You know that if you are a person of routine and if you change, you are going to find some surprises. Some for yourself and very often for someone else as well. I am a salesman for a hardware chain working out of their warehouse and have been for twelve years. My territory is too damned large and I'm away from home much more than I like. The money is good and at the end of the tunnel is a stay-at-home job at headquarters.
I make the same swing through the territory so I'm in the same place each month on the same day. My customers like it for they can count on me and reserve the same few hours for me to check what they need. I fill them in on any new items we add to our inventory. Any repeats that they want, they just list on the form I provide. Sometimes it comes down to almost a social call. I am a typical salesman, gregarious and friendly, carrying a stock of friendly jokes with me from place to place and adding new ones as I hear them and deleting those that I have told before.
I am on the road for three weeks out of the month. However I do get home for all but one weekend. The week I am home I only go out one day and I'm back home that night. One of the weekends I'm home I have four days off. This is my routine and I never deviate from it. I stay at the same motels and call my wife and talk to her and my two kids every night. My wife doesn't object too strenuously to my being absent. I provide plenty of money and the cars we drive are top of the line. Foreign maybe, but nice.
My mother and father live in town and Kay's parents are only twenty-five minutes away. The kids love both sets of grandparents and the grandparents adore our little monsters. Actually they aren't monsters, but well brought up and mind everyone until I come home. When I'm home, I guess I revert to the same age as they are. Kay will throw up her hands in despair and leave me with them, heading out for the mall or to visit her folks.
Kent and Billie Burtrum moved in next door to us. They have been our neighbors for the last ten of the twelve years we have lived here. They are about ten years older than we are. Kent has a heart condition and is on disability because of it. I guess they have enough money for they never lack for anything. We socialize often and we are in and out of each other's houses frequently. The kids use their home as much as ours, because Kent and Billie are childless. The kids are treated the same as we treat them. Billie can't have any kids due to a medical problem that surfaced in her youth. In fact, we named our children with similar names in honor of how close we are to them. We all flirt back and forth, but I have never laid a hand on Billie other than a kiss on New Years, or a hug if we run into each other out in public. As far as I know the same goes for Kent and Kay.
I consider Kent my best buddy. We play golf together at the club and often go hunting in the fall. Mostly he is someone I enjoy hanging out with. This is much the same with Kay and Billie.
On a certain Wednesday, I was on the far side of the next state in my usual motel when it was time to call Kay. I was feeling miserable and I had the runs and a headache. This was going to be the start of my long weekend coming up. I would usually get home about three in the afternoon on Friday and have four nights with Kay. "Kay I'm feeling pretty shitty (pun intended) so I'm planning on sleeping in tomorrow morning. I will be late calling tomorrow night and will be home by seven for sure Friday night."
"Okay Honey, you can skip calling tomorrow night if you want. The kids will be over to your folks until Saturday. You can pick them up when you get home. I hope you feel better. Calvin, won't you tone down your actions with them. They are beginning to think I should be acting foolish the same as you do. I'm not going to start that. The neighbors would run us all out of town if the whole Briggs family acted like you do sometimes. There has to be one of us behaving sanely."
"Okay Love, I'll try to be good. Oops, I'm headed for the john. I love you and I'll see you Friday evening. Kiss, kiss and goodbye." That is always the way I signed off.
I felt a little better in the morning, but I didn't know if it was going to get better or worse, so I got on the phone and called ahead for this afternoon's stop and the one closer to home that I was supposed to catch on Friday morning. I moved everything up and I would be finished with everyone by noon today. Everything completed, I was on my way home and would be there by eleven tonight. It was damned hot and I had to run the AC all the way home. I thought Kay would be asleep so I kind of coasted into my driveway with the lights off. I could see that Kay must still be up for there was a light on in the upstairs bedroom.
I thought she must have the window open for there was a curtain blowing out flapping against the side of the house. I let myself in and the night lights were all on downstairs. I headed up the stairs to tell Kay I was home. The bedroom door was ajar and there were sounds coming from the room. I thought to myself that Kay must have one of her toys out and was imagining my being there with her.
Then I heard Kent speak and my wife answer him. I thought I felt sick last night, but it was nothing like what washed over me this minute. In our wildest nights, she never talked like that to me. "Come on Kent, give it to me. Oh God, that's it, go, go, I'm almost there. That's it, shove it right into me. You may be older, but you get better all the time." I went downstairs and got my revolver from the top cupboard and headed back upstairs.
I knew Kent would be facing the door when I fully opened it. Kent was just finishing what Kay had been begging for. He had his eyes closed. He had to open them sometime and when he did, my revolver was pointed right at his head. I mouthed, "You son-of-a-bitch." I didn't have to shoot the bastard. He was carrying the look of hatred that was on my face as he went to the other side.
Kent had looked first at the revolver and then up into my face. At that moment I wished him dead and I was successful. He turned white and then blue and then gray. So much for Kent as he flopped down beside the woman I thought had always been faithful to me. I don't think she realized what condition her lover was in yet. She probably thought she had brought the best out of him and he was tired from his exertions.
I turned around and went back downstairs and put the revolver away in the cupboard. Pausing, trying to decide what to do, I thought, "That's the bitch's problem. I'm not going to get involved in cleaning up her mess." I went out, got in my car and went across town to an all-night diner. I had a burger that didn't sit too well and then I decided to see what was happening at home.
The street was lit up with police cars and an ambulance. Medics were running around. They were just wheeling Kent out. He wasn't aware of it, though, unless his soul was floating around up above his body that was stuffed in the bag. I had to park on the street. A cop told me to move my car and move along. "Can't, I live here. What's going on? Is my wife all right? Is that my wife in the bag?"
"Nope, it's a man. We haven't got the straight of it yet. At first the woman said it was her husband and then some other woman came flying in here and claimed he was her husband. Now you show up and say you are the homeowner. The guy is dead anyway. He fucked himself to death or maybe it was her that did it to him. If that's your wife I think she is going to have a lot of explaining to do. Sorry Buddy, this must be a bummer for you." I guess he had seen the underbelly of life, for he asked, "You aren't a violent person are you?"
"Thanks for filling me in. Don't worry about her, I don't plan on getting close enough to hurt her." I went inside. Kay and Billie were holding each other. The look on Kay's face was a classic for every cheating wife when she first faced her husband. She came towards me reaching for a hug.
I wasn't sure what she had on under the robe, maybe nothing. The look I gave my wife of twelve years stopped her. What I said next crushed her. "You stink. Is it sex or death I smell on you?" She realized that either the medics or the police that came with them had filled me in on the details before I entered the house. "Are the kids still at Mom's? I'll be staying over there."
"Calvin, please don't leave. Tonight has been horrible for me."
"I should hope so. Do you think tomorrow will be any better? I wouldn't count on it. I think you deserve all the humiliation you've got coming to you."
"Billie, I feel sorry for you. It must be bad for you to find out your husband was fucking your friend." She didn't look up or acknowledge I had spoken to her.
I ignored Kay and went over to my parents and the kids. At least they knew I loved them. I hoped this wouldn't harm them too severely. It was a good thing it was summertime and I had some vacation time coming. I called the office in the morning and said I was in the middle of a family crisis and needed to take some time. It was hard for me to get into a playing 'mode' with Kenny and William, aged six and seven, as I usually did at Mom's, but I managed fairly well.
I didn't speak to Kay when she called. When she came after the boys, I was conspicuously absent. I told the two little tykes that I had to work and wouldn't be coming home with them. I didn't go to the funeral three days later, but I managed a card to Billie. I did miss Kent already, for we had done just about everything together.
I told Dad what I had found when I got home that night and how I felt about Kay. He couldn't believe it of her, but he had to accept it when he heard about it from someone else. Mom wouldn't hear anything bad about Kay. In fact, she screamed at me to be a man and take care of my wife and two boys. How my in-laws felt about the mess their daughter had got herself into, I didn't dare guess.
I was at the mall and I saw Kay and Billie coming out of one of the dress shops. I dodged out of sight and made sure they wouldn't see me. Seeing them together gave me a lot to think about. I mean, if your husband died while fucking your friend, and then you went shopping with her--to me that is damned strange.
Dad and Mom planned on taking the boys to the theme park that was about eighty miles away. They left early and I stayed in bed, laying there feeling bad on how life had handed me the shitty end of a stick. I was awake and just about ready to get up, when the doorbell rang. I looked out and Billie was standing at the door. What the fuck?
Pulling on a robe, I went to the door and spoke through the screen. She asked, "Won't you let me in, Calvin?"
"Why should I? I figure you must have been aware of Kent fucking Kay. You've been with her constantly since he died. In any normal situation, you'd be more than pissed. So what gives?"
"Let me in so I can tell you."
I stared at her for a moment, then unlatched the screen. "I hope you aren't here to defend Kay, but I'll make you coffee anyway. I just got up and I'm not awake yet. What you have to say better be good, so I'll be on my guard."
Billie was ten years older than me. She kept herself well, never revealing much. I had been around Billie for ten years and never looked that close at her. She was a friend and therefore off limits. She did have a latent sexual quality about her that I sensed sometimes. Maybe with the way I had found my wife acting, I should check her out. Nah, they were too close. Billie's eyes followed me around the kitchen as I made toast and got the butter out of the refrigerator. Mundane questions flowed back and forth between us, but Kay's name wasn't mentioned. Coffee was ready and I poured it. I sat down with my back to the door.
I saw Billie's eyes go to the door behind me. Then I heard the screen door click closed. "Kay's behind me isn't she?"
"Yes I am Honey. Look at me."
I turned and looked over my shoulder. Kay stood there with my revolver pointing at me.
"What are you going to do, kill me?"
"I don't want to, but I feel like it when you won't talk to me. You've got my life so fucked up, I'd just as soon, if you don't listen."
"What was it, love for Kent after all? It's funny, I never suspected you could love anyone but me. What was it, the size of his dick, his money, or maybe Billie? You two have been sticking pretty close together. I didn't think you would go for any of those things."