Note: all of the references to the drones and improvements are figments of my imagination.
I am Frank Carstairs, 47, divorced, no kids, and work for a major electronics supplier to the Defence Department. Because of my past job related travel my marriage was not the greatest, but it took a slip of my wife’s tongue to end her cheating and our marriage. This is the story of how it happened.
First let me bring you the background to this story. I served 6 years in the military as a radar repair technician. As with a lot of us that did that kind of work, we all had the nickname ‘Radar’ after Radar O’Reilly from the TV series ‘MASH’ or Sparky. I was looked upon throughout the service as something of an artist at troubleshooting problems. When I got out of the service I had my choice of many civilian jobs doing the same thing but with the contractors, and not the military.
I came back to my home town of Grand Rapids, Michigan and pondered my options. I finally chose to accept a position with a company that was developing a drone control system that they could retrofit to the present systems and reduce the weight by about 17 lbs., as well as increase surveillance capabilities on an order of magnitudeThey hired me to put the test drones through their paces. The company rented an unused road race course on the northern edge of the county that gave us a 3 mile by 1.5 mile area to do our testing. It also included several buildings that allowed us to work outside of observation from the rest of the world.
One of the support people was a young lady from the local area. When I was introduced to her, I was ‘gobsmacked’ as our English friends say. Elizabeth Morgan was gorgeous. She was 5’ 5” or 6” (she has still never told me, she claims 5’ 7”) tall and with eyes that looked into your very soul. She was well proportioned and slender. She had the darkest black hair and wore it in a ponytail even when dressed up. It was love at first sight for me.
As neither one of us was, at the time, part of the management team we were not constrained but any non fraternization policy. When I asked Liz for a date she said she was going out regularly with a man from the neighborhood where she lived. She said at that time that things seemed to be slowing down, so she would let me know if they broke up.
Our testing showed that our package delivered everything that it was designed to do. We lobbied through a local member of congress to get some decommissioned predator and other military drones to enable us to design interfaces for our controls. I was then hired as a permanent full time employee. I requested that Liz be part of my support staff, and refused to sign the non-frat unless she was exempted. The argument that I made was that I had already approached her for a date, and as such it was a pre-existing relationship. Surprisingly the company and HR agreed.
After our successful conversions, I was tasked with flying out to White Sands Missile Base in New Mexico to give a demonstration to a joint military group. There were officers and support staff present from the army, navy, marines, and also the Coast Guard.
Liz had made the trip, and had by this time accepted a few dates from me. We found that we both liked dancing, live theatre, and camping. Up to this point there had been no sexual activity between us.
The tests went well, but the military indicated that they were not interested and we thought that we had failed. On the trip back to Grand Rapids, I was very depressed and Liz tried to cheer me up. We talked for almost the entire five hour flight. When we landed Liz asked me if I wanted to be her ‘exclusive’. I almost did a double take at that as she had not given me any indication that she wanted anything but a few casual dates. Hell even our camping trips had been with groups and we used separate tents.
I said I would be ecstatic to be her exclusive and I wanted her as mine as well. I cautioned her that because of the current project, and its apparent lack of success that I might not be employed at the company after this project was over. She did not seem to care.
We dated seriously from that point. I was pleased when the company offered me a long term contract as their chief test supervisor, and because of that and our continuing to relationship I asked Liz to marry me and she accepted.
We got married in the small church that I be belonged to and had as our witnesses her family, my remaining family, (my parents and an older brother were dead), and friends and co-workers. For our honeymoon, we took a two week camping trip along the Appalachian Trail. It was a glorious trip. And we both came back to GR tired, dirty, and incredibly happy.
Work disturbed the mood somewhat when we returned the following Monday. Liz was being transferred to a different department because my staff was being reduced to just me and the secretarial pool. The reason for this shift in personnel was because the drone control project was to be shelved until we received some response from the military.
I was then tasked with helping develop a very small drone, capable of being controlled by satellite. The design goals was a drone as small as a robin, but with video capabilities. The problems that these parameters created caused me to work some long hours and Liz was not happy.
As with all marriages our sex life that started out hot and heavy tapered off to 3 or 4 times a week for the next few years. Neither of us was to upset with this as we seemed to remain satisfied with our lives.
About a year after our trip to New Mexico, the company was granted a contract with the coast guard to retro fit 2 dozen predator drones for naval rescue operations and drug surveillance and interdiction. The company was also awarded a contract with the border patrol for similar but land based operations. I was given the additional duties of supervising this program. Needless to say I was getting stretched very thin at work.
About two years after we got married Liz left the company for a job with a local company as a personal assistant to one of their Vice-Presidents. She said she needed the move to ‘broaden her horizons’. I took an instant dislike to her boss, Ralph Simes, but could not explain to Liz (or myself) why I felt that way.
At home the stress from my job and the long hours was causing a lot of friction. Liz wanted me to be excited about her new job, and also for me to slow down so I didn’t burn out. I was constantly tired and short tempered and because of my snapping at Liz a couple of times for very minor things, I was sleeping in the second bedroom. I finally talked to my boss at work, and was given sufficient staff to lighten my load and cut back to minimal overtime. Things improved at home and I thought we were a happy couple again. Liz took the news of my improved job conditions as another reason for me to become happier at home. It worked, as I apologized and did everything I could to make up for my inappropriate anger things got back to a one bedroom and happy sex life family for the next 3 or 4 years.
The mini-drone project sailed along, was accepted by several state and local police agencies and of course several alphabet soup federal agencies. I was then promoted and given a huge raise with a stock option and bonus. Because of the way Liz seemed to go through money, I had my and raise, bonus, and stock options transferred to an account in another bank and in my name only. I used a P.O. Box at the local post office for a mailing address. I also got Liz to agree to file separate tax returns, because the tax burden was considerably less doing that.
My new duties, as I explained at the beginning involved extensive travel. This again raised tension at home. Liz was not happy when I had to miss several of her employer’s company functions because of my need to be out of town.
The frosty atmosphere continued for a little over a year when my boss finally told me that I need to take a month off to ‘recharge and decompress’. The timing was perfect. Liz had a vacation week coming and as it was coinciding with our wedding anniversary, she agreed to take a three day camping trip into the Great North Woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
I spent the week before we left noticing several things that I had been overlooking. Liz was dressing more provocatively for work. Ralph was calling her at home in the evening, and Liz would go into the spare bedroom and close the door to talk to him. And our sex was now very sporadic, and then it was without any of Liz’s former passion.
I mentioned these things to Liz, and she went nuts and I spent the last few days before our trip on the roll out in the spare bedroom. Because of this, I decided to give Liz a nasty surprise when we got to the camp site. I took out big tent and double sleeping bag out of the packed stuff and replaced them with two one man survival tents and two single sleeping bags. Liz was none the wiser.
The weekend came and we left Grand Rapids for the up to 6-1/2 hour drive around noon. We crossed the ‘Straights’ on the ‘Mighty Mac’ at around 3:45 PM. We still had a 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hour to get to the campsite, so we decided to get a room in St. Ignace. As we did not have prior reservations, the only room available was with two queen beds. Liz was pissed when I took one of the beds after she had turned down the other. Dinner was a frosty occasion at a local restaurant. We went back to the motel, and I showered and went to bed. Liz was still fuming, and wanted to pick a fight. I was finally fed up with her attitude and lit into her. I managed to let her know that I wasn’t going to put up with the crap she had been dishing on me and until she changed, I would sleep in a separate bed.
Liz asked how that was going to work at the camp site. I just said “already taken care of.”
She glared at me and turned out the lights. I heard some soft crying, but I was angry and disappointed to the point I did not feel the need to comfort her.
In the morning we had a very silent 2 hour drive to the campsite. When we got there, I handed Liz her tent and sleeping bag and she went ballistic on me. She screamed; “What gives you the right to treat me like this?”
I snapped back; “The same right that gives you the right to deny me the marriage bed. Did you bother to think about that? Can you answer that? What has changed is that you have become an insufferable bitch. When we get back to the apartment, you are sleeping on the roll out.”
Liz looked abashed, and turned around mumbling something and then I heard the words that killed our marriage. Muttered under her breath but still loud enough to be heard. “Ralph has never kicked me out of the bed.”
I now was ballistic; I grabbed all of the stuff, put it back in the car, grabbed Liz and set her down in the front seat. Climbed in and started driving.
Liz had a shocked look on her face and asked, “Where are we going?”
I screamed; “As soon as we get a reliable signal you are going to call ‘Ralphie Boy’ and have him meet us in Cadillac. Then you are going with him. You are no longer allowed in the apartment I pay for. I will see a divorce lawyer on Monday and you can come and get your stuff any day next week. I heard that ‘Ralphie Boy’ likes you in his bed.”
“On no;” She cried, “I’m sorry, you weren’t supposed to hear that.”
“Well I did, and you obviously have experience with ‘Ralphie Boy’ not kicking you out of bed. Except maybe to do you on the floor.” I continued; “Think about what you have destroyed. I have never, never cheated on you. I have been propositioned, plied with booze, and outright invited to have sex with woman while I have been on the road. Unlike you I take my vow of ‘forsaking all others’ seriously.”
“Do you have any other stupid remarks to make? Did ‘Ralphie Boy always use a condom, or do I need to get checked for STDs? Did you ever give me sloppy seconds? How long has this affair been going on? What about all of your other affairs that I don’t know about? Are you going to answer any of those questions?”