Pete Dalrymple trudged from his office to his car. It was hot, damn hot. It was the middle of August in eastern Texas. The sun beat down with an intensity surpassed only by desert sun. He walked up to his two year old F150 and opened the door. He felt like stepping back when the heat from inside the cab blasted into his face.
Wearily he climbed into the cab and started the engine. He left the door open and turned the air conditioner and fan on high. Pete sat, door open, vehicle running for a couple minutes to force some of the superheated air out of the cab. He then closed the door, fastened his seatbelt and began the long journey home. The drive really wasn't that long—only about 25 minutes at the right time of day. Rush hour traffic in Dallas nearly doubled that number most days. This day, like many since the July 4th weekend, he was in no hurry to get back to his house.
He and his wife Emily were supposed to go out and eat supper with his best friend, Ryan Scott, and his wife Vicky. Normally that would not have been something that bothered Pete. He used to look forward to, hell, even set up, evenings with the Scotts. He and Ryan had been friends since starting college together at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater over ten years before.
In his second year of college Pete broke up with what he then thought of as the love of his life. Pete moped around for almost five weeks before Ryan and his then girlfriend Vicky decided to improve his life. They were tired of his unhappiness and attitude. Ryan bullied him into a double date with them that included Vicky's best friend and dorm room mate, Emily. Pete and Emily clicked. Oh, it wasn't immediate. She was put off by his attitude initially but over the course of several weeks Ryan and Vicky put them together enough that they began to see the good points of each other. Pete asked Emily for another date and, to his surprise, she accepted. They married a week after they all graduated college.
Pete had been happy as the proverbial bug in a rug until recently. He was upset about many things in his life right now. He thought he knew how to solve the problems but he really, really hated to do it. His job sucked. He hated working in the corporate world and he hated "Big D" also. He decided he was going to quit and move farther east to a small plot of ground he purchased without Emily's knowledge last month. For the last three years his dream was to purchase a small plot of land outside town. Emily always vehemently refused to even consider it. This time he didn't even ask her. He just bought a small 25 acre farm with an older modular home on it. There was a small stream running through it and the land was on the bank of a small lake to boot. He intended to move there next week. After he unwound he would look for a more interesting job.
Finally, Pete arrived home. He walked inside the house and sighed in relief. Even running full out the truck air conditioner had trouble keeping up with the sun beaming through the windshield onto Pete as he drove. The blast of cold air hit him in the face like a Mack truck. That was another point of friction between him and Emily. He wanted to keep the house temperature near 74 in the summer and wear lighter or no clothes. She wanted to keep it at 68 and dress warmer, then she would complain when she went outside and it was too hot.
It was already 6:30 in the evening. Emily was nearly dressed and was waiting impatiently for Pete to arrive so they could leave. Their reservations at the restaurant were for 7:30. It was a 45 minute drive to get there. "Damn it, Pete," Emily said, "couldn't you have left work a little early today? If you don't hurry we're going to be late now."
"No, I couldn't leave early. I had things I had to do. I got here as soon as I could. I told you when you set the time you should have made the reservations for eight. I won't be long. I just want to rinse off and get into some more comfortable clothes."
Fifteen minutes later Pete was back downstairs ready to go. Emily had been alternately sitting down then standing and pacing back and forth the entire time Pete was getting ready. Every so often she would yell up the stairs for Pete to hurry. When he looked at her Pete saw her face was drawn and tense with anger. Her lips were tightly pressed together.
Pete didn't say anything. He merely walked to the door, opened it, and walked outside. Emily glared at him and followed angrily behind. She slammed the door behind her. Her anger spiked once again when she saw Pete walk to his huge 4X4 truck and climb in. He knew she hated to ride in that damn truck. There was absolutely no way she could get into it like a lady. Even the step provided hit her just below her knee. She had to literally climb and pull herself into her seat. She thought about making a scene then decided not to do so. Pete was like a lion with a thorn in his paw the last several weeks. She decided she had pushed him enough for this evening. Emily was really getting tired of pussy footing around him but didn't want to spoil the evening.
Pete and Emily arrived at the restaurant almost ten minutes late. When they got inside, Ryan and Vicky were already seated and half way through their first drink. Emily rushed to the table and began apologizing for their tardiness. "I'm sorry we're so late, Ryan," she said. "Pete didn't leave his precious job early enough to get here on time."
Vicky sat and watched Pete and Emily. She knew something was wrong between them beside Pete's alleged tardiness this evening. She had been getting vibes now since early summer but when she questioned Emily all she was told was that Pete was being an asshole recently. Vicky was sad because the tension Emily was under seemed to be affecting the relationship between her and Emily also.
The meal was excellent as usual but none of the four enjoyed it as much as they usually did. There was an underlying current of almost hostility with a pinch of disrespect thrown in between Pete, Emily and, surprisingly, Ryan.
Just as he was finishing his meal Vicky saw Pete look toward another table in the restaurant. He stared at the two men sitting there and clenched his jaw. He nodded his head slightly. Emily and Ryan didn't seem to notice the byplay. They were talking to each other and laughing off and on all evening and were still hard at it. They got louder after every drink. They were drinking twice as much as Vicky this evening. Vicky frowned and looked at Pete's face. As far as she knew he was still on his first drink. He had not even had any wine with his meal. That was unusual. He normally kept up with her at least.
Vicky reached out and gently touched Pete's forearm. She had a concerned look on her face. She asked, "Pete, is something wrong? You've been acting strange all evening. I saw you look over at those men and clench your jaws just now. Is there a problem with them or at your work?"
"No, Vicky. Work is just work. I'm fed up with it and need a change. When I looked at those two men I just remembered a conversation I had with them earlier today. Some of the people at work seem to hold different opinions about the topic we were discussing today. Those two agreed with my sentiments."
"What were you discussing, Pete?"
"Oh, we know of someone who is cheating on their spouses and we were discussing whether or not the innocent spouse should be told. What do you think, Vicky? If Ryan over there was cheating on you would you want someone to tell you?"
By then Ryan and Emily were listening to the conversation. Pete turned slightly toward them and repeated the question. "If your spouse was cheating on you would you want someone to tell you?"
Emily glared at Pete and said, "You're damn straight I would want to know. I would burn your ass if you ever cheated on me." Ryan looked slightly sick and kept his mouth shut.
Pete turned back to Vicky and said, "Well, we know what Em thinks. How about you? Would you want to know Vicky?" For some reason Ryan was looking more ill all the time. He was glaring at Emily and shaking his head no." Emily however, was on a tear. She was pissed at Pete and decided to put more than her two cents into this conversation.
Emily began speaking before Vicky could answer Pete's question. She said, "Is that what your problem has been lately Pete? You're cheating on me and now you're afraid someone is going to tell me. Is that why you nodded your head to those two men over there? Well, let me tell you buster, if I ever find out you're cheating on me it will be all over. I'll take you for everything I can and ruin your reputation if I can. No one deserves to be cheated on and no one deserves to have it overlooked if they do."
Vicky sat there in shock listening to Emily's tirade. When Emily stopped talking Pete just looked at Vicky and raised his eyebrows. Vicky took a deep breath. She felt a little spark of fear in the pit of her stomach. All at once she wasn't enjoying the meal and evening as much. She looked over at the two men then back to Pete. She licked her lips and said, "Yes, I think so. If it was only once, an accident so to speak, maybe no, but if it was an affair or even just once but with several women, then yes, I would want someone to tell me so I could get rid of the cheating husband."
Pete turned his gaze on Ryan. He said, "Well, Ryan, both the women would want to be told. I would also. How about you? So far almost everyone who has discussed this said they wanted to know if their spouse was cheating on them."
Ryan looked around the table and gently shook his head no. Pete saw that and jumped on it. He asked, "No? You shook your head no just then. You really wouldn't want to know if Vicky was cheating on you?"
Finally, Ryan glared back at Pete and said, "Yes. OK? Yes, I would want to know if the bitch cheated on me so I could throw her ass to the curb. Is that what you wanted to hear, Pete? Or are you trying to tell me something else?"
Emily raised her head and looked at Pete. All at once she felt a surge of fear run through her. Pete never looked at her, however. Pete raised his head and held his hand out to the two men he had been watching earlier. They were now both standing beside the table. They had large manila envelopes in their hands. One handed an envelope to Pete.
Pete looked at the men and gave them a sick smile. He quickly introduced everyone at the table then took the proffered envelope and turned to Vicky. He held the envelope out to her and said, "I'm sorry, Vicky. I would have wanted to know also, and no, it wasn't just a onetime thing. I don't know when it started but I have known about it since the 4th of July BBQ down on the lake. I have pictures and the surveillance report from a PI in here for you. My lawyer's card is also there if you want to use him for a divorce."
Ryan stood so fast his chair fell over. He glared at Pete and snarled, "You asshole. You just had to do it didn't you? You couldn't just leave well enough alone could you?" Ryan started for the door while Vicky sat at the table crying. The man with two envelopes handed one to the other man and took out after Ryan. When he caught up with him he handed him the envelope and said, "You are served, Mr. Scott. This envelope contains a restraining order keeping you away from the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Dalrymple. It also contains a court order requiring you to return all the tools, the boat and other personal possessions as listed that Mr. Dalrymple has loaned you. It also contains the legal documents calling the $100,000 loan Mr. Dalrymple made to you when you started your business. As you may remember, the note is due and payable in full as of the last day of this month unless voluntarily extended by both parties. Mr. Dalrymple has opted not to extend the loan. He reminds you that if you do not pay the loan in full before the due date he has the option of taking over your business. He fully intends to do so if you do not repay the loan. Have a good evening, sir."
Ryan's face turned white. He looked up at the man and said, "But I can't repay him now. We agreed he would just extend the note when it was due. I'll lose everything if he does that!"
"Well, sir, I am Mr. Dalrymple's attorney and I can assure you he fully intends to do just that. I have seen no written extension of the loan and I am sure considering the circumstances I won't, will I sir?"
At the same time Ryan and Pete's attorney were talking, Emily was being served with divorce papers. When asked if she was Emily Dalrymple she merely nodded her head yes. She sat silently crying when the man handed her the envelope with the documents inside.
Vicky sat with tears running down her cheeks. She looked over at her ex roommate and friend. She asked, "How could you do this to me, Emily? I thought we were friends."
Pete reached out and held Vicky's hand. He said, "That's a really good question, Vicky. I'm pretty sure this isn't a recent thing either. I think the affair just got out of hand since the July 4th weekend. From some of the conversations my PI taped, Emily and Ryan have been off and on lovers since before we got married. Remember how tight the three of you were while you were in college? Remember how we used to worry about how close a friendship they had? I'm pretty sure they were fucking each other back then but I don't have any proof."
Ryan was standing about five feet from the table still. He looked dejected, beaten. When Pete stood to leave he reached for Pete's sleeve. He said, "Please, Pete. Don't do this to me. If you call the loan I'll lose it all."
Pete looked at Ryan and said, "Tough. I thought we were friends and if we had been, if you hadn't done what you and Emily did, you wouldn't be in this position now. It all comes down to the two of you. It was interesting though to listen to the two of you tell me it was my duty to tell Vicky about your cheating. That was a hoot. I really wasn't sure if I would. I wasn't sure until after I did it that she didn't know about the two of you. You were always so tight and all."
Pete turned to Vicky who had gasped when he told Ryan he thought she might have been involved. He said, "Vicky, I'm sorry about that but I really didn't know for sure. I was pretty sure when I saw the PI reports because they didn't talk like you knew when they were together. You were never with them but they didn't seem too worried about you finding out either. That worried me. Several times they worried about me finding out and what I would do, but you were never mentioned. I began to wonder if you knew about them and accepted their cheating."
Pete smiled and continued, "Any way, I did what both of them said I should do. I told you about your husband cheating on you. Sort of poetic justice don't you think?"
Pete gently touched Vicky's shoulder and asked, "Do you want me to take you home? I'm leaving now."
Vicky stood and followed Pete out. Neither looked at their beaten spouses. After they left the noise level in the restaurant slowly rose once more to its normal level. As Pete walked out with Vicky he thought about what he was going to do with his new business. He really didn't want to operate a landscaping company but from all he saw it was a real money maker. If he could believe Ryan his profits were almost $18,000 more a year than Pete made working at his old job.