Day 1, Early:
I'm sure that everyone has received that phone call in the dead of night that has kept them awake for the rest of the night. Well, I received mine the other night. But instead of some drunk or family member calling about a death, it was from my best friend Bill Paxton. Bill and I grew up together and were the very best of friends. I think we met when we were two, but that was a long time ago, so I'm not sure if my memory is perfect. That call the other night was weird and yet it was informative as well. It went like this.
"Hello!" I said angrily as the phone rang at 3:00am waking me from a sound sleep. Since the phone is on my side of the bed I answered.
"Rob, I'm so sorry man, I wish it had never happened, but I have to tell you before I die."
"What is going on why... ?"
"Rob, your wife and I have been having an affair for the last six or seven months and I can't keep it up. I'm so sorry Rob I can't keep up the charade any longer; I had to tell you before I died." And then I heard a shot and then nothing.
By now my wife Brenda is somewhat awake and asked who was on the phone. I said it was nothing, just some drunk. "It kinda sounded like Bill but it couldn't be him. Go back to sleep."
Brenda turned over and then I think she went to sleep, but I just hung up the phone and lay there thinking. What happened six or seven months ago in our lives? Did Brenda really cheat on me with my very best friend? But surely I would have seen something that would have clued me into her cheating. But let me think.
Tonight when I tried to initiate sex, I was shot down again; this was the fifth time in the past six months. Our sex life had taken a nose dive, about a year ago, no reason given, just going from two to three times a week to maybe once a week and then maybe six months ago or maybe more it had dwindled down to maybe once every two weeks or so. The last time was a week and half ago after we came back from dancing at the Tip Top club. Brenda had been really horny that night and I was able to give her several orgasms to my twice. Not bad for a couple of 45 year olds who have been married for almost 23 years had had 2 kids.
Shelly, our daughter, was now married to a real nice guy, a Navy Captain named Scott, and they were expecting their first in about six months. Tommy was just finishing up his junior year at Texas State. Life was good, I thought, but I guess not if what Bill said was true. I wondered if he really shot himself or if this was some kind of joke. Bill was always the joker.
The more I thought of this the more it seemed to correspond to some things I had been seeing lately that now in this new light seemed to take on new meaning. Brenda had been coming home from work late at least once a week. Not always the same night, and sometimes she would tell me the day before, and sometimes she would call at about four and let me know. It was no set pattern, so how could I be sure that it wasn't legit. I mean, the company she worked for had overseas clients, and sometimes they needed to interact with them at odd hours our time.
But was that enough information to go on, plus the lack of sex. I mean when Shelly left home, Tommy was gone a lot and our sex live took a huge turn up. From maybe once a week to almost every night and then when Tommy left for college, it was every night and a wild time on the weekends. Then about a year ago that tapered off to what I was experiencing now.
Ok, anything else; is she spending more money, did she buy sexy underwear, is she dressing nicer for work? No, none of those things was occurring. So was this a prank, or what? I decided that I needed to get some sleep, today was a work day, and I needed some more rest.
I rolled over and went back to sleep. I would pursue this tomorrow, well later today then.
About noon time that day I heard on the radio that a man was found in his home shot in an apparent suicide. The man had been despondent over the death of his wife eighteen months ago and had apparently taken his own life to join her. The name was being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
Now that was a jolt. Bill's wife Cindy was killed in an auto accident about eighteen months ago; it couldn't be Bill, right? The description given was the same neighborhood in the city where Bill lived. Oh, wow, this was becoming to sound suspiciously like the victim was Bill. If that was the case, then was what he confessed this morning really true? Were he and my wife having an affair for the last six months? I guess it was going to be an interesting home life tonight when I confronted Brenda with Bill's deathbed confession. Now I wondered if the conversation had been picked up by the answering machine. I had heard it end its spiel when I finally got the phone to my ear last night, well early this morning. Yes it would be a very interesting evening tonight.
I was able to do a few things on the computer at work, and then planned on taking a long lunch today, to move a few things at the bank. I called my family lawyer, and tried to get an appointment for today, or tomorrow. I had an appointment for today at five. At eleven, I rushed home with a pocket recorder, and recorded the phone call from the answering machine, and then erased the message. Then, it was off to the bank to set up a new account in my name only, and I moved most of the money from the checking account to there. I also transferred half of the savings from one account to a new savings account, and took all of our special savings account that we paid for Tommy's college with. I cashed in two of the three CD's we had and added that to the new account. I would give up some of the money and knew it, but I wanted it out of her hands. I didn't want to confront her and find out that I had no access to money to pay bills or anything else. She was the one who cheated, so let her find money to pay a lawyer. I paid all the bills by computer, and was much savvier about computers than Brenda. She used them at work, but was not conversant in all the software like I was, as I needed to be for my job.
With all that accomplished I went back to work and tried to get something done, but I kept going back to that phone call. Had Brenda tried to comfort Bill and things went too far or did she just want to fuck him again. Yeah, again; she and Bill were steadies in high school, and the first couple of years of college, until Bill met Cindy Spurlock, right at the end of our sophomore year at a party that we attended. I was with my girlfriend Alice Holden at the time, but I really wanted Brenda, but from a pinkie swear at thirteen we swore that we would not try to date another's girl, until we knew it was over. A week after that party, Bill broke up with Brenda and she was devastated. Bill and I met Brenda when we started high school in ninth grade. This was just a year after our pinkie swear, and although I was head over heels in love with Brenda she was Bill's girl. Maybe it was only lust but I knew what I wanted. Shortly after starting college I met Alice and we seemed to click nicely, but there was something missing. It was something I could never explain but I just couldn't give my all to Alice. I think she knew it too, even though we did become steadies, just not engaged. After Bill dumped Brenda, she came to me to cry on my shoulder and I think we both knew within a month that something very tangible was there staring us in the face. I tried to let Alice down easy, but I think she saw it coming too and we broke up with no hard feelings for either of us. The next week, Alice was with Charlie Tember and they eventually married.
As for Brenda and me, we took it slow and soon realized that there was someone wonderful in our lives. It took almost a year for Brenda to accept that Bill was truly gone and we could occasionally double date. We had been friends for too long not to work things out between us. Bill and Cindy married a year after graduation and a year later Brenda and I married. I had stayed an extra year in school and gained my MBA. Brenda graduated with a BBA in marketing. When I finally graduated Brenda was already gainfully employed. Brenda worked for Hodges Marketing Research Company. I found a job at Peterson and Associates, a management consultant company. We evaluated different companies to see if we could make them more efficient and more cost effective.
We had Shelly during our first year of marriage and two years later Tommy came along. Because Brenda had such a hard time with Tommy as he was so big, she had her tubes tied after the birth and before she went home. Tommy was 14 pounds and 21" long at birth. Once Tommy started school full time Brenda went back to work at Hodges, pretty much in the same position she had when she got a leave of absence to have Shelly. Things went well for us and I was now a vice president at Peterson, and Brenda was a VP over at Hodges. Both of us traveled a bit over the years but we managed to work it out where both of us were not gone at the same time.
So we fast forward a few years and now both children are out of the house. About then tragedy struck hard in Bill's life when he lost Cindy. Their three kids were all grown and on their own, or in school so it was just the two of them. A drunk driver broadsided Cindy's car at 5:00pm one night as she drove home. The guy hit the driver's door and Cindy was killed instantly by part of the door frame being torn loose and entering her head just in front of her ear.
Bill was inconsolable, Brenda and I were there for him, but it took months before he could function properly. He went into deep depression and for days on end he would not eat or do anything. He quit his job about six weeks after the funeral. He had won a suit against the driver and the bar owner who allowed him to drink as much as he did. His blood alcohol was three times the legal limit and he was only five blocks from the bar when he plowed into Cindy's car. He never even applied the brakes and the cops estimated he was doing nearly 50 mph by virtue that Cindy's car was 150 feet into the other street away from where the collision occurred.
Either Brenda or I was at his house every night for at least six months. Finally Bill started coming out of the depression and you could see snippets of the old Bill again. Then about three months ago he seemed to be back to normal, for the most part, there were still days where he would slide back for a while, but he was healing.
That phone call last night really knocked me for a loop. First I could maybe see where Bill would not be totally responsible in clinging to Brenda, but for Brenda to cheat on me and had been doing it for six months that was the shock. My god what was I going to do without her? I certainly couldn't just let this go, I had to get some answers, like why, what did I do wrong and again WHY?
My secretary, Carol Stevens, buzzed me and said I asked her to remind me of my appointment at five and I needed to get going if I was going to be on time. I thanked Carol and said I was on my way.
My lawyer Steve Burns said I was pretty much screwed. Brenda would get half of everything, no matter what. That sucked, she did wrong and broke my heart, but she gets to keep half of everything we had accumulated over the years. He though that since we each had a good retirement plan and they were about the same that we could just keep those but the house, the money, cars, and everything else would be divided between us. I did tell him what I had done that morning. He said I would have to give a lot of that back, but to leave it for now. The evidence I had was useless unless there was a letter from Bill confessing his sins, the taped confession probably wouldn't be admissible. At least we didn't have young children to complicate the division. So probably no alimony and no child support, so it would just be a division of assets, and that's it.
"Steve, I want you to go ahead and start the paperwork for a divorce, whatever grounds you want but I want out, period. She cheated; and there was no excuse for that. If it had been once or maybe twice, I could see it and maybe we could do some counseling or something to patch things up. But this was going on for over six months; no I can't accept that, no matter what the reason."
"Okay Rob, I'll have everything ready tomorrow and get it before a judge tomorrow afternoon and we can file, and have her served."
"Thanks Steve, I really appreciate it."
I left Steve's office and drove towards home. I took the long way around, just killing time trying to think of how I was going to approach Brenda.
Day 1, Evening
It really didn't matter much as she was not home when I got there. I arrived home at just after seven and the house was dark, lonely, and empty of life. I checked around and all of Brenda's things were still here, so she hadn't left me yet. I tried her cell phone but it must have been off as it went right to voice mail. I left her a message that I was home and I would like to know when she might be home. I then called her office and she wasn't there either. Her parents lived up near Dallas so I called there to see if she had let them know where she was. Nope nothing there either, so I tried Shelly. She said that her mom had called and said that she was very upset about something and that she needed a shoulder to cry on but since Shelly was now in Pensacola, Florida with her Navy husband, it would be a little hard to cry on her shoulder. She did ask why she hadn't turned to me and Brenda said that I probably wouldn't understand, as it was women's stuff.
"Shelly, I think that your mother and Bill were having an affair and I think Bill killed himself last night. I got a call and he was apologizing to me and then I heard a shot and the line went dead. I think that your mother doesn't want to confront me and she is afraid of what I will do or say. If what I think is true then I will divorce her. It was supposedly been going on for at least six months. Once or maybe even twice I could, maybe, understand. But for six months... ? No, I can't accept that. I hope you understand, Shell, but I have to do this for my own sanity."
"Oh Daddy, I'm so sorry. I don't understand why she would have done that, but if what you say is true, then I'm with you, kick her to the curb. Oh Scott just got back from work, call me later, okay, Dad? I love you daddy, you'll get through this."
"Yeah Baby Girl, I'll get through this. Love you too, bye."
I rummaged through the fridge looking for something for diner and found some leftover chicken and mashed potatoes. I nuked that and sat back in my recliner and let the boob tube lull me to sleep. I awoke at midnight and put the dishes in the sink and went to bed. I called in sick that next morning and told my secretary that I was to be in meetings all morning and then again this afternoon too. I was not to be disturbed by anyone, especially my wife, but if she really needed me to call my home phone.
Day 2, Morning:
I waited for my wife to come home to see what she would take and if she would even show up. I didn't have to wait long. I had parked my car on the street behind us and walked back to the house. I was sitting in my den and just waited. I had a warm cup of coffee when I heard the kitchen door open and close. I heard footsteps in the living room and then down the hall towards the bedrooms. I arose and put my cup down and walked down the hall in my stocking feet. I stood by the master bedroom door where I could hear clothes rustling. I pushed open the door and just as it opened all the way it squeaked.
There stood my wife with an open suitcase and clothes in her hand and her mouth open ready to scream.
"Going somewhere dear?"
"Ah ... er ... yes, I thought I would go away for a few days until things settle down a little. I guess you have heard that Bill committed suicide yesterday morning. I heard from the detective that he left a note. I assume that you were notified too."
"No dear, I was not notified, I was just the one person in the dark about this whole sordid affair. The phone call early yesterday morning was Bill, he called to confess and to tell me he was so sorry about what he had done to me. Then I heard the shot that killed him. I really did expect to hear from you last night. I called everyone I knew that might have known where you were, but no one knew. You didn't even have the decency to call me and tell me that you wouldn't be home. That's not a nice thing to do to your loving clueless husband."
"Rob, for what it's worth, I truly am sorry things just kind of happened and before I knew it we were making love and it brought back so many memories of long ago. Somehow I just got lost in my memories and before I knew it too many things had happened for too many times to tell you about it. I knew that I could never tell you the truth, that I still loved Bill. I loved you Rob, I really did, but somehow when I was comforting Bill or trying to get him over the depression from losing Cindy, I felt the love that was there so long ago and it suddenly burst into flame again and I was lost. I thought I would go away for a while, maybe to Florida to see Shelly and help her when the baby comes. Maybe by then you won't be so mad that you want to kill me too. I want to..." She lost it then and sank to the floor sobbing.
"I don't think going to Shelly's is a good idea, Bren. After our talk last night I don't think you would be welcome. I think you need to go home to Dallas and think things over while I divorce your cheating ASS!!!" My voice rose in anger as I finished that last statement. I willed my inner self to get a grip, yelling and screaming at each other was not going to help at all.
"Brenda, there is another big suitcase in Tommy's room. I'll get that for you. I would pack for at least a month, Bren; I would say that would be a minimum. Also, I would appreciate it if you didn't fight the divorce. I know I have so very little evidence to go on, but over six months of fucking my very best friend is going to be hard to get over. Once you get settled up in Dallas, let me know who your lawyer is so we can get things started to rectifying this mess you made. I'll leave you in peace for now. If you need help, just let me know I will be in the den thinking and drinking."
When I brought the suitcase in, Brenda was still on the floor sobbing into the clothes she had in her hands. I left the suitcase and went back to the den and grabbed my mug of coffee. I poured me another half full cup of coffee, heated it up in the microwave, and then put some Tullamore Dew into the cup to bring it to three quarters full. As I debated whether to add some more Dew, I figured the hell with it 'its five o'clock somewhere.' I sat back and tried my damnest not to think of anything at all, I just wanted some peace and quiet and to go back to my life of a year ago. But that wasn't going to happen. The next best thing was total numbness, so I had a good start with my own brand of Irish coffee.
About a half hour later Brenda came to the doorway to the den and said, "Rob believe me I am so sorry about all of this. You're right I need to take some time and understand what all I have done to you and the children, both Bill's and ours. Detective Miller said that Bill left three letters, I was only privy to the one addressed to me. I think one was addressed to you as well. If you will help me take my cases to the car I will leave you alone. I will call Steve Burns once I find a lawyer in Richardson. I will be at my parent's house for a while until I can decide what to do. I think I finally realize what I have lost by being stupid and trying to relive old memories. For that alone I am truly sorry. I still love you Rob, but I can understand why you want nothing to do with me anymore. Goodbye."
She left the doorway and I reluctantly got up, grabbed the big suitcase, and put it in her trunk. I turned around and started back into the house when another car pulled up alongside the curb. It was an older black Ford Victoria, typical police car. A tall thin man got out and watched as Brenda drove away.
"Mister Norton, Robert Norton?"
"Yes, may I help you?"
"Yes I believe you can. I'm Detective Miller and I'd like a few words with you, if I may?"
"Sure, come on in, I'll put some fresh coffee on. I think I'll need a cup and I'm sure you could use some decent coffee too."
"Yes that would certainly be welcome. My last cup was pretty old."
We walked in to the house and went straight to the kitchen. I started the pot I had fixed earlier but never started.
"Excuse me a moment and let me get my cup from the den, I'll be right back."
I grabbed my half finished cup, and then sat down at the kitchen table and finished the cup. My Tullamore Dew was still sitting on the counter, but out of the way and I'm not sure if Det. Miller saw it.
"Mister Norton, I saw your wife was packed and leaving, do you know where she is headed?"
"Yeah, she's going to her parent's place up in Richardson. She's going to be staying there for a while. She felt ... ah ... we both felt it would be best for right now. I can barely stand the sight of her right now, but I'm sure that you know all that."
"As a matter of fact, I think I do. I take it that you know a William Paxton?"
"I guess you could say that, I've known Bill since we were toddlers maybe 42 or 43 years. He is ... er ... was my very best friend next to my wife. Well, until recently, that is. He called me the other night to confess his affair with my wife. I thought I heard a shot over the phone, but I couldn't be sure."
"I'm surprised that you didn't report it."
"The call came at three am, why would I report that. I thought it was a crank call. It sounded sorta like Bill, but then Bill was always a jokester. Well he used to be one, but since Cindy was killed he didn't joke around much anymore. Oh coffee's ready, I'll get you a cup."
I went to the cupboard, grabbed a big mug like mine, and poured us both a cup. I put a drop or two more Dew in mine and put the ceramic jug back up in the cupboard.
"May I ask what is in the jug?"
"That is sometimes referred to as my medicine it's a blend of old Irish whiskeys called Tullamore Dew. My dad got the jug when he was stationed in England. I loved the jug, and he found one, probably one of his old ones and he presented it to me on my wedding day. I remember him calling it his medicine jug. He said that when I was most upset, then take some of this medicine and things will get better. It was full when he presented it to me. Over the years I have only filled it back up once. Would you like a taste?"
"No, maybe sometime later, I think I can understand why you need it now. Your life has pretty much been turned upside down the past couple of days."
"You could say that. I did wonder why you are just getting around to talking to me today. Brenda said that you talked to her yesterday afternoon and then you wait until today to talk to me, why?"
"Mister Norton, I needed Mrs. Norton's information right away because of the letters Mr. Paxton left in his printer. Plus I needed more information on how Mr. Paxton died before I talked to you. I wasn't sure at first if you were a suspect or a victim. Now I know you were a victim and therefore I need to speak of other things and treat you as such. I'm sure you can appreciate that."
"Yeah, Brenda said that Bill left three letters, one was for her, and she thought one was for me, I assume the other was for his children. I don't know if you knew, but when his wife was killed by that drunk driver, he about committed suicide then. He was so depressed from losing the love of his life that he wanted to join her and we, Bren, and I talked him out of it. He needed to go on for his children's sake if nothing else. It was a long slow road, but he was coming back. Six months ago he seemed to turn the corner, but that also coincided with the start of their affair. I know that now, but I didn't at the time. I just knew that he seemed to turn the corner and not be so depressed and he appeared happier. You see before he met Cindy, Brenda and he were an item for several years about six I guess. Then he met Cindy and things changed. Brenda was available, I fell in love with her the first day we met, but I was too shy, Bill got to her first and I had to wait. I hoped that some day he would release her and I would be there to pick up the pieces. It happened in our second year in college when he met Cindy and when he dumped Brenda I was there to pick up the pieces of her heart and love her like I had wanted for so long. For me it was a dream come true. Yesterday the dream was shattered. I'm still in a kind of shock, how could they betray me like that. Brenda was my life for 23 years and I never knew that she and Bill were together. In hindsight I can see I was blind to what had been going on the last six to seven months. Bill seemed to be getting much better, I just didn't realize that he and Brenda were reliving old memories and making new ones. Wow I guess I've been doing all the taking, you had some questions Detective Miller. Please proceed."
"Well to be honest a lot of my question have just been answered. Rob, you don't mind if I call you Rob do you?"
"Not at all, I would prefer that to Mister Norton. I always look around for my dad, when I hear that. I've been answering to Rob for a lot of years, so that's fine."
"I'm Bernard, well Barney, or Barn to my friends. I can understand the confusion. Since you and Mr. ah ... Bill have been friends for so long I wonder if you could read the letters he wrote and maybe you can clarify some things that still have me puzzled a bit."
"Sure, I have no problem doing that. You have them with you?"
"Yes. I want to give them to you in the order that they were printed and from what my computer expert say in the order that they were written." He reached into his suit jacket and extracted three folded pieces of paper. He looked at one and then another and gave one to me. Here is what I read:
BJ, April and Garth;
Please understand that what I do now is no reflection on you three. I love you with all my heart. You three have given your mother and me all the joy we could ever hope to have, just by being who you are. I'm sure that you are thinking I am taking the coward's way out, and in a way I am. I'm sure that you will hear about how I ruined a marriage, but more than that I destroyed a friendship that had I been in a better place than I have been in the past year, I never would have ended.
I had a torrid affair with my very best friend's wife. Brenda and I were lovers a long time ago and then I met your mother. She was everything I ever wanted in a woman. She was my other half. I truly believe that we were fated to be together and when she was gone, a very large part of me was gone too.
I think I blame myself more than Brenda, but we were both to blame for living in the past. Old memories are sweeter than new tragedies. I longed for the past I spent with your mother, but it was not to be. Brenda and Rob tried their best to bring me back, but I lived in the past. I so wanted your mother to be with me to relive that past. The past was when I was alive. I wanted it again. Brenda was a part of my past and she wanted to relive our past together. I'm afraid that I fell into the past and got lost. I think we both did that.
I'm so sorry about what has happened but I can no longer live with what I have done. I hope that your mother can forgive me so that we may be together again.
Your loving Father
I could hardly hold the letter after reading those sweet words to his children. The paper fluttered out of my hands onto the table. His words explained an awful lot of how poor Bill was stuck in a time warp of the past. I never realized just how badly he missed Cindy. I can see more now why things happened as they did. In several ways I can't really disagree with his words. If I had lost Brenda like he lost Cindy, I could see where he would be lost, as I would be too.
I had to sit for a minute to compose myself. Det. Miller got up and poured us both another cup of coffee and picked up the first letter and laid down the second. I sat for a while wrapping my mind around the state of mind that Bill was in. I knew this second letter was going to hurt.
My Dearest Brenda,
We have managed to take something pure and rich and turn it into something evil and sordid. We have done something I never thought could happen, I betrayed a trust in a friend that was unbroken for almost 32 years. Rob and I pinkie swore that we would never poach one another's girl. I knew that Rob was madly in love with you from the very first time he laid eyes on you. But his shyness allowed me to gain an advantage because I loved you too, from the very first moment we met. Rob had to find second best for six long years and then I found a super nova of a woman, one which totally eclipsed my love for you like snuffing out a match. Our love for each other was a brightly burning star, until Cindy came on the scene and suddenly our love was gone and this new love took over. I really am sorry that it hurt you so bad when I confided in you that she was THE one.
I knew I hurt you, but you had someone to fall back on, someone who loved you as much as I loved Cindy. I knew that Rob would step in, and be your everything just as I had been. I knew his love for you would heal your wounds, but I never knew how they festered and only scabbed over. I never knew or even imagined that you would carry that torch for so long.
The night I found out your love for me was just as strong as it was before, I was stunned. I couldn't imagine my hurting my best friend with our betrayal. But you somehow snuck past my sworn oath to my friend. I started living again, but in the past, not the one which I had been wallowing in before; my ancient past with you. I really wanted to go to Rob and confess the sin of my betrayal, but then I knew that he would be hurt beyond all reason. Your arguments assuaged my ire and I gave up and welcomed the past. Why not, it was where I had lived for the past six months, but somehow I lost sight of my grief and I welcomed you into my misery. We built a new house of cards and thought it was real. It was built on dreams and desires that should have died many years ago.
Last night I finally realized what I had done, and I couldn't keep ruining Rob's life. I really found that I needed to put the past where it belonged, behind me and seek out the future. The only future that seemed right was to join my one true love Cindy. That is if she would accept this disgraced soul, I would spend the rest of eternity trying to make it up to her for my indiscretions of the past.
I must say goodbye lovely Brenda, I do hope that somehow you can heal Rob's heart, but knowing him, I think we both have lost his friendship and love.
I laid the letter on the table, and as I sat back and sipped my coffee, I realized that Barney had added a little something to help me cope with this one and probably the last letter as well.
"Thank you for the added something. I think I really need the numbness to be able to finish my reading."
"You're completely welcome. I took a sniff and that is some very fine medicine. I think I would like to take a small taste, if that is alright with you."
"Help yourself Barney. I can always get some more. You're right it does help some. It doesn't heal a broken heart, but it does dull the pain a bit."
I picked up the last letter; I really dreaded reading this one.
I don't suppose that I am one of your favorite people right now but I really have to tell you just how sorry I am. For the past 32 years we have had a pact that we took with all the passion and childish devotion of the oath we took that spring day when we were 13. God were we naïve, foolish idiots at the time, but we believed and we swore on everything we thought as holy in those days.
We had already made the blood oath of friendship from when we were five year olds and first learned of such a thing. My god my finger bled for so long we both thought I would bleed to death. Then we had the bright idea to spit on it and wrap it in moss. We never knew that it was the right thing to do. We were so ignorant of things back then, but we also became fast friends forever; that is why it is so hard for me to write this letter to you ... to apologize for what I have taken from you.
You have no idea how much I wish I could turn back the clock and not betray you my dearest friend. We have been more like brothers that anything I have ever heard of. I think we acted more like twins than brothers, but I guess we never quite had that part where we could feel what the other was doing. If we could have had that then what happened that one night would have been enough and you would have known then what you know now.
I never wanted to make love to Brenda, but I was not in my right mind, Rob. I was living in the past. I thought that she was Cindy and things just went from there. I found out later why Bren allowed me to go where I did. She still carried a flaming torch for me and even though she loved you she never stopped loving me. I am so very sorry for that, I never wanted anything to happen, but it did. Once I tasted the past I wanted more and so did Brenda. It was like a raging forest fire within each of us and there was no way to stop it until it became too late. I have for the past three weeks been trying to work up the nerve to call you and tell you what we have done, but I keep chickening out. You didn't know and as near as Brenda could figure that you didn't have a clue. I'm sure that now as you read this letter that things have become apparent now that were over looked and dismissed as nothing.
I am so sorry Rob. I decided to stop hurting you, Brenda, and myself anymore, and end this. I hope beyond hope that Cindy will forgive me. I will call you after I finish this letter and confess it all to you and then I shall swallow my gun and do what has to be done.
I love you brother and I hope that you can forgive me and your love for us living in the past at your expense.
Goodbye Rob, until we meet again. I'm so sorry.
I set the paper on the table and it all came out at once. I cried like I have never cried before. Even at Cindy's funeral. This hit me harder than when my dad died of cancer three years ago. I was beside myself with grief. My very best friend in the world was gone and he had taken my second best friend with him when he left. I lay my head on the table and the hurt would not stop. I have no idea when Det. Miller left, but he locked up the house and left me alone in my grief.
Day 2, Evening:
It was dark when I awoke, stiff and a little hung over from all the Dew I had had today on an empty stomach. I had not eaten anything since early last night. The chicken and mashed potatoes didn't last all day; funny thing about that. I awoke and Barney was still gone, the letters were gone, Brenda was gone and I was alone, totally alone in the world. I had no friend, I had no wife, and nothing was left in my life except my children.
They were scattered to the winds, well kind of. Tommy was in San Marcos, Shelly and Scott were in Pensacola, and Brenda was on her way, if not already in Richardson. I was all alone with my grief. Even Detective Barney Miller had deserted me. I reached for my medicine and it was not where it normally was. I think Barney hid it to protect me from myself. I think I may have found a friend, but then too maybe not. Only time would tell.
I tried to get up but I crumpled to the floor. My legs wouldn't work; well they didn't seem to want to hold me upright anyway. I hurt in so many places that I just stretched out there in the kitchen floor and went back to weeping.
I awoke much later, and crawled into the living room. I managed to crawl onto the couch. I grabbed the afghan thrown over the back and pulled it to me and slept some more. Asleep I dreamed of things before, I dreamed of Bill's call and the shot that I was sure I heard. That was the shot that ended my life. If only it had been me instead of Bill, then I would no longer be in this misery. But someone had to live and carry on, why me?
Day 3, Morning:
I awoke with a banging in my head. Now why was my head banging, I know damn well I hadn't had that much to drink last night. Then I heard a bell, damn was I going crazy? Then my mind actually woke up and I realized that it was the front door. Someone was banging and ringing my doorbell. I rolled off the couch, and half crawled-half stoop walked to the door and using the door knob I was able to become erect. I unlocked the door as I yelled, "Just a damn minute!"
I yanked open the door, and about got smashed in the face with a huge fist. Said fist, belonged to none other than Detective Barney Miller. "What the hell do you want?"
"Have you been here all night Rob? Ah can I come in I have some bad news."
"Of course, after you left I crawled to the sofa and fell asleep again, why?"
I sat on the sofa, which was my bed for last night and Barney sat in the wingback chair Brenda had insisted she just had to have, but was probably the most uncomfortable chair I have ever sat in.
"Rob, there was a huge wreck on 35E up near Desoto. It rained pretty hard up there yesterday afternoon and some car skidded out of control trying to stop too quickly. Nine semis and thirteen cars were involved. Seventeen people were killed outright and about thirty injured in that mess. I'm sorry to say this but your wife was one of those killed. She was between two big semis and was crushed. They had to cut her body out of the wreckage. I'm so sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but I thought you needed to know."
I started to laugh, and I laughed so hard I fell off the couch onto the floor. Tears were streaming down my face as I laughed. It was that strange combination of joy and sorrow laughter. I curled up in a ball like fetal position and continued to cry. The laughing stopped as suddenly as it started and then the grief hit with sledgehammer like blows.
Even though my wife of 23 years had cheated on me with my best friend I still loved her so much this was tearing me apart. I was glad she was dead because she could no longer hurt me in one way. I was glad she hurt almost the same way I hurt with her betrayal, but I was sad too because she and I had had over 22 wonderful years together. The good outweighed the bad, but the bad was too new, and the hurt would continue on for a long time. I'm sure that Barney thought I was completely insane with my actions, but the turmoil within me cause me to act like I did.