracie could continue, we heard a car come screaming into our street and the engine cut off abruptly in our driveway. Bang, the kitchen door swung open and hit the wall. "Boy has the shit hit the fan in our sleepy little town." Emmy's eyes were flashing. "Mom you're famous, or should I say, infamous. There are all kinds of rumors floating around. I was even asked if the sweet little car I'm driving was a gift from the mayor."
I couldn't tell if Emmy was mad or just excited. "By the way Mom, thanks for the car. I love it. It's just the thing when I go to college. Kids are going to think I'm so cool." She looked directly into Gracie's eyes. You didn't take anything for your favors did you Mom, like a car? Please say you didn't."
"No Emmy, the car came from me. I guess the only thing I've taken and spoiled is your father's good name and respect." Tears welled up and overflowed as Gracie got up, sobbing and went upstairs.
All I could say was, "Life's a bitch."
One week ago Gracie had what I called her "Stud Weekend." Since that time my daughter had turned eighteen, my Pop had gone off with a strange woman, I had sued my wife for cheating, and sued various other persons for having partaken of my wife's favors. Oh yes, I had also tried to console my mother when she found out Pop had left her. Other things of consequence had also taken place. I had lost my job and my actions had turned the town upside down filling it full of rumors that even went so far as to touch my daughter peripherally. Also this was the week when my wife's first overture at making my daughter think better of her was in purchasing a new car as a gift. Emmy loved it.
It suddenly came to me that I had never asked Gracie why she had started cheating on me. Right this minute I fervently wished I had ignored Gracie's infidelity and had not had her served. Too late! We were on better terms than we had been in years though, whether that situation would continue, I suppose would depend on how soon the rumors died down.
Gracie and I were enjoying our second cup of coffee. Neither one of us had been out since we came home yesterday--not wanting to be confronted by any questions. We had turned down a reporter that had come to the door, telling him all the information could be found in the public records at the courthouse. "Gracie would you tell me when you first started cheating and why? Did you do that to get even with me for something?"