Sometimes, when I'm working on a long, in-depth story, I get so engrossed that I need to take a mental hiatus. It's usually during one of these cerebral breaks that I come up a short flash story. "Continental Divide," and "He Said No," are two such stories. This is but another. There is no sex so if that's what floats your boat you'll probably want to take a pass. For the rest of you, I hope you enjoy the read, and as usual, I love to see those comments.
Thanks ... and now;
I don't know, maybe I should have seen it coming. I knew my wife had been spending a lot of time with her friend, Audrey. I wasn't crazy about that. Audrey was divorced and lived a pretty wild life as far as I was concerned. She was constantly changing boyfriends. I couldn't keep up with them; but then I had no reason to try, I really didn't like her.
Even so, I never tried to come between her and my wife, Linda. Looking back, maybe that was a mistake, I don't know. All I do know is that she was instrumental in convincing my wife to rip my heart out.
Linda and I had been married for seventeen years. We had a fifteen year old daughter, Tanya. Our son, Clay, was two years younger. We lived as I guess most suburban families do. Linda worked in a doctor's office and I was pretty successful at selling computer software. We had a nice home, two nice cars, and a wonderful family life; at least as far as I was concerned.
The first indication I had that Linda didn't exactly share my utopian view of things, was when I came home one Friday night to see her and Audrey sitting at the kitchen table. Audrey looked as smug as ever but I thought Linda looked a little worried. It didn't take a genius to figure out something was up.
"Hi darling," Linda said while standing to give me a kiss.
"Hi honey," I responded, putting my briefcase down and wrapping my arms around my lovely wife. After we kissed, I glanced at Audrey and greeted her with a simple, "Hi."
"I'm going to run upstairs and change," I said reaching down for my attaché.
"Okay darling. Would you like a cup a coffee? Ah," she seemed to be searching for words, "Audrey and I have something we'd like to talk to you about when you come back down."
"What?" I asked figuring there was no time like the present.
"Um ... well, why don't you go up and change, honey. I'll get your coffee and we'll talk when you come back down, okay?"
I looked into her eyes for some sign of what it was all about. She was definitely anxious about something. I felt a tinge of fear go through my body as I glanced over and saw the smirk on Audrey's face. Whatever the two were cooking up, I was sure I wasn't going to like it.
My brain went into overdrive as I climbed the stairs. One by one I thought of a dozen different possible scenarios of what I would face when I returned. None of them, however, prepared me for what actually happened.
It took me only a few minutes to change from my suit and tie, into a pair of casual slacks and a polo shirt. My coffee was sitting on the table in front of my chair when I walked back into the kitchen. Audrey was busily chatting away. It almost sounded like she was coaching my wife about something but she was talking in a loud whispering and I couldn't hear her that well. They didn't even notice me until I was on the other side of the table.
I sat down, took a sip of coffee and looked at them. "Okay, what's going on? What's this all about?"
Linda was hesitant, and for a moment, froze without saying a word until Audrey gave her a little prompt.
"Go ahead," she told my wife. "He loves you, he'll understand."
Linda lowered her eyes as if she couldn't look me in the face. "Honey, ah ... you know I love you ... very much, so please don't take this the wrong way, but ... um, well I ... ah, I want to go out on a few dates with Audrey. Not all the time," she blurted out, "just once in a while."
I wasn't quite sure I understood what she meant by "dates." Whatever she meant the answer was going to be no, but I couldn't believe she was actually talking about screwing other guys. I had to clarify.
"Just what do you mean by dates? Are you talking about having sex with other men?"
Audrey broke in. "It doesn't mean she doesn't love you, Robert."
I was going to cut her off by telling her I was talking to my wife but decided to let her speak. I knew this wasn't my wife's idea, it had Audrey's name written all over it, but I wanted to see if I could figure out how the hell she got Linda to go along.
She continued. "It's just sex, it doesn't mean anything. We were talking and she told me, that besides you, she's only been with one other man in her whole life. That's ridiculous, Robert. I'm sure you've had a lot more women than that. She needs to get out and have a little fun."
I looked back at my wife. "So, sex with me isn't fun?"
Linda finally looked up at me. I tried to mask the pain in my face but I don't think I was doing a very good job.
"I didn't say that," responded Audrey, again heading Linda off. "But men have different ways of doing things. It's just variety, that's all. There are a lot of guys out there that love their wives enough to let them go out and have a little fun. It doesn't mean anything, Robert. It's just sex. Hell, Linda and I discussed it and decided it was only fair to let you get a little on the side as well, if you wanted."
I looked back at Linda. I'm not sure if it was fear or regret that I saw, but I think she was beginning to feel like this was a big mistake.
"I see," I said flatly. I could feel tears building in my eyes but was determined to hold them back. "Audrey, can you stick around for a little while? I want to discuss this more when I come back," I said rising from me chair.
"Sure," she replied with a triumphant look on her face. I'm sure she thought she had me.
"Where are you going?" Linda asked, finally speaking again.
"I'll be back in a little while," I responded but not answering her question.
I went into my home office and closed the door. Since I was a kid I've always taken a no-nonsense approach to life. Oh, I don't mean I don't like to have fun. I can party with the best of them and I have a great sense of humor, but when it comes to serious matters, I believe in facing them head-on.
I fought more tears as I sat down at my computer and started typing my response to Linda's proposal.
I never thought I would be so hurt by the woman I have loved with all my heart for so many years, but when you informed me of your intentions to have sex outside of our marriage, you broke my heart. I know your friend, Audrey is behind it, but your willingness to go along with her scheme has already damaged our relationship and our marriage.
Just to be absolutely clear as to my position concerning your intended infidelity, I categorically state, I will consider any sexual relations of any kind, with a male or female, as a betrayal and a violation of our wedding vows.
To further clarify, sexual relations include any oral or physical stimulation of a sexual manner, either given or received.
Should you disregard my feelings in this matter and continue with your adulterous quest; here's what will happen:
1.) Monday morning, I will immediately file for divorce.
2.) I will contact our parents and everyone we know to inform them of our impending divorce and explain exactly why I took the action I did.
3.) I will sit down with the children and explain the reasons we are divorcing.
4.) Until our divorce is final, I will leave no stone unturned until I uncover the names of anyone you date. If they are married, I will inform their wives. I will have no mercy and no sympathy for them or their families. (make sure they know this before you put them and their families in jeopardy)
5.) Once the divorce process has started there will be no turning back. We will always be connected through our children but I will break off all emotional ties with you and start rebuilding my life without you in it.
My dear, you have a choice to make. Above are the consequences should you make good on your threat to have sex with other men. However, should you decide you would rather continue in this marriage, there will be conditions.
As I have already stated, revealing your intentions for having extra-marital sex has hurt me more than I ever thought I could be hurt. At this point I don't know if I can forgive you or if the damage to our marriage can be repaired, but I am willing to try, providing you accept my terms.
1) Immediately cut all ties with Audrey. Never again be in contact with her for any purpose.
2) Until I decide different, you will move your belongings into the spare bedroom and sleep there.
3) You will make an appointment with your doctor and be tested for STDs. I will not even consider having sex with you until I know for sure you are safe. Should any results prove positive, I will immediately file for divorce.
4) Consent to putting a GPS in your car that I will access on a daily basis and answer any questions I might have as to your whereabouts without any negative attitude.
5) Agree to marriage counseling.
If you concur with my demands I will try my best to forgive you, but rebuilding my trust will take time and patience.
What you must do now, my darling, is choose. I pray you choose wisely.
Hurt, but still with all my love,
Cc: Audrey Simpson; Mr. and Mrs. Darrel Hoskins; Mr. and Mrs. Brice Anderson; Mr. John Coulter, attorney at law.
I could hear Linda and Audrey talking as I finished. I knew they moved from the kitchen to the couch in the living room. I wished I could hear what they were saying but in the end it really didn't matter. I had taken my stand and there would be no negotiations.
I went into mail-merge and addressed an envelope and a copy of the letter to my parents, Linda's parents, and our family attorney. I stuffed and sealed each envelope respectively and stamped them. I then made two more copies for the co-conspirators.
I saw them both turn their heads in my direction when they heard me exit my office.
"I'll be right back," I said heading for the front door. "I have something for the mailbox."
"Mailbox?" my wife questioned. "Can't that wait, we have to talk..."
I was out the door before she could complete what she was saying. I walked to the corner and mailed all three copies of my deposition. A few minutes later I was back. I approached both women sitting on my couch and handed them each a copy of my statement.
"What's this?" Linda queried. "Have you considered what we talked about?"
"Yes I have," I countered. "You hold in your hand my thoughts on the subject. I wanted to spell them out in black and white to make sure there are no misunderstandings."
They both tentatively started to unfold their paper.
I carefully watched Linda's face as she read. Tears immediately flooded her eyes.
"You bastard!" screamed Audrey. "What kind of a prick are you? Come on, Linda," she said taking my wife by the hand.
"Shut up," my wife yelled, jerking her hand from Audrey's grip. "He's my husband and I love him. Nobody, including you, is going to call him names in my presence."
The look of shock on Audrey's face was priceless.
"Out!" my wife continued. "I want you out of my house and out of my life. I don't ever want to see or hear from you again ... EVER!"
Linda stood and lifted Audrey up by the arm. "This is goodbye, Audrey," she said escorting her former friend to the door. "I mean it. I listened to you and now my marriage is in trouble. Stay away from me," were her last words before slamming the door in Audrey's face.
She turned toward me with tears rolling down her cheeks. "I'm so sorry. I ... I didn't mean to hurt you. Yes, I accept your demands and anything else you say. I swear, Robert, I haven't done anything but I'll be glad to get tested for STDs; just ... just please tell me that eventually you'll forgive me. I know it will take time but I love you, I don't want a divorce. Heavens, I ... I can't even picture my life without you."
"I said I'd try, Linda. I can't promise more than that right now ... except for one thing; one slip, if I catch you trying to satisfy your curiosity by so much as standing in the same room with a naked person, it's over."
"I know," she replied sadly. "I know it will take time to convince you, but I have no desire to ever be with anyone but you. I know now, I never really did."
That night I helped her move her clothes to the spare bedroom. For the time being, we simply told the kids we had a fight and were sleeping in different rooms until we cooled off. They were skeptical, I could see it in their faces, but cautiously accepted our explanation.
The next day I went out and bought a GPS for Linda's car. Without her knowledge, I also bought a recording device for the phones. It was a simple little gizmo. All you did was plug it into any phone jack. When a call was either placed or received from any phone in the house, it recorded both sides of the conversation. When the connection was broken the recorder stopped. I set it up in my office and hid the unit behind the filing cabinet ... just in case!
Sunday I equipped Linda's car with the GPS and downloaded the software to my laptop. I was hopeful but not assured of our future together.
Linda's job required her to work only four days a week. She got Saturday, Sunday, and Mondays off. Needless-to-say, I kept my eye on that GPS signal all day at work, Monday. She went to the grocery store about ten o'clock, other than that the car never left the drive. I was still very apprehensive and anxious to review the phone tap.
When I got home that night the kids were doing their homework at the kitchen table while Linda was cooking dinner.
"Hi honey," she said rushing over to give me a kiss.
I saw the disappointment in her eyes when I turned my cheek to her.