Gramp Wilcox was quite the large landowner. His holdings comprised a square mile of mostly unproductive mountain land. It was left to my father, James Wilcox. Pop willed it equally to me, Bill, and my brother Mark. My brother wasn't interested in the land, so when Dad's estate was settled, he took a minimal inheritance out of the other assets and moved out to Wyoming. Mark was fair and equitable and didn't demand too much, for he knew the property wouldn't pay for itself and I would be paying the taxes. He did reserve the right to vacation there from time to time.
The land had two things that I cherished. There was a great trout brook on the western side of the property that bordered the boundary. The waters rose from a good-sized swamp that was on state land to the north. On the eastern side there was a cabin. Gramp had built this cabin when he came home from the great war. It was built near the top of a bare ridge that ranged north to south the length of the property.
This ridge was high and steep-sided to the west, falling sharply down to the brook and the level valley beyond. This side of the mountain was tree covered with hemlock and spruce and an occasional hardwood. The very top of the ridge was barren of trees, except for low-lying brush here and there. There were huge boulders strewn on top of the ledges. It was a gentle slope to the east from the pinnacle for about 250 yards. Then there was a precipice that fell away a quarter mile to a jumbled cut below. Gramp lost a buckboard over it one time when the wheels weren't blocked and it broke loose.
Gramp Wilcox had rolled and blasted some of the huge boulders that were scattered around and tipped them over the cliff making room for a dwelling. There was some soil in the cracks and indentations in the rock ledge. Gramp had seen the horrors of war and he claimed he needed beauty. He had traveled the woods and transplanted wild flowers around the cabin. He spent much time at the site, mostly alone until Pop was old enough to hang out with him.
Pop was raised by his father, for his own mother had run off with a salesman when he was four years old. I wasn't sure if Gramp was ever married. I never saw Pop's birth certificate so I don't know if he was legitimate or not. It didn't matter, for Gramp seemed to be able to always have a woman around to care for both his needs and his son. He'd keep a woman until he was sick of her or until she was sick of him. This was an understood agreement by both parties before a woman moved in with him.
Pop told me Gramp treated all of these women well. Some stayed years and some left after a few months. The two I remembered were sad to leave, but did as per agreement. The one thing that stood out from all of this was the distrust Gramp had for salesmen. Pop said he figured that Gramp had really loved his mother. It must have been a man selling something he didn't figure he needed but that she did.
The road up to the cabin was steep and winding, utilizing the lay of the land with switchbacks and turns. Gramp maintained it with a two wheeled dump wagon, filling in gullies where water washed away the gravel. It was pulled by a team of horses. Pop used a doodlebug made out of an old tractor and a truck body. For me, I had an old deuce and a half army truck that was built before automatic transmissions. This was stored in a lean-to down on the level land at the foot of the mountain.
There was always work to do on the road in the spring and after a particularly heavy storm. We all swore keeping access wasn't worth it. When the road was passable, and you sat on the deck seeing the sun come up of a morning in the east, you forgot what a chore it was. The same glory was in the setting sun to the west from the top of the mountain.
The biggest difficulty for me was that if you were at the cabin, you weren't near enough to fish in the brook. If you were fishing in the brook, it was a long way up the mountain to the cabin. There was a narrow deer trail that commenced at the brook and wandered up the other side, but it was a difficult trip and in some places you were just hanging on with your fingernails. Not really, but it wasn't a trail you wanted to travel at night.
Mine was the typical family, or so I thought. I had Debbie for a wife, two kids and a job at a feed mill. Debbie worked at a real estate agency and figured her job had just a little more class than mine. I had been working at the mill job for twenty years, and I ran a hammer mill that crushed the grain. The grain went to the mixer where various ingredients were incorporated before going to the pellet machine. We bagged grain for horses and cattle. Not so much for cattle anymore as times changed. That lack was picked up now by small bags of pet food as the country moved from rural to more suburban.
Debbie and I had our twenty-fifth anniversary party last year, put on by our two children. Linda was twenty-three and Bill Junior was twenty-one. I guess you could say Linda was mine and Junior belonged to Debbie. I had looked forward to our first child being a boy, but within a few days of the baby coming home I changed my mind and welcomed the tiny little girl babe into my heart.
Two years later the boy arrived, but I couldn't transfer the affection from Linda to Junior. My fault, I could concede, and maybe I didn't have enough love for both. He didn't lack for love as Debbie made up for it by smothering him. Don't get me wrong, I didn't neglect him. I played catch and went to all of his school functions, but at home he looked to his mother for love.
When I took Junior fishing, which was my passion, he wouldn't put a worm on a hook. When he was older and I thought we might go hunting, his mother took up for him and said it was too dangerous. But Linda--Linda shot an eight point buck two days after she turned fourteen. She even had her picture in the paper. I had the photo blown up to a two by four foot framed picture for a Christmas present to hang in her room.
The two kids developed differently too. Linda was tall and athletic, the same as me. Junior was short and pudgy. I thought maybe this was from the sweets his mother plied him with. He was intelligent though, as he had a vocabulary that wouldn't quit and math was his baby. Two different people with different interests. Maybe a little odd, but the two kids got along fabulously together.
Debbie and I got along fine up until Junior and Linda were old enough to take care of themselves. Debbie then went back to work. She took a real estate refresher course and from then on we started drifting apart. She was out many evenings showing property. She took on an air of thinking she was just a little better than me. I'll admit she kept herself looking fine. Maybe she didn't attract every man, but there certainly were some that turned for a second look.
I supposed this was because her co-workers dressed for work better than I did. I would put on good clothes and take her out either on Friday night or Saturday--sometimes both. We usually came home feeling frisky. As we reached our forties, things slowed down as they do and once a week satisfied me. I assumed Debbie was okay with this as she never seemed to require more.
Our life evolved where I would come home from the mill, take a shower and start preparing the evening meal. If Debbie didn't have a property to show, after dinner she usually went to the phone and talked for hours to some of her friends. I did yard work or messed around in the garage doing a little woodworking. Linda often joined me and we kept up a running conversation about whatever had caught our interest during the day. She and I still were out fishing when our schedules were so that we could.
I had my friends. One was Pete Shackle. He was pushing seventy-five and had been my father's buddy during the Korean conflict. When I was younger, if I wasn't fishing with Pop, I was fishing with him, Linda joining us as she got older. He lived just west and not far from our property and the brook. Often though, Pete, me and Linda just wandered around my land, even up on the steep hillsides. We discovered where a big old sow bear denned up, and when she had a cub we watched her play and teach her little one. The bear hung around for years. I haven't seen her for five or more seasons now. Maybe some hunter shot her.
I had other friends too. Jim and Sarah Fenton, brother and sister, operated a detective agency. They both had partners. Jim was married to a woman named Judy and Sarah was married--sort of. She had a life-time partner, Millie. Jim was a small indiscriminate looking man and Millie was much like him, so they often worked together. Sarah was a striking redhead with a goddess's body to match. She seldom went out of the office on a case, for she was one to be spotted and remembered.
Jim's wife Judy, and I had been in the same class in school. Sarah was a year behind us and we often dated until she decided that men weren't for her. This wasn't until she and Millie, both new police officers, were on stakeout and found each other. Caught in the act, they were given the choice of resigning or being terminated. Jim had gone to work for a detective agency and the owner made room for the two women. When the owner retired he sold the agency to the Fentons, Jim, Sarah and Millie.
Sometimes when I had time off and Debbie or the kids weren't around, I would stop in and bullshit with Sarah and whoever else was in the office. Did I ever think I would need the services of my friends? Not hardly, but you never know.
Debbie and I had our own lives and our own sets of friends. Her friends were work related, whereas mine dated back to my younger days. It seemed if I made a friend, we were that forever. Did I ever distrust her? Not really, but knowing life as it was, I knew it could happen. I didn't even think about any other woman but Debbie. I remembered my grandfather and how women passed easily through his life. There was always a measure of sadness in it somewhere. I didn't want that for myself.
The year Linda was twenty-three, she was living in her own apartment and Junior had moved in with a friend. Debbie and I mailed our federal tax papers in the first of February. The refund came back on the 27th day of March. We sat around discussing what we would do with the money. We decided we would trade our six-year-old Buick in and buy a smaller car for Debbie to drive to work. My truck was newer, so that wasn't considered for a trade-in. Between the Buick and the refund we would only have to finance $6,000 for the model we agreed on, which was well within our budget.
We went over to the Chevy dealership and wandered around. All of the cars were lined up according to price. What we were looking for was way down on the far end of the lot.
"Debbie would you go in and find a salesman? I think this is what we want." I waited a long time before I started looking for Debbie when she didn't return. I found her sitting in a Cadillac Escalade up near the front of the lot.
The salesman jumped down leaving Debbie in the SUV. "Bill, this is the car I want. It's big and beautiful. Rich says we can swing it."
"Hi there. My name is Rich Portnoy. I've been talking to your wife. Look, this is your lucky day, pal. We'll give you $2500 off if you take a test drive in this baby. Even if you don't buy it today, you still get the $2500 off when you do buy."
"No, it is way too much. Can't afford it."
"Take the test drive anyway. You never know. It is like money in the bank."
"How about your wife? Let her go. She is the one that would be driving it." I looked at Debbie. She really wanted to drive that thing.
"No chance we'll ever buy it, but go ahead. I'll wait in the Buick."
"Thank you Bill."
I watched from my car as the salesman instructed Debbie in the Caddies operation. She slowly drove out of the lot with the salesman right beside her. After they had been gone a half hour, I became concerned and anxious. It was more than an hour before they returned. I was pissed. I practically yanked my wife out of the car. Debbie's face was flushed.
"Bill, we have to buy this. It's wonderful." I glanced at Rich. His face was flushed and he was sweating just a little.
"No, it is way too much. Christ, it must cost $50,000."
"A bit more. This one retails for $66,390."
"No Debbie, we're going home. We'll get along with the Buick." Debbie wouldn't speak and pouted until we arrived home. She slammed into the house. I got supper and ate alone. As I lay in bed next to my frigid wife, the thought crossed my mind that Portnoy was trying to sell my wife more than a car. Or--and I shuddered at the thought--maybe he was buying instead. They had been gone way too long. He must have known there was going to be no sale on the car.
The thought persisted and I couldn't get it out of my mind. I dropped in to see Sarah Fenton. She could see that something was troubling me. Sarah was in a way more than my friend. I was the one that had taken her virginity back so long ago in high school. I was also the one that talked to her and held her when she became conflicted over her attraction for the same sex. She fought it until I said that she should at least explore that proclivity. It took awhile, but then as young police officers, she found Millie.
They say that lesbians jump from one lover to another as often as gay men change partners. In Sarah's case this was not true. It was Millie that she tested the waters with. It is unknown to most here, but Sarah and Millie were among the first to eventually travel to Vermont to have a ceremony binding them together in a civil union. I went with them and was there supporting them in this as well.
"So Bill, you wouldn't mind if one of us looked into this Rich Portnoy? I'm curious about what your wife was doing for that hour. We'll never be able to find out unless he does some bragging, but we can at least find out about him."
"It seems like a lot to ask."
"Not too busy and we need to keep our hand in." This brought a laugh, for the Fenton agency was rated as the best and very effective.
I called Sarah sometime later, telling her that Debbie said Portnoy had called ready to sell us anything we wanted to buy. I was concerned, for my wife hadn't looked me in the eye when she told me this. Jim jumped in. "Why don't we go ahead and tap your phone? Then you will know if he calls again and what they say."
"Okay Jim, but is that legal?"
"It is if you hire us to. You are the registered homeowner."
"Okay, go ahead and do it. Do I have to do anything?"
"No, but do be careful what you say to your girlfriend." This brought another laugh.
I heard nothing more. It was a busy time for me. I had to get the army truck running so I could repair the road to the cabin. I should have a tractor with a bucket but I loved that old truck and shoveling the gravel on and off kept me lean. Mark and his family were coming after school let out and wanted a mini-vacation on the mountain. Three days up there and three in town with friends should get accomplished all he wanted.
What the Fenton agency had proposed slipped my mind. I had been busy with the road. I found it in the worst shape it had been in years. I had a lot of little holes and gullies to fill in. Unfortunately, when I got some gravel on the truck, I had to back up the road and unload. I had a mile of this, so it took most of three weekends. When May came, I worked some evenings. I had it completed by Memorial Day and informed Debbie I never wanted to do that again and didn't even want to go up there myself.
Our holidays were mixed this year. I had to work on Friday before the holiday and Debbie had it off. She was to work on Monday and I had it off. I did have a lot of comp time built up so I took Friday to give me four days instead of three. I didn't say anything because I had plans to fish my heart out. All of the pools would be deep and dark with fresh water this early in the year. It hadn't rained for a week and those rainbows should be hungry.
The road I had been fixing to the cabin, came in from town on the east end of the property. The road to the brook was farther north and came in from the west side several miles away. Friday morning was a perfect day for fishing. It was cloudy and it looked to be coming on to rain. I stopped at the grocery store and bought a pound of salt pork to fry my fish in. I stopped at Pete's and got a can of worms and said I would be back before noon with fish.
Nope, he wasn't going to be there. Going to town to see the parade. He would be back about four in the afternoon. I can eat fish anytime by myself. I drove to the property and parked my truck. I caught nothing in the first two holes and I was getting discouraged. A half mile down the brook I caught a nice rainbow. After I got through a long open stretch, I was in the woods again and I hit the mother lode. Five more beauties came to bait, the best I had ever taken, and were soon flopping around in my basket.
I sat down and opened my backpack. Shit, Linda had borrowed my mess kit a couple of weeks ago when she had been out fishing and hadn't returned it. It was a mile back to my truck. It was only a quarter-mile ahead to where the deer trail started here at the brook and ended near the cabin. It was unbelievably steep, but I could make it. There were skillets in the cabin and they were the closest.
I started up the trail and ran into one obstacle after another. There were several trees down across the path. The deer could jump them easily coming down the trail, but I had to crawl out and around them on the way up. Topping out at the high point behind the cabin, I paused to admire the view. I looked down on the cabin and could see a vehicle partially hidden on the far side of it nearest the road.
Damn, I hoped I wouldn't have to share my fish. I eased down and came in behind the building and could hear noises coming from inside. When I came around to the front I knew just who it was. Parked in front was the Cadillac Escalade with dealer plates that Debbie had taken a test drive in months before. From the sounds from the interior of the cabin I knew just what was going on. I recognized her voice urging whoever was screwing her to keep going and not stop. Hell, I had heard her say these same words enough times in the last twenty-five years.
I did pause to take stock of the situation. The vehicle was pointed right for the precipice a hundred and fifty yards away. A pair of men's dress shoes were on the deck just outside the door. I walked over and looked in the car. Debbie's shoes were on the floor in the front. Also her panties were on the seat crumpled into a ball. There were two cell phones on the dash. I debated on how to get even. Did I want them to go over the cliff in that shiny new Caddie?
In the cabin Debbie was quickly reaching a climax. Maybe I should cause both her and who was with her some pain. I picked his shoes off the deck and put them on the front seat. I retrieved Debbie's shoes and panties, putting them in my backpack. I found a baseball-sized stone and wedged it under the back tire for a chock. I reached in and pulled the gear selector into neutral and let the brake off. I knew where Debbie was. She was about two minutes away from what sounded like a wonderful peak.
I kicked the stone away and watched as that big shiny, new Escalade gathered speed. I wondered if it would get going fast enough to fly--nah, I don't think so! I didn't hear it when it went off the precipice. I was moving right along and was almost to the top of the hill behind the cabin when I heard it crash way down below. I was sure it happened too far away for the sound to disrupt Debbie and what was happening. I turned and headed down the deer trail. I might have been at the cabin fifteen minutes, but I doubted it.
I decided to go wait for Pete to come back from the parade in town. I didn't have to wait. He was home. "You know damned well I ain't much for parades. I thought you might be coming around with a fish or two. Took you long enough."
"I got fish and if anybody asks, I've been here since before noon. Can you do that?"
"Sure. Whatcha' been up to, boy?"
"Don't know if I should tell you."
"Suit yourself, but it must be funny the way you're grinning."
"It is kinda. I tried to make a $66,000 Caddie fly. Didn't work."
"Gimme why and what for?"
I sat down and explained what I knew and what I suspected. I knew Debbie was screwing me over and I suspected it was with a salesman named Rich Portnoy. Boy was he going to have some explaining to do when he got back to the dealership. Debbie and asshole were going to have sore feet too. It was three miles before they were going to find a telephone. That gravel I had just finish laying down on much of the road was going to chew their feet all to hell.
"What's your next move?"
"Eat fish and get drunk is in order. I got the fish and the salt pork to fry them in. I hope you got the beer."
"Sounds like a fair trade."
I roused enough at midnight to hear Pete on the phone. "Linda wants to speak to you. She's had a terrible time tracking you down. You sober enough to talk to her?"
"Linda? What does she want?"
"I don't know."
"Hi kid. What's up?"
"Pop, I had an awful time finding you. Mom is in the hospital."
"What happened? She all right?"
"She will be. She's cut both feet walking barefoot. She's going to have to be off them for a few days."
"That doesn't sound like your mother."
"I know. She won't give me any details. She wants you to move a single bed into the spare room downstairs. The ambulance will bring her home by noon. I'll come by and make it up. You sound as if you're still drunk. You sober up before you try to drive."
"Sure. Shit there goes the holiday."
"I know Honey. Make coffee and have it black. I'll catch a couple more hours of shuteye and then come home."
Linda and I were ready for Debbie when she arrived in the ambulance. Junior was with her and was going to stay the weekend. That was nice of him, but I suspected he was there to keep me from asking too many questions of his mother.
That was okay, I wasn't going to tackle her with both kids here. I had to see Sarah Fenton anyway before I did that. She had called twice on Thursday saying she had some reports on Portnoy. Something I should know about Debbie as well. I had put Sarah off and had gone fishing instead.
To keep up the charade of a happy loving family, I kept making comments on how wonderful it was to have everyone home for the holiday. Just like things were before the kids moved away. I was so solicitous of Debbie, I almost made myself sick I was so sweet.
The kids had enough of it by Sunday evening and left me in charge of caring for her. She urged the kids to stay, especially Junior, but they wanted one day of the holiday for themselves. "Pop is so good at caring for you, there is no need for us to stay."
As soon as they left, Debbie called to me to come sit with her. "You haven't asked what happened. Aren't you interested?"
"Of course I'm interested. I'm also interested in the fact that there was a Rich Portnoy that came into the hospital with his feet in the same shape as yours. I think you have some answers. It's just that I don't know what questions to ask and if when you answer, can I believe that you are telling me the truth."
"Of course you can. Ask anything."
"Just one question for tonight. Were you screwing him?"
"No. How can you think that? I know when you find out where I was you may doubt me, but I wasn't doing him."
"Debbie, I don't believe you. I know I can't prove you were screwing him, but I don't trust you anymore and that is just as bad. I'm going to bed. Sweet dreams." Debbie was shouting after me as I went up to our bedroom.
When I came down in the morning, Debbie looked like hell. She was very subdued and as I cared for her needs she didn't have much to say. Some of the more personal things I did embarrassed her, and brought forth a mumbled thank you.
"Debbie, I'm going to see if I can find a wheelchair for you. At least you can move around downstairs. We may even figure how you can get from the chair to the toilet. I'll be gone a couple of hours. Is there anything I can get you? I will be back to get lunch for us."
She called me back as I was almost to the front door. "Bill, I love you. I'll make you trust me again."
"That would be nice. We've been together a long time. I'll be back soon." I headed over to Sarah's house. She and Millie were in their backyard preparing a barbecue.
"Hi Sarah. You said you had something for me?"
"Yes, but not today. Holiday, you know. I heard your wife had some trouble with her feet. She going to be okay?"
"Yeah, eventually. Can I steal a beer? I can use one."
Millie opened one and handed it to me. "Hell, tell him Sarah. He needs to know."
"Not easy telling a friend his wife is screwing around on him."
"Give me the highlights, anyway. I don't need details."
"The devil is in the details. Okay first off, Portnoy isn't the only one porking your wife. One of the other real estate salesmen has lunch once a week at Motel Six. According to the guy at the desk they come in on Tuesdays and stay for two hours. He is always worried he will get in trouble renting a room short time, so he charges for all day. I don't have any pictures except them going in and coming out.
"Portnoy--I have more details on him. He has been to your house several times and twice they were in the bedroom where we have the camera. You can guess the rest. The phone sex they have makes even me blush. I've made transcripts of some of the things that will tip the scales in your favor if a judge hears them. What are you going to do?"
"Nothing until after my brother and his family comes from Wyoming and leaves again. He doesn't need to know about this."
"She may still keep doing this to you."
"Can't be helped. That's the way I want it. Can't be any worse than what she has already done. I'll just keep a lid on things. Different subject. May I borrow your father's wheelchair if you still have it?"
"Sure, you can keep it. I'll get it. It's in the cellar. Come into the office sometime after work and I'll give you what I have on Debbie. You know we haven't spent much time on this. Your wife is a creature of habit. If she did one thing this week, then all we had to do was to be in position and she would show up the next week with the same person at the same place."
"Unless she finds someone new."
"There is that. She can do it pretty quickly too. Just to fill you in on something they have mentioned several times and think is a big joke. It goes like this: The day she went for the test drive, she was excited about driving the Escalade and worried she would scratch it. Portnoy saw this and while she was concentrating on keeping the vehicle on the road, he leaned over and ran his hand up her leg underneath her skirt.
"He went right for the gold and got her going with his fingers so much she had to pull over beside the road and open her legs. I think right then is when you definitely lost your wife. She wanted to thank him for such a tremendous orgasm so she went oral in the car and right beside the road. He went home with her panties in his pocket. I guess you aren't doing the job Bill, as she is seeing him and her other lover as well."
"How often has she been seeing Portnoy?"
"Twice a week at least. It is recorded that she saves Saturday night for you, which is generous of her. Bill, come back and join us for the barbecue this afternoon. Millie's cousin will be here. You might as well start looking around and she would be a nice person to start with."
Debbie was pissed because I had been longer than the two hours. "Where have you been? I thought you were coming right back. Is that the wheelchair I'm supposed to get into? It looks a hundred years old."
"Maybe it is. It is the only one I could find on a holiday. Let's see if you can navigate in and out of the bathroom. I have to work tomorrow. I took Friday off to go fishing."
"Yes and got falling down drunk too. I needed you when I got hurt."
"You could have called."
"Oh, that's right. Your cell was in the Escalade that went off the cliff up at the cabin."
"How did you know about the accident?"
"Come on. The whole town knows. Linda knows. Junior isn't saying anything, but he must have heard that his mother had to walk miles barefoot with a sleazy car salesman for company. A salesman that forgot to set the brake in a $66,000 car he was trying to sell to a married woman that doesn't have enough money to buy one."
"Just where were your shoes anyway? That's a big vehicle. Were you two playing in it when it started to roll?"
"No, no, nothing like that. It was hot and we did have our shoes off. We had the back open and were swinging our feet to cool them. In five minutes we were thinking of heading back to town. We heard a snap and the car lurched forward. We jumped out and all we could do was watch it roll down and over the cliff."
"Lucky you. At least he won't come sniffing around you again--not after you costing him an expensive vehicle like that."
"You are making it sound as if I was having an affair with him. I wasn't."
"If you say so dear. What do you want for lunch? I'm invited to a barbecue this afternoon, so I'm not eating. Do you want to go with me? Just a warning. You might have to answer some questions if you do."
"Tuna sandwich, I guess. Can't you stay with me?"
"You want more questions from me?"
I think Debbie knew when I went out the door that she was losing me. I could have quieted her fears, but whatever the future held, she had only herself to blame.
I arrived at the barbecue at the same time as Millie's cousin, Betty Harris. I had met her before, but I was solidly married at that time. I was still married, but not so solid now. I knew that she had an organic farm further up the valley. She also had three greenhouses that she grew flowers in for the local markets. Betty was a widow, her husband dying a few years before.
Betty was attractive in a willow whip sort of way. Tall and angular, she moved with an easy grace. She probably had never won any beauty pageant unless it was as Miss Congeniality. I said hi and we went into the backyard. We ended up sitting together for the afternoon. Neither one of us tried to impress the other and we found much in common. She didn't say so, but she appreciated how I treated her cousin and Sarah.
When we talked about different people we both might know, the heavens opened and I felt as if a fact came riding in on a sunbeam. I mentioned Pete Shackle, who was a friend and old army buddy of my father's. She knew him well and sometimes visited him. With her being tied to the farm, she never found much time to fish with him, but she still managed three or four times a year. I said I had got drunk with him last week. She laughed and said she had done the same thing once when she was feeling down about losing her husband.
I'll have to say that I was taken with this woman, now that I was about to be free to think about someone other than Debbie. Before I left the barbecue, Betty had invited me to come out to her farm and see her operation. She said she had to hire more employees and if I was interested, I seemed to be a person she would like to have work for her. It would be a big change from the feed mill, but if the pay was anywhere near what I was drawing down, I might consider it.
Arriving home, I was feeling guilty for having such a pleasant afternoon, and was as nice as I could be to my wife. Debbie had her wheelchair parked next to my chair as we watched TV in the evening. We actually held hands. I was very careful not to challenge her on anything that happened last week. I still wanted to get beyond my brother's visit that was happening in three weeks.
Tuesday morning I did get in one little remark that was innocent, but if Debbie was guilty, it would make her stop and think. "I'm heading out to work. Do you want me to swing by your office and tell everyone you can't make any scheduled meetings? If you have any noon appointments, I could come home and drive you, but they would have to bring you back. If it took more than an hour, that is."
"No Bill, I'll call the office. I'm sure from what you have said, they will be aware of my mishap and not expect me. Thanks anyway." It took Debbie two weeks to get well enough to return to work. I guess during this time we were more as husband and wife than we had been during the last three or four years. Debbie asked for love and I didn't refuse her. This was much more than our usual Saturday night get together.
My brother called saying he wasn't waiting for school to let out. He was bringing a friend, George, instead of his family. He promised to come again with his family in the fall and spend more time with me. When he arrived, he asked me about the cabin, and if it was still habitable. I said it was and the road was driveable too. He and George wanted to spend their three days wandering the woods.
Not fishing--that didn't interest either one at all. I didn't see them for two days so I took my truck up to the cabin to see how they were doing. I found out then just why he came when he did.
After an hour shooting the bull with Mark, George made me an offer for the property. Mark had told him that I would never sell the brook and some of the acreage surrounding it, but possibly I might let the rest go because the taxes were a burden. George thought it would make a great place to have paintball battles, which were his passion. He was looking for a place to set up a course over difficult terrain. This property was just what he wanted. I warned him that he might have trouble getting permits. This didn't phase him at all.
"I'll listen to your offer, but I'll make no promises. This was my grandfather's place, but you know that."
"I do know that. I'll tell you what, cut out sixty acres and have it surveyed where the brook borders the property and I'll give you $750,000 for the remainder. That gives me the whole mountain, the road and the cabin. You will still have the brook and at least a 500 foot strip all along the west side where it isn't too steep."
It is a good thing Pete taught me how to play poker. I kept my face still. "Don't know as I want to sell. It has been in the family almost a hundred years. I have two kids and I want to leave them something." We haggled for two hours. I ended up accepting an offer of $850,000. I did give up that he would have some limited access across my property that held the brook.
Mark got me aside later and told me that he figured I would settle on $800,000 for a price and did really well to get the higher amount. I did have a condition as well. I wanted $1.00 for an option and he could pick it up anytime after my divorce from my wife, Debra Wilcox, which was imminent. I didn't want my wife to know about the sale. This was all news to Mark. I felt this was reasonable for the buyer wasn't going to do anything for a year. To balance this, I said I would keep the road jeep-passable until July of next year.
Fine, after July next year George was going to have a real road constructed and put up various buildings and stands. We went into town and had a lawyer draw up the papers and both signed them before witnesses to make it a binding contract. The next day Mark and his friend took off.
Now it was time to deal with Debbie. I hadn't started proceedings yet, although I had my ducks all in a row. It was the first of July and at the dinner table I broached the subject to my wife. "Debbie, I am informing you that I am seeking a divorce."
She took it well. She must have known that someday I might find out about her infidelities. "Why?"
"Because you have been unfaithful. Not only that, when you were in danger of being found out, you continued to screw around on me. And not with one person either. You have had sex with two different men just in the last week."
"Do you have proof of this?"
"Of course, or we wouldn't be having this conversation."
"Would you tell me what you know?"
"I haven't seen the images on the tapes that have been made from the camera that is installed in our bedroom. The house phone has been tapped since April. There is a record of everything that you have said. This information has been gathered by a licensed investigator."
"Just tell me one thing for sure that you have a record of."
"I guess the one thing that hurt me the most and made me decide to seek a divorce was the conversation you often repeated on the phone with your lover. That was you experiencing getting fingered and then immediately returning a favor while on the test drive with him. Remember I was waiting for over an hour for you to return. I'm sure you didn't think of me once while you were involved with him. This showed just too much disrespect on your part."
She knew there was no hope of excusing her actions. "You said two men."
"The man you visit every Tuesday at Motel Six. The only Tuesday you missed is the one time when I offered to drive you to him."
Debbie was resigned waiting to see what I was going to do. "It looks as if you know it all. What's next?"
"What I would like is for us to get a very quiet divorce claiming irreconcilable differences. I don't particularly want to share this with Linda and Junior. We both have to make a life for ourselves and we are almost fifty. When we start over we need something. If we fight, the attorneys will get a good portion of what we have."
"So we divide what we have? How?"
"Except for the cabin property, right down the middle. That includes the house and all of our assets. You get the Buick and I keep my truck."
"That's being very fair. I don't know if I expected that much. I will take it though. You're treating me pretty good. Better than I deserve. I imagine the cabin will go to Linda someday and after what happened up there, it is nothing I want a part of." She seemed to consider something. "How much are we going to tell the kids and how?"
"I don't see the need for any confessions. Let's just tell them we have fallen out of love and are divorcing. The court record will bear that out. Saturday night we'll have them over for dinner and tell them."
"Do you want me to move out?"