I had just walked into my home and immediately knew that something was wrong. I had noticed that Sharon's car wasn't in the drive, or in the garage, but I thought nothing of it at the time. I just assumed that she had stopped at the store for something on the way home. We had been getting low on some groceries, so that's where I thought she might be. The house seemed empty when I entered the kitchen from the garage, devoid of everything that made a house a home. There was no one thing I could point to and say, 'There, that's what is missing that makes this a home.' What usually makes a house a home are little touches, the little things like a loving keepsake in a special place or if, like in our home, many of those keepsakes, like my wife's bell collection, are scattered all over the house.
We had a corner cabinet in the dining room where most of her bells were on display. She had everything from a large old-fashioned hand school bell to a dainty, hummingbird bell made of lead crystal. Scattered about the house were several more, placed as her collection grew. I tried to pick one up from each state we visited when we traveled, and I, along with others, got her bells as gifts for Christmas and birthdays. I looked to the cabinet and it looked like many of the bells were missing.
I glanced around and saw little things that should be there and were now gone. I ran to the bedroom and checked the closets. My closet showed the one suit I had worn two days ago in tatters. Sharon's closet contained two blouses and a pair of dress slacks that I don't think she wore anymore because they were too baggy.
This terrified me and I ran to the other side of the house to our children's rooms. Jason, at 14, was the typical teenage boy. His room was always a mess, but his room was even worse than normal. His drawers were open and nothing remained inside. His closet was wide open and there was nothing, except for a jacket that he had outgrown.
I was now devastated, and could hardly walk, let alone run to Jessica's room. Her room was neat, but devoid of clothing, her TV, and her stereo. Both of their laptops were gone as well. I sat on her bed and cried. What had I done to my family to cause this tragedy? What could I have possibly done to make Sharon and the kids leave me alone like this — just up and move out in the middle of the day?
I must have cried for at least a half hour before I pulled my cell phone out from my pocket and called Sharon. The phone immediately went to a canned voicemail message, "The subscriber you are trying to reach is unavailable at this time. To leave a message press '1' now, and leave your message at the tone." I pressed '1' and said, "Sharon, please call me and explain why you left me and have taken our children away from me. I don't understand what I did to cause this, please, I beg of you to call me." I'm not sure that she would understand the last part of the message, since I was crying again after I said the word "explain."
I'm not sure how long I sat on Jessica's bed, but I finally dragged myself into the den/office and was surprised to see a piece of paper on my keyboard. I certainly hoped that this would explain what I had found upon arriving home.
It was a letter from Sharon.
You are a bastard of the first order. Angela saw you going into the Holiday Inn, room 104, over on the Interstate. That was at noon two days ago, you were with some blonde dressed like a business woman. I described your PA, Pamela, and she said that she looked kind of like what I described. So how long have you been fucking Pam? Ever since she became your secretary ten years ago? If not then, when did you start this affair?
I was devastated when Angela told me she saw you. She said you must have driven Pam's car as your old Mustang wasn't in the parking lot. There is no mistaking that midnight black car with the gold pin-striping and ghost white flames. You didn't want to be recognized by that car, so you drove her car instead. Angela described you to a tee with your blue suit that I shredded in anger over your cheating and lying.
I thought we had a great marriage; we made love three to four times a week, even with the children grown. It was easy with them on the other side of the house. I always gave you every bit of my love, except for what I gave our children. We conceived our children in love, nurtured them in love, then you go and do something like this. How could you do such a despicable thing to me and them? We gave you everything you ever wanted. You wanted a loving wife, I always loved you, hell I still do, but I can't accept what you have done to us and stay with you. You wanted children; we had a boy and a girl, then you didn't want to spoil the set and got snipped. I wonder now if that wasn't planned so that you could go behind my back and whore around on me and the children. God, I hate you right now, but I do still love you more than anything in this whole world.
But I will not put up with a cheater, Rob. I had a hard time being civil to you last night after Angela called me yesterday. But I had to put on a brave face and now you know why I had a headache and wouldn't make love to you last night. I had a hard time not taking the butcher knife and cutting your heart out as you lay in bed sleeping. I will be seeing a lawyer in the morning, but please do not try to contact me or the children for now. You will be hearing from my attorney as soon as I can get things started.
Your, soon to be ex-wife
How could Sharon believe that I had cheated on her, and with — of all people — Pamela Swanson? Pamela is very happily married to Peter. They have been to our house for meals and barbeques numerous times. Sharon and I attended their wedding, and we even went to their anniversary party last month. But, the really unbelievable part was that I have never even been to the Holiday Inn on the Interstate. Sure, I have driven by there thousands of times, but I have never even been inside the lobby, let alone any of their rooms. Most of our business clients stay either at the Comfort Suites or the Candlewood Suites along the Interstate. Yes, I had worn my blue suit on Tuesday, but I never even left the office once I got there at eight, until I left at five. I even had Jason's Deli cater our lunch meeting with the Board. I could prove where I was at lunchtime on Tuesday. I had to talk to Sharon, we had to get this straightened out; I would never cheat on her. She is the yin to my yang, my better half, my soul mate. How could I cheat on her?
I guess it's time to introduce myself. I'm Robert Carter Freeman, or 'Rob' to most people. I'm forty years old since May 21st, and married, I thought happily, for 17 years. I met Sharon White in college, Texas State in San Marcos, actually. We met on a blind date almost 19 years ago. My roommate, Tom Smothers, had four tickets to a Willie Nelson concert at the Backyard in Bee Cave, TX. I had wanted to go, and my current girlfriend had dumped me to go with Carlton Britton, the hotshot center of the basketball team. I was now a single, so Tom convinced Shelia Thornton, his girlfriend, to find me a date who wanted to go to the concert. Sharon was the result, and we never looked back from that first evening. I knew she was the one for me. I really couldn't say how the concert was, I'm sure it was great, like several I had attended before and since, but I only had eyes and ears for this lovely brunette creature beside me that night.
Sharon was shorter than me at 5'- 6" to my 6' even. She was perfect as far as I could tell; she had a great figure with medium-sized boobs, a great ass, and fantastic legs, but to me, her eyes were her best feature. They were almost battleship grey with flecks of gold that sparkled in the light. Her smile lit up the whole night, much brighter than the sun, had it been shining that night. I fell in love that night, and I swore I would never hurt this angel come to earth just for me.
We dated off and on for about six months, except for the summer break, and I asked her to marry me just before Thanksgiving break. She said yes and I was on cloud nine. I asked if she would accompany me home to meet my parents in Round Rock. She hesitantly accepted. She said that she was a little afraid to meet my parents since she wasn't sure that they would like her for stealing their only son away from them.
I have three older sisters, and I was the baby of the family. My next older sister, Mary was 35 to my 22, with Faith at 43, and Hope at 40. My parents, John and Sheila, were both 62, so they still kind of doted on me as I still mostly lived at home, except when I was at school. I interned at DeGrady and Associates, an architectural firm that built homes and business buildings, during the summers. I was working toward an architectural degree so that I could work full time for them in Georgetown.
Sharon's parents lived in Bastrop, and she had two older married brothers, Jacob in Miami, and Gary in Santa Barbara. She also had a younger sister who was still in high school, and would graduate next year.
After calling her parents and promising them she would bring me for Christmas, she finally accepted my invitation to Thanksgiving at our home in Round Rock. Things progressed rapidly from there, and we were married after her graduation two years later.
I had now risen up the ladder and was the chief architect for large business and industrial plant buildings. We were sought after by many builders for our skills in architecture, ecological designs, and customer relations.
Sharon worked in a management consulting firm out of Round Rock, but we were both close to work with our home in Georgetown. I had to think that Sharon would go to her parents in Bastrop. I called their house and her mother Janet answered the phone.
"Hello, Margaret, is Sharon there? I really need to speak to her. This all some big mistake, I never was where she said I was. I was at work all day and can prove it."
"Rob, what is this all about? Sharon said that she needed a quick vacation and you were too busy at work to get off. She said the kids had tomorrow off for a teacher's work day. Now you tell me something different. What the heck is going on?"
"Margaret, Sharon left me and took the kids because one of her coworkers said she saw me at a motel with a blonde woman on Tuesday, but I swear to you that I was at work all day on Tuesday, and even had lunch catered by Jason's Deli. Beside all that, I love Sharon too much to cheat on her. You know I would never do that to her or our children. Please let me talk to her."
"I'll see what I can do. Hold on, just a minute."
I heard the phone being laid on a hard surface and then about five minutes later, Stanton, her father, picked up the phone. "Rob, I know this is hard for you, but let her settle down for right now, and I'll try to get her to call you tomorrow. She swears that Angela saw you and some blonde that she says was your secretary, Pamela, go into a room at the motel. Now, I don't know all the circumstances, but I can tell when someone is hurting and you both sound like your puppy just got run over. Give her some time, Rob, and I'll see what I can do."
"Please, Stanton, tell her that I love her, and tell the kids that I love them more than anything except their mother. Thanks for everything, tell Mom, too, that I love you guys and would never hurt you like this."
Stanton hung up, and I sat down in the kitchen and cried myself to sleep at the kitchen table. Sometime around three in the morning, I awoke in a start and realized that I was stiff all over. Sleeping at a kitchen table is not conducive to a restful night. I poured a half inch of my Tullamore Dew, gulped it down, and dragged myself to the master bedroom. I dropped my clothes wherever they landed, fell on the bed, and collapsed into crying and feeling sorry for myself. I had lost my reasons for living and thought I might never get them back.
The jarring of the radio woke me at 6:30 AM. I really didn't feel like going in to work today. I just couldn't work up the wherewithal to even care if I ever got up for work anymore. My life was over; kick the dirt over me because I'm dead. My body just hasn't realized the fact that my brain and my heart are dead. Still, I did have an important client coming in today.
I finally dragged my body out of bed and shut that damn alarm off. They were playing 'TGIF', that damn Friday song. Well, they may thank God it's Friday, but I would give everything I have, or ever hope to have, to make it be Tuesday again so that I could maybe head off this tragedy that has befallen us. I would try to convince Sharon to stay home with me and we could make love all day long, and Angela could swear on a stack of bibles that she saw me, but Sharon would know that was impossible because I was with her all day. I think that may be my only answer, for me to reverse time and live that Tuesday all over again.
I threw my arms wide in the shower, and looked up to the heavens; well, the ceiling anyway, and shouted, "GOD strike me dead right now, so I don't have to live with this grief. Take my life and prove to my family that I'm not the monster they think I am. Please take me, I beg of you. I can't stand the suffering and the grief that somehow has become my fault, and I don't know how. I guess it must be my fault to make me suffer like this. Please stop this hurt. Send me down below if you must, but why must I suffer like this?" I leaned against the cold tile wall and wept. I was still there when the water ran cold. I turned the water off as I shivered and shook, cold, and grief-stricken. I slumped in the tub and couldn't find the strength to even get out of the cold porcelain tub. Maybe I should just leave a note saying that I can't live without my family, and end it all by slitting my wrists. I can explain that if Sharon talked to Martin, my boss, or even Chester DeGrady, the managing partner, they would vouch for my whereabouts on Tuesday. But then, I would be in hell for killing myself, and although I may end up being vindicated of my supposed crime, nothing hell could do to me would be worse than losing my family.
I guess I had had enough of my little pity party, or maybe it was the bone-jarring coldness of the porcelain tub, but I had to move since I was starting to uncontrollably shiver. I finally dragged myself out of the bathroom, dried off what little wasn't already dry, and dressed for work. It was Friday, casual Friday, but we had a very important client coming in today and I really needed to look sharp and be sharp. I'm not sure how well the latter would be, but I could make sure the former was accomplished.
I made it to work and Pamela followed me into my office. "Rob, you might look like my boss in that suit, but except for the suit, you look like someone dragged you through a knothole backwards. Now, what the hell is going on? And don't you dare give me that 'nothing' routine, I've known you for too long not to know when your best friend died or something far worse. So talk!"
I don't know why, but I had somehow brought Sharon's letter with me. It was crumpled up into a ball in my pocket. I took it out and I threw it at Pam. "This is what's wrong, so live with it. I need coffee and plenty of it, black as night and twice as strong. Get some of Charlie's Community chicory laden brew. Cut me off about a foot of that stuff and feed it to me intravenously till I can seem to be somewhat human again. Until the client gets here I'm busy, understand."
Pam went out of my office and then was right back inside, saying, "The elixir of life is on the way. Now, who the hell is this Angela and how could she see you on Tuesday at the Holiday Inn when we were all here, except for the couple of times we went to the restrooms that day. We had the whole damn Board of Directors breathing down our necks because of that screw up by the Planning Board over in San Angelo. They were fine once they knew we were covered. So you figure she's in Bastrop with the kids?"