Marsha, my wife of twenty-six years, walked into the kitchen and sat down on the other side of the table from me and said:
"Honey, can we talk?"
"That's an odd question. We have always talked. Since when have you ever had to ask me if we could talk?"
She gave me a nervous smile and said, "This is different."
As I looked across the table at her I was thinking of how we had gotten to this point in our life.
I met Marsha at my sister's eighteenth birthday party. My parents were pretty open minded and regardless of the local liquor laws they had allowed us to have wine with dinner and when I turned eighteen I was allowed to drink beer in the house. They gave the same freedom to my sister Gail and anyone at her party who was eighteen or older. The only provision was that if you had a beer, even just one, you were not allowed to drive so for Gail's party I got to be the designated driver.
I spent most of the night in my room working on a class project for my Production Management class so I never saw Marsha until my mother called me down to take up my chauffer's duties. As soon as I saw Marsha my heart started beating like a jack hammer, I had instant and major wood and from that moment on I could not take my eyes off of her. Gail noticed and said:
"Down boy, down. She is spoken for and he is a big, mean bastard. Besides, Carol would be pissed."
Carol was my steady girlfriend at the time. I got everyone's addresses and arranged them in a route and then loaded six of them in the car. It just happened that Marsha was the last one to be dropped off and when I pulled up in front of her house she leaned over and kissed me, pressed a piece of paper into my hand and said:
After she was out of the car I looked at the piece of paper and saw that it was a phone number with "anytime after 6" written under it. The next day at exactly six I called the number and Marsha answered. Before I could even say hello she said:
"I said after six, not dead on six. You can be here in ten minutes. I'll be ready."
I had a paper that was due in two days, but it — along with the "big, mean bastard of a boyfriend" — were forgotten as I grabbed my keys and ran for my car. I pulled up in front of Marsha's house and before I could even get out of the car to go up to the house to ring the bell she came out the front door and hurried down the walk. She got in the car, kissed me and said:
"Take us somewhere where we can talk."
I pulled away from the curb and before I had even gone a half a block she slid across the seat and was sitting hip to hip against me. I pulled into the Burger Barn and we went inside and grabbed a table. Once seated she reached across the table, took my hand and asked:
"Did you feel it?"
"The spark. I felt a spark the instant I saw you."
"I didn't feel a spark, but I definitely felt something."
"Gail said that you couldn't take your eyes off of me. Is that true?"
"Yes. Yes it is."
"She also said that you had a steady girlfriend."
I kind of looked away from her when she said that and then she squeezed my hand and said:
"Notice that I said "had" and not have." Are we clear on that?"
"That is exactly what I mean."
"But Gail told me that you have a boyfriend."
"Had a boyfriend baby. You need to get those "H" words straight."
That was the start of my love affair with Marsha. Her 'big, mean bastard' of a boyfriend didn't seem to care that he was replaced and Carol — after spitting in my face — told me that she was getting ready to dump me anyway because I was so boring. By the end of the week Marsha and I were taking advantage of any flat surface we could find.
We had been going steady for almost nine months and one night at the dinner table I asked my father for some advice on buying an engagement ring. After dinner Gail pulled me aside and said:
"Don't get pissed at me big brother, but I have a few things to say that you need to hear. Just remember that we are family and are supposed to watch out for each other. Marsha is my friend and while I might love her like a sister she isn't one and you are my brother and family comes first. I hate to be the one telling you this, but Marsha is a slut."
"What do you mean she is a slut?"
"I mean that she is an easy piece. She has round heels. She is a pushover."
"I don't believe you."
"It is true big brother and I know it for a fact."
"You are wrong. You have to be."
"I'm not. I just said that I know it for a fact and I can say that because I've seen her in action. I've seen her pull trains and do threesomes and foursomes. I've seen her take it in every hole she has."
"You stood and watched?"
Gail laughed and said, "Birds of a feather brother mine. I saw it because I was on the bed next to her and doing the same thing."
"I don't believe it. She wouldn't do that to me."
"I don't know that she has done it since you have been going together, but I do know that she was doing it right up to the night of my birthday party even though she had a steady boyfriend and if she was doing it to him she is probably doing it to you."
"But you don't know."
"Of course I don't know. You think she'd let me know since you are my brother? If anything she would hide it from me."
"So what you are doing is telling me not to get an engagement ring."
"No. What I am doing is giving you a heads up so that whatever you decide will be based on all the information available. Is she true to you? If she is will she stay true to you? I have no idea, but what I do know is what she told me at one of the trains we pulled. I asked her why she did it and she told me that she did it because she loved cock and could never get enough."
"Why do you do it?"
"I told you big brother; birds of a feather."
"Yeah brother; me too."
Too much information I thought as I headed up to my room.
I was blown away by the information about Marsha (and Gail too for that matter). That she loved cock I didn't doubt one bit given the way she went after mine, but there was no way that I would ever believe that she was cheating on me. When would she do it? We attended the same college and we saw each other every day and we spent our evenings and weekends together so unless she was doing it in class I could account for all of her time. Gail might be — hell, probably was — right about what Marsha did before me, but the only thing that counted as far as I was concerned was what she did after she started going with me. Still, human nature being human nature, I started keeping a closer eye on Marsha.
Gail's information did have an effect on me though. I held off on the engagement ring. I was two years ahead of Marsha and I was on an ROTC scholarship and that meant that when I graduated I owed Uncle Sam six years of my life; three years on active duty and another three years in the reserve. I would be going off and leaving Marsha behind and based on what Gail had told me there was no way that Marsha was going to wait for me to return. She might wait, but the odds were she wouldn't wait alone.
What was it Gail had said that Marsha told her? She loved cock and could never get enough? Could I come back to her under those circumstances knowing (even if she was waiting) that she had been doing gangbangs and the like? Could we pick up where we left off with me knowing that she was anybody's punchboard while I was away and I would know it because I knew that Gail would make sure that I knew. Or was I borrowing trouble where there was none? Would Marsha stay true? It was something to think about.
But I only got to think about it for three weeks.
It was the week before spring break. I picked Marsha up for our date and she wasn't her usual perky self. She was obviously down in the dumps and it took me a while to work it out of her.
"I have a problem Frankie."
"So tell me and let's see if we can fix it."
"Remember when I told you not to use condoms because I didn't like the feel of them? I told you not to worry because I was on the pill?"
"Yeah, I remember."
"The pill failed Frankie. I'm pregnant."
"I thought the pills couldn't fail."
"Remember when I had the flu? The doctor says that the antibiotics I took negated the pills effectiveness."
"So what are you going to do?"
"What am I going to do? Not what are we going to do?"
"Yes Marsha, what are you going to do? It is your body, your decision. Have it or don't have it. Have it and keep it or have it and give it up for adoption. It is all on you. I don't come into it until you have made your decision."
"And then what?"
"You have to decide if you want to get married or not."
"Oh no Frankie; I will not trap you into marrying me. I'm the one who told you that you didn't need to use condoms."
"So what? I'm still the one who got you pregnant. I hadn't planned on getting married until I got out of the Army, but if you decide to get hitched I'm here for you."
"Do you want to marry me?"
"To be honest Marsha I haven't given it much thought. Let me rephrase. I want to marry you, but I never expected to. Like I said, I didn't plan on getting married until I've served my three years. I didn't spend much time thinking of marrying you because frankly I didn't expect you to be here when I got out."
"Why would you think that? Why wouldn't I be here when you came home?"
"Three years would be a long time to wait for a woman with the sex drive that you have. The odds are that you would have somebody by the time I got back."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence."
I shrugged and Marsha said, "Back to the problem at hand. I've already decided that that I'm keeping the baby and I do not expect you to marry me unless you want to."
"Then all that's left is to get the blood tests done and get the license."
Two weeks later we were married in a civil ceremony and four months later I left a pregnant Marsha and went off to Fort Knox.
Before I left — it was the human nature thing again — I asked a couple of my buddies to keep an eye on Marsha for me. Bert Ellsworth, Ronnie DuPree and Richie Moore had been my buds since third grade and I trusted them. They knew Marsha's history and they knew that I knew it.
"If she fucks around on me I want to know it."
It was rotten of me and I knew it, but something that Gail had told me stuck with me. "I know she was doing it right up to the night of my party even though she had a steady boyfriend and if she was doing it to him she is probably doing it to you." I didn't think she was, but can you ever be 100% certain of anything? If she didn't cheat on me while I was gone everything would be cool. If she did cheat I would have a DNA test done on the baby and then we would go from there.
I loved Marsha and I looked forward to spending my life with her, but I wasn't going to do it wearing blinders.
I was able to swing leave to be there when Franklin David Brisbee Junior was born, but outside of three day passes and the use of accumulated leave I spent little time with my family. I did a tour in Korea and a tour in Germany and my last duty station was The Presidio in California, but I couldn't get Marsha to uproot and come out to stay with me since I would only be there for the last nine months of my three year commitment.
On my leaves and passes I checked in with Bert, Richie and Ronnie and they told me that Marsha was pretty much a stay at home when she got off work. In addition to the three buds there was Gail and I was sure that I could count on her to fill me in if Marsha strayed.
My home coming almost killed me. Marsha was determined to make up for lost time and I spent most of the first three weeks I was home in bed with her. It was over six months before it dropped from every day and stabilized at three or four times a week.
The next twenty-three years were good ones as Frankie junior got a brother and a sister. The marriage did encounter a few bumps along the way, but then what marriage doesn't. Frank junior graduated from high school and joined the Army. He likes it and says he is going for twenty. Becky graduated from high school and almost immediately got married. She has given us a granddaughter and has promised that the next one will be a grandson. Mike is following in my footsteps. He is in his first year of college on an ROTC scholarship and since he lives in a dorm on campus Marsha and I can be considered empty nesters.
"What do you want to talk about honey?"
"Have you been happy with me Frankie?"
"You know I have honey."
"My meals were good and the house well taken care of?"
"Of course they were Marsha."
"Was I good in the bedroom? Did I meet your needs? Did I show you enough love?"
"You know you did honey. I could not have asked for a better wife. What is this all about Marsha?"
"I told you Frankie. Just some things I needed to know. I've spent twenty-three years being a loving and faithful wife and I want to know that I was good for you."
It took a second to hit me. "Twenty-three years? We have been married twenty-six years Marsha."
"I know Frankie. The loving part has always been there, but I'm afraid that I can't say the same about the faithful part."
"Is that what this is about?"
"You have been cheating on me? With who?"
"You don't know them."
"Them? How long has it been going on Marsha?"
"Since last week."
"You just told me that you have only been faithful for twenty-three of our twenty-six years."
"The three years were twenty-six years ago Frankie."
"Do I get an explanation?"
"I tried to be good while you were in the service, but I couldn't do it. I needed sex Frankie; I needed it bad so I played around while you were gone. I stopped when you came home and since then you have been the only man in my life."
"How could you have done it without me finding out? I knew what your history was before you met me and I didn't trust you to behave while I was gone. I had you watched Marsha. I had three of my friends watching you. How could you have pulled the wool over three different sets of eyes?"
She looked away from me and as she did the light bulb lit above my head. "It was Bert, Ronnie and Richie wasn't it."
Still looking away from me she said, "And some of their friends."
"Just how did it happen?"
"Bert came to me and told me what you asked him, Ronnie and Richie to do and then he told me that he could see to it that I got all the sex I needed from the three of them and they would see to it that you never found out. I held out for two months before I called him. And before the week was up I was seven months pregnant and pulling trains and I loved it."
"Then I came home and you stopped and you never did it again until last week? You expect me to believe that after fucking you for three years they just instantly stopped when I got home?"
"They didn't want to, but I wouldn't. Bert tried to blackmail me by telling me that he would see to it that you found out what I'd been doing while you were gone. I told him to go ahead and tell you and when you confronted me I would tell you just who was doing me and that you would probably hunt him down after throwing me out. I never heard another word out of him."
"What happened last week?"
"I didn't mean for it to happen Frankie, honest to God I didn't. You were out of town and so I stopped on my way home from work to visit with a friend. I knocked on her door and it must not have been latched because it swung open. I walked in and heard noises from upstairs so I went up and walked in on a gangbang. She had seven men there and when one of them saw me he said:
"Oh good. Reinforcements have arrived."
"He took my hand and pulled me to him and it was like a switch in my head was tripped and I turned into the whore I used to be. I did all seven, some of them twice and one guy three times."
"And you just had to come in here and tell me this tonight why?"
"Because I loved it. I never realized how much I missed it and I want to do it again. Actually I did do it again two nights later with five guys. They want me to do it again tomorrow night,"
"And you are in here now to tell me that you are going to do it."
"Yes, but that is just part of it. I asked you about all of those things because it was important to me to know that I was a good wife to you. Knowing that makes it a little easier for me to ask you for a divorce."
"Yes Frankie, a divorce. I can't cheat on the man I love behind his back and I know that I am going to keep on doing what I did last week. I know my saying that I can't cheat on you behind your back sounds strange after my telling you that I cheated on you for three years while you were away, but that was different. You weren't here and I needed it. I know that I'm splitting hairs. I needed it and you weren't here. I am sincerely sorry for the two times I did it last week and I apologize for doing it, I know that you are probably disgusted with me and won't want me around so I have already moved all my things into Becky's old room. I'll try to hurry and find a place so I can get out of your hair. I just want you to know that I love you, I have always loved you and I always will love you."
She got up and walked out of the room leaving me sitting there and staring at her back.
How do you end a twenty-six year marriage that you had no idea was in trouble? I was spared the anger of discovering that my wife was cheating on me by catching her in the act. There were no clues to make me suspicious and cause me to hire a private eye so I could slam his report down on the table in front of her and scream:
"Read that you fucking bitch!"
Nothing at all to cause me to place recorders around the house and tap the phone. Just a simple:
"Can we talk? I'm fucking other men and I want a divorce."
At least I didn't have to take an ego shot. There was no "What's wrong with me?" There was no way I or any other one man could come even close to giving her what five, six or eight men could give her and I knew it. So the marriage would end with a whimper instead of a bang.
The next day I took a half day off work, hit the bank and took half of everything and moved it to a different bank and in an account in my name only. I called the credit card companies and set it up so that the Visa card would be in Marsha's name and the MasterCard would be in mine. I made an appointment with an attorney and then called a real estate agent to come over and give the house a market appraisal. I hated to sell it, but it would be too big to live in alone and I'd be damned if I would let Marsha have it knowing that she would be doing gangbangs in it.
I'd have to get a two bedroom apartment so Mikey would have a room when he was home from college. I probably wouldn't even need an attorney because given the way Marsha dumped it on me I didn't expect any fight. I could probably get some kind of 'do it yourself' kit off the Internet, but then again, better safe than sorry.
The kids were all gone so child support wouldn't enter into it and Marsha and I made about the same money so alimony shouldn't be a problem either. It would be just a simple fifty/fifty split. Was I bitter? Not at that point — I was just numb — but I expected that after a while of sitting alone in an apartment I would start feeling sorry for myself and become bitter.
The next day Gail called me at work and asked me to meet her for lunch. I suspected that Marsha had called her and told her what she had done and that Gail was going to offer me a shoulder to cry on, but that wasn't what happened. After we had ordered she said:
"I'm sorry Frankie. I never meant to be the one to ruin your life."
"What are you talking about?"
"I was sure that the door was closed and locked. My carelessness is what caused it."
"It was you that Marsha stopped to see?"
Gail looked down at the table and said yes.
"You had seven men in your bedroom? What about Bill?"
"He was on a business trip."
"I thought you loved your husband?"
"I do love him Frankie."
"Just not enough is that it?"
"He knows Frankie. He's okay with it. Sometimes he watches and sometimes he participates, but he knows all about it. He was on the phone listening that night when Marsha walked in."
"Unreal" I muttered.
"Don't knock it Frankie; it works for us. Are you going to let her go?"
"What kind of question is that? Of course I am going to let her go."
"Why? You love her and she loves you. And I can promise that she wasn't lying when she said there hadn't been anyone but you since you came home from the Army."
"You say that like you know she cheated on me while I was gone."
"Of course I knew."
"Ad you didn't tell me?"
"Why would I?"
"Because you are my sister damn it."