My daughter in law felt like she needed a companion to drive from her post in Washington State to her new duty station in Oklahoma. She and my son are both in the Army and he was in Ranger school. He couldn't get leave to help her so guess whom she called on? Right. Me. I didn't really want to spend the money and besides a 25-year-old military officer should be able to drive all by herself across the country shouldn't she? Well, I had decided to tell her I wouldn't do it when my wife entered the conversation.
In fact, my wife entered the conversation with a roar. She was ANGRY and said to me, "Damn it Jim. What the hell's wrong with you? Your Daughter in Law asked for help and you refused her. You need to be more compassionate and helpful for our children. Besides, you've been whining about wanting to travel more. You know I'm out of vacation and can't go so this is a godsend for you. You get the whole trip for the cost of a one-way plane ticket. How can you beat that?"
"OK, OK, I'll make the reservations and tell Jen I have changed my mind." In no time I had a flight into Seattle so we could make the drive together. When I called Jennifer back, she became very happy instantly.
I suppose I was still a little upset and also drowsy the next morning when my wife dropped me at the airport. I didn't even notice that I did not receive a kiss or good-bye hug. She just let me out and drove off. Huh, I thought. She must still be pissed at me. I thought I saw Ann watching from the non-secure area of the airport as I boarded the plane. I finally decided I was mistaken because she had to hurry from the airport to get to work on time.
When I finally got to Seattle, my daughter in law met me with a hug, and then said, "Jim Ann called a few minutes ago to see if you had made it OK. She wants me to call her back before we leave so she knows you arrived safely."
"Ok, let's go." I said as I got into her Highlander. "I'll give her a call later this evening after we get out of this traffic. I can hardly hear over the freeway noise."
"No, I promised to call as soon as you got here and we were on the road." She said. As she was talking, she was dialing her cell. When I heard Ann answer I said, "Here, let me talk to her and calm her down."
As I was reaching for the phone Jen said, "Hi Ann. Well, he's here safely and we just pulled out of the airport heading home. Hold on, Jim wants to talk to you."
Jennifer got a strange look on her face and said, "She said she didn't have time to talk right then and she would see us when we got back. She just hung up on me Jim. I'm sorry. Do you want to call her back?"
I took my cell out and tried to call my wife several times on her phone, then tried her office phone. She answered and almost snarled, "What do you want? I told Jen I didn't have time to talk right now. I'll see you when you get home." then she hung up.
I looked at the phone a minute then said, "What the FUCK?"
Jen looked at me briefly then asked what was wrong and I told her. She just said, "Well, maybe she is having a bad day. You know how stressed she probably is what with her bank being taken over by the FDIC. Just relax and we can figure things out later."
Well, we got to visiting and catching up on things as we drove and I didn't try to talk to Ann again that day. By the time we stopped for the night it was so late I decided not to call again.
The next night, I called home four times beginning 30 minutes after she should have been home from work and continuing until 11 p.m. There was never an answer and I left two messages on the machine. The next night was a repeat of the first. In between two of the calls I tried to call one of the women Ann worked with. I got her husband. He seemed sort of upset and worried, and then finally said Ann, his wife and "some of the girls" had decided to go out for a while.
About thirty minutes later I got a phone call but when I answered, there was no one there. I didn't recognize the number. I called back and things got even stranger. The woman who answered didn't know me and said she had never called. As I kept pressing and asking for my wife she got more and more angry then finally hung up. I just shrugged and decided it had been a wrong number she had called and it was an honest mistake. About the time I decided that, Jen got a call on her phone. It was the same number. When she asked who it was, they said "Its Ann Jen. Who did you think it was?"
Jen said, "Sorry Ann, I didn't recognize your voice. You have Jim worried, here, talk to him." She handed me the phone but when I took it, whoever was there had hung up. Stranger and stranger!
That night at supper, Jen looked at me with a haunted expression on her face and said, "Jim. Last night when you were worrying about Ann I thought you were just over reacting but now I don't know. This is sure some strange goings on. I'm starting to get worried too."
I had a sick, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I said, "Ann has been acting strange for about two months but this is the worst I have seen. I just laid the problem to the work pressure but now I don't. I'm starting to think something else is going on. I need to think a while. I'm going over to the bar."
Jen started to follow me but I held up my hand to stop her and shook my head no. She slowly, reluctantly left. As soon as I was sure she was gone, I walked into the hotel lobby and began making phone calls. I was afraid. If what I was beginning to suspect was going on really was, I could call the wrong person and tip my hand but I had to trust someone. Who should that be?
After much soul searching, I remembered a friend I hadn't talked to in several weeks. He was an old retired Army man like I was and I had helped him a lot when his wife stepped out on him. Jack had just gotten married again and I decided he would not be a likely candidate for my wife to be with so I called in some favors.
"Jack I am starting to suspect Ann is cheating on me. She has been acting very strange the last couple of months and couldn't wait to get me out of the country this week. Can you round up some help and keep track of Ann? If she is seeing someone maybe you can catch them and get some pictures. I'll be back Tomorrow night. I would like to see you Friday or sometime this weekend at the latest if you come up with anything."
I tried to call Ann again that night at home also and got no answer. Finally, about 11 p.m. she called me and said, "Jim why are you being such an asshole? You act like you don't trust me at all. I'm tired of you trying to check up on me like I was a teenager. You're out of the damn Army so stop being so controlling and checking up on me. Do you have any idea how embarrassed I was when you called Bonnies' husband checking on me? Just to put your suspicions to rest, I have either been out with Bonnie or the girls or with my family every time you tried to call me. Call them if you don't believe me. Now I'm tired and I'm going to bed. We'll talk about this more when you get home."
After that little lecture I was seething with anger but held my tongue. I merely told her, "I was worried about you honey. You have never been so hard to find at home and I was afraid something had happened to you. Besides, when we were younger you always wanted me to call every night I was on a trip unless I was in the field."
"Well yeah," she said. "I did then but that was when I didn't know where you were. I know you are with Jen so it doesn't matter now."
Oh, how I wanted to jump on that statement because most of the time I traveled (except for deployments) she knew exactly which post I was on and what I was doing but this time we had no planned itinerary. She was even more in the dark than she used to be as far as my whereabouts were concerned. I couldn't say that though because she hung up after the last diatribe and once again didn't even say I love you.
When we arrived at our house Thursday, we were later than expected so she was angry with us for causing her to have to hold supper. Needless to say, I got a cool welcome and no loving when we went to bed. Friday she left for work without even giving me a kiss. She didn't get home Friday night until after 10 p.m. Neither Jennifer nor I got any call warning us she would be late either.
Saturday, about 4 p.m. Ann disappeared into the master suite and I heard the shower running. Soon, she came out dressed nicely in a short dress and announced to Jen and I that she had to go to a baby shower and would be back late. "Don't wait up for me you two. They said they were having wine and finger food so we may party a long time." She never asked Jen if she wanted to go. As far as I remembered, she had never told either of us she even had plans. Jen and I both found this to be very strange.
I have no idea when Ann got home or came to bed. I don't think anything short of a bomb could have awakened her Sunday morning. About 9 a.m. Jack came by the house. He looked very depressed and I feared the worst. "Jim could you come help me a few minutes? I got my ole truck stuck to the frame in a mud hole and I need you to help pull it out. I wouldn't bother you knowing you just got back but Sandy is still at church."
"OK," I said. Let me tell Ann and get my boots."
.... There is more of this story ...