It's Against the Law Ch. 01bylaptopwriter©
After a few years of marriage it's the little things that get to you; the subtle, little nuances that after a while start you to wondering. 'Why did she say that;'...'Wow, that wasn't the response I expected;'...'There's that look again;' and then there's always the kicker, 'Please, not tonight honey, I'm too tired.' Put them all together and you start to suspect something is amiss in your happy little home.
Of course no one really wants to admit to discourse in their family life, so to counterbalance the doubt and suspicion, you remind yourself that trust is the cornerstone of any marriage; and if that doesn't work, there's always denial; 'I'm sure she didn't mean it the way it sounded;'...'She must have misunderstood what I said;'...'Maybe she had something in her eye;' and of course...'Yeah, she's had a rough day, maybe tomorrow night.'
Then comes the day...no, it's not really a day, it's a moment, really; then comes the moment when it all falls into place; when you look back on the sarcastic comments, the weird responses to something you said, the nasty looks you caught out of the corner of your eye, and the lack of passion in the bedroom; that's the moment when you look back on all that and say... why didn't I see it before now?
It's right after asking yourself that question that you start to feel the pain of her betrayal; the realization that the woman you love above all else, the person around whom your entire universe revolves, has been unfaithful.
That's when your stomach muscles tighten up, you gasp for a breath, your heart starts pounding like a drum, you break out in a cold sweat, and your eyes instantly fill with tears.
When the initial shock abates you make the same mistake every guy makes at that point, you ask yourself why. Depression hits like a sludge hammer, you start to feel inferior, like less of a man and you start to blame yourself, torture yourself. 'What did I do wrong;'... 'How did I lose her respect;'... 'How did I lose her love'...'Was I not a good husband;'... 'Was I an inadequate lover?'
I know all this because I've gone through it, all of it, every thought, every emotion; I felt totally defeated, it was the worst thing I've ever gone through; bar none.
Acting on a tip I received a little earlier in the day, I pulled into the parking lot of the cheap single story motel. Immediately I felt sick to my stomach and fought to keep from vomiting when I saw my wife's Chevy parked in front of one of the rooms.
I wedged my car between two others in the far corner of the lot and waited; it was during the next twenty minutes that I asked myself every one of those questions, experienced every emotion, and cried as my heart broke apart piece by piece.
I watched as my lovely wife exited one of the rooms hand in hand with her boss. I picked up my camera from the passenger's seat and started photographing them as they embraced for a parting kiss.
As a professional photographer I seldom relied on my camera's auto focus but thank God for the capability because there was no way I could capture a sharp image through my tears otherwise. The powerful telephoto lens allowed me to zero in on Jean as she looked amorously into the face of her lover. I don't really know why but I kept snapping away; just reflex I guess.
After they drove off in separate vehicles all I could do was sit there; why didn't I run up and punch the son-of-a-bitch in the mouth? I was pissed at myself, but the truth was, I was so stunned I didn't even think of it. I sat playing the scene I had just witnessed over and over in my head. If I didn't have the proof sitting beside me I would have questioned my own sanity and thought I was hallucinating.
I wondered how long it had been going on; were they in love, or was it just a physical thing? Then I realized it didn't matter; my marriage was over. I felt lost; I started shaking all over, that's when the tears really started to pour. I beat the palm of my hand against the steering wheel in frustration.
I think the last time I sobbed that hard was when I lost my life-long partner. He was a beautiful Doberman Pincer by the name of Brooklyn. He was my protector and constant companion every day of my life until one morning when he didn't wake up. I was ten years old.
Now what, I wondered as I tried to get control of myself; my mind went to a conversation we had not long ago about starting a family. I was just getting established in my commercial photography venture when we were married so we decided to wait before having kids because we needed Jean's paycheck.
Since then; however, I've been able to steadily build the business into a six figure income. Since ninety-nine percent of my work is done on location I didn't even need a studio, I worked from my home; in addition to saving money it also gave me some great tax breaks; all and all, we really didn't need Jean's salary any more so we talked about her quitting and becoming a stay-at-home mom. I thought she'd jump at it, but to my surprise she was reluctant saying she needed a little more time to get used to the idea; now after seeing what I just saw I believe she had a different reason for not wanting to quit.
I took a deep breath and let it out with a sigh, I wanted kids with all my heart but maybe it's better this way, I thought.
About the time I had decided to just go home and confront Jean with the pictures I had just taken, my cell phone rang. I looked at the display and saw it was Jack Northrupe, a longtime friend. Years prior I worked as a staff photographer for one of the largest newspapers in the state; Jack was an investigative reporter, one of the best. He and I worked on several assignments together and have been good friends ever since.
At first I was going to let it go to voice mail then thought why not take it; I could really use a friend about now.
"Hello," I answered trying to sound normal, evidently unsuccessfully.
"Hi buddy, you okay? You sound a little down, everything alright?"
I hesitated, did I really want to advertise that fact that my wife was cheating on me? Hell, I thought, people are going to find out anyway, it's not the kind of thing you can keep secret for long.
"Ah...no Jack, actually things are pretty shitty," I said.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Dalton, anything I can do?' he asked.
"Well, to tell you the truth, Jack, I just need someone to talk to."
"Look, I was calling to see if you could meet me for a beer at Plato's Place in a little while anyway; when can you get away?"
"Oh shit," I said just realizing what time it was, "I'm already late; I was supposed to meet a client and take shots of some model homes; he's a real estate developer. Fuck it, I'm going to call and tell him I got deathly ill; it won't be a lie, believe me. I'm going to call him right now and reschedule; I can be at Plato's in twenty minutes," I told him.
"I'll see you there, my friend."
As soon as we hung up I called my client and rescheduled the shoot, he wasn't happy but there was no way I could concentrate on the job anyway.
Jack was already sitting at the bar when I walked in. He didn't say anything, he probably didn't want to embarrass me, but the first thing he did was look at my eyes, they must have still been red and puffy from crying.
"Why don't you grab a brew then let's go over there," he said pointing at a table in the back of the room, "It's a little more private, you can tell me what's going on."
It was hard to talk about. We both sat in silence for a couple minutes while I tried to decide just how to start.
"I...ah, I had that appointment scheduled today. It wasn't too far from where Jean works and I had some time so I stopped by just before twelve to see if she was free to have lunch. Beverly, one of the girls she works with, told me I had just missed her, she had already left for lunch. When I asked her if she knew where Jean had gone she said she didn't know, but just the way she said it...I don't know, it was a little strange, like she was hiding something."
I stopped talking for a second and took a swig of my beer, I took a deep breath trying to keep from crying again; it's just not easy talking about your wife screwing another man.
"Anyway, like I said, I was getting some weird vibes from her, then on my way out another woman approached me; I'd never seen her before but evidently she didn't like Jean very much because she told me if I wanted to find my wife I should go over to the Holly Hotel on Dempster. At first I thought she meant that was where Jean was eating but then I recognized the name, it was some cheapo little dive; I'd driven past it a million times and knew they didn't have a restaurant. I drove over there, and sure enough, Jean's car was in the lot."
"Oh man, Dalton, I'm sorry; damn, I can't picture Jean cheating on you; no doubt it was her car, huh?"
"It was Jean's car, she has vanity plates on it," I replied.
"Shit, what'd you do?"
"What could I do, I had no idea what room she was in; I parked in the back of the lot where I was pretty sure she wouldn't see me and waited; I was there about twenty minutes when she came out holding hands with Irv Jackson, that's her boss."
"Listen, if this guy is her boss maybe he's coerced her, you know, sleep with me or you're fired; something like that," Jack stated trying to give me hope.
"I doubt it, when I say boss I'm using the term loosely; he's not really her boss; I mean he doesn't have the power to fire her or anything like that. He's an outside sales rep, he travels around selling industrial lighting. When he gets an order he sends it in to the company; Jean fills it and makes sure everything gets shipped."
"God, I just can't believe it, Jean adores you, man. Did you guys have a big fight or something, why would she do that to you?"
"Why? Huh, that's what I've been asking myself, why? To answer your question, no we haven't had any fights, not really; she has been kind of grouchy for the last few months but we haven't really fought about anything."
"So what are you going do?"
"Divorce I guess, I'm sure as hell not going to stay married to woman who doesn't love or respect me."
We both sat in silence for a few minutes before Jack spoke again. "How bad do you want to get back at her?" he asked.
"What do you mean?"
"You know; I mean, if it was me I'd want blood, man; I'd want revenge...on him as well as her. I know you got to be hurting big time, but you can't tell me you're not pissed too."
"Well of course I'm pissed," I answered a little annoyed at what I thought was a stupid question. "What are you getting at?"
"Do you have any proof of the affair?"
"Hell yeah...well, not real proof; I got some pictures of them kissing when they came out of the room."
"No, that's not enough, you need enough for probable cause," Jack said.
"Probable cause; I give up, Jack, what the hell are you talking about?"
"This is Illinois, adultery is illegal in this state my dear friend," he said with a smirk.
"It is?" that was news to me, "Are you sure?"
"Absolutely; it's a class 'A' misdemeanor. More than likely they'll never be prosecuted but between you and me we must know thirty or forty cops; I'll bet we can get them arrested and thrown in jail for a day or so; maybe even get the paper to print the story."
Jack looked at me and saw he had my attention.
"Think about it, if they're actually arrested it would be newsworthy; I'll bet you any money I could get the paper to run the story; if you're there with your camera I might even get them to print the art as well; you want a by-line?" he asked with a devilish smile.
With all the agony I had been going through I'd never even thought of revenge but suddenly it was sounding pretty damn good.
"You'll need to get some evidence though. You'll need enough for probable cause."
"Shit, how am I supposed to do that?" I asked forgetting for a moment that I was sitting with one of the best investigative reporters around.
"Does she use a smart phone?" he asked.
"Yeah, exclusively; we don't even have a land line anymore," I responded.
"Okay, I know they work together but I'll bet they still communicate over the phone; text messages, phone calls, pictures...something. They're not cheap, two, three hundred bucks, but you can go on line and get spyware for her phone. It's a little do-hickey you plug into her phone then download the program; it literally takes seconds. It lets you monitor incoming and outgoing calls, text messages, dates on her calendar, all kinds of stuff. The good ones even turn her phone into a listening device, like a bug. If they're within range you can hear everything they're saying to each other; it even lets you track her with the GPS and you can monitor everything from your computer."
"Are you kidding; Is that legal?"
"Well, technically no," he thought for a second, "Is her phone in your name or hers?" he asked.
"Mine...well, the company's really; why?"
"Well, you're supposed to tell all parties on the phone that you're recording their conversation but there's a little provision about taping calls that were made for illegal purposes; since adultery is a crime you could argue your phone was being used for unlawful intentions."
"Are you sure; tapping a phone is a federal offence, shit I could wind up in more trouble than either one of them."
Jack thought for a moment before speaking. "Don't worry about it, Dalton; go ahead and get one of those things; when the time comes to bust them you'll make an anonymous tip to me with their room number, I'll contact the police saying I believe the room is being used for criminal acts, that's all."
I thought for a second, "You really think this will work?"
"Listen, half the cops in Chicago-land owe me a favor, we'll make it work."
I guess I got kind of quiet; I had all the faith in the world in Jack; he wouldn't come up with a scheme like that if he didn't know he could pull it off, but did I really want to do this? He must have been reading my thoughts...
"I know," he said with sympathy, "You're wondering if you really want to get her arrested?" He took a swallow of beer, "That, my friend, is up to you. It's kind of drastic, I know."
I sat nodding my head in agreement with his last statement.
"Even if you don't have her arrested, I'd still get that spy device and find out just what exactly is going on. Who knows, what you saw might have been perfectly innocent," he said knowing neither of us believed that.
We didn't talk much longer after that, I had some thinking to do and Jack had to get home to his own wife and kids. I thought about what he said regarding that spy thing for her phone and decided it was a good idea; as unlikely as it was, I prayed he was right about it being innocent...yeah, right!
I didn't waste any time ordering the gizmo Jack talked about. I always carried my laptop with me. Mostly I used it for editing photographs right on location but I could get on the net from anywhere by linking it to my smart phone, which is what I did as soon as I got back in my car. It didn't take very long to find what Jack was talking about, there were a bunch of them out there. I found one that would act as a listening device like he mentioned and paid extra to have it shipped overnight with special instructions for it to be held at the post office for me.
It was a little strange but I actually felt slightly better after that. One of the emotions I forget to mention before was control, or should I say the lack of it. Finding out your wife is having an affair really makes you see how little control you have over your life, even for guys like me who thought he had things pretty well handled. Now at least I was doing something, I was taking back at least some control.
All that evening I tried to spend as much time as I could away from Jean. I tried to act normal, but unless you've tried it yourself, you have no idea how hard that is when your whole world is crumbling down around you.
I went into my office and pretended to be editing shots from some imaginary big shoot I'd had. I waited until I was sure Jean was sound asleep before crawling into bed. Having her body so close to mine was tearing me apart again. I finally drifted off, but not before silently shedding more tears.
The next day I almost blew my first job because I just couldn't concentrate on what I was doing. Even the client asked me if something was wrong. I did the best I could to keep focused then headed to the post office around three.
I showed my ID to the cute little thing behind the counter and told her they should be holding a package for me; five minutes later she emerged from the back room with it in her hands. I opened it like a kid at Christmas. I read the instructions and downloaded the bug on her phone later that night. I set it up so I could monitor everything from my laptop; it didn't take long to strike pay dirt.
I had already checked a couple of times first thing in the morning to no avail, but around ten-thirty I saw Irv had sent my wife a text, although she hadn't answered it yet.
Irv: Hey beautiful, I have a pretty light schedule on Friday, you want to get together?
If she said yes that gave me two days to plan; the problem was I didn't know what I was going to do yet. I had just rested my head back against the car seat to think when I heard a phone ring...
"Hello," it was the bastard.
"Hey, it's me; I got your text but I was standing right next to Beverly and couldn't answer," replied my loving wife.
"Hell, Jean, she has to know something by now anyway; she's not dense."
"Yeah, I know," she responded, "but there's no need to rub her nose in it. She even covered for me the other day. She said Dalton was here to take me to lunch day before yesterday; she told him I had already left and she didn't know where I went."
"Well it was probably the truth," he scoffed.
"Yeah, I know; I'm wondering why Dalton didn't say anything about stopping by. He's actually been kind of quiet the last couple of nights too, you don't think he suspects anything? God, it would kill him if he found out about us."
"Hell, Jean, you're the one living with him, not me; what do you think? I haven't seen him since the company picnic a couple months ago, he didn't seem suspicious then, in fact we had a nice conversation about how fast kids grow up these days."
"Yeah I know, he mentioned it when we got home, he said he thought you were a good father."
"Now you're making me feel guilty, damn it; I like your husband."
"Yeah, I think he likes you too. Like you said, maybe I'm just feeling guilty; I got thinking about him coming to take me out to lunch while you and I were together and it just kind of reminded me about what we're really doing; I mean when we first started out it seemed like just harmless fun, but there's no two ways of looking at what we're doing now, we're both cheating on our spouses. Jeez, I don't even want to think what would happen if they ever found out; I don't know about Marge, but it would kill Dalton; I doubt that he would ever forgive me, Irv; we're really playing with fire here."
"Yeah, Marge too; shit she'd probably kick me out of the house for good. Well what do you think, should we cool it for a while?"
There was a long pause on both ends before Jean answered him.
"Actually, I've been kind of snippy the last few months; that could be why he's being so quiet. Every time he opens his mouth lately it seems I'm jumping down his throat, I think I've been using it as a defense mechanism, you know; it's like the closer he and I are as a couple the more guilt I feel, so if I can create some space between us I don't feel quite so guilty. That's not right though, I've got to stop that; Dalton hasn't done anything for me to be mean to him."