This story doesn't have any sex in it. It is more a story about cheating and it's consequences and it's implications.
Again, I did my own spell checking and editing (because I'm impatient), so lay the blame on me. This story is dedicated to Little Debbie.
It was with that damned knot in my chest that I drove into the Glen's Pride Apartment Complex that evening. It was a low priced facility, needing a new coat of paint and with grass starting to grow in the cracks of the parking lot pavement. In contrast, there was an impressive stock of cars in the lot. There were numerous Lexuses, Beemers, a few higher end pick ups. Heck, I even caught sight of a primo yellow Mustang around one corner.
Most of these cars had one thing in common: they were older. A very few looked new, but the rest had some 'english' on them; scuffs, dents and dings as their owners tried to milk some years and miles out of the automobiles bought in better days. I considered this as I parked my 2 year old Toyota Avalon near the building number Ed had given me.
A knock on the door and the occupant opened it. His face was unshaven, but it was the weekend. He wore a clean but worn tee shirt, and a pair of faded jeans. Comfort clothing. The man looked about 40, but he could have been a worn 35 to a healthy 50. Somehow I didn't think he was 50. He held a Diet Pepsi in his hand. "You Ed's friend?" he asked suspiciously.
"Yes. Keith." I held out my hand and he gave is a wary shake.
"I guess you should come on in then." His face had a pinched look of pain. I don't know if that was how he normally looked, or he just had the expression because he knew I was coming and what we were going to discuss.
Entering, I looked around. There was a sofa against the wall; the cushions compressed and worn. A recliner sat next to the outside door. Beside it, a side table held a set of remotes and a stack of well worn westerns, spy fiction and historical books. To the right of the door was a small dining table, big enough for two and a kitchenette. There were a few dirty dishes in the sink and the garbage probably could have been taken out, but otherwise it was neat. The carpet was a faded rust color with a few stains in it.
He saw my glance. "It ain't fancy, but it's cheap. And when you're deevorced that's the name of the game unless you're rich and ain't nobody rich after they deevorced. Lots of deevorced guys here. Some of them are cheating bastards. Some of the didn't get along with their missus. Some of them married slut who-ers like I did."
"Can you tell me about what happened? Ed said I should hear your story. He didn't tell me anything else."
"Married that bitch for 12 years. Thought I'd live with her forever, the cunt. We had our two kids. We had our jobs. Life wasn't perfect. Money was tight, but when isn't it? I thought things were good. Then that who-er fucked around on me."
"Why?" he said outraged. "Who cares why? Ain't it enough that she did it?" He stewed a bit and then said "Besides, I never got to hear why."
"Really? Why not?"
"Cause of what I did." He got a grim half smile on his face...then he winced and it was gone. "The bitch hurt me. She cut me bad and I wanted...needed revenge! That lying who-ering slut thought I was an idiot and that she could do whatever she wanted and get away scot free. Well, not on my watch! I had to be able to look in the mirror. She took my balls and I wanted 'em back!" He leaned forward in his recliner and put his elbows on his knees as I could see his mind drift back to memories of long ago. I could tell by his body language that that recliner was his 'home base'.
He spoke slowly. "I just couldn't live with myself to see her walk away without getting my pound of flesh. So I planned and I waited and I got a detective and some pictures. Then Thanksgiving, we had a big dinner with a lot of the family. I got the kids out of the dining and set them up with a movie while we poured the champagne and...I took out the big folder and pulled out the 8x10 glossies. They cost an arm and a leg, just like the detectives and I tossed them on the table and told them exactly what that fucking cunt bitch had been doing!" He laughed a bit meanly. "You should have seen her face. All their faces. Wish I'd done it a little different. The pictures flew all over the place and a couple landed in the potatoes and gravy. It was a big mess...but it wasn't the only one. Sent a fucking mailer to her work. She was schtuping some guy in the office."
"What happened afterward?"
"Those fucking assholes blamed me!"
"What?!?" I said outraged. "Why would they do that? Did you beat her or fuck around or something?"
"No, no. They were angry at me for...what did that prick Jim say? 'Making a scene.' Making a fucking scene? You want a scene; look at your wife bent over a couch taking in up the ass by some dickhead. THAT'S a scene! Some of them were mad I ruined a nice holiday. Some of them were mad because I made it public. Others were mad I was so 'mean' to her. Fucking assholes." He sighed. "It was ugly. Most of her family won't talk to me of course and my mom was mad as I'd ever seen her. My own mom! All women are bitches, I guess. She said I made it so we couldn't get past this, like it was a fucking burnt roast or something. It isn't a burnt roast. It was a burnt marriage."
"What did your wife say?"
"She didn't say anything. Bitch wouldn't talk to me after that. Heard from some family that 'I hurt her too bad.' La dee fucking DA! I hurt HER? That unbelievable cunt had the gall to say I fucking hurt HER too bad? I trusted her. I loved her and she did that to me? Obviously we got a deevorce. And she fucking counter sued or whatever they call it. Who-er!"
I winced. "Was it bad?"
"Ever hear of a good one? Well, I got her ass fired cause of the pictures I sent to her boss and that cunt of a Judge; I swear all them bitches are in it together; made me pay max alimony since it was my fault she didn't have a job. And child support. I don't mind the child support so much. They're my kids. I don't want to ruin their lives. Not like their mom did by fucking around. But writing her that check always pisses me off."
"They awarded her the house?"
"Yeah." he sighed, deflating. "I don't mind that neither. I mean, it was hard enough on the kids, but that slut brought some guy in there to live with her. That I do mind!"
"She kept seeing that guy?"
"No." His face took on a funny expression. "She...I asked a few friends. The few I still had left. She'd broken it off with that fucking scumbag from work a couple weeks before November. Wasn't seeing him no more."
I considered this for a few moments. "If she broke it off...did you ever consider, you know...reconciling?"
He gave me this look of withering scorn. "What kind of a man are you? What do you take me for? Didn't you hear a word I said? She was cheating on me! She was fucking some other guy! Do I look like a fucking wimpy ass, cream pie eating cuckold to you? She could have crawled on her hand and knees and I still wouldn't have taken her skank ass back." He leaned back as he seemed to relish the image in his head. "Once a cheater, always a cheater." he said slowly.
"Cream pie?" I asked.
"Yeah. Maybe some guys like lapping the cum of their wive's lovers out of their snatches, but not me!" I shuddered at the image. "And if she cheats on you once, she'll cheat on you again! No ifs, ands or buts."
"How'd you catch her?"
I waited for a second, thinking this was more of his Tourette style of speaking. When he didn't go on, I looked at his quizzically. "Douchbags?"
"Yes. She was a real careful cunt. She took showers. Had good excuses. Made sure I didn't find out. Stayed a fucking fool. But I took out the trash, like a good wimp husband should. We bought those cheap ass clear garbage bags and I noticed that suddenly, we had a hell of a lot of Summer's Eve boxes in the trash. No cunt needs washing out that often unless she's doing something she shouldn't, so I started to watch her. I caught her ass."
I considered this. If she was taking shower and douching so often to avoid getting caught, what the hell was his obsession with cream pies? I shook my head mentally and changed gears. "Your kids...what's going on with them?"
He deflated. "My 'Becca. She was smart as a whip. Always was. Right after the deevorce, her grades went off the fucking cliff. I did my best, hired tutors, spent as much time with her as I could. Fucking custody rules! I really tried. She's doing better. Jeremy is better now, but he was depressed for a long time. They aren't the same. Not really. Even after four years." We lapsed into silence as he contemplated his kids and I respected the pain I heard in his voice.
After a short time, he said "Ed sent you here. He said you're going through the same thing."
I nodded. "Yes." It felt like the knot I was carrying around these past few weeks tightened in my chest when I admitted it..
"Deevorce her ass. Don't suffer. Cause she'll do it again and bring you sloppy seconds. There's good wimmen out there, but once she slips, she'll do it again. Bob in apartment 3B. Fucking fool took his wife back. She hung the horns on him a bunch of times till he finally got smart. Don't go taking any cream pies. Because she's already cut you bad. Don't let her take your pride too. It's all you got left." He was sympathetic.
"I don't know...I have a baby..." I stumbled on the words as I stood up. "Thank you for your time..." I started for the door.
He sat there and watched me. "Dude...Keith. You got to be able to look at yerself in the mirror. If you take her back, she's going to think she got one over on you and before you know it, you'll get in a fight or she'll get her wimmenly ways or she'll get horny 'round the wrong guy and cut your heart out again. And before you know it, you'll be lapping some other guy's leavings out of her box. And if you're a big fool, she'll talk you into letting her have her fun on the side. Don't. Cut her out...maybe not like I did. But dump the bitch and find yourself a good woman. I'm looking." And it had been four years for him, I mentally noted.
He stood wearily and walked over, shaking my hand. "You got to work it out for yerself. But think hard about it. And don't take any cream pies." he winked.
I left and sat in my car for a while, contemplating the coming changes in my life. Aside from his obsession about other men's sperm, he had a few valid points. And he obviously loved his children. And trust. Once shattered, how did you regain it?
Ed, my favorite bartender, had given me this guy's name when I had finished pouring my woes in his ear. I had raved and lashed out at my faithless wife, and spoke hotly about vengeance, divorce and reconciliation. He made a call and sent me to see him. I wondered why. He did not seem particularly wise, or even smart. I mean, if his wife was bending over backwards to stay showered and clean with douches, his fears of cream pies seemed very misplaced, though they seemed to loom large in his imagination.
One statement stood out. 'Don't let her take your pride too.' She had stolen a lot with her infidelity; my confidence as a husband, as a lover, as a man, my faith in her in particular and people in general. She stole my sense of what my future would hold. And now Captain Tourettes was warning me about her trying to steal my pride.
I looked at his shitty little apartment. Then I contemplated a larger house somewhere with a couple of unhappy kids and a wife who probably was not enjoying life. Very few single mom's were pulling trains with young, hung men. Pride, one of the seven deadly sins right up there next to Lust, also seemed to have a price. Two unhappy homes, no not homes, dwellings at the price of Pride.
I put the car in drive. Time to see a lawyer.
As it turned out, I had to make two stops. Damn it!
I walked into the house. Peggy was there eyeing me warily. There had been a lot of ugly and angry words for the last week or so and I really couldn't blame her. However, I think my expression was a lot calmer today. For whatever reason, she still looked very unsettled. Maybe I didn't look calm. Maybe my calmness was just as upsetting, particularly if I was thinking divorce.
The bitch...she ; I was struggling to keep even my thoughts polite; was playing the 'mommy' card again, holding our one year old daughter Mary in her arms and rocking her. She claimed that it was a mixture of hormones, tiredness, post partum depression, uncertainty and, of course, problems I caused which made her stray. Whatever. 'Why' might matter later, but not right now.
"We need to talk." I told her.
"Are you going to scream at me again? Sorry." she said quickly at my darkening expression "I'm not trying to start a fight, but I don't want you to wake Mary." Sure. You're Betty fucking Crocker. I wonder if Betty whored around too. I dismissed the thought as unworthy. I was trying the Middle Path. But it was hard.
I kept a firm rein on my voice. "Tell you what. Why don't you put her down and we can focus on maybe having a constructive conversation."
Her wary expression never slipped as she looked at me. The fact that I was carrying a large plastic bag and a thick manila envelope didn't exactly calm her nerves much. But she turned and headed back upstairs to put Mary in her crib. Frankly, I found this expression much more honest then the smiling, bouncy 'Stepford Wife' persona she originally tried to use on me when I first found out about the cheating. As if she could smile and fuck her way out of trouble. I wasn't that stupid or that easy. She returned and sat on the couch. I took a chair on the other side of the coffee table since I had some documents to share with her.
"You say you want us to get over this. But I'm having a real hard time doing it. Despite what you've said, all I've done is my share of our marital woes. I didn't turn things up to eleven by cheating on you."
"Now, there are two ways I can go. I can go to an attorney, get a divorce and we can get on with our lives. Maybe we meet someone else. Maybe our lives are full of regrets. But I get to keep my Pride."
When I said 'divorce' she tensed up noticeably. I was watching her body language closely. This meant something to her. The problem was, I didn't know her motives. Just staying with me so she wasn't branded a slut, or because she didn't want to be a single parent wasn't particularly gratifying to me. I wanted her to be with me because she wanted to be with me. The knot in my chest didn't get tighter...but it didn't loosen either.
"The other is totally put this behind us and pretend it never happened." She sat up a little straighter when I mentioned this. "It means I swallow my Pride and live with the humiliation of having had you fuck around on me. I get to try to find a way past my pain."
"I didn't mean to hurt you." she repeated for it must have been the hundredth time in the last week. This time she said it defensively. "And I've said I'm sorry until my throat is sore."
"Drunk drivers don't mean to run down pedestrians either but that doesn't make them less dead!" I took a deep breath and forced my emotions down. "That being said, I don't want a divorce. But I learned a few things today at this shitty little apartment. It was this divorced guy. You know, I never heard his name. Just some anonymous dude with an obsession with....never mind. And he got cheated on too. But he was proud and got a divorce. I didn't like that. But I saw the place he lived. There were a lot of divorced guys living there and they weren't living well. They got shafted by the system. This guy was fucked by his wife twice."
I took another deep breath. "I don't want a divorce," I repeated, "but we have some serious trust issues. I may have hurt our marriage too, but I didn't do anything to warrant that level of...disrespect. So I got three conditions. You said you want to make this up to me and you swear you love me. I'm calling you on that. I got three requirements."
"First, we need to find a marriage counselor. Someone who can help us get around this. And we'll both probably need therapy sessions. If we got to this point, obviously we don't know shit about fixing our marriage and we need some help and a bit of reflection."
She nodded slowly. "I don't like the idea of airing out our dirty laundry to strangers...but I guess I can do that. As long as it's a..."
"A man." I said interrupting her. "It's going to be a man." She frowned but said nothing. "I get to face the prospect of revealing to another guy that my wife stabbed me in the back and you don't get to do that stupid woman emotional sisterhood thing. With a guy, maybe I can feel a bit more supported. Or at least I'll trust him more and that's the name of the game, right? If I can't trust the counselor, why waste the money going?" She obviously didn't like my logic, but it was hard to argue with it.
I pulled out the manila envelope. "Second, we need to go to a notary tomorrow and you need to sign these." I laid the documents on the table in front of her, fussing with it to make them square. It's a personal thing with me.
"What are they?" She barely glanced at them.
"This is a Dissolution of Marriage document on the grounds of adultery..." I started, touching the one document.
"You ASSHOLE! I thought you said you wanted to save our marriage!" Her face was outraged.
"I did and I do. Listen carefully. I said YOU need to sign it. I won't. It isn't legal until both of us sign it."
"What are you trying to pull? Are you just leading me on and getting ready to pull the rug out from under me? Are you trying to hold me hostage? Is this some...blackmail?"
I shook my head. "No. None of that. This is about trust and the fact that I don't have any. This first document is an acknowledgement that you waive your right to an attorney to look over the divorce agreement and are satisfied to act as your own agent. You acknowledge that you were given the opportunity to read it."
"This second document is the divorce decree. It's slanted rather unfairly to me. You accept 30% of the common property, accept only 6 months of alimony and accept half on the sale of the house. You give me unlimited visitation to Mary. And a few personal items I love are removed from common property and mine. Nothing is said about Mary's child support because I love my daughter and I won't let her suffer."
"And what's to keep you from dangling getting back together in front of me and then just signing off on the decree just as a trick?" she said tightly, arms crossed tightly across her stomach.
"You'll just have to trust me." She blanched visibly. "Look, I've been feeling pretty damned uncertain about myself and our marriage for the last week. But I'm not going to be raped by you twice for your actions if things don't work out for us. I don't want to do this. I'd like.." I got a bit wistful. "I'd like for us to finally come to a place where both of us can go to the barbecue and feed all of these pages into the fire together. I'd like to be able to trust you so much that this...offensive thing is ashes and just a bad memory." My voice hardened. "But that day isn't today."
"Is this about revenge?" She asked, peering into my face. She seemed calmer somehow.
"No. I told you. If the worst happens and we still get a divorce, all I have left is a shred of self respect and stuff. Stuff doesn't keep you warm at night, but it can make you comfortable. And if we're getting divorced, I really don't care about your comfort. If there is a bit of revenge or blackmail or other stuff...well, I consider that a bonus." I'm sorry to say I smirked a little when I said that. Okay, not really sorry, but I felt a little bad...later. Much later. She took it less well. But women don't have much of a sense of humor sometimes.