"Murphy, I can't do this anymore. You disrespecting me is not acceptable. I'm done," I said. "Even once more and I'm gone." We were standing out toward the backyard fence. I'd pulled her there, her resisting, to have it out with her, party or not. This was one time that I wasn't going to be waitin' until we got home, not this time.
"Jack, stop being so pissy. It was just a birthday kiss. It's Don's birthday. Everybody gets kissed on their birthdays," said Murphy. Her words made me think back to my own birthday two months earlier.
"You remember my birthday, Murphy? You remember where you were?" I said. She looked at me funny.
"Oh, well, we're married," she giggled. "It's not the same thing," she said.
"Yes, well, I remember. You said you had to help Don out with some stuff at the office, so you'd be a little late to the party—my birthday party! My birthday party goddamn it! And, I never did get a birthday kiss. By the time you did get back, everyone had left! It was humiliating that my wife—my very own wife—never even made so much as a formal appearance. And, now I catch you making out with that asshole while I'm just a few feet anyway in the next room. You get off humiliating me, Murphy? Make you feel good fucking me over!
"Like I said, Murph, I'm done. You're either my wife or you're not," I said.
"Jack, I apologized for missing your party. I felt awful about that. And, I promise, since it bothers you so much, no more birthday kisses for Don. Okay?"
"No, it's not okay. Here's how it's going to be. You're going back in there, now, and tell him you are quitting your job. No more late nights at the office and no more Don on any level," I said.
"Or what?" she said.
"Or, I'm gone, like I said."
"Oh Jack, you are being so juvenile. Just calm down. We'll settle this when we get home. You'd think I was fucking him for chryssakes! It was just a birthday kiss, Jack, nothing more. Just calm down," she said.
She broke away from me and headed into the house. As she reached the sliding glass doors that led off the patio, Donald met her. The two of them talked animatedly for a moment. Then, shock of shocks, she touched his cheek, as if to say that everything would be all right; and then, he leaned in and kissed her. She didn't push him away, but she did glance in my direction a worried look spreading across her features. I'm sure, that even at that distance, she could read the steel in my eyes.
That last kiss ended my marriage. All of the shouting and running about still had to play out. But, we were done as a married couple as of that moment: she hadn't pushed him away.
I threw the bottle of beer, that I'd been holding, against the slate stone that lined good 'ole Don's rock garden and headed for the backyard gate. I had to get out of there before I did something felonious. The two of them had already disappeared back inside.
A number of people, mostly Don's friends, looked over toward me as the shattered glass splintered in all directions; some of them smiled; I wondered at that. "Whaddya all smiling at," I said way too loud, "my marriage just died! You think that's funny!" The smiles disappeared to be replaced by a pregnant murmur.
It was all my fault of course. She'd been disrespecting me for so long that my threats probably meant nothing to her. In her mind, I was sure, she saw me as once again just going home in a snit, followed by her granting me a little mercy sex; then, waiting me out as the problem passed into our emotional history, like it always had, to be forgotten and never mentioned again. She was wrong if that is what she thought.
And, the night wasn't over as I soon discovered. As if the hands of some perverse god were somehow in the mix, things escalated geometrically. Indeed, it seemed the fates had decreed that I would be having plenty more motivation to break it off with Murphy McBride, nee Poe, once and for all.
I passed through the gate took at the side of the house, and took the flagstone stepping stones two at a time on the way to my car. Just as I was about to round the corner of the garage and head to my car at the curb some yards away, I heard voices. I recognized them right away. I stayed back in the shadows, just around the corner of the building from them.
"No, Don, we have to cool it. He's really mad. I don't know what I was thinking making out with you in the den while he was just in the kitchen next door," said Murphy. "And you kissing me just now—I mean in front of him, fucking seconds after he'd read me the riot act! Jesus, are you crazy!"
"What you were thinking was that you wanted to have some fun. And, what I was thinking was the same thing, and frankly it was little enough," said Donald Petty.
Good 'ole Don owned and operated a chain of female hair salons, Don's Beauty Stops. He'd hired Murphy as a hair dresser a year past, but had moved her into the office as his full time PA after no more than a month's time. For the record, I'm a body and fender man and a custom car painter, sole proprietor of Jack's McBride's Auto Body. I don't own a chain of stores, but I do make pretty big bucks doing what I do: six figures actually. The job is tough sometimes, and my hands can get real dirty, but I have a crew of three guys who work for me and we make do.
The dynamic duo had become friends, close friends, her term; and things had begun to become more and more testy between she and I as time went along. I could always wait on whatever I needed because Don was her boss and needed her more. I would sometimes catch at her office, when I came to take her to lunch or whatnot, with his hand on her shoulder, or even around her waist, and she just pooh-poohed my concerns. On at least two other occasions at parties I'd caught him kissing her. Tonight though, they weren't kissing; they were making out. Oh, and once at the lodge, where he and I are both members, he'd dominated her dance card to the point of embarrassing even her while humiliating me. That hadn't happened since, but that once, quite frankly, had been more than enough.
"Don, he caught us making out. He's threatened to leave me. If he ever found out what we were doing on his birthday; well, I don't even want to think about it," she said. That one did it for me. Not being one to procrastinate, I decided to finish it now. I rounded the corner and came up behind her. His face took on an indecipherable expression.
"And, just what was it you were doing on my birthday, Murphy?" I said. "Fucking him?" The look on her face as she spun around to face me said it all.
"I see," I said. "Your little, wimpyassed cuckold am I. Well, don't let me stand in your way. You kids have a nice time. Yuh hear?" I said.
"Jack! Wh—it's not what you think. It isn't. Let's go home and talk about it," she all but screamed. I smiled and headed for the car. She followed, but I didn't unlock the passenger side and drove off leaving her waving at me to come back. I was halfway down the block when I had a thought.
I put the car in reverse, stopped when I neared her, and motioned her to get in as I unlocked the door for her. She seemed to sigh with relief; I figured that that would be short lived.
As we headed home, she was quiet for a while. I wasn't saying anything either. Finally, she opened up; I guess she'd decided to be truthful and put it all out there, that surprised me.
"I was wrong," she said. "I've been treating you badly and I'm sorry. I mean it."
"He all that wonderful in the sack that you'd throw away our marriage," I said. She looked at me, a kind of sadness came over her features.
"Yes," she said, "if it comes to that." Tears were beginning to trail down the side of her face. "The bad part, though, is the way I've neglected you. You didn't deserve what I've been doing to you. I apologize and I will make it up to you; I mean if you don't divorce me."
"Better than me?" I said. "I do it your way or it's over. Sweet," I said. "Fucking sweet."
"Yes, Jack, he is better. And before you ask the inevitable masculine question, he's bigger by a lot too," she said.
"So, I guess you want the divorce then," I said. I was feeling so low I knew I'd have to look up to see my footprints.
"No. Absolutely not," she said. "I would never willingly leave you or go with him or anyone else. But, I know it's not up to me now."
Well, this was one night that was just full of surprises. I'd gone back to pick her up in order to get the bad stuff out of the way while I still had the image of them standing there talking about us hot in my mind to motivate me. I did not want to have a makeup session later, and I knew that if I cooled down a little, that she would get the upper hand, like always. Hell, I loved her for damn sure. I could forgive her anything, but things had gone too far this time—hadn't they? But, things were not playing out like I'd thought that they would.
"Why not? Why don't you want a divorce. You clearly don't care about me, at least in a sexual way anymore, if you ever did," I said.
"Because you're a man, he's just a player that happens to be all that in the sack, as you term it," she said. "You take care of me, love me, provide for me, make me laugh, feel safe—when you're not being all pissy and whiny that is. And, coincidentally, because I love you. Always have." I looked askance at her.
.... There is more of this story ...