Edited by Barney R, Spelling and grammar further messed with by me. All mistakes are mine
I found out from a friend’s passing comment at lunch.
We were at lunch when my friend and business partner Ralph Jermain asked me; “What was Carol doing at the Metro Hotel two weeks ago Friday? I was coming out of a seminar when I saw her getting on the elevator.”
I hoped my shock and hurt didn’t show, so I lied as I responded; “I don’t know, but with her job and having to meet clients all the time in different places; she might have been there for that.” Then I asked to be excused and went to the restroom to compose myself.
That particular day, my wife Carol was supposed to be 1700 miles away in Johnson City Texas visiting her mother. She was not supposed to be anywhere close to the downtown Baytown area.
It took me several minutes to collect my thoughts, and when I returned to the table where my friends were waiting. They saw the distress I was in. Gary Jenkins, another partner and one of the ‘Raunchy Rangers’ as the four of us were called, asked if I was feeling alright.
Jim McKinnay, the last of the partners and ‘Rangers’ said “Bobby, you look like you were just told your dog died. Are you OK? Do you want someone to take you home?”
I couldn’t respond I just lost it. Grown men aren’t supposed to cry, but I just put my head down on the table and let the tears flow.
My name is Robert (Bobby) Mason; when this conversation took place I was 33 years old, and a partner with the other three ‘Rangers’ in a computer communications and security company. We are buddies who had been buddies since seventh grade; we even went to the same university. Jim got his degree in business management with a minor in accounting. Gary’s degree was in criminal justice and a minor in electronic design, but his poor eyesight stopped him from becoming a policeman. Ralph and I both had degrees in computer science. My emphasis was on network and cybersecurity and Ralph’s was in database management and programming.
The Carol that Ralph mentioned was at the time my wife of 5 years. She was 30 and worked in an investment firm as an administrative assistant. The week that Ralph was talking about she was supposed to be assisting her mother who was ill. I was not invited, because the old battleaxe hated me for “stealing her baby.” She treated me like I was either a child molester or an ax murderer. She even went so far as to try to make us sleep in separate rooms when we visited after we were married. That stopped my visits cold.
I met Carol when I was working as a computer service person for a small company. I was assigned the task of removing a virus from the network of the company she was working for at the time. She was the office manager of the company. I just graduated and had taken this job because there were none available that would use all of my skills in the area of the country I wanted to work in.
When I got to the site I was introduced to Carol Meyering and was told she would be with me as I investigated the source and eliminating the virus. I was shown to the network closet and hooked up my laptop and ran a deep virus scan. I informed Ms. Meyering, call me Carol, that the virus scan would take between 2 and 4 hours. I asked for and was given permission to check each individual computer in the entire office.
Those checks took about 10 minutes for each machine. After checking each machine in the staff areas, I did not find the source. I asked Carol to call a meeting with the executives. When they were all assembled, I asked for and received permission to check out all of their computers.
One of the vice presidents objected and said that he would not allow an outsider to view proprietary secrets that he had on his computer. I asked the CEO to talk to me outside for a minute. When we were in the hallway, I explained that I felt the man that was objecting was probably the source of the virus.
I explained that I have not found any of the staff computers or their internet activities as the source of this virus. It, therefore, had to have come either from one of the executives or someone who used one of their machines inserting a CD, DVD, or USB drive, or surfing the web for unsafe sites; generally porn sites, and the resulting emails that some porn sites generate. I asked for and received permission to start with the complaining VP’s office first.
He was still complaining when I did the deep scan. He stayed in the room and watched as I ran the scan. When he saw that I did not access any of the files, and just had the virus checking software scanning all of his computer files and his browser history, he calmed down. It turns out he was VP of security and was anal-retentive about protecting the company’s assets.
Surprise, it was not on his or any of the other executive’s machine. I left the CEO’s office for last. When I got there, like all of the other machines there was no objectionable surfing of the web. However, this machine’s history showed that someone had inserted a CD on the Friday of the week before. The CEO got a very embarrassed look on his face when he realized that his granddaughter had visited that day and he had let her play one of the few games that the company allowed on the system.
Apparently, the granddaughter was bored with those games, and inserted a CD she got from a friend. Bingo, virus source found. Embarrassment maximized. I cleaned it up and locked all of the CD drives and flash drives down to require administrative privileges. That way, the granddaughter could use the computer but could not insert any new programs into the system. The CEO was so upset, that he paid the bill for my service call, and also signed a contract for a year of monthly virus scans.
Carol had followed me all around, and we began talking. I found out she was 24 to my 26, and she had graduated from the local community college with an associate’s degree in office management. She was not dating anyone and had not for several months. We seemed to get along, and I felt an attraction to her. I asked her if I could take her for a coffee or snack in order to get to know her better. I explained my feelings and that I hope she had some of the same.
She agreed to coffee, so after I clocked out I picked her up at her work and we went to a restaurant on campus that had marvelous coffee. We talked for a long time, and I bought her a burger and fries and some ice cream. We talked until the place closed. We exchanged phone numbers, and because it was dark when we finished talking, I drove her to her car and followed her to her home. Once she was inside, I lightly tooted the horn and went home.
I had told her about my goals and plans. The other ‘Rangers’ and I had a plan that we started in college. We were going to get some real-world experience, save as much money as we could, and then we would start a business where we were all partners.
We started dating, me exclusively from the start, and Carol from the third date. She told me of the two dates she went on and explained that they had been set up by her family. That was how I found out about the mother-in-law from hell. We went to her mother’s house in Texas a couple of months after we started dating.
Stella met us at the airport and it did not go well. Mrs. Meyering (Stella) was accompanied by a man our age that went up and hugged and tried to kiss Carol. Carol was having none of it and slapped the guy. He was stunned. He left.
Then Carol told her mother that she was very angry. She also said that there was no way she ever wanted to meet that cheating bastard again. Then she dropped a couple of big verbal and mental bombs on her mother. She informed her that she thought she would try something like that, so our plane tickets had an open date return.
Stella just stood there open-mouthed. Carol walked over and then blew me away. She said as she kissed my cheek. “Mother this is Robert Mason. Bobby is going to be my husband. You will be invited to the wedding, but because of the mean stunt you just tried to pull, you will not have any say in the planning, choice of date, venue, or attendants. If you choose not to attend, you will never see or talk to me again. Now close your mouth and meet the best man I have ever met.”
To say I was stunned would be a huge understatement. We had never talked about marriage or even love. I had thought a lot about it, but I did not bring it up because I thought Carol would think it was too soon. Wrong.
As we were flying back home Carol told me she was sorry for saying that to her mother. She said that if I did not want...
That was all she could say because I kissed her long and lovingly. No more talk of sorry.
Carol went on to explain to me that the jerk who had tried to kiss her was the first boy she had dated and had sex with. She said that Jerry Osborn seemed to be the man she would spend the rest of her life with. The end came when she found out he couldn’t keep his pants zipped. He knocked up a classmate, and when confronted, skipped town and joined the Navy. That didn’t work, as the girl sued and the Navy sent her part of his check every month for child support. Carol added that the girl married, put the child in an orphanage, and the guy didn’t know about the daughter, but Jerry wasn’t on the hook anymore.
Well, I got with the program, a ring was bought, a wedding was planned, attendants chosen and accepted. The 3 remaining ‘Raunchy Rangers’ did Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who was to be the best man. They all lost, because I was the best man. Gary came in second place so he was the closest to me. Ralph was next, then ‘Hairy Hindmost’ Jim. We had a lot of joking and a lot of complaints about cheating and a whole lot of laughing.
The girls were all beautiful, Stella was quiet, and Carol was the most beautiful bride ever. Stella left before the reception, but I really think Carol did not care. She told me later that night that her mother was a poor loser and had driven her father to suicide. For that, Carol had left as soon as she was accepted at the community college and had never, other than the weekend of me meeting Stella, set foot in the house she grew up in.
Wham Bam, in less than a year after meeting her we were married
Life went on, and the guys and I formed our partnership. We were lucky, as a virus attack occurred at one of our first customer’s computer network farm. Word got around that we provided secure backup and quick recovery from virus and ransomware attacks, we turned a nice profit a full 8 months before we had planned.
Carol told me that she wanted to wait a couple of years to start a family. I was ok with that, but she never seemed to not want to make love. There was only one period when she was sick that we went for a week without some sexual activity. Nothing was off-limits. Carol and I tried everything and as many positions as we could without hurting one of us or adding someone else.
About 3 years into the marriage we discovered that I am sterile. The doctors thought that I may have injured myself when I crashed my homemade pushcart when the ‘Rangers’ thought it would be fun and scary to take rides down the steepest hill in the area. The other guys went first, and by the time I was to go we thought all was well. NOT. I broke an arm and ruptured a couple of blood vessels in my groin. Apparently that was not all that was ruptured; basically I did a snip job at 13.
Carol almost looked relieved. We talked some, and she admitted she was afraid that she was going to turn out to be a mother like her mother. I held her and tried to reassure her that she was too much of a caring person.
Then disaster struck. Stella had a small stroke. Carol went down to stay with her for about two weeks. She then hired a caregiver that we paid for. She even talked me into going down and visiting. Stella, other than a slight face drop and left side weakness, was her obnoxious self. Carol again stuck up for me and we left after one night. After two more tries at visiting and no change, I never went back.
Carol went to check on her mother about 4 times a year. This went on for almost two years until I heard the question.
Because we are a computer security company, the first thing I did on my next workday was hacking into the system of the Metro Hotel for the week she was gone, the week before, and the week after. Sure enough, Carol had rented a room under her maiden name each Friday for those three weeks. She would check-in at 11:00 (which was the earliest she could) take a king size bed single room and check out the next morning. That was strange because she was home every Friday night for each of those three weeks. The week she was in Texas, I even picked her up at the airport.
Smelling an odor, not unlike a rat, I hacked their video surveillance system and downloaded each Friday and Saturday video for those three weeks. It seems Carol would rent the room, always room 321. The room was near the back stairwell. She would go up to check it out then go out the back way and let a man in and spend a few hours in the room. Then they would both leave out the back way and Carol would check out by driving back while on her weekly Saturday morning food shopping trip. The week she was supposed to be with her mother she came back Friday morning and when the lovers were finished he drove her out of the parking lot to go, I assume, to the airport. They left at about the time that was needed to get to the airport and have Carol standing at the exit when I drove up.
Among her other crimes against our love, that night she just about killed me with sex before taking a shower, so she was giving me “sloppy seconds.”
I thought it was a pretty slick plan except for the fact that Ralph spotted her. Now that I knew what was going on, I called the ‘Rangers’ in and showed them the evidence. They were all appalled and angry.
I asked the guys for help. We decided to frustrate the lovers for the next week by showing up at her normal check-in time and having one or more of us in the third-floor hallway when she would finally get to the room.
We also decided to hack her phone to keep track of who she was with and pay him a visit. The next part of the plan was to gather video and stills of the two people in the room.
I rented the same room at the Metro for the following Thursday, and when I asked specifically for room 321 the booking clerk asked why that room, I told the lady that my wife had fond memories of that room. I got it.
I installed all of the surveillance equipment I thought the room would need. I had audio, video, and a stop-action video of every part of the room except the bathroom. I really did not want pictures of one of them taking a dump.
It took about 90 minutes to set up the equipment and set it all up to come on at 12:30. I figured we could probably get away with frustrating them for an hour. I put the remote recorders in the ceiling in the hallway.
The next day Gary and I were in the lobby talking when Carol came in and the desk clerk said; “Welcome again Miss Meyering. Do you want the same room?”
“Of course, Jane, only that room; it has so many special memories for me.” She took the offered key and turned to see both of us standing there right behind her. The look was one of fear, confusion, and surprisingly, of anger. She swallowed, and all of the emotions I saw smoothed out and a fake smile appeared.
I said, “Hi darling, Gary and I were in the area and thought we would get an early lunch. I’m really surprised to see you here.” I continued, “Come on, join us, we haven’t had a workday lunch in more than a year.”
She really could not refuse, so she said; “Let me go to the ladies’ room and I’ll be right there.” When she rushed to the ladies’; I activated my clone of her phone and started its record function.
She called the same number that we had seen on her phone several times that week. She was whispering “Please pick up, please pick up” as the phone rang for 4 or 5 times.