Gillian Crowley and I met at a wedding reception for a friend of hers, Margaret Tilly; that was twenty-three years ago; we were both twenty-five and single. At any rate, I was actually a distant cousin of Margaret's. I was just adding my congrats card—with a crisp new C-note in it—to the pile of other gifts and cards, when a very pretty and sweet smelling woman doing the same bumped into me almost dropping her gift. Hers was a large box—I immediately thought microwave oven. She bumped me, excused herself, and thanked me for helping her keep from dropping her offering.
Later, seated two tables apart at the reception, our eyes kept catching each the other looking. Dinner done, a rather good band began doing its duty, and I asked her to dance. That dance led to a number of pleasant dates, and nine months later we were married—Margaret was Gil's maid of honor and Frank Cross, my best friend at the time, was my best man.
Maybe a little description of the two of us might be in order here. Gillian is slightly built and at five-eight rather tall. Her long dark hair is naturally curly and she generally wears it fluffed out and flouncy. Her butt is "oh so female" and she is inordinately proud of her very well shaped B-cups. Me? I'm right at five-seven, one-forty-five, somewhat thinning brown hair, and what Gillian describes as an interesting face—read, not really awful looking. Where Gillian tends to be playful and good natured, I'm more the serious type. I enjoy intelligent conversation and piano bars. Gillian is into partying and dancing. But, as for the dancing, she and I have both gotten into the ballroom thing and are actually pretty good at it; I just don't fool around with the hip-hop thing that she and a lot of her friends seem to also go for. And family...
Gillian's family all live on the East Coast far removed from us, and she gets along with few of them. Something to do with her mother and her uncle Charlie in times gone by. She never told me the story behind it, and I didn't push it. They were there and we were here, and never the twain should the hell meet. As for my family, except for a couple of distant cousins, like Margaret, I don't have any living relatives so it's a moot point.
For all of our twenty-three years together I would have to say we'd been happy. Sex was good, jobs were good, social life generally was also definitely good; yes, life in general was good.
As for our jobs, Gillian became a sales agent for Mobile Phone Inc. right out of college. Her bubbly personality and gift of gab made her a very valuable asset. And me? I'm more the introspective type, as I mentioned, with an almost neurotic propensity for detail which well suited the kind of work I did for Carter Laboratories Inc., a computer software firm on the rise in an ever growing field: I'm a cost analyst, I make sure the money goes where it's supposed to go. I'd gotten my job as a result of a job fair held at state during my senior year there. Hence, economically, Gil and I were doing quite well: I was pulling down maybe $200K annually including bonuses, and Gil maybe $75K. There were pressures, of course, mostly the result of our divergent personalities and the long hours our jobs sometimes required. But, all things considered, we got on better than most.
I always felt that one of the reasons, that we'd got on as well as we had, was because my wife had trained me well to be a good husband and lover. Yes, trained me: I was so pussywhipped that anything she wanted became my focus especially when it came to sex. I did everything in my power, as I saw it, to be worthy of her. And I was no fool, I knew that most marriages went stale, sexually at least, after a relatively short period of time, six or eight years was the norm or so I believed. I was determined not to let that happen to us. I didn't just love Gillian, I adored her. And no, the fact that at an almost five inches my dick wasn't all that, never made the slightest difference to her.
We'd had no children, and it wasn't for a lack of trying. But it just wasn't in the cards. I eventually had myself checked out, and, found I had a low sperm count. Having children wasn't beyond the realm of possibility, but it was a long shot. Helluva deal.
Gil took it well, my low sperm count, or so I believed. She even did her best to console me, if that's the right way to say it. Well anyway, and life went on. That is, it went on until now.
I held the one page printout in my hand. I'd read it three times and was in the midst of my fourth read through. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The words were becoming blurred by my tears. I heard her car pull up in the driveway out front. I waited.
My wife had been feeling real good for the past several weeks—no that's not right—she'd been feelin' positively ebullient! Why? There was no reason, and that was a reason for me to feel not good, or so I had begun to think. Sit around and wonder? Not me. I'd called a friend I worked with in the lab. Jiao Xu was a techie like no other; she could do anything with a computer, and the keylogger she had installed on my wife's had given up its secrets. And yes, I'd been concerned enough about things to feel the need to spy on her.
The back screen door to the kitchen slammed shut. I'd be havin' to do a little work with the tension bar to fix that. It almost made me smile. Here I was with my marriage maybe threatened and I was worried about the damned screen door.
"Herb?" You're home early," she said. I nodded. "Herb? Are you all right? You look like you're cr..."
I dropped the paper onto the kitchen table. "What's that?" she said.
"I'm going to have to do something about that screen door," I said, avoiding her question. I was still sniffling. She picked up the sheet of bond and began to read it. Done, she looked up at me. At first she said nothing.
"It's a print out of an e-chat," she said. "From my computer?"
"Yes," I said.
"It's nothing, Herb. It's just a chat room friend I sometimes chat with. It's nothing."
"A friend? You mean Michael?" I said. "His name is Michael."
"Yes, Michael. But he's just a chat room friend. We e-com sometimes. Nothing serious, just talk," she said. "We've never met in person—really."
"Just talk. You've never met him. But, you tell him things you don't even tell me. How's that?' I said.
"Herb, sometimes—sometimes—a body needs—well someone to talk to..."
"What are husbands for, Gil? What am I chopped liver? You can't talk to me?" I said.
"Gil, you have to stop this chat nonsense. Since, as you say you've never actually met the guy; well, I can forgive and forget this once. But, it has to end. I'm your husband, not this Michael guy," I said.
I rose and headed for the back door. I would be making a point to close it more gently than she had; well, until I was able to fix it. I stopped just before going out, turned and looked back at her. She looked to be a bit down.
"Gil, just tell the guy you're sorry, but that you and I talked about it and it can't go on. It's too close a thing to cheating on your spouse to allow it to keep on." Then I was out the door and headed for my car. I needed a drink seriously bad; The Red Barn had all manner serious drinks.
The name of the bartender, my bartender at the Red Barn, was fittingly—Red. And, yes, he did have red hair.
I'd gotten out of the house for two reasons. One, the more I thought about her online boyfriend, for that's how I was seeing him, the more desperate I got: one, I was mortally afraid of losing her, and two, I wanted her to have a chance to contact him while the iron was still hot, to borrow a phrase. I guess I was looking a little down. Red dropped his ever present towel on the bar in front of me.
"You look like the guy that didn't win the lottery," he said. I looked up.
"Yeah, you could say that," I said. "My wife has a friend."
"I take it you do not mean best girlfriend."
"No, it's a man. His name is Michael," I said.
"And, he's better in bed than you are, or so she thinks," said Red.
"No, no, it's not that. She's got an e-friend. You know, the chat room thing on the computer and stuff," I said.
"Yeah, chat room. She claims she never spoke to him in person, never actually met him. It's just an online romance—my words. But, she says it's no big deal, just something that makes her feel good sometimes."
"Doesn't sound too bad," he said.
"Yeah, well she tells him things that she never would tell me. I told her she had to end it. For me it's cheatin'. I know that that might be arguable in court, but it's how I feel," I said.
"Well, he can't get his hands in her pants electronically," said Red, but I do see where you're coming from. I nodded. "Do you think she will?"
"Will what?" I said.
"Do you think she'll break it off with the guy?" I looked at him and stared.
"She has to," I said. "As to that, there is no choice. Otherwise it would be a real bad festering sore in terms of our marriage. Oh no, she has to end it. She just has to."
"And if she doesn't?" he said.
"I honestly don't know. I guess that might end it for us. Let me ask you, Red, do you see it as cheating?" I said.
"I guess it is, kinda. I mean how intimate are their conversations? I mean if all they're doing is talking about sports or crocheting socks; then, no, it's not cheating. But..."
"Hmm, yeah, I see what you mean," I said. I became lost in thought. I was remembering the things I'd read from the printout of her chats with the guy.
.... There is more of this story ...