NOTE: To keep things relatively realistic, I sometimes use terms that are common to the photographic and arts industry but may not be understood by others. In this story I use, “TFP.” The literal translations is; “Time For Prints.” Now days, of course, we rarely make prints anymore, we make digital images but the term has stayed the same.
It means exchanging services with others in the trade. If a model wants to update her portfolio with a certain look or revise it with new pics, she can call a photographer and ask if he’s interested in working with her/him on a “TFP” basis. The end result is that the photographer gets new images that he can use for self-promotion and display and the model gets the images for his/her portfolio.
The same trading system is used for other professionals within the industry as well; make-up artists, hair stylists, set designers, wardrobe consultants, Photo retouchers, etc.
I also talk about “Composite Cards,” or (Comp Cards.) These are 8X5 ½ cards that show several shots of a model along with her measurements and sizes. They are sent out to photographers and advertising agencies by modeling agencies to advertise their models.
Some of my friends think I have the most glamorous job on the face of the earth and I have to admit, some days I feel that way myself; this was not one of those days, however.
I’m a commercial photographer and I love it. I wouldn’t have any other job in the world, but every once in a while I have to remind myself of that.
I was supposed to be on Peoria’s, picturesque river front, shooting two beautiful models for “Feminine Classics,” a woman’s clothing line. Instead I was in my car heading north on I-55 about an hour from my home in Arlington Hills, a little suburb about twenty-five miles northwest of Chicago.
I had scheduled three full days for the shoot and thought everything was all lined up. I had gone down on the weekend prior to scout out locations and make notes as to what direction the sun would be shining at different times of the day. The models were two of the client’s favorites. One was being flown in from New York and the other from Atlanta. Both should have been waiting for us but when we got there neither had arrived yet. A call into the model agency gave us the explanation. The ad agency’s account rep had his assistant schedule the girls and he gave them the wrong dates.
I tried calling some of the local models I use from Chicago but nobody could block out three days of shooting on such short notice; we were screwed. The client wasn’t about to pay everyone to hang around and enjoy Peoria’s hospitality for three days so we all packed up and headed home.
At first I was pissed. I’m self-employed. If I’m not working I’m not making money and now I was looking at three days of sitting around, doing nothing. There was no way I was going to be able to schedule anything as a fill in.
I was just turning onto I-355 for the last leg of my journey home when it hit me, why waste the rest of the week doing nothing. It was only Wednesday afternoon. I still had all day Thursday and Friday. I could make it a four day weekend. My wife, Stacy, and I hadn’t really had a vacation or gone anywhere in a while. The sky was blue, there was no rain in the forecast, and I was starting to dream about a quiet little hide-a-way someplace for just the two of us.
My mind started to wander. I pictured us sitting on a private balcony somewhere, sipping a glass of wine and watching a beautiful sunset. As the shadows reached out further from their roots, my lovely wife would stand, and with a pull from her slender fingers, undo the bow around her neck letting the sheer nightgown she adorned, sensually slip to her feet. Now, wearing only a smile, she moves with sultry perfection and kneels by my side. She licks her tantalizing lips as she slowly unzips my pants and reaches in to claim her prize.
I close my eyes and lay back as I feel her tongue salaciously glide from the base of my steel-like cock to its tip. I can hear myself moaning; feel my breathing getting deeper...
My aching dick actually awoke me from my daydream. I had gotten a raging hard-on from my amatory meanderings. The problem was my cock was not in a spot that allowed its growth. I had to maneuver into a position where I could adjust myself—not easy while lashed in with a seatbelt, doing seventy-five miles per hour with traffic all around. The skin was stretched so tight it hurt. If someone passing had a high cab truck where they could look down into the SUV it would have been embarrassing. I finally found relief.
I put my mind in search mode and tried thinking of places we could go on the spur of the moment. The problem was, I didn’t just want to go to some hotel or motel someplace, I wanted something intimate and romantic.
I was still racking my brain as I pulled into my garage. It was almost dinner time. I figured Stacy would be in the kitchen. You can hear the garage door go up and down from anywhere on the first floor so I wondered why she wasn’t standing in the doorway asking why I was back.
She must be upstairs, I thought as I came in through the empty kitchen. You can’t hear the garage door at all from up there. I was just on my way to surprise her when I heard what sounded like high heels hit the tiled hallway at the bottom of the staircase. I rounded the corner to see her standing in front of the mirror.
The vision of loveliness before my eyes stopped me dead in my tracks. She had obviously been to the hair stylist; beautiful full-body waves of silky strawberry-blond hair hung casually over her shoulders. A pearl necklace, the one I gave her for our anniversary, hung around her long, smooth neck and her make-up was impeccable.
The proverbial little black cocktail dress she barely wore was a good four or five inches above her knees and to finish the ensemble she was wearing a pair of black silk stockings with some kind of pattern running through them. A pair of black, four inch heels were what I’d heard announcing her presence.
About the time my mouth dropped open she saw my reflection in the mirror. She literally shrieked. “Shayne! What are you doing home?”
Even from where I was standing, I could see the terror in her face looking back at me through the glass.
“I have a better question, where the hell are you going dressed like that?”
I really caught her by surprise. She stammered all over the place but the best she could come up with was, “I ... ah, the girls, honey. I was just going out with the girls.”
She had to know how ridiculous it sounded before the words even left her mouth.
“The girls like hell,” I fired back. I was so angry I must have had flames shooting from my eyes. “Answer me, damn it! Where the hell were you going and who the fuck is your date?”
She just froze, standing there in a daze, looking scared. Her mouth was open but nothing was coming out.
I spotted her small evening bag on the table by the front door. She evidentially laid it down there to make her final, ‘do I look good, ‘ check in the hallway mirror before leaving.
“We’ll just see,” I declared walking in her direction.
She must have been terrified. She knew damn well I’d never strike her or any woman but she flinched as I reached past her and grabbed the little purse.
“What ... what are you doing?”
“I’m checking your phone. We’ll just see who lover boy is,” I snarled.
“Wait ... please Shayne ... don’t,” she begged. “It was a mistake ... please...”
I could see her mascara starting to run. In a panic, she tried to grab for the purse but was too slow.
“You try that again and so help me, I’ll...” I growled through clinched teeth. I didn’t finish the statement because I really wasn’t sure what I’d do. Like I said, I’d never hit a woman; however, my voice was so full of anger and malice I know it scared the hell out of Stacy because she retreated back, against the wall.
When I opened the purse I saw one of the reasons for my wife’s panic, in addition to her phone, there was also a box of Trojans. I looked back at her with what I can only describe at that moment as disgust.
Stacy looked like she wanted to cry but her fear wouldn’t let the tears fall.
I pulled out her phone and threw the bag on the floor. I immediately scrolled through her call log. She had obviously been deleting her call history, but since I wasn’t supposed to be home for the next three days, she hadn’t bothered with the last few. The first call was to her friend, Joan; the third to her best friend, Gwen Carlson, but the one in the middle was Joe Wexler. He and his wife, Doris, were supposedly friends of ours.
It was certainly no smoking gun; one call wasn’t enough to go around making accusations so next I checked for text messages. Even though she deleted the history there as well, there were several messages made during the day that were to and from Wexler. They started a couple hours after I left in the morning. The last one was posted an hour before I got home.
Stacy: Hey lover, hubby is gone. R U sure U can’t come by now? I’m still in bed and I am naked.
Wexler: Damn, stop teasing me, gorgeous. U know I can’t take the day off. Besides, I thought you said I couldn’t come to the house.
Stacy: Hee, hee, I am just teasing you.
Wexler: I will see you soon. Doris thinks I’m going out of town so we have all night.
Stacy: Did you book the room yet?
Wexler: Yes, at the country hills motel. It’s right across the street from the restaurant.
Stacy: I hope it has a king sized bed, or should I say play pen.
Wexler: Yes, I made sure it does. ;-)
The next text came from Wexler about four o’clock.
Wexler: Damn, this day is dragging. I can’t wait to get inside that sweet pussy.
Stacy: Mmmm, me neither, lover. I bought a new dress just for you.
Wexler: Really? I hope it is designed to come off quickly.
Stacy: There’s not much of it to take off. Besides, U haven’t had any trouble in the past.
Wexler: Tease! I should be getting out of here right on time. I’ll meet you at 6 at the restaurant.
Stacy: I’ll be there, lover.
I looked at my watch. It was five-thirty. Country Hills Motel ... I knew I had seen it but I couldn’t remember where. Just as I started for the computer in my office, Stacy found her voice.
“Wait! Shayne, what are you going to do? Please, let me talk to you. I ... I’m sorry, it didn’t mean anything, honest. It was just supposed to be a little fun. Please don’t do anything rash.”
I ignored her pleas but thought of what she said while I continued to my office. Fun, huh? Well I hope they had their fun because from here on in, it’s going to be anything but...
I still had her phone in my hand as I bent over my computer desk and typed the name of the motel. As soon as I saw the address I knew exactly where it was. It had been a Sheridan but was bought out about a year prior. Good old Joe was about to get the surprise of his life.
I walked back out to the living room where I threw Stacy’s purse. She was still following me, begging me to sit and talk to her. I reached down and took her car keys then went into the kitchen and literally ripped the phone off the wall.
“Shayne, what are you doing?” screamed Stacy. Her tears were pouring down her cheeks by then. With all the mascara streaking down her face, she looked like a clown in the circus.
“Making sure you can’t call lover boy to warn him,” I snarled.
“Warn him? Shayne what are you going to do? Please honey, please don’t do anything stupid.”
By the time she finished her sentence I was well on my way to the upstairs bedroom. I grabbed the phone from the nightstand and gave it a good yank, pulling the cord out of the wall and tearing the connector in half.
“Shayne, please stop,” she beseeched, “you’re scaring me.”
I thought, good! Maybe she’ll think twice before she cheats on her next husband. I couldn’t think of anymore I could do. I knew she could probably run to a neighbor’s house and use their phone but I was gambling she didn’t know his number by heart. With today’s cell phones, who memorizes phone numbers these days; and besides, how would she tell her lover that her husband was on the way to kick his ass, in front of a neighbor?
She followed me all the way to my car yapping hysterically in my ear, but I had tuned her out by that time. All I could think about was what I was going to do to Joe Wexler. I saw Stacy on her knees in the middle of the drive with her face buried in her hands as I backed out. For just an instant my rage subsided and I woefully wondered why she would cheat on me. Was Wexler more of a man than I was? That’s when my anger came back and I thought, I guess we’ll find out shortly.
There was still a lot of rush hour traffic and it was quarter after six by the time I was pulling into Plato’s Place, the restaurant right across the street from the Country Hills Motel.
I parked the car and was headed for the front door when Stacy’s phone buzzed with a text:
Wexler: U R late. I hope everything is ok.
“No, everything is NOT okay,” I yelled as I streaked past the innocent hostess and into the restaurant.
Wexler’s head jerked around toward my voice. His eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head when he saw me taking long strides in his direction.
“Shayne!” he blurted out in a panic. He tried to quickly stand up but his heel must have caught on something because he stumbled backwards; both the chair and the asshole who was sitting on it, wound up tumbling to the floor with a conspicuous crash.
There was fear in his eyes when he looked up into my face. He tried scooting in retreat on his butt. Huh, so much for being a better man than me, I thought.
“Hey, what’s going on?” I heard someone yell from a distance but I paid no attention. I was focused on lover boy.
“W ... Wait ... Shayne, don’t do anything crazy,” he sputtered while clumsily getting to his feet.
That was all I was waiting for. I grabbed the lapel of his sport coat with my left hand while drawing back with my right. He tried putting his hands up to block the punch but was too slow. I heard some women scream as my fist caught him hard against his left cheekbone. Luckily for him, and probably me too, the guy at the table behind him was getting up to intervene and was able to break Wexler’s fall to the hardwood floor. At the same time I felt hands grabbing at me from every direction.
“The mother fucker is sleeping with my wife,” I yelled.
“Okay, okay, maybe he deserves it, but not in here,” I heard someone say.
I knew the fight was over, at least for the time being. Some of the hands that restrained me let go when they felt me start to relax. I looked down and saw Joe had set his phone down on the table after his last text. Most of the eyes were on him as he bounced around with his hands up to the side of his face, moaning like a little girl. The phone was just like mine. I picked it up and stuck it in my pocket.
One of the guys who had grabbed me was now concentrating on dip-shit. I assumed he was either the bartender or the manager by the way he took charge. He yelled for someone named Eddie to call the police.
When I looked around I realized no one was paying any attention to me, everyone was too concerned with lover boy, so I turned around and simply walked out. I knew it would be just a matter of time before the cops came for me but I had something else to do before they nabbed me ... ruin Joe Wexler’s life!
I walked briskly to my car. Once inside and out of sight, I took Wexler’s phone from my pocket and dialed his home number. Of course Doris thought it was her loving husband calling.
“Hi honey, I thought you’d be on the plane by now. Is everything okay?”
“Joe isn’t on any plane, Doris. He’s not even going out of town. He’s at a restaurant called Plato’s Place where he was supposed to meet my wife. They’ve been having an affair,” I bluntly announced.
“What! Who is this,” she screeched. “I don’t believe you, whoever you are.”
“This is Shayne Burke, Doris, and I’m afraid it’s true.” I heard her gasp. Just then I got a signal from call waiting. I was going to ignore it but the number looked familiar. I had a gut feeling so I acted accordingly. I told Doris to hold on a second and hit the flash button then quickly flicked back and hit the flash button again, successfully setting the phone for a three way conference call. Stacy’s voice came through loud and clear...
“Joe, Joe, get out of there, NOW. Shayne came home early and caught me as I was leaving. He knows, Joe. He’s coming for you. Get out of th...”
“YOU BITCH!” screamed Doris from the other line. “YOU FUCKING BITCH. I’LL TEAR YOUR FUCKING HEART OUT! YOU WANT HIM SO BAD YOU CAN HAVE THE BASTARD!”
There was a brief pause before Stacy realized she was talking to Doris...
“No, NOOO...” cried Stacy.
I could hear her starting to break down in tears again. I heard someone else in the room with her. My suspicions were that it was Gwen, Stacy’s best friend. I checked her number on Stacy’s phone; it matched the number she was calling from. She lives about three miles down the road from us. Stacy must have walked down there to use her phone because she didn’t want any of our neighbors to know what she did. Also, all of us being in the same circle of friends, Gwen most likely had dip-shit’s phone number.
The line went dead as Stacy sobbed in the background.
I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself. My mind went into overdrive going over the events of the last hour ... two families destroyed, just like that. Stacy and I didn’t have any kids yet but Joe and Doris had a son.
My vision was getting cloudy as I stared out the windshield and started to ask myself the infamous question all guys ask themselves in that situation ... why? I thought she was happy, what went wrong?
A couple of tears broke free and dropped to my cheeks then continued their journey down my face. I loved her; I loved her with all my heart. How could she betray me this way? I’m not sure how many times I asked myself the same questions but it didn’t matter, I wasn’t going to find the answer anyway.
I was still sitting there when I heard sirens coming around the corner. A few seconds later, three squad cars pulled up to the entrance of the restaurant.
Shit, I thought, it sure didn’t take them long. I sat for a minute trying to decide what to do. Hell, I was sure Joe would tell them who I was. They’d just come to my house to arrest me anyway, might as well face the music.
The problem was my car. I still had my photography equipment in it and I wasn’t about to leave it in the lot or let them tow it to some impound yard. I pulled out my own phone and called Marcy, my assistant. She used my car to run errands and had her own set of keys. She had been in Peoria with me and had just gotten home. I hated to do this to her, I knew she was tired after the long drive but when I told her the situation she sprang into action like a trooper.
She told me she’d be at Plato’s in half an hour; then she’d leave her car in the lot and drive mine home. I gave her the code so she could put it in the garage. When she was done she’d take a cab back to her car and put the cost of the cab on her expense account. Sometimes I have no idea what I’d do without her.
Since the car issue was resolved I had no more excuses. I walked back into the restaurant. With three squads parked in front, I expected to see the place swarming with cops but everything appeared normal. I looked around and saw a guy pointing at the bar.
“They all went in the back,” he told me.
I nodded my head to acknowledge his help and walked behind the bar and down a short hall to a door that read, ‘office.’ I could hear voices from inside. I knocked.
“Yeah,” I heard someone yell.
Inside the office was the guy who had grabbed me before. Now I was sure he was the manager. In addition were three cops, and Wexler. Shit-head was sitting in a chair holding an icepack to his cheek. From what I could see, it was already badly swollen and turning purple.
You should have seen the expression on everyone’s face when I walked in.
“I just found out he’s sleeping with my wife,” I announced. “I guess I went a little crazy.”
“Is this the man who assaulted you, Sir?” one of the cops asked.
Before the asshole had a chance to answer, the manager chimed in. “Yeah, that’s him.”
“Mr. Wexler, do you wish to file charges?” asked the same cop. He must have outranked the other two. He seemed to be asking all the questions.
Wexler still hadn’t said anything. I think he was wondering how he could keep all this from his wife. I thought I’d put that idea right out of his head. He looked up at me as I started to speak.
“If you’re worried about Doris finding out, she already knows,” I said, tossing his phone to him.
Instinctively he caught it with his right hand. When he recognized it he bent over in the chair and started to bawl like a baby. If I didn’t loath the S.O.B. so much, I could have almost felt sorry for him.
“Mr. Wexler...” the cop started to ask him again.
“No, no,” wept asshole shaking his head from side to side. He had his face buried in his hands.
The cop looked up at the manager. “What about you? He created a disturbance in your restaurant. You want to charge him with disturbing the peace?”
I’m pretty sure the manager was on my side because immediately he declined to press any charges.
The cop then turned to me. “Sir, may I see some I.D.?”
I pulled out my wallet, removed my driver’s license, and handed it to the man in blue. He took a notepad out of his shirt pocket and copied down my information.
Once he was done he focused his attention on Wexler again. “Sir, I strongly suggest you go to the ER and have that looked at. You should have an X-Ray done. You could have a broken jaw, there.”
My nemesis was still crying as he shook his head and mumbled he was okay.
I got a look at the cop’s name plate as he turned and handed my license back to me.
“Okay, since nobody’s pressing charges you can go for now, but don’t go too far. If Mr. Wexler is badly hurt things could change,” said officer Dolby.
“Yes Sir,” I said taking my license and sticking it back into my wallet.
“Mr. Burke, you seem to have a propensity for violence, how is Mrs. Burke?”
I knew he was just doing his job but officer Dolby was starting to piss me off.
“I don’t have a propensity for violence,” I responded sharply. “Mrs. Burke is just fine. I would never hit a woman under any circumstances. But if you think I’m such a bad guy, you try coming home to find your wife all dressed up with rubbers in her purse, ready for a date with one of your friends. See how you react.”
“Okay,” he replied. “I get it, but you’re lucky. You could be in a hell of a lot of trouble right now. I’d advise you to calm down and talk to your wife. Maybe things aren’t as bad as you think they are.”
I chuckled at the cop’s attempt at marriage counseling and thanked him with a snicker. As I turned to walk out, the manager spoke up.
“Mr. Burke, I don’t want to see you in here again.”
“That’s fine with me,” I snarled back. I was making friends fast, I could tell.
As I walked out to the parking lot I replayed the cop’s words in my head. I was pretty lucky, at that. I could very well be on my way to the hoosegows about now. I guess I’m also lucky that guy jumped up and caught asshole before he went down too hard. He could have busted his head open on the floor and I would be in real trouble. Still, I thought, if I had it to do over again I’d do the same damn thing. The mother fucker deserved it.
I got halfway down the row of parked cars before discovering yet another problem. This just wasn’t my day ... my car was gone!
The first thing that popped into my head was that someone stole it with all my gear inside. Then I remembered my call to Marcy. Shit! She got there faster than I thought she would. I looked around and sure enough, on the other side of the aisle was Marcy’s ten year old Chevy. Now what?
I reached for my phone but couldn’t do it. I knew how tired she had to be and to call her back and let her know it was all for nothing just didn’t seem like a nice thing to do. I looked behind me ... no way. I wasn’t going back into that damn place even it was to just to call for a cab.
I looked across the street. There, standing six stories tall and coated in green and white paint was another major player in my wife’s betrayal ... the Country Hills Motel.
I immediately pictured my wife and that son-of-a-bitch of a loser, romping around naked in one of the rooms. I really didn’t want to set foot in the place any more than I ever wanted to see the inside of Plato’s again.
This was crazy, I told myself. It’s irrational. I can’t very well hold a building accountable for what goes on inside its walls. I crossed the street and entered through the front door ... just the way I suspected my wife and her lover would have done if that stupid assistant hadn’t screwed up the shoot.
I walked up to the front desk and was immediately greeted by a young, exceptionally pretty girl. “Yes Sir, may I help you?”
“Yeah, do you have the number of a cab service I could call, please?” I asked.
“Of course; would you like me to dial it for you, Sir?”
Funny how sometimes the slightest little gesture can affect a person’s attitude. To her it was the simplest of helpful services that came with her job, for me it was the nicest thing anyone had said to me all day.
A smile actually broke across my lips as I answered her. “That’s very kind of you, thank you...” I glanced at her name pin, “Alecta. Wow, pretty name.”
“Thank you,” she replied as she dialed the phone with a small smile.
The cab dropped me off in my drive. I hit the code on the garage door and checked to make sure my car was there safe and sound. It was.
I had no idea what to expect when I walked into the house. Would Stacy be there or not? Hell, I had no idea what would happen from one moment to the next. I’d never been in a situation like that before; I’d never felt like that before.
That’s when reality started to set in. For the past couple of hours I had been functioning on pure adrenaline but suddenly things were starting to hit me. My wife, the woman I loved with all my heart, my friend, my lover, was cheating on me. My knees became weak. I had to sit down on the steps leading into the house before I fell down.
I took some deep breaths and sat there until I got my bearings again. I walked into the kitchen from the laundry room that joins the house and garage. The first thing I did was look for coffee, there was none made. Of course, I thought, she wasn’t expecting you home, remember dummy, why would she have made coffee. I was filling the pot with water when I felt a presence. I looked toward the doorway to the living room. “Gwen, what are you doing here? Where’s Stacy?” She had obviously gotten the key to our house from my wife.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to walk in on you. I didn’t see your car and didn’t think you were here. Stacy gave me the key and asked if I’d pick up a few things for her. She’s afraid to come home, Shayne. She’s scared to death,” responded my wife’s best friend.
“That’s bullshit. I’ve never raised my hand in anger to her or any other woman. She knows damn well I’d never hit her.”
“She’s not afraid of you hitting her, Shayne, she’s afraid of what you’ll say to her.”
“Good, that’s fine with me. Just keep her at your place until I can pack and get the hell out of here,” I growled.
“Shayne, please don’t do anything rash. She...”
“Rash, stupid, crazy ... everybody’s so damned worried, telling me how I shouldn’t be reacting to my wife sleeping with another man. Tell me, Gwen, just how am I supposed to act? I’d really like to know because I never thought I’d ever be in this situation ... never!”
Gwen lowered her head, walked over to one of the kitchen chairs and sat down. “Can I have a cup when it’s done?” she asked.
“Of course,” I said as I tossed in the last scoop of grounds and turned the maker on. I walked over and sat in the chair opposite Gwen. Now that most of the excitement was over, depression was starting to set in.
“I don’t understand. Three days—I was supposed to be gone three lousy days; she couldn’t keep her legs closed for that long? Why? Why would she flush our marriage down the toilet like that? Was I so bad a husband?”
“Shayne she wouldn’t be so devastated if you were a bad husband. The reason she called Joe in such a panic wasn’t for his benefit, she was worried about you, about what you’d do, how much trouble you could get yourself into. She said she’d never seen anyone so angry.”
“Yeah? Well it sure as hell wasn’t me she was all dress up for and I’ll bet it wasn’t me she was thinking about while she was fucking Joe Wexler.”
Gwen had nothing to say to that. What could she say?
I sat and just stared at the floor for a few minutes while waiting for the coffee to get done. Then it occurred to me, I could be sitting with a collaborator.
“Gwen did you know about this? Did you know she was having an affair?”
“No Shayne; honestly, I knew nothing about it until today.”
I was still suspicious. Hell, my wife lied to me, what makes me think her best friend would tell me the truth.
Gwen could see the skepticism in my face. “You don’t believe me, do you?”
“I don’t know what to believe anymore, Gwen. Maybe you should leave; just get what you came for and go. I don’t feel like company right now anyway.”
I know she was a little shocked. Under normal circumstances I’m about the friendliest guy around.
“Shayne, don’t let this change who you are. I’ve never...”
“It’s already changed who I am,” I barked back. “I haven’t punched anyone since the fifth grade until today, and you know what; I enjoyed hitting that bastard.”
“You hit him? You hit Joe?”
“You’re damn right I hit him. If we’d been alone I would have beaten him to a pulp and loved every minute of it.”
“Ar ... are you going to get arrested?”
I noted a bit of true concern in her voice. “I don’t think so, at least not right now. The cops came but Wexler said he wasn’t preferring charges. Who knows, he might change his mind later—I don’t know.”
“I feel sorry for Doris and their son,” she looked me in the eye, “and obviously you too. I don’t understand what Stacy was thinking.”
“Yeah, well if you ever find out let me know too, will you. I still can’t believe this is happening. My whole world was turned upside down today, Gwen, my whole fricking world.” I didn’t want to talk anymore.
“I’m sorry, Gwen. If you didn’t know about Stacy’s affair then I apologize, but if I ever find out you knew about it, I swear I’ll never speak to you again for as long as I live. Now, please just go for now. I’m sorry, I just want to be alone.”
Gwen looked sad as she got up from the chair. “Okay, let me go upstairs and grab some things for her and then I’ll go.”
With a spit and a gurgle, the coffee pot was completing its job, miraculously turning simply tap water into that magic elixir just as Gwen returned, carrying one of Stacy’s small suitcases.
“Shayne, I uh ... what do you want me to tell Stacy? Can she come home?”
“No! I don’t want to see her, I don’t want to talk to her, I don’t want to have anything to do with her right now. Keep her at your place, or...”
I couldn’t think.
“I don’t know--she has a credit card, let her go stay in a motel for a couple of days if you don’t want her. Tell her she can come home Friday night.”
“You won’t be here then, will you?” Gwen asked.
“No, I’ll probably move into the back room of the studio temporarily, at least until I can find an apartment.”
I walked a glum looking Gwen to the door.
“Look, Gwen, I’m sorry for flying off the handle like that but this has really thrown me for a loop. I love Stacy with everything that’s in me. I never ever thought of her doing something like this. It’s something I’ll never be able to forget, or forgive. Our marriage is over just that quick. Tell her that. Tell her I’ll see a lawyer on Monday, will you?”
I could see the sadness in Gwen’s face. She had been a good friend.
“I’ll tell her, Shayne. I’m sorry,” she told me while walking out. “This isn’t right. You two love each other. It’s just not right,” were her last words as she walked to her car.
I felt bad for almost throwing her out of the house. I liked Gwen and her husband, Jerry. I didn’t know them as well as Stacy did but we’d gone out together a few times. I really doubted that she knew of my wife’s philandering--still, I couldn’t be sure and with the mood I was in I didn’t want to be around anyone anyway.
I walked back into the kitchen and poured my coffee. I sat at the kitchen table and stared aimlessly out the window, just thinking. I can’t even tell you what I was thinking about. Nothing made any sense ... why? What the hell could she have been thinking? My mind was a million miles away. It was the growling of my stomach that finally brought me out my stupor.
The only coherent thought I’d had in hours was the realization that I was hungry. With all the turmoil we had trying to find models, earlier in the day, I hadn’t had lunch. Hell, I hadn’t had anything to eat since meeting the crew at Denny’s at six in the morning. Was that really this morning? Did my whole life really turn to shit in less than a day?
I didn’t feel like cooking, of course I didn’t really feel like going out either. In fact, as hungry as I was, I didn’t feel like eating. I was just so damned lost. Well, I had to eat. I looked at my watch and couldn’t believe it was almost ten. I must have been sitting at that table for a couple of hours without even realizing it.
There was a little diner not far away that stayed open till midnight. The food was greasy and overpriced but I didn’t really care. I just needed something in my stomach.
When I walked in the place was almost deserted. There was a young couple sitting in the booth in front of the window and an elderly guy sitting in the center of the counter. I sat at the end.
An older, heavy set woman approached with a menu and a pot of coffee. Silently, I turned my coffee cup right side up then looked to see what I wanted to eat. It didn’t take me long. By the time she was done pouring the coffee I ordered.
While waiting for my food, my mind started to search for my future. Now that I’d gotten a lot of the anger out of my system, the pain and hurt was rushing in to fill the void. I’d be fooling myself if I thought I could stay married to her. I’m sure she knows that as well. I’ve never been very good at forget and forgiving. Anyone who knows me well knows that about me.
Suddenly I heard a dish clanging in front of me. “Warm it up for you, honey?” my waitress asked as she poured. She broke my concentration and I saw a plate of steak and eggs under my nose.
“Ah, yeah please,” but having performed her job flawlessly, she had already made her departure by the time I spoke. I mentally closed the door on my marital problems so I could at least try to enjoy my nocturnal breakfast.
It was almost eleven-thirty by the time I left. After getting up at four in the morning, driving to and from Peoria, and all the physical and mental stress, I should have been absolutely beat but there must have been some adrenalin still pumping through my veins because I was still a little wired. I certainly didn’t feel like going home to an empty house.
As I started my car I tried to decide on a destination. When I couldn’t I just put it in gear and pressed on the accelerator. I have no idea of my route; all I know is that I found myself in front of my studio at two in the morning. I still had my gear in the car so I carried it all inside before crashing on the daybed I had in the dressing room. By that time I was so exhausted I didn’t even remember my head hitting the pillow.
As I slowly started to awake I heard a ringing in my ears. I laid there a minute as the peaceful liberation of slumber gradually gave way to a confused consciousness. I sat up and swung my legs over the side of the foam mattress. I shook the cobwebs out of my brain and finally realized the irritating ringing was my phone.
“Hello,” I grumbled. I wasn’t fully awake and I must not have sounded like myself. I’m sure that was the reason for the silent pause before I heard a voice.
“Hello? Is this Shayne?”
“Yes, it is. How may I help you?” I answered, looking at the clock on the wall; ten-thirty? That can’t be right.
“Shayne, this is Jerry Carlson. Are you aware that Stacy spent the night at our house?”
I was finally getting my bearings. Everything from the day before came rushing back into focus. “Yeah, I told Gwen to have her stay in a motel it you didn’t want her there.”
“Ah, no, it’s ... it’s not that, I just didn’t want to get in the middle of something that was between you and her. I want to make sure it’s okay with you if she stays here.”
“I appreciate that, Jerry. Yeah, it’s fine by me.”
“Okay—are ah, are you alright? You sound a little out of it.”
“Yeah, I’m okay. I had a long day yesterday and then between all the problems and punching out Wexler...”
“Wexler?” Jerry sounded like he knew nothing about it. “Joe Wexler? You punched him out?”
“Yeah, he’s been sleeping with Stacy.”