Joe, that was Joey, hadn't grown up in the best circumstances. His dad, a hard drinking, two fisted abusive kind of guy died of a massive heart attack when the boy was just fourteen. The man had been a truck driver; he drove the big rigs, eighteen wheelers, his routes had taken him back and forth from Philadelphia to Houston and beyond.
His mom wasn't much for staying at home either. She divided most of her life between the clothing warehouse where she worked as a supervisor, and the tavern down the street from their dilapidated brick semi-detached house in what would have been, on a good day, a very lower middle income neighborhood.
He remembered how once in a while his father would come home and beat the shit out of his mother. His dad used to call his mom a cheating whore bitch. Thankfully, for a long time he didn't know what those words meant. Joey always stayed well hidden when all that went down; he didn't want to get hit too.
Joey's two siblings, an older sister, and even older brother, never finished school. Both sister and brother had their share of bad luck.
Janet, his sister, had gotten pregnant when she was in the ninth grade. Her boyfriend tried to make a go of it with her for a few years, but he eventually ran out when the kid was still a toddler. He hadn't been heard from in years. Janet had taken on two jobs; one at the local Home Depot during the day, and a second at night at the Walmart. Both jobs were considered officially full time, but neither gave her enough hours to qualify for health insurance. She had a friend watch her kid, a little boy, when she was at the Walmart at night. Of course, the friend had to be paid so the money she made at night was just about a wash.
Lance, Joey's older brother, had quit school and got hooked up with the Pagans Motorcycle Club. Lance called it a club, but everybody knew the truth; the Pagans were just the east coast version of the older west coast Hell's Angels. Lance got caught once waiting in a car while some of his club buddies raped some girl. Lance got off with probation on that one, but a year later he got caught for real and landed in prison for ten years. He got out after five, but that pretty much finished him if he ever wanted a future. He did finally get married, he and his wife had two kids, but he caught her in bed with some guy from where she worked so that ended that.
Lance was nearly ten years older than Joey so little Joey always had easy access to booze, and even easier access to girls from any one of the red light districts Lance frequented. Lance never had much to do with marijuana or cocaine, so Joey had to rely on his own resources for that stuff.
Joey never had it especially easy himself either. To give an example, once when he was ten he and pal decided to run away, maybe it was just some kind of protest to get attention; maybe it was just for the hell of it he couldn't explain why. They drifted into the city and stayed there for four days. When they finally went back home they were pretty worn out; all dirty and tired. He walked his pal Paul home first.
Paul's parents had been really pissed. His old man beat the shit out of him for scaring them so badly. Now Paul's parents had never met Joey's people so there was no chance they could have called ahead and warned his mom and dad that Joey was headed home. Joey was sure he was going to get the shit kicked out of him like Paul did him when he got home. Was he ever surprised when his parents acted like they'd never known he'd been gone? It took a couple of hours before it really sank in; he'd been gone for four days, and they really hadn't missed him. At the time he'd thought it was cool, because he knew then he could do just about anything he wanted and get away with it. It was only later, when he was older, that it bothered him.
Joey wasn't stupid. He worked hard and stayed in school. The public schools where he went weren't the best; it was like they were the places all the worst and all the newest teachers were sent. Teacher turn-over was rampant; it was hard to get any consistency in what he was learning, but Joey hung in there and got his high school diploma.
There had been one teacher though, an old woman English teacher who'd taken an interest in him. When Joey was a senior and close to graduation this teacher got him to go over and enroll at the local community college. Joey hadn't taken any SAT and ACT tests so he figured it was a waste of time, but this old English teacher had set it up with a friend of hers to slide Joey's application in through the cracks.
Joey did OK once he got started, and by the time he'd finished those first two years, what working part time and going to school he'd made the Dean's List. He'd done well enough to land a spot at the nearby state university. Joey had no real role models except a couple old teachers so he decided to become a teacher.
It worked out. He graduated and got a job in Philadelphia where he taught math to seventh graders. Joey was a good teacher, and he guessed because of his background, he took an added interest in the kids he saw who had it a little tougher at home.
Joey's brother and sister were real proud of him. He guessed his mother might have been too, but she died of alcohol poisoning before he finished college; his last year he spent living with Lance who'd gone back to drinking and riding motorcycles with his old friends from the club he used to belong to.
When Joey was a senior he got a girl pregnant, or at least he thought he got her pregnant; her name was Allyson. Joey really loved Allyson, and since his own circumstances hadn't been all that great he decided to marry her and give the baby a name and maybe even a chance.
They had a little girl they named Angela, and a year later they made second little girl they named Heather. It was about the time the second girl came along Joey figured out Angela wasn't actually his, but he didn't care, he loved the little girl like she was his own.
Allyson was a pretty good mother, and as a wife Joey had no real complaints. He thought she could have tried a little harder to keep the apartment cleaner, maybe do the dishes more than twice a week, and perhaps wash their clothes a little more frequently, but all in all, she was about the best he thought he deserved.
They made it pretty good for the first six years or so; at least long enough to get the girls in school. Once the girls started school Allyson found a job answering phones and doing odd typing jobs at one of the close by car dealerships. After a while she was doing pretty well; she'd even gotten a few pay raises.
Together Joey and Allyson worked real hard, saved up some money and made a down payment on a house. It wasn't the greatest house in the world, the mortgage really stretched their budget thin, but it looked like they might be on their way.
Joey had gotten a promotion of sorts where he was working mostly with the most disadvantaged kids at the school he was assigned. It was harder work though, since a lot of these kids came from really shitty homes and he was getting calls for help all hours of the day and night. Allyson was sympathetic and supportive because she knew Joey's job was their main ticket to prosperity.
Joey and Allyson really loved each other, and they loved their two girls even more. There wasn't anything they wouldn't do for those kids; neither Joey nor Allyson had come from much and they were determined to give their girls the best shot at a decent future they could.
Allyson wasn't the best looking kid on the block, but she had a good figure and big blue eyes; she stood about five feet four, had nice tits, long black hair, and a smile that could've stopped a locomotive. She was popular where she worked, and the guys there were always hitting on her. She was pretty good about it, she never let anyone get too close, and she always kept Joey up to speed if there was any particular guy getting too snarky.
Since the girls were still in elementary school she'd arranged her schedule where she was able to leave after they'd caught the bus, and get home to meet the bus before they got home. To make up the hours she worked a half day on Saturdays. It wasn't the best situation, but for Allyson, Joey and the girls it was the best they could do.
Things started to go south long about November of the year Angela hit the fifth grade. Angela was in the fifth grade and Heather in the fourth; they both went to the same school, one was eleven and the other was ten. Both girls were at just that age when they saw what was going on, but couldn't quite explain what it was they saw, but they knew they loved their mom and dad.
For sure Allyson and Joey would have done anything for the girls, but Joey worked so damn hard, and lately, since it was Christmas time he'd picked up a few extra hours at the local grocery store. He put in the extra hours so they'd have enough money to buy the kids some nice clothes for school and still have a few extra bucks for a present or two to put under the tree.
Joey worked so damn hard he hardly noticed how Allyson had started to get distant, less communicative, and sometimes a little grumpy, maybe finding fault about things she'd never worried about before. He blamed it on the time of year, the way the winter weather seemed to close in a little earlier that year and maybe a little bit on the growing demands of her job. He loved her too much to think she'd ever even consider cheating on him.
For a while she talked about some of the new employees her boss had hired on for the Christmas rush. There'd been one guy she mentioned, a new salesman, a real go getter, a guy who'd changed dealerships so he could make more money. The guy Allyson told Joey was a little older than they were, and a real smooth operator when it came to selling cars, in fact for the month of November his sales had already outstripped all the other salesmen.
She'd talked about this guy a lot for a while; then she stopped mentioning him at all. He remembered the guy's name was Arthur, Arthur Pearl. At the same time, for some unexplained reason she told Joey her boss had cut back her hours. Oddly, she explained they'd cut back on her time on Friday's. She still had to go in early at her regular time, but was sent home right after lunch. It didn't make a lot of sense since he'd always figured Friday was one of their biggest days, but it seemed OK since it gave Allyson more time to prepare the house for Christmas what with the decorating and baking things like Christmas cookies.
Like we said the cold weather hit a little earlier that year, and by mid-December they'd already had a couple snow falls. Then just a few days before Christmas, Christmas was on a Tuesday that year so the school year went right up through the Friday before Christmas. It was that Friday when they got hit with an unexpectedly heavy snow. It arrived that morning.
Philadelphia usually had things ready for the big snows of winter, but this one came so early and the snow fell so fast the city barely had time to get the plows out or any salt down. The head of the schools called out early around twelve that morning that schools would close right away at mid-day. It would give the schools just enough time to get the buses out and get the kids home before things got really bad what with the afternoon commuter traffic.
Joey felt good about the early dismissal. First, he knew Allyson would be home because her job ended about the same time. That meant she'd be able to meet the girls at the bus stop and get them in the house and all warmed up after a cold wet ride on the bus. Joey helped get all the kids at his school out of the building and on their buses, then he loaded his car with some stuff he planned to do over the Christmas holiday and took off for home.
Joey was stunned when he pulled his car up in front of his house and saw his two little cherubs standing outside their front door. He could see they were freezing, all shivering, wet, and shaking. He couldn't explain why they were outside and not in with their mom. That was when he noticed the dark blue BMW parked right in front of his older Chevrolet. Something was up.
He went up to the front door and asked his girls why they were still hovering around outside. Angela told him they'd tried the door, but it was locked, and when they rang the bell no one answered. Joey took his key and let himself and his babies in. Right away, once he crossed the threshold he knew something was terribly wrong. He told the girls to dry off and go on in the den and play WIFI on the television for a few minutes while he went upstairs.
He went upstairs and walked into their master bedroom. That's when he saw them. First, he noticed all the window shades had been pulled down. It was incredibly dark in the room, almost no light, it was like nighttime. There in bed was his wife and some guy sound asleep. He could smell the spew, and immediately surmised they'd gotten there much earlier, got it on, and decided to take a nap before Allyson would have to be up to meet the girls at the bus stop. But what with the shades drawn and no radio or television on they'd drifted off to sleep completely oblivious of the winter snow that had closed schools early.
This was for shit; his wife of eleven years was fucking one of her bosses. He bet it was that Arthur Pearl. Totally pissed, and really wanting to just grab something and kill the both of them he still had the prescience to know he had two little girls downstairs who were more important than any anger or pride he had. He stuffed his anger in his pocket, shoved his pride up his ass, and while they were still asleep and the girls were downstairs Joey found the guy's pants and lifted his wallet. Sure enough it was Pearl. He quietly pulled his driver's license out, stuffed it in his own wallet, and tip toed up to the bed.
When he reached the side of the bed he pulled the covers down and, speaking in what he hoped was a low conversational tone awakened the two of them. Both his bitch wife and the guy woke up at the same time. Joey was quick; he warned them his girls were downstairs and the two of them shouldn't say or do anything. He noticed the shitty smirk on the guy's face.
Joey told the guy, "Get your clothes on. My kids are in the den so just quietly get dressed, go downstairs and get the fuck out the back door." Joey really wanted to fuck the bastard up, but knew this wasn't the time or the place. He watched his wife; he knew she was scared shitless.
The bastard salesman grinned like the shit eater he was and said, "I don't want any trouble, but if you start anything you'll be sorry."
Joey wasn't into that yet, "Just get the fuck out. Don't let my daughters catch you."
The son of a bitch took his time. He even checked himself out in the bathroom mirror before he left.
Then Joey looked at his wife. With a dead voice he said, "Get cleaned up and get dressed. School let out early because of the snow." He'd gone to the window and pulled open the shades so she could see the blizzard outside, "Go downstairs and take care of our kids."
Allyson tried to run to Joey, "Jesus Joey I'm sorry. I didn't know you'd be getting home so early. Christ I'm so sorry. Please, let's talk this over. It's not what you think. Let me try to explain."
Joey felt so mad, it was like his head would blow off, shit there was precious little to explain, he pushed her away, "Just clean up and see to the girls. We'll talk later." While Allyson started to clean up, Joey stripped the bed, opened the window and threw all the filth out the window for Allyson to take care of later.
A little while later Joey, Allyson, and the girls were all downstairs in the den. Joey played with the girls while Allyson watched.
Joey had a lot on his mind. First he had to decide what he wanted to do about his unfaithful wife. He still loved her, but he knew that didn't mean shit anymore. She sure showed how much she cared about him and about their kids for that matter. He thought about what he needed to do about Arthur Pearl too.
Later that evening, after some play time in the snow in the front yard and cups of steaming hot chocolate he and Allyson got the girls tucked away in bed. All they wanted to talk about was the snow, making a snowman the next day, and how Santa would be there in just a couple days. He wasn't sure if Angela still believed in Santa, but he felt good that Heather still did. He still wanted to make their lives the best he could. Damn he never wanted them to have to live like he did. He looked at his wife and knew if he divorced her their kids' lives would be in the tank, the bitch just didn't have it.
After the kids went to bed they had a little talk. Of course Allyson started first, "Oh Joey I'm so sorry. I know I fucked this up big time. I didn't mean it; it was something that just happened."
Joey was so pissed he knew he couldn't say much or he'd end up killing her. At last he asked, "Is there one good reason you can give me why you'd pull something like this?"
Allyson didn't know what to say so she said what was probably the worst thing possible, "Oh Joey you've been gone all the time, and I've been so lonely. I have needs. Arthur is such a nice guy, and he's such a good considerate person. You're good and all, but he's so sophisticated. I guess I just needed more attention, and he just gave me something you weren't here to provide."
That really pissed him off. He was out busting his ass so they could provide for their kids. Couldn't she understand that? Joey was still curious though, "What like he's got a bigger dick, or he can go longer, or he knows better techniques?
Allyson had no answer for that. She knew she'd probably just completely fucked her marriage so she went deep, "Arthur is just a better kind of person. He knows how to please a woman. He's more satisfying."
Joey knew that was all bullshit, but it still didn't do his ego any favors. He responded, "Oh I see; bigger dick, longer tongue, quicker fingers, and more staying power in bed."
Before Allyson had a chance he held up his hands, "Don't say anything I get the picture. I guess this means a divorce?"
Allyson clutched her hands to her chest, "Oh Jesus no. Joey I love you! Arthur's just a dick. I won't see him any more I promise. God Joey I love you. I promise I'll spend the rest of my life making this up to you. Please you can't leave me. I couldn't manage without you. The girls and I need you."
Joey had it pretty much figured it out by then. His wife was a whore, and a cheap one at that. For all he knew she'd been handing it out to others all along. He was paying for this whore; he sure wasn't going to go out and buy another one. Love? The love he knew he had right now for Allyson would probably wither away, but he'd still keep her around, well at least until his girls were off on their own, hopefully after college. Yeah he'd keep her, but she'd just be a piece of meat as far as he was concerned, and from this day on he'd make sure she never cheated again. He still had his girls; they'd be his reason to breathe from now on. He knew what he needed to do with Arthur Pearl too.
He looked at his wife, "I have to think about this. For right now we'll pretend this never happened. You go on about your work. Be nice to your fuck buddy Pearl, but stay out of his bed. Together we'll pretend like everything's wonderful. We have Christmas and New Year's coming up. Let's make this a good one for the girls. Can you do that?"
Allyson nodded and tried to put her arms around her husband, but he pushed her away, "No Allyson that's over, at least for now. You'll have to get tested. I just hope the bastard doesn't have Aids or anything."
Allyson paled; she'd never thought about HIV or the STDs. She whimpered, "OK, but I want you to know I love you more than anything. I'm still your wife."