Door Number Threebyman_as_dog©
[There is a terrific story by cpete called "Blood From a Turnip" that got me thinking in a certain direction. This story is the result.]
About 5:30 on Sunday evening, Beverly walked in the front door, dropped her purse and keys on the wingback chair, and headed down the hall to the master bedroom. I don't know for sure if she saw me sitting in the den, but it didn't matter. I'd become almost invisible to her over the past few years.
I walked over and picked up her key ring. I removed the extra keys she had for my Toyota and then opened her purse. I took out her cell phone and billfold. From the billfold, I removed all cash and credit cards and put all the loot into my pocket. Just for good measure, I took her drivers license. Then I went back to my seat in the den.
In 15 minutes, Bev came back down the hall, dressed up nicely. Seeing me as she put her purse strap over her shoulder and grabbed her keys, she said, "I'm going out with the girls from work. Don't wait up for me."
"No, you're not going out with the girls from work," I retorted.
"Jack, you should know by now that you don't control me. I will do whatever I please."
"I didn't say you couldn't go out with the girls from work. What I said was that you're NOT going out with the girls from work. You're going to go fuck your boyfriend, so don't lie to me anymore."
Beverly stood silently for a few seconds. Then she strode boldly into the den and stood across from me as she delivered her ultimatum.
"Okay, Jack, so you know. I would have preferred to do this differently, but we might as well get this over with. Jack, you have two options. You can salvage what's left of this marriage by going along with the program, or you can choose to have me divorce you and clean you out. What's it gonna be?"
"Hmmm...I choose...Door Number 3," I replied with a grin.
"Don't be childish. There is no Door Number 3. Either accept it that I have a lover now, a real man for a change, or prepare to suffer the consequences. And I do mean suffer."
I stood and walked to Bev, grabbed her shoulders, and pressed her against the wall. I wiggled her engagement and wedding rings off her left hand. With my nose bare inches from her face, and a dead look in my eyes, I whispered to her.
"Oh, there's a Door Number 3 alright. It's right over there. It's my front door, and when you walk through it, it will be for the last time. You leave with the clothes on your back, and you never cross the threshold again. You don't get a dime more of my money. You will lose your husband, your daughter, your house, your money, your car, and your job, eventually."
"You live in a fantasy world, Jack," she mumbled nervously. "My lawyer will tear you to pieces. I'm having the divorce papers served to you at work tomorrow. If you hurt me, you will suffer that much more."
I pulled her shoulders away from the wall and frog-marched her to the front door, stumbling in her high heels. She was yelling incoherently as I shoved her out the door. Bev was barely able to maintain her balance, and her cool was entirely gone. In our entire marriage, I had never laid a hand on her, and she didn't know how to react. Standing in the front yard, she began to reassert herself, at which point I closed the door and engaged the new locks.
As Bev was driving away, I made the first of two calls. I dialed my 19 year old daughter at college.
"Honey, this is your dad. Things have finally come to a head with your mother. She is probably going to be living with her boyfriend, and I wanted to be the first to talk to you. I want you to know that I have our last conversation recorded, along with hours and hours of previous arguments. They are available for you to hear, so please remember that you have access to the truth when she tries to twist things around and blame me. And she will do that.
"Sweetheart, the truth is your mother is an adulteress. I don't know how many times she has been with other men, but this time, she has found one she is willing to throw our family away for. As I will explain to you soon, that probably means that he is a fairly dangerous person, so be very careful in your dealings with your mom."
I went on to ask Patty if she could come home on the weekend so that we could talk and she could listen to recordings if she cared to. Patty agreed to drive home on Friday afternoon.
My next call was to Martha, our neighbor at the end of the block. Martha was a war widow, in her mid 30s.
"Martha, this is Jack. If the offer is still open, I'd like to take you up on it. Can you come over in an hour or so?"
I hate long drawn out histories of troubled marriages, so I'll make this one fairly short. Bev and I met and married in our early 20s, and we produced one daughter, Patty. Things were fine for a couple of years, but the 'new' seemed to wear off for Bev pretty quickly. As things went along, she became shrewish in the worst ways. She turned into a complainer, a manipulator, and a taskmaster. I did my best to hold my tongue and make things better for her, but it seems that the more I tried, the worse it got. Indeed, I believe now that I contributed to my own misery by trying to placate Bev all those years. I wish now that I had done things differently and taken control of her and the situation early on.
So now, in our mid-40s, things had gone completely off the rails. When I got suspicious of Bev and did a bit of investigation, I found out about her boyfriend pretty quickly, and the results were startling. She had taken up with a bulked up ex-con with a reputation for violence against women. I don't think that Bev knew it initially, but her 'lover' had at least 2 other women on the hook when Bev came along. The guy's name is Sylvester, of all things, and he is of course known as Sly. I was floored when I found out about him, but in a way, it also made perfect sense to me.
So when I knew the marriage was really over, a great relief swept over me, and I began planning. I've read stories where the wronged husband takes half the money. Not me. I took every goddamned penny I could lay my hands on, including whatever cash I could find around the house. I changed the locks, of course, and I had plans to aggravate Bev as much as possible in a very short amount of time. You see, my marriage had taught me a lot about how she reacts, and I planned to use her temper against her. She was a dangerous woman in many ways, but this time, she would be a danger to herself, too.
My planning actually began long before I found out about her 'lover' and the end came. For a couple of years, I had been recording us whenever we had an argument. She thought the device I always had with me was a simple MP3 player, but in fact, I was creating a library of her antics for documentation. I knew that no one would believe my stories unless I had proof, since she only abused me in that way when we were alone. Around other folks, including our daughter, she was nice as pie. I wanted to be able to 'out' her to everyone, including all friends and family.
On the Monday after our Sunday confrontation, I set up for a party in the company break room. Overhead was a large banner reading, "HAPPY DIVORCE!" I had cake and ice cream ready and anxiously awaited the arrival of the process server. Lucky me, it turned out to be a plump young woman doing the dirty work.
Lots of pictures were taken as my co-workers and I celebrated the serving of divorce papers. I had my picture taken accepting the papers and kissing the server on the cheek. She was wearing a party hat at the time. Another showed me putting a fork full of cake into her mouth, both of us smiling.
When the party was over, I emailed the pictures to Bev. Along with those of the party, I sent a couple of myself and Martha, my neighbor, in my bed with the sheets pulled up to our necks and big smiles on our faces. I hoped that Bev would notice her wedding rings on Martha's left hand as it rested on my chest.
In an hour, I got an angry call.
"You son-of-a-bitch! My lawyer will have you for lunch with these pictures. What a dumb-ass you are!"
"Not likely, Bev. There is nothing obscene or incriminating in those shots. No nudity. Just two neighbors pulling a prank. Just joke pics, is all."
"We'll see about that. Jack, I'm coming by the house tonight to get some of my things. I think it would be better if you weren't there."
"If I'm not there, you won't be able to get in. All the locks have been changed. If you want anything, you have to get there well before 6:45. Martha and I have a date at 7PM, and I sure as hell don't wanna be late. Last night I got the best pussy I've ever had, and there's more on the way tonight." Then I hung up and didn't answer when she called back 5 times.
(Although I didn't take all her calls from then on, I did listen to all the messages, unlike other guys I read about in similar circumstances. There was a good chance Bev would say something incriminating or give away a secret inadvertently when she made an angry call. In fact, she did reveal herself several times in the coming weeks.)
At 4:30 that afternoon, I took a ride to the parking lot at Bev's work. I wanted to get there before folks started coming out to go home. I had made sure there was no surveillance on the lot, and what I had to do would take under a minute. I pulled in next to Bev's car and slipped around it clipping the valve stems on all her tires with a wire cutter. Oh, yeah. She'd be pissed. Plus, she'd never get it fixed in time to get to the house before 6:45.
But it was about 6:35 when she showed up. She had apparently taken a ride with someone, so I knew she was pretty desperate to get into the house. After all, I had seen receipts for clothes she'd bought that I knew she hadn't brought home, so she had to have plenty of clothing at her lover's house. She must want something else.
I slipped out the back door and hustled down to Martha's house, leaving Bev beating on the front door and screaming. When I returned that evening, my front door window was destroyed and there was blood all around it. After viewing the surveillance video from the front porch, I called the police.
The video showed Bev beating in the window with a tire iron, apparently gotten from her friend's car. You could plainly hear her threatening to kill me as she broke the glass and reached inside. Unluckily for her, the deadbolt I had installed was the kind that requires a key to open either side. When she pulled her arm back through, she sliced up her forearm pretty good, which prompted another round of screaming and threats from her.
I reported the incident to the police immediately, and one of the officers kindly led me through the process of filing for protection. By the next morning, Bev was served papers prohibiting her from coming within 500 feet of me or our house. To say she was pissed off would be putting it mildly.
"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING, ASSHOLE?" That's how her next phone call began. She was livid and threatened me again. I got the entire conversation recorded, unbeknownst to her.
Hours later, after she'd calmed down somewhat, she called again. She said she was sending her friend Lindsey over that evening to collect some of her stuff.
"What is she so desperate to have from the house?" I thought. So, I agreed to receive Lindsey at 5:30 that Tuesday evening. I left work a bit early so that I could set up a video camera in my bedroom, with a monitor in the middle bedroom.
Lindsey arrived on time, and I was extremely cordial. I sat on the bed as she loaded some clothes in 2 black plastic trash bags. Lindsey looked at me nervously, and then asked if I'd get her some water from the kitchen. I smiled and walked into the middle bedroom.
As soon as I looked at the monitor, I saw Lindsey sneak a shoe box from the closet into the bag nearest her. Then she went back to selecting clothes. I quickly grabbed a glass of water from the kitchen and went back to the bedroom.
"I think this'll do it," she said. "Would you grab that bag and I'll take this one."
"Oh, that one looks heavier, Lindsey. Let me take it."
"Uh, no, we're fine. Just grab the other one, okay?"
"Is there something in that one I should know about, Lindsey?" I asked, as she started to fidget and drag her bag toward the door. I held her wrist and pulled the bag open.
"It's just clothes and stuff Bev needs," she said anxiously.
"You're a particularly bad liar, Lin. What's in this box I'm feeling down in here? You wanna tell me about this?" I pulled the shoe box out and opened it. The box was packed with bundles of 50 and 100 dollar bills, all used looking.
"Lindsey, you're trying to steal from me!" I stood and pulled her arm behind her, marching her toward the door and down the hall.
"Jack, that's Bev's money. She sent me here to get it. I'm not stealing anything!"
"Well, you came in my house to get clothes, and I catch you walking out with a box of money. I call that stealing. I didn't see Beverly's name on that box. You're a thief, Lindsey. I'm going to call the cops! Right now!"
"No, Jack! Don't do that! I can't go to jail. I have kids and a husband, for christ's sake!"
I sat Lindsey down on the couch and got right in her face.
"Lindsey, you're not welcome in this house ever again. I thought you were my friend, too, but now I know you're a thief!"
She pleaded with me some more, and she began to cry.
"If you want to redeem yourself, you have one chance. You will leave this house and report to Bev that I caught you stealing. Then, you will report in to me everything that you hear or see. Especially anything related to our divorce or her activities with Sly. You won't let her know anything about our arrangement. Bev is making a really bad decision taking up with this loser, and you will ultimately be helping her to get away from him if you cooperate with me. And Lindsey, I have the whole episode on video, and I can call the cops at any time."
Lindsey reluctantly agreed to be my mole. As soon as she was gone, I took the box of money and went to Martha's house down the block. She agreed to hold it for me until I could get it safely tucked away where Bev could never find it.
I knew where the money had likely come from. Bev's Aunt Mabel had been a notorious miser, and when she died a few months back, Bev had been her only heir. I knew that her aunt had left a small cabin in a rural area to her, but nothing was ever said about money. Apparently, when Bev inspected the cabin, after the will was read, she'd found her aunt's cash stashed there.
When my slut of a wife called, screaming, I recorded the conversation, but I was careful about what I said.
"That money is mine, Jack! I want my damned money!"
"Bev, I don't know what you're talking about. I caught Lindsey trying to steal cash from my bedside table. That's my money."
"You know damned well what I'm talking about. The money in the shoe box, and it's mine. It's from Aunt Mabel. I inherited it."
"Well, maybe Lindsey did find some money in a shoe box. But if she did, she must have taken it with her and kept it. I don't have it. Maybe Lindsey stole it from you. And, if you had some money here that I didn't know about, then you didn't report it on your taxes last year. I know, since I read over and signed the tax returns. You can call the police to come investigate, and then we'll let the IRS know that this money, if it exists, didn't get reported."
She slammed the phone down.
There would be some sort of retribution. I knew it. I'd pushed Bev's buttons too hard for there not to be. She couldn't afford to be caught near the house, due to the restraining order. Since I'd started by sabotaging her car, I thought she might try to get back at me through my car. So, I had a camera installed on the dashboard, but that wasn't enough. I wanted good shots of her doing the deed, if that was the route she decided to take. So, when I parked in the parking garage on Wednesday morning, I set up a camera outside the car, shielded from view. This camera transmitted video that I could monitor at my desk.
An hour before lunchtime, I watched the laptop as Bev parked her car behind mine, got out, and began pounding my car with a hammer. She broke every window and dented every fender. I winced a bit as the camera caught her smashing the windshield and screaming, "I'm gonna bash in your head!"
I dialed 911 and had a cop car waiting for her as she emerged from the parking garage. When I showed them the video and my wrecked Toyota, they cuffed Bev and took her to jail. It was apparent that she'd done enough damage to qualify for a felony. The resisting arrest charge was gravy. She turned to look at me with a pleading look as they took her away, and I just stared at her.
Bev's divorce lawyer had called me on Wednesday to let me know there was a hearing before a magistrate on access to the money I'd liberated from our joint accounts. It was scheduled for Thursday at 10AM. I was in the small court room at 9:50, wondering if Bev had made bail. She came in with her lawyer right on time, a smug look on her face.
Bev's lawyer addressed the judge.
"Your honor, my client has been cut off from the bank accounts she has shared with her husband. He unlawfully removed all the money after she filed for divorce. We are asking the court for a 50-50 split at this time."
"Mr. Reynolds, do you have anything to say?"
"Yes, your honor. My adulterous wife has ample funds of her own that she has been siphoning off from our joint accounts for months. The money I removed was reasonable compensation, since I am responsible for house payments and bills. She abandoned our marriage and moved in with the man she is cheating on me with."
Bev stood up. "That's a lie! He took all the money out of our savings and checking. He didn't leave me a dime. I don't have anything!"
Bev's lawyer took her arm and pull her back into her seat. They had a bit of a conference while I passed paperwork to the judge.
"Your Honor, these are banking records for the past year. You'll note the amounts up until a few months ago include Bev's paychecks, shown in yellow highlight. Also, there are periodic bonuses, shown in orange highlight. Then, about 6 months ago, her checks stopped being deposited in the joint account, and her bonuses also disappeared. I have a recording of my chat with her personnel office, if you care to hear it, that verifies her direct deposit was altered at that time. The total amount diverted from our joint account is in the thousands of dollars, Your Honor. So clearly, my adulterous wife has ample funds, all stolen from our marriage."
His Honor looked at the bank statements and then looked over his specs at Beverly. "Do you have anything to say about this, Ms. Reynolds?"
Bev's lawyer slowly rose and spoke. "Your Honor, the fact that my client may have some funds of her own does not free Mr. Reynolds of responsibility to give her her due."
"Well, counselor, I don't like it when people lie to me. Ms. Reynolds stated that she was destitute, which I knew was bull when she walzed in here with a pricey fellow like you in tow. Now we see that she is amply funded by money that should have been community property, and she tried to deceive both her husband and the court about that fact. As Mr. Reynolds is paying the bills out of his funds, I see no reason to change any financial arrangements at this time. When the divorce settlement is finalized, the assets will be declared and divided accordingly. Case dismissed."
Bev caught me in the hallway as I was leaving. I began recording as she spoke.
"I'll get you, you bastard! I'm gonna tear you down!"