...And Stay There!


"I told her that I would get along with her—for your sake, but if you weren't around, she shouldn't be, either. We discussed the 'incident' and she tried to explain it to me, but I told her that was six years ago and it was long over. She tried to apologize for the 'incident' to me, and said it was a one time thing. I told her that I had long ago forgiven her, but I could never forget or trust her again.

"Then, I told her that we both now knew where we stood, and it was time for her to go. When I got home, Catey was spring loaded to the pissed-off position and yelling at me because Jenny called her crying and said that I yelled and hit on her—in my office. Think about that a minute—in my office—where the 'open door' policy is strictly enforced. You've been there and know what I mean. If I hit on her there, I'd have been out on my ass by now. I just got Catey calmed down when you called. I was planning on calling you later tonight to talk about this, but not like this.

"Jim...I'm sorry. I didn't want to tell you about all this, but I couldn't say nothing. Family sticks together; we look out for each other. She might have changed like she told me, but I have no way of knowing if she really did. I don't know what's going on in her head. I just know I couldn't forgive myself if she put you through what she did to me, and I didn't warn you about it. I'm real sorry you're in the middle of all this crap."

There was silence on the other end of the phone, but I could hear him breathing. He was taking in all of what I told him, and he wasn't liking it. He had to come to terms with what I said, versus what the love-of-his-life had told him. He had fallen for her hard or he would've used the logical side of his brain and realized that I was telling the truth, or at least that I had enough brains not to proposition someone in my office.

What I hoped for, was that he would realize I was probably right, or at least give me the benefit of the doubt, and we'd talk some more with him calmed down. However, I expected him to believe me enough that he might blow up at me for a while, since he was going to be angry because SOMEONE had lied to him. Then we would talk. The third possibility running around in my head was that he'd believe her and she would've succeeded in ruining our friendship.

"Ray—you lying son-of-a-bitch! You're lying about her just to get even for her breaking up with you! It's time you grew up, dude. Like you said, that was six years ago. I treated you like a brother...and you do this to me! I finally found happiness with her, but your jealousy and need for revenge are trying to ruin it for me! I can't fucking believe you'd put your own crap ahead of my happiness. Goodbye, Ray. Go to hell and stay there!"

I sadly put the disconnected phone back into its cradle with the thought, 'Option three really sucks. I may have just lost my best friend.'

"How'd it go, hon?" inquired Catey.

"About as bad as it could have," I replied sadly.

"I noticed you didn't tell him that she made you an offer..."

"Yeah, in his state, there's no way he would have believed me. If I wasn't there, I wouldn't have believed me. It also seemed like it would be too much to tell him at once."

"You're probably right." She gave me a hug. "I just hope that he thinks about it and comes to his senses after some time passes. I'm sure he'll come around sooner or later. You two have been so close for so long; he'll miss you soon and come back. You'll see."

"I hope you're right."

The next day, I made good on my threat to have her watched. I dug up an old picture of Jenny that I had buried in a box of old college crap. I'm not sure why I kept it, but now I was glad I did. I scanned and emailed it to a couple of buddies that I knew were single and hit the bars back home quite a bit.

I called them and explained what was going on and asked them if they'd keep an eye on her. I also told them that Jim and I had a falling out over this. One guy asked me if this was my way of getting even with her for coming between us. I told him that I didn't give a crap about her. Don't do this for me; do it for Jim. If you were in Jim's shoes, wouldn't you want your friends keeping an eye on her for you? I told them all not to talk with Jim about this, as he was very angry with me and he might get pissed at them, too. I didn't want him pissed at everyone who cared about him. He was blinded by love right now, and not listening to reason. Hey, we've all been there at least once.

I told them not to follow her, stalk her, or anything like that. I just wanted them to watch where they hung out, and if they saw her doing something she shouldn't, report it—preferably to Jim. If they were too much of a chicken-shit to do that, send the photos to my phone, and I'd take it from there.

One of the old gang, Steve, surprised me by asking if he wanted to give her a fidelity test. Being the Casanova type, he thought that he'd hit on her a few times, and if she could resist him, she was going to be good. I told him to back off; if Jim suspected we were trying to set her up, he would be raging mad at all of us. I told him in clear and unmistakable terms, "No, do not try to hit on her. Am I clear?"

They all agreed to help, some more reluctant than others, but I had almost a dozen spies in my network. I just hoped that it was all for nothing.

It was two months later, and I was missing Jim a lot. I had sent him a several emails trying to apologize and see if we could get past it. I told him it felt like I was 'in hell' without him. He just replied, "Stay there."

Rich, one of my spies, sent me a picture of Jenny dancing in a bar with another guy. He was about average height with sandy hair. I called him as soon as I got the picture.

"Rich, this is Ray. How you doing?"

"Fine, Ray. I think that's your gal dancing with some sleazebag in the photo. I shot it last night. I thought I better send it to you first, in case it wasn't her."

"It's Jenny alright. Damn, I was hoping she would quit her cheating ways. What happened after they danced?"

"I didn't see her come in, so I don't know how long she was there or if she came in alone. They kissed a bit, but nothing I wouldn't do with my cousins; you know what I mean. She left about fifteen minutes later, alone. He stayed and danced for another hour or so. It looked pretty innocent to me."

"You may be right, Rich. I'm not going to do anything about this since it looks innocent, but let me know if she does anything else, would you?"

"Sure, Ray, no problem. It's kind of fun playing private detective. Maybe next time, I'll follow her out into the lot, since I know it's her."

"Rich...don't get too close. We're not stalking her or anything like that, unless she looks like she's doing something she shouldn't. Even then, keep your distance. If I'm wrong, I don't want Jim getting pissed at you. We're just trying to look out for him."

"Ray, I'm glad you're one of my buds. We could all use a friend like you watching our backs."

"Hey, that's what friends do, right? Thanks for the update. Talk to you later."

I tried calling Jim's cell many times, but he would let it go to voicemail when he saw that it was me. I felt like I'd cheated on him and wanted him to forgive me. I just hoped—beyond all reason—that she wouldn't do Jim wrong.

About six weeks later, Quince, another of my network, called me and sent a picture of Jenny leaving a bar with a tall guy, but only about five or six inches taller than her—too short to be Jim. They were laughing and I could only make out half of his face. Quince said he followed them into the lot, but they got in separate cars when they left. He informed me that they kissed for a minute or two before she got in her car, but couldn't get pictures in the dark lot. She was getting bolder.

Two weeks later and at a different bar, Paul sent me pictures of Jenny and a stocky, muscular guy a couple of inches taller than her. They were dirty dancing in the first one; in the second one, they were swapping tongues at their table. Paul said that they got in her car for ten minutes, but both heads were always up and they were in the front seat. They did kiss some more, but again, it was too dark for his camera phone. It wasn't looking good.

It was a Thursday night when Rich and another spy, Oscar, were at the Come On Inn, enjoying a few cold ones and listening to the band, when in walks Jenny with Jim. "It appears the lovebirds are still together," Oscar observed, nudging Rich to look at the couple coming in the door. I guess she won't be hunting for any strange tonight."

"Things could get real interesting. Isn't that the guy that Paul caught her with a while back, in that booth over there?"

"Damn, you got a good eye! I do believe it is. Let's get our cameras ready in case something goes down. I know we won't have to show the pictures to Jim, but if it gets good, Ray'll want to see them!"

Jim and Jenny took a table off to the side where they had some privacy, and her mystery boy (later I found out his name was Nate) couldn't see them. Shortly, they had their drinks and got up to dance when a good song came on. It took Nate two dances to spot her on the floor with Jim, and you could tell he didn't like it one bit. He had a nasty look on his face when he rose up and quickly strode over to Jenny. He slowly and hardly tapped Jim's shoulder, catching him off guard, with a forceful "You don't mind if I cut in. I didn't think so." That said, he shoved his way between them and whisked a startled Jenny away from Jim into the crowd of dancers.

After the initial shock wore off, Jim was craning his neck and using his height to spot them, just as Nate steered Jenny down the hallway to the bathrooms. Like a shot he followed them and just as he got to the short hall where the bathrooms are, he saw the back door close. Jim was outside like a ball of fire, only to find out that they didn't come outside and it was a fire door, and once outside, you can't get back in.

By the time Jim ran all the way around to the front and convinced the bouncer that he walked out the back door by mistake, almost five minutes had elapsed. Looking over the dance floor, they were nowhere to be found. Since they were last seen heading for the bathrooms, Jim thought he might have pulled her into one of them, after opening the back door to draw him outside.

Jim pushed himself across the crowded dance floor, finally getting to the hall again. He was in such a hurry that he didn't notice the back door was closing, again. He could hear someone yelling in the men's room, so he flung open the door, to find Nate on the floor, hold his crotch with his right hand, and his bloody face with his left. He saw Jenny standing against the far wall, holding both hands to her face, looking scared. Jim's angry face melted as he crossed to where Jenny was at, and held her in his arms. His impression was that Nate tried to hurt or rape Jenny, and she kicked his jewels and hit him in the face.

"It's okay, Jenny," Jim said comfortingly, "He won't hurt you now, especially with me here. I didn't know that you knew self defense. You really took him down hard. He deserved it, though! Let's go out front, and I'll have them call the cops."

"NO!" Jenny shouted, and then realized that she protested too much. Calming herself, she added "I mean—you're right; it's okay, now. Why let it spoil our evening? He'll be licking his wounds and I'm sure he won't try this again. Just let him be, Jim."

Nate's writhing and moaning were subsiding; Jenny feared that his ability to form coherent thoughts and speak would be returning any second, so she took a deep breath to compose herself and told Jim, "I think I'm ready to go home; I've had enough excitement for one night."

"Are you sure you don't want me to call the cops? What if he tries this again—on you—or even somebody else? You wouldn't want that on your conscience, would you?"

"I'm sure he won't try this again," she said, glancing at his balled up, fetal positioned body, rolling lightly near the urinals. "At least not with me," she added under her breath.

Oscar and Rich got on a three-way call with me the next day, and told me all about the evening's events. "So, she left with Jim, letting Jim believe that SHE took Nate down?" I asked incredulously.

"Yup. I had to leave right quick through the back door to get first aid on my hand. I thought I might need some stitches, but a couple of butterfly strips fixed me right up. That dude's face is as hard as it is ugly!"

"Oscar, thanks for going the extra mile. I really didn't expect any violence."

"No, problem, Ray. When we saw him drag her off to the johns, we followed to make sure Jim had some back up. He fell for the open back door trick, but we saw the men's door closing, too. Rich followed Jim outside, and I went inside. I just acted like I was really drunk and had to piss, so they ignored me. When he started to get rough with her, well I don't cotton to anyone hitting on a woman, no matter what kind of slut she is. I kicked him in the balls from the back, spun him around, and punched him in the face. Then I got out. I bet he wishes I hadn't had my steel toe boots on!"

"By that time, Ray, I was behind Jim and stayed outside the john and listened, in case he needed backup." Rich added. "I went in after they came out. It was Nate Berkins—you remember him, don't you? He lived on my street, but was two years ahead of us in school. He got kicked off the football team and the track team for losing his temper. He was a bloody mess. Oscar messed him up, but good. I asked him if he needed help, and he just wheezed at me. So I said, "Okay," and walked off. I never liked him anyway; he's just a damn bully."

Oscar piped up, "Are you going to tell Jim what really happened?"

"I don't think so; we don't have enough evidence yet. It's just hearsay and bits overheard. If you were Jim, would you think this is enough?"

"No, I guess not."

"Still," Rich added, "If it were me, I'd want to be warned so I could watch her myself. Or so I wouldn't do anything like give her expensive gifts or cash."

"She's got his head up her ass so far, he hasn't seen daylight in a month," Oscar chimed in. "He'll find a way to not believe it. I know: I've been there myself—hell, we all have, and you know it. We'd kill the messenger and call it a day. If you don't have the smoking gun, he'll only get angrier."

"I suppose you're right."

"Thanks a million guys; next time I'm in town, I owe you a couple brews!"

"That's for sure!" agreed Rich.

"Make mine whiskey!" Oscar added.

"You got it. Later guys."

Later that night, I had just told Catey what the guys told me. "I just don't understand what's going on in her head. If she can't be satisfied with just one guy, why not just find someone who can do the 'open relationship thing.' I know for a fact, that Jim and I won't share, and she has to know that, too."

"That no sharing rule works both ways, buster!" Catey reminded. "I'd better not find out you've been sneaking around on me—or else!" She playfully aimed her finger at me, made it look like a gun, and 'shot' me.

"Hey! I'm no hypocrite! I'm strictly a one-woman-man. I can see how she came between Jim and me. I don't understand why she thought she could come between you and me—or why she'd want to try. What's going on here that I'm missing?"

"I'm sure there's nothing there. She probably decided that the best defense is a good offense. She wanted to keep you from telling Jim, so she thought she'd keep you off balance and busy dealing with me. I don't like being used like that."

"You're probably right. Man, she is really starting to get under my skin! I wish this was all over..."

I was in my office the next afternoon when my cell rang. Caller ID confirmed it was another one of my 'spies,' Nick Wilson, who works as a construction foreman. Maybe he had some more information on Jenny, or maybe he was just calling to chat. Only one way to find out...

"Hey, Nick, what's up?"

"Hey, Ray, does that gal you want us to keep an eye out for drive a red sixty-something Mustang? I was thinking you said she did, but I wasn't sure."

"Yes, that's her. The plates read 'JENJEN 1.' It's a classic that her dad gave her when she turned eighteen, but she doesn't appreciate it."

"I think I got the clincher for you. For the last few weeks, one of our Mexican laborers has been bragging about how he's screwing some white chick on his lunch hour, and sends her home to her boyfriend for sloppy seconds. I got a glimpse of her car as she dropped him off today and guess what? It was a mid-sixties red Mustang.

"He brags about meeting up with her on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and they park down a nearby alley to screw in her backseat. She even brings him lunch—'pussy and a burger' he calls it. I'll be ready for them on Wednesday, and get some pictures. He could just be blowing hot air, but I'll find out for sure."

"Just be careful, Nick. If it's not Jenny, you could be opening up a can of whoopass on yourself. We don't want to cause a problem for you or anyone else. We just need to confirm that she's cheating and let Jim know. He can make the call as to what to do."

"I can take care of myself. Most of the Mexicans around here are afraid of us in management, and the rest show us a lot of respect. I guess they don't want to piss us off and have INS come through for a check," he chuckled. "I'll be okay."

It was almost three o'clock on Wednesday, when I got a call form Nick asking if I'd checked my email recently. I opened it up and found nine pictures of Jenny and a Mexican guy going at it in the backseat of her car. He also attached a video file, and told me that he got in, shot the video, and got out without being detected. He even got a shot of the Wendy's bag on the front shifting console.

All I could say was a sadly disbelieving, "Shit."

Friday at eleven thirty, I had an appointment to meet with Jim in his office, under an assumed name, as I knew he didn't want to meet with me. After the receptionist told me to go to the third door on the right, I was up like a shot to get to the door before he could come down the hall and stop me. I needn't have worried, as he was sitting behind his desk finishing up some notes when I strode in and closed the door. He looked up at me and started to get angry, but I stopped him cold.

"Before you throw me out, for the sake of all the great times we had together, do me a small favor and watch this."

I placed a small DVD player on his desk, already queued up was a video of a cameraman quietly walking up to the back of a red Mustang, showing the JENJEN 1 on the plates for a second, then walking up to the side of the car. As the camera came alongside the car, you could hear the moaning and the car's leaf springs squeaking as it bounced. I cannot begin to describe the feeling of déjà vu I had when I first watched it, and it goes without saying that I was not looking forward to listening to it again as Jim watched it.

The camera peered into the backseat and clearly showed Jenny getting the meat put to her as she said, "Damn, Manny, your dick goes so deep in me! I can't go without it. Fuck me hard! Fuck meeeeeee!"

"I'm gonna fill your cunt with my jizz for your boyfriend to eat later tonight, bitch! Then I'm gonna fuck your slutty ass! You are one hot, nasty piece of ass!"

"Shut up and fuck me!"

"You're MY bitch! Tell me you'll make him eat my cream! Tell me, or I'll quit..." Manny slowed down the pumping.

"Okay! I'll make him eat it like I did last week! Just fuck me!"

Jim's face had gone white, and maybe a little green around the edges. I was ready to hand him the trash can. He was having the same reaction that I had when I watched it. It was a good thing that he hadn't had lunch yet. I shut off the player; he'd seen enough.

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