I hadn’t seen my ex-wife, Margot, since the divorce over three years ago. We’d gotten married fresh out of high school, and it took me just over a year to realize what a huge mistake I’d made. I’d been the star quarterback, and she was the head cheerleader. Neither of us had been especially mature, nor ready to really settle down. I caught her in bed with a former friend, whupped on him a little, and filed for divorce. It was an especially nasty break-up. She’d made her boyfriend file assault charges, which were ultimately dismissed. She tried every dirty trick she could think of to ruin me.
I joined the Army to escape her wrath. After surviving six months of blood and hell in Afghanistan, I was blown up by an IED, hurt badly enough to get sent home and discharged, but not badly enough to suffer much more than a gradually diminishing limp and a nasty facial scar. Okay, so it’s true: not all wounds are visible. I was more than a little fucked up in the head. When I got out, I enrolled in the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, two hundred miles north of my Boot Heel home town.
Big city life took some getting used to. The air was foul most days, and the homicidal drivers were something I’d never accept as normal. At least partially compensating for all I hated about city life were the night life and the women. I developed a pattern: work my shitty part-time job and study my ass off during the week, then party hard all weekend.
While I wasn’t a huge guy by any means, growing up on a farm, athletics, and the Army had kept me hard as nails and quick as a ferret. I wasn’t immensely handsome, but the deep scar on my cheek and my cane somehow combined to make me some kind of babe magnet. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but I seldom lacked female companionship if I wanted it. I’d developed a whole new dark glower, a quiet intensity. It wasn’t deliberate, but I scared myself a couple of times when I’d had too much to drink. I also stayed clear of anything resembling a serious relationship. I was purely in the “once burned...” mentality.
Then came that unseasonably warm early March Saturday night in the Central West End when I saw Margot again. I’d just settled into the only bar stool available when I noticed her. It took me a while to recognize the brazen, boozed-up blonde tightly sandwiched between two groping guys at the bar. It wasn’t until her loud laughter as she removed a hand from her breast that the dime dropped. Margot had prided herself on her long brown mane, and despised anyone who bleached her hair. The Margot I knew almost never drank, and never showed much skin in public. While she’d always been a wildcat in bed, publicly she’d always been conservative in every way.
The old Margot had been the type of woman I’d always been most attracted to. Even now, the typical bar-babe wasn’t usually my thing – and the new Margot was almost stereotypic of that very item, from tight emerald green minidress with matching high heels, to long golden hair and bold makeup, to the way she was milking her two friends for drinks in return for the right to feel her up in public.
I had my Cardinals ball cap tugged down, the way I usually wore it to try and hide my scar. She either didn’t see or didn’t recognize me. I watched her, via the mirrored bar-back as the flirtation became open foreplay. She plastered herself against one guy, then the other, deeply kissing each while the other played with her ass. When they separated, Margot’s long, hard nipples were plainly visible through her thin top, her lipstick was smeared, and her eyes wild. I couldn’t hear the words, but I clearly saw her lips shape the words, “Fuck me.” The trio departed almost immediately.
Unable to resist, I quickly finished my drink and followed. The crowd and my bad left leg slowed me a bit. They weren’t visible on the street as I exited, and I thought I’d lost them until I glanced down the alley to the left of the club and caught dim reflections from the sequins on her dress just before she disappeared behind a dumpster. I eased along the opposite wall and found a decent vantage point.
I’d never dreamed a woman would, in reality, allow herself to be bent forward, legs spread, and double-fucked, mouth and pussy simultaneously, in a dirty alley. I figured that was adolescent male fantasy and bad porn flicks. And to have the woman be my almost-prudish ex-wife? My, how time changes people.
As I watched the grunting, almost bestial event unfold, I discovered my cock was as hard as it’d ever been in my entire twenty-two years. It kind of sickened me that I’d find something like that a turn-on, and it took a couple of repulsed/excited moments to realize that it wasn’t the act that had me so cranked, but who it was happening to. I felt a surge of long-forgotten rage boil up, and a savage satisfaction that Margot was finally being degraded as I’d always longed for in my dark little revenge fantasies. The shrinks had tried to warn me about that. But, as far as I was concerned, she deserved to be treated like a cheap whore after all the trauma she’d inflicted. Justice was one sweet bitch.
The only thing sweeter, I realized, would be to capture the event on video with my trusty new cell phone. I didn’t get much footage. A few seconds after I started, her guys finished – all over her face and ass. As soon as the guy exited her mouth, I heard her peculiar little soft series of orgasmic yelps as they emptied themselves on her. Almost immediately, they tugged their slacks up and left, high-fiving one another as they walked past without seeing me. I refocused on Margot as she sank into a sitting position against a brick wall, her breasts and pussy still displayed to the night. It took several moments for me to realize that she was sobbing.
At that moment, I crossed a line. A better man would have turned away, shamed by his weakness, deleted the video file, and gone home. I suppose an even better man would have maybe offered chaste aid to the visibly drunk and distraught victim of such abuse. I realized, at that point, that I wasn’t a good man at all.
I approached her alright, phone still recording, but not with any thought of compassion or pity. I wanted to capture her degradation up close. She looked like shit. Her hands were cupped over her eyes as she cried, stubby red nails black in the dimness. Her hair and perky little tits bounced in time with her sobs. The dress was bunched up above her waist. Her pussy lips gaped. It and her thighs were sperm-spattered. As she heard my feet grating on the alley’s grit, she jerked her hands away from her face and tried to cover herself.
“No more,” she slurred drunkenly. “Go away and leave me alone, asshole.” Her lipstick was a dark shadow around her bruised mouth. Her mascara had turned her sweat and tears black. She struggled to pull her top over her swollen, sticky breasts. She used the wall to fight to her feet. “I said go away, prick. I’m all fucked out for tonight.”
“My, my, “ I said. “Such language. What would Ray and Martha think of their sweet little girl?”
A look of stark horror crossed her ruined face. “Who ... what ... oh Jesus! Carl, is that you?”
“In the flesh, Margot. In the flesh.”
“What ... no, oh no. This isn’t happening. This isn’t real.”
“Oh, but it is, baby. And I captured the whole thing on video. But you’re right – you’re all fucked out. I’ll leave you in peace. Besides, I wouldn’t touch a skanky whore like you. You’re not my type any more.”
Hurrying isn’t all that easy using a cane, but she didn’t even try to follow. Her sobs resumed with a hysterical wail, and she slid back down the wall, hands again covering her face.
No, I didn’t go home and jerk off to the memory, nor did I re-play the video and upload it onto the internet. I took a long, scalding shower and went to bed. I was as disgusted with myself as I was with Margot, and my dreams were nightmares filled with blood and death.
Sunday dawned beautifully, and I was awake to see it. Shortly thereafter, low clouds scudded in to block the sun and the temperature dropped like a rock. By nightfall, it’d turned into a typical drizzly, cold March day in Missouri. I was as miserable as the weather. Around noon, I deleted the video file without watching it and felt a little better. I tried to put the whole incident out of my mind.
Immersing myself in my organic chemistry text worked fairly well. When the memory did surface, it was primarily smug self-satisfaction. I’d witnessed the real Margot, and rubbed her face in my knowledge, then walked away. I felt avenged, like a deep injustice had been for the most part corrected. That’s possibly how it would’ve ended, had she not pushed the envelope.
Monday evening, when I got home from a painful session with the rehab torture therapists, my land-line message machine was blinking. There were a half dozen blank messages from a blocked number. I had a sneaky feeling who they were from. My apartment phone number was fully public, after all, and there aren’t that many Carleton A. Schummakker’s in St. Louis.
As I microwaved a frozen meal, I wondered what she’d have to say – hell, I wondered what I’d have to say. I ran through all the repentant scenarios I felt were likely. I planned to tell her not to worry, that the video no longer existed, to wish her well and tell her I never wanted to speak to her again. Lovely, righteous thoughts. The reality was nothing at all like that.
“You rotten, vile motherfucker!” were her first words as I picked up the phone. Not even a hello.
“You blackmailing, dickless excuse for a man! How dare you stalk me and videotape my private life! I’m going to call the fucking cops and have your sorry ass arrested, you sick asshole!”
Okay. So much for Plan A. Her words re-awoke Saturday night’s raging monster. “Alright, cunt. We’ll do this your way. In five minutes, that video will be in sweet Daddy Ray’s inbox. And on our high school’s Facebook page. Let’s see ... where else can I send it?”
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“The mouse is poised over the send button, slut. Have a great life.”
“No! God no! Please, Carl! I’m sorry I threatened you! I’m just so scared!”
“Tough shit, slut. What was it you always used to say? ‘As you sow, so shall you -’”
“Don’t,” she wailed. “I’m begging, honey. Don’t ruin me. Please. If you do that, I’ll kill myself! I swear I will!”
“Why should I give a shit what you do to yourself? Remember all the lies you told about me? Remember how hard you tried to ruin me? Fuck, bitch, you tried to get me thrown into prison!” I slammed the phone into its cradle, then unplugged it from the wall.
I savagely tossed the generic meal into the trash and slammed my fist into the wall. The pain was refreshing, something clean and pure. I thought about trying to undelete the video and do exactly what I’d promised, then decided not to. Fuck the bitch. I was ninety-percent certain her suicide vow was an empty threat. She’d pulled that one before. And I’d broken no law I knew of. Let her call the cops.
Uncharacteristically, I blew off my homework and got thoroughly drunk on a Monday night. What I really wanted was to slam my fist into something flesh and sinew, to feel bones crack and smell blood. I managed to block the impulse with more whiskey.
Which really accomplished nothing other than make Tuesday a ghastly grind. I gorged on grease burgers at the White Castle two blocks from my tiny apartment. I spent the short hobble home wondering how food so vile could make me feel so much better.
That goodness died when her voice came from the rolled down window of a battered Ford Escort. “You’re limping.”
“You’re not dead yet?”
“You didn’t send the video.”
“What, the cops told you to piss off so you decided to stalk me?”
She opened the door and stepped out, looking down at the pavement. She was in a loose pair of old jeans, sweatshirt, and heavy jacket. Her hair was in a ponytail and mostly covered by a stocking cap. Except for the blonde hair, she looked exactly like my high school sweetheart.
She cringed. “Why didn’t you do it?”
“Do what? Email the video?”
She nodded, still looking at her shoes.
“I couldn’t. I’d already deleted it.”
“Oh,” she said softly. “Did you... ?”
“Watch it? No.”
My laughter was bitter. “Just because you’re gutter trash doesn’t mean I have to join you.”
She collapsed against the fender of her car, wracked with tears. I felt that maybe, with that comment, I was a little slimy, too. “Sorry, Margot. That was uncalled for.”
“No,” she sobbed. “It’s true. I am trash.”
“Look,” I said with more tenderness than I intended, “let’s just forget this whole episode, okay? You get on with your life, and I’ll get on with mine.”
“You are my life goddamn it!” she screamed. “What the fuck do you think this is all about?”
“What are you talking about?”