I didn't have a clue. Not even a smidgen. One day I had a wife and the next day I didn't.
I got a call from my wife at work and she told me that her sister was in trouble and she had to go and help her. She told me that the kids were at my mothers and I would need to pick them up when I got off work. She told me she would talk to me later and then she hung up. I didn't get the usual "I love you" just the click of the phone being put in its cradle.
I didn't understand why I needed to pick up the kids up at my moms. The twins were fifteen and could have walked home from school so why were they at my moms which was twenty miles away? Oh well, I thought, I could get the answers when she called me latter.
It made even less sense to me when I drove to moms and found out that Janet had picked them up at school and had driven them to moms. That made no sense at all. It was only a ten minute walk from the school to our house and the twins were old enough to take care of themselves until I got home.
I asked the girls why their mom had brought them to their grandmothers and they told me that they didn't know. All she told them was that they needed to go to grandmas until I could pick them up. The girls did say that she seemed agitated over something and I put it down to her being worried about her sister.
When we got home I told the girls (Janice and Jessica) that we were on our own and to figure out what they wanted for dinner and I'd get started on it as soon as I changed out of my suit and tie. They told me that they would handle dinner and for me to sit down and relax.
The first inkling that I had that something was not right was when I went into the bathroom. Something was off. It just didn't seem right. It took a minute for it to register that none of Janet's things were there. Her hair dryer and curling iron weren't on the counter where they had always been. None of her cosmetics were there. I looked under the counter and saw that the shampoo and all of the other things she used were gone.
I went into our large walk in closet and found that her side was completely empty. A quick check of her dresser drawers showed that they were empty also. Concerned, I got on the bedside phone and called Janet's sister Jasmine. I found out that not only was Jasmine not in trouble of any kind, but that she hadn't spoken to Janet in over two weeks. Next I called Janet's parents and they told me that they hadn't talked to Janet all week. As I hung up the phone I had to accept the obvious. Janet had packed up and left.
I went all through the house looking in all the places where she might have left a note and found nothing. It finally occurred to me that Janet had taken the girls to my moms to buy her time to pack up and get out. My having to go from work to my mom's and then get home would have taken me an hour and a half. More if mom had asked us to stay for dinner.
I went on line and checked out our checking and savings accounts and found that she hadn't touched them. She had told me that she would call me later so all I could do was wait for her call.
The call didn't come.
At ten to eleven I accepted that the call wasn't going to come. I spent the next fifteen minutes on the computer and did some internet banking. I had no idea if Janet had overlooked the money in her haste to leave or didn't intend to touch it, but I was going to make sure that if it was an oversight on her part she was not going to be able to correct it. After moving funds around I got on the phone and cancelled every credit card she was on and then I went to bed.
I didn't sleep at all that night, but still, tired or not, I had things to do. I woke the girls up a half hour early and told them I was taking them out to breakfast before dropping them off at school.
Over breakfast at the Village Inn I told them everything that I had found and then said:
"It looks like your mother got tired of us and ran off and left us."
The two of them looked at each other and then Jessica said, "She has been acting funny for a couple of weeks. I wonder if that has something to do with it."
"Acting funny? How?"
"Stuff like hanging up the phone when we walk into the room. Not being home when we got home from school and maybe a half hour or so later coming home and rushing upstairs to take a shower. Twice she put the clothes she was wearing in the washing machine. No other clothes; just the ones she was wearing when she got home."
I doubt the twins knew it, but the behavior they had just described was the behavior of a cheating wife. And I hadn't a clue. What is it they always say? The husband is always the last to know?
I told the girls that we would have to make some changes. They were going to have to take over some of the things that their mother used to take care of. Cooking, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and things like that. I told them I would cook on weekends and be responsible for my bedroom and my home office. I softened things somewhat when I told them there would be a hefty increase in their allowances to go along with their increased responsibilities.
I dropped them off at school and then I drove downtown and was waiting at the bank when the doors opened. I took care of what I needed to do there and then I went into work. Not being one to let grass grow under my feet I got on the phone as soon as I sat down at my desk and called several friends who had gone through divorces. I got recommendations on divorce attorneys and then I called one and made an appointment.
Next I called Jasmine and filled her in on what I knew. I figured that sooner or later Janet would call her sister and I wanted to stay in touch with Jasmine so she would call me and fill me in on whatever she was able to find out. Next I called Janet's parents and brought them up to date and then I called my parents and filled them in on what was happening. My father suggested I go down to the police station and file a missing person's report just to cover my ass.
"The longer she stays gone and no one hears from her the more people will wonder if there wasn't some sort of foul play. Put the cops on it up front."
I saw the wisdom of that and I made it my next order of business. I used my lunch hour to go to the station where I was told I couldn't file a report for another twenty-four hours and that even then there wouldn't be much effort put forth in looking for her.
"See it all the time. Wife gets bored with her lot in life and takes off. They usually come back. We will send out notices to hospitals and other law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for her, but if there are no indications of foul play we have to assume that she just wanted to get away."
That was pretty much what I was thinking so it didn't really come as a surprise to me that Janet wouldn't be a high priority with them. But I had put them in the loop and that is all I was looking to do. I wasn't all that sure that I wanted to find her anyway. With what the kids told me added to the fact that Janet didn't have a car and so had to have help in moving her stuff convinced me that she had run off with another man. Why would I want her back?
Janet had been gone two days when I met with the attorney. Most of what I got from him wasn't encouraging. We lived in what was called a 'no fault' state and everything we had would be split fifty/fifty. The divorce would be expensive because we would have to find her to have her served. There were private investigative agencies that did that kind of work, but they were expensive. His best advice was for me to do nothing until she came back or let some one know where she was. Or let Janet do the divorcing and if she didn't after a year I could divorce her for abandonment. After careful thought that is what I decided to do.
The twins and I had another sit down meeting after I had talked with the attorney. I laid it out for them. We were on our own. The thing that was most surprising to me was that the twins didn't seem to care one way or another. It was a couple of months before I found out why.
It seems like over the past year their mother had been distancing herself from them. The connection that they once shared with their mother disappeared and they thought that they knew why. Janet was already making her plans to bail out on us.
A month went by and then two and no one heard from Janet. And then what my father had feared happened. Janet's Uncle Steve began making noises that his niece would never have just up and walked away like that and he pushed the police to look deeper into her disappearance, Uncle Steve's best friend was the Mayor so his pushing had some weight behind it.
The police dug and dug and they found nothing. I mean that literally. They got a warrant and some kind of ground reading radar and went over my back yard. They found readings that they didn't like in two places and they actually dug up parts of the yard. They found bones! Apparently the people that owned the house before us had a dog and a cat that had died and they had buried them in the backyard.
They interviewed the twins, all of Janet's relatives and my mother and concluded that Janet had taken off on her own. Uncle Steve wouldn't accept it and one day, after having several drinks to build up his courage, he came after me. He told me he knew I'd done something to his niece and he would beat it out of me if he had to. I turned my back on him and started to walk away and he hit me from behind.
I fell and he moved to kick me, but I rolled out of the way and got to my feet. Uncle Steve didn't know it, but he had just fucked up big time. Months of being totally pissed at what Janet had done to me and the girls plus all the shit I'd been put through because of his pushing for an investigation had built up a huge amount of anger in me and Uncle Steve had pushed the button to release it.
I tore into him with a vengeance. I put him in the hospital with a broken nose, two eyes swollen shut, two cracked ribs and a dislocated shoulder. And there wasn't shit he or his good buddy the Mayor could do about it. I had fourteen witnesses, one of whom was a minister and two who were off duty policemen, who saw Uncle Steve attack me from behind.
To add insult to injury I pressed charges and unfortunately for Uncle Steve the District Attorney and the Mayor were old enemies and the DA had his eyes on the Governor's mansion and was in no mood to cut deals especially for a buddy of the Mayor. It went to trial Uncle Steve had a pretty good attorney who was able to convince the judge and jury that he was so despondent over his niece being missing that it affected his judgment. Of the four counts against him the jury only found him guilty of simple assault and the judge gave him the minimum penalty allowed. Uncle Steve spent sixty days in county jail, was put on a year's probation and given five hundred hours of community service.
Uncle Steve's actions did have consequences for me. Neighbors and others I knew were distancing themselves from me. If I walked down the street neighbors who used to wave at me and say hi would abruptly turn and go into the house or garage rather than acknowledge me. I mentioned it to a close friend and he told me what he thought it was.
"A long as the cops left you alone everybody believed that Janet just ran off, but when the cops started digging up your yard looking for a body their thinking changed. They started thinking that although the cops didn't have proof you did anything they must strongly suspect that you had something to do with Janet's disappearance or why would they go to the trouble of digging up your yard? Ergo, where there is smoke there must be fire."
Regardless of her uncle's actions Jasmine and I stayed on good terms and she became a surrogate mother to the twins. They went to her for advice they couldn't (or didn't want to) get from me. Jasmine took them shopping for clothes and spent some quality time with them. She even helped me organize and hold a Sweet Sixteen birthday party for them.
Between my parents, Janet's parents and Jasmine the girls never seemed to miss their mother at all. I, on the other hand, did miss her or rather I missed a service she had provided. To put it bluntly I missed getting pussy and I didn't know what to do about it. I know it sounds crass to dismiss the woman I'd loved for nearly half of my life as nothing more than a sperm receptacle, but that is all that she was to me in my mind any more. I felt nothing for her. The way she had abandoned me and the girls had killed all my feelings for her.
I know that some people say that you can't just turn off love like turning off a light, but I did. All the love that had built up over seventeen years of marriage and the two years of going together before we tied the knot was gone. If Janet had shown up and knocked on the door (I'd long since changed the locks) and I opened it to find Janet standing there I would have spit in her face and then slammed the door shut on her. But I did need pussy and I needed to do something about it.
So I did what I'd done since the day that Janet left. If it pertained to me and the girls I sat down and talked things over with them and the way I saw it they were involved. I was still married to their mother even though she wasn't around and I wasn't going to do anything that would make my girls think ill of me. After dinner one night I said:
"I have a problem girls. Your mother is gone and is never coming back. Even if she did come back I would have nothing to do with her. My problem is that I need feminine companionship, but I am still married to your mother. I can't divorce her since I don't where she is to have her served. What I need to know is how you feel about it. How is my starting to date again going to sit with you?"
Janice laughed and said, "We aren't kids anymore dad. You don't need to sugar coat it. By dating you mean that you need to get laid. Am I right?"
Then Jessica giggled and said, "Now look at what you have done Jan. He's blushing. You've embarrassed him."
"So what? If he wants to sound us out on things we have to have everything out there in the open. It saves us a step."
I had to ask, "What do you mean that it saves a step?"
"You leave this meeting knowing that we are okay with you dating - and we are both okay with it by the way - and then given the way you involve us in the decision making process when you get to where you want to take the dating a step farther you will call another meeting and ask us how we would feel about it. Jess and I are eliminating that step. Go. Spread pollen. Just know that like we know you will always be here for us we are always going to be here for you."
I looked at the both of them and wondered about the differences between my generation at age sixteen and the current generation of the same age. No way when I was sixteen could I have had this conversation with either of my parents. I couldn't have had it at twenty-one. Then Jessica really shocked me when she said:
"I even know who you could date and she would be perfect for you."
Jan spoke up and said, "I told you to leave that alone Jess."
"You did, but I don't remember you being appointed boss. Besides, I'm older than you and I wouldn't pay any attention to what you said anyway."
"Only six minutes older."
"So? Older is still older be it one minute or twenty."
"Okay" I said, "Now you have my attention. Just who is this person that you want to bring up and that Jan doesn't want you too?"
"Aunt Jas" Jessica said.
"You can't be serious" I said.
"Why not? She is beautiful and I know that she has been lonely since Uncle Fred died and I know that she likes you."
"I like her too, but it just isn't possible."
"Think of what it would do to her side of the family. Just imagine how your grandparents would take their son in law moving from one of their daughters to the other. Thanks to Uncle Steve's efforts they are a bit leery of me anyway."
"You are imagining things dad. We have talked with them and we have told them how mom was acting over the past year. They would probably be happy if you hooked up with Aunt Jas."
"Why would you think that?"
"Without mom here you could decide to move and that would take their granddaughters away from them. If you were with Aunt Jas you would be more likely to stay."
"Why would I move in the first place?"
"You work for a big corporation dad. What if they offered you a big promotion and raise to take a spot in some other city or state? You might just take it to get away from here and all the bad memories here."
And then Jan piped up with, "Aunt Jas probably needs to get laid as bad as you do. I don't think she has dated since Uncle Fred pasted away."
Somewhere along the way my sixteen year olds had become thirty without me noticing it. I just shook my head and got up from the table and started doing the dishes. As I was scrubbing the pots I thought about Jasmine. If she wasn't Janet's sister I could have very well been interested in her. That prompted the thought "What the hell does being Janet's sister have anything to do with it? Why should Janet have anything to do with anything in my life? She had voluntarily taken herself out of my life so why should I have her in mind as I moved forward with it?
Fuck the cunt!!
I finished the dishes and then went on a mission. I scoured the house for anything of Janet's that she might have left behind and things we bought just because Janet wanted them and it all went out into the trash except for some pieces of furniture that I would give to Goodwill or some similar organization. Then I sat down and gave some thought to my situation.
Where did a man of thirty-nine who was nineteen years removed from the dating scene go to meet members of the opposite sex? There were several single women where I worked and I had socialized with them some, but the few work place romances I'd seen hadn't really worked out and the aftermath, with both parties still working there, was messy to say the least.
I gave some idea to looking into a discrete escort service, but discounted that. I need more than just physical release out of a relationship. I was actually considering giving Internet dating a try when things were more or less taken out of my hands.
I got home from work and Jess told me to clean up as we had company coming for dinner and then she headed back for the kitchen before I could ask any questions. I went upstairs to take off my suit and tie and get into something relaxed. I was slipping on my penny loafers when I heard the doorbell ring. I came back downstairs and didn't see anyone in the living room so I headed for the kitchen.
Our dinner guest was Jasmine and Jan was pouring her a glass of white wine.
"Yours is on the counter" Jess said as she carried some dishes into the dining room. Jasmine came over and kissed me on the cheek and said:
"Nice to see you Frank."
"Always a pleasure to see you too Jas."
Jan ushered us into the dining room and we sat down to eat. Dinner conversation centered around the girl's day at school and what they were up to with their friends and Jasmine talked some about her day at work. I kept quiet and just listened. When dinner was over Jess said:
"Sis and I will do clean up. You old folks can retire to the living room and socialize."
Jan threw in, "You can talk about what you are going to do on your first date."
Old folks? First date? I looked over at Jasmine and saw that she was doing her best to try and keep a straight face.
"I don't know if I can make it to the living room" I said. "This old guy can't seem to find his walker."
"Just go" Jan said.
Once in the living room Jasmine said, "Feeling like you've been ambushed Frank?"
"Ambushed? Why would I feel that?"
"I don't know. Maybe because that is just what it is."