When We Were Married Ch. 02CbyDanielQSteele1©
(c) Daniel Quentin Steele – 2010
There's a reason why Love is a four letter word
My name is William Maitland. I'm an Assistant State Attorney in Jacksonville, Florida. Actually I am The Assistant State Attorney but I'll explain that below. I've been married and happy for nearly 20 years with a beautiful wife and two typical teenage kids. Until the night my beautiful and loving wife Debbie made a slip of the tongue and before you could say "Divorce", we were on the way to one.
I found out that my wife was indeed loving, but she was loving another man. Or at least she was falling in love with a younger professor at UNF where she's an Assistant Professor of business. I did some things that I shouldn't have, and didn't do some things in hindsight that I should have done.
I did make a fool of myself fighting with her young boyfriend at a posh UNF faculty event, but it was one of those foolish things that a man has to do if he wants to be able to look at himself in the mirror. Unfortunately, I got the crap beaten out of me keeping my self respect.
Now I'm living in a condo I hate after my wife threw me out and started divorcing me, working as much as I can, exercising my flabby middle aged body when I'm not working, and trying to pick up enough boxing expertise to beat the crap out of the young man who embarrassed me and stole my wife if we ever go up against each other again.
I'm not talking to my wife even though she's tried to re-establish a dialogue because after, "I don't love you anymore," there's not a hell of a lot more to say from where I stand.
After a friend who's an old boxer and boxing coach set me up at a workout gym, I found myself over the next month at the gym after work almost every night. I went by a Westside bar called O'Brien's a couple of times, but I restricted myself to a couple of drinks and made sure I hit the Hurly's Gym in Avondale afterwards. Working on the machines at 9 or 10 p.m., with no one else around, was almost relaxing.
They left the lights on for me if I got in just before the last of the staff left. Cops cruising the neighborhood stopped in or three times before everybody got the word on who I was and why I was there. After that once or twice they'd stop, knock at the window and after I waved at them went on.
I got to where I'd put in 20 minutes on the stationary bike, 20 minutes on the treadmill and 20 or 30 minutes on the Nautilus machines. There wasn't that much that worked the gut particularly, but one of the staff showed me the machines that worked the abdomen. I lay on the sit-up bench where you hooked your feet around the upper bar and groaned and sweated to raise my back an inch off the bench. I actually felt a thrill of triumph the first time I lifted my back – actually my neck and head - two inches off the bench.
There were also upright bars that you could position yourself on and then try to raise your knees toward your chest while your feet were off the floor. I was lucky if I could raise my knees halfway toward my chest once, but at least I was doing something.
I had made it to Carlos' gym a half dozen times during the month. He put me on the heavy bag and for the first few days it barely budged as I pummeled it, but he kept the younger guys from laughing too hard and just quietly told me to keep at it. As I got strength from the gym workouts, he said I'd get better with the bag.
Bill Jr. came one weekend and Kelly the next, even though I wasn't scheduled to get either one of them until the next alternate weekend. I called Cathy or Roy to set up the pickups so I didn't have to talk to Debbie or see our house. I did the best I could to shove the picture and memories of the place that had been the center of my life into a deep, dark hole.
I'd like to say that the visits with the kids were good. But...Bill Jr. griped about the apartment until I finally agreed to let a friend's dad pick him up and that's the last I saw of him during my visit. He called me toward the end of my time Sunday afternoon to apologize. He had two friends had run into three "hardbodies" at the mall and gotten tied up all that day and evening. He was going to have a friend's mom run him back to his house.
Kelly lasted about four hours before she got an urgent call on her cell, followed by two more urgent calls and a flurry of conversations about some guy who was supposed to be her boyfriend but had been spotted at a theater in the company of "some whore" and naturally she and an entire female posse had to investigate. I didn't have the heart to put my foot down like your standard TV sitcom dad so she vanished, re-appeared late that night, got up early and was out the next morning. In all I spent about six hours of my weekend with her.
After that I didn't push too hard for visitation. I figured if they wanted to see me, I'd always be available. But, it appeared that while our relationship might not have died while I wasn't looking, it was fairly tenuous. As in, non-existent. But, as with Debbie and even moreso the kids, I couldn't blame them for a relationship that existed almost only on paper.
Debbie and I had started our marital suicide in mid-April. It was now early July and hotter and stickier than hell. Walking from my Escalade to the office less than a block left me sticky with sweat. Summer in Jacksonville, as any native will tell you and I had lived there since I was a kid, can be downright nasty. There are none of the romantic and tropical attractions of summer in South Florida, and none of the relatively cooling breezes you'll find a bit north in Georgia It is just hot as hell, day after day after day.
People's tempers get short. I hadn't seen much of the kids. I had stopped drinking every night. I hadn't gotten laid in more than three months. I found myself snapping at assistants and reduced Cheryl to tears one day. I had seen Jessica Stephens three times. Each time she looked sadder. I thought she was just drying up and shriveling away. I almost found myself asking her to go out for drinks one afternoon, but stopped myself.
I knew it would be a shitty thing to do, to basically destroy her life for a piece of ass when she didn't mean anything to me, but the real reason I didn't was because I had the nightmarish vision of her lying naked under me and my dick just laying there like a limp noodle. The pity on her face would have had me driving the Escalade into one of the support towers of the Fuller Warren Bridge.
On the brighter side, Dick Cheney told Larry King on Larry King live that the Insurrection in Iraq was nearing its end and that the war should be over by 2008. That made me feel much better about life in general.
On the home front, my life was getting up and having some protein like a piece of chicken or a portion of cottage cheese, driving to work, working all day until the late evening, taking work home and either collapsing at home or four or five nights a week getting to Hurley's gym or Carlos' place when most people were turning in. It wasn't much of a life, but such as it was, it was mine.
The only good thing was that since I had absolutely nothing to do but exercise and work, I was working my ass off and outperforming everybody in the office. I was generally in the office when the first secretaries arrived and I usually walked out while the night cleaning crews were doing their thing.
It had only been a few months since I'd had a life, and it was beginning to seem more and more like a vaguely remembered dream. There were whole days when I could go without remembering that I was still a married man, still a father.
So naturally, Debbie picked that time to screw with my head. I got a call from Lew one afternoon.
"Good news, I hope. Is everything set for the divorce to proceed?"
"No, sorry, Bill."
"Why? I promised her child support, I'm giving her the whole damned house, half of all our savings and stocks and bonds. What the hell else can she want?"
"She's being a real bitch about the alimony. She wants a 'generous' amount for alimony for at least the next 20 years and half of your retirement as well."
I sat back in my chair and tried to breathe slowly and rhythmically to keep my heart from bursting out of my chest.
"Alright, tell her no deal. We'll fight this out in court. You got the time for this? I'm not going to pay you the megabucks your paying customers would. You owe me too much."
"I've got the time, Bill. I wouldn't be where I was if it wasn't for you and even if we weren't friends I'd never forget your help. But, it doesn't make any difference. I've done research. She'll get some alimony. You guys were married for 17-plus years, you have two kids, she's been a loyal wife. And you make considerably more than she does.
"There's no way in hell she's NOT going to get alimony, and a share of your retirement. I'm good, but I'm not THAT good. Look, you make good money and you could do private off the table consulting work and make more. Why not let her have what she's asking for. It will get her out of your life that much quicker."
"Because, dammit, she's not going to get it. She – I-"
After a minute he said, "You know you're not supposed to keep secrets from your attorney, don't you? Of course you do. I've heard you give witnesses that lecture. I use it myself. There's something else."
"She's got him in our house, Lew. She's fucking him in our bedroom while the kids are sleeping a few rooms away. And knowing, Deb, or at least remembering when she still gave a damn about sex, she's probably loud enough that the kids know what's going on. We're not even close to being divorced. That's got to count for something."
"It would, if you were fighting for custody of the kids. Having a lover in the house, engaging in activities that might cause psychological harm to the children, especially if they were younger, would give you a leg up in seeking custody, although even that would be an uphill fight. But, alimony? Doesn't make any difference. She could be bringing them in in shifts of three, and she'd still have a claim for alimony based on her previous marriage history.
"Do you want to go for custody? If you could grab custody, that would knock out child support and balance off the alimony. Of course, alimony will go on long after child support is over, but it's something."
I scratched my head and wished Debbie would roast in some very hot hell.
"No. Look Lew, I know it sounds strange, but Debbie has been a good mother. I've been an absentee father. She went to their school events, took them to the emergency room, went to their games. She had obligations to her job too, but she always made time for them. They wouldn't want to live with me, and to be honest, I'm working harder than I ever have. I'm in that tiny damned condo. I can't take them."
"Okay, you don't want them. Moving on-"
"No, Lew, don't take that damned tone with me. She's their mother, and with the exception of letting her pussy do her thinking for her the last couple of months or so, she's always been a better parent than me. Maybe I'm being selfish, but I'm thinking of them too."
I heard him sigh on the other end.
"Alright Bill, I'm sorry to take that attitude. Look, the problem is, I'm a great attorney, but I'm not a magician. I can't magically make things work out the way you want them, unless...."
"Look Bill, I know what you've told me about how things went down, how you found them at that awards ceremony, your suspicions. I don't like to say this, because you're a friend, but you're lying. You're not telling me everything, you're not telling me the most important thing. You've got dirt on her and you're holding back."
We were both quiet for a moment.
"Bill, look, level with me. I've been around divorces and I know you've handled cases where they didn't divorce but wound up killing somebody. The cheated on party hates the cheater, but they still love them. You don't stop loving somebody just because you divorce them, or kill them. Give me what you got and I might be able to give you what you want. You've got to trust me."
"Meet me at my condo tonight. 9 p.m."
When I hung up from him I dialed Debbie's office at UNF. She might be in there for her planning period. Unless she was somewhere off with Doug's cock inside her. Or she might even be doing it in her office. She had a lock on the door.
She picked up on the fourth ring.
"What the hell are you up to?"
"Hmmmm...that sounds very much like Assistant State Attorney William Maitland. But it can't be. That son of a bitch very forcefully told me a month ago that he was never going to talk to me again. And he's hung up on me at least four or five times that I can remember since then. So who are you?"
"Why are you being such a bitch about alimony? I'm giving you the house and most of our savings and liquid assets. I make more than you but not THAT much more. I'm going to fight you on this. It will just make it that much longer before you can carry on openly with your boy toy. Oh, sorry, I forgot you were doing that already. Including, you bitch, fucking him in our house while the kids are there. That bastard must have a foot-long cock for you to behave like such a tramp."
"Don't be silly, Bill. All he's got is a good, solid, very hard 8 inches. But that's long and hard enough."
"Alright, that's a point for you. You think I'm going to break down sobbing to learn you've been having sex with him. I knew that."
"Yes. You know that 14-year-olds can't keep secrets. BJ told me about your call the same day."
"You must be very proud of yourself, carrying on that way in front of our children."
"Don't lay that guilt trip on me, Bill. He didn't start staying over until our marriage was over. Maybe not on paper, but it was over.
"And our children are not five years old. They know about sex already, Bill. You may not know about it, you probably don't, but Kelly is on the pill. Has been since she was 15. That's when that fucker Ricky Thompson down the street got her drunk at a party. And before you say anything, she was 15 and he was 16. I had her tested. I wasn't going to drag her through court and humiliate her to have his wrist slapped. She begged me not to tell you and there was no reason to.
"And BJ already knows how to use a condom. That miserable slut college girl Wendy next door to us introduced him to the glories of sex when he was 13. He told me he had a hard time not laughing out loud when you gave him that damned birds and bees lecture. He had already practiced everything you were telling him about.
"You see what kind of fun stuff you missed by never coming home?
"So, anyway, the kids knew. I told them I'd never touched Doug, that there was no romance. We were just friends until you went crazy jealous and got so paranoid and suspicious. And then we were through.
"You forget, they live in the house. They're young, but they knew neither one of us was happy."
"Unfortunately, that wasn't enough, because I wasn't. They were ...upset...Bill, but they understood. I think they didn't feel that bad about you because like BJ said, you already had a girlfriend. He was talking about your job. Your job always came first, ahead of me and them. They're not blind."
"Anyway, enough about me and what a rotten bastard and terrible father I am. The point is, I'll tie you up in court as long as I can, just on the off chance that you actually care for the kid and want to adopt him. Unless you give on the alimony."
"Not a chance in hell."
I forced myself not to scream at her.
"Why, Debbie. I don't mind paying for the kids, but I'm not going to pay you one penny in – what do you business types call it? – Fungible funds. Every penny I give you could be spent on little presents for boytoy, for condoms for his big dick, or something else that would turn my stomach if I knew about it.
"Lew probably didn't tell you, but as much as I love this job, you force the alimony issue and I swear to God I'll walk away and let you try to find me for the next few years. I've got enough savings and funds to vanish for a while."
"I don't believe you, Bill. You can walk away from me, and abandon your kids, but you'd never leave that miserable job. The worst thing I ever did was let you take a job at the State Attorney's Office. You weren't this way when you were in private practice."
"And I wasn't 41 years old and 50 pounds overweight with a spare tire. But that has nothing to do with my job. I just got older and you stayed too damned hot. Look, just be honest with me – for the first time in a long time. Why are you fighting for alimony so hard?"
"Alright. Because you screwed me over that night at the awards ceremony. I'm almost 40 and still a assistant professor. I've heard enough gossip to know that President Myers s going to make sure I don't get a favorable evaluation next time out. I can probably hold onto my job, by my fingertips, but no guarantees.
"If I lose this job, I'll be a 40-year-old assistant professor job hunting against 28-year-old assistants who are either guys and have an edge on me or girls with tits a lot perkier than mine. I'll wind up somewhere, but I don't know I'll ever have any real job security. The kids will out of the house in a few years and then it will be just me.
"If something bad happens, I get sick, wind up with a boss that insists on my doing him to keep my job, I won't have any backup. And I'm not going to crawl to you for scraps, even if you were willing to help me. I'd rather starve to death than see that smug smile on your face when I come begging for help."
"My heart bleeds, but if you'd been honest with me that night, or hadn't acted like a slut in front of a thousand people, there wouldn't have been a fight and your precious job wouldn't be in jeopardy."
"If..if...if.. the fact remains, Bill, that I've got you by the balls. Joyce is a very good attorney and she tells me there's no way I'm not going to get all the alimony I want, part of your retirement, and child support. Not even with your whiz kid Lew Walters doing his damnedest. And that's another thing. Why did you bring Lew in on this? Lew was a friend of ours. Lew and Mona. Why bring a friend in to go after me?"
"Lew isn't OUR friend, Debbie. He's my friend. And while he's a nice guy, in the courtroom he's a shark. I – please...don't fight me on this. You're going to get hurt."
"Why would you care, Bill? You told me we were through. I don't know what you think you have as your big gun, but I know there's no dirt you can use against me. But still, if you had something, why would you care if I got hurt? I'd think you would enjoy that."
I didn't say anything and finally she said, "You still there?"
"I'm sorry, Debbie. When...when this goes down, I want you to remember that you forced me to do it. You know what they say about rats. Even a rat will fight if you force it into a corner."
Instead of her making some smartass comment about rats, she said, "Bill, I mean this seriously. Go out and get a woman. That's probably going to be hard for you to do, but if you have to, pay for it. I don't want you to stay hung up on me. I'm moving on with my life. I hope you can too."
I could take anger a lot easier than pity and contempt. She probably didn't think I could get a woman without paying for her. As to moving on, I had already moved on to a life quite different from the one I'd known three months earlier.
There weren't any women because at this point I still wasn't sure if I could get it up, much less make a woman happy that I was having sex with her. And I wouldn't know that until zero hour. Which I wasn't in any real hurry to arrive at. Because, what if she had managed to effectively neuter me? I couldn't really see 30 or 40 years of eunuch-hood.