A Joke Ch. 02 - Texan's EndingbyTx Tall Tales©
Agena wrote an intriguing story called "A Joke." Chapter one dealt with a man and his wife who had a very irritating habit of teaming up with a neighbor to play practical jokes on him. The jokes were over the top, until the last was far more than any decent human could consider a joke. The protagonist, Jim was injured and humiliated, and kicked the wife out of his life. If you're going to read this, you should read the original first.
You can find his story here.
Agena states that he thought that some other authors might continue the story, and he provided his own ending in chapter 2. I have a very different take on what I thought should happen, and wrote this little dark tale about a joke taken too far, a man pushed to his limits and revenge. Very dark. Let me repeat that. Very dark.
I borrowed several lines and paragraphs from Agena's second chapter. I wanted to stay true to the characters, including Flo, the wife's, response to her husband at reconciliation. I did play around with her past just a little, and added some elements of the prank that made everything go haywire, which weren't necessarily there in Agena's version, but didn't go against the evidence reported.
This is my first effort at working with someone else's characters and storyline, and I hope I didn't take it too far off-track.
I hope you enjoy this offering and that some of you will get a little more satisfaction over the way our protagonist handled the whole thing. It's not for the faint of heart or for the reconciliation-at-all-cost crowd. Not by a long shot. It's also a little long, but I think if you give it a chance you might enjoy it.
With no further ado, I give you, A Joke, Ch. 2, a Texan's Ending.
After my baby girl left, I found one drink wasn't enough. My emotions were in turmoil.
Even if my wife and the asshole hadn't had sex, where was the respect? The trust? I had told her, and told her, it would lead to something like this. Yet she not only continued, she escalated things.
Worse was the intentional humiliation. Making a cuckold of me, even as a joke was too much. How could I ever trust her again? And Roger? The stupid smirks, the pranks, so often at my expense. Even if they hadn't had sex, how much had they done? Did they get naked? Play with each other? Use the joke as an excuse to get intimate? I know that sound, my wife's gradual excitement, the whispered need, the moaned keening that signaled her impending explosion.
Where the fuck was the humor in that?
I like a good joke. Please don't think I lack a sense of humor, but this was not a joke, and it was anything but funny.
The third scotch had me whining at myself. Poor lonely me. I love my wife. I love my kids. This will destroy the family. I'm not young; where will I ever find someone I loved as much as my wife of 23 years? The, possibly, faithful mother of my children. I didn't want to spend the waning years of my life alone and bitter. If only Roger had never come into our lives. If only my wife hadn't gotten such a kick out of his damned stupid pranks. If only.
I knew that if I did leave her, many people would view me as the cad. The unfeeling bastard who left his wife over a stupid joke. Sure, it was over the top, but hell, it was only a joke, right? Get over it, they'd say. She said she was sorry, didn't she?
I was well into my fourth scotch, feeling no pain, not even from my aching wrists. Just a fucking joke. Get a sense of humor.
How about if the tables were turned? Let them see what it's like to be on the receiving end of a 'joke'. If, and only if, she passes that damned lie-detector test, I'd start the healing. I'd take her back. I'd see how she liked it. My 'loving' wife and that asshole son-of-a-bitch next door. Hell, I had a sense of humor. Let's see if they did.
I managed somehow to make it to my bed that night, my endless possibilities of a revenge joke percolating through my stewed brain.
I woke slowly, in that grey place between conscious and unconscious, and with perfect clarity found I'd selected the avenue of my revenge. Just a joke. Let's see them find the humor in my 'joke'. I laid there for hours, playing with options, permutations, contingencies, results. When I finally got out of bed, I had a smile on my face, and maybe just a little joy in my heart.
* * *
Damned if she didn't pass the test. Not perfectly. I'd insisted on selecting the questions and Flo wasn't aware of them. She thought I'd only ask about the final prank, but that wasn't good enough for me. This was a major decision, to stay married to a woman who I still believed had cheated on me with our neighbor. Perhaps they didn't screw, but I believed what they did was well beyond what she knew would be acceptable.
No, she hadn't screwed him. Yes, they had taken off their clothing. No, they had not removed their underclothes. Yes, she'd seen his erection. Yes, the orgasm was real.
So much for the faithful wife.
No, she'd never been unfaithful before. She had given more than one hand-job to someone in the past. No blow-jobs, no anal, no intercourse. She honestly believed she'd not been unfaithful.
Yes, the idea for the joke, was Roger's. Yes, that's all she thought it was, a stupid prank. A joke.
Yes, she loved me. Yes, she wanted desperately to get back together. Yes, she'd never make me the butt of a joke again.
Yes, she believed it was fair if she had to suffer through a similar joke herself.
The only question she failed, was if she had thought about being unfaithful with Roger. Her answer was no, but the results were inconclusive. Perfect.
Maybe I hadn't hit every important question that I could have. There were more things I could have brought up, issues I'd had. But this was really about three things. One, what had happened and how did it get that far? Two, was she a faithful wife? And three, was she penitent, and did she really love me and want to get back together? Everything else was in the noise.
I was disgusted with the results. But I did believe she was at least honest, and wanted to be back with me.
The results had been delivered to me three days after my talk with my daughter, during which time the only contact I had with Flo was through her sister Mary, who had given me the information about who my wife was going to go to for the testing, and the contact info I needed to make sure I had my input on the questions.
I started making preparations for my own 'joke' and let her stew for a couple of days.
* * *
Our son Eric called the day after I received the results. He argued for us to get together, as I knew he would. He might not be happy with her, but she was his mother, and he wanted his parents together.
I explained the problems I had with her, even if they hadn't had sex together. It was odd. I realized I was talking to my son as a man, about problems with a woman, and not as my little boy.
"I understand Dad. But it was just a joke. She didn't mean to get carried away, and she didn't have sex with the slimy bastard. You've got to take her back. Please, for us, for the family. Forgive her and let her come home."
"I love your mother, Eric. I can only hope to God that you have a chance to love and be loved like us. I...I don't want to lose her, but I don't know if there's anything we can do to make it right."
"I know Dad. I know what I'd do. Biggest god-damned revenge 'joke' on the mother-fucker next door. He's the real fucking problem here. Why the hell are you letting that bastard slide, while making Mom's life a living hell?"
I couldn't help but smile. Like father like son.
"I'll talk to her soon. I'll try. I'm not going to promise anything yet, but I want to make things work out. Ok?"
"God, yes, Dad. That's all any of us want. Talk to her, let her explain, and try to forgive her. Try, please, for all of us. Don't let her stupid mistake break us up. You need to be the bigger person here."
"I said I'll try."
* * *
"Jim, it's Mary," the voice announced on the other end of the line.
"Hi Mary." I was willing to let her drive the conversation.
"You didn't call."
"No. I didn't." How observant of her.
"The...the test results weren't that bad were they. You saw it was only a joke," she said nervously.
"Did you see the results Mary? All of them?"
She was quiet for a while. "Yes."
"So much for the faithful, loving wife, huh?"
"Jim, she loves you. You know she does. The test proves it. She's done some stupid things. Horrible things, I admit, and I'm disgusted with her, but she didn't mean to hurt you. It was a stupid joke that got carried away. It doesn't have to be the end of the world."
"What part of a hand-job is a joke?" I asked.
"You have to talk to her. The questions and answers are so black and white, and our lives, all of them, are lived in grays. It wasn't a real hand-job. She never felt the guy's flesh, it was through his pants, at a party. She rubbed him, and he got off. She felt she had to say it was a hand-job, because of the results. She couldn't lie. Not if she was going to have a chance at getting back together."
"It's difficult Mary. It went well beyond a joke, and you know it."
It hurt me to hear her crying on the other end of the line. "I know, Jim. She's my sister, and you're destroying her. Please, please speak to her. Give it a chance. Do what you have to do, give her rules and ultimatums, whatever you need to make it right. I know you still love her. Do this for the love, not for the stupid, selfish woman. For your wife, the 23 years, the mother of your kids."
I already knew I was going to take her back. I sure as hell couldn't pull off my side of the 'joke' if I didn't. Still, she had been warned, and she had to keep going. She had cheated on me. She had no respect for me, and got a kick out of humiliating me. I wanted her to feel a little of the pain she'd doled out, over and over, ever since that bastard moved next door.
"Saturday. She can come over Saturday at noon, and we'll talk."
* * *
She came over, and she looked like hell. Her eyes had deep bags and were red and puffy. It had been less than two weeks, and she looked like she had lost weight. Flo had cleaned up, putting on a teasing dress, not slutty, which would have had me kicking her out the door, but enough to remind me how beautiful she was, and to ignite the flame of my attraction. She was wearing my favorite perfume, and she melted into my arms when I opened them to her.
"I'm sorry, Jim. I'm a stupid bitch, who doesn't deserve you, but I pray that you're a better person than I am, and you'll give me another chance."
I hugged her tightly. "Come in," I told her. "Before we start, you need to know I love you, and I always have. I hope it's enough."
She squeezed me tight, and she sobbed against me for a few moments, before I was able to get her to calm down and sit at the kitchen table with me.
I could tell she was trying get hold of herself. She got up and walked over to the coffee maker, reaching up into the cabinet for her favorite mug. She popped the single-serving into the top of the machine and made herself a cup. "Can I get you one?"
"Sure, thanks." It felt good to see her in the kitchen, so natural. I did love her. For a moment I wondered if she loved me enough to survive my 'joke' on her and the bastard.
She passed me my mug and sat down at the table across from me.
"Before we begin I'd like to say something," she said. "In the last two weeks I've had a lot of time to think about what occurred, what led up to it and I'm appalled and ashamed of myself for the lack of respect for you as my husband, friend and lover, that I was exhibiting. I don't know where I was coming from getting involved in those horrid jokes with Roger. When we made you the butt of those jokes I must have been out of my mind and I want you to know I've started to see a psychologist about how I got into that mind set.
"I want you to know also that having this two weeks apart and not being able to communicate with you has been the worst time of my life. It's made me realize how much I love you and need you. However, if you decide we've got to separate then I will accept that as punishment for what I've done to you and our marriage. I can only ask you, as my husband, to please forgive me and take me back as your wife. I will make sure you will never regret it if you do."
I sat there listening, hearing all the right words. More than I had hoped for, to be completely honest. Still, it might have banked the flame of revenge burning in my gut, but it couldn't put it out.
I pulled out the test results and watched her face turn red. "Some of these answers make it difficult, you understand?"
She nodded. "I...if you need me to explain..."
Her little prepared speech was nice. Now that we were off the track, she wasn't so skillful.
"No. Not yet. Someday perhaps. I couldn't stand to hear it now. I wouldn't be able to welcome you back, and that's what I need right now. I need my wife back."
She got up from her chair and came around the table to me with her arms outstretched and a beautiful smile on her face. I stood to meet her and we came together in a frenzied, passionate embrace. Our lips met and our tongues dueled as we hungrily sought to make ourselves one body.
Finally, we broke the kiss and I whispered in her ear as she continued to desperately hold on to me.
"Let's get your things. How long will it take you to pack?"
She blushed. "It's all in the car."
I pulled back a little from her and looked at her tear stained face before speaking.
"You were pretty sure of yourself, weren't you?"
"No, just hoping and praying. I didn't want to waste any time if you decided to keep me."
She was smiling and laughing while she said it and still clinging to me.
"I love you."
"I know," I told her, "and I love you more than my life. Let's get your stuff."
She grinned, pulling my hand, dragging me away from the front door, and to the back of the house. "Later. First, I need to show you how sorry I am. I hope you'll like my first of many, many, sincere apologies."
I did enjoy her apology, three times which was as good as it got for me. I loved her, and loved the sex with her. But when I heard that little cry of orgasm, I almost lost it. Knowing that the bastard had heard that cry, had wrenched it from her willing body set the flames in my gut roaring again.
I loved her. God, did I love her. I hoped she loved me enough.
* * *
Alice and Roger were still together, and Alice was no longer a stranger at our home. Roger had not made an appearance, and his name was not brought up. If I saw him outside, I never spoke to him. He might look my way, but he never made any effort to talk beyond that.
It was three weeks later, on a Friday evening, when I answered a knock at the door.
Roger was standing there, nervously.
"Roger," I said calmly.
"Jim, I know you hate me right now, and you have every right. I only wanted to come over and apologize. I don't expect you to forgive me, but I think you should know that I never meant for anything to happen. I know I'm an asshole, and I let my stupid pranks go way too far, especially with a good friend. I goaded Flo into going along, and I'm sick to death over what I almost did to your marriage."
I nodded, quietly.
"If...if you want to kick my ass, I understand. I'll defend myself, but I think you and I both know how it will turn out. I won't call the police."
I shook my head. "That won't be necessary," I said.
He stared at me and for only a moment, I thought I saw a hint of a smile. That lousy fucking bastard.
"That's all I wanted to say. I am sorry. Please don't hold my actions against Alice. She didn't have any part of it."
"No. I have no hard feelings against Alice." I started to close the door, then stopped. "Roger," I called out as he started to walk away.
He turned back to me, "Yes."
"I appreciate the apology. What you did was really fucked up, and far beyond the limits of a joke. But I know it was probably difficult to come over here and face me."
He nodded. "I am sorry."
I closed the door. I'm sure he was sorry for my interrupting the little seduction dance with my wife. I had no doubt one of his jokes would probably have ended up with me walking in on him fucking my wife in our bed. Just a joke.
* * *
It took two damn months. I wanted to press things, but I had to let it takes its natural course. Two full months. Eight weeks. Fifty-seven fucking days to be precise.
We saw each other at a mutual friend's party. We talked coolly across the fence. Alice came over several times and eventually broached the idea of a casual lunch with the four of us.
We were neighbors after all. Everything was behind us. Nothing would ever be the same, but it didn't have to be horrible between us.
Six weeks after he came over and apologized, we all attended a barbecue at the Henderson's. Our second get together, with the four of us at the same place. Flo avoided being anywhere near Roger, but he still sought her out, telling stupid jokes, not as raunchy as before, but still bad. I saw him put his hand on her, and she took a little too long before pushing it away. The bitch laughed at his joke. Damn her.
A few minutes later, she came to me, giving me a hug. "Thank you for everything, baby. I love you so much. This is the first party I've enjoyed in ages. Having you here with me, makes my life complete." She gave me a quick kiss, and passed me a full beer. "Looked like you were empty. Let me know if you need anything else."
I thanked her, and took a sip. It wasn't beer. It was lemonade. I spit it out, and she looked at me in confusion.
"Are you fucking kidding me? Didn't you learn anything, you stupid bitch!" I growled.
The shock on her face was real. She took the bottle from me, and tasted it. "I...I didn't know. I swear." She ran across the yard, waving the damned bottle. I couldn't hear what she said, but she stood in Roger's face and chewed him out. About fucking time.
I could hear the laughter from Roger, grinning, looking my way, and the crowd around him. She argued with him, and the guys around him, and to my disgust, eventually laughed along with them. She stood there, laughing at me. The flames inside my gut burned.
When she didn't return after several minutes, I'd had enough of it. I turned to leave, and was intercepted by Alice.
"She's drunk, Jim. Let me go get her. Don't let the asshole ruin everything for you two."
"I think it's too late, Alice. I won't let her disrespect me again."
"No. It's not your fault, and if you can live with him, more power to you. I'm not going to go through that again." I turned to thank our hosts for the party, and headed for the door.
Flo caught me at the door, "Where are you going?"
"As far away from you and your boyfriend as possible. Don't come home."
It must have shocked her. She dropped her drink, making a mess, her hand lifted to her mouth. "No, Jim. Don't say that. I didn't do anything, I swear. He's not my boyfriend."
"You couldn't stop, could you? Had to play along with humiliating your husband with your lover. Laughing at me, making me the butt of your jokes again. It's over. I'm done."
She screamed reaching for me, and I pushed her away. She crawled and grabbed my leg, clinging to me. Disgusting, a grown woman, in her forties, drunk, crawling on the ground.
I heard a disturbance out back, and Alice was laying into her husband with a bottle, swinging at him, while he was on his knees. She must have gotten one good shot in. He was bleeding, holding his arm up to fend off her blows. Someone pulled her off of him, and I turned back to my loving wife.