Thanks to the Hip and Knee doctor for editing assistance.
"What are you doing home? Why aren't you at work? What are you packing for?"
I thought the questions wouldn't end. It would be nice if she gave me a chance to answer one of them before the next one came. Caitlin was standing by the bedroom door watching me pack. I took a lot of trips, but this time I was packing to leave and she could tell the difference.
"I lost my security clearance and I got fired."
"What? Bryan, that doesn't make sense. Can they do that? Don't you have to have a hearing or something?"
"They spent three hours explaining it to me this morning."
"Can you explain it to me a little bit better than that?"
Caitlin perched herself on the far side of the bed waiting for my reply.
"Let me ask you a few questions. Your answers might explain what happened." I continued to pack.
"I don't understand."
"Caitlin, what did you do yesterday morning before you went to work?"
"What I always do. I stopped at Starbucks and had coffee. Why?"
"Do you have coffee alone?"
"How about yesterday?"
There was a short hesitation before she answered. "I ran into an old friend that I went to Georgetown with."
"Does your friend have a name?"
"Ari. Ari Humeda. He was an exchange student from Lebanon."
"How good a friend was Ari?"
"What do you mean?"
"You said he was an old friend. How good a friend? Was he a casual acquaintance, a classmate, or was he someone you might have dated?"
I watched my wife squirm on the bed a little. She was trying to choose her words carefully. "Ari and I dated for a while."
"How long is a while?"
"Damn it, Bryan. What is the purpose of these questions? We agreed before we were married that we would not question each other about prior relationships. Do you remember that?"
"I am in a hurry here, Caitlin. Can you just answer the question?"
"We dated for about eighteen months. I still don't understand why that is important."
"What happened after coffee?"
"I went to work."
"Right away, or did you make a stop?"
Caitlin started to wring her hands. She seemed a little uncomfortable on the bed. "Ari had forgotten his laptop, so I walked with him while he went to get it."
"Where did he forget it at?"
"Why? Why all these questions?"
"He left it in his room. I walked with him while he got it."
"Did you go into his room?"
"Yeah. But it was just for a few minutes."
"Caitlin, it is bad enough that you are avoiding my questions, but it is totally unacceptable when you lie."
"I don't understand."
I stopped packing momentarily and glared at my wife. My tone of voiced changed from casual to forceful. "How long were you in that room with Ari Humeda? No bullshit, just answer the question."
She was confused now. "I don't remember. It might have been longer than a few minutes. We started talking and reminiscing about old times. I wasn't keeping track of the time. I am not sure how long I was there."
"It was two hours and forty - seven minutes, Caitlin. From the time you walked into his room until the time that you left, it was two hours and forty - seven minutes. Tell me what you talked about for almost three hours."
"I don't understand, Bryan. Why are you doing this? How do you know this? What does this have to do with you being fired?"
There she goes again asking questions faster than I can answer them.
"That is the reason I got fired, Caitlin."
"That doesn't make sense. Just because I spent some time with an old friend is not justification for you losing your job."
I was starting on my last suitcase. I had the first two sitting by the apartment door.