The Ides of March

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Bill learns the truth after the divorce.
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Here you go loyal followers.

Another tale of cheating and woe.

Enjoy!

The Ides Of March

The divorce certificate arrived today. It was addressed to me, Bill Saunders. There was no fanfare, no personal courier, just a hastily folded manilla envelope stuffed into the small apartment mailbox housed in the apartment building's foyer. It wasn't unexpected. I had known that it would arrive eventually. The timing was in a sense prophetic. The tenth of March.

March was always a shitty month for me. My parents were killed in a car crash on March twentieth three years ago. Two of my uncles had died in March, albeit in more natural circumstances. It seemed that March was a month for deaths. The deaths of my family and now, the death of my marriage.

The last breath of my marriage was in March, but the terminal illness had started many months before.

We were both accountants and met in university. It was a whirlwind romance which surprised both of us with its intensity. We were both quite timid in nature and not wont to snap decisions, but there it was. Smill's Accounting Services gave us both jobs upon graduation and we soon settled into a comfortable existence with time for each other, an apartment close to our work and enough money to enjoy the occasional luxury. It was there, in that apartment, that the snake entered our lives.

We had been together as a married couple for about five years, when we began to get sucked into that first world dream of owning a large four-bedroom house in a safe suburb. It had to have all of the mod-cons, a two-car garage and room for a pool and entertainment deck out the back. It would be the centre of our social life, the centre of our future children's lives and be a symbol to all and sundry that we had made it, so to speak. We got sucked in good. Our post-coital cuddles and snuggles nearly always included extravagant plans for this dream existence.

There was only one problem. We didn't make enough money to afford even the deposit on such a building.

The solution to that problem made itself known to us via a company email, circulated to all employees. The company was expanding into forensic accounting and needed some volunteers to undergo training for this. One successful candidate would then be the company's lead auditor. Rochelle and I discussed the possibilities each night for weeks, until we finally agreed that I would try for it. Rochelle decided to stay in the general accounting hall as she felt comfortable there. The job they were offering attracted a huge increase in salary, mainly because it involved a great deal of travel and out-of-town overnight stays. There was no flight time available. All travel was in a company car.

After an initial training period, the four who completed that training were informed that I was the one chosen to do the work. I would be the one to start this new phase of company services. There were some mumbles and grumbles among the other three about my success and there was certainly no love lost among us.

Rochelle and I were ecstatic when I was chosen. Here was the way to achieve our long-held dream of living in yuppy heaven. Calculating our financial situation, which as accountants, was second nature to us, we realised that only eighteen months of this would see us through. We entered this new phase of our lives with hope, excitement and promise.

The reality soon hit home, however.

The nightly stay-aways became two nights, then three, then occasionally weekly. My reputation as an auditor grew immensely. It seemed that I had a real knack for it. The company, of course was extremely impressed with my efforts and paid me numerous bonusses for my efforts. Our financial situation improved immensely. That pot of gold we needed for our deposit on our dream purchase was filling faster than either Rochelle or I imagined. We often spoke about my long absences, but Rochelle assured me that it was fine, and besides, it was only for a short time.

However, the snake's venom was working its evil.

Over the last six months of my travelling, Rochelle and I were becoming more and more distant. I was always too tired from the travel and constant pressure to perform while on the road. Rochelle was getting used to me not being around. Often, when she had the weekend off, I would be on the road. When I had my two days off, Rochelle was at her normal work. We didn't even meet in the offices as I often arrived late from travelling and had to finish up the reports at the office after everyone had gone home. I very often didn't meet a soul from the office. That also meant getting home late with Rochelle already in bed. We were losing our connection, our intimacy. We were a couple who, early in our marriage, spent every spare minute together. We were inseparable. Our whole relationship was based on this abundance of time together, so when that started to disappear, our relationship began to change.

Cuddles turned into quick hugs. Kisses turned into pecks. Conversation turned into snipes about this and that. Fault was found everywhere. Peace was found apart. My time on the road was my solace. The rot had set in.

It was actually no surprise when one Saturday night, we found ourselves sitting quietly in the lounge, in separate lounge chairs, without anything to say to each other. We each looked into the other's eyes and knew. It was over. The love and dreams we shared were gone. We were once again two separate people simply living in the same house. I didn't know what Rochelle was thinking and she didn't ask about what was going through my mind.

The snake's path was set.

Divorce papers were signed without fanfare or acrimony. We both realised that challenging the inevitable only paid the solicitor's bills. The whole process was smooth and quick. Even the court appointed counselling was merely a formality. People often comment about the boring nature of accounting, so it came as no surprise that the whole divorce process between Rochelle and myself was clinical and, yes, boring! We both ended up with quite a stash of money from our savings and would be able to survive quite easily. Rochelle kept the house by signing into the mortgage and I simply moved into a one-bedroom apartment. She stayed where she was employment-wise, as did I. Even though we both worked for the same company still, it was like we were in different worlds. My travels kept me away from the main offices for most of the week. I had no desire to mix with the usual old co-workers and lost all contact with them. No office parties, no gossip in the tearoom. This arrangement suited me perfectly as it kept me away from Rochelle and her cohort.

So, here I was, just another guy drinking alone in a bar, breathing the same air as all the other patrons drinking alone. I wondered how many of us were here for the same reason. Pretending to be in company when we were all really alone has to be one of the saddest existences there is. That was me. I wasn't angry at our divorce. I wasn't bitter. I was just sad. All of our dreams had evaporated into thin air, just like that. Reflecting on the reasons, it was plain, even from the counselling sessions, that Rochelle and I had simply drifted apart. We lost time for each other. The snake's poison had tainted our dreams into a nightmare from which there was no escape.

My reverie was interrupted by a noisy pair of guys who entered my bar space and loudly ordered another round of drinks. I didn't know these guys, but I knew that they would soon impose their company on anyone sitting near them, which was me.

"Hey that Rochelle and Alan sure know how to throw a party," one guy said.

"Too right. I wonder why they took so long to get hitched. Did you get an eyeful of the bridesmaid on the end? She is a looker. Apparently, she works at Smills as well. Actually, I think all of the wedding party works there. That groom, lucky bastard, only started working there a year ago and immediately took a liking to Rochelle. God, what I would give to have one night with her under the sheets with me."

By now, my ears were burning and my breathing was so shallow, I thought I would suffocate. I needed to know more. "Hey, you two, mind if a lonely old drinker joins you?" I asked.

"No problem. Me and Jack here were just saying what a lucky bastard that Alan was. Sorry. You don't know who we are talking about, huh? Alan is an accountant at Smill's Accounting Services. So is his now wife, Rochelle. We were just at his wedding. He at long last made his claim on Rochelle legal and official. What a blast the wedding was. I think everyone from Smills was there. Do you know Smills? We all call it the SAS. Smills Accounting Services. We don't work there, but we drink at the same bar usually as the workers from there. Where do you work umm, buddy?"

"Call me Bill. I work as an auditor for a large accounting firm as well. Most people in the firm wouldn't know it though because I am on the road ninety-nine percent of the time. I only report to my boss and that is it. Tell me more about this wedding. Seems like it was a hoot."

"Yeah. We have known Rochelle and Alan for quite a while. About a year ago they started coming into the Pig and Whistle, you know, that little bar two streets away from the SAS building. We have been going there for years and so do most of the SAS workers. At first, they were just friendly drinkers, you know. They would come in, looking slightly worried, looking around all of the time, as if they were trying to hide or something. Fat chance of that though. Everyone at SAS knows what goes on there. They would have a quick drink and then go. Over the weeks that followed, they became much more friendly, if you know what I mean," he winked. "They would always find the most secluded corner of the bar and literally grope each other. Kissing became more frantic and many a patron wished they would simply get a room. Which they did, by the way. The Pig and Whistle provides some small rooms just to accommodate this type of situation. After a time upstairs, they would wander down and sit at the bar, quietly talking. That's how we got to know them."

My face must have betrayed my feelings as my new drinking buddy commented, "Hey are you OK buddy? I mean Bill. Here let me buy you a drink."

The beer arrived as he continued. "Yeah. Funny story that. Turns out that Rochelle was actually already married and she was worried that her husband would find out. Apparently, he was mostly away working. Alan saw his chance and slid into the vacant spot." Again, he winked. "Lucky bastard. He sure knows how to pick them. He had a bit of a rep before starting at SAS. He would always muscle into the married ladies. Always boasted that his strike rate was close enough to one hundred percent. Well, he sure struck gold with this one. He actually married this one as soon as she was able to divorce the poor cuckold."

They both laughed as they sipped their beers. Like a robot, I also sipped my beer. For all I was tasting, it could have been kerosine. "So, what you're telling me is that this Rochelle and Alan were carrying on an affair for almost a year before they finally married today?"

"You got it Bill. She wanted some strange and he wanted some forbidden pussy. A match made in heaven!" They roared with laughter again. "I sure feel sorry for the dumbass that she was married to while all this was going on. Their fucking got so obvious that they started frequenting a different bar because they were worried that cuckold husband would find out. He even worked for the same company apparently. Figure that! No one told him and he didn't see any of the carrying on. What a dipshit. The other workers who knew what was going on must have really liked Rochelle for not letting on to him about her affair. Some of the accountants harboured some ill feeling towards dipshit. Apparently, he took a highly-desired job which was on offer there. They didn't like that, so kept quiet about the blossoming affair. Anyway, when they got hitched, they remembered us and invited us as well. They had been planning this wedding for months, just waiting for the divorce to be officially done."

My beer was making my stomach turn, so I quickly exited the bar, making excuses as I left. I left a wad of notes on the bar for the next round for my two drinking buddies, I mean informants.

These revelations made my head spin. Rochelle was having an affair? And, it started as soon as I started travelling away. She didn't wait to stray. I always thought that her increasing distance was due to my away time. Was it actually because she had her mind on another man? A lover? They all knew at the office and no-one bothered to tell me. I must have been the laughingstock in the staffroom. The sideways glances, the muttered jokes. They were all at my expense. I am a dipshit for not picking up on any of it. I was a dumb cuckold who was too focussed on making those extra bonusses to be bothered with being a part of the conversations, or listening furtively for the details of the latest gossip.

The counselling sessions, where Rochelle and I confessed our growing distance and lack of connection, never included any mention of an affair or other man in her life. It was all just a lie. A great big lie. No untruth was told, but the truth was cruelly omitted.

My sadness began to turn to anger.

I had learned to accept the divorce as a natural process. An inevitable conclusion to a relationship which just faltered on the road. A no-blame ending. It happened all the time. This was different.

OK, the relationship still faltered, but not because of the stated circumstances. This was a betrayal. This was a cold, calculated betrayal of the worst kind. Rochelle had decided to step out as soon as she had an opportunity. My leaving on those road trips were just what she was waiting for. Was that why she was so excited at my job change? I thought it was because of our dream that she was so excited. All those nights, dreaming, talking about our future were all a lie. When did it start to go sour? How could I have been so blind, and for so long? Her assurance about my absences were also just so she could continue her affair with me out of the way conveniently.

I needed to talk to Rochelle. I needed answers.

This was not a conversation I was looking forward to. The message I left her about meeting up sometime soon must have sounded strange to her. We had parted without acrimony, so still had each other's contact details. I had not, however, contacted her at all since the separation six months ago. We just went on with our separate lives and let the legal people do their work. There was no contest or conflict during the divorce proceedings, so there was no actual need to talk to each other.

The reply I got was guarded, but she agreed to meet two weeks later, at a café which we used to go to quite a bit. I arrived first and sat in a seat which allowed me to see each person as they came in. Ten minutes of waiting, watching and there she was. She looked radiant as ever. Her beauty never ceased to make me stop and admire. Even now, with everything I had found out, she still made me stop. The comment from my two bar buddies came to mind. "Alan, that lucky bastard. What I wouldn't give, etc"

"Hi Bill. How have you been?" she tentatively asked, interrupting my thoughts.

I noticed her new wedding rings. "Fine. I hear congratulations are in order. When was the happy day? I would have thought that you would still have been on your honeymoon, you and Alan. How did he let you out of his sight so quickly?" The venom in my voice was very obvious. Rochelle quickly sat down and glanced around as if expecting someone to come up to her. She was not very comfortable.

"Yes. Two weeks ago. It was all so quick. When it was obvious that there was no me and you anymore, I met Alan and, well, here we are."

I paused and looked at her. The anger must have shown in my eyes because she turned away from them as soon as they met. She could not look me in the face.

"Rochelle, in all the time I have known you, I never thought that you could so blatantly lie."

"What do you mean Bill? I never,"

"You're doing it again," I interrupted. "Looking at your face, even now, I cannot see any sign of your deceit. You, at sometime, must have learnt to lie with a complete look of innocence on your face. It certainly fooled me. I admit I was a real dumbass. I was absolutely sucked into your deceit. You must have had a lot of fun thinking about how I so trustingly believed everything you said and did."

"That's not true Bill. I always told you the truth." She stopped and looked at me with those eyes and that face that I knew so well. There was no sign of guilt at all.

"Rochelle, we are divorced. You and I don't need to talk or relate on any level at all if we don't want to. And I no longer want to. I left our relationship thinking it was just inevitable. The sadness at how it ended was almost palatable because I always thought that it was neither of our faults, or the fault of both of us. I now know different."

She paled when I mentioned that. "What do you mean Bill?"

How could she do this? How could she continue the lie even when her betrayal could be exposed? Was she hoping that I didn't really know the truth of it?

"I now know that you and Alan started your affair the very week that I started my travels. I was away for one night at a time in those early days and you took that opportunity to step out on me. Today, right now, I still have trouble understanding how you could be so blatantly cruel to me and to our relationship. We had such dreams and you shattered them at the very first opportunity you had. All those nights we talked and dreamed together. They were all a lie. When Rochelle? When did it die for you? Our love that is."

She had the good grace to sigh. "I don't know Bill. I thought with you that I would be satisfied. Satisfied with a life which involved work, saving, having a family. For many years I was happy. The happiest that I have ever been. But for some inexplicable reason, that sense of satisfaction melted. I kept up the charade because that was just what was done. It happened to married couples all the time. Other women at work often mentioned their need to experience more and we would all listen with envy to those who did just that. I guess the idea grew into a fantasy. A secret fantasy. It overwhelmed me to such an extent that as soon as I had the opportunity, I did something about it. Many of the women in the hall encouraged me to go for it. Not that it was their fault. It was always my decision, but a decision made easier by lack of accusing looks from those around me. Alan was there. He arrived just as you started your trips. He was handsome and suave. All the women drooled over him, including me. I would daydream just looking at him. I would actually get turned on during these daydreams. He seemed to sense my attraction to him. He was always in my face, complementing me, listening to me, making me laugh. Becoming involved with him was so easy. Your trips away made it so easy for me. It was like I was two different people in those early days. When I was with Alan, you didn't exist. I was not the married Mrs Saunders. When I was with you, Alan didn't exist. However, as my relationship with Alan deepened, the married Mrs Saunders disappeared and my mind was only on Alan. I fell in love with him. It wasn't just a fleeting illicit roll in the hay."

She again paused and looked down at her hands resting on the table. She must have thought that her explanation was enough.

I was so angry, I was afraid that I would hit out at her. I knew that if I didn't leave soon, that lash out would become a reality. "You selfish, lying bitch!" I spat out. "You whoring, cheating cow. You have turned my love for you into a festering sore of hatred. You turned something that I thought was good and pure into a cauldron of piss and muck. You simply betrayed our love for each other for what? For the opportunity which so kindly presented itself? That snake, Alan, was there. He was there, so you decided to spread your legs for him! Well, I was also there. You could have spoken to me about your desires and we could have worked through it. But, No! You just turned away at the first opportunity and ditched me and our love. At least I thought it was love. Obviously not. You had no trust in me. Trust that I would listen and help you. You have no idea of the hurt which your cruelty has caused me. I hope that every time he came in you, or on you, turns into a cancer which eats out your soul piece by hurting piece."

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