What was so special about May 17th? Nothing really. It wasn't my wife's birthday, our anniversary, or even the first day we met; it was just your average run of the mill Tuesday, and that's why I picked it.
My name is Keith and my marriage to Lisa after 12 years was starting to get a little stale, or should I say predictable. It's not like I didn't love her, she and the kids were still the most important things in my life. However, that little spark, she use to have in her eye, when I mentioned lovemaking seemed to be missing lately. So being the hopeless romantic I am, I decided to give her an evening she'd never forget.
Monday morning at work, I pulled out the big guns, Cathy, Sheryl and Karen; three of the hottest single women at work.
"Alright ladies, if you could script the most romantic night of your life, what would it be?" I asked them.
They all started rattling off about midnight getaways to Paris, making love in a gondola in Venice or watching the sunset from a hot tub over looking the Swiss Alps.
"Easy girls," I told them. "I'm thinking more of a romantic night at home, or in one of the hotels downtown; something that won't break my bank account."
By noon, they'd come back with a list of ideas that were now more in my price range. I thanked them, bought them lunch and set down to make my plans.
They seemed to be almost as excited as I was, jumping up and down telling me I'd better not blow it because they now had a stake in how my evening would turn out. "Look, I'll supply the donuts, you guys bring the coffee and I'll tell you what she thought about it Thursday morning; well maybe not everything though" I said with a wicked smile.
The first thing I did, was to get Wednesday afternoon off so I could have everything in place before she got home. While I normally got home just before six, Lisa was always home by three thirty, so she could meet the kids as they got off the school bus.
Tuesday night, I told Lisa that my parents wanted to take the kids out to dinner and a show Wednesday; so they probably wouldn't be home until after 8:00 that night. The kids were even more excited when I told them that I had a surprise for their mom and that they'd really be spending the night with grandma and grandpa; my parents always spoiled them rotten.
I left work Wednesday at about 11:30, with my trusty list in hand. Let's see, time off, kids at moms; check and check. Next came the trip to the store. Let's see, a mushy card, tons of good chocolate and her favorite wine. The girls had given me an entire checklist of everything to do, all the way down to lighting and mood music.
The florist looked at me strange when I asked her for two pounds of rose petals, that is, until I told her what I was going to do with them. "You must really love your wife to go to all this trouble for her," she said as I left red rose petals in hand.
Finally I made dinner reservations for 8:00 at Lisa's favorite steak house. I thought that by 8:00 we'd need some nourishment, and if we decided to cancel, I'd make sure we had steaks in the refrigerator to grill on the patio.
Things were finally all starting to come together. I came home, hid my car around the back of the house and brought everything into the kitchen. "Let's see, 2:30, that gives me an hour to get every thing set up," I said to myself.
For the next hour, I iced the wine in the freezer, made a huge heart on the bed with rose petals and taking the chocolate bits, I spelled out the words "I LUV U" in the center. I filled the garden tub in the bathroom with water and sprinkled the rest of the rose petals on the top of the bubbling water. "T minus 20 minutes and counting," I said as I looked at my watch.
On my side of the bed, I put the wine in an ice bucket and on her night table I propped up the card next to her reading light. I dimmed the overhead lights, opened the bottle of wine and poured two glasses. I placed our portable cd player on the dresser and figured I'd start it after she came into the bedroom.
The last thing I did was to shower, shave and strip naked; "no use both of us having to get undressed," I said to myself. At 3:25 sharp, I heard her car pull up; I was more than ready.
I closed the bedroom door, stood at the foot of the bed naked, holding two glasses of wine and waited for her to come upstairs.
I heard muffled laughter and what sounded like a herd of horses coming up the stairs as they burst through the bedroom door. Yes, I said they; Lisa and her boss Rick.
Do you know how long 4.75 seconds is? It's like one huge gasp as your eyes meet hers, or three beats of a broken heart but just enough time to kill a romantic mood and trash a marriage.
It took Lisa's brain 1.5 seconds to determine something was different as she ran into our bedroom; with her shirt opened and her bra already off. Her brain then sent an impulse, to her voice box, which took approximately 2.0 seconds for her to mouth the words, "oh my god," and finally, 1.25 seconds to realize she was fucked; so to speak. If it wasn't the world record for trashing a marriage, it had to be close second.
Rick, seeing what was going down, turned tail and ran to the front door; he was gone in less than 45 seconds. I on the other hand, watched as Lisa starts to cry and fall to her knees.
I dump the contents of both glasses on the bed, walk over to my closet and start to get dressed; all the while listening to Lisa tell me how sorry she was, and how much she loved me.
It took me about five minutes to get dressed and tell her that it would be in her best interest if she was gone before I got back. I went downstairs, got in my car and left for the nearest place I could get a drink.
So here I sit at Tony's, finishing off my fourth beer wondering what my next move will be. At 6:30 I went back to my now quiet and empty house. The front door was unlocked and Lisa's car is nowhere to be found. After a quick piss downstairs, I head up to what use to be our bedroom.
Everything was pretty much like it was when I left. The garden tub was still running, wine, card, chocolate, were still there; untouched. Lisa's closet was open and so were a few drawers on her dresser. I sat on the bed and tried to clear my head as my cell phone rang. I turn it off without answering, because I wasn't in any mood to talk to anyone right now.
"I knew I should have replaced that mattress in the spare room," I said to myself as I woke up the following morning. I went through the motions of showering, shaving and getting myself off to work but I was more like a zombie as I made my way to my office.
"Well how did it go?" screamed all three girls as they ran into my office. "By the way you look, it must have been one hell of a night," Karen said with a giggle, elbowing the other two.
"Oh that it was," I replied as I gave them the short version of last night.
"Bitch," Cathy said a little too loudly.
"What are you going to do?" Sheryl asked.
"Survive and take care of my kids," I muttered. "So, if you don't mind, please keep quiet about this, I don't want to be the laughing stock of the whole office," I told them.
They left, telling me how sorry they were, and that if I needed someone to talk to they were there for me. I thanked them and closed my office door.
Bank accounts, credit cards, life insurance policies, 401K; they were all closed or changed by 9:30 that morning. The next was a hard call to my parents telling them that Lisa and I were having a few problems, and I asked them if they could keep the kids until the weekend. They were sorry to hear about it, and were more than happy to watch the kids.
Checking my cell phone, I had twenty messages from Lisa; I trashed them all. Legal gave me the name of a good attorney that was reasonably priced, if that was possible, and I made an appointment for Friday morning.
You never really know how fucked you are until you spend two hours with a divorce attorney as he lays out your options; or lack of them. It's was your word against hers, Lisa and Rick hadn't done anything yet when you caught them and you can't throw her out of the house because it was her house also.
You know what really pissed me off, was the fact that she was more than likely to get custody of the kids, the house, along with at least 40% of what I made after taxes. I was fucked and not even kissed. He suggested marriage counseling or at least a 90-day cooling off period before I did anything.
"Look Keith, your screwed no matter what you do." "You'll be paying child support for the next eight years minimum plus the house payments," "The only thing you can do, is bide your time and try to minimize your losses." "Look, if it was me, I'd move into the spare bedroom and make life at home as easy as possible if nothing else for your kids," he suggested; and that's just what I did.
I took off early and move all my shit into the spare bedroom lock, stock and barrel. I bought a new mattress and tossed the old one to the curb. I never answered any of Lisa's calls but knew she'd probably show up at the house sooner or later, so I made sure I'd be ready for her.
I picked up the kids on Friday, on my way home from work, and took them out for pizza. They told me what a great time they'd had but were glad to be going home. Lisa finally showed up about 8:30 that night. The kids were all over her but she never once took her eyes off of me. By 10:00 they'd headed to their rooms and I headed for the guest room.
Lisa asked if we could talk later, but I told her I was not in mood, "maybe tomorrow," I said as I shut and locked the door. I heard a muffled cry as she surveyed what use to be our bedroom. I heard the sheets being pulled from the bed, and other noises, as I imagined her trying to clean up the room.
Saturday morning I noticed the card, rose petals and the chocolate in the trash along with an empty wine bottle. The kids had breakfast, and headed out for their normal Saturday routine; friends and soccer. I wasn't really hungry, so I just made a pot of coffee.
Lisa came down just as I was finishing my first cup. I poured another, grabbed the paper and headed out to the deck.
"You know you're going to have to talk to me eventually" she said through her red eyes.
"Why Lisa?" "What can you possibly say to me that will explain what I saw Wednesday?" "How long have you been cheating on me with Rick anyway?"
"This was only the second time, you've got to believe me hon" Lisa sobbed.
"Why am I having a hard time believing you and by the way, you lost the privilege of calling me hon or anything else that rings of love," I spat at her. "We'll co-exist for the sake of the kids until I can figure out what is best for me and them; you already made your choice it seems." At that, Lisa ran into the house and I finished my coffee and in a rage, ripped up the paper.
For the next two weeks, work sucked but at least it wasn't as bad as my home life. Someone blabbed at work and now all I got were those pity looks, from all the women in my office, every time I walked by them. My boss wanted to know if I needed any personal time off, but I told him I was handling it, and that I needed work to keep me sane.
The kids knew something was up from day one and asked if they'd done anything wrong. "Kids, your mom and I are going through a little rough patch but everything's fine, believe me," I told them; but it wasn't.
Lisa tried to get me to talk and even once tried to seduce me, but I felt nothing for her any longer. I was feeling lower than whale shit when Sheryl came into my office Thursday just before 5:00.
"Grab your coat, we're going out," she announced. I looked up to say something but she stopped me in my tracks. "Maybe you don't understand, this isn't a request; grab your damm coat, we're out of here," she announced.
Anthony's wasn't crowed when Sheryl and I arrived. Sitting at a table in the corner were the other two of the fearsome threesome; Cathy and Karen. After ordering drinks, Sheryl started in on me.
"You got to snap out of it Keith" she started. "You've been walking around like a dead man for the last couple of weeks, and even though everyone's been covering for you, your going to get yourself in deep shit, if you don't get your head and ass wired together."
"I've had a few things on my mind, so why don't you just lay off," I almost shouted back at her.
"Back off shit head, this isn't Lisa you're talking to," Karen replied. "What the hell do you want Keith, or are you just going to wallow in self pity the rest of your life?" she continued.
"I want my damm life back." "I want it to be like it was before all this crap happened," I said looking at my drink.
"I thought you said your marriage was stale and you wanted to liven it up," Cathy asked. "Do you really want to go back to your boring life, I wouldn't." "Do you still love her?"
"I love and hate her at the same time." "I'd like to choke the life out of her and Rick for what they did to me" I shouted. "I just don't know what the hell to do or even where to start," I said.
"Let's eat and then figure this out," Sheryl said as she motioned to the waiter. "The first thing we need to do is level the playing field." "Lisa is still in your house and is going back to work everyday." "Rick on the other hand goes home to his loving wife and kids even though he's fucked up your marriage," Sheryl spat out. "It's time you took back your life."
By the end of the night, I felt better about my situation and they were right, I had to do something, I couldn't let this go on any longer; it was tearing me up.
Lisa wanted to know where I was when I got home. "Out, what's it to you?" I yelled as she went off to her bedroom crying.
I met with my lawyer, Randy, the next day. "I thought you were going to wait on the divorce," he asked.
"I am, I want to sue the company Rick and Lisa work for and then hit Rick with an alienation of affection lawsuit" I told him.
"Look Keith, you have no hard proof, I told you that."
"I know, but they work for a publically held company, and with all the shit in the news lately about corporate mismanagement I don't think they'll want any bad press." "Besides, even though Lisa was off the clock, don't most managers work until 5:00?" "And isn't there usually a morality clause in most corporate bi-laws about a married boss fucking a married employee they supervise; especially when he's on the clock?"
Randy said it would take a couple of days to get it written up and the papers served, but would give me a heads up when it went down.
For the next three days, I was the Keith of old. I joke with the people at work, had fun with my kids and even started talking to Lisa again; which made her life a little easier.
Thursday Randy called and said their company had been served, but I asked him to hold off on Rick's papers, until we settled with their company. By the following Tuesday, Randy and I were sitting in the conference room, across the table from the CEO and H.R. manager.
"We've read the paperwork and it seems that you have forgotten to include any documentation of the alleged incident," the H.R. manager started. He then said something about frivolous lawsuits and was quite surprised when I stood up and started to leave.
"I guess we'll see each other in court then," I said as I rose from my chair. "You know, we'll be taking depositions from all the office employees," I said calmly. "How many of them do you think knew what was going on?" "All I have to do is find one or two," I told them. "And, how many managers do you think are going to protect Rick when their asses are on the line?" "Good day gentlemen," I said as I walked out with Randy.
I was at my desk Wednesday when Randy called. "They want to settle or as they put it, what will it take for this mess to go away," he told me.
"Well I've asked for $250,000.00, lawyer fees and for both of them to be transferred to out of state branches; that should cover it," I told him. "Tell them the offer is good until Thursday noon, after that we go forward."
Wednesday afternoon I received another call from Randy. "They've agreed to the fees and transfers, but are offering $150,000.00," he told me.
"Randy enough of all the haggling, tell them the price is now $300,000.00 and if they come back with another counter offer, it'll go to $400,000.00; maybe this will put it to bed," I told him.
Thursday at 3:30, Randy called to tell me that my offer had been accepted and that he'd have the forms over to me by 5:00 for my signature. True to his word, at 4:30 a package was delivered to my office.
"The man said he's waiting for it," my secretary told me.
Reviewing the paperwork and the enclosed check, I signed the papers and handed it over. "If anyone is looking for me, I've left for the day," I told her as I walked out of the office. In the car on the way home I made a quick call to Randy; "serve Rick tonight and do it at his home."
I was on cloud nine, by tomorrow I would have my pound of flesh and could move forward with life.
"All right everyone, grab your coats because we're all going out to dinner tonight," I said as I walked through the door. Lisa was looking at me and not moving when I piped up, "come on Lisa, you too." A huge smile came across her face as she ran to get her coat.
We talked and laughed over dinner just like we'd done for the last twelve years. Life was good again, well almost. When we got home everyone thanked me for the great night out and headed for their respective rooms.
Lisa moved in close, kissed me on the cheek and thanked me for tonight; "it really meant a lot to me tonight," she said. I told her that tomorrow night we would have a nice long talk, so for her to get some sleep; she'd need it.
"You son of a bitch," Lisa screamed as she came through the door. "You knew last night what was going to happen today didn't you," she yelled.
"Not exactly Lisa but pretty close," I told her. "Where is the job they offered you?" I inquired.
"Tennent NJ, where ever the hell that is." "It seems that my services are no longer needed here, and that it was either NJ or I'm out of a job," she explained. "I told them that there was no way I was transferring there, and that's when they handed me a severance check and gave me twenty minutes to clean out my desk," she now sobbed. "I gave them eight years, and in 20 minutes I was out the door," she said as she sat in a kitchen chair sobbing.
"Where's your buddy Rick being transferred to?" I asked.
"Flint Michigan," she said now staring at the floor.
"Boy, the armpit of the Northeast, couldn't have happened to a nicer guy," I said now smiling from ear to ear.
"Well Lisa this is now how the next phase is going to play out," I said as I pulled my chair next to hers. "If you still want to be a part of this family, here are the conditions." "First of all, you need to get checked out for STD's and bring me a clean bill of health." "Next you will submit to a polygraph test and to help you out, I'll even give you the questions in advance," I said as I pushed the paper across the table.
"As you see, they start off really easy but get harder as you go down the list." By the time she got to the last group she'd started to cry.
Am I the biological father of my two kids?
Why did she cheat?
When we had sex, over the last couple of months, who were you thinking about, Rick or I?
How often have you lied to me over the last couple of months?
How many affairs have you had?
Do you still love me?
"Your appointment is tomorrow at nine," I told her. "And if you pass that without too many surprises, we've got a marriage counseling appointment for Saturday morning at 10:00."
Lisa just sat there crying looking over the questions. "I can answer them now if you'd like," she told me.