Thanks to the hip and knee doctor for editing assistance.
Note from Jake Rivers:
This is my eighth semi-annual "invitational." The current effort consists of stories based on songs performed by Frank Sinatra, Ol' Blues Eyes. Please read the stories and give feedback to the participating authors.
I'll Make it All the Way
I think I'm gonna make it all the way.
You hurt me and abused me, took advantage of and used me,
I swear it almost made a wreck of me.
When I needed your devotion, you were never in the notion
You were cold as any iceberg in the sea,
Love to you had lost its splendor, my pride went out the window,
But now my heart is healing, and I got a real good feeling,
I think I'm gonna make it all the way.
It had been over a year since my wife started her affair with Howard Pattington. I had no idea why I allowed it to go on as long as I did. Perhaps it was because I was comfortable. After I figured out what was happening, I didn't really care any more. I patiently waited for the day when she would serve me with divorce papers. I hadn't done anything to prepare myself other than to get into the proper frame of mind. I was resigned to the fact that she would take half of everything I had accumulated with her. She could gladly have the house and furniture. The appraised value was less than the mortgage now. We had just enough money saved to prepay four years of college for our daughter, Jenny. In three more years, I would have vested rights with the company and she would probably claim part of that.
Marsha was fairly discreet about her affair. The biggest problem was that Pattington worked for the same company that I did. He was in a different department and at one pay grade higher. At least he was single and fairly good looking. What I didn't like was his arrogant attitude. It was easy for me to avoid him at work, and the only time I was forced into associating with him was at company social affairs.
Things came to a head quite quickly. Jenny had left for her first semester at Penn State and Marsha and I were alone in the house for the first time in 18 years. Normally that would have been a good opportunity for a couple to start increasing their sexual activities, but not in our house. Marsha was always too tired or too busy and I couldn't care less.
It was a Saturday morning. Marsha was in the shower and I was still reading the morning paper when the phone rang. I was not expecting a call so I just let it go to the message machine. It was an interesting message to say the least.
"This is Malcolm Jewelers calling. The engraving has been finished on your watch and you can pick it up at any time. Thank you."
Well that was interesting. I don't wear a watch and I never had. It bothered the hell out of me to have something hanging on my arm. There was no reason for Marsha to have something engraved on her own watch and Jenny used her cell phone to check the time.
I had never been one to root through my wife's purse or anything else, but today I felt a strong urge.
The receipt from the jewelry store was tucked in the side where she kept her credit cards. I read it carefully; 'one Teg Hauer Carrera wrist watch with a black alligator band. Engraving on rear " FOREVER- MARSHA" $3,900. paid in full.'
I carefully tucked it back in place and got myself a cold beer. I knew damn well that it was not for me. Marsha had just returned to the living room as I was walking outside to start mowing the lawn. It took twice as long as normal to finish the yard work, but I had a good chance to think things through.
After lunch, Marsha informed me that she was going to spend the night at her sisters house in Frackville. She didn't noticed the big smile on my face. I got to spend the rest of the evening getting my affairs in order. I had a whole year to do this, but I had waited until the last minute. I was kicking myself for delaying it, but was glad that I had finally made the decision.
She got home about lunch time on Sunday. We were congenial, but hardly spoke to each other. It was the longest Sunday of my life. I slept on the couch that night.
Monday morning at work started out fine until Howard started showing off his new watch to all of his workmates. I had resigned myself to put up with it all, until he glanced my way with a big smirk on his face. Up until that point, he had always been laid back and quiet about the affair, but now he was gloating. Big mistake.
I immediately took a week's vacation and then notified personnel that I was now available for a transfer to the Baltimore office. The new job came with a promotion and a pay raise. I had declined it several times because Marsha and Jenny did not want to move.
I spent the rest of the day at the bank and with my lawyer. I put together an offer to give Marsha everything, but no alimony and no percentage of my pending pension. She could have all the money that was left after we prepaid Jenny's tuition. With college costs as high as they were, there was not going to be much left.
My wife was not at home when I moved all of my things into a small efficiency apartment near work.
On Tuesday I rested.
The divorce papers were delivered to Marsha on Wednesday. She called me.
"John. Do you want to explain this? Do you want to discuss anything?"
"Why should I sign these papers?"
"Marsha, it is long overdue and you know it. Signing the papers will just make everything right. I am the one getting the short end of the stick. You lose nothing and gain everything."
"You are offering no support. I gave you twenty years and you offer nothing."
"If I included alimony it would only be until you remarried. Seemed to me that it would be a waste of time. As it is, everything will be over in ninety days. If you want to change things, I can guarantee that it will take over a year. I just want to move on."
"I understand that you are actually moving?"
"Oh. And who told you that?" Of course I knew the answer.
"Does it matter?"
"At this point, no."
There was a pause in the conversation.
"Marsha. I am the one who got hurt here. I am the one who is being forced to move. I did nothing wrong and still I am the one being punished. I've known all about Pattington for several years now. Just sign the damn papers."
"I am sorry, John. I never meant for this to happen. I will get them to the lawyers tomorrow."
It was a wonderful opportunity for me to lay a guilt trip on her, but I refused to give her the satisfaction.
I went into work on Friday and cleaned out my desk. Nobody had expected to see me and several people voiced their objections at not being able to set up a proper goodbye party. I wasn't in a party mood. It took less than an hour to out process.
Before leaving, I called Jenny and explained the situation as well as I could. How do you tell your daughter that you are leaving her mother without giving a good reason? She asked once and then dropped the matter as if she had some idea of what was going on. I didn't see how it would have been possible for her not to know, since it was for so long. I got the feeling that she understood.
The drive to Baltimore was a sad one. All I could think about was the life that Marsha and I had built and how easily it was destroyed. I had always planned on growing old with her. Now I had no plans for growing old. I didn't really care.
At no point had Marsha apologized for her actions or even admitted them. We avoided the subject. Naturally we both knew what was going on, but neither of us would be the first to actually bring it up. A man could drive himself nuts thinking about all of this crap. I turned on the radio. Who the hell is Lady Gaga?
The new job was a piece of cake. I was over-qualified to say the least. Because of my competence and confidence the people under me felt comfortable. It was going to be a good move. I kept in touch with Jenny and she gave me what information that she had about her mother. Howard had moved in with Marsha into our house, a week after I left. Jenny was not happy, and I couldn't blame her.
Marsha had signed and agreed to all the terms on the divorce. She didn't even get her own lawyer. Everything was right on schedule and all I could do now was wait.
When we reached the point where there was only three weeks left until the divorce would be final, I signed up for a ten day Caribbean cruise. I hated cruises, but this one would be necessary. The weekend before I was scheduled to leave, I met some old friends from home in Atlantic City. I wined them, dined them and entertained them. It was good to have old friends.
It was a long ten days at sea. I couldn't decide what I hated most; the food or the others guests. At times, I could swear that I was being stalked by at least three single women; at least I thought they were single. I took advantage of all of the ports-of-call to break up the tedium.
When I finally got back home, I had some guests waiting. They were Baltimore detectives, but they were there at the request of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Howard Pattington's body had been found at a road side rest area on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He had been beaten by what appeared to be a baseball bat and died on the way to a local hospital. His wallet and watch had been taken, so the first indication was that it had been a robbery gone bad. When investigators uncovered the relationship between Pattington and Marsha, I became the prime suspect.
It took less than thirty minutes for the local police to verify that I was indeed on the cruise for the last ten days. The Pennsylvania State Police did not feel that any further research was necessary.
There were at least a dozen messages on my phone. Jenny had told her mother about my cruise plans, but Marsha insisted on trying to get in touch with me. Marsha knew that I hated cruises. One of the calls was from Jenny so I called her back.
"Jenny. I just got back from my cruise. What the heck happened?"
"Nobody knows for sure. Mom is a wreck. Howard didn't come home from work one day and that night they found him on the Turnpike near Downingtown. He had been beaten and died before they could get him to the hospital."
"When did this happen?"
"Well, I was in Cancun last Thursday so it wasn't me."
"Mom swears that you had something to do with it, but there is no proof at all to verify it."
"I just spent a good bit of time with the local police here and they seemed to be satisfied with my story."
"So why is your mother trying to get in touch with me?"
"She is totally lost. She doesn't have you and now she has lost Howard. She said something about trying to stop the divorce. Can she do that?"
"Not without my approval." If I had waited a few more days, I wouldn't be having this problem.
The next week was filled with phone calls from Marsha and from an attorney named Winstead. I ignored them all. Two days before the divorce would be final, a certified letter arrived requiring my signature. My secretary was able to delay the delivery so that I had a chance to exit the building. I spent the next three days in Atlantic City. Before going home, I called my lawyer. He congratulated me on successfully avoiding Marsha's attempts to stop the divorce and then asked me for ten thousand dollars more to cover expenses. After a few awkward moments he started to laugh. It was a crappy little joke, but it did add a little levity to the situation. Instead of the money, he said he would settle for a steak dinner. It was worth it. I still thought it was a crappy joke.
I never fully understood why the police had dropped the investigation into Pattington's murder, or why they had not contacted me again.
Jenny called and also offered some congratulations, but of course with the reserve that a child would have in seeing her parents separate. Marsha was in a deep depression. Her sister Sherry was staying with her for the time being. It appeared that she suddenly realized that she was going to be having financial problems; severe financial problems. I was smiling as I hung up the phone.
I had no contact with Marsha for the next two years. I didn't keep track of her or check up on what she was doing. I talked to Jenny every month, but we both carefully avoided any discussion about Marsha. All I knew was that she had lost the house to the bank and was working in a ladies clothing store at one of the local malls. Marsha did tell Jenny that Howard had two insurance polices naming his mother as beneficiary. Apparently, mother Pattington was not willing to share.