TOM, April-Young friends, fiancée's
DAVID-older friend, story teller
Rachel, step daughter's friend
Charlotte, David's ex wife, Janice's mother
Roger, Charlotte's second husband, Rachel's father
Willadean, David's first ex wife
Jared, Willadeans boy friend
Harold, Kathryn-couple arguing
One of my favorite coworkers and his girl friend/fiancé are about to make a very serious mistake-or at least I am afraid they will. I have been debating with myself and my two lovers/room mates-oh, hell, let's be honest here, my two wives-for almost two months about whether to discuss this potential mistake with them. I am still no nearer to an answer and time is running out. I must decide what we are to do. On the one hand it is none of my business. On the other hand what I, what we, decide may change two lives either for the better or worse.
With a sigh I rose from my seat in the booth across from Tom and Alice. My movement caught their eye and Tom asked, "Leaving all ready? Hell, we've only been here a little over thirty minutes and I know your week has been as shitty as ours."
I paused while putting on my coat and looked down at the lovers. Her hand was on his thigh, his arm around her shoulders, his hand resting on the swell of her breast. I could see her nipple tenting out her thin blouse. I smiled and replied, "Yeah, I am. It looks like you two need to find a more private place to relax and I need to get home to my ladies."
As I was turning to leave I saw a couple that came into our favorite watering hole regularly. This time all was not sweetness and light though. I could hear them arguing in their booth. This time they were not sitting together on the same side of the booth. They were across the table from each other and I could see the anger on their faces. I heard him saying, "I don't give a damn. No woman of mine is going to keep spending as much time with her damn divorced and unmarried friends as you do. I know that is just a problem waiting to happen. You may not even mean to do anything wrong but eventually the odds are that you will. You will meet someone who makes you feel special, you will be more horny than usual, you will be angry with me-hell the possible causes are endless. Heck, you might even get drugged or so drunk you cannot help yourself. In any event, you will do something that I cannot live with. You need to make a decision honey. You are married now and we need to be with each other, not our single friends if this marriage is to work. Don't get me wrong, I know you need friends, you just don't need to spend so much time with them in bars and you don't need to stay out so late every time you go with them."
I was walking past their booth when I heard her hiss, "You BASTARD! Do you distrust me so much that you think I will cheat on you like a common slut? I don't have to take this crap. I'm out of here."
The lady started to slide out of her side of the booth as the man's face fell. I could see the pain and hurt in his eyes as he realized he had probably lost his wife. I still don't know why I did what I did but I quickly slid into the booth beside the woman. Of course since she was trying to get out as I slid in I pushed into her and forced her back into the booth.
She glared at me a moment then screamed, "You asshole. What the hell do you think you're doing? Let me out of this booth this instant or I'll get the bouncer over here to make you do it."
During this time her husband just watched. It was obvious he wanted to help his wife but at the same time he was not only shocked almost into immobility but he was still so pissed at her he was in no mood to help her.
I now had her trapped against the back wall of the booth and had her hands in mine to keep her from trying to hit me once more. I said in as normal a voice as I could, "Please, give me a moment of your time then if you want me to leave I will. I want to tell you a short but sadly true story. It may help you, it may not."
I said, "You see that couple over there?" I pointed to my friend and his fiancée. They are about to be married and I have been trying to decide whether to tell them this tale or not. We come here a lot and we see the two of you here a lot. I know you know me because you have each nodded to me or said hello in the past because we ARE regulars here. Now can you just give me a few minutes of your time? Please?"
I felt the woman relax and saw her glance at her husband. She sighed and said, "Ok, I guess we can do that but if you try anything..."
"You have my promise nothing will happen. Hell, maybe you can help me decide whether to talk to my two friends or not and maybe what I have to say will even help the two of you."
"From the looks of the two of you I'm not much older than you are or than my two friends are. Believe me I have been where you are already. Before we begin, let me introduce myself. I'm David and my two friends over there are Tom and April."
The man looked at his wife a moment then said, "I'm Harold and this is my wife Kathryn."
I smiled and said, "Nice to meet you." I took a deep breath and continued, "This is really hard for me to talk about even as many years ago as some of it took place. What's so sad is that I can still remember some of the conversations almost word for word. I learned a hard lesson and ... well, you seem like nice folks and I know Tom and April are nice folks. I really don't want any of you to go through what I have already had to face."
I motioned Cindy over and ordered another round of drinks for us. While I was waiting on her to deliver then I put my thoughts in order. When she delivered the drinks I gave her a nice tip and said, "Watch us Cindy but there is no need for you to check back unless I wave you over. OK?"
After I took my first sip of the fine scotch Cindy delivered I sighed and began my long spiel. "My first wife and I grew up in a small town about forty miles from here. We went to the local high school then to college here in town. We were friends all through grade school and began dating occasionally in high school. There weren't many people our age in school so we hadn't met many other people our own age. We were the most compatible of our age group. Everyone in town decided we were a couple so we proved it. The summer after we graduated we got married. We had been having sex with each other since we were juniors in high school. It was great. Hell, at that age it all is I guess. We didn't know much about the world or other people but we really, really liked each other."
"Willadean and I never argued. We were friends, we were lovers, and then we were husband and wife. Everyone in town knew we were a couple and we proved it. Our wedding was in June after we graduated. Life was so good. Our parents agreed to help us with college and living expenses. Our only worry was taking care of each other, getting good grades and working enough for our recreational money."
"Like most kids just away from home the first time we met new and exciting people. Of course college opened our eyes to more of the world, to new ideas. We were studying different fields so after the first two years almost all of our classes were different. We interacted with not only different people but we had widely diverging interests. We began spending more and more time with our college, then later our work friends. We no longer talked to each other much about our wants, needs, hopes and fears. After all, the other one really didn't know what was going on in our new life and didn't share our new interest."
"Some weeks the only time we saw one another awake was on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Our sex life with each other tanked. We went from making love four to six days a week to only on the weekends and MAYBE one other day during the week. We didn't talk."
"After college things got a little better but at the same time a little worse. We were lucky enough to both find work here in town but as we began our jobs we found we now had little in common. I worked in Information Technology, she was in Hospital Administration and we worked on opposite sides of town."
"One Sunday morning I was sitting on the patio with my coffee and I realized I didn't know the woman I was living with any longer. Sure she came home about the same time I did in the evening but we only talked about what we had to do to keep up the house we were buying. She went out after work at least one evening a week with her friends and didn't come home until after I went to sleep-usually on a Friday. Of course I did the same a lot of evenings but I was almost always home before she went to bed. I couldn't remember when the last time was I was awake when she got home Friday night."
"I wondered; no I was scared she was cheating on me yet I knew in my heart she wasn't. We were friends. We had been lovers. We were married. I examined my feelings for her. She was a wonderful person; we could talk about anything, yet we didn't. We very rarely talked at all if it wasn't related to caring for our home. Oh, sure we went out to eat most Saturday evenings but our conversations were very shallow then we went home and screwed. I couldn't remember the last time we had made love."
"About that time Willadean came wandering out of the kitchen onto the patio. She bent and gave me a kiss on the top of my head and sat beside me. I watched her while she slowly sipped her coffee. I remember her face still when I began talking."
"I asked, 'Willadean what's happened to us?"
"She looked shocked and asked me what I meant. I looked over at her and said, Look at how we live. Do you remember how we were before we went to college? Hell, we were never out of each other's sight if we could help it. Every free minute we had we spent with each other. We talked and told each other about our days in detail. We dreamed and planned our lives together."
"I asked her again, what had happened to us? I said we each go to our work and come home. We think about our own problems and jobs. If we talk about it at all we discuss it with the people we work with. You have your friends and I have mine. You spend more waking time with your lady friends than you do with me. You go out after work several days a week and most Friday nights you close the bars down. I"
"Willadean sat looking at me in shock then she responded in a hurt yet what I felt like was an antagonistic manner. She said that I didn't have any idea what she went through on a daily basis. She said many of her decisions could mean life or death to patients in her hospital or could at least impact on their health. I was told that the staff needed the time to unwind and talk about the days with someone who understood."
"Her eyes did get a little moist when she moaned it's almost like you think I am cheating on you. Is that it?" she asked.
"From that point we entered into a discussion very like the one I overheard you and Harold having Kathryn. I did tell her I didn't think she was cheating but I used the word yet. Of course I told her I felt it was just a matter of time before one of us did something that would irreparably break the marriage if we didn't do something. We spent the rest of the weekend discussing our life together and our wants and fears. We became angry like I saw the two of you becoming. We settled nothing and I decided to see just how badly our marriage was damaged."
"The next Friday I left work early and followed Willadean and her friends when they left work. They went to a local pick up bar and began talking. They drank a lot and just ate the sandwiches served in the bar. The other women danced a lot and as the evening progressed they began leaving with men. I was sad to see that a couple of the married women also left with men they had been dancing with."
"Of course Willadean was attracting male attention also. She danced rarely but I noticed it was always with the same two or three men and they spent a lot of time talking to her at her table. She did nothing that was too objectionable to me but what she did worried me. From time to time the men placed their hands on her ass or thigh and she didn't remove it. She would kiss them on the cheek or let them kiss her on hers. One of the men escorted her to her car when she left and they stood very close together talking for several minutes before she got into her car and headed for our home. I followed and she did come home. I just barely beat her home but I did. I knew she would be angry if she thought I was checking on her."
I stopped when I saw Harold blush and look guiltily at Kathryn. Of course Kathryn caught the look and I saw her teeth clench. I placed my hand on her fore arm and said calmly, "Kathryn. He loves you very much and unless I miss my guess you're tearing him up inside. I know Willadean did that to me. He can't help it. He had to know. I think I know how you feel. You didn't and probably still don't have any intention to do anything wrong but the potential is there. Harold's scared. He is sick to his stomach with the fear of not only losing you but of what you might do to him ... Kathryn just think how you would feel if you suspected Harold was doing something inappropriate and then you caught him doing it. Think how you would feel, think of the sickness in your soul when you think of him with another woman."
I watched Kathryn as her eyes narrowed and her jaws seemed to clench. She sat stiffly for a short time then I felt her relax a little. I smiled and continued with my tale, "I didn't follow Willadean every time she went out but from time to time I did. I took pictures with my phone and kept them on my computer. I watched as her behavior changed. She danced more, laughed more and began to dance with more men. She began to allow them more intimate time with her, more intimate touches. I became convinced it was just a matter of time until she was lost to me if she wasn't already."
"The next Saturday morning after I reached that conclusion I once again waited on her to get out of bed. When she began drinking her coffee I walked into the sunroom with a cup and joined her. I had some pictures I had printed showing the progression of her behavior. I even had news paper clippings of the two divorce filings for women in her group of friends-women who I had pictures of playing with their flavor of the evening, then leaving with them."
"Willadean," I said. "Remember several months ago when we talked about my fears of our growing apart? Remember how you told me you just needed to have time to unwind and discuss things with your friends who understood your problems better than I did? I could see her tensing up and a blush of what I assumed was anger began to suffuse her face and neck. I held up my hand and said, I know, I do some of that too but I come home earlier. I'm never out after about 8 in the evening and except for Friday I'm always still awake when you get home if you were out that evening also. Honey I'm still worried. In fact I'm more worried than I was then that we have grown too far apart. Willadean, I really, really don't want to lose you."
"I pulled the two newspaper clippings from the envelope I had in my hand and told her I knew these two divorces were for women she spent the evenings with. I told her I had contacted the husbands and knew both divorces were because the women had cheated on their evenings out. I watched as she became angry and blushed red. As she started to speak I over rode her and continued. I'm not proud of myself Willadean but I have been spending several Friday nights watching your group. I constantly pray that we can save our marriage, that you don't do anything to kill it. I have seen what you do and no, I know you have not cheated on me ... YET. I am equally sure it will only be a matter of time unless you stop going out with those women and we can reconnect."
"I pulled the pictures out of my envelope and laid the earliest one down. It showed almost nothing objectionable to any husband unless they were a totally jealousy driven man. As I went I explained my thinking and showed each new picture and how her behavior had changed, becoming more and more objectionable, how she had allowed more and more liberties until about a month before she began allowing her male friends to French kiss her and touch her outside her clothes before she left for home."
"She was trembling as I showed the pictures and calmly laid out my observations and fears. Tears were running down her face. Her first response was much as yours was earlier Kathryn. She screamed at me and threatened me with divorce and with her actually letting one of the men have her."
"I let her run on until she quit talking then I began again. We really talked about our needs and wants, our feelings. For several months after that weekend Willadean got better. We began to reconnect. She almost quit going out with her work friends and when she did go out she was always home by 8 p.m. I was beginning to feel like things would work out. We were more like we were in our first two years of college than before college but I could live with that."
"Then over the course of three weeks things turned for the worse again. Willadean once again began going out Friday evenings and occasionally one or two other weeknights. She began coming home very late once again. I followed and this time I saw her letting one of the men she worked with take liberties a friend should not take with a married woman. They kissed deeply and held hands as she let him walk her to her car. I took pictures. I knew I had lost. The next Monday I contacted my attorney and began divorce proceedings. I made arrangements for the papers to be served at our home the next Saturday. I wanted to have one final conversation with Willadean."
"It was summer again so we met on the patio. I noticed when she joined me she was more nervous than normal. She was the one who began the conversation. She said, Dave I ... she took a deep breath and blushed before she continued. Dave, she said, I'm afraid we've grown too far apart. You know I tried to be with you for several months but we just didn't connect any more. I don't know whose fault it is but ... she took another deep breath and went on saying I think it was more my fault than yours. I need to be with people who understand what I go through on a daily basis. I know you want to, you will talk with me any time I want but you don't understand, you don't have the same interests as I do any longer. You want to spend time at home and I need to be out where I can work off my tension and frustrations. I..."
"I remember smiling a sickly little smile then I broke in saying Willadean I understand what you're saying. I've seen it. Something happened last night with that man you work with didn't it?"
"Willadean looked shocked then she began crying as she nodded her head. OH, Dave, I'm so sorry. I really didn't want to ... Honey I can't explain it but I guess you were right. I was a cheater waiting to do the deed and my damn friends didn't help. They kept on doing what you know they do and making comments to me about how it really didn't matter what I did, that I needed to let loose and, well Jared lost his wife in an accident last year. We began dragging him with us trying to help him get over it. When we first started he didn't dance, he just sat at the table and drank and visited with us. During the time I tried to be home with you more he began to get over his loss. He is the one that convinced me to go out with the gang again and to stay longer. We began to dance then we became closer. I felt a connection with him and I guess I took my finger off my feelings. Oh, Dave, I'm so sorry. About that time the door bell rang and I excused myself."
"Willadean was shocked when I walked onto the patio with a man in a suit. When he asked if she was Willadean she admitted she was and took the envelope with the divorce papers in it. Of course like the bad movies she turned pale when he told her she had been served. She began crying. After he left she finally calmed down and looked at me. I still remember how sad she looked when she whispered to me, 'You already knew', I was crying too when I said I didn't."
"I told her I had followed and seen what I now believed to be Jared and she kissing and petting heavily. I told her I hadn't known she had finally cheated on me but I decided there was no love left for the other in either of us so had decided the week before that we needed to end it. Willadean began crying and rose from her seat. She moved to me and gave me a hug before she said, 'Oh, Dave you'll never know how sorry I am. What's really horrible is I really don't even like Jared that well and he isn't nearly as good a lover as you were. It's like you said a long time ago. I just fell into the trap and took the next step."
"Willadean rose and began packing. She moved in with one of her friends. I guess if it was possible we had an amicable divorce. I know we were both devastated. We were divorced and alone after 6 years of marriage at age 24."
Harold and Kathryn sat looking sickly at each other. She reached for my hand and held it for a moment. "Oh, Dave, I'm so sorry. I"
I smiled and said, "Oh, no Kathryn it gets worse. I grieved for almost a year then began dating once more. I found another wonderful woman, one that worked in the same line as I did. She was older than I by several years but we just clicked. At the time she was thirty-one and I was 27. She had a fifteen-year-old daughter. She had made a mistake and gotten pregnant when she was fifteen. She and the father of her daughter got married. It only lasted three years and they divorced. Janice, her daughter, was a beautiful girl and we hit it off so well."
"We dated several months and decided we were meant for each other. We got married and were so very happy."
"After we married I was introduced to Rachel, one of Janice's best friends. Her father Roger was a widower and worked in the same office as did Charlotte. Over the years Rachel began to spend more and more time with us. I delighted in seeing her and Janice grow and mature. I even answered many of their questions about boys and dating. I warned them about the pitfalls of running around with their friends and excluding their boyfriends from their lives, of having separate lives from them. Of course I also told them they did need to have female friends, just to be sure everything they did with them could be done in front of their boyfriends."
"Before we married Charlotte and I talked in detail about our past. I told her about my first wife and how she drifted away from me and finally cheated on me. I thought we understood each other's needs and wants, our belief of what a marriage should be. The first three years were great. We did everything as a family. We came home to each other and we went out with each other. We conversed daily and talked about our jobs, problems and in every way we grew closer. Then within a few short months we were both promoted. Charlotte became a lead systems analyst and had to begin working late if there was a problem. I was promoted to head of the IT department in my business. My late nights declined drastically and hers increased."
"Over the next several months I began to realize she was coming home smelling of smoke and alcohol. I confronted her and she admitted to 'stepping out' after a particularly difficult problem from time to time to 'unwind'. I reminded her of my first marriage and restated my feelings about men and women who frequent bars without their spouse late into the night. She became angry but I noticed she did reduce her late nights. After that she very rarely came home with smoky clothes or smelling of alcohol."