This is fiction, inspired by some people I've known but largely my own invention. It involves cheating, but not the way it's normally presented.
I'd credit a movie director, but that would give too much away.
I had been sitting there, all alone in my booth, for almost a quarter-hour; she was late, a little unusual in my experience, but not altogether unheard-of.
She came strolling up to the booth, skipping, almost, and clearly excited. She slid in opposite me, arranged her things to her right, and clasped her hands in front of her, almost as if in prayer.
"I have some good news," she said, sounding giddy.
I smiled thinly. "Do tell," I responded.
"You're going to be a daddy!" she exclaimed, seemingly oblivious to my lack of enthusiasm.
"Already am," I replied, still smiling. I was referring to the two children from my first marriage.
She waved it off and chuckled. "Not them! They're going to have a little sibling. Maybe a sibling-ette," she said, laughing at her own extreme cleverness.
My smile hardened. I know, because I hardened it. "No, I don't think they will."
She froze and looked at me. "Jeff, what are you talking about?"
Reaching beside me, I took hold of one of the manila envelopes I'd brought with me. I make a display of opening it, taking out the first picture, and laying it in front of her.
"Who's that?" I asked, innocently, knowing the answer.
She searched for an answer. Finally, she said, "He's an old boyfriend. Yes, I did stray. I'm so sorry. It was just, he called me and wanted closure on how we left things when we broke up, one thing and then another, and then there we were." She lowered her head, and continued, "I'm so deeply regretful."
I was silent.
She raised her head, looked me in the eye, and said, "I really do love you."
I took out the next picture, of her and the same male figure, and placed it in front of her, followed by three more.
She looked at them, blanching a bit; then her face hardened, and she said, "Okay, it was a few times. I still don't care for him at all. Can you accept that?"
I pulled out yet more pictures, of her with other men. Several other men, in fact.
She looked at them, her eyes glazing over.
Eventually she refocused on me; and with something like contempt, she said, "You're still the father of this child I'm carrying. I'll make sure you pay for its upbringing. Whether you and I are together is of no importance."
"And how do you propose to do that?" I asked.
She looked at me blankly. After a few moments of stammering, she said, "I'll destroy your reputation! A man in your position who doesn't take care of his children..."
I brought out the other manila envelope, made another display of opening it, and pulled out its lone sheet of content. I proffered it; she took it, snatched it, really, and glanced at it.
She paled even further.
It told her I was shooting blanks.
"I never mentioned I'd had a vasectomy, did I?" I asked, as innocently as I could.
She composed herself, stood, and as she left, she muttered, "Asshole."
I chuckled, gathered the papers and photos, dropped a tenner on the table, and left the restaurant.
I was feeling pretty happy as I opened the door to my house, especially as I detected the aroma of corned beef brisket and cabbage, apple pie, and other delights wafting from the kitchen.
My wife came around the corner; seeing me, she smiled, a little thinly, and hugged me a bit tentatively.
She led me into the parlor. She seemed ill-at-ease. After a moment, she said, "I got a strange call today. So who's Joanie Parham, and why does she claim she's been having an affair with you?"
I waved it off. "She's that little trollop I mentioned. Remember? The one who tried to screw up Ben MacKenzie's life?"
She relaxed visibly, and I continued, "She's tried to rope a lot of guys, seducing them and announcing fictional pregnancies. No competition for the lady I love," I said, as I leaned over and kissed her.
We both laughed.
She stood, took me by the hand and led me into the dining room. She poured two nice glasses of Chianti. She handed me one, and she took the other.
She raised her glass, and said, "To the clueless, and the entertainment value they provide."
I clinked glasses with her. "Salut," I said, "to the clueless."