tagChain StoriesF5: Desperate Times and Measures

F5: Desperate Times and Measures

byTx Tall Tales©

F5: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

(Author's note: This story is an entry into FAWC (Friendly Anonymous Writing Challenge), a collaborative competition among Lit authors. FAWC is not an official contest sponsored by Literotica, and there are no prizes given to the winner. Every story for this FAWC begins with the exact same line. Where it goes from there is up to the author.)

* * * *

Upon the table lay three items: a handkerchief, a book, and a knife.

I knew it was a desperate tactic, but these were desperate times. I adjusted their position once again, then sat back in my chair, wiping a stray tear from my eye, while waiting for my wife of 21 years to come down the stairs.

I didn't have to wait long. I heard the door creak open, and felt a surge of anger. When had she started closing the door to our bedroom when she got ready? She hadn't done it for the first two decades we were together. It had been a running joke within the family. Sandy's favorite outfit was her birthday suit. She'd come home from work, yoga, or from working out, peeling off her clothing while chattering, walking through the living room, naked as a jaybird. Our daughters would occasionally give her grief, reminding her that anybody could have been around. Her argument was that it's her home, and she should be able to be comfortable. I supported my wife of course. It was my favorite outfit of hers as well. Even though I hadn't been seeing much of it lately. Closing the door? Never crossed her mind in a score of years.

I heard her heels coming down the hardwood stairs, clacking away noisily. Heels. Another irritation. She never wore heels. She was a runner, and had nothing but bad things to say about women who would treat their feet that way. As far as I knew, the tallest heels she had were only about an inch high. Or at least that was the way it always had been. The woman was almost five foot ten. It wasn't like she needed heels. She didn't need anything to emphasize her height or her long luscious legs. Genetics had blessed her with the first, and the 30 or 40 miles she put in each week took care of the second.

She appeared from out of the stairwell, wearing a dress that was nothing less than shameless. For an innocent dinner with two of her girls from work. Right.

Sandy looked up at me sitting there, and unconsciously adjusted the bottom of her skirt, pulling it down a little. Perhaps she was trying to stop me from seeing if she was wearing panties or not. Another inch higher, and there would have been no question. She glanced at me again, and I could see the nervousness. She was a horrible liar, and terrible at deception. How she expected to get away with this I had no idea. Maybe she wanted to be caught.

"Dinner's in the oven," she said, avoiding my eyes. "I might be a little late."

I didn't make an effort to answer, not even nodding. I just watched, stifling my urge to jump up and scream at her, for her idiocy, her disrespect, her horrible behavior. Almost as strong was the desire to fall on my knees, to plead with her, to beg. Honestly, I'd come close to both in the last couple of weeks, neither in the least bit effective.

I could see her eyes scanning the area, looking for her purse. She normally dumped it on the kitchen island when she got home. I had taken the liberty of hanging it off of the arm of one of the chairs pushed into the table. The table I had cleared earlier, wiping it clean, leaving the glass sparkling, before I laid out the three items for her to discover.

She eventually noticed her purse, and stepped toward the table. I saw her look down at the items, first giving them a casual glance, then her head turning back to look at them more carefully. When the realization hit her, she wobbled, her ankle turning as the heel of her shoe flared out beneath her foot, forcing her to lean forward, grabbing the edge of the table to catch her balance.

Sandy looked over at me anxiously, then turned her head away. Looking back down, at my little reminders. She straightened up, back on those ridiculous heels, and I saw her hand drift forward, almost of its own accord, toward my last effort to stop this runaway train.

* * * *

It was a recent thing, her attitude, barely suppressed irritation with me, snippy manner, avoidance, disrespect. I thought I deserved better. Twenty-one fucking years. Our youngest finally out of the home, and off to college. A chance for us to refocus, on each other, and not on the responsibilities of being good parents.

At first I chalked it up to boredom, having me around too much, not having our girls to dote upon. But it didn't stop. She started avoiding me. Spending more time than ever on the computer, usually on Facebook, or chatting on her phone. Names I didn't recognize. Walking out of the room, and closing the door behind her to talk in private. Private, from me.

A love life that I'd hoped to rekindle, instead sputtered and died. She was unresponsive, passive aggressive in her denial, surrendering after enough coercion, but no longer a partner in passion, now a weary victim, waiting for me to finish. It was heart-breaking, but any attempts at discussion were either laughed off, or ended in her walking away.

I thought perhaps she was depressed, until the party at her friend Tracy's. Her behavior was anything but depressed, laughing, flirting, spending far too much time with people I didn't know, one person in particular. He'd been introduced to me when we arrived. I didn't like him then, and was really starting to detest the jerk as the night wore on. A younger guy—I guess you call them metrosexuals now—you know the type. Hair immaculately coiffed, he probably spent a hundred bucks to get it looking just right. His coordinated outfit was carefully chosen from the pages of GQ, hands manicured, soft, lotioned, I'm sure. Shoes no man would wear, not a real man. Even his eyebrows were shaped and plucked. I was certain his chest was waxed. It turned my stomach the way he hovered around my wife, his hand reaching out often to touch her, brush her arm, stroke her lower back. He would lean over and whisper in her ear, and her laughter would fill the room. A sound I'd almost forgotten, it had been so long.

Tracy appeared before me, a worried look on her face. "It's nothing, Dan."

"If it was nothing, you wouldn't have to tell me that, would you?"

She blushed. "It's just flirting. It's how he is."

I saw the guy grin, his perfect caps gleaming. I wonder how they'd feel, cracking under my knuckles. "How long has that asshole been fucking her, Tracy?" I asked.

Her red face changed from embarrassment to anger. "He's doing nothing of the kind. I can't believe you'd even suggest that! Sandy has never been unfaithful to you. She's just . . . confused now. It hasn't gone anywhere."

"Why is he here? Who the hell is he? Since when did you start inviting assholes like that to your parties?"

"Nathan? He's just a friend. A neighbor. He's new to the area, lives two doors down. There's nothing to it, I'm telling you. He acts like that with all the women. He's harmless."

"Harmless. Right. If he touches her again, you're going to have to call 911. I'm going to pound those fake porcelains so far down his throat, he'll be shitting them out his manicured and bleached asshole." I tore my eyes off the scum bag and glared at my wife's best friend. A woman I thought was my friend, for the last decade. "I'm grabbing a beer. If I were you, I'd get that jerkoff out of here. I swear, if I come back and see him within ten feet of her, you'll be replacing that pretty white rug of yours, because you'll never get the blood stains out."

A couple of minutes later, with a new Shiner in hand, Tracy's husband Jake was bracing me, obviously interfering with my going back into the main room. "He's an asshole, Dan. But that's all. I told her not to invite him, but he's harmless."

"Sure, he's harmless to your wife. He's like a fuckin' leech on mine. I'm not putting up with it."

"It's a party. Everyone's had a little too much to drink. She's having a good time. Why not enjoy the results? Don't do anything now that you'll regret. You can talk about it later, tomorrow, when you're both sober."

Enjoy the results? Maybe, once upon a time. Not lately, that's for sure, and it was pretty obvious why. "I'm sober. Not even buzzed. Now do you want to get out of my way, Jake, or is this going to get ugly between you and me? Are you siding with that fucking pussy-hound?"

He seemed to deflate, and stepped out of the way. "I don't want any trouble. It's just a party."

I brushed past him, and back into the family room. It took a few moments to spot my wife, now standing at the edge of a group that contained Tracy, and was notably absent of any assholes of the male variety. Jake had followed me, and was talking softly. "Nothing happened. Nothing will. It's not a big deal, Dan."

Turning, I glared at him. "When'd you lose your balls, Jake? Since when do you put up with shit like that? If that guy was all over your wife, would you just laugh and lick up his cream-pie later? Is that how it is now? Seriously, man, I wanna know."

Jake bristled at my comment. "He'd never do that with Tracy. She wouldn't put up with it. Maybe you should ask yourself why your wife doesn't shoot him down. He's no threat to me."

"Fine. I get it. I thought you were a friend, but now you're running interference for some sleazeball so he can hit on Sandy. That's all I need to know. I'm leaving now. Maybe you can spare a bedroom for my idiot wife. Hell, talk to Tracy, it might just be permanent."

I looked up and saw the gaggle of women were watching us. I was disgusted. Some friends. I turned and headed for the door, turning my beer upside down, and pouring it out on the carpet on the way.

"Damn it, Dan!" I heard Jake snap. I dropped the nearly empty beer in the fancy umbrella basket they had standing by the front door, and let myself out.

I was halfway to the car, when my wife came running out the front door. "What the hell are you doing?" she screamed at me.

"Going home," I said, continuing my trek down to the street where we were parked.

"You were just going to leave me here? And what's with pouring your beer on their rug!" She was still running toward me.

"What do you care, Sandy? Seriously. I get it. You're tired of me. Tired of being married to me. Bored. Whatever. You've found a new boyfriend. Stay, have a good time, get yourself laid. I'll go home and start the paperwork. If you don't want me in your life, I'm not going to force myself on you."

I expected an argument, maybe a screaming match. Instead she shut up. Completely. Got in the car, and never said a word. Not for the rest of the night.

The next morning, she was up early, and had prepared breakfast. She was already dressed. Obviously she wasn't going to try to seduce me to get back in my good graces. I sure as hell wasn't going to apologize for anything.

I sat before the omelet she'd made me, and took a sip of the coffee. She sat opposite, no food, just her over-sized coffee mug.

"There's nothing going on, Dan. He's not my boyfriend. He flirts a lot, and last night it was aimed at me. I probably should have shot him down, but I didn't. I was just having a good time. I'm sorry. I don't want to fight. I don't know where that crap about my tired of being married to you came from. I don't deserve to be treated that way. I would think you would trust me by now, after twenty-two years."

"You don't deserve to be treated this way? Give me a fuckin' break. How about the way you've been treating me? You've been a total bitch. Giving me the silent treatment, always pissed off, keeping secrets, avoiding me, hiding from me when you have your private conversations, sneaking out without saying where you're going, and now that shit last night? I'm not stupid, Sandra. You know that. It's like the old saying, where there's smoke, there's fire. Well, I've found in life that where there's flames, there's fire. We're well beyond smoke here. No, I don't trust you. Not since you started hiding things from me. Not anymore. You've ruined that. I'm done. I'm not about to be laughed at in public because my wife decides she wants to move on and humiliate me publicly. So fuck you."

She looked embarrassed, then angry. "Are you deaf, or just stupid? I told you, nothing happened!"

"Maybe last night it didn't. I stopped it. But I saw how you behave in public with him. What happens when I'm not there? What have you been doing with all your sneaking around? When did you lose respect for me, and when did making love become a chore for you? Since when am I not good enough for you?" I waited for an answer, but she just glared at me.

"Like I said, I'm done. Do what you want. I don't give a fuck anymore. I'm tired, and to be frank, you disgust me." I got up and left, waiting to hear some kind of response, yelling, apology, arguing, something. What I got was nothing.

* * * *

I watched her hand reach out to touch the knife. No, it wasn't some Bowie knife, or a butcher blade. This was a special knife. Sterling silver, crystal handle, engraved. We had used it once a year for twenty years. If times were normal, we'd be using it again in less than a month. I doubted that would happen.

Its mirror-like surface shone. The facets of the handle reflected the lights in the chandelier, casting little mini rainbows of light around the room. As she moved it, the lights danced, shimmering, shaking, darting around.

I wish I knew what was going on inside her head. Since that night we barely spoke. She was openly avoiding me, making no effort to hide the fact. She'd get up and leave when I walked in the room. I knew it was over, we were just marking time. The saddest part was I didn't know why. Even with the information I'd gathered, recording her calls, reading her emails and texts, I still didn't understand it. She never gave a reason.

I'd started organizing our finances, putting money into trust funds for our kids, paying off credit-cards. I cashed out a few investments, moving the money. I even sold our little place down at the beach. It had been my great-uncles, and I'd bought it off him for a song. She loved that place, and I was damned if I was going to let her get her hands on it. She never noticed a thing I did, hell, half the time it was as if I no longer existed.

Her hand left the knife, and landed on the book. Not just any book. Our girls had made it for us, an anniversary gift. Twenty years married. The brag book was a good six inches thick, pictures, mementos, memories of our life together. Organized by year, it documented a pair of lives, intertwined until they were one entity. A joyous union, until about six months ago.

My wife stood quietly, never looking up. Still, at this late date, after all my efforts, I didn't matter. She opened the book, turning pages at random, holding some open for several seconds, others getting no more than a brief glance. I saw a couple of stray tears start down her cheeks, and wondered if there was anything left, or if I was just wasting my time.

The tears weren't unexpected. She'd always been emotional, wore her heart on her sleeve, or at least she had until the last half-year or so. She would cry at the drop of a hat. I stood and picked up the handkerchief, worn, yellowed, threadbare. I wiped her eyes, as I had that first time, so many years ago, but she didn't giggle. Didn't lean into me. Didn't grab my hand in hers, clutching it tightly, as she had back then.

My wife didn't laugh, teasing me for being the only man who still carried handkerchiefs every day. Their only purpose to wipe away my wife's tears, of joy, of sorrow, of empathy. A reminder of how we'd met, and fallen in love. It had been almost two months now that I'd stopped carrying a handkerchief, after more than twenty years. She never noticed.

For the first time in my life, I thought I'd need to use the hanky for myself, and not for her.

I watched her set her shoulders, standing up firmly, closing the book. She didn't look at me for an explanation. "I won't be too late. Maybe we should talk when I get back."

"Don't go," I said. "Talk to me now, Sandy. Stay, please." I'm sure I sounded desperate. I was. If she walked out that door, it was over.

She lifted her purse, and turned toward the entrance, ignoring my words. I didn't matter. Our memories didn't matter. Twenty-one years of marriage didn't matter. Not to her. Not anymore.

If these treasures didn't matter to her, then they sure as hell didn't matter to me.

I picked up the book, and walked toward our fireplace. I looked over at the woman I'd loved more than half my life, as she walked away. Opening the chain curtains, I thrust the book inside. She paused at the crash of the heavy tome against the artificial logs. She hesitated, but still didn't turn around. I turned on the gas burners, and hit the igniter, listening for the loud 'woosh' as the flames ignited.

"I won't be here when you get back," I said, voice raised, as I turned toward the back of the house. My bags were packed and in the car. I had a full tank of gas and almost ten thousand dollars in cash. The single sheet of paper I placed where the book had been would explain everything. If she wanted a divorce, she could apply for it. I was leaving. I'd liquidated what I could, and took ninety percent of it, leaving her the house and its equity. The house and her car were both paid off. She wouldn't need much to get by. I thought it was a fair split, probably more than she deserved.

I heard my name screamed, and turned to see an unknown woman, a stranger really, hardly the woman I'd married and loved. She was kneeling in front of the fireplace, dragging the book off of the fake logs. Too stupid to even turn off the fire, she was crying and yelling, beating out the flickering flames. Her dress had ridden up over her ass, displaying the tiny lines of a red lace thong.

I tucked the twenty-three year old handkerchief in my pocket. I grabbed the knife off the table, inspecting the new edge where one had never existed before. It didn't need to be very sharp to cut wedding cake. Even one that was frozen, sitting in the freezer for nearly a quarter of a century. I had a different purpose in mind, as I headed out the door, ignoring my wife's shrieks.

* * * *

I drove past Jake and Tracy's home. Another casualty. Friends for more than a decade, we didn't speak anymore. At least I didn't speak with them. I didn't hold them responsible, but I wanted nothing to do with anyone who actively participated in the destruction of my marriage.

I slowed the car passing their mailbox, only going another hundred yards before turning into the illuminated driveway. I got out of the vehicle, and walked briskly up the steps, ringing the bell, opening the screen door, standing too close for anybody to see out through the side panels or peephole.

The heavy door opened quickly, the large, practiced, artificially whitened smile fading quickly, taking on a look of surprise and fear. He was dressed to go out, custom made shirt, no pocket, french cuffs. Probably a quart of pomade in his hair, or whatever they called that shit nowadays. The smell of his cologne was nauseating.

"I don't need this anymore, you can have it," I said, then thrust our wedding knife into the asshole's belly, all the way to that shiny crystal. "Same for my wife, she's yours."

He grabbed at the protruding handle, looking up at me in shock. The rivulets of blood pumped out around the heavy leaded glass, extinguishing the lights. He fell to the floor, whimpering like a little girl.

I dropped the handkerchief on him. "Maybe this can stop the bleeding," I said. "They're not phoenix tears, just the snot of a middle-aged heartless slut. Let me know how that works out for you."

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byTx Tall Tales© 52 comments/ 42215 views/ 49 favorites

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