tagChain StoriesF6: Spreading the Word

F6: Spreading the Word


This story is a submission to the sixth Friendly Anonymous Writing Challenge (FAWC) and a tribute to the founder of FAWC, slyc_willie, who we lost unexpectedly in October 2015. The true author of this story is kept anonymous until the end of the competition. Authors base their story on a list of four items. Their choices included the following letters: S L Y C. Each item was used in the story. There are no prizes given in this challenge; this is simply a friendly competition.

The list for this story includes: Lecturer, Licorice, Laundry room, Lech

* * * *

It was so clichéd, I'm embarrassed to even mention it.

I wonder how many other spouses, all across the country, are having their lives destroyed every evening by the callous, vicious, cruelty of the ones they've committed their lives to.

How do they respond, when out of the blue, with no warning, and absolute zero consideration from their significant other, they hear the words, "I'm leaving."

How do they feel, to know their entire life has been a sham, their future plans have just been obliterated, and they are back at square one?

I sat in shock, my mind stalled, unable to respond. The words were like an evil virus that short-circuited any semblance of thought. I felt like I'd been punched in the solar plexus, unable to breathe, as the impact left me helpless.

"I know you'll agree that things between us haven't been good lately. I'm tired of being nothing but a trophy wife, a bauble you own. I need a change, and I know you do too. I'm sure you'll realize that once you've had time to think about it."

Finally, the gray matter sputtered and restarted. My heart shuddered and started weakly beating. The breath that had been trapped in my chest escaped with a whistling rush, past my paralytic vocal chords. "Leaving?" I squeaked, like a teenage adolescent passing through puberty.

I'll readily admit it could have been worse; it could be the hackneyed bubble-gum chewing process server dropping the manila envelope in your hand and telling you that you've been served. Yes, I can only imagine how horrible that would be. But in the stories, the spouse getting served usually deserves it. For the life of me, I couldn't think of anything I'd done wrong.

Or perhaps the family lecture, where everyone knows but you, spouse and children gathered around the table, laying out the new rules they've adopted, for a game you never agreed to. That would be pretty terrible. Luckily we had no children, and the idea of my wife as the lecturer was ludicrous. I loved the woman, but she wasn't much for oratorical feats. I had to wonder who'd been doing the coaching for her to put together that initial devastating salvo.

Worse yet, it could have been the cheater's ambush, where they bring their partner in adultery with them, nominally for support, but in actuality their purpose is to ridicule and humiliate you, so that you roll over without a fight. They cut your knees out from under you, gut you, stab you in the heart and the back at the same time, leaving you bleeding, dying in the home you'd created together, your sanctuary, now a crime scene. I can't imagine much worse.

I'd only been in the door a minute or so, wondering why her Lexus was in the driveway. She never drove the Lexus, not since I gave her the Beemer for her birthday. I barely had time to even sit down, when I saw her coming out of the back with a suitcase in her hand. She delivered her initial salvo, with the impact of a cannonball at close range. While I struggled to comprehend what had just happened, she had placed her suitcase by the door. I had just noticed there were three of them, and a hang-up bag, when her mouth opened and her secondary fusillade tore me apart.

I knew things weren't good? I knew nothing of the kind! I thought things were great, to be honest. And trophy wife? Where did that come from? It didn't make sense. None of it made sense.

"We'll talk later," she said, standing in front of me, her simple words sniper shots picking me off, every time I tried to recover.

I struggled to form a sentence, create coherency from my jumbled thoughts. All that escaped my lips, past the desolate dry wasteland that was now my mouth, was a single word, wrought with feeling.


"Sorry to spring it on you like this, Willie, but something came up. I'll be gone for two weeks. I'll tell you how things are going to be when I get back."

She'd tell me? Gone? Two weeks?

The door opened, and he walked into my house like he owned it. Taller, younger, fitter. Of course. It was my tortured destiny. He gave me a grin and a little wave, turned at the door, picked up the smallest suitcase and tucked it under his arm, then lifted the other two by the handle. "This is it, baby? Just these three?"

She turned to him and smiled, nodding. "That's all, Randy. I'll be out in a second."

She turned to me, her face taking on an exasperated expression as if somehow I was making this difficult, causing her trouble. "You'll be fine, Willie. You'll see. Things will be better, I promise." Then she leaned over and gave me a fucking kiss on the cheek!

My wife of five years turned and left. That was the end. Simple enough, I guess. I had no say in the matter, no input, nothing.

* * * *

I was wandering through the house. You wouldn't know she was gone. Her spoor was everywhere, little signs of where she'd been. Her long blonde hairs on the back of the seat cushions, a third of her purse still scattered across her dresser, where she'd swapped purses before leaving. Makeup, tissues, paper receipts, her miscellaneous daily detritus covered half the surface. Her side of the bathroom was its usual explosion of her war paint, camouflage, and artist tools.

Her energy bars were on the kitchen counter, yoga mat by the door, keys with that stupid Winnie the Pooh keychain still hanging up in the hall. I turned on the TV and the Lifetime Channel came on.

It was a mistake. She wasn't gone. I must have misunderstood. Maybe it was a work emergency. She didn't say what I thought she did. She couldn't have. We were happy. Discussing where to go on our summer vacation just a couple of weeks ago. We'd made love on Saturday after going out to eat. There was the grocery list, on the refrigerator.

I went to bed, setting both of our alarms. Woke up and looked for her beside me. Made the bed and neatened the room, for when she came home. I cooked breakfast for two, before going to work at the usual time, and called her phone to let her know what time I'd be home. No answer, but she often didn't answer. She was busy, that was it, so I left a message. I looked for her once I arrived home, checked to see if her clothing was back, if she was back. I made us dinner and wrapped her plate in saran wrap for later. I stayed up later than usual; I didn't want to miss her when she returned.

The following day I stuck to my schedule. I drove her car to work, still imbued with her smell. A reminder that she wasn't really gone. She couldn't be. Her oil change was overdue, so I took it to work and had the guys in the garage give it a full checkout and detail it.

Elizabeth was a beautiful woman. I was reminded of it every time I entered the building, looking at her likeness beaming down at me from our billboard. She was the face of the business. Such a pretty face.

I was working on autopilot but still went through the motions. I inspected the three latest vehicles and approved the repairs and upgrades before putting them in the warehouse. I confirmed the prices and read the advertising before they would go up on our website and Craigslist. The Lexus had 97,000 miles and was in perfect shape. We'd bite the bullet and put it on eBay cars.

Mine was a small business, actually a dual business. On the left side of the warehouse, we purchased high-end cars at auction, refurbished and resold them. Usually higher mileage vehicles which we could pick up dirt cheap and turn over quickly, often financing ourselves after a down payment that covered our expenses. Amy worked the desk and handled all the computer stuff. Ralph and Jimmy worked sales on commission. The three guys in the garage performed our maintenance, detailing, and car repairs. For paint and major bodywork, we contracted out the work. Javier could do interiors, and all three could do basic auto repair.

For the most part, it was all about appearances. We worked over the car inside and out and made it look gorgeous. Spent a little more than our competitors, upgrading sound and navigation systems, reupholstering when necessary, fixing chrome and dings, cleaning the engine, that kind of stuff. It paid off. We were growing, and profitable.

On the other side of the warehouse were the HP LX800 Printer and the wrap and tint bays. I attend a lot of car auctions, and one day while inspecting a small fleet of business vehicles, I found the $200,000 printer and managed to pick it up, including a ton of HP latex inks and wrap material, for less than 40 grand. It was chancy, but that was the start of our Car Wrap business. It had turned into a good steady income stream and I was cross training the garage guys to be able to do wraps. For the moment, I just had Linda and Dave. They both worked part-time initially and were paid by the piece. It had turned into a full-time job for both of them after less than a year. Dave did the designs, and Linda did the install. She added the window tinting options with my permission. With her skills, applying the film was a piece of cake and she had Javier doing it within a week. Now, virtually all of our used vehicles went out with tinted windows.

I was updated on the latest, peeking into the two occupied bays, where we were doing wraps for some landscaping business. At $3000 apiece for a full wrap, they must be doing okay. Then again, car wraps are a pretty good investment. In a busy area, with a commercial vehicle, you can generate 30,000 to 70,000 views per day. That's a lot of free advertising after the initial investment. And it works. I know because my business truck was wrapped and we got calls off it.

As the day ended, I knew I was getting some odd looks from the people in the office, but honestly, I didn't care. I just needed to get through the day. Elizabeth would probably be home.

* * * *

I turned off my alarm and rolled out of bed. The other side was still empty. Three nights empty. I was tired, sleeping was becoming difficult. I made my way to the shower, and stood under the water, trying to wake up. I had barely stepped out when her alarm went off.

It beeped and beeped, and beeped. I'd always hated her alarm. I woke to radio, letting the words slowly seep into my unconscious, dragging me back to reality. Her alarm was an ice pick to the brain. On, and on, and on, and on ...

I marched into the bedroom, grabbed that damn radio, tore it out of the wall, and threw it into her closet. Fucking oversized closet, as big as a small bedroom, full of her crap. Bitch. Tens of thousands of dollars of her shit in there. I'd paid for all of them. And she left. Ungrateful slut!

I snapped, and when I was somewhat cogent, I could see I'd destroyed her closet, dresser, and half the bathroom. Her half. I was gasping for air, my hands and arms were bleeding, the fury barely contained.

"God damn bitch! She'll tell me how things will be? The whore runs off with her fuck buddy, and she's gonna tell me how I'm supposed to handle it? Well, fuck her!"

I tore through the house, taking anything of hers and shoving it into industrial garbage bags, depositing each full one in the garage. Pictures she'd chosen, knickknacks she'd bought, hell, even the food that she ate, it went into the bags until I'd erased her from my home.

I was still stomping through the house, bagging her shit, when I heard the knocking at the front door. It opened, and Amy's voice carried back to the dining room where I was 'sanitizing' things.

"Damn it, Willie, how many times have I told you if you're not—Holy Shit! What happened!" she shrieked.

"Just doing a little necessary clean up," I explained. Amy had been with me from the start. From day one, longer that any of them, hell, longer than Elizabeth. She deserved to know.

"If this is cleaning up, I'd hate to have seen it before. What are we cleaning?" she asked, picking up one end of the garbage bag, and following me.

"Slut spoor."

"Slut spoor? I don't get it," she said.

"Any and all traces of the useless, lying, cheating, fornicating, adulterous slut that used to live here."

Next thing I knew, she had a hold of my arm, pulling at it, dragging me away from the china cabinet. "Stop, Willie. Talk to me. What happened? Where's E-Beth?"

"Fuck her, Amy. I don't need her. Don't need some syphilitic, parasitic, cheating, mendacious whore!"

She kept pulling at me, dragging me into the living room. "What happened? Where is she? You didn't do anything crazy, did ya, Willie? You didn't hurt her?"

"Hurt her? Hurt her?" I laughed. Okay, the laughter may have sounded a bit hysterical even to me. "She's the one who left. She's the one who wants out. That whore is the one off fucking 'Randy' for two weeks. Trying to tell me how it's gonna go. She's the liar, the cheat, the slut. I'm just the poor asshole that had no idea what was going on."

"That's why you've been walking around in a daze for two days."

"Fuck her. She doesn't get to tell me how it goes. No fucking way."

Amy grabbed my hand. "Stop Willie. Stop acting crazy, and tell me what the hell is going on here. Elizabeth left? She asked for a divorce?"

"Gone for two fuckin' weeks. Just walks in, says 'I'm leaving', then takes three packed bags and Randy, and says she'll be back in two weeks to tell me the details."

"She always was a high-maintenance selfish bitch, but it was pretty obvious she loved you, and you loved her. It's why we put up with her shit. It don't make a lot of sense."

"You didn't see Randy. Taller, younger, better hair, better body, dressed like he's on a fuckin' magazine cover. I got traded in, Amy. The cheating bitch traded me in on a newer model."

She calmed me down long enough to get the full story. I saw the pity in her eyes and felt the humiliation all over again. Amy pulled me in close and gave me a big hug.

Don't get me wrong, a hug was all it was. A symbol of support and affection, no more. Amy was a friend. A friend who understood what I was going through. I'd been there for her when her marriage went down in flames, and gave her a hand back up. She'd worked with me from the start, encouraged and supported me while I dated and eventually married the fucking, lying, backstabbing, adulterous cheater.

I waited for the inevitable "I told you so." Amy had encouraged me to draw up a prenup, even had her brother-in-law draft one for me. I said no. I didn't need one, I was in love, and what kind of way was that to start a new life?

Amy did nothing of the kind. She dragged me to the bedroom and told me to get cleaned up and dressed. I heard her on the phone, calling our office cleaning service and scheduling them to come in and take care of the mess I'd made. She re-bandaged my hands and arms, after the shoddy job I'd done.

By the time I was human again, she had dragged me out to her car, and we were headed down the road.

"I really don't feel up to working," I told her. "I need you to take care of things for a few days."

She turned into Skinny Marie's Diner and parked the car. "No work, I promise, Boss. We've got bigger things to deal with."

Over brunch, she told me how things were going to be. Damn. I'm glad she was on my side. She was scary.

An hour later we were in her brother-in-law Eric's Law office. Her sister Joy had joined us, as had Linda from the office. While waiting, Amy, Linda, and Joy had huddled together, whispering, their voices occasionally rising. They were obviously angry, and I was thankful it wasn't at me.

As soon as we were in the office, Joy's husband Eric was purely professional, providing insight into what was legal and what wasn't. Most of his questions were very specific, and he seemed to like our answers. In less than two hours, I knew that I'd completely lost control of the situation, and was once more thankful they were on my side.

I shouldn't have been surprised. Amy was always protective of me, and was more of a personal assistant and office manager, than a receptionist. Her sister was present both as my accountant, and to keep her informed, since her husband was involved.

By the time I left, the women were openly gloating, plotting the destruction of my cheating wife, and the scum sucking slime that she had left me for.

* * * *

It was a lot of work. Expensive, too, but I'd rather spend it on revenge than give it to her as a reward for cheating on me. The auto wrap business was now officially in Linda's name. It was easy enough, and completely legal, according to our expert. Well, except for backdating the sale, and modifying the last few month's books a tad. I still was part of the company, as a minor shareholder, but my earnings were minimal.

That business was running full tilt, and three days before my cheating slut wife was to return, every car in our inventory was wrapped, as were the vehicles of all our employees. A company car was one of our benefits, and nobody complained about the new look. I'd taken all our disposable cash, and invested that into additional vehicles, all receiving the new look.

My 401K was emptied, as were my retirement IRAs, and the money used to purchase yet more vehicles, which were turned around and sold. The guys were working 12 hour days and the weekend. We even hired temporary help. It was expensive, but then again, it was only money. Money she wouldn't be able to get hold of.

My accountant may have helped me shelter a few dollars through creative thinking, since when this whole thing was concluded, I'd be starting over from scratch, and would need a nest egg. It amazes me how many places a smart accountant can hide money in a business like mine with so much cash flow. It was an education.

New ads were placed on Craigslist, the sales guys hopped on the phones, and within two days, every vehicle was sold. Not too surprising, when you were offering a sweetheart deal like ours. Half a year of $1000 a month payments, each payment waived if the new owner brought the vehicle in for free detailing and the new Car Wraps were still in place. If they weren't, the full payment was due. At the end of the abbreviated lease, you could walk away, make payments for another two years, or buy the car for a flat three-to-five grand typically. Basically, you were getting the car for less than half-price, just for acting as a moving billboard for six months.

Most of the sales were through Craigslist and existing customers, but there were a few I approached directly and was a little surprised that I wasn't turned down once. I guess I shouldn't have been too shocked; it's not every day you get a chance to own a luxury sedan, albeit used, for so little, with the only caveat you have to serve as a free billboard for a while. Still, I have to admit a couple of those were unexpected.

In addition to the car wraps, I even got custom wraps for my garage doors, at home and at the warehouse. Linda and her business were very busy for a week and a half.

That's when we started our new marketing campaign.

* * * *

It hadn't been difficult to figure out where she'd gone, and when she was likely to return. She'd charged the airfare to our credit card, and had taken vacation from her job. As had her co-worker Randy, I'd learned. I would deal with him later. Or perhaps I should say, the women would; they were still running the show.

One of the first things they'd insisted on was taking care of the finances. We weren't going to allow the bitch to use my money to pay for a fuck-cation with her boy-toy. Before the first week was over, the credit cards were canceled and the bank accounts were emptied. I'd removed the overdraft protection from our checking account, so she couldn't use that.

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