I'd just said goodbye to Ben when I got the call from my wife. She sounded odd, distant. It, the call, had short shanked my usual Friday afternoon beer fest at the Hop and Grape, my favorite hangout. I was home twenty minutes later: the clock read 5:27. I would remember the time; it spelled the end of my sixteen year marriage to Zoe Conyers. I'm Bill Conyers, 37, and in every way your average Joe. I'm an ex-army electrician. I'm currently working for the city: I'm a garbage collector, go figure. It's a pretty good living; but, I'm hoping to someday own my own electronics business.
"Thanks for coming home early, Bill," said Zoe. "I—we—Caroline and I, need to talk to you." My gaze floated over toward my teenaged daughter; her face was impassive." I sent her a half smile; she's always been the light of my life.
"Okay," I said. "I'm here. What's going on?"
"Bill, there's no easy way to say this, but Caroline and I are leaving," said Zoe.
"Leaving? For where?" I said, not getting it.
"Bill, I'm divorcing you. You will be served with the papers today. I didn't want to just have some stranger dumping them on you—well—anyway that's why I asked you to come home early. I mean so I could tell you, be up front with you. I glanced back and forth between then two of them. Fear was beginning to register in my gut.
"I know this is going to be hard for you to understand, Bill. It just happened. I'm sorry," she said.
"Caroline?" I said, looking over toward my daughter. She looked away. I was beginning to hurt—real bad!
"Who is he?" I said. I could feel my face getting hot, my stomach start to roil, I felt tingly—and none of it was good. I was stunned, right enough, but not totally dead in the head. If she—they—were leaving there had to be a man. I was undoubtedly already a cuckold, but if so, I had been an unknowing one.
"I suppose you'll find out sooner or later anyway. It's John Kurst, Bill. He's a real estate developer. He's a nice man, Bill. He can do more for Caroline—well—than..."
"Than me," I said, finishing up her line. It is amazing how quickly mild interest, even concern, can morph into the purest of hatreds.
"You're dumping me—the both of you—for money? I haven't been up to your standards is that it?" I said. "I maybe don't smell too good at the end of work day, Zoe, but, at least I don't have the stench of betrayal on me.
"Caroline? Nothing? You've got nothing to say? I'm your daddy for chryssakes! You've got nothing to say to me?" I was pissed and hurt and at a loss.
"I guess all it takes is some rich guy to buy you two off. Is that it? His money? Well, money ain't the only thing, and it don't guarantee happiness, not by a long shot," I said. Bitter didn't even begin to describe my feelings at that moment.
"There's no need to be sarcastic, Bill. I'm trying to make this as easy as I can for you," she said.
"Yeah, right," I said. "You been fucking him? This Kurst fuckwad!"
"Bill, Caroline is right over there," said Zoe. I looked over to Caroline.
"Okay. Well then, Caroline, has she?" I said. I was bitter and angry, and about to lose control.
"Huh?" said my fifteen year old daughter.
"Has your mother been fucking this asshole?" I said.
"William Conyers! Caroline is your daughter!" screamed Zoe.
"And she's choosing to live with the asshole who cuckolded me, and who has, by definition, been fucking you?" I said.
The battle was on; it lasted some minutes. I was at least not wimping out. I was mad and hurting big time, but not wimping out. Caroline ran out of the room; I guess the yelling was too much for her.
"All right, Bill, if that's your attitude, I guess we'll just have to accept it," said Zoe, finally giving up any hope of pacifying me. And, as bad as this was, worse was in the offing.
She stood and took one last look at me: her look was nothing if not one of pity. I stood too, then, sat heavily back down in my chair. I heard the front door slam. They were gone. I was alone. My life sucked.
After a minute or two I got up and strode into the living room. I noticed things right away. They'd already moved everything they were going to take out of the house. Almost nothing, that would remind me that just hours before I'd been a family man remained. Now, I was alone and sick at heart.
It was bad enough that Zoe was fucking someone else, but that Caroline was evidently okay with it killed me inside. That one I would one day exact revenge for; I promised myself that much; I just wasn't exactly sure of who on. No one had the right to come between a man and his children, and children didn't have the right to dump on a loving parent.
She'd planned well had Zoe. I was served not five minutes after the two of them left. The server must have been waiting nearby for them to leave. Her lawyer had evidently advised her, at least so it appeared, to sell the house and divide the assets. Apart from the house we didn't have much, so in practical terms there was not much to divide. Anything that did have a little value in it, she had already taken. As a backstabbing, betraying whore, I had to admit that my soon to be ex-wife was pretty high up the food chain.
I signed the papers and sent them to her lawyer. At least I was spared the indignity of having to pay for my own screwing; she paid him, or her lover did. Well, I guess there's upside to almost anything.
After the house sale, which I did my best to help expedite—hey, it was in my best interest—I moved out and into a very small studio apartment a bit nearer to work. When all was said and done, I had eleven thousand dollars in my account and not a damn thing else. But, I didn't have any bills, not even car payments; both cars were free and clear. I did have a job, even if it was one that my two ex-family members were apparently ashamed of. Still, I was thinking, that since I no longer had to provide for anyone but me, that I might make a change in that department; the little money I had could go for that. There was no alimony requirement. She evidently planned to marry his fuckwadship as soon as the ink was dry on the final decree. That figured to be about four more months from now, the way I figured it.
We were headin' in one day after a fairly grueling day on the job. Ben was on my elbow, "Wanna get a couple of cool ones?" he said.
"Yeah, sure, what the hell," I said.
The Hop and Grape was busy for a Friday afternoon and Ben and I added to the commotion.
I'd done more mopin' than funnin' in recent times. It occurred to me that I had to get on with things and stop feeling sorry for myself—easier said than done.
As the afternoon turned to early evening, Ben and I were feeling pretty good. Marian Kelly, a clerk among the twenty or so at the lot, where we parked our trucks, was there. She looked good. Short gray skirt, dark blouse, high heels: she looked great.
"Hear you're single again," said Marian. I looked her up and down trying to be as obvious as I could; well, she did look good. Ben smiled at me. I had the feeling he knew something I didn't.
"Will be soon, a couple of months I guess. But, you're married," I said. I was actually fishing. I had never even talked to Marian more than to say good morning or the equivalent; I had no idea if she were married or not. Ben laughed.
"I'm headin' out. You two have a nice," he said. Marian winked at him and I caught it. He was gone without another word.
She laughed. "Ben's a nice guy," she said. I nodded.
"I'm not married, Bill. I'm divorced for two years now. I thought you knew. I thought everybody knew," she said. "Ha! That's probably why no one has asked me out." She laughed.
Are you saying you haven't gone out at all in the past two years!" I said, hardly believing her.
"That's right. I mean except to hang out here with the other girls and all you married guys," she said.
"You wanna drink?" I said. "I wanna be your first date. I mean right now. We'll have a drink and get out of here. Okay?"
"Whoa, soldier. You're not thinking of a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am kind of thing are you?" she said. She looked seriously concerned.
"No, no, I just don't want some other cowboy coming on to you before I can get my name on your dance card," I said. Now she smiled.
"Okay then, it's a date. Oh, and I'll have a white wine," she said.
We sat at the bar, sipped our drinks, and after about half an hour, we made to go out.
"We gotta go to my apartment first, if that's okay, Marian. I do need to shower and change. I want to take you somewhere a little more upscale than Mac's," I said.
"Sure bet, sailor." She said. She followed me home. I sat her down in my little front area, handed her an MGD from the fridge, and disappeared into the back to get cleaned up and dressed acceptably.
We took her car; my truck wasn't all that sweet smelling; I'd have to rectify that at some point if I was going to be dating again.
It was the first time in months that I had talked to a woman about anything but necessary job related stuff. Until this moment, I had thought of no other woman, in a social sense, but my wife, and those thoughts had all been bad thoughts: death by fuel injection, burial alive in the county landfill, crucifixion on a fiery cross, things like that. But, now I had a chance to redeem at least a part of my life.
The Blue Bayou served real Cajun food and I was in the mood. Marian at first looked askance at all of the greasy calories, but got into it after a while.
.... There is more of this story ...