She sat across the table from me. She hadn't been saying anything. Not surprising. She looked up, finally, and started. "Jimmy, it was never the case that I didn't love you. You have to believe that," she said. "I'm not sorry I did it, but I am very sorry that I have hurt you. Really."
Not sorry she did it! My stomach began to roil, but I was able to maintain my self-control for the moment. "Not sorry you did it? Not sorry you did it, Claire! And why, after telling me that, would you imagine that I have to believe anything you say? You've been fucking him—how long? For how many years? Sounds to me like you love 'him', not me" I said, feeling very logical, especially in view of the fact that she was not sorry she did it.
"It's not like you think, Jimmy. Really it isn't," she said.
"Claire, it is clear to me, that it's exactly like I think it is. I have the audio, and I wish I hadn't gotten it; but your behavior...
"You're pretty nasty the way you talk about me, the both of you. 'Wimpy Jimmy just doesn't do it for me," you said. 'You're the only one who gets my butt', you said of him. That one really rankled, Claire." Her hand came to her mouth as she realized I knew more than she thought. "Doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room for misunderstanding does it," I said.
"James Lytle, I was a shit, okay! I'm sorry. But, I do love you. Really, I mean it. But..."
I looked at her. She was wringing her hands. "But what?" I said, in what can only be described as a sardonic tone of voice.
"But—I have loved two men," she said. "You Jimmy—and—Reed." I always have, even back when we were all in college, and both of you were on the football team and big heroes and everything." I sat up straight and stared hard at her.
"You were banging him even then?" I said. She looked down.
"Fuckin-A," I said. "You are a piece of work for damned sure. Tell me, if you don't mind. I mean since we seem to be in the mood for true confessions here. Why two men, and why my best bud? Why my best fucking friend!"
"Jimmy, that is one question that I do not have the answer to. I feel all warm and cuddly when either of you is near me. I feel safe and loved and yes, excited. I love it when I see you trying to hide your hardon, Jimmy. You know when I dress sexy and stuff.
"And when Reed drops his pants and starts undressing me, I get the same feeling. I don't know why," she said.
"Okay, I'll bite. If all of that is so, then why do you bad mouth me to him?" I said.
"He knows about you; you don't know about him—didn't until now that is."
"And that explains what?" I said. "Certainly not why you did it, I mean said those things," I said.
"If it had been reversed, I..."
"Yeah you'd have said the same things about him, right? Baloney! You hold me in contempt. That's what it is, and not him. And, I still don't know why. Haven't I treated you right all of these years? Wasn't I there for you whenever you were down. And, for that I get 'put' down! Thanks one fucking helluva lot. Great fucking wife you are for damn sure. With a wife like you I'd be a helluva lot better off single, Claire.
"I think you despise me. You don't love me. You love my money maybe; I'd buy that," I said. "He doesn't make nearly as much as I do, not since the real estate market crashed. I got that from your conversations with him, the ones on the recorder. That's it isn't it. You need me, but you want him. Fuckin'-A! Well, I'm gonna make it easy for yuh, or maybe it'll be hard for you—no pun intended. So fuckin' goodbye, Claire; in hindsight I can't say it's been all that wonderful." I rose and started for the door. She jumped up and grabbed my arm trying to pull me back to the table.
"Jimmy, you've gotten it all wrong! Really you have. Money! I don't care about your money; I want you!" she all but screamed. I yanked my arm from her grasp causing her to stumble back into her seat.
"Why is it, do you think, Claire, that I have a hard time believing you," I said. "I need to get out of here; it's hard for me to even look at you." I turned once more and headed out, this time with a more determined stride. I thought I heard her start to sob just as the door slammed behind me.
I met Claire Wilson seventeen years earlier. She was a college band member—piccolo. I was a linebacker. We met at a season's end sports awards banquet; I was runner-up defensive player of the year; Reed Billings, a defensive end, won it. We'd only managed 8-4 that year, but at least it wasn't a losing season.
Claire was there with other members of the school's band and had bumped into me as I was getting a beer; she'd made me spill it all over her. That led to a lot of stuttering on my part, a lot of giggling on her part, and a lot subsequent dating on both of our parts. We graduated a few months later: me in Criminal Justice and her in Art History. It was a year later that we tied the knot.
Children had not been in the cards; she didn't want them. I was kinda disappointed, but agreed to follow her lead; it was her body after all.
Now, seventeen years later, we were both in our late thirties. She worked as an art museum curator and I was a private dick. I had been on the force for some years until I caught an errant slug in the knee that almost cost me my leg; it did cost me my job on the force. I was a bit gimpy now, but in otherwise good shape. Oh, and as for shape, my soon to be ex-piccolo playing wife was also in primo shape: dark hair, green eyes, five-seven, one-fifteen with a butt to guarantee her immortality: she was definitely the cat's meow! Oh, and did I mention a cheating whore! Okay, so I'm bitter.
I knew now why she didn't want any children, at least not children with me. Looking at it now, that was a good thing. It would have been a major complicating factor in our divorce. What the hey, there were upsides to everything.
As I sat there looking out the window, I was wondering what was going to happen to me now. Jimmy was crazy jealous. How he'd managed to find out about me and Reed was a mystery, but he had; hey, he's a detective. Him setting us up and taping us, while we fucked, had been the final straw. Reed didn't know yet. I had to tell him. He was bigger than Jimmy, a lot bigger. If Jimmy went after him, Reed might hurt Jimmy bad. Jesus, what a mess! I picked up the phone.
"Yeah it's me ... no, no, shut up and listen; Jimmy knows ... Yeah, fucked up about covers it ... No, no, are you nuts! If he sees you, I don't know what he might do ... I know you're bigger, but he is awfully upset ... I tried, but he wasn't buyin' any ... No, no, he's kinda old fashioned that way ... okay tomorrow."
Well, I warned him. If Jimmy showed up at his house at least he wouldn't be able to say I let him down.
I had to figure a way to get Jimmy to forgive and forget. I didn't know if it were even possible, but I had to try. I make a quarter what Jimmy makes if that. My job is little more than a hobby. Jimmy pays all of the bills. Reed used to do okay, but since the economy went into the shitter the real estate agency he works for is not doing too well; hell, he makes even less than I do some months.
I've really screwed up this time. Plus Jimmy is a PI. Hiding shit from him would be impossible. I don't want to anyway. He needs to know that I love him, but that I also love Reed. Why the fuck have I bad mouthed him so much to Reed! My stupidity is always getting me into trouble. Shit-shit shit!
She'd called me a wimp. Where in the hell had that come from? It wasn't that I'm some giant egotist, but I have thought myself a man of honor. Well, whatever I was, I knew what she thought of me.
As for my so called best friend, Reed; well, that backstabbing asshole has no honor regardless of what she thinks or doesn't think. I'd be taking care of him at some point but how still remained a question. Still, I figure it was Claire who started it all. She had the goods to drive any man out of his mind.
It was Claire that said she wanted two men. I figured she probably lent him the opportunity and he took it. I wondered if he had given any thought to our friendship in the doing of it all; I doubted it. Reed was undoubtedly thinking with his little head at the time. Probably thought he could keep it quiet and secret from me. How'd the old saying go, "What the clueless cuckold doesn't know can't hurt him"?
She mentioned something about, "If things had been reversed..." Yeah, if they had would I have double crossed my friend, even for a piece of ass as good as Claire's? I'd like to think I have more character than that. I had had opportunities to cheat over the years, and that with some pretty primo strange. That fucking asshole Reed should not have done this to me. He should not have! Now, his actions, and hers, were going to destroy us. Seventeen fucking years. Seventeen fucking years! Damn it!
Shit, he knows. Bad-bad-bad. He'll wanna fight me now, redeem his honor, redeem his manhood. Hell, I would too. He'll go down of course. He's five-eleven one-ninety to my six-five two-seventy-five. He knows he has no chance to win going toe to toe with me. But, he has to do it; I know him. He has to try me. Then what? He's in the hospital, maybe I'm in jail. Claire—who knows who she'll visit first or more often? She does have feelings for him too; I know that; she's told me often enough, "ad nauseum" actually. I was okay with it, with her loving him, or at least her saying she does.
.... There is more of this story ...