Thanks to the hip and knee doctor for editing assistance.
It was an eerie-looking parking garage. The Berwick Apartments were the first in the city to have their own lower-level parking and it was not nearly as well lit or as well laid out as the newer ones. There was no security and I could detect no cameras. This was odd, because there was also no access restrictions. All of the parking slots were assigned and there were an abundance of signs posted all over the place, that threatened trespassers with towing and associated fees. It was located in a low-traffic, non-commercial area, so I imagined that they didn't have too many problems.
My mind was wandering. It was a Friday afternoon, and I had been sitting there for three hours now. My patience was giving out. My wife, Carlotta, had been upstairs visiting with Charles Henry Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins, or CH as many people referred to him, is the vice president of Gilbert Mechanicals, one of the largest companies in town. I wouldn't call him rich, but he is certainly well off. Actually, compared to me, he is rich. He is also charming, good looking, and I am assuming, great in the sack. Thus it should be easy to figure out why I was here today.
Carlotta and I had been married for 27 years. In high school, I was a mediocre student and she was just one of the girls. I guess you could say that we were a couple of the invisible kids who pass through the system. We dated and then married the next year, after graduation. She wanted to get out of her parents house, and I wanted regular sex. It seemed like a good deal at the time.
I got a job as a house painter, and in a few years, I had my own business. We had two sons, Tony and Greg, and a daughter Sharon. We were never in need of anything, but raising three kids meant that we never really had any money to spend on the nicer things in life. My kids were the only ones in the neighborhood who never got to go to Disney World. We spent a lot of time at Knoebel's Grove, but that didn't make up for it. The only other get-away was at the family bungalow on the Little Lehigh.
Carlotta and I always got along well. There was never any wild passionate love like you see in the movies. We were comfortable together, but I can't say that we were madly in love. I thought that that was what real life was all about.
Carlotta kept most of her figure after the kids were born, though her butt did get a little bigger. She had an olive complexion and thick dark hair. When she hit the forty year mark, a silver hair streak showed up on the left side. It was odd, but a little classy. She used to comb her hair so that it accented her face. I had to admit that she was still a beautiful woman.
Her beauty, however, was offset by her bitter personality. She was never what you would call a loving person. Even the kids noticed this. As they got older, Carlotta got meaner. It was never directed at anyone in particular, just everything and everybody in general. I had no idea what brought this on.
Tony and Greg finished school with the same outstanding credentials as I did. Ha, Ha. Hell, we can't all be geniuses. They both started work as bricklayer apprentices and within two years they had their own little business. Not too shabby. Sharon got married and moved out as soon as she could. Once Carlotta and I were alone in the house, I became the target for all of her venom.
I didn't eat properly. I dressed like a slob. I was out of shape. I was stuck in a dead-end job and would never amount to anything. I forced her to drive a crappy car. We had no retirement plan. It was endless. I was sorry that the kids had left home because I no longer had anyone to share the wrath of Carlotta. And then, after about a year, it all came to an end.
My loving wife had somehow or other developed a new interest that changed her personality. Instead of constantly harping on me, she was now, simply ignoring me. Oh, we still lived together as man and wife, including the sex, but it became almost platonic. She continued to cook the meals and to keep the house as neat as a pin, but the sarcasm disappeared. Her performance in bed was the same as it always had been: mediocre and indifferent. I can't say that it was a bad change, but it did cause me some concern. I guess I should have been happy, but I wasn't.
Of course, the new interest in Carlotta's life was CH Jenkins. I didn't have any idea where she met him or under what circumstances. All I knew is that it was a regular and a serious relationship. All the woman had to do was ask and I would have given her a divorce in a minute. She would have gotten half of everything, which didn't amount to much. I waited patiently for her to talk to me about it, or to just surprise me with papers, but nothing every happened. I assume that she was happy with the status quo.
There was no way in hell that I was going to bring it up, or confront her about it. Things were running smoothly as long as she was feeling guilty about the affair. If I let on that I knew what was going on, she would probably still continue seeing him, and start making my life miserable again. I couldn't take the chance. If she was aware that I knew about CH and she continued to see him, I would be humiliated to the point where I would probably cause her harm. Then my kids would hate me, and I didn't want that to happen. It was a hell of a dilemma.
Carlotta entered the parking garage alone. She got into her precious Civic and left without noticing my pickup parked in the corner. She had to get home to start supper. CH usually ate his meals out. I moved my truck closer to his Lexus and got as comfortable as I could be. I didn't know much about my wife's lover. He was about forty years old, and as I said before, fairly good looking. He would get his picture in the papers every once in a while by attending some sort of community function. Of course, Carlotta was never with him. One of his most distinguishing features was a large, pinky ring on his right hand. It was a solitaire diamond and appeared to be about three carats. The rumor was, that he got a big bonus when he made VP and blew it all on the ring. After Carlotta and I were married for about five years, I went overboard and got her a ring that was not even half of a carat. Stupid me! I was proud of what I had done.
I watched as he came out of the stairwell and started toward his Lexus. He even walked as if he was hot shit. I didn't know the guy, but I hated him. As soon as he flicked the keyless entry, I stepped out of the truck. The Taser hit him before he reached the door. I wasn't slick and I wasn't cool, but I absolutely got the job done. I grabbed both of his legs and pulled him around to the tailgate. His head and shoulders went up first and then I swung his legs around. They always make it look so easy in the movies, but getting two hundred pounds of dead weight into the back of a truck isn't easy. I duct taped his legs and arms first. When it came to his mouth, I went completely around his head several times, being careful not to cover his nose. I didn't want the son-of-a-bitch suffocating in the back of my truck. I covered him up with a tarp and locked the bed cover. Before leaving, I picked up his keys and re-locked the Lexus.
Twenty minutes later, I called Carlotta and told her that I was trying to finish a job in Trexlertown and that I would probably be late getting home. She gave me a little grief and then dropped it.
It was twilight when I reached the bungalow. I already had a nice place picked out and prepared, on the South side. There were two apple trees there and we always talked about putting in another one. The container with the new Golden Delicious tree that I had bought yesterday, was sitting beside the oversized hole. It was a round hole. There was no way that I was going to dig a hole shaped like a grave. You could hear the traffic going by, but the bungalow was out of sight because of the thick underbrush.
CH was awake when I pulled the tarp off of him. I couldn't tell if he was scared or angry.
"Hi. Do you know who I am?"
His eyes were wide open in fear as he nodded "yes".
"Do you know why you are here?"
His eyes were darting back and forth as he shook his head from side to side.
I smiled as I grabbed his feet and started walking. The back of his head banged against the edge of the tailgate as I yanked him off. He was thrashing back and forth as if he knew what was going to happen. All he was doing though was making himself tired. I took off his watch and precious pinky ring and put them in my pocket. In addition, his wallet and cell phone went onto the front seat of the truck.
By the time I started to push him into the hole, I could tell that he was afraid. I was shoving him in and he kept trying to stand up, even though his hands and feet were secured. I finally had to whack him on the head with the shovel to calm him down. It didn't knock him completely unconscious, but it did make him manageable. I started to fill the hole back up after I got him curled into a fetal position. He was still alive and before I was finished filling the hole, he came to his senses. By that time, all he could do was make a lot of grunting sounds. I had about three foot of soil on top of him, making it impossible to escape, and that is when things finally got quiet.
I took the new apple tree out of the pot, carefully placed it in the center of the hole, and filled the area around it with a couple of bags of good potting soil. I used the rest of the dirt from the hole to finish things off and then spread two bags of mulch nicely on top. It was time to go home.
My supper came out of the microwave. My wife never moved from in front of the television set. It was a quiet evening. I stashed the goodies that I took from CH safely in the garage. I would get rid of them later. Carlotta went to bed early and I spent the night on the couch.
It was a busy weekend; leaves to be raked and shrubs to be pruned. At least I didn't have to mow anymore. There was a good chance that nobody would be going up to the bungalow for the next few months. Carlotta hadn't been there for years. That would let the new tree have a chance to adapt and not look as if it had just been planted.
The weekend was dull and uneventful. Sunday night, I drove into Reading and got rid of the watch, wallet, and cell phone, that I had taken from CH.
Monday morning came around and I was ready to start a new week. Carlotta seemed nervous. I caught her making several calls on her cell phone with no results. Everything was normal until Wednesday when the police showed up at my job site, and escorted me down to the police station.
"Mister Saunders, do you have any idea why you are here?"
His name tag said; 'Lt. Detective Williams.'
"The only thing that I can think of, is that somebody was not happy with the way that I painted their house."
That got me an exasperated smirk. "Do you know Charles Henry Jenkins?"
"I know who he is, but I never met the man. Why?"
"Mister Jenkins is a close friend of your wife, Carlotta."
"Then, maybe, you should be talking to my wife. What does this have to do with me? Did he accuse me of something?"
"Mister Jenkins hasn't said anything." Detective Williams was shuffling some papers around on the desk. "Mister Jenkins did not show up for work on Monday and the last that anyone has seen him was on Friday."
"I don't know what to say. Did you talk to the person who saw him?"
"We did Mister Saunders. Your wife was that person."
"I am just a little curious here. What is my wife's relationship with this Jenkins guy? Also, since he is a friend of my wife's, what the hell am I doing here?"
Detective Williams got up from his chair. "Excuse me for a minute." I watched as he walked out of the room and turned towards the wall with the big one-way mirror. A minute later, he was back in his chair.
"Mister Saunders. Your wife has been close friends with Mister Jenkins for about six months now. She has been a regular visitor to his apartment and in fact, she has been keeping clothing and personal grooming items there."
"What you are telling me is that my wife has been having an affair with this Jenkins guy."
"Would you like some coffee, Mister Saunders, or a coke?"
"No, damn it, but I would like to know where this guy Jenkins is, so that I can pay him a visit. At least tell me where he lives."
The conversation went downhill from there. The house that I was painting in Trexlertown was an empty rental. Nobody could verify that I was or wasn't there. I had actually painted it the day before. All they had was the phone call that I made to Carlotta, which really wasn't proof of anything. The rest of the weekend, I was never out of sight of my wife. I even made sure that I was with people on Monday and Tuesday, just in case. After two hours, Detective Williams and his cohorts seemed frustrated and told me that I could go.
I told them that under the circumstances, they should convince my wife into staying somewhere else until I calmed down. They left me sitting in the room for another hour, and finally a patrolman came for me. Carlotta was going to be staying with Sharon for a few days.
I spent the evening drinking beer and smirking to myself. The next morning, I moved all of my stuff into one of the spare bedrooms. I would not be sleeping with Carlotta again.
The next evening, Tony, Greg, and Sharon all came to talk to me. Their mother admitted to the affair and was extremely regretful. It was a mistake and she never meant to hurt me. It would never happen again. I listened to the crap for thirty minutes and I tried to be as polite as possible. Once I agreed to allow her to come home, everybody was happy and all smiles. After they left, I had a few more beers and started smiling again.
Carlotta returned to the house the next morning and my euphoria was short-lived. We never talked about her affair with CH. If fact we never really talked about anything. Our conversation was limited to whatever words were necessary to function. I never accused her of anything and she never offered an explanation or apology. The police never contacted me again. There were a few small articles in the local newspapers and then it all died down.
The situation with Carlotta, however, did not go as I had hoped. There was no remorse on her part and the old anger and bitterness started to return. She lost her lover and finally realized that he was not coming back. I was up early in the mornings and usually got breakfast, lunch, and dinner at one of the local diners. By the time I got home at night, I was always ready to take a shower and hit the sack. Carlotta took care of the house and washed my clothes. I never asked for more. We still had joint banking accounts and credits cards, but she never abused any of them. There was no sex between us. The few times that we were in the same room were stressful. All of the old digs, innuendos, and insults were back. I found myself hoping that she would find a new lover, and I regretted the demise of the first one.
Even though she was not cheating, she was treating me like a cuckold. She knew that I was fully aware of her affair and that I was doing nothing about it. What kind of a man finds out that his wife was cheating on him and then just rolls over and takes it? A wimp. I could see the contempt in her eyes every time she looked at me. To her, I was a nothing. She had no idea that it was I who pulled the strings. It was I who controlled the situation. It was time to bring her down a notch.
The kids all planned to have Thanksgiving at our house. That seemed like a great idea to me. It would give me the opportunity to straighten things out. The kids had become aware that Carlotta had returned to her old, nasty self, but didn't know what to do about it. I think that they thought it was my fault.
Tony's wife, Greg's wife, Sharon, and Carlotta were all busy in the kitchen as the men monitored the football games. I never liked watching sports, but today was special. I was glad when Sharon announced that the meal was ready.
There were eight of us around the table. Before starting the meal somebody usually says Grace. This time, it was suggested that we go around the table and each person say what he or she is thankful for. It is a silly ritual that seems to have been invented by a television sitcom family. I didn't mind because it would give me a chance to cause a little grief for my wife.
Most of the snippets were of the expected type. Sharon took the opportunity to announce that she was pregnant, which we were all aware of any way. When it passed to me, I smiled and held up my right hand. Everyone got a good look at my shiny, diamond, pinky ring.
"I am thankful for the magic ring, that my lovely wife gave me. It has given me the power to make everything right. It has replaced my sorrow with happiness. It has washed away my humiliation and given me pride. It has provided me with the courage to right a terrible wrong. I am truly thankful for my marvelous and magical ring."