Thanks to the Hip and Knee doctor for editing assistance.
It was one of those Sunday mornings when I just had the urge to go to Home Depot and kill time. I know, I should have been in church, but this was a hell of a lot more fun. I didn't really need anything, but since I hated golf, this was the best alternative. If I got lucky, the weed-and-feed would be on a year-end close out. Two years ago, I got four bags for one-fourth of the regular price.
"John. Fancy meeting you here." Barry Bartel was a family friend; not real close, but close enough to have a coffee and a chat with, even though I hadn't seen him for almost a year. Coincidently, Barry's wife, Greta, and my wife, Sheila, were leaving tomorrow morning for a week long Caribbean cruise. Since Barry wasn't able to get off work to go along, Sheila felt that I should stay home with the kids so that she and Greta could enjoy their time at sea together. She insisted that I would be a third wheel. Besides that, the two girls could save money by sharing a cabin. I didn't like it, but didn't feel like arguing about it.
I am sure that you can all see where this is going.
After a quick greeting ritual, we started wandering through the pest control section.
"John, I was sorry to hear that you couldn't get off work for the cruise. I was really looking forward to it." What the hell? He was the one that couldn't get off work. What was he trying to pull here?
"Hell, Barry, I already took the week off. I am going to be painting the kitchen while the girls are away. Sheila told me that you couldn't get off work."
"I work for my father, John. I can get off anytime that I want. I was actually packed when Greta told me that you couldn't make it."
Barry and I stood and looked at each other without speaking. The silence was broken by an old fart driving one of those motorized shopping carts.
"Are you guys going to stand there all day?"
I pushed my wagon to the side and looked at Barry. "Do you want to go get some coffee?"
We spent the next two hours at Mickey D's. It was not difficult at all for us to figure out that our wives had conspired to take a seven day Caribbean cruise without us. The big question was why they would do this? Both of us avoided the obvious until we couldn't stand it anymore. It was like the proverbial elephant in the room. I finally broke the barrier.
"So, Barry. Are they taking two guys with them or are they planning to hook up with a couple of strangers?"
He didn't want to answer. I don't think he even wanted to think about the possible answers. "John. Do you want a Danish?"
He wasn't trying to avoid the answer, but I got the feeling he was just trying to delay it. I nodded in the affirmative and also raised my empty coffee cup. Five minutes later, we had two hot buns and two steaming coffees.
"John, I can't imagine Greta picking up a stranger, so I have to go with some sort of a pre-arranged thing."
"I hate to say it, but I agree. What I don't understand is why they are taking a trip to do this. Wouldn't it be easier just to hook up with a guy some place around home?'
"Hell, maybe they are. I'll be real honest with you; I don't keep track of what Greta does or where she goes. I have always trusted her and never considered that she might be seeing any one."
"Why would two mothers with school aged kids even think about messing around?"
Both of us tried to drink the coffee, but it was so damn hot we had to give up. We put the cups down and stared out the window.
"John. It must be a couple of guys from work." Sheila and Greta both worked for International Casualty Insurance. What Barry said seemed to make sense.
"Is there anything that we can do to stop it?"
"Barry, if they know these guys well enough to go on a cruise with them, then we are probably too late already."
"What do you mean? Do you think they have already cheated on us?"
"I hate to say it, but I am starting to think that way." Barry got up and walked over to the service counter. A minute later he was back. "Damn. They charge 27 cents for a cup of ice. Why does anyone bother to come here anymore?"
We each dumped a little ice in with the hot Java. Neither of us spoke for several moments.
"John. Now that I think about it, Greta has been putting in a lot of extra evening and weekend hours at work lately. I never gave it much thought before. I hate to say this, but I am starting to agree with you."
"I am not going to stop Sheila from going, but I also am not going to just sit on my ass."
I finished my Danish and tossed what was left of the coffee in the trash. "Barry. Meet me here tomorrow right after the girls leave for the airport. We have to do a little planning. Don't say anything to Greta that would indicate that you know what is going on."
Barry gave me a thumbs-up as I walked out the door. It looked as if he was going to stay and finish his coffee. He didn't seem happy.
Things were pretty normal when I got home. Our two sons, Todd who is nine and Jason, ten, were firmly fixed in front of the Wii. I felt that they should have been outside, but I gave that fight up years ago. Sheila was acting the same as she always had. I sat and looked over the newspaper as she got a light lunch together. I expected her to be chatting about her trip, but she seemed to be avoiding any discussion about it. Of course, that in itself was interesting.
That afternoon I finally got the boys outside to kick the soccer ball around for a while. Shelia was busy inside getting her bags packed. She insisted on being ready so that she could leave with no problems in the morning. I found myself smiling as I glanced towards the house several times. How did I miss this? How stupid was I? Why didn't I figure it out long ago?
"Todd? Jason? I am going to be busy next week painting the house while your mother is gone. How do you feel about spending the week with Grand-mom and Grand-pop Clemmons?"
I never really received a reply. They both immediately headed for the house, and ten minutes later, they were packed. My parents had a farm about twenty miles outside of town and had horses. It was a no-brainer. Sheila squawked a little, but seemed hesitant to make too big a deal about it. By the time I got back home, my wife had supper ready.
After she cleaned up, Sheila took a shower. Of course this gave me an opportunity to do a quick check of her bags. My suspicions were confirmed. Three things stood out. First, most of her underwear and sleeping garments were far too sexy if she was spending her time with Greta. The second red flag was a brand new orange bikini that was carefully hidden inside her make-up case. The last, and worst discovery, was two ten-packs of condoms that were hidden in her hair dryer case with a tube of KY jelly. Why would my wife be taking condoms on a cruise? I kicked myself for even being stupid enough to ask myself that question.
Sheila wanted to get a good night sleep before her trip and I decided that I wanted to watch the Steven Segal movie marathon. There was no sex that night.
I did not have international coverage with my cell phone. Sheila used a cell phone that she got from work that did have world-wide service. I couldn't call her, but she agreed to call home daily, or if there were any problems. I told her not to worry if I didn't answer. I might be at my parent's house with the boys or busy with the painting. She seemed relieved at my answer.
Greta was already at the terminal when I dropped Sheila off. She smiled and waved to me as Sheila joined her. I was anxious to see Barry.
Barry waited until he saw me park and then got us a couple cups of coffee. He got the ice at the same time and complained about it again.
"John. Tell me you have some good news."
I just shook my head in the negative.
"Greta had two new dresses packed and underwear that most women would be embarrassed to wear."
"Unfortunately, I have the same bad news. A new bikini and a whole bunch of condoms."
"Oh hell. I didn't even think to look for anything like that. I didn't go into her make-up case at all. I don't know if I am glad I didn't find any or sorry that I didn't look harder."
For the next twenty minutes, Barry and I moaned and groaned about our dilemma. When the coffee was gone, it was time for us to get to work.
The first stop was International Casualty Insurance. We got past the receptionist by claiming to have employment interviews with Kermit Templeton, the head of the personnel department. Barry and I knew Kermit from high school. We weren't what you would call close friends, but we all got along.
"Oh shit. I was afraid of this." Kermit was not exactly happy to see us. "Close the door, will you?"
Barry and I sat and tried to get comfortable in a pair of chairs that were not designed for comfort.
"You know why we are here don't you, Kermit?"
"I have a damn good idea."
Barry and I were smiling, but our host wasn't.
"We were hoping that you could tell us how many people in the company were on vacation this week."
"Is that a question?"
Our smiles turned to frowns and Kermit quickly changed his attitude. He pushed a few computer keys and replied with a sigh. "Including Sheila and Greta, fourteen people are taking vacation."
"Could you print out a list for us?"
"No, but I think I can give you what you want." Kermit hit a few more computer keys and the printer by the side of his desk started humming away. He pushed two sheets of paper our way and waited for a response.
They were personnel information pages on Clayton Mankey and Calvin Bostic. Barry and I glanced over them quickly and then looked to Kermit.
"These two gentlemen are on the same cruise ship with Greta and Sheila. There is no reason to give you the rest of the list. This is what you wanted to know."
"Just curious, but do you know who is with whom?"
He reached over and slid Calvin's picture in front of Barry and the other one by me.
"Does anyone else know about this?"
Kermit seemed a little uneasy about giving us an answer, but finally relented. "Guys. Everybody knows about this."
"I thought that the company had a policy against this sort of thing?"
"We do, but it is only enforced if there is a complaint."
"Then what happens?"
"Usually a slap on the wrist."
"What if we want more than that?"
"You are not going to make things difficult for me are you?"
Barry and I looked at each other. Nothing was said, but it was obvious that we were in agreement.
"Kermit. If these four people are still working here next week we will be suing. Right now, we don't know for how much or any of the other particulars, but it will happen. We will have our lawyer contact you or your legal department, whichever you prefer. Any questions?"
"I am sorry that this had to happen. We didn't take any action because the relationships were both consensual. No one was being forced or coerced into doing anything. Of course, we don't know exactly how far things went, but we do know that it existed. We did nothing because no one complained."
"Kermit. It is official. You fire all four of them and we do nothing. If you do nothing, you can expect a law suit; a very public one."
Barry and I stood up. We actually shook Kermit's hand before we left. As we walked out the front door, Barry looked at me.
"I guess we see a lawyer, then lunch, and then we pay a visit to our local travel agent."
We parked the cars and were walking towards the lawyer's office when Barry suddenly stopped.
I looked at him and shrugged my shoulders. "What?"
"John. What the hell are we going to ask the lawyer to do for us?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I figure as soon as we walk in that door, it is going to cost us a hell of a lot of dough and we are not going to get anything for it, except a lighter wallet."
"We'll get a divorce. We'll be free of the cheating bitches."
"Think about it. We will be forced to pay them both support. We will be forced to continue making payments on the houses. We will be forced to give up custody of the kids and then be forced to pay for their support. We will be saddled with all the bills that we have outstanding and the court will probably make use provide our wives with credit cards and cell phones. Before it is all over, we will be paying for the kid's college also."
"What do we get out of it?"
"Nothing, as far as I can see."
"Why the hell would any sane man get a divorce?"
"The only reason that I can think of is so that he can get to see his kids. That's the trade off."
"Damn it, Barry. I love my kids. I don't want to give them up."
"I know exactly how you feel. I am going to die if I can't see my girls again, but I don't want to get bled dry just because my wife cheated on me. After what happened, the only fair thing would be to give the kids to us and make them pay."
"That will never happen, will it? I feel as if I am being blackmailed."
We both stood quietly in the middle of the parking lot.
"John. Who the hell makes these damn laws? It is unfair as hell."
We turned and started back towards the cars.
"Barry. I have to admit that Sheila is a good mother. If I had the kids I couldn't do as good a job as she could."
"Yeah, I know. It is the same way with Greta. She is a good mom and the girls love her. I hate to say it, but she would be a better parent than I would, even though she is a cheating whore."
We were both leaning against the hood of my car, not speaking. I was kicking at some miniscule gravel at my feet and Barry was playing with his jacket zipper.
"John. Do you want to go get some ribs?"
We split a full rack and had three beers a piece. Just to kill time, we switched to coffee and each had some banana pudding.
We sobered up enough to drive and headed over to the Good Times Travel Agency. Nancy Rayborne was an old family friend who was soon to be an ex-family friend. Everybody in our circle of friends and family used Nancy to plan and schedule their trips. Loyalty was the only thing that kept her from going under the last few years. The Internet killed almost all of her competitors.
When we walked through the door you could read her lips at the back of the office. "Oh, shit!" She didn't have to say it out load.
Barry and I both sat down and smiled at the instrument of our demise. Two of the other agents, who sat near Nancy, got up and excused themselves to go to lunch. One of them had a brown bag on her desk. It was obvious that everyone in the office knew what was going on and they all were trying to distance themselves.
We were waiting without saying anything. Nancy smiled and tried to get comfortable in her chair with no success. Finally she could not contain herself any longer.
"What can I do for you guys today?"
Barry and I looked at each other and snickered loud enough for her to hear.
I leaned forward and softly said; "You have five minutes to tell us everything or we will raise so much hell that the police will have to close down your office as a crime scene."
"Aw, come on guys. Give me a break. I am not going to tell you anything more than your wives told you. You are not going to do anything foolish are you?"
Barry stood up and turned towards the front of the office. There were two other agents there and one couple planning a trip.
"Listen up, people. I'd advise you to leave the office for a few minutes, because we are going to be rearranging all the furniture."
"John. Barry. Wait. Wait. Okay. Okay. What the hell do you want? Just don't get me or the office in trouble. I don't need any publicity."
Good Times Travel Agency was a franchise. Nancy had gotten in trouble during the last year by booking some vacations for underage kids and also a few trips to Thailand for some local pedophiles. She didn't need any more dirt getting out.
Barry motioned for everyone to relax and sit back down.
"Nancy. Who else is on the trip with Sheila and Greta?"
"John. There are over a thousand passengers on that ship."
"You know what the hell I mean, Nancy. Who else from International Casualty is on that ship?"
"I can't tell you that."
"Nancy. What rooms are Sheila and Greta in?"
"They are booked into Sunset Deck, Room 113."
"That is not what I asked, is it?"
"Damn it, John. What are you trying to do? What do you want from me?"
"What rooms are Calvin Bostic and Clayton Mankey booked into?"
There was some hesitation on her part which went well with the worried look on her face. She seemed to be stammering a little until I slammed my fist down hard on the desk. Nancy jumped back in surprise as did the other two travel agents in the front. The two customers quietly got up and left.
"God damn it, Nancy. What room are those two guys in? Answer me right now and quit playing games. I swear I'll tear this place apart if I have to."
"Bostic and Mankey are in Sunset Deck, room 115." You could barely hear her utter the reply.
Barry leaned over the desk and looked Nancy in the eyes. "Nancy. Is Calvin sharing a room with my wife, Greta?"
She was shaking and trying to move her chair back away from the desk.
"Answer me, damn it. Are Greta and Calvin sharing a room?" This time it was his fist that slammed down on the desk top.
"Yes! Yes! They are both in 113 and Sheila and Clayton are in 115. I didn't set it up that way; they did. I just did what I was asked to do. It is not my fault that..."
Nancy stopped in mid-sentence. She knew that she had already said too much.
"Give us a copy of the trip itinerary and everything you have about the cruise."
Nancy quickly hit a few keys on her computer and grabbed two folders from a filing cabinet just behind her. She slid everything across the desk to us. I think that she might have been crying, but I wasn't sure.
As we got up to leave I turned to her. "Do not contact anyone on that ship or anyplace else to tell them that we were here or that we had this conversation. If you do, I can assure you that you will be out of business before the end of the month."
We left the building and Barry looked over at me. "How the hell are we going to do that?"
"I have no idea. It just sounded like a good thing to say at the time."
Barry decided that he was going to leave his two daughters, Grace and Marie, with his sister Beth. She had two teen aged girls also. He was going to come by the house after he got them all settled in.
We spent the evening reading all the brochures and schedules. After that, it was easy to come up with a plan. We agreed that our marriages were over and neither one of us was even going to consider trying to save what we had. The big contention was the children. We both loved our kids and we both were torn about the effect that the separation would have on them; especially the way we were going to do it.
We decided that there would be no divorces from our end. Both of us were going to figure out in our own way how we were going to take care of the kids. I was hoping that after things settled down, I could make some arrangements with Sheila to share them in some fashion. Of course, I would see to it that they didn't need for food or money, but I also was not going to be supporting Sheila. This was all going to require planning and work. If things worked out okay, I was also planning on taking care of their college. Tonight, we had to decide how to handle the more immediate problems.
The cruise ship had free WiFis. Barry was going to take his laptop and preload it with all of the addresses, phone numbers, and E-mails addresses of all of our friends, families, and work associates. The cell phones were still going to be a problem, but we didn't want to get bogged down with it.
The cruise ship was scheduled to dock in Montego Bay on Wednesday morning. We found a cheap excursion flight that would get us in at 7 am the same day. Booking a room for a partial part of the cruise was far easier than we thought it would be. It took less than an hour to schedule the flight to Jamaica and reserve the room for the cruise back.
Sheila called and left a message that they got settled into their cabin with no problem and were out at sea. She asked me to let Barry also know for Greta.
The evening was still young and we were pretty much all set. We were going to spend most of the next day getting our financial and personal affairs taken care of; banking items, bills, credit cards, as well as personal belongings. I was going to take all of my things to my parent's house for safe keeping. Barry's brother would see to his stuff. I had a good friend from work who was going to let us park our cars at his place and give us a ride to the airport. I hated having to leave at midnight, but it was necessary.
It was just a short cab ride from the airport to the cruise ship docking area. We watched from a vendors' stall as The Diamond Sunset parked itself. All we had were two carry-on bags and Barry's laptop. We were not planning on dressing up, so we had a minimum of clothing. Ten minutes later, people began streaming off the ship. Some were walking straight downtown, but most of them were headed for tour buses that were waiting in a neat little row. The whole thing was well-orchestrated as if it had been done a hundred times before.
Sheila and Greta came down the gang plank with big smiles on their faces. The two guys behind them looked just as happy. When they started to hold hands, we were able to determine which one was Clayton and which one was Calvin. They were good looking guys, maybe a few years younger than Barry and I, but definitely not macho hunks. We watched from our little private stools until they all boarded the bus scheduled to go to Dunn's River Falls. Barry waved at the guy who was taking the tickets. He said something to the driver and then came over to speak with us.
Jamaicans love to haggle. It took five minute for us to convince him to help us out; five minutes and two hundred dollars to be exact. We had no trouble pointing out Sheila and Greta to our new friend and he was more than willing to take as many pictures as possible of the two couples at the Falls. When we said that we would like them as racy as possible, he smiled and gave us a thumbs up. The bus would be back at three o'clock. We promised to be waiting with the money. He smiled again and carefully explained that it was a nice camera. Then he winked. We knew that he wanted the two hundred dollars more than the $40 dollar camera.
After the buses left, we went on board to get settled in our room. For another hundred dollars, the helpful clerk listed us as Bob Jones and James Moore. If everything went okay, we would be incognito for the whole rest of the cruise.
We grabbed a quick sandwich and then spent the rest of the afternoon familiarizing ourselves with the ships layout. In a couple hours we knew all of the stairways, elevators, and passages. We were going to avoid the dining room and show areas so that the wives wouldn't accidentally spot us. Barry got his laptop set up and did a few tests. There were no problems with the Internet access or with the E-mail communications. We discussed a plan to get into our wives rooms, but decided against it.
We were comfortably seated at the same stall we were in earlier when the buses started to return. The Dunn's River Falls bus was right on time.
Barry and I were enjoying a couple of Red Labels as Sheila, Greta, and their escorts walked right by. The straw hats we were wearing probably helped conceal us a little. Our ticket taker came over smiling from ear to ear. There was a lot of gold in that smile. He couldn't wait to show us his handywork and wouldn't shut up about the great job that he did, until Barry shoved a cold beer into his hand. It only took a few seconds to review the pictures. There was far more kissing and hugging going on than we had imagined. I handed him the two hundred dollars and a second beer for his driver.
We waited a few more minutes to make sure that the wives were safely out of the boarding area and then we made our way back to the cabin. We were planning on a busy night, but first we had to figure out how to get some supper without being seen.
There was a balcony that overlooked the entrance to the main dining area. Barry and I got a comfortable seat where we could watch the passengers lining up for the meal seating. We guessed that the wives would opt for the early meal so that they would have more time for their evening activities. like dancing, and entertainment. It wasn't too long until the four of them appeared and got into the queue. The couples were arm-in-arm and no one would ever would have guessed that they weren't married.
Barry gave me a quizzical look as I got up and walked over to the service phone. Thirty seconds later, I returned with a big grin on my face. The couples were just about to be seated when we all heard the announcement.
"Attention! Barry Bartel. Please join your party at the Lido Deck's
service desk. Barry Bartel!"
It wasn't an overly loud or annoying announcement, but it was loud enough that anyone could hear it.
Greta immediately swung her head around as if she was facing some invisible loud speaker. She stepped aside to let the next group of people being seated go ahead of them. Sheila and her were having an intense conversation while Clayton and Calvin stood by patiently. All of a sudden, Greta whipped out her cell phone and hit a speed dial number. Thirty seconds later, she shook her head to indicate that there was no reply. Sheila took out her phone and made a call. The two escorts were starting to look perturbed. After Sheila got no response to her call, they all entered the dining room.
"Damn, John. That was cool. I'd give anything to be able to hear the conversation during that meal." As juvenile as it may sound, we hi-fived each other and then left for taco's and Margaritas on the Sunset Deck. An hour later, we were back in the room and ready to get to work. Today would be a sea day and the next morning we would be arriving in Cancun.
No one was at either of our houses to answer the phones and no one knew that we had left town. Even if they called my parents or Barry's brother, they could not get a hint as to where we might be.
We downloaded all of the Dunn's River Falls pictures to the laptop. Some of the pictures showed all four of them, but most of them were as couples. They were hugging and kissing in several of them. Sheila had on her new orange bikini and it appeared as if she suffered several wardrobe malfunctions on the way up the falls. Each time, she seemed to be giggling. Video would have been great, but we had to use what we had.
Barry made a collage page which contained about a dozen of the best shots. Of course, Clayton and Calvin were in all of them. We each selected our favorite shot and Barry superimposed it onto an E-mail postcard that said, "Having a Great Time. Wish You Were Here."
By nine o'clock, we had sent over two hundred E-mails. I was amazed at the number of friends, relatives, and social contacts that we had between us. Of course, everyone at International Casualty got a set of photos.
The Sky Deck was windy as hell and it was almost totally deserted. Barry and I found a quiet, hidden corner and finished off three long-necks each while we gloated about our successful first day. We had no idea what we were going to do the next day, but since the page trick worked so well we decided to try it again. We hit the sack early.
There was plenty of fruit, Danish, and coffee available all over the ship for breakfast. We steered clear of the main dining areas and the most populated common areas. We used the service stairs rather than the elevators. Barry and I were on the rear of the Sun Deck, enjoying some type of rum drink with pineapple. The Sun Deck overlooked the main pool area, which was just starting to get a little action. We were on our second drink when Sheila and Greta arrived and got comfortable on a couple of lounge chairs. Clayton and Calvin were nowhere around.
We had no idea what to do, so we just watched. A teenage boy was hanging out on the other side of the deck. He looked bored as hell except for the cell phone that his fingers were dancing on. I was always fascinated by how fast the young kids could send text messages on those things. I nudged Barry and we wandered over towards the kid.
How do two unattached men approach a teenage boy on a cruise ship without looking like pedophiles? It was awkward as hell, but we did finally manage. He had no trouble letting us use his cell phone for twenty bucks.
Sheila's left boob popped out of her bikini top when she reached for her cell phone. Barry was giggling as he watched my wife attempt to tuck her tit back in and answer the phone at the same time. Of course she didn't recognize the caller ID.
"Hi. Sheila. It's John. Sorry I wasn't able to get to the phone when you called last night."
"I called home three times, John. Your phone says that you are calling from Baltimore."
"Sorry. I had to borrow this one. You know I can't call from mine."
"Is everything okay, John? Your parents had no idea where you were."
"I'm fine. Just staying busy. Are you having fun?"
"Yeah. We are having a great time. Sorry you couldn't have made it."
"Okay. Well say hello to Greta for me. I have to give the guy his phone back. Oh before I let you go, I just wanted to let you know that you look really good in the orange bikini. I don't remember seeing it before. Bye."
Barry and I were both laughing like crazy when I hung up.
Before handing the phone back to our benefactor, Barry and I both entered call blocks against Sheila and Greta's phone. I gave the kid another twenty and told him to remember that he never saw us. He thought that was cool and readily agreed.
Sheila and Greta were searching all around the ship to see if they could spot me. Sheila covered herself up with a large towel as if she was trying not to be seen. It was a silly thing to do. She made an attempt to do a call back on the number, twice, but finally gave up. A few minutes later Clayton and Calvin arrived.
Barry went right over to the Sun Deck service phone. He came back to the railing a few moments later, with a big grin on his face.
"Attention! Barry Bartel, please join your party at the shuffle board courts. Barry Bartel to the shuffleboard courts, please."
As soon as they heard the announcement, there was a flurry of activity at pool side. Greta and Sheila grabbed their stuff and started towards the shuffleboard area on the port side of the boat. Clayton and Calvin just stood there, looking disgusted. We watched our wives carefully from above.
They waited around for a half an hour before leaving. As they were walking back to their room, Sheila took out her phone and made a call. The look on her face told us that the postcards had arrived home. I don't know who she called, but it didn't matter. Everybody in the world who knew us as a couple had the pictures of Sheila and Greta with their boyfriends. They spent several minutes standing in the middle of the deck looking at the displays on Sheila's cell phone and then darted towards the cabin deck.
Clayton and Calvin went to the evening meal without their companions that evening. They spent the rest of the evening drinking in the cabaret bar on the Laguna Deck. Barry and I sat in a far corner the entire night with beer and pizza. They never saw us. We were trying to determine if we wanted to get close enough to overhear their conversation, but decided against it. Our wives never showed up. About midnight, they both left the bar, quite drunk. A few of the crew had to help them back to their cabins. We never did find out exactly what the sleeping arrangements were, but we really didn't care.
We were on the Sun Deck having fresh fruit and coffee for breakfast as the Diamond Sunset docked at Cancun. Most of the passengers were on the Promenade Deck waiting to depart for the day's festivities. We hadn't decided what we were going to do today. It seemed a little foolish to try and follow the two couples while they were on shore. None of that mattered because two of the first people to get off the ship were Sheila and Greta with their suitcases. They were not going on any daytrips, they were getting off the boat, leaving the cruise, and deserting the ship. While the rest of the tourists were getting on the trip buses, Sheila and Greta got into a taxicab and sped off.
Barry and I just had to have another hi-five. We hadn't planned on anything like this happening. At some point, we had expected that our wives would find us. The boat ain't that damn big. Apparently, they didn't even try. Clayton and Calvin had also left the boat and gotten into one of the tour buses. We couldn't tell if they were upset with the situation or not.
We had a nice sit-down lunch in the semi-deserted dining room. The ship had one more stop to make; in The Grand Caymans before getting home. We had to start planning. Maybe later.
We got to have a nice, leisurely sit-down lunch in the dining room. Most of the passengers were on shore, but since Sheila and Greta were gone, it didn't matter anyhow. Things had become a lot more relaxed and enjoyable. The ship was leaving Cancun later this evening and arriving in the Cayman Islands tomorrow afternoon. Tonight would be a good time to have a heart-to-heart talk with Clayton and Calvin. Barry and I had no idea what we were going to say to them.
There was assigned seating in the formal dining room. Of course, our wives and their boyfriends had a nice table for four and two of the seats were now empty. Barry and I waiting for Clayton and Calvin to get seated and then simply walked up to their table and sat down. Nobody stopped us or questioned us.
It was time for introductions.
"Good evening gentlemen. I assume that you both know who we are. Is that correct?"
Calvin managed to give Barry and I a short nod, but Clayton just glared. His eyes darted back and forth between us as his head tilted forwards. It was easy to tell that he was not happy to see us. The reaction from them was different; Calvin seemed to be scared and uncertain while Clayton was just pissed off.
"Gentleman. Mister Bartel and I will not be joining you for supper. There are three days left on this cruise and we just wanted to warn you to be extremely careful."
I heard Barry snicker, but I didn't look over at him. Calvin looked inquisitive, but Clayton just seemed to be a little more aggravated.
"Just remember that two hundred and twenty-two people fall overboard while on pleasure cruises every year and are never seen again."
I paused for a few seconds for dramatic effect and then Barry and I got up and walked out of the dining room. We could hear Calvin chatting away, but couldn't make out what he was saying.
We both decided on tacos and beer for supper. We didn't go out on the deck because of the damn wind, but the sunset was beautiful through the lounge windows.
"Well John, that was cool. I don't know what you are expecting to happen, but you sure did get their attention."
"I am not sure either. Let's wait until tomorrow and then play it by ear."
Well things didn't go exactly as planned.
"Gentlemen. I am Mister Sorrenson. Could I have a minute of your time please."
Barry and I swiveled our chairs around to face a big Nordic crewman who was addressing us. He had two other crew members with him who were quietly standing to the side. I looked over at Barry. We smiled at each other, and then nodded to this paragon of authority.
"Am I talking to Mister Jones and Mister Moore, or to Mister Bartel and Mister Connor?"
"Bartel and Connor." There didn't seem to be any point to lie to them about our identity.
"A couple of our passengers have reported that you had threatened to throw them off of the ship. Do you have an explanation for why they would do that?"
"Oh no. We didn't threaten them. We just quoted a statistic about accidents at sea. We were actually advising them to be careful."
"That was an implied threat and both of you know that."
"Now why would we do such a thing?"
The Big Swede, or whatever he was, nodded towards a quiet part of the lounge and we all moved in that direction.
"Gentlemen. Did you threaten Mister Bostic and Mister Mankey?"
Barry and I looked at each other and seemed to agree on the answer.
"Yes. Although it was not worded as a threat, we said it with that intent."
"Was there a reason for this threat?"
"Of course there was. In fact, you were part of that reason."
I could tell from his expression that he was waiting for a more complete explanation.
"Mister Sorrenson, Nordic Cruise Lines booked those two gentlemen into cabins with our wives. Mister Bostic was spending the week with Mrs. Bartel and Mister Mankey was sharing a cabin with my wife. It appears that Nordic Cruise Lines is running some sort of sex-on-the-high-seas-cruise. You are catering to married women who are looking for a way to spend time with their lovers. I am sure that you are fully covered for something like this from a legal standpoint, but it sure as hell looks and sounds sleazy to me."
"Mister Connor, I understand your frustration with the actions of your wives, but surly you don't think that the cruise line encourages or condones activities of this sort. We are a family oriented company and intend to stay that way."
Neither Barry nor I had an answer for him. Oh, we had plenty to say, but at the moment it felt like no comment was the best comment. We both leaned back in our chairs and smiled. Sorrenson seemed a little flustered, but still in control.
"I am afraid that we are going to have to report this to the authorities. They will probably have some questions for you."
"What authorities? We are on the high seas. You are the authorities aren't you?"
"Mister Connor. Mister Bartel. I would like you to avoid any contact with Mister Mankey and Mister Bostic for the rest of the cruise. Can you give me some assurance that you will not cause any problems until we arrive at Miami?"