tagLoving WivesIslands in the Stream

Islands in the Stream

bydtiverson©

I'm killing two metaphoric birds with a single figurative stone here. A bunch of you wanted me to take-up the righteous rod of retribution and smite the two sinners from A Sea Change; while a few readers also wanted me to push my "Totally Unromantic Love Story" series into the next generation. One of you had a really bright idea about how to do that. So, this is for you Rick at rkv330.

Before you waste both of our time; I know that the original "A Sea Change" is embedded in the front of this. I had to make a few necessary changes in order to merge the first version with this longer one, so I included it. Nevertheless, if you REALLY don't want to read that story again, just skip to the section titled, "In the Land of Nod."

Finally, everything that I have written here is possible, happens every day and could happen to you tomorrow. It's not sci-fi. It's just everyday life in the digital village. So sleep well - DT


*****

EAST OF EDEN

The Tempter's name was "Vanity." And my wife was far too easily seduced.

All her life Heather had been cute, but a little chubby. So, after the kids left home she started exercising. It was just to kill time at first. Then things changed - drastically! The more she worked out, the shapelier she got. Her body became her obsession. And she was reborn a goddess.

That was when the flirting began. For the first twenty-two years of our marriage, we were a companionable and loving couple. We stood together at social events. We danced with each other at parties. Now, there was such a wide disparity, between my smoking-hot wife and her out of shape, middle-aged husband, that we went in opposite directions.

Heather had her pick of attractive men. It was never just one guy. She talked and danced with ALL of them. At the same time, she rarely graced her former friends with her presence. The friends went from being insulted, to cutting me pitying looks.

But seriously - what could I do? Her behavior wasn't overtly disloyal. She might dance with guys who were younger, fitter and more attractive than me. But there was never any real romance. She just looked like she was having fun. Needless to say, she was also happier than I ever remembered.

I was willing to ride it out. I had heard of middle-aged-crazy. And I hoped that this too would soon pass. Nonetheless, it eventually became clear that Heather's newfound empowerment had changed her in fundamental ways. First there was the narcissism. Heather couldn't stop looking at herself - and playing with her body. Then there was the ego. She was a trophy now, and she knew it. She just radiated, "I can get any man." Notwithstanding the serious disrespect that showed me, the other wives hated her. Heather didn't deign to notice

Heather's sudden, dramatic trip off the rails was easy to understand. One moment she was an average American housewife. The next, she was an object of lust for a pack of alpha-males. The radical transition from homemaker to love goddess would skew anybody's perception of themselves vis-à-vis the world. All the same, this new reality started to impact her decision making. And that invited the Serpent into the Garden.

She appeared downstairs one auspicious Friday morning. I was enjoying a breakfast bagel. Her hair was tousled and she was wearing her ratty old robe. She got a cup of coffee and sat down opposite me. I recognized the stubborn look. I thought, "Oh-oh!! This can't be good!!" She said, "Tom, there is something I need to talk to you about." Those words are not anything that a husband wants to hear. So I put my bagel down and looked attentive.

She said, "I have never had my own identity. I have always been Tommy Jr. and Suzie's mom and your wife. But now, I have transformed myself I am my own woman." She stopped and waited for the obvious question. I said, "And exactly what does THAT mean?"

She said, "I was a wallflower when we met. I had boyfriends. But I was just middling. In fact, I think it was our mutual lack of personal charisma that made us so compatible. And we have led an utterly unremarkable life for the past twenty-two years."

She stood up and opened her robe. She was naked underneath. Her toned thighs, tight flanks, hard stomach, and big firm tits were extraordinary. She ran her hands down her superb body and said with pride, "I'm not a wallflower anymore." She closed her robe and sat down again.

She looked at me like she was willing me to understand. She said, "Men hit on me all the time. I ignore them because I love you. But one special man has offered to take me to an extraordinary place." She paused, dropped her head and said in a whisper, "And God forgive me, but I am going to take him up on his offer."

I had already guessed where this conversation was headed. And I was angry. But I put a lid on my temper and said, "So what does THAT mean?" She looked at me pleadingly and said, "You don't know him. We met at the club. And since then we have had several lunches together. During that time, he has been a perfect gentleman."

I said bitterly, "Meaning he hasn't tried to fuck you yet." She looked disgusted and said, "There is no need to be vulgar. It isn't like that. He's older and very rich and worldly. All he wants is my companionship." I looked incredulous. So she quickly added, "He asked me to accompany him to Paris next week. And I am going to go with him. It would just be this one time. He's married."

I said, "Let me get this straight. You know that he's married. And perhaps you'll recall that you're married too? Isn't that the textbook definition of adultery?" She looked exasperated and said, "It isn't like that. I am only going to be with him on this single occasion. It's a once in a lifetime chance. After that I will be yours forever. And I will make it up to you. You'll see."

She added earnestly, "But I have to have one, extraordinary memory to paste in my scrapbook - before time takes this away from me." And she gestured down her body again. Her tone told me that she had been obsessing about aging. I said, "That's bullshit Heather. This guy isn't a gentleman and what he's proposing isn't romantic. All he wants to do is fuck you. And all YOU are going to get out of this are some great orgasms and a few souvenirs of Paris." I stopped and added, trying to sound more resolute than I felt, "Because I'm not going to be here when you return."

She looked scornful and said, "Don't say that Tom. You love me. I know you do. And you will let me do this because we love each other. It isn't like I am sneaking behind your back. Just let me have this one starry-eyed fling and you will never regret it."

She was wrong. I already regretted it. I took her left hand in both of mine and played meaningfully with her wedding ring. I said with sincerity, "I love you. Counting the courtship, we have had twenty-four fantastic years together. And we have two wonderful kids. So all I can do is beg you. Please don't do this."

She looked sad and said, "I will always love you Tom. And we are going to grow old together spoiling our grandchildren. But I am leaving for Paris on Monday." That shot a thunderbolt of pure angst through me. I said imploringly, "Is there any way I can talk you out of this?" She gave me the kind of patronizing look that a mother might give a naïve child and said with resolve, "It IS going to happen. The arrangements have already been made."

I stood up without another word and walked out the front door. She called "Tommmm." It was the same whiny tone that teenagers use when a parent is being unreasonable. I kept going. I drove to the county park. I am not a crier. But my stomach was doing flip-flops. I opened the car door and deposited the bagel in the parking lot. I wiped my mouth and sat there looking across the same green lawn that I had watched my kids play on eons ago.

You never think it will happen to you. So you never have a plan.

I considered my situation. I had nowhere to go. Where would I stay? I make decent money. But with two kids in college and an upper middle class lifestyle, we barely scrape by. We had very little savings and our credit cards were close to maxed. I have no family, no close friends. In short it was either remain in the house, or sleep in the car.

Heather knew our financial state. I think that was one of the reasons why she was so sure that she could pull-off this little stunt. Hopelessness, alienation and a sense of utter loneliness descended on me like a cloud of mustard gas. I said to myself, "I invested my emotional life in this woman. And now she is holding me for ransom???!!"

That realization brought me back from the brink, and stiffened my spine. I am not a person who will gracefully accept victimhood. And I am decisive in my business dealings. So if Heather could make unilateral decisions, I could too. But first I wanted to get some free legal advice.

I called Jim Edgerton. He is a friend and a lawyer. I said, "Jim! Tommy Meissner here." There was a short pause. He said, "What's up Tom?" I laughed and said, "I was calling to see if you knew a good lawyer?" He said, "Need divorce advice?" It was a statement, not a question. I said, "It sounds like you expected this." Jim said, "Regrettably yes... Heather has been seen around town with Charlie Wilkins. You know him."

Of course I knew him. Everybody in town knew HIM. He was CEO at the area's main employer. He was sixtyish, tall, distinguished, a pillar of the community and a well-known dirty old man. His wife was Maeve Wilkins. Her blessing made your reputation. And her disapproval turned you into a social pariah. I thought to myself, "Heather, what have you gotten yourself into?"

The house was empty when I arrived home. Heather was either at the club, or having "lunch." I assumed that it was still JUST lunch. Wilkins was far too visible for an afternoon-delight. That was the whole point of the Paris trip. She was already starting to pack. The nighties and sexy underthings were a revelation. I had never seen anything like THAT before. It cemented the reality. I had to sit down for a second.

I was pretending to read a book when she breezed in. She was stunning in her fancy work-out gear. I would probably look that good too, if corporate America didn't keep me chained to a desk for forty hours a week. She walked toward the stairs, humming a happy little ditty. Then she saw me. She looked delighted. She came over, stood in front of me and said, "Let me get a shower and you can join me."

It was obvious that her motor was running. I glanced up - like she had interrupted me - and said, "I'd love to. But I'm at a really exciting part in this novel so I'm afraid that I am going to have to take a pass." She got it. She said, "Don't be such a pouty puss!! This is STILL all yours." Her body was amazing in her tight workout clothes. I looked at her with what I hoped was neutral interest and said, "Seriously!! I'll pass." For a second she was angry and maybe a little hurt. Then she got a look of determination. She said, "Fine!! Act that way!! It isn't going to change anything!!" And she stomped upstairs.

The weekend was agonizing. Heather kept up the pretense that the following week was no big deal. And she treated me like I was a naughty little boy for attempting to spoil her fun. Worse she acted like her "fling" wouldn't change things. I avoided the delusional bitch as much as I could. She was literally a different person now. And that individual had no soul.

She tried to give me a pity fuck. She even trotted out a few of the items that she was reserving for Dickbreath. It didn't have the slightest effect. I rationalized my bizarre lack of feeling as the consequence of shock. The circumstance was unthinkable. And it would take me a while to process the reality of it. THEN I would experience the pain.

Pride is the deadliest sin. Heather knew that her body was gorgeous. But it also had an expiration date. So in her particular version of the fairy-tale, Prince Charming would whisk her away for a passionate week of romance. THAT would prove once-and-for-all that she was the fairest in the land. THEN she could return triumphantly to her husband, feeling validated. And of course my state of mind didn't factor into her narrative...

Heather's self-involved behavior might have been triggered by the kids moving out. An empty nest marks the end of an era for a woman. Especially for a devoted mother like she was. Maybe she inventoried her life and felt like it was her turn. Or maybe she just went nuts. Whatever the reason, the Heather that I loved would never be so spectacularly selfish.

Her hazy grasp of reality wasn't the scariest part. She honestly believed that I would accept her "little indiscretion." And that we would immediately move past it because we "loved each other." She was dead wrong in that respect. Plain and simple I couldn't love a woman who thought that adultery was an integral part of her personal growth process.

Heather tried to talk about it on Sunday night. I think she just wanted to get me on-board with the idea before she left. But I had reached the end of talking. I said, "There is no excuse for what you are doing." I looked at her intently and asked, "Do you realize how utterly out of character this is? And how drastically life-changing this step is for both of us? You are throwing away twenty-two years of marriage, two kids and a happy home for a one-week fling."

She looked at me like I was being unreasonably cruel. Then she said with affection in her voice, "You don't really mean THAT. Your male ego is just a little bruised. But you'll get over it. When I get back I am going to make you the happiest man on earth. You'll see. This beautiful body will be all yours. And I'll love you all the more for letting me do this."

Whew!! Talk about full of yourself. I am not the kind of guy whose first thought is violence. But I could get in touch with the fellows who shoot the wife and her lover.

On the big morning, I was sitting at the breakfast table drinking my coffee. Heather came downstairs very excited. I didn't say a word. She was dressed to kill. She had on a modest skirt and three inch heels for travel. But she had her magnificent girls hoisted on display in a deeply scooped silk blouse with a light blazer over the top. The cleavage was spectacular.

She came bustling over to me. I think she was planning on an ardent send-off. It would fit her narrative. This was the part in the story where the adoring husband is so thrilled that the beautiful wife is going off to sow her wild oats, that he gives her a loving kiss goodbye. I didn't bother to stand up. So she had to settle for a peck on the cheek. Her anger at my spoilsport behavior was clearly evident.

At that point a horn blew. She looked delighted and squealed, "He's here." At least she had the decency to keep the son-of-a-bitch out of the house. She grabbed her roller-bag and rushed excitedly out the front door, leaving it ajar. I went over to close it.

She had just reached the limo. He was waiting there, looking handsome, tall, and distinguished. She put both hands on his chest and stood on tip toes to kiss him. It was the sort of loving greeting that a woman would give her long-time husband.

Except her husband was standing in the doorway behind her. Wilkins looked up at me. And then his eyes crinkled. He had done this before - a LOT. And he found it amusing. Heather turned and waved gaily as she got in the back. I didn't wave in return. Instead I shut the door on twenty-two years of marriage. That was not without significant pain.

As they say - today was the first day of the rest of my life; which was total bullshit. As far as I was concerned, the road ahead ended in nothing but a wasteland of betrayed expectations. Yet, strangely I managed to work effectively. The part of me that wasn't invested in Heather was devoted to my job. And it was soothing to wallow in the familiar rhythms of an ordinary workday.

I had made a conscious decision to shut Heather out of my thinking. Which was successful right up to the point where she sent me a breezy text telling me that they had gotten off okay. It was a stunning tribute to how out of touch she was. I was afraid that she might continue to send me pictures. So, I took myself over to the local Apple dealer and bought myself a new phone. I backed over my old one as I left the parking lot. Then I combed the local want-ads for a place that I could get into - immediately!!

In the long term, I was probably headed for bankruptcy. But in the short term I had plenty of cash. That's because, I make lots of money and I had decided to stop paying for anything that was associated with my old life. As the song goes, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

In fact, I was feeling so liberated that I invested in a double-wide. You can stuff all of your jokes about trailer parks. My new place was close to work. It had excellent parking, a nice deck and it was three times bigger than any of the apartments that I had looked into. The furnishings were brand new - if not a little tacky. And my neighbors were the social security set, not a biker gang. So it was quiet as a grave - in some respects, close to literally if you catch my drift.

On Tuesday I moved all of my portable stuff into my new residence. My last night in our McMansion was ghastly. Every ghost and haunting memory of happier days paraded through my dreams. The pain was excruciating. Then, in the morning I cast off my married chains and I was reborn - exactly like my faithless wife.

~

There was a front-page story in the Tribune the following Monday. It was under a banner headline that read, "Playtime in Paris!!" There was even a picture of the two adulterers looking ambushed, as they cleared Customs. The gory details were plastered all over a three-day news cycle. The coverage included a raft of rumor and innuendo about Wilkins's other "alleged" affairs. The whole sordid mess made for fascinating reading. And it even got some national coverage.

I don't know what Wilkins thought was going to happen. Maybe he just assumed I would be honored to have the horns hung on me. Or perhaps he thought that he was too powerful to be affected by a nonentity like me. Either way, he had a lot to learn about the price of hubris. He had forgotten about the "gotcha" vibe that permeates the Fourth Estate. The media craves red meat. And, there is nothing like a juicy scandal to sell papers. So I leveraged Wilkins's OWN community prominence, to release the baying hounds of the press. It just took a couple of phone calls and some straightforward facts.

I don't move in Charlie and Heather's circles. So I don't know the actual details. Wilkins stayed married. But, I heard that his wife took a lover, at least that was what the tabloids said. I knew for SURE that Wilkins Board of Directors, forthwith shipped him to the pasture; he had become an embarrassing presence as the man in charge. There was the usual golden handshake and Charlie Wilkins was consigned to the ranks of the idle rich. I had conflicting thoughts. His career was ruined. I had caused that. But the fucker could still afford trips to Paris.

~

Heather started calling me at the opening of business on Tuesday. She must have tried to get ahold of me on Monday. But that phone had tire tracks on it. I knew that I would have to talk to her sooner or later. So I bit the bullet and answered. I said in my most professional tone, "Tommy Meissner, how may I help you?" Her anger was barely contained. She said, "Where have you been!!??? I called all day yesterday and you didn't answer your phone?!!"

I said conversationally, "So how was Paris? You looked really good in the pictures." She said furiously, "Where are you? Where are your things? Why aren't you home?" I laughed merrily and said, "What part of I won't be there when you get back didn't you understand?" There was a long pause. She said somewhat chastened, "I didn't think you meant it. There is no way you would just walk away from twenty-two years of happy marriage."

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