Hi Folks. After the the whacked our craziness of Savannah and last weeks exploration of swinging, I wanted to just do a straight ahead no gimmicks just people story. There will be no explosions or special effects this time. (I can't promise that next week. This is also another shorter one. Unfortunately I can't promise that next week either. So enjoy it. As usual I have to thank the incredible Mikothebaby who also named this story, she's more than just an editor, she's one of my very best friends and I couldn't do this without her.
Life has a way of throwing a monkey wrench into your plans. That's probably why I don't plan anymore. Before my divorce I was all about the plan. At work I strategically planned out everything that could go wrong in my department in the event of any and all foreseeable emergencies. I had multiple contingency plans in case for some reason we couldn't do one of the normal emergency plans.
I'd gotten a call this morning that I needed to go and see my ex-wife. I hadn't seen her in a little over a year and didn't really care to. But considering that the request had come from my daughter, I knew I'd have to make the trip.
My daughter Samantha, Sammie as we called her, had been really insistent. So, I'd gotten into my car, a "Gotta have it Green," Mustang Shelby GT 500 and headed back into town. It took me almost an hour to navigate myself through the choked up freeways to make it to the hospital in the city that Sammie had taken her mother to.
I'd parked in the visitor's parking lot hoping that I wouldn't be there for long. When I went to information, I found out that my ex-wife Erica had actually been in the hospital for two days already. A really petty nurse who smiled at me had led me to her room and told me that I could go inside and wait but she was still asleep.
"What's wrong with her?" I asked.
"Your wife..." she began. I interrupted her by holding up my hand.
"Ex-wife," I said. "Very, very ex-wife," I smiled. The nurse smiled back at me. Then her face changed.
"Daddy, seriously, you aren't flirting with the nurse while mom is laid up in the hospital are you?" said my daughter over my shoulder.
"Of course not, Sammie," I said. "If I were flirting seriously, I have at least asked..." I looked at the nurse again.
"Bonnie," she supplied.
"Ooh that name fits. Doesn't it mean pretty or something like that to the Scots or the Irish. Like in, "she's a Bonnie Lass, that one?" I said the last part with my fake Scottish accent, which caused Bonnie's smile to grow even bigger.
"Were you saying that about me?" she asked.
"Oh yeah," I said. "Like I said, that name really fits you." My daughter picked that moment to break up our impromptu smile fest and separate us by pushing me into her mother's room.
There were four beds in the room. It was probably the most depressing room I'd ever been in, whether in a hospital or anywhere else.
"This room is awful, isn't it?" she asked. I shrugged my shoulders.
"How would I know?" I asked. "I have no frame of reference to compare it to."
"Daddy, it's a ward," spat Sammie. "They can put as many beds in here as they can physically squeeze in. It's noisy, sometimes it's smelly and Mom deserves better." I shrugged again.
"Daddy she's only in here because she doesn't have any health insurance. Darren can't get her on our plan. The only person we know who could get her on their health insurance is..." her voice trailed off. I looked around over both shoulders and held my hands out to the sides with the palms up.
"Who?" I asked. "I'm retired. I'm a consultant. I go in occasionally when they need advice on something. And since the company was generous enough to offer me a plan I took it."
"You could have included mom on your health care plan," she said quietly.
"Sammie, honey, I love you more than anyone else on this planet. I'd do almost anything for you. But you have to wrap your head around the fact that your mother and I are divorced. I complied with everything the judge specified. The day that we signed the papers, I took out a loan and wrote her a check. I did it that way so she'd have every cent coming to her," I said. My daughter looked at me like she was sure that I was hiding something.
"Honey, how many people do you know who are divorced who can actually say that they got every penny that was owed to them in a timely basis? You're always hearing that so and so was missing his alimony payments or child support or whatever, right. I never missed a thing. I gave your mother everything she had coming to her."
"But not everything she wanted," said Sammie quietly. We stood at the end of the bed and looked at the sleeping woman lying in front of us.
"You know she never wanted a divorce, don't you?" asked Sammie quietly. "She still loves you now even after all of this."
"You know Sammie that people in hell want ice water," I said coldly. "But they're down there frying because of shit they did while they were alive. Your mother and I are divorced because of shit she did while we were married."
"Daddy, I know what she did," said Sammie. "I was there when it all blew up, remember. And I know that she was wrong, but I can't help thinking that the two of you still belong together. Daddy, she loves you so much, look at her. She's just fallen apart in the last two years. She doesn't look like a fifty year old woman at all. Two years ago mom was forty eight and she could've passed for being in her thirties. Today she looks like she could be in her sixties."
"Some people just don't age well," I said coldly. "But you know, maybe she needs to get out and do something to take care of herself. If she just lets herself go, then what do you expect?"
"Daddy, she needs her husband back in her life," spat Sammie. "She needs to feel loved and cared for. That's why she's wasting away."
"Is that why you called me out of a warm bed?" I asked in mock shock. "You want me to find her husband? Who the hell is he?"
"Daddy, don't you have any compassion in your heart?" asked Samantha. "Is this what you wanted? Is this what your frail little male ego needs to see? Do you really need to see the woman you swore to love, honor and cherish reduced to a shadow of her former self just so you can know that you won?"
"Sammie, you don't know shit about compassion," I snapped right back at her. "Remember what you're talking about and whom you're talking about. I put up with her shit for years and stayed married to her. I gave her plenty of chances, but she just couldn't let go of it. You should also consider that your loyalty to her very damn nearly cost you your own marriage." Samantha closed her eyes and nodded her head then. I could see that she was thinking about it.
"At least three families nearly ruined, all ended up hanging by a thread because of the selfishness of two fucked up people." I said. "Maybe they belong together." I smiled a little as I said that and Sammie's eyes popped open.
"Daddy, you don't mean that?" she said. I shrugged my shoulders. I looked at her and smiled.
"You're getting older too, you know," she said. "Daddy, don't you want something more out of life than driving that car way too fast, traveling, and the bimbo of the week?" Again I gave her the palms up shoulder shrug.
"I love my car. I've always loved Mustangs," I said. "I like traveling too. And as for the bimbo of the week, I've been with Shelly for almost a year. I'm kind of partial to redheads. And besides that, you introduced me to her."
"But Daddy," she whined. "Don't you want someone to settle down with and enjoy life on a more permanent basis?"
"Been there, done that," I spat. "I actually thought I had that person. God damn I loved her. I loved her enough to put my pride aside and try to fix things even after I found out what she was doing. She just couldn't let it go."
"Daddy, some women are capable of loving two men at the same time," said Samantha.
"And some men are capable of putting up with that shit," I said. "The problem is that I'm simply not one of them. Why am I here anyway?"
"Daddy, I've been here ever since we brought her here," said Samantha. I needed a chance to go home and shower and change clothes. It might be nice to see my husband again too. Darren has been great. He sat with her for a couple of hours yesterday to give me a break but I couldn't ask him to do it again. You know that he really doesn't like mom."
"He used to get along with her fine until..." I let it drop. "But now, maybe it's not that he doesn't like her. Maybe he's just afraid that if you spend too much time around her, you'll become her, and he loves you Sammie. Except for me, I can't think of anyone else who loves you as much as he does."
"So you really love me daddy?" she asked.
"Always have, always will Angel," I said.
"Then why can't you be nicer to Mom, for me?" she asked. "Why can't you just find it in your heart to try to just be friendly with her?"
"First of all, because sometimes I can't find my heart," I snapped. "That bitch in the bed tore it out while it was still beating." Sammie's eyes opened in shock at the bitterness and anger in my voice.
"I loved her Sammie. I loved that woman for more years than you've been alive. When we were together everything I did was..." I forced myself to calm down. "No Sammie, I can't be friends with her. I can't let bygones be bygones. There can't be any burying the hatchet, unless I'm burying it in her forehead. I don't even know why I'm here now."
"Daddy, didn't you already get your revenge?" she asked. "You've already crushed her spirit. What more do you need?"
"Sammie, I didn't get any revenge against YOUR MOTHER," I said. "I let HER slide. I just walked away."
"I know Daddy," she said. "I still don't understand it. You've never been the walk away type. In the two years since the divorce there are so many things that don't add up. So many things I can't figure out."
"Like what?" I asked. "We split our assets fifty/fifty except for the house."
"It just didn't make sense," she said. "Mom didn't want any of that stuff. She just wanted you. And it just seemed like you guys should have had way more money than you actually did."
"Your mom's lawyer went over all of our finances," I shrugged.
"So Dad, then why are you driving a customized Mustang that my husband claims cost at least fifty thousand dollars, when mom can't even afford a car?" she asked.
"Maybe my credit is better," I said. "Anyway, I'll sit here and play games on my iPad while she sleeps for a few hours. I'll give you a break honey. Hopefully she won't wake up. If she does I'll call you immediately. What's wrong with her anyway?"
"Daddy, Mom has been diagnosed with severe depression symptoms. She's actually on medication for it. For some reason she took all of her pills at once. We had to have her stomach pumped. She also hasn't been eating the way she should and she's been drinking too much alcohol. She's exhausted and dehydrated and we still don't know whether she took all of the pills by accident or if she was trying something," said Sammie.
"So the chances are she probably won't even wake up, right?" I asked smiling.
"Right," said Sammie. "But Daddy if she does ... please be nice to her, for me."
"Okay Sammie," I said. My daughter kissed me on the cheek and left the room. I sat down in the chair next to the bed and got out my iPad.
I started out opening the book I was reading but quickly lost track of the book as my thoughts wandered back to two years ago when this had all started.
We do the strangest things for our children. When Sammie was a little girl she always tried to cook and make these weird concoctions of different types of candy. I love my daughter more than anything so whatever she made, I ate it and told her it was the best things I'd ever tasted.
I remember that she'd called her mother and me to her house for dinner. We'd had a pleasant evening. Samantha still couldn't cook. The roast was as dry as the Sahara Desert. I had a feeling that Darren knew it too because he kept bringing me more to drink any time my glass got less than halfway full. It's a good thing that I'm not really into drinking alcohol because that roast would have turned me into a drunk.
It was a pleasant evening spent with family. It was the kind of evening that you can't have too many of or so I thought at first. I got to spend some time with my namesake, Samantha's two year old son John, whom she and Darren had decided to name after me. He was such a precocious little guy. He could do no wrong in his grandpa's eyes.
The capper on the evening came when Sam and Darren told us that she was pregnant again. "Darren, what are you doing to my daughter that makes this keep happening to her?" I asked jokingly.
We talked about the usual things that one discusses when their kids are having a baby. It just seemed like things were going well. We ended up talking about what to name the new baby. We all agreed on Elizabeth after Darren's mom if it was a girl. I suggested Peter if it was a boy after Darren's dad which he liked a lot and then the bottom dropped out.
"Well you've already gotten to have one named after you, Honey," said my wife Erica. "Why not let someone else name a grandchild."
"What did you have in mind honey?" I asked joking with her. "Let me guess. You want to name her Erica, if it's a girl and Eric if it's a boy, right?"
"Well actually I was thinking about Randall," she said. "We could call him Randy for short. Randall James Dylan sounds like a nice name."
It was as if all of the heat in the room suddenly vanished. Samantha turned and looked at me. "I don't know, if I like that," she said. "I kind of like daddy's suggestion don't you Darren?"
Darren hadn't looked at me yet. He was still smiling and thinking about how happy his dad would be to have a grandchild named after him. He just nodded.
Erica reached over to grab my hand as she usually did and I pulled away from her almost violently.
Samantha hadn't noticed my expression yet. "What do you think of that suggestion Daddy?" she asked.
In the coldest tone I'd ever used on my daughter, I spoke. "I think if you named him that ... It would be as big a fucking mistake as the one your mother just made."
Have you ever seen one of those scenes in the movies or on TV where everyone is at a party having a good time? There are people dancing, music playing, people are eating and drinking and laughing everywhere, then someone does something really stupid and everything just stops and every head turns towards them. Usually the music stops and you hear a sound like the needle scratching on an old record at the same time. Well it was that kind of moment.
For what seemed like an hour but was probably no more than a few seconds, no one said anything. Then Darren broke the silence in a diplomatic way. He looked at his watch and said, "Wow, I really have to get to bed. I've got an early meeting tomorrow."
"Thanks for a great evening Darren," I said. "I love you Sammie." Then I got up and headed for the door. As I was opening the door Samantha called me.
"Daddy what is wrong with you?" she asked. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
"Well come on over here and hug me, Sammie," I said. "I have to get out of here. I can't even breathe."
"I was talking about mom," she smirked. "I thought you didn't drink. Darren just what have you been filling my father's glass with all night?"
"It's Pepsi sweetheart," I said. "Although right now I could use some liquor."
"What is wrong with you, John?" asked Erica, coming over to me. She reached out for me again and this time I moved away from her so obviously that everyone saw it.
"We're going to talk about this when we get home honey," she said.
"WE aren't doing anything," I snapped. "I'm going back to my house. I have no idea what YOU'RE are doing or where YOU'RE going, but it's not with me."
"Wait, wait a minute Daddy," said Samantha. "You're mad at Mom because she didn't like the name you came up with?" Erica's eyes widened then because she suddenly knew that I knew.
"No honey," I said. "I'm not mad or angry at all. I've just finally come to my senses. There are times when the people who love you do things to hurt you and you just let it go. There are times when you suffer in silence because you think that if you just get past this one little thing you can go on and things will be better in the end. But then something happens that lets you know that you've suffered and made allowances for nothing. Sometimes some things just can't be let go of." Everyone in the room was looking at me except Erica. She already knew what I was talking about.
"Daddy, you're not making any sense," said Samantha.
"Sammie, your mother wants you to name my grandson after the man she's been in love with for the past fifteen years or so. The guy she had an affair with. She found out a couple of days ago that he recently died. She's trying to let his fucking memory live on in my grandson."
Both Samantha and Darren looked at Erica who had fallen to the floor and was silently sobbing. "I'm so sorry John," she said. "It's over. It's been over for more than five years. I've been trying to be the best wife possible to you."
"Why did it end Erica?" I asked.
"Because I felt so guilty," she said. "I knew that what I was doing was wrong. So I ended it. Can't we talk about this? In the first place it wasn't an affair, we only got together once a year. And we didn't even always have sex. And after I came home you and I always had the best sex we've ever had. It's been over for a long time. I love you John. We need to talk about this. You don't understand this. It's not as bad as it seems."
"It's worse than you think it is Erica," I snapped. "Maybe when the divorce is over you'll tell someone the truth. But I'm sick of you lying."
"What do you mean?" she said. "I admitted it."
"Erica if it was up to your lying ass, you'd still be seeing him," I said.
"I told you I ended it," she snapped.
"And you're lying again," I said. "I ended it."
""You ... what... ?" she asked.
"I went to Boston and met him five years ago," I said. "I beat the fuck out of him. He was in the hospital before your pitiful cheating ass was off of the plane. I took his phone and I got all of your texts. I'll probably be using them as evidence. I also told him who I was and let him know that the next time he came anywhere near you would be his last day on the planet. I told him that I'd also let his wife know about the two of you. I told him that if he ever tried to contact you for any reason, even just plain friendship, I'd be back. So you didn't end anything Erica. I did."
"John, I'm sorry," she said. "I was wrong, I was confused. It was a mistake."
"I'm sorry too Erica," I said. "I was wrong too. I was confused too. I made a mistake too. I was wrong to try to save this fucked up marriage. I did it for Sammie though. I didn't want her to have to deal with us splitting up until she was out on her own. I was confused too. You see, I thought that maybe in time since I loved you so God damned much that we could get past this. I made a mistake. Instead of ending this sham then, I really tried to make it work. But at least you were right, Honey. You did end something. From the first second that you uttered his fucking name tonight, you ended our marriage."
I walked right out of the house, got into my car and drove away. I spent a long time that night just driving around. The roar of my Mustang's engine and the thrill of speeding through the darkness of the moonlit night took away some of my pain. I turned off my phone so I wouldn't be disturbed. I really wasn't as upset as it seemed.
I'd known about what she'd done for over five years. And for that whole time I'd been preparing for the divorce in more ways than one. Erica was probably more shocked by tonight than I was. First, because she had no idea that I knew about her affair and secondly, because she really only found out that night why it had ended.
She'd flown to Boston for a conference. The same one she went to every year. She got a room in the hotel she always stayed in. The conference was a one day seminar that she always told me was two days long. After the conference ended, she had dinner with Randall. They sat there in the restaurant talking to each other until the restaurant closed. She even mentioned me a couple of times. Then when the restaurant closed they exchanged a very nice kiss and she went back to her room. Randall went out to the parking lot and his car to drive home.
As Randy got to his car, I was sitting on the hood.
"Hey that's my car," he said.
"I'm sorry," I said. "It's wrong for people to bother things that don't belong to them isn't it Randy?"
"I agree totally," he said. "Is that one of my hub caps?"
"Yep," I said smiling. "I pried it off myself. But let's not talk about hub caps Randy. Let's talk about Mary, your wife. Who right now is waiting for you at your house on Sycamore street. It's probably too late for me to go over there to talk to her right now. I should probably wait until tomorrow to visit her."
"I'm calling the police," said Randy. I pulled out my phone and tried to hand it to him.
"Randy you can call the police anytime you want. It'll be my word against yours and either way you'll lose because somehow in all of it the fact that you've been spending time with my wife, Erica, while your own faithful little wife was waiting at home for you will come out."
Randy's whole face went pale. "I'm not the sharing type of guy Randy," I said.
"I think you've made a mistake," he said. "I do know Erica, but we haven't spent any time together." He looked at me and saw how serious my face was.
"Okay, we had dinner together tonight. Some of the things we learned at the conference were interesting and we both wanted someone to talk about them with, but that's it. Nothing happened, we just lost track of time."
"Whew," I said. "You had me worried."
He smiled at me like he was glad we cleared everything up. I punched him in the face as hard as I could. He went down like a bowling pin. Then he got on his feet and started running. I threw his hubcap and caught him in the legs. He tripped over it and fell heavily again. I pounced on him and started beating him mercilessly. When I was done both of his eyes were blackened. His nose was broken and his lip was split.
"You really had me worried Randy," I said. "For a moment there I really thought that I wasn't going to get to beat the shit out of you. I know that all you had was dinner tonight. I was there. What about last year or the year before. How long has this shit been going on?"
"Maybe fifteen or twenty years," he sputtered through his busted lips.
"It's over Randy," I said. He nodded quickly. "If you so much as say her name ever again, I'll end your marriage and your life. Are we clear?" he nodded again.
"Don't visit her," I said. "Don't write her or even call her. There will be no further warnings."
"I got it," he said.
"Randy, the next time we talk won't be this pleasant," I said.
Apparently it worked. When I got back home, Erica was her usual after the conference self. She tried to kill me with sex, but I just didn't go for it. Usually, after she came back from the conference we'd go off on vacation somewhere together. That year I pretended to be too busy to get away. As hard as I tried to put the whole thing behind me, I couldn't.
A big part of my brain was in Judas Priest mode. Okay most of you don't know what I'm talking about. There's a heavy metal band called Judas Priest. Arguably their best album was the one called Screaming for Vengeance. And that was how I felt. Try as I might, I couldn't calm down. I wanted blood. I wanted someone to pay for my pain. If misery loves company, God damn it I wanted someone to be miserable with me. And I picked Randy.
Through some business connections I had, I got Randy fired. I didn't go all Snidely Whiplash and let him know that it was me who did it. It was enough that I knew. I felt great about it. I had no regrets about it at all.
It gave me the same warm glow that I once got when I did something nice for Erica to do something evil to Randy. I've spent the last five years of my life ruining his. At the same time I was sure that divorce for Erica and me was inevitable. Why didn't I confront her and file? Because despite what she'd done, I still loved her. In my heart, I really wanted to believe her and give her another chance. But my head, just as in my job, told me to be prepared for anything. I told Erica that we were under a raise freeze at work when I actually got a raise. A few months later the promotion I'd been working for the past ten years was finally mine. I didn't tell Erica. My salary nearly doubled. I diverted most of the new income into accounts that she knew nothing about. Two years later, I got another promotion and another raise. Again I told Erica nothing about what was going on.
The reason behind all of this deception was that in the case of our divorce, she'd have no idea about my actual income. She'd really believe that I was still making forty grand a year. So that's what our divorce would be based on.
And I know that all of the legal geniuses out there are thinking that there's no way that I could get away with something like that. The first thing that any good lawyer would do is go after my tax records and talk to my company's HR people to find out what I made.
The thing about it is that my boss had been absolutely raped in his divorce so he saw no problems in helping me. Officially, on the books I was listed as a mid-level manager. No one outside of the company ever even asked why all the other managers deferred and reported to me. It just seemed like the way our company ran.
Three quarters of my actual salary was regularly paid to another company that on the surface looked like one of our vendors. I was not one of that company's officers nor did I own it. All of the officers of that company were fishing buddies of mine. In exchange for the usage of their names, I took them fishing once or twice a year. They were all listed as volunteers so there were no salary or tax implications for them. The money from that company went directly into my offshore account so there was no tracing it after that.
There were a couple of times that I did withdraw some of the money. Once was after Samantha and Darren got married. I put a large down-payment on their house to start them out in their marriage without a lot of financial stress. I didn't buy the house for them outright but I put enough down that their regular mortgage payments were under a hundred dollars a month. The other time was to buy Sam and Darren a second car since they both worked and their jobs weren't in the same part of town. It just made things easier for them.
Again, even in giving the kids their gifts I had to be careful. The way I managed to give them their house and the second car actually worked in my favor and allowed me to give Erica even less money. The money for their house supposedly came from me pulling it out of my retirement package. That meant that in the case of a divorce, I'd have next to nothing in my retirement account for Erica to get her greedy cheating hands on.
To get the money for the car I ostensibly took out a loan, which even further lowered my disposable income so I'd be able to give Erica even less.
One of the great things about my situation was that Randall worked in manufacturing. He specialized in inspecting castings. My company was also manufacturing based. We owned a lot of direct to factory manufacturing concerns all across the company. I had a PI friend who lived in Boston. I had him regularly check on Randy. Every time he got a job, I'd talk to one of our account execs. If we had an account with the company Randy worked for, one of my friends had lunch with someone who worked there and Randy got fired. If we didn't have an account with Randy's new company, we got one. Then Randy got fired.
I kept a spread sheet on my computer that was dedicated to keeping track of Randy and all of his misfortunes. Some of them I didn't even cause. After a while Randy's reputation in the manufacturing community was so bad that he couldn't even interview for a job. Just before Randy passed his last jobs were in landscaping or day labor.
His misfortune had also taken its toll on Randy's marriage. His wife had gone back to work to help support the family. I never touched her or her career because I had nothing against her. I also did my best to make sure that Randy's kids got everything they deserved. I single-handedly got his daughter into law school. I invented a scholarship just for her and gave it to her.
Of course, the scholarship ended the year that she got her degree. The scholarship also deposited the full amount into an account. She was also never able to find out where the money came from. Her grades were excellent and she received a few bonuses during her time in school, from her mysterious benefactors.
The fact that he wasn't able to support his family and barely contributed to their upkeep was rough on Randy. He was a proud man and wanted to be both self-sufficient and a provider. Finding that he was neither, hurt his pride. He started drinking and over time became obsessive with it. To his credit, he never became violent or abusive towards his wife or his daughter, but towards the end he was only a shadow of the man he once was.
I also looked at the changes my actions brought about in me. I too was no longer the man I'd been when I first discovered my wife's cheating. I had always been a soft spoken, easy going guy. I'd been open and honest for most of my life. But the trauma of discovering that the woman I loved had betrayed me on a regular and continuing basis had unhinged me.
When I looked in the mirror, I didn't see a psychopath who could calmly and with relish, plan and oversee the systematic destruction of a man whose only mistake had been to have sex with the wrong woman. I still saw myself. I still saw John Forrest, all around nice guy and family man. Shouldn't a villain have some kind of recognizable traits? In the old days all of the bad guys wore black hats. Maybe I should trade my Mustang in for a black one.
But even as I'd wondered about those things, I continued. I couldn't stop myself. My shattered heart needed revenge more than healing. My soul screamed for vengeance far more than forgiveness.
Even as I watched Randy's life fall apart, I watched Erica. I found that I simply didn't trust her any more. It's a terrible thing not to have faith in the woman you've pledged to love and cherish forever, but that was one of the things that her affair with Randy did to me. It destroyed not only our marriage but my ability to trust anyone completely.
So for a full five years, while I crushed Randy under my heel, I also watched Erica and prepared for my divorce. Unlike most men who have a few days or maybe a few weeks to try to protect their assets, I had five years to prepare. I'd originally planned for more than that. Erica had been, though fading, still relatively decent looking when we divorced. I'd intended to wait until she was on the full downswing. But Randy hadn't been able to keep going for as long as I thought. For five years I'd hidden and squirreled away as much money as I could. I didn't need to worry about the house that we lived in because it wasn't ours. The home had been in my family for generations. We lived in it because my parents, who were still alive didn't need a place that big. When I went through the divorce, I made sure the lawyers knew my parents owned the house and simply allowed me to live there rent free.
When Erica came back from the conference, she'd texted Randy about how much she'd enjoyed their dinner together and how wonderful the kiss had been. She'd also told him that she missed the times when they'd made love, but she was glad that it hadn't happened this year. She'd always felt guilty about being unfaithful to me as she was sure that Randy felt the same way about his wife.
She told him that what they had now, their sex-less romance was actually better because they could enjoy their relationship that way until they both died, with no guilt on either side. Maybe they were growing older and their love didn't need to be expressed physically, just being together was enough. That way they'd be together forever. And she ended the text with, "Until next year, my love."
I read that text as I was waiting for my luggage in the airport. I wanted to strangle Erica, and though I still loved her in some ways, my feelings for her changed drastically. Sometimes it was hard for me to hold it all together.
When Erica got home, I was sitting in the den watching a football game. She came in and wrapped her arms around me and tried to kiss me. I moved away from her and told her I had a cold and didn't want to make her sick.
"Just make sure we're better by this weekend," she said smiling.
"Why, what happens this weekend?" I asked.
"You and I are going off on vacation together, remember?" she said. "We always go after my boring conference."
"Well maybe you could do a mother daughter vacation and take Sam this year," I said. "I really can't get away from work this weekend."
"But honey, it's the weekend," she whined. "You'd really only miss two days of work. Think about it four nights and three days in Hawaii. It would be just the two of us. Thinking about it gets me hot. We might never leave the hotel room. I bought all kinds of nasty new things to wear for you."
I wondered how many of those things that Randy would have seen if they'd gotten together earlier.
"Erica, we're under a wage freeze and the company is trying to cut costs every way they can. I have to make sure that they never get the idea that I'm one of the costs they could cut," I said.
"I understand Honey," she said. "I'll go call Sam. I want you in the bedroom ten minutes after I get upstairs though."
She went up the stairs and I heard her talking to my daughter Samantha on the phone. At the same time she texted Randy again wondering whether or not he'd received her previous text. It just disgusted me.
When I didn't come to bed, she came looking for me. I dove on the couch and pretended to be asleep. Over the next few weeks I came to terms with things. It was a big adjustment. I became a far better actor than I ever thought I could be. We still had sex more or less as regularly as we had before. I don't know whether or not Erica enjoyed it as much, but I sure did.
I didn't have to concentrate on pleasing her anymore because I just didn't give a damn whether she got off or not. I had to look at things from a totally different view point. Instead of thinking about Erica as my wife that I loved, I just looked at her as some woman I was fucking.
Our sex was rawer and less loving. But at the same time it was more adventurous. Erica had always been kind of vanilla when it came to sex. During the guilt period just after the conference, when she needed to assure me that she was mine she rarely refused me anything. I started fucking her ass then. It was a first time for us even after all of those years of marriage. Before Erica could protest and tell me that she wasn't the kind of woman who did that ... she was.
The next year, when conference time came around, I watched her intently, looking for a sign that she was in contact with Randy. I checked her phone account online to make sure that she hadn't received any calls from the Boston area. She hadn't received any, but she'd sent several texts to Randy's phone.
She'd become more and more frustrated that Randy never answered her. She'd tried calling a few of her friends who also knew Randy and found out that he'd had a run of bad luck. She found out for the first time that he'd been brutally beaten and robbed following the conference the previous year. He'd also been fired and no one knew where exactly he was working.
She'd sent him several texts asking him to simply meet her for dinner at her hotel. None of them were answered. Her final attempt came when she'd got one of her friends who knew Randy to go to his house and tell him that she wanted to hear from him. Randy had told the friend that he didn't remember her and since he no longer worked in the industry, saw no reason to contact her, especially since he wasn't attending the conference.
Erica was heartbroken. She'd told me that she didn't feel up to attending the conference this year after that. I told her that she needed to go. She went every year and suffered through it. This year shouldn't be any different than last year. "What's different?" I asked her point blank, even though I already knew.
My flight landed two hours after hers did. I watched her the whole day and almost blew it. Erica didn't even stay the night. She flew back home at the end of the day. While she was heading for the airport, I called her and told her how much I missed her. I told her that I had to go out of town for the evening but it didn't really matter since she'd be at her conference.
She told me that she couldn't stand us being apart and she was flying home early. I guess I'd expected her to try to hook up with another guy. But she didn't. She just went to the lectures and the expo and as soon as it was over she flew home.
The following year, she tried to get me to go to the conference with her so she could show me how boring it was. After that she simply stopped going. For the last two years Erica has been totally faithful to me. I have from time to time either watched her myself or even hired a PI for a few days. She hasn't done a thing to arouse any suspicion. If I didn't know any better I'd have thought that she was the perfect wife, at least she tried to be.
The problem was that once trust is gone, things will never be the way they were before. So when we sat out on our deck and relaxed in our big swing together, I always wondered if she was thinking about Randy and how their love would last until one of them died.