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The Reckoning

After J*** left, I had to throw away the sheets that had been on my bed.  I knew that I was never going to be able to use them again without picturing him in them and being disgusted.  I also had to throw away the towels he had used.
Tuesday was my regular counseling day and B**** called.  He didn’t greet me with the usual “this is B****.”  Instead, he said “you didn’t get what you wanted, did you?”  I was taken aback and asked him what he meant.  He repeated “you didn’t get what you wanted, did you?”
I said “no, I didn’t.”  I was surprised that he had the insight to realize that I wasn’t interested in having a couple of “quickies” with J***.  I was hoping he had changed and had actually acquired some respect for a relationship…….our relationship…….his relationship…….any relationship.
I had hoped that J*** would come down and tell me that he had thought about it and decided that he couldn’t go through with it.  I was hoping that he would say “I fucked up our marriage and I don’t want to fuck up this relationship.”  I was hoping he would say “I care too much about you to use you like a common whore”……but he didn’t.  He was only thinking about himself and his giant ego.
I knew exactly what J*** had in mind when he was visiting for Christmas.  He wanted her, he wanted me and he wanted to be able to keep all of his money.  That was clear when he said he told his attachment that “he was going to spend the rest of his life supporting two households.”  That begged the question I had about why he didn’t tell her, “I’m going to lose half of everything I’ve got.”
It also explains why he wouldn’t discuss divorce.  As long as there was no splitting of assets, he was perfectly willing to continue to pay my nominal bills.  That left more money for him and his attachment and it wasn’t going to bother him to sneak down to F****** now and then to, as I said, use me like a common whore.
It was time for somebody to finally take J*** to task.  It was time for him to understand that it wasn’t all about him.  It was time for a reckoning.
I told B**** what I had decided to do next and we discussed it.  It would require more acting on my part, not to mention a brief loss of my integrity.
S**** M******, who J*** had mistrusted at the C********* paper but ultimately named the managing editor had been fired as well a few years later.  He contacted J*** and J*** gave him a job at the I********** M***.
I knew S**** so I called him and asked him if he could get J*** and his attachment to go to “their bar”, with the excuse that two of J***s’ friends were coming to town.  He said he could do that and would set it up for Thursday.  I felt guilty for lying to him but it was necessary.
I called my friend, C**** and told her that I was coming up and what I had planned.
She didn’t want me to take my car so we took hers.  She, her dog and I got to the bar and parked.  I went inside to get the “lay of the land” so to speak.  The owner or manager of the bar asked me if he could help me and I told him I was waiting for some friends.
There was something going on downtown and the parking lot was filling up fast.  I told her that I didn’t know if J*** and his attachment would drive separately and if they did, I didn’t know which one of her “three cars” she would drive, not to mention that I didn’t know what they were.  I knew J*** was working, so I imagined he would be coming from there.
We waited for a while and then we saw J*** turn down the side road.  His attachment was in the front seat.  He pulled into the parking lot and started looking for a spot.  We watched him struggle to get into a tiny space with his big SUV.  Then, as luck would have it, a big pick-up truck that was parked next to us, pulled out.
Here came J***.  He pulled in right beside us!  I got down on the floorboard and C**** threw the dogs’ blanket over me, then turned around toward the back of her car and started shoving treats into her dogs’ mouth, so it wouldn’t start barking.
J***s’ attachment got out of the car and started walking toward the bar.  J*** was sitting in the seat, texting.  He was probably texting S****, telling him that they were there and that the parking lot was full.  His attachment was getting annoyed (based on her body language).  J*** finally got out and walked up to her and took her hand.
I looked at C**** and chuckled when I said “just four days ago, we were strolling down the street holding hands.”
I gave them time to get in and then it was game on.
I walked into the bar and immediately spotted his attachment in a booth, facing me.  She had just taken a drag from her cigarette and was smiling at J*** while she flicked the ashes in the ashtray.  I walked over and slid into the booth beside J*** with the fluid motion of a skilled ballerina doing a pirouette.
He leaned back and said through gritted teeth “what are you doing here?  I said “why do you think I’m here?”  He said “I imagine you’re here to ruin this” (pointing his finger back and forth from him to her).
I said “I’m here because we had such a wonderful time together this past weekend, I thought I would come up and tell you.”  Then I said “but I wonder.  Does she know you’ve been screwing her up here and you’re screwing me in Florida?”
He introduced me to his attachment as “his wife.”  His attachment extended her hand in a way that I wasn’t sure if she expected me to kiss it or shake it.
The owner or manager of the bar came over and sat down.  I think he could tell that something was “amiss.”  I’m sure he was friendly with both J*** and his attachment.  They had met there and had been going there for a long time.  He looked at me and said “so, these are your friends?”
I wanted to say “actually, this is my husband of almost thirty-nine years, who just three nights ago was in my bed and this is the woman who, when he’s not in my bed, is in his.”
I didn’t, because I didn’t want to cause a scene.  I’m sure he knew J*** was married as did everybody else and like everybody else, he didn’t have a problem with J*** being with another woman.  After all, everybody knew I didn’t live up there.
I looked at his attachment and said “did it never occur to you that if a man will cheat on his wife, he wouldn’t think twice about cheating on his girlfriend?”  She looked at me and smiled as she said “actually, it did.”  I asked her if she was okay with that, and again she smiled and said “no.  I don’t think I am.”
She picked up her beer and left.
I unleashed on J*** with the rapid fire of a Gatling gun, laced periodically with the question…“what is wrong with you?”
He sat there and picked at his beer bottle label like a spineless coward and said not one word.  It was reminiscent of the thirty years he had done the same thing when his mama was ripping me to shreds.
I had been asked for years how I could stand to be married to J*** and I had more often than not, heard him referred to as a “coward.”
Over time, I began to understand exactly what they meant.  His cowardice had been clear all along.  He didn’t want our children to know what he had done.  He didn’t want to tell his mama and daddy and brothers what he had done.  He didn’t want to tell his friends what he had done.  He didn’t want to tell our friend S*** what he had done so he made me call him and tell him.
He wasn’t man enough to tell our children that they couldn’t come to their grandpas’ funeral so he made me call them and tell them.  He wasn’t man enough to tell me that he had been parading his attachment around all over the state, until I suspect, she told him that he had better let me know “he belonged to her now.”  He was the true definition of a coward.
After about an hour, he leaned back and said “do you want to know what I think about this?  I said “sure.”  He said “I’m proud of you.  Now, I don’t have to worry about you.”
Now, he didn’t have to worry about me?  Since when had he been worried about me?  Was he was afraid that I was falling apart because he was, once again and this time openly, committing adultery?  Did he think that I was crushed because he had found yet another attachment?  Did he not know that I no longer cared how many attachments he had?  Having an attachment, for him, was no more surprising than discovering that the ocean was full of salt.
I had always known about them but I just didn’t want to believe it.  I had trusted him to the point of being completely blind and he was never above lying to me but I wasn’t going to allow him to treat me like a common tramp.
He still thought that he was such a prize.  He seemed to forget that I had left him almost ten years ago and he had never been given the slightest indication that I was interested in returning to him.  My standards were far too high to accept a lying, cheating husband.  I believed in the saying “never lie to someone who trusts you and never trust someone who lies to you.
Before I left, I told him that if after hearing what she heard, if his attachment came back, we would both know why.
I walked out of the bar with a sense of emancipation.  I had stood up and “pushed back.”
C**** and I hadn’t gone five miles down the road before I started getting threatening texts.  I thought they were from J***s’ attachment but they were from S****.  Those texts were borderline criminal and I thought seriously about stopping by the police station.
S**** texted the threat that if it “took the rest of his life, he was going to do to me what I had done to J***.”  He texted that I had “fucked with the wrong person.”  He mentioned “what I had cost J*** and said I was going to pay.”
These texts are coming from a man I knew…..a man who knew me…. and man who knew that J*** was married……a man who knew that J*** was married to me.
What had J*** told him?  Why was S**** so comfortable with J*** blatantly flaunting his relationship with that attachment?  Why did S**** think he could react in such a violent manner?  Why did S**** think he was allowed to threaten me?  What had J*** told him?
I texted J*** and told him that he had better put a stop to them.
In any other situation, if the Managing Editor of a newspaper had threatened the wife of the Editor-At-Large, he would have been fired on the spot, but not in this case.
It was the perfect way for J*** to look like the “victim.”
The texts continued until the next day and started including voice messages.
I finally texted J*** and told him that if they didn’t stop, I would go to the police.

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