In my real life I have written numerous memos, bulletins, and letters. I have never written fiction (if we don't including a certain strategic plan written for the federal government). This is my first attempt. I posted this on the other site and now, we are here. Be gentle dear readers. Thanks to BarneyR and Walking Liberty for the editing and advice to make the story better. Any fault lies with me.
Chapter 1: Denial
I discovered my wife was cheating last July. I have been in the ninth circle of hell since then.
I never suspected it. At first I could not believe that my wife would do something like that. We had been married for a little over eight years and up until then I was the happiest man in the world.
Well-known psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross asserted that when a person is faced with the reality of impending death or other extreme awful fate, he/she will experience a series of emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I remembered this from some psychology lecture in college. Denial is the first stage and I was deep in it. If Mary was cheating, our marriage was dead. But she couldn't be. I wondered if I would suffer all stages of grief for the death of my love. I wondered if I ever reached acceptance, would the pain and heartbreak follow me forever.
I met Mary in college. I was studying computer science and as part of the general education requirements I had to take an English class. I was not looking forward to reading stories or poetry written by old and dead people. I figured that my mind could only hold so many things. Mostly, those things consisted of computer code and where the next party was going to be. I was the typical computer nerd, tall and a little gangly. I was a so-so student, wasn't good enough to be first string in any of the sports I went out for, didn't belong to any clubs or take part in any after school activities. But I was good with computers. I was the guy that everybody recognized and nodded hello to, but whose name they couldn't remember.
My love life had only consisted of a couple a turns with Pauline French after my senior year of high school. I think she took pity on me. We hung together for almost two months before she moved on to greener pastures. Since then, us computer nerds hung out and told stories about what great lovers we were – and what we would do to that pretty girl in class, if we ever had the chance.
When I met Mary my life changed. I sat next to her in the English class and fell into her eyes, those deep hazel eyes. I was lost in the deep pools of her eyes. During that first class I did not see much beyond her eyes, but as she was leaving I got a good look at the rest of her. Mary had shoulder length blonde hair with a slight curl at the ends. A cute button nose and lips that always had a little upturn at the corners. She wasn't as tall as me; I guessed she must have been about 5'7". I did not have enough experience with bra sizes, but I did notice that she did fill out her shirt nicely. Her lower half was sheathed in a pair of tight jeans that sculpted her backside nicely. She was perfect.
Every day after that, I made it a point to sit next to her. After a month, she spoke to me. She said that she noticed my calculus books and asked if I could tutor her as she was taking college algebra and having a difficult time. She said that she needed to pass the class to graduate. I would have agreed to anything she asked.
After that we met in the library Tuesdays and Thursdays after class. I tried to keep focused, but having the most beautiful girl next to me turned my mind to mush. Something must have worked because Mary got a "B" on her mid-term test. She was so happy. When she got the grade, she jumped up and down and grabbed me for a hug. She kissed my cheek and I thought my head was going to explode. I was in heaven.
Then I said something completely out of character for me, "Do you want to see a movie on Friday?"
"Sure, what time?"
"Wait, what?" I fumbled.
"I said yes, dummy."
I don't think my feet touched the ground all the way back to my dorm room.
I spent the rest of the week in a daze. I even went to the store to get a new pair of Dockers and a polo shirt to wear. My nerd friends teased me no end. I took it with a smile on my face. I was counting the minutes until my date. But, I survived somehow by the time Friday night arrived.
Our first date was to the latest Halloween movie. I know, real classy. It was a typical slasher movie with blood, dismemberments, and stupid characters. I thought that she would have to sit real close to me because she was frightened. Not so much. But, we had fun. Mary and I whispered 'who would be the next kid on the screen to get it'. She was right more often than I was. And later, I got a quick good night kiss on the doorstep.
On our fourth date, she invited me into her dorm room and we clumsily made love. It must have been good for her because, she invited me up again after our next date.
From there, we became a couple. Amazingly we had a lot of things in common: we liked the same movies, read the same books, and loved the same foods. After a couple of months, I was seriously in love.
By the time finals rolled around, I was sure that she was in love with me.
We were happy. Right before Christmas break, we were laying in her bed when I told her that I loved her. I said that she was the best thing to happened to me. She smiled and said "I love you too." Life was great.
Even though we didn't have any classes together in the spring semester, we still studied together in the library every day after classes. We picked up right where we left off after the break, with our love getting stronger each week.
We spent spring break together. We rented a cabin at the lake. I intended to go hiking and fishing, but I don't think we made it out of the cabin the whole week. On the last night, I got down on my knees and proposed. She said yes. Three months later we graduated and five months after that we were married.
After school I got a job doing computer security. Our company integrated security software into computers of small businesses that had anything from 10 to 50 workstations. I wrote code to make the different systems talk to each other. My boss was Bob.
Bob started the company 10 years ago with just two employees. After a couple of mergers and buyouts, his company had grown to about 50 employees and was doing great.
Bob was a good boss and mentor. After I had been with the company for about five years Bob got an offer to sell out. He said some big venture capital group in the city needed our position in the small business market to complement a larger computer division. He said the money was too good to pass up and he sold. He did stay on as manager and part of the deal was that we all kept our jobs. The overall effect was minimal. We never saw the new owners and Bob continued to run it his way. Work continued on uninterrupted.
Mary got a job right after graduation with Dr. Heubert, a dentist. She took over the role of office manager. Her boss was a kindly old dentist that reminded me of the absent-minded professor, right down to the funny glasses on the end of his nose that he was always searching for.
Dr. Heubert always seemed lost but he was a magician in a mouth. His dentistry skills were the best in the area and patients came from long distances to have him work on their teeth, if they could get an appointment.
When Mary began working there the office was in a shambles. Bills were unpaid, files were lost, billing systems were antiquated and – it was a general mess.
Mary set about to clean it up and help the good doctor to a better practice. The results were revolutionary. After three of years, the good doctor's practice was the envy of the region. Revenues were up, office turnover was eliminated, morale was high, and the doctor even dressed better. Mary was responsible for all of it. I was very proud of her.
After we married, Mary and I got a little apartment near my job. We christened every flat surface and every room numerous times.
We both decided to get our careers going before we had kids. Every year, we took a vacation around our anniversary. At first we couldn't afford much and went back to our cabin by the lake. After a couple of years our vacations got a little better and one year we flew to Florida and spent a week at Disneyworld.
About five years in the apartment we decided to look for a house. After looking around for a couple of months, we picked a small house with enough room for our soon to be family to grow into. We bought it and moved in. Again utilizing every flat surface and every room for our sexual gymnastics.
After about seven years, Mary came home from work very excited. It appeared that the management and organization of the good doctor's office was being noticed. The doctor had a couple of big dollar executive types as patients and they had been asking about Mary. They noticed the office's turnaround and commented to the doctor. Dr. Heubert could not say enough about Mary. One of the executives approached Mary with of a job offer.
That night and over the next few days, we discussed the offer. I felt that we were on the verge of starting a family and that this new job would set that back a couple of years. We didn't need the additional money and Dr. Heubert was like family to us. She felt that this could open up to greater opportunities in the future. If we could hold off on the family for a couple of years, she said she would make it up to me.
I didn't have much of a choice and I relented. One month later Mary began as the personal assistant to Dana Larson, vice-president of finance for Cascade Capital. I didn't know at the time, but Cascade Capital was the venture capital firm the ultimately owned the company I was already working for.
Early on I never noticed a change in Mary or in our relationship. Our lovemaking did decrease, but I assumed it was because of the sometimes-odd hours she and her boss worked. Occasionally she had to attend meetings with him past dinner and was tired when she got home. In the later months, our sex life began to suffer more. I tried to do things to please Mary, but she ignored all of my advances. I don't think we made love for the two months leading up to the awards dinner. The concept of her cheating on me was so alien that I never even considered it.
Chapter 2: Anger
I found out that Mary was cheating with her boss on the day of her company's annual awards dinner. I could not, would not, believe it. Each year her company has a dinner to celebrate the past year's successes and recognize the big players. We were invited to go. As we prepared to leave I still could not believe that Mary was cheating. I reviewed the past months in my head and could not see anything.
We loved each other. I loved her and trusted her with my life. Looking back, I may have suffered from love blindness. I needed some kind of proof that Mary was unfaithful, some sign that I could confirm with my own eyes. I took my blinders off and got ready for the dinner. As I watched her prepare, I took careful note. What was she wearing, what her makeup looked like, how much lipstick, thong underwear, stockings ... all of it.
On the drive I said little. Mary was excited because Mr. Larson, her boss, was getting some kind of award. (Most profit or maybe most wives slept with.) If this were true, my anger would sure be coming out next. I knew I had to control this to get the facts. Now I knew how Bruce Banner felt.
We arrived right on time as Mary planned it that way. We quickly entered and Mary rushed off to make sure that everything was going well. About fifteen minutes later he walked in. On his arm was his wife. She was beautiful. (What did he need my Mary for when he had that waiting for him at home?)
I walked over to the bar and got a drink and studied him. I saw how people gravitated towards him as if he were royalty. Sucking up to the boss. I saw his phony smiles and the way he placated everyone. I hated him.
Very quickly, Mary was at his side. Larson's wife, Caroline, moved off to say hello to some of the other executive's wives. From across the room, I watched how Larson and Mary interacted. I saw the glances, the touches on the arm, the smiles. It was a definitely more than a boss/personal assistant relationship.
Soon we sat down for dinner. Larson and his wife sat at the head table with us at a another table – close by. Mary selected the seat facing Larson. Thus began a typical boring awards banquet. We had rubber chicken for the main course and long pompous speeches for dessert. After dinner, tables were moved out and the dancing began.
I tried to keep Mary close to me, but often she said the she had to run over to Larson to assist with some task. Whenever they were together, I tried to keep an eye on them but sometimes this turned out impossible. Mary's co-workers came up to me to talk or some other distraction prevented me from constant vigilance.
Mary and I danced a couple of times to both slow and fast songs, at times embracing and others inches apart. A little after midnight, I was getting tired. I mentioned to Mary that we should be leaving soon and, eventually, she reluctantly agreed. But first she asked for one more dance.
On that dance floor, my world crashed. Mary was no longer wearing her underwear. I knew during the previous dances that she had her panties on and I could feel it. Now her backside was smooth. No sight of the blue thong I saw her put on this evening. I was crushed. In our entire life together, I had never known her to be without underwear. Even when I asked – she had refused. But somehow, she did it for him. We said our good-byes soon after and left. The drive home was quiet, each of us in our own thoughts, in our own world. Or in my case, in my own hell.
When we arrived home Mary dashed upstairs saying something about needing a shower before bed. I mumbled something. It didn't matter anymore. I stripped off my suit, hung it up, and climbed into bed. A few minutes later Mary crawled into bed beside me. She was wearing her long cotton nightgown. As she leaned over to me she said, "Wasn't that a glorious night?"
I pretended to already be asleep. She gave me a peck on the cheek and rolled over away from me. I heard her breathing change in a couple of minutes signaling sleep. It was then that the first tears started to flow, soaking my pillow.
The next morning, as I stood under the hot water of my shower I think I experienced every feeling known to man: love, hate, anger, pain ... then there were thoughts of more revenge but also of leniency, sentiments of inadequacy for not being man enough to keep my woman, feeling foolish for not detecting her deceit before now, and finally, triumphant in my ultimate discovery. My thoughts bounced around inside me, colliding, becoming nothing more than noise inside my head. At the end of the shower, the overriding emotion was anger. I would make him pay. Somehow.
In the following days, I looked for a way to make him suffer for what he had done to my marriage. Murder was out, nor did I think I could sneak up on him and use a lead pipe on his knees. There must be a way.
I knew Mary had some responsibility for this mess also. She'd lied to me. She'd sworn fidelity and then betrayed me. I thought back through our history together. Where did I go wrong, what did I do to lose her respect; when did I lose it? Did she let herself be seduced by his money and power? I had trusted her and I had invested years of my life in her because I believed in her. Years I would never get back.
They both would pay.
The solution presented itself a few days later. Mary had gone to the shopping mall for some new shoes – at least that's what she told me. On the counter sat Mary's laptop. If I could hack into their company's system, maybe I could find a way to make them suffer.
I am a computer security expert so I figured it would not be too difficult to hack their system. I booted her computer up, linked to her work system, and waited for the password prompt. Knowing Mary, her password would not be too hard to crack. But before I began my first attempt, I noted her day planner on the counter.
Being married to a computer security expert, Mary wouldn't break the first rule of passwords, would she? I opened the day planner, turned to the letter "P" and sure enough her password was written right there. I began to look through the day planner and found a gold mine. Not only were her login and passwords written down, but Larson's as well – as well as credit card numbers, bank accounts, birthdates, and social security numbers. I made a quick trip to Kinkos and copied of all the pages in her day planner.
I would explore their system at another time.
That time presented itself a few days later. Again Mary left her computer on the counter while she went out. I booted it up and logged in using her password. Since she worked for the vice-president, she had access to almost the entire system. I could see payroll, purchasing, accounting, and most of the production systems.
I found the email system and looked around there a bit. I did not read or copy all Mary's emails. I did not want to read all the details of her liaisons. I was having a hard enough time just keeping food down as it is.
There had to be a way for revenge somewhere in this system.
I looked into the accounting system. Actually, it was a very basic system and not very well secured. Maybe my payback solution was in here. I looked at their purchasing system. It appeared that once an invoice was entered, it had to be approved and then moved for payment.
Maybe I could make a couple of changes to an invoice after it had been approved, have the system forward the money to Larson or an account set up in Larson's name and then wait for the auditors to catch him. Brilliant. Larson would be ruined, Mary would be out of a job, and the affair would be done.
I set about my plan the next day. Using the information from Mary's day planner, I set up an account in Larson's name at a bank downtown. Then I went across the street into another bank and did the same. With the new account information in hand; I just needed a crack at Mary's computer to complete the transfer.
The next day while Mary was at the gym, I struck. I logged in using Larson's password and went directly to the accounting system. I found an invoice that had been approved and opened it up. The invoice had a place for a rebate to the manufacturer. I entered three percent as the rebate and Larson's bank information into the bank routing field. (I figured three percent would not raise an immediate red flag.) I did the same on another invoice sending the rebate to the other bank account.
I closed out of the system and poured myself a drink. I opened the good scotch this time. The first drink was to congratulate myself on a great plan. The second drink was to help me forget about my failed marriage.
I waited a couple of days and nothing happened, no police raids, no newspaper headlines, no nothing. Damn. Maybe the plan was good, but not the scale. So at my first chance, I got Mary's computer, logged in, and altered a couple more invoices. I got in and out in a flash. Still nothing. Maybe if I bumped the rebate to four percent. The next day, I jumped in the system, added a four percent rebate to two invoices, and jumped out.
Our home life was stressed. I had stopped approaching Mary for sex and she never came to me. I stayed up late at night to watch the Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears – or any other game that was on. We had cable as there was always some game on to keep me interested. Mary made a comment about my new interest in sports. I told her that these games were important and that everybody at work watched them.
I had a very hard time even touching Mary. The thought that she had given what was once mine to another made my head spin. More than once after a hug or quick kiss, I would run to the nearest toilet with nausea.
Then the game changed. When I got to work the next day, Bob called me into his office. He said that corporate wanted to send me to New York to update the branch office's security systems. I looked at Bob with a big question mark on my face. "Me?"
"Yes, they asked for you by name. They want you to fly out Monday morning and return Friday. They want you to update all the workstations and servers in the New York office."
"Bob, I don't do that kind of stuff. Updating software is an IT job. Why me?"
Bob replied, "I have no idea. I tried to explain that's not what we do and that is definitely not what you do. But they were adamant. It has to be you. No one else."
Then I realized what this was. My wife's lover wanted me gone for a couple of days. I guess that they were not getting enough quality time together. I resigned myself, "Okay Bob, I'll go."
"Thanks, I have never had cooperate make these kinds of demands and I hope they don't continue." He handed over a couple of airline tickets. Oh, I thought, this crap will continue as long as Larson is out of jail. I just decided to kick my revenge plan up a notch.
Later that night, Mary, and I were having dinner. Life around the house had been different lately. I had been doing my best not to strangle her and she had been doing her best not to have sex with me. (I tested the waters a couple of times and made an attempt at a seduction, only to get shot down, coldly. Not that I could have followed through if she agreed, but I wanted to keep up appearances.)
I mentioned that I had to go to New York for the next week. She pretended that she would miss me. This is when I found out about Mary's involvement. Mary let it slip how excited she was about the theater next week. But when I looked up from my plate, she quickly changed her story to say she was going to the "movie" theater with her girlfriends to see the latest chick flick. I pretended not to notice the lie.
I wondered where Larson's wife was going to be. She must be out of town too. What excuse did he use for her? I needed a scotch. I had been using scotch as an anesthesia more and more lately. That was not a good thing.
Mary's participation in this New York farce brought her into my crosshairs. The next day, I opened a couple of accounts in her name at both the downtown banks. Before the weekend, I logged in and altered a couple more invoices. I sent a couple of the rebates to Larson's accounts and a couple to Mary's new accounts. Both would go down now.
I could feel my whole persona changing, I was no longer the nice, fun loving guy everyone knew; a darker side of me was emerging, a side I didn't even know was there, a side I didn't think I was going to like very much.
Damn, I thought, their account people must be slow. What is taking them so long to discover the thefts?
The trip to New York was both interesting and educational. The flight getting there was not good. I hate flying. Since 911, flying has become such a hassle. The added time needed to get through all the security made it a drudge. I am always exhausted when I arrive. This trip was no different. I went straight to the hotel and crashed. The next day, bright and early, I was at the branch office. I had the entire office updated by 2:00 p.m. the first day. I spent the rest of the day and the following day looking for things to fix: worn cables, a couple of graphic cards, and a bad hard drive. All in all, the trip was a waste of my time. With each passing minute my anger at the adulterous lovers grew. Tuesday night I went to the hotel room and never left again – except for one quick trip to the top of the Empire State Building – and left for home on Friday.
I came home exhausted on Friday night. I gave Mary a quick peck in the cheek and went straight to bed. I think she appreciated that fact that she didn't have to make up an excuse to turn down any of my advances for sex.
One thing the New York trip did accomplish was to question my view of the final outcome of this mess. What did I want the end to look like? What about Larson's wife, Caroline?
During the next couple of weeks, I did get the opportunity to log into Larson's system a couple of times. I hoped those auditors would get a clue soon. By now, we were talking some big dollars sitting in those accounts.
Then they sent me to Denver. Bob called me in and said that the New York office was very happy with my work and they wanted the same thing in Denver. I looked at Bob and he just shrugged his shoulders. He said he had no clue why I was going and I believed him. When I got there, it was the same thing. I spent a couple of days on System Security 101, and the rest in the hotel room.
Chapter 3: Bargaining
Using Mary's computer I logged into the lover's fake bank accounts. All told, there was over a million dollars in them. It was a given that Mary and I would be getting a divorce. Then I thought, is this money community property? I laughed to myself.