08/15/2016 00:04 in cheating
An odd little story about pride and prejudice. Please don't take it too serious. Sorry not much sex, but some violence. You have Vickie to thank once again for fixing my mistakes.
My wife Shantel was at the bar, perusing what was on offer in the way of male companionship. We were in La Pera, a fairly upscale dance club in the county center. Ours is an odd mix of urban and suburban community two steps away from the city. The town is now congested with office parks and shopping malls. La Pera was the trendy new place where the young and not so young gathered to dance and pick up the opposite sex.
I was surprised that my wife picked La Pera for our first night out without children. So much of our marriage had been about the kids. Now we were reaching a point where we would not need to think of the children before deciding on a night out.
Shantel continued to scope out the bar area. If a man smiled at Shantel, she would smile back. She was obviously flirting and on the make. What was holding the men back was that I was seated close to her with my arm firmly around her shoulder.
I'm not a small guy at six foot three and two hundred plus. I have always had a formidable presence. My looks in my younger days were pretty decent, I believe, but time has not been good to me. A lab explosion a few years back left me with an ugly horizontal scar across my right cheek bone. I'm of Irish descent technically, but my ancestors came to Ireland with the Norman Conquest. My blue eyes have the cold, forbidding look of my Norman ancestors. In short, I look like those big mean white guys you see in the movies and on TV who play the villains.
Shantel is my exact opposite. Her mother is in fact a Norwegian immigrant, with lily white skin and platinum blond, arrow-straight hair. The looks she passed to her daughter have an unusual appeal. But my wife's father was part African American. Her skin is a golden shade darker than a Caucasian woman with a deep tan. Shantel's skin tone gives off a warm, friendly, tropical vibe. She is a handsome rather than a pretty woman, her soft African features mixing beautifully with her sharp Norwegian bone structure. She naturally has a black woman's hair, the kind they sell all those straighten-your-hair products to, long black hair with a charmingly loose curl to it. She's a big woman, over six feet tall like her mother.
Ours is a second marriage for both of us. We came to this union with plenty of baggage. We each had a child. My daughter Margaret, or Maggie, was four and Shantel's son Eddy, or Edward, was eight. Eddy's skin coloring is like his very black natural father. It would have been difficult to blend us together if it were just the race issue, but we had the additional problem that Shantel was six months pregnant when we wed.
Neither of us was ready for marriage. Both our divorces were barely finished. Both marriages had terminated in deep bitterness. Mine still hurts even after more than twelve years. I had married the love of my life while still in University. At twenty-two, I was a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry. My first wife Susan was an MBA working for a large pharmaceutical company as some kind of executive. I never understood what she did other than go to work and look pretty.
Five years into my marriage with Susan, I was served with a restraining order. I was forbidden to go to my own home. I could not see the daughter I loved. Susan was divorcing me and I never found out why. She had been unhappy for a full year preceding the divorce, although all my attempts to find out why proved futile.
Homeless, I moved in with an old friend from the Brooklyn neighborhood where I grew up. Tony McGlen was the head of security for a Fortune five hundred company. Tony was the kid every bully had to try at least once. He was the toughest guy anyone ever knew, but was only average height and always a little overweight. We became friends because I could not keep myself from jumping in when the self-styled tough guys would gang up on Tony in groups of two and three.
Tony welcomed me to his modest Condo and we reminisced about our childhood. I desperately wanted the restraining order lifted. The first hearing was a week after the temporary order was signed, but nothing happened or changed. They hit me with child support for a daughter I was not allowed to see. This went on for two months. I was frustrated with my attorney. He had submitted lots of affidavits proving I was a good parent, better than my wife by far in fact, but there were no signs that anyone had read them.
"Look be reasonable. The situation is simple. Your wife is lying, but no judge will call her on it. If they lift the restraint and something happens, the judge's ass gets burned. However, if they do nothing, there is not a thing you can do about it. Be patient and let the case workers at Social Services report and the physiologists have their say. Then and only then will this judge act," Tony said.
My friend was right. His work around the edges of law enforcement had taught him well about the limitations of the judicial system. I would have been screwed if two events had not hit together. My wife Susan decided to take a promotion. Her new job was in California. She and her man-hating attorney marched right into court sure that the female judge, who had been so good to them so far, would see everything their way. But God must have decided to take a hand. The old bitch that had sat on the bench was a County Court judge sitting by a temporary appointment. We walked into the courtroom to find a new judge sitting.
I thought nothing of it. She was still a female if quite a bit younger, maybe mid-thirties. Susan's attorney did a good job of presenting her as the poor abused wife seeking to relocate to start a new life away from the uncaring husband. When she finished my attorney was up and ready but the judge waved her off and I was ready to kill someone until the judge ordered my wife to the witness stand.
It was the first time in this proceeding that anyone had actually been called to testify about anything. The Judge asked the questions. She deftly demolished by wife's ludicrous charges of abuse and then asked the question that stunted me.
"Mrs. Fitzmaurice, your daughter, is four years old - what inoculations has she had?" the judge asked in a sweet innocent tone.
Susan had no idea and had to admit that she left such things to me. The judge didn't bother to put me on the stand - she just asked me to rise and answer her question. I had no trouble telling her that we had every immunization that could be given to a child age four, running through the litany from whooping cough to measles. Which was everything until just before puberty.
"Yes, that's just as I thought," the judge said.
The Judge left and came back in about thirty minutes. She read a brief handwritten decision that changed custody to me and lifted the restraining order. Then added,
"In conclusion, I will admit that my decision is based in part on my view that women have no naturally superior child-rearing skills. My husband and I have four little girls - the youngest is only two. He is with her right now, providing child care while he pursues his work as an artist. Many view him with derision because he is the caregiver, but I see him as a man who provides for his daughters.
"Like you Mrs. Fitzmaurice I am a career woman who leaves trivial child care duties to her spouse. The problem is they are not trivial to the child. You choose to go to California to pursue your career. By all means go, but leave the child in the care of the parent who would never make that choice," the Judge said.
After that, I don't know what I expected. Maybe I thought that Susan would be very upset, but I was wrong, She went off to California without any further fight. In retrospect I think she was relieved. She didn't want the burden of her daughter and the Judge's decision gave her the excuse to walk away. I have to admire that Judge, she looked at my wife and I guess she just knew what the true situation was. For whatever reason, Susan wished to leave us.
Shantel was a totally different matter. She was the broker who sold the house Susan and I owned together. Susan's lawyer insisted we put it on the multiple listing. Shantel came by with a couple of prospective home buyers. We got to talking. I discovered she was also coming out of a difficult divorce. Her ex was walking away as well leaving her with an eight-year-old boy.
We began casually dating. It was nothing serious. She self-identified as a black woman with a black child. Our relationship was a rest stop on the road of life. We didn't need to be serious. The sex between us was the comfortable kind you have with someone you like and trust. Ours was the sort of easy going relationship that you need coming from a bad marriage.
Maggie and Eddy did not see it that way. My daughter desperately needed a mother. Eddy never actually had a father. Shantel's former husband had trouble parenting and when the marital problem started, he was gone quickly. She always spoke of him as a good man who was, unfortunately, unable to relate well to others. From what I learned he was a handsome man and well educated. He was a history professor at the State University.
The few times Eddy had a visitation with his father, he came back upset. The professor had unreasonable expectations for the behavior of an eight-year-old. Then when dad took up with a young co-ed, it pretty much finished the father-son relationship. It was natural I guess that the boy should turn to the man his mother was dating. On my side, I could not turn away from the boy even knowing that the woman did not see me as husband material.
So there we were, two parents unable to resist the needs of our children. Then fate struck. Shantel and I were careful we thought. When she missed her monthly flow she at first ignored it. The over the counter pregnancy test was supposed to be purely to ease our minds. Several positive results quickly led to medical confirmation. We were six months into a relationship that neither was supposed to take seriously, though I knew by then that I did not want to end it with her.
We were in an awkward situation. The news of the pregnancy changed things. I had not intended to have a serious connection with Shantel, but the fact was, I did. I knew I loved her, but was unsure of her feeling toward me. Eddy was another consideration, as was Maggie. The boy and I had bonded as if we were fated to be father and son. Maggie was attached to Shantel to the point that she was asking if Shan - as she called her - could be her mommy. Susan had called her daughter only four times in the preceding six months, which left my daughter desperate for a mother.
"We need to talk—" I began.
"Wait, don't go there, and please tell me you haven't bought a ring," she said.
"No, I was waiting to hear your reaction, but now I guess I know."
"Listen to me, this will take a bit. I know you love me. It's been obvious the last several months. What you don't know is that I love you. You don't know, because I have been hiding my feelings, but I can't marry you. My husband had every right to divorce me. I cheated...on him. Not once but several times," she said.
She had turned away from me. I could tell she had started to cry. I wrapped my arms around her from behind.
"My love we all do things we regret when we are under pressure. I don't think your former husband was a saint—" I said.
"NO, NO you don't understand. Yes, he cheated, but what I did had nothing to do with that. I can't be faithful, not long term. There are times that I need something different. I get this itch and there is no controlling it. I am sure this baby is yours because I have been ok for the last six months. But it will come again," she said.
"I'm not sure what you are telling me," I said.
"Rob you are a good man. The best man I know and frankly the man I would most like to be a father to my children. I love you and love Margaret like she was my own daughter. I have only myself to blame for getting pregnant. The truth is I want this new child and will not even consider not having it. But I love you too much to hurt you with a marriage."
"Now you are making no sense at all. If we love each other how can we not be faithful," I said.
"Please try to understand. Sometimes I need what you can't give me. You are a sweet, gentle lover and ninety-nine percent of the time that is all I need. But the one percent is my undoing. I can't help myself and I wouldn't go through another painful divorce. And certainly not a hurtful divorce with what I now realize is the only man I have ever actually loved," she said.
The discussion went on like that for an entire evening. I did not understand what she was saying. We had been exclusively together for six months. I had never seen her look elsewhere. True we did not live together. She could have played around if she wanted to, but I firmly believed she had not been doing so. Why she would need to in the future, I did not understand. In fact, I did not believe what she was telling me.
We didn't seem able to resolve the situation. We broke up, but I knew we could not just leave it like that. Something would need to be resolved about the pregnancy.
But I did not expect the reaction from the two existing children. Maggie could not understand why she could not see Shantel. My daughter started acting up. She was in a half-day kindergarten program by this time and I got called into the school because she was acting too aggressive there.
And then, Eddy ran away from home. He was gone a whole day before we found him. In fact, I found him in the park where he and I played ball on the weekends.
We sat the kids down for a long discussion session. Probably should have done that to begin with. They were unable to comprehend why if we loved each other and were going to have a new child, why we weren't going to be together as a family. They had apparently seen this as an inevitable step.
The truth was we didn't have a good explanation, or any explanation. Trying to defend our situation only made me see how absurd it was. I sent the kids to bed. Eddy usually spent as many nights in my home as in Shantel's condo. Then I sat down with Shantel to have it out. She had been very shaken by Eddy's actions and she was missing Maggie far more than she anticipated.
Looking at everything including the needs of the new child, we both knew we needed a solution.
"What if we had an open marriage?" Shantel asked.
"I guess I would need to know what you mean by that," I said.
She sat and thought for a long time and then began
"First we pledge our love to each other. We acknowledge our love and work to make that love without limit or any condition. That love must always come first.
"Second we always put this family and each other ahead of everything else we do.
"Third, we recognize that monogamy is not a prerequisite of the first two. By open I mean that I am free to have sex with other men and I will not stop you from having sex with other women."
"I still don't see how this is to work."
"We set up rules, the first of which is honesty and the second respect," she said.
Ultimately she had a list of twenty rules. They seemed to cover everything but how in hell I was expected to live with her stepping out on me. One part of me said to walk away, but there was no way I could do that to the kids.
I set only one additional condition on my side.
"If this doesn't work out, you agree to let me go in peace. No nasty divorce. No fighting over custody or money," I said.
"I swear. If you want a prenup of some kind," she said.
"No. I trust you with my life. If you promise, I have to believe you."
We were married in an intimate ceremony with our children, her mother, and six good friends. She wore a pretty blue dress.
"I'm not wearing a white dress to my second marriage when I'm six months pregnant ," she said.
She was none the less the most beautiful woman in the world to me and I was the happiest man.
Three months later she had our son Douglas in Mercy General Hospital. I was there for the whole birth process. She never even whimpered. Later I took the kids to the nursery window to see their new brother. He was a big boy, eleven pounds eight ounces. He was the whitest, most Nordic looking child in the nursery.
I was worried about Eddy's reaction to having a fair-skinned brother. I needn't have worried. My eldest son was so taken with being a big brother the baby could have come out green. As the years proved, Eddy was a great big brother to both our other children. I tried not to show him too much favoritism. But it can be hard for a stepfather who has such a wonderful stepson. You find yourself spending that extra time playing ball and helping with his first car. Then all too soon he is off to college and you have lost him and a big part of your soul.
Three weeks after the baby was born, Shantel handed me a medical report.
"What's this?" I asked.
"It's a DNA report shows that Douglas Fitzmaurice is the natural son of Robert Fitzmaurice," she said.
"You didn't need to do that," I said.
"I didn't do it for you. I did it for our son so there would never be any question."
As we sat in the La Pera, Edward was at University in a pre-med program. Maggie - now Margret - was in California in a summer film school at UCLA. She was actually staying with Susan, and I was happy the two were attempting to have some kind of relationship. Our youngest, Douglas, had been dropped off that morning at summer camp. We had a week to ourselves. I was hoping for some quality time with my wife, but Shantel's itch was making itself felt.
The first time had been a year after Douglas was born. We had been married all of fifteen months when I came home on a Friday night to find my wife dressed to go out.
"Sorry but I have a date and it's not with my husband," she said.
I just looked at her. Whoever he was he must be tall - she had heels on high enough to look down on my six foot two inches. She was dressed sexy and elegant. Neither too formal nor too slutty, but she was making a statement about how far she would be going.
"Look please don't wait up. I believe I will be very late. I have a pizza coming for dinner for you and the kids."
I looked at her - what could I say? Some words came to mind, but I bit my tongue. She pressed her cheek against mine and whispered, "I love you," in my ear.
Then she was gone. I never saw the guy. I had an image of a tall black man in my mind, but that was probably just my racist tendencies. I had the kids to take care of. They occupied most of the evening, but still it was a long night. She did not get home till well after 2 am. I pretended to be asleep. She spent a long time in the bathroom. When she came to bed, she did not cuddle, just laid down on her side of the bed.
In the morning, she woke me with kisses to my manhood. She had already been up and had settled the kids into breakfast in front of the TV. She had given Eddy strict instructions to keep everyone downstairs while she had time with Daddy.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Making up for last night. I needed that and I want to show you it made no difference. You are and will always be my man."
I tried to put it out of my mind, pretend that it did not happen. For three months everything was fine. And then she called me at work.
"Rob, I will be late. I'm seeing someone tonight. Can you pick up the baby from daycare and the kids from school? I wouldn't ask, but I'm leaving right from work to meet him," she said.
I picked up the kids, but I was steamed. I have a bad habit of burying my anger. She got home after midnight. I said nothing then and pretended to be asleep. The next day I left for work early. When I got home late, nothing was said. After the kids had gone to bed, she let me know she was available for some loving in the bedroom. She didn't push things when I showed no interest.
I guess her strategy was to let me stew and to shower me with love and attention. They say a man's home is his castle. Well, I was certainly treated like a king in his castle. She enlisted the kids in her effort. I came home each night to the affection of my children. She had them primed and ready for me. She would be there holding the infant. She was the perfect wife and mother. Dinner would be ready and waiting only for my presence.
I was never asked to do a dish, make a bed, or check on the laundry. Mowing the lawn and garbage detail still fell on my shoulders but with substantial help from my son Edward. He was happy to help me, obviously under the vigorous urging of his mother. I hear others talk about their kids and wonder at the differences with mine. I know they have problems and could at times get into trouble or be difficult. Yet the facts are that Shantel was like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, she could lead our children anywhere and they would gladly follow. There is something magical about a personality like Shantel's. She makes you happy just being with her.
Still my anger simmered. Why? I sometimes ask myself. In those early days perhaps I thought I could change her. I formulated a plan like a good scientist. I worked out every detail. It was designed to humiliate her and at the same time make her so jealous that my problem would be totally resolved. They say that when it comes to women, men are stupid. How right they are. My plan was a mistake from start to finish.
My life was not all wine and roses regardless of the extramarital sex problem. I am what the administrators refer to as a research scientist. The MBA types need to put people into little boxes. I work in the laboratory of a biotech company. At the time, I was the assistant head of the lab. That doesn't sound like much until you realize the lab employs over thirty-five scientists and more than one hundred staff in all. On what is the business side of the lab there are three people above the director of the lab. There is a Vice President of Research and Development, his immediate assistant, and the Director of Human Resources. Still, where the lab was concerned, I was number two.
The business managers kept the laboratory separate from the rest of the company. We were our own little empire. But we answered to the business side of the company. They liked schedules and project reports, even though research doesn't work well with deadlines or schedules. My boss, the chief researcher and Director of the Lab, operated most of the team. They worked taking recent discoveries, ours or others, and developing products. I was left in charge of the small group actually looking for the next discovery. It was a good division of talent, but my days at work were often troubled by bureaucratic hassles. What made the job worthwhile was the money I could bring home to my wife and kids.
Rebecca Stillman was an intern. Rebecca had a biology degree but also an MBA. She had a driving ambition. She had short blond hair and crystal blue eyes. The lady stood just five feet tall with a very curvaceous little pixie body. She was always dressed professionally but with a sexy subtext. She was also in perpetual flirt mode.
Becky, as she was called, was a danger to every man in the place, but particularly to anyone who might help her career. I was mostly immune to her charms. She was not my type, and I had been and still was totally in love with my Shantel. I simply did not want anyone other than Shantel. The fact that my wife wanted other men hurt all the more because she was all I desired. Shantel's promiscuity may, in fact, have increased my desire for her.
I started my plan for revenge by flirting with Becky. She responded by shamelessly flirting back. By the time of the company Christmas party, Becky had made it clear that she would be receptive if I made an advance.
"But what about your wife?" she asked.
"We have an open marriage," I told her.
It was true, right?
"How wonderful," Becky said.
The night of the Christmas party, Shantel looked like a dream. We had attended the Christmas party for her firm the week before and had a wonderful time. She had shown me off to all her co-workers and they had treated me like a prince. My Shantel was the prettiest woman in the small restaurant where the party was held. She was at my side the whole night, as if to say 'this is my man and I love him dearly.'
My firm's party went differently. It was held in a big hotel ballroom. Shantel was still the greatest beauty in that hall, but Becky was dressed to kill and joined us at our table. I did dance with Shantel that night but made a point of dancing more with Becky. I could tell Shantel was not happy with my behavior. However, she remained the lady and never said a cross word or let on that anything was wrong.
At the end of the evening, I rose from my seat and bent down to her ear and whispered, "I'm taking Becky upstairs to the suite I rented. I will see you at home tomorrow."
I led Becky out of the ballroom to the elevators, leaving what I could see was a furious Shantel to find her own way home. In the elevator, Becky attacked me. She had her tongue down my throat and her hands on my ass.
"Oh, baby was that woman mad. You didn't tell me this was revenge sex," she said.
"Well...if you don't want?"
She answered by sticking my hand up her dress.
"I am soaking, this is so hot," she said.
There was no getting away from her even if I wanted. I was determined to go through with it just to teach my wife the lesson of how it felt. What I had not counted on was Becky. I had assumed that her flirting was her way to advance herself. I did not expect the level of sexual desire this woman had. She was insatiable.
The minute we hit the room she stripped me. There followed a ravenous blowjob. She respected my desire to use condoms and practice safe sex. But when Becky discovered I knew how to perform cunnilingus and enjoyed the practice, there was no stopping her. We literally had sex all night and into the dawn.
"So I guess this is it," she said.
"What do you mean?" I said.
"Oh, come on. Your wife owns you. This is you getting back at her. I know, I gave you a good time. But not near as good a time as I had. If you can go to bed with someone like me, and still be thinking of her, well, you need to get over your problem and learn to live with the woman who owns your heart," she said.
"Thanks, but things depend on her," I said.
Becky laughed, "You sure got that right mister. But don't expect her to give up her little something on the side. Sweets are fine, but a woman like yours periodically needs a little beefcake too," she said. "To tell the truth we all do."
When I returned home, the children were at her mother's and I had one very angry wife to deal with. I thought that I was in the right, but I was soon to be dissuaded from that erroneous position.
"What do you have to say for yourself?" she said.
She was seated at the kitchen table drinking coffee. She might have been there all night, but she looked perfect. She was in one of her dark business pinstriped suits. She looked like she was getting ready to go to work, but it was Sunday morning.
"I don't understand the question?" I lied.
This only infuriated her more.
"Then you sit down and listen," she said.
I pulled out a chair and sat down at the table. I felt like a small boy being called to the principal's office.
"I will not be humiliated and have your cheating thrown in my face," she said.
"You dare say that after what you've done?" I shot back
She gave a frustrated sigh.
"One, I took great pains not to throw my extra-marital activities in your face. You went out of your way to hurt and humiliate me.
"Two, you picked a woman solely to get under my skin. That short little blue eyed white girl is not only everything I am not, she is definitely not your type. Who did you think you were fooling? You want to make me jealous, pick a woman you might be attracted to."
"And three, you have sex with a slut who has obviously been spreading for every guy around. God knows what diseases she gave you," Shantel said clearly attempting to control her anger.
"I don't know how you can say I was not humiliated by your actions or that I was cheating on you. And I wore a condom," I said.
"Please. You are a very intelligent man. You cannot compare my coming home late or leaving on a discreet date with what you did last night. You went way over the top with the clear intent to hurt me.
"As for the cheating, that may not be obvious to you, but think! Is it the same? I come home hungry and eat the last brownie. You take the last brownie and throw it in the garbage because you do not want to share it. If you wanted to have sex with that woman and were responsible about it, I would understand. But you did what you did just to hurt me. That is a breach of our agreement and clear cheating.
"Wearing a condom is not enough. I don't go out and jump into bed with just anybody. I need to know them and their partners. Yes, they wear condoms, but they are also responsible sexually. They get tested for STD's and we have no unprotected sex activity unless they can prove both that they are exclusive to me and disease free. I can and do get exclusivity from my partners. That girl of yours can't say the same. Only God knows what she has been exposed to and may have given you."
The lecture went on like that for another hour, her explaining the difference between her actions and mine. Then I was ordered to shower and change, and taken off to church to pray for forgiveness for my sins. She took the kids to church every Sunday but didn't usually require me to attend. That day I did the full service and the social get-together afterward.
On the way home we drove to her mother's to pick up the kids.
"I'm going to forgive you, Robert," she said, "but I want no more trouble. I will not throw my extra-marital activities in your face and I expect the same in return. I also expect that having agreed to an open marriage you can keep your bargain. That includes only having sex with others if you have a sincere desire for that person, and then only when you have fulfilled your marital and family duties," she added.
After that Sunday, things returned to what I suppose you could call our normal. We had a loving and joyful family life. I was still treated like a king, but periodically she would let me know she would be seeing someone else. I never played around on her again because as we agreed, to do that you needed the desire and I never had it. I loved her too much. Instead, I adopted the pretense that it was not happening. Even when I knew she was out with another man, I refused to think of it.
A decade later I was still pretending that she wasn't seeing other men. I knew of course intellectually that she was. But that was like knowing the earth orbited the sun. You know it of course but are you thinking about the scientific facts as you watch a sunset? She made sure I knew the actual fact, as that was the honesty part of our agreement. The details were never discussed so it became a fact that never affected our home life.
I never wanted for sex. We made love at least four times each week. It was not just sex. We held each other and experienced each other's love and commitment. The children as they grew up came to make fun of their parents. They teased us when they knew we had slipped off to fornicate in the bedroom or some secluded spot. I think they took pleasure in knowing their parents were so much in love.
Now it was the Fourth of July weekend. Edward was attending summer school. Margaret had left the week before for California to live with her birth mother and attend film school. Douglas and I were in the garage packing for a fishing trip we had planned. I knew with the other kids gone he would be feeling lonely and left out. He loved to fish, an activity I enjoyed as well. I had purchased him a new very expensive fly rod, and he was dying to get to the mountains and into a trout stream.
Shantel's silver Mercedes pulled up in the drive. I was surprised to see it. I had invited her to the mountains just as a formality. She could tolerate camping, but hated fishing. She was a beach person and she had her Fourth planned at the shore. I knew that a new man was also involved, but I never expected to see him.
Had she waited another two hours Doug and I would have been gone. But she exited her expensive car in the company of an exceeding tall, well-built black man. He had to be at least six foot five and well over two hundred fifty pounds. He looked like he spent most of each day in the gym. They walked up the drive smiling. He held out his hand as my wife introduced him.
"I would like to introduce my new friend Samuel, and this is my husband, Robert Fitzmaurice," my wife said as if this was the most normal thing in the world.
We chatted briefly. She was home she said to pack a bag for the weekend. A lame excuse. She had packed last evening and had all day to get her luggage into her car. Samuel (please call me Sam) chatted with us about our upcoming fishing trip.
"He's a personal trainer," She said.
"Oh how interesting," I said
"No, it's not, just gets you a good body if you work at it. Being a scientist is interesting and meaningful. I wish I had the brains for something like that," Sam responded. "By the way where are you guys going fishing?"
"Trout fishing in the Adirondacks," Douglas said.
"Oh, I prefer the seashore to the mountains," Sam said.
"Yes, Mom likes the beach too," Douglas said.
"Glad she has someone to share the driving," I said trying to continue the illusion of propriety for my son.
"Yes we will share," Sam said, giving me a look that said what he intended to share, and it wasn't the driving.
He was clearly looking for a reaction, but I gave him none. Shantel appeared with her bag. I knew she had packed two, but she carried only the smaller one. She must already have the larger bag in the car. Any doubt that the intent was to put me in the frame with Sam was dispelled. He took her bag and carried it to the car, and as he placed it in the trunk he gave me a friendly smile. My wife kissed me and my son, said she loved us, and then departed with another man.
The month that followed was anything but good. I forced myself to be cheerful and show my son a good time fishing. I was, however, a broken man. I saw no way I could keep my self-respect. I was a joke of a husband who had let his wife go off with another man. Shantel was home waiting for us when we returned from fishing. She was in a loving mood. As soon as she got our son off to his room for the night she wanted to drag me to bed. I blew her off. I did not want to even touch her - forget sex!
Shantel was hurt. She said nothing but she was definitely distressed. Things only got worse. Day followed day of my being even less loving and more distant.
"Please, Rob, tell me what's wrong. Did something happen?" she said.
I couldn't answer. She had crushed me, and she just couldn't see it.
We had booked Douglas into summer camp for the first week in August. It was a two-hour drive to the camp. We left early Saturday morning. On the way, everything in the car was happy. Our son was enthused with the idea of going to camp. It was the first time he would be away from home. It was rather tough letting him go like that. I refused to cry when we dropped him off, though it seemed to me like a first step toward our empty nest.
On the way back neither of us spoke, lost in our own thoughts. I decided I was being silly. I should make an effort to re-establish my relationship with my wife and lover. After all, she had long told me she would never let it come to loving anyone else. And then she suggested we have dinner and go dancing at La Pera.
The first guy to approach our table was a tall white asshole. He was very smug and sure of himself. He asked Shantel to dance as if I wasn't there. She accepted just as if I wasn't there. She proceeded to dance very close to him. As soon as the ice was broken she was soon gathering dance partners. I tried to break the flow by asking her to dance.
"I don't want to dance with you," she said.
It when on for hours. The men were soon feeling her up quite openly. She was rubbing herself against them every chance she got. It was as if she were deliberately trying to see how far she could push me. Finally, she came back to the table with a big black dude.
"I'm leaving now with my friend," she said. "I'll see you at home."
That tore it. It was over as far as I was concerned. She'd broken every rule we had. I went home only long enough to pack a bag, then headed out to my lab. I was the head of the lab now. We didn't run twenty-four hours a day, but often staff worked long hours with a particular experiment. We had cots available for sleeping, and showers, gym, and cooking facilities. Some researchers were wont to live in the place for weeks at a time. I was never one of those - my family was far too important to me.
Now I simply moved into my office in the lab. I pulled a cot into the office and settled in. There was plenty of work I could do. My phone rang at two a.m. It was Shantel and I didn't answer. A text followed, "Where are you? Don't be childish, call me."
That was it! I knew her - she would call and text only once a day. Eventually, she would stop, and then we could end this as she had promised without rancor. Was I upset? I was devastated. I cried that first night like a baby, but I was determined to finally start acting like a man.
As I came out to my car to go to dinner Wednesday evening I saw her leaning on my Camry. She had her silver Mercedes SL400 blocking my car into its slot. She was dressed for the kill in a tight gold lame dress that hugged her spectacular figure and was cut far too low and far too short. In that dress, she was a golden goddess, come to get me in her silver chariot.
Over the years, my earnings were always very high. We tended to use the commissions Shantel earned as fun money, an expensive car for her or a great vacation for the family. Now with a divorce coming and three kids still to put through college that seemed imprudent.
"Got Ya!" she said as I approached.
"What do you want?"
"Came to take you to dinner."
"So we can talk and I get a chance to explain myself. After twelve years I think I'm entitled to that."
"We had a deal. If I couldn't take it, we were to part without recriminations."
"Yes, but like I said after twelve years I have earned the consideration of a parting conversation over dinner."
"You may not see it my way, but after Saturday night I think I owe you nothing."
"Ok, you're mad. I was stupid. Now is dinner going to kill you? I bet you were going somewhere to eat anyway," she said.
I hesitated. After all, what was the harm? She couldn't change my mind with a dinner.
"Get in the car," She said.
Shantel always drives too fast, but tonight she didn't need to. Valentine's is only a few block from the lab, in the old section of town. I groaned when I saw where she had taken me.
Valentine's has the finest Italian food. The restaurant is a celebration of food. It's a place for lovers, with its dark high-backed booths and its intimate atmosphere. But mostly it's slow. A meal at Valentine's takes forever, The Valentine family is proud of their slow service.
"You don't play fair," I said.
"Baby, with what I have to lose fair is something I cannot afford."
We were seated in a booth well in the back of the restaurant. The place was two-thirds empty on a Wednesday evening. Shantel insisted on ordering for both of us.
"We'll have two orders of the baked claims. Serve them separately, and then an order of calamari. My husband will have the sole marinara and I will have the veal piccata. The house dressing on the salads. The best Soave with the claims and Valpolicella with the main course and bring my husband a dry vodka martini to start. I'll have a short Drambuie."
When the waitress had left, I said. "You plan on getting me drunk and keeping me here all night,"
"Yes, it's all I have. I know I'm taking advantage, but I'm fighting for my life here."
"Why? You obviously don't want me," I said
"What a fucking stupid thing to say."
"Not after Saturday."
"OK, I got mad and stupid. Do you end a marriage over one angry action," she said.
"How can you call it one angry action and why in the name of God should you have been angry."
"You say that after what you put me through for the last month. The cold shoulder, cutting me off in bed. Not speaking."
"You bring your lover around and throw him in my face and you expect a warm welcome when you come back."
"Keep your voice down. I didn't throw Samuel in your face. I had no choice but to introduce him to you. Let's call him what he is my bull—nothing more. He happens to be the best bull I've ever had, but he is still only a bull," she said.
"What's this bull business?"
"That's what you call a man like Samuel. He has an awesome huge cock and he knows how to use it," she said her voice lowering to a whisper.
"So that's it - he has a big cock and that's worth our marriage."
"No, certainly not, but you knew that occasionally I need someone like Samuel, before we got married. It's your behavior since meeting him that has caused the problem."
"I see. I'm the problem. Well, that is easy to fix. You keep your promise and let me go amicably."
"Why? Tell me why now after twelve years?"
"Because you broke your promise and threw it in my face after berating me about the same thing."
"I did not throw it in your face until Saturday, by which time it was clear to me the marriage was broken. What I did that night was the result of anger and a desire to get the problem out in the open.
"You don't call bringing your stud, bull, or whatever to our home - in front of our son - throwing it in my face."
"As I said, I had no choice. Let me explain."
"Oh go ahead, I just have to hear this BULL-shit," I said.
She reached across the table and took my hand.
"Baby, I love that face of yours. With that scar you are no longer pretty, but still very sexy. No woman alive wouldn't want you as a husband. But there are times that a woman wants and needs a bull like Sam. That doesn't make him a better man - actually the contrary.
"When I look at you I see my wonderful husband, the father to my children. But other people look and see one bad-ass-looking white dude. The kind of man who would put some black guy who took his woman at least in the hospital if not the morgue.
"Samuel would not believe me when I said it was ok for him and me to be together. The only reason that I brought him to the house was so he could see you for who you really are, a very gentle loving man.
"I brought him when I knew you and Douglas would be together. That way I could be sure that he would see the loving husband and father you are. It also meant that both you and Sam would feel inhibited. Neither of you was going to act out in front of our twelve-year-old son. I was sure we would act like sophisticated adults in what was an awkward situation. It is exactly what happened and if I had not believed both my men would behave themselves I would not have exposed my son to their meeting.
"You knew in advance what I was going to do that weekend. All I added was having you meet and shake hands with Sam. That way he could see you in your own environment being the person you really are. Sam now accepts that you understand and accept my being with him. He told me how much he would like to be your friend."
She paused, collecting her thoughts as I shook my head in disbelief. Was I to accept such a story? This big guy was afraid so she introduced us so he would not be afraid? It was crazy enough to be true.
"That meeting started the problem. You were acting so cold to me and angry. Sam was so happy after meeting you and enthused. He liked you and was hoping you two could be friends. I guess my hopes were raised that I could have a truly open relationship with both my lover and my husband.
"When I realized how upset you were, I tried to soothe your feelings, but all you did was push me away and grow more hostile. Finally, I had enough, so when we got back from taking Doug to camp I decided to teach you a lesson. Clearly things have not worked out the way I thought.
"I made a stupid misjudgment. I deliberately tried to provoke you. I was trying to get you to let the anger out so we could confront the problem. The more I did the quieter you got. I could see it wasn't working and I should have stopped, But I lost my temper. After all, I treat you so well and all I have ever asked was some understanding.
"I didn't have sex with the guy I picked up in La Pera. Everything I did was for your benefit. I was trying to show you the difference between that sort of relationship and what we have. Even as I left with that guy, I thought you would come to me the next day. I would confess my deception and we would make up. I would promise to respect you and you would in turn promise to respect me and my choices in extramarital partners," she said.
"I do respect you most of the time, but I don't see how you can expect me to respect a woman who so casually engages in extramarital sex," I said.
"I was upfront about my needs from when we first started a serious relationship. You agreed to my stipulations. I wasn't trying to humiliate you by bringing Sam by the house. It was not like you with Becky," she said.
"To be honest I don't see it that way. The whole Becky thing has always grated on me. Yes, you made the point that you were upset with how it came down, but that is not the whole truth. I know that most of the Becky blowup was your feeling that it was all right for you to play but not me. At least that is the message that I took away from our argument. I should point out that I have never had extramarital sex since," I said.
I could see her frustration. We had talked through the appetizers and the main course had arrived. I love the Sole Marinara and I know the Veal is fabulous. We broke the conversation while we ate. I could tell she was seriously thinking, and that made me nervous.
Shantel is by far the stronger personality. She owns the pants in our relationship. I can pretend to be the master of the house, but she is the ruler. We have very few fights. If you remove the current sex problem from the mix, we don't fight at all. She knows me inside out. Both what I want and what I need. She has always seen to it that I have all my needs met. Take away what she does with other men and our marriage is paradise.
"Rob what you have is a hurt ego. I can see introducing you to Sam was a mistake. I know he can never compare to you as a man and what's more so does he. He may be a lion in the bedroom but not in his life. I have never told you this, but for the last ten years I have maintained an apartment in Somerset," she said.
I was shocked. We never worried about money and I never paid attention to her finances. We were one of those couples who, while we share the principal bank account, also maintain separate accounts.
"You're living with this guy?"
"No, obviously not. I spend nearly all my time at home. I maintain an apartment to house my bulls. Every time I start a relationship I move the guy into the apartment. It makes life easier and the sex discreet. Men like Sam don't have a lot going for them. He has a minimum wage income. He lives to a great degree off the support I provide him. The apartment I rent, the food I buy, and the allowance I give him," she said looking me hard in the eyes.
"So you see," she said, "Sam is the one who should have the ego problem and to a great extent he does. He would like to feel that he has a relationship with you. Some mutual understanding between equals."
I had no idea how to respond to this. My mind was in a whirl. It was as if Copernicus had just explained to me why the earth must move around the sun. The facts had always been there - I just never worked them all the way through. Sam was probably twenty-five and my wife was pushing forty. She was a gorgeous woman, but he could have had his pick. Moreover, she had always maintained that her men must be exclusive. It just never occurred to me that she kept them.
"I have always told you I didn't love these other guys, but what I failed to tell you was I did not respect them either. It wasn't a lie, we had agreed to keep the details private. I was not burdening you with information you did not want or need. It also helped me keep things strictly out of public view. Somerset is a mostly black neighborhood where I could blend in. I kept my men there and it did not intrude on the two of us," she said.
"I don't know what to say," I replied.
"What's the problem? You can't believe that I would give up our wonderful home and family for any man who needed me to pay his rent. What these guys have beyond hard bodies and the ability to deliver great sex isn't worth the price of this dinner. Please believe me. It is you I love and always will," she said.
"I guess my problem is that I can't see how you can respect me and do what you do," I said.
"Now we are getting someplace. That's a fair question," she said.
"Now open your scientist's mind and consider the facts. In twelve years of marriage, we have had exactly two fights. You know what both were about. They were not about your annoying habits of leaving the toilet seat up or dropping your clothes on the floor instead of putting them in the hamper.
"You never washed a dish or made a bed. I never nagged you about anything. You spoiled our kids and made me into the person who had to say "NO" when it was needed. No, you can't watch TV until your homework is done. No, you can't stay out past ten o'clock. I could go on and on.
" You see, any time I might have gotten mad at you I thought about you loving me so much you would let me fulfill my need for other men. A man who can love a woman that much is special. More special is a man who foregoes other women when he has every right to see them. You had only that one lapse with Becky, and that was partly my fault. I should have communicated more and explained things better.
"It is impossible for me to see how, given these facts, you can reach the conclusion I do not completely love and respect you. I know I am a weak woman when it comes to sex. I can't resist. I told you that, and in a real sense, I have kept my word. I have stayed within the lines and in the process my love for you has become limitless," She said all this and then took a deep swig of the red wine.
She had not had much to drink. Most of the wine had gone in me. I was definitely feeling mellow, but the deep ache I felt inside remained.
"It still hurts," I said. "And I don't know what to do about it."
"I know. It's your male pride. You are feeling inadequate although that is totally untrue. But listen to me. For the last twelve years, I have always taken care of you. Met every need you have. And I promise to take care of the problem we are having now."
It had grown late. The restaurant was empty. She ordered coffee and we skipped desert. I promised to think about what she had said and she drove me back to the lab. I was still thinking the next afternoon. I was truly troubled. I loved this woman with all my heart. I believed her when she said she could not give up other men. But I also could not see how I could live with it.
"Trouble in Paradise?" she said.
Vice President of Research and Development Becky Stilman was standing in the doorway of my office, leaning against the door jam. She wore the kind of smirk that told you she was about to put you in your place.
She was my boss, had been for two years. Youngest VP in the business, but only to be expected. She had that rare combination of talent, ambition, and hot pussy that leads inevitably to success.
"What can I do for you today, Ms. Stilman?" I said.
"Heard you were feeling down, Rob, and needed cheering up. Something about a bruised ego," she said.
"And you heard that where?"
"Your wife, we had lunch today," she said.
Over the years since the Christmas party fiasco. Shantel and Becky had become friends. Not best girlfriend type friends. More the occasional lunch to talk about their men and children type relationship. Becky had a five-year-old son, Tommy. No father named or in evidence, many rumors circulated, but there was no viable evidence of paternity
"How does Tommy like his train?" I asked after my birthday present to her son.
"Loves it! He would sleep with it if I let him."
"Thought he would." I could not help but smile. My son Douglas had a similar toy at that age. Boys love the flashing lights and noises they make.
"You are a great man and father, it is truly a pity," she said.
"That you are so stupid. What have you got to complain about? You have a fabulous family with a loving do-anything-for-you wife. Not to mention a solid job with a boss who gives you a raise every year. Men don't know when they are well off," she said.
"My complaint? Women who can't keep their legs closed," I replied
"Interesting you bring that up," she said, that smirk of hers getting bigger.
"Ok, let me have it," I said.
"Well, you are speaking to the soon-to-be Executive Vice President of this company."
I'd half-expected her to eventually reach that lofty height, but this soon? It seemed strange.
"May I ask—"
"Who did I sleep with? Well no one, they needed a woman on the board of directors. We are moving into Government contracts. They needed to look better."
"But what about Mary Price?" I asked.
Mary was the head of sales and senior to Becky. Mary was also a well know slut.
"Yes Mary has certainly earned recognition whoring for the firm, but that reputation is a bit inconvenient on the Board of Directors. They are giving her a new title and substantial raise. She will be happy. It's you the big boys are worried about," she said.
I was puzzled a minute by what she was saying.
"Who gets your job?"
"Sorry, Rob, they are moving Sara into that," she said.
Technically Sara Marks was Assistant Lab Director, my old job. She certainly had the qualifications. She had a Ph.D. from Stanford and was a highly respected lecturer in biology. The problem was she was useless in the lab. No ability to think beyond what she already knew. She might have been a good manager, but she couldn't get along with anyone. She had one other qualification that trumped all her faults in some eyes. She was the daughter of our company CEO.
Sara and I had had any number of arguments over the last several years, and I was the person in the lab who disliked her the least. The rest of the staff hated her, and none more than the other women. They refused to work with her at all.
"Let me get this straight. They are appointing someone the research staff hates to be the head of research."
"You are looking at this wrong. They can't appoint you because you have no business sense. And if they did who would run the lab? Sara would be a disaster as lab chief. This way she is out of the lab doing what she does best, being a pain in the ass administrator." Becky sounded oddly very pleased with herself.
I reflected for a minute. In some stupid, purely bureaucratic business logic, what was planned for Sara made sense. The question was, what I would do?
"But, of course, you called Shantel for lunch to get her to keep the lid on me, and she told you our problem," I said.
Becky merely nodded. "Look, cowboy, anything you want or need. No questions asked. You got a wife that loves you and a boss who would do anything for you," she said and then got up. At the door she turned. "Remember, A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G," she said. And was gone.
My life had turned into shit again. It was time to see my old friend Tony.
Research, that is the key to success. As General Sun Tsu said "Know your enemy and know yourself..."
Tony had done the scouting. I knew a great deal about Samuel. The gym he worked at and the hours he kept. How often he saw my wife was quite amazing. I had literally no idea they saw each other nearly every day. The apartment he lived in was in a decent part of town, but was no palace. It was a two bedroom in what they refer to as garden apartments. There were no gardens, everything was paved over. The two-story buildings were nondescript cement block structures. Still they seemed well maintained and clean. The parking area was a principle concern. It was well lit, and you could park close to your entrance. What we planned would need to be sudden and quick.
Tony had joined the gym that Sam worked at under a false name. My dear wife had never actually met Tony, so he was in a position to observe them as Sam provided his personal training to Shantel. Each weekday they met about 11:30 a.m., did a workout until about 12:30 p.m., and then headed back to the apartment. They spent maybe an hour there and my wife headed back to her real estate office. It was very discreet. A black woman visiting a black man in a black neighborhood.
Once, maybe twice a week she would stop by after work as well. They also had a date about once every three weeks or so. It was these dates that I was made aware of - the rest I had been kept in the dark about. In addition to training my wife, Sam had about a half dozen other customers, all women and all about ten years older than Shantel.
Samuel's busiest days were Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays. He worked Saturday morning and afternoon and both Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I figured he put in less than twenty hours a week if you didn't count the time he spent fucking my wife. I never worked less than fifty-five and was minding the kids on all those late nights they got together.
We planned on an evening for what was to happen. I needed to arrange an alibi. We did not necessarily need the alibi to bear more than a cursory examination because we were scheduling a set of payoffs to the local constabulary. Tony was arranging this last through a contact he had.
My job was the tricky part. I had to walk right up to a much larger and stronger man and put him down quickly. For this, I needed an equalizer. Actually I had a set. The first was a toy bat, one of those items small children play with. A two-foot-long hollow piece of plastic shaped like a baseball bat. A large hole was drilled in the end and it was filled with epoxy and lead shot. One properly placed hit should do the job.
On my hands, I had tight leather gloves and what are referred to as brass knuckles but were actually stainless steel. Between the bat and my armored hands, I should be able to do the job as long as I maintain an element of surprise.
"Pretend Inferiority and encourage his arrogance," said Sun Tzu.
It was time that I joined a gym.
Shantel was positively beaming at me when I arrived home the first Saturday after my training session with Sam.
"Sam just called me he said that you did very well. How did you like the workout?"
"Oh it was great, Sam is an excellent trainer," I said.
She dragged me right off to bed and I must say the sex was great. She was very pleased with herself. For the next two weeks, I played the willing cuckold and then it was the Thursday after the clocks get set back. It would be dark by the time Sam got home and some of the lights where he usually parked had gotten broken.
The first thing, however, was the neatly typed resignation to be dropped on Ms. Stilman's desk. The corporate reorganization had been announced to be effective after the annual meeting in December. Everyone in the company was excited and looking forward to the changes except the researchers and scientists. The lab rats knew when they were being mistreated. They looked to me for leadership and while I'd said nothing until now, the resignation letter that would be published later that evening said it all. It was a scathing analysis of how the company had once again put short-term profits ahead of long-term science.
It was a harsh letter and while literally accurate was significantly unjustified. The company was, after all, a profiting making enterprise. It did not exist for the sake of scientific discovery. The problem with the current minor reorganization was only the one appointment. Had they bothered to consider the concerns of the workers they could have avoided the problem. Had they not underestimated my reaction they could have toughed it through with a peeved professional workforce—unhappy but working. But two women had blundered badly, which made all the difference.
Becky and Shantel had both assumed that I was locked in. The cuckold husband would once again place the family interest above his own. He would continue to run like a rat in a maze. After all, what else could he do?
The meeting was at Frank's Tavern. It was a good size place near the interstate. I had hope for perhaps half the staff, which would create a good size crowd I could get lost in. By 7:00 p.m. there were nearly one hundred crowding the tavern's main room and overflowing into the bar area. Almost the entire staff had turned out, and they had come angry. My letter had been designed to stir old grievances and fire up the new problem.
In it, I had come down hard on sexism. I had expected this to resonate with the male staff. All the new appointments were female including the disliked new director of research. But the meeting had hardly started when several women made their feelings known about whoring MBA's who sleep their way to the top. Apparently, some women still existed who had morals about such activities.
I was called upon to speak but modestly pointed out that I was there primarily to listen, and, also, this was no longer my fight. I pointed out that I had resigned and had probably seen my last days in the lab. This was met with shouts of 'No' and 'No way,' but I was allowed to withdraw to a corner to listen.
One thing I had learned over the years was that when you get a group of Research Scientists together you would always have a significant number of individuals who are in love with the sound of their own voices. The crowd in Frank's Tavern proved the point.
At 8:20 I headed for the restrooms at the back. I was out the back door and into a panel van without being noticed. With Tony at the wheel, it took only twenty minutes to reach the parking lot in front of the apartment Sam lived in. My prey normally returned home between 9:00 and 9:30 on Thursdays nights. He was relatively consistent. Shantel never visited on Thursday and was home tonight with the kids, as I was out at my meeting.
Shantel was unaware of the resignation. The meeting I had instigated a few days before was allegedly only to voice concerns. I had made it sound very low key, and had I not resigned and nailed my list of frustrations to the boardroom door it would have seemed no more than a quiet round or two of drinks.
Sam was more than cooperative, showing up a few minutes before 9:00. I was out of the van and calling to him as he exited his well-used Chevy Blazer. Seeing me he smiled and held out his hand. He never saw the bat. The dim lighting and my quick movement sealed his fate. My first blow connected to his left knee. The second hit his right arm as he held it up to protect himself.
My principle concern after assuring my dominance in the altercation was to avoid inflicting any permanent damage. Once I had him immobilized on the ground, I went after his face with my steel encased fists. Blood spurted from his nose, but I only intended to batter, not maim him. He must have passed out because his screaming stopped.
Catching my breath, I could hear people coming. I ended the altercation with two hard kicks to his genitals. I wanted to send a message, but I had no intention of inflicting permanent damage. I was back in the van and speeding away as several good Samaritans reached Sam's bleeding body.
On the way back I changed out of the clothing I wore. I had prepared a duplicate outfit to change into. After another stop in the restroom at Frank's, you could not have guessed I had just assaulted a six foot five body builder. As far as I could tell no one had missed me. The talking and arguing was still going on. At ten o'clock I rose and addressed the crowd, thanking them for their insights, concerns, and support. I was home by 11:00 p.m., where Shantel met me with questions about the meeting but nothing about Sam. I was half expecting the police to show, but they never did.
Friday morning bright and early I got a call from Becky. "You Bastard. A whore am I?" .
"I never said anything like that," I responded.
"No, but you sure never denied it. You know how much trouble you have caused, and for the life of me I can't see why. It makes no sense. If you wanted out, you could just leave. Why blow the place up on the way out the door?"
"I'm sorry if this wimp caused you trouble," I said.
"What are you saying? Is Shantel there let me speak to her?"
I handed the phone to Shantel and walked away. I don't know what they discussed, but Shantel told me to put my best suit on. Apparently I was due for a meeting at the lab with the company CEO, Lester Marks. The man who had been CEO as long as I had been with the company and who I had never actually spoken to. I had seen him. Been at functions with him, but we had never said a word to each other.
Shantel drove me to the lab. It was a quiet ride. I could tell she was upset and that she was thinking.
"I don't understand. This lab has been your whole life. How could you just quit and not even discuss the problem with me. I would support any decision you made, but I have assumed that you would confide in me, let me help you in your decision. What's happened to us?" she finally said.
I could tell she was more hurt than angry. She saw our marriage as a loving partnership of which she was the benevolent senior partner. If I was ever unhappy with my job, she wouldsupport my resignation or helped me fight management. Whatever happened, we would stand together. But I had clearly walked away from her. Never given her the chance to bring her superior people skills to the fight. She could have worked out some compromise with Becky that would have kept my job and kept me happy.
"Things have changed," I said cryptically as she pulled up in front of the lab.
She parked her Mercedes and opened her door to come in with me.
"No, Shantel, I'm doing this on my own. Go home. I'll catch a cab if I need a ride back," I said.
Now I could see her anger flare.
"Why are you pushing me away?"
"I'm not you haven't realized yet that we are no longer together, but you will," I said and exited her car.
The lab had a large amphitheater-like conference center, but my meeting was in the VP's office around a small oval conference table. The CEO sat at one end flanked by his aides. Becky greeted me at her office door.
"Where's Shantel?" Becky asked.
"I left her in the car. This is none of her business," I said.
Becky gave me a worried look.
"Please be reasonable," she said, leading me to a seat at the far end of the table.
Becky sat in the middle and made the polite introductions. I could tell the CEO had no clear recollection of the head of his laboratory. My appearance, I could see, was not what he expected or was prepared for.
"Dr. Fitzmaurice, I asked you here to see if we could work out the problems that you referred to in your resignation letter," said Lester Marks.
"Don't really see how that would be possible. This company's only product is the discoveries and work performed in the laboratory I use to run. We hold thousands of patents, nearly all of which I made a significant contribution to in the last sixteen years. In that same time, you have been CEO and been paid nearly fifteen times what I make and over thirty times the staff average in the lab. Yet as far as I can see you contribute nothing," I said.
I could see Becky and the assistants flinch, but I had not even got a rise out of Marks.
"Is that what this is about? An argument about who contributes the most and what each should get paid," Marks said.
"No, I'm a realist, that's just the way the world is. Those who make the greatest contributions receive the least rewards. The managers, bankers and bureaucrats skim all the rewards and the builders, inventors and discoverers get what's left over. But we don't need to be insulted in the process. Seems to me that we here in the lab were entitled to be treated with some respect."
"So you're telling me you blew up the place because you felt insulted? Just a matter of your ego?"
"Hmm, I think you give me too much credit. I could have done nothing without you. You built the bomb. I just set it off."
"Enough of this - what do you want?"
"Nothing, because you still don't see the problem. It's not me you need to satisfy. It's the hundred and seven individuals that work in the lab. The women who are upset that spreading your legs is worth more than developing a new drug. The men who see themselves working for someone whose chief qualification is her relationship to the company CEO. No, I am your history, not the solution to your current problem," I said, standing up to make my exit.
It was Becky who took the last shot. "Nothing you said here makes you any less a cuckold," she said.
I smiled and said, "You are wrong I believe, but only time will tell."
It was late afternoon before I reached home, or at least the house I had lived in. I was there only for the confrontation I expected from Shantel.
She wasn't there so I began to pack a few things. I was moving in with Tony again for a while. Douglas was at home. I had no idea where my daughter was. She had reached that age where she loved her father but confided only in her mother. Douglas was in his room as I arrived, but was standing in the doorway of the master bedroom as I closed the suitcase.
"Dad, are you leaving because of that man Sam?" he asked. Children know more than you realize about their parents' actions.
"No, the problem your mother and I have is bigger than that, but it is definitely not your problem," I said.
"Will you be back?" he said.
"Often," I said and opened my arms to give him a hug. He came to me and we embraced.
When I looked up, Shantel was in the doorway. "Doug, leave your father and me alone," she said.
She could see our son was crying and she wiped his tears with her hands as he exited. When Doug was gone, she closed the door and came to sit on the bed next to my suitcase. "You have sure surprised me and I guess I'm not the only one. But can I ask why?"
She shrugged and said, "First, why hurt poor Sam so bad? He's in the hospital, though they say he will be released tomorrow morning."
"Well, if I hurt him, and I am not admitting that I did, it would only be as a sample of what might happen in the future. A message to someone else you might say. A strong hint that they should keep their word," I said.
"I see, and destroying the company you worked so hard to help build."
"A bit of payback for years of abuse. They can fix the problem, but it will cost them and that is what will really hurt them," I said.
"I guess there is no hope for us?" she said.
I didn't reply. The answer was obvious - things had gone too far. No one's fault really.
She got up and walked to the door. Opening it, she lingered a moment.
"Sorry," she said.
"Sorry," I replied. But she had already closed the door behind her.
Almost a year had passed since I walked out on Shantel. On the job front, I landed on my feet. The old firm's main competitor came knocking on my door the moment they heard I was free. They also tried to pick up the best of the other lab people, but as I predicted my old company threw money at the problem. It cost them, and oddly it was rather embarrassing for management too. They became quite a joke for a while. But none of this was my concern.
My personal life was a bigger problem. Shantel did keep her promise - the separation was without recriminations on her part. She made it easy for Doug and me. She never interfered with our getting together. The problem was the older children. Margret stopped speaking to me at all, and Edward became very distant. I didn't blame Shantel for this - they were old enough to choose and they did.
The legal side of things was a bit different. I had not filed for divorce. As far as I was concerned the marriage was over when I left. Shantel had not filed either, but a week ago she called to say she wanted a meeting to work out some details. She chose the place, Valentine's, but at 2:00 p.m.
"It will be quiet and we can discuss where we go from here," she said.
So I was once again sitting in a comfortable seat in a good restaurant, this time at an off hour on a weekday afternoon. She was late. It was almost 2:30 when she arrived.
"Sorry, I got held up at a house showing. I would have called, but I don't have your new number," she said.
"Sorry, I should give it to you," I said as she seated herself.
"Only if you feel comfortable with that," she said.
The waiter appeared, and we ordered.
"Let me say again how sorry I am, the way things worked out," she said.
"Not your fault. What happened ... happened," I replied.
"You have not sought a divorce. Can I ask why?"
"Haven't seen the point. The marriage is over as far as I'm concerned. I don't need a piece of paper to prove it. "
"Well my attorney says that we are at the point where I can move for divorce on grounds of desertion. The problem I have is a moral one and a personal one. I feel I am the guilty party. It is not right for me to divorce you. Moreover, I have told the kids that I would not be the one to end this marriage. I love you and I will love you till the day I die. It just would not be right for me to stand up in court and say things that are not true. So I am here to tell you that as far as I am concerned we are still married," she said, with tears beginning to wet her cheeks.
Shantel did not cry often and she was not a woman to use tears to get her way. Still, as much as I hated to hurt her I could not see myself going backward.
"Well, I guess that leaves us stuck with the status quo," I said.
As I said that the food arrived, and I was amazed at how fast the service had suddenly become at Valentines. Shantel picked at her food. Knowing her I knew this meeting had a purpose and something was coming.
"I wanted to thank you for paying Eddy's tuition.
"He's still my son."
"You're a good father, considering the way he's treated you since our separation. You had every right to decline that bill," she said.
"You're his mother, I understand."
"I have tried to get Maggie to speak to you, but she is just so angry. She seems to believe this is all your fault. She believes that we had an open marriage and you reneged on it out of spite. I have tried to explain how things got out of hand and I hurt you, but she will not listen."
"I hope eventually she will understand," I said.
She went back to eating for a while. I kept quiet and waited.
"My attorney had an idea that might resolve our problems," she said.
"Oh, and what would that be?"
"Family counseling. All of us together, not for us to get back together, but to work out our separation as a group—"
"Hear me out. I'm not seeing anyone. You took care of that with what you did to Samuel. No one will come near me. I know you don't have anyone because I checked. So maybe we get together not as a couple but as a family, say one session a week to talk with a counselor. Eddy can be there by phone. Don't make a decision now - think on it and give me an answer. Say, next week."
Eventually, I agreed to the counseling not to get us back together, but to work our problems through as a family. The kids still hurt. I guess that is inevitable, but they are coming to understand the problem. Maybe some day they too will learn to live with it.
© 2015 --Sorry, no romantic end. But by all means let me know your feelings. All comments welcome and appreciated.