Short Story: Faithless

There’s a helplessness in watching your best friend and neighbor pack his belongings into a car and drive away. It’s one of those moments of profound loneliness as your life unravels around you, when your friends abandon you, not that I didn’t sympathize. What could I do? It’s a trial that a man must face alone.

Gabe and Martina had been together since college. Over twenty years, eighteen of which they had been husband and wife. Gabe was a workaholic, working over seventy hours a week. His dedication gave Martina the freedom to dabble in her pet projects which included a writing career which saw her self-publish a few romance novels, and a freelance design company which specialized in home makeovers.

Gabe gave that to her working as an Executive Communication Officer for a large international firm. He pulled in a healthy six-figure salary plus bonuses which shamed my measly teacher’s salary. In spite of his good fortune, he lived in a modest neighborhood, drove a nondescript car, and didn’t try to show off that he was reasonably well off. That was not the kind of guy Gabe was.

That all unraveled last week when he was fired from his job. He didn’t say much other than to say that there was a major shake up at the firm, and the old guard was being replaced. He tried to sound upbeat, but I could detect a note of worry in his voice. I mean, we’ve all heard the horror stories of once proud executives being forced to make ends meet by delivering pizzas, or other menial low paying jobs. There are no guarantees that he could find another job paying near what he had become used to making, in spite of his credentials.

At first, Martina stood with him, telling him that they would weather the storm. It would require a few sacrifices, but they had enough money saved up, and I recently found out that they owned several rent houses which netted them in a couple thousand dollars a month. They were building a nest egg for retirement, which Gabe joked had come a couple of decades sooner than expected.

It seemed to me and my wife that they were fine, but it fell apart rather suddenly. There was no warning that we could see, that their marriage was in trouble. Theirs was the most solid marriage I had ever known, but then one early evening he got into his car, his wife yelling at him, calling him a no-good son of a bitch, telling him to get out and never come back. He returned the next day, collected a few of his things as his wife glared, only to jump into his car and drive away again.

I wanted to go out and help, but my wife held me back. I saw the same look of concern mirrored on her face as she shook her head. “Let him be,” Nancy told me. “There’ll be time to check up on him later. Don’t get involved with their squabble.”

Reluctantly, I heeded her advice, though with a heavy heart. I watched as a quarter-century old relationship came unglued, and I never suspected Martina to be that kind of woman. She had been acting funny for several days, and I noticed a strange man visiting her when Gabe would leave to meet with his friends, looking for favors that would help land him a job.

Could she be having an affair? Maybe she only stayed with Gabe because he was her meal ticket. Now that he was unemployed, was she looking for someone else to take care of her? It didn’t make sense to me, but I had seen it happen a few times with guys I worked with. It wouldn’t be the first time I had been wrong about someone.

***

I wouldn’t have a chance to confront Martina until yesterday morning. Nancy ran off to meet a couple of friends for brunch, and finding myself with some free time, I headed into town to run a few errands. It was at the office supply store where I ran into Martina, looking forlorn, her eyes red from having recently cried. “Oh, hey Tom,” she greeted me sadly.

I glared for a second and I saw her retreat into herself again. “I’m sorry,” she said with a shaken tone. I didn’t mean to bother you, I just needed to talk. Maybe some other time.”

“Now is just fine,” I answered her icily. “I was wanting to talk to you too.”

“Oh? What about?”

“Gabe,” I stated baldly. “He was good to you, and you abandoned him when he needed you the most. Why? Did you already find someone to take care of you?” I asked accusingly. “Was that all he was to you, a paycheck?”

“You son of a bitch,” she hissed. “You have no idea, do you?”

“I think that I do,” I countered, unprepared for what she had to say.

“Let me tell you a little about this friend of yours, the one you apparently have on a pedestal.”

“Fine, amuse me.”

“He wasn’t fired because of some shake up at work. They discovered that he was harassing his interns.”

“Gabe? No way.”

“Yeah, he’s been sleeping with his interns for years, promising them he would give them a glowing report for their school credit, and recommendations for job placement, if they agreed to help him out, if you catch my meaning. Quid pro quo, only this time he harassed the wrong girl.”

“What do you mean?”

“The daughter of one of the major shareholders was there to do her own internship. Gabe had no idea who she was, but this girl reported the harassment, and after an investigation, one that he kept from me for several months, found dozens of other young women that he had harassed, many who he had intimidated into sleeping with him, and they fired him. There’s a chance that he may be indicted for rape as well.”

“I – I don’t know what to say,” I stammered. “I thought you were the one cheating on him. That guy that’s been coming to your house.”

“That guy is a friend of mine who also works at the company. He’s the one that told me everything. He’s the one who recommended I get a lawyer and start working to protect myself because if he gets sued…”

“I get it,” I sighed, still not wanting to believe what she was telling me. “I’m so sorry.”

“Oh,” she pressed on, “it gets worse.”

“How?”

“Where’s Nancy?”

“At brunch with her friends,” I replied. “She goes out on most weekends to meet up with them.”

“Just like how Gabe would go out to golf with his buddies? Only thing, he doesn’t like golf. Turns out, he likes doing other things.”

“What are you insinuating?”

“I’m not insinuating anything. I’m straight up telling you that Gabe, your best friend, has been fucking your wife for the past several years. I just found out about that, too.”

“You’re crazy,” I spat as I turned to walk away.

“What?” She asked as she grabbed my arm. “You can’t believe that your wife could be unfaithful? She’s cheated on you with several of your neighbors. She’s the village slut, though you’ve been too blind to see it. You’re a joke in the community, the ignorant cuckold with the unfaithful wife. I didn’t want to be the one to burst your fantasy. Now, I just don’t give a shit. And you wanted to believe I was the one cheating. No, we were both cheated on. We’ve both been played for fools.”

“You have to be wrong,” I say desperately, clinging to some hope that she was wrong, but fearing in my heart that she was right. She was confirming a secret fear I’ve had for a long time.

“Do I?” She said coldly. “Fancy a short drive? Gabe moved into one of our rent houses. I bet we find Nancy there. Then what will you do?”

“I’ll go, but just to prove you wrong,” I answered her defiantly, though I wavered as she turned away. I didn’t want to believe her, but what if she was right?  Having to see it through, I followed her out to her car, and she bade me to get into her car. We drove nearly half an hour to a house in decent neighborhood. Gabe’s car was in the driveway, and Nancy’s was parked in the street.

“Wanna go in?” Martina asked as she shook as set of keys. “Let’s catch the motherfuckers red-handed.

I swallowed, though my mouth was parched, and I nodded. We walked quietly to the door, and we could hear moaning through the door, moans that I recognized as coming from my wife. “You want to do this?” Martina whispered.

“Yes,” I answered simply.

As quietly as she could, she checked the door, and it was unlocked. We burst in and we found my wife astride Martina’s husband, both completely naked, lost in their moment of passion, momentarily stunned by our intrusion.

“Oh, shit!” Nancy yelled as she realized who had come busting in. She jumped off and tried to cover her shame, but it was too late. The truth had come out.

“I told you,” Martina said in my ear. “Believe me yet?”

I didn’t say anything as I turned and walked out the door. Nancy ran after me, pleading with me, saying that it was a mistake, that she really loved me. Martina hung back, giving me enough space to do what I needed to do. I looked at my wife, tears streaming down her face, and I laughed. I became hysterical, mad in my grief, having to come to terms almost immediately that my marriage had been a sham.

“I hope you two are happy together,” I said jovially, the mirth in my voice surprising even me. “You deserve each other.”

“Don’t say that,” Nancy cried. “I’m your wife! I’m your wife! Please don’t do this to me, please!”

“If you really cared about being my wife, you wouldn’t have been fucking my best friend, though if he was really my friend…. You know what? It doesn’t even matter. We’re done. Martina?” I yelled. “You ready to go?”

“I am. You want to grab a drink?”

***

I was awoken by a sound at the door. I looked up to see my wife standing at the doorway, a look of shock on her face. In my arms, on our bed, slept Martina. Nancy broke down, rousing Martina from her slumber. “Oh, hello precious,” my neighbor gloated. “Fair is fair, don’t you think? To think you let him go for that joke of a husband of mine. Keep him. Tom is a much bigger man, and a better lover.”

My wife didn’t utter a sound as she left. I never saw her alive again. The next morning, a couple of detectives woke us up to tell us that our spouses were dead, “a murder-suicide,” they informed us. We grieved after they left, devastated that our spouses were dead, heartbroken that we had been played for fools for so long.

After an hour, Martina stood up and started to get dressed. “You leaving?”

“We’re going to my house,” she smiled wanly. “Let’s make love on my husband’s bed. Let’s fuck on everything our others held so dear. You game?”

“I am. Then let’s bury them and fuck on their graves.”

“Sounds good to me.”


Short Stories

Next story – Breaking free
Previous story – Time

Today’s update

I just finished rewriting the first scene of the second chapter, where my main character run into who will fast become her love interest. Doing so, I hope, will jump-start the action, like I stated on my previous post, but also resolve a persistent question that has been bothering me. Can two people fall so quickly in love that they immediately begin a relationship?

Maybe it is possible, but I’m not a fan of the whole love-at-first-sight story arch. Instead, I rewrote it so that I introduce the idea that they were classmates back in high school, and though Jasmine shoots down the idea that they were an item back then, there is an obvious chemistry between the two, one I hope to exploit to make their quick transition into becoming a couple a little realistic.

Of course, such a monumental change means adjusting everything that comes afterwards. I believe I can do the necessary work without disturbing too much of what I have already written. Further, I hope it succeeds in drawing the reader into the story sooner rather than later.

Short Story: The Cheater

“Can I come over?”

That was the last thing Lizza had expected to hear from her ex-husband, a man who spent their entire marriage cheating on her, the last time with her friend in her own bed.

“Why the hell should I let you?” Lizza asked. “We’re over. You chose that skank over me. What ever problem you’re having, I want none of it. I’m done with your drama.”

“Please, Liz-bear?” He begged. “For old times sake?”

In spite of the indignation coursing through her, hearing his old pet name for her thawed her otherwise chilly feelings for him and she relented. “Fine, but no funny business.”

“Thanks, Liz. I’ll see you in fifteen.”

Fifteen minutes? She wondered. Is he already on his way here? She didn’t wait to consider it much more because her apartment was a mess, and she didn’t want him to see just how far she had let herself go. After a quick cursory sweep though the living room, she changed into something a little more appropriate than a short pair of shorts and a tank top.

Twenty minutes later, she heard a knock at the door. She waited for him to knock again before opening the door. “Hey,” she greeted him disinterestedly.

“Hey to you too,” he grimaced. “Thanks for seeing me.”

“Whatever,” Lizza shrugged. “Not to be rude,” she said as she closed the door, “but what the hell do you want?”

“You’re not at least going to invite me to sit?”

“I don’t want you to think you’re welcome here,” she retorted, “but what the fuck, make yourself comfortable.”

“Thanks.” He maneuvered awkwardly around his ex since she refused to budge and got comfortable on the futon. “This is cozy. I like what you’ve done with the place.”

“Seriously, I’m not up to idle chit-chat. What do you want?”

“Right,” he grew serious and cleared his throat. “Lizza, I made a mistake…”

“No, don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

“Whatever it is you’re doing, just don’t.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Oh spare me,” Lizza spat. “I gave you the best years of my life, and for what? To see you time and again fooling around my back? I put up with it once, but I won’t be your fool again.”

“Sandy’s pregnant,” he blurted out in obvious distress.

“So?”

“So? She doesn’t know who the father is, only that it’s not me. She made get a vasectomy before we could…”

“I don’t need the particulars,” Lizza stopped him, a look of revulsion on her face. “Why should I care?”

“Because I get it. I understand now what I did and how I wronged you. I understand the hurt I caused you and I want a chance to make amends. I want a chance to be the man, to be the husband you needed me to be.”

“No,” Lizza shook her head sadly, “you want the chance to reclaim your manhood, but I’m not giving you that chance.”

“But why?”

“Because I’ve moved on.”

“You call this moving on?

“I do,” Lizza responded defiantly. “You broke me, shattered me into a million little pieces, or at least I thought you did, but I pulled myself together. I realized that I let myself be defined by you, by our marriage, by your need to control me and your need to satisfy yourself with all those girls you chose to screw behind my back.”

“But…,”

“No. I’m done listening to you. Yeah, I don’t have much,” Lizza glanced around at her sparse surroundings, “but I have everything I need. I’m taking care of myself for the first time in my life, and you know what I found out?”

“No, what?”

“That I can do it. I can be independent. I can take care of myself, and I don’t need a man to do everything for me. I don’t need to have to take care of anyone, either. It’s just me and I’m loving the freedom I found when I left you. I can go out or stay in at my leisure. I can read in total silence, and I don’t have to wonder where you are or who you’re with.

“I loved you, or at least I thought I did, but I think I was just scared to be alone. It’s not that bad. In fact, it’s been a blessing. So, no. If you’re hoping for yet another chance, don’t bother. I’m sorry it’s not working out with Sandy, but she cheated on her husband to be with you. Why did you expect that she wouldn’t cheat on you?”

“That’s below the belt,” he pouted.

“No, it’s just the truth.” Lizza sat on the futon beside him and put her hand on his knee. “I wish I could say the pain goes away, but that feeling of being insignificant, of not being able to satisfy your partner might never go away. It hasn’t for me. You’re going to have to deal with it on your own. It’s not my responsibility to help you through it.”

“Fine,” he said in a resigned voice. “I knew it was a long shot to begin with.” He stood up and walked to the door. “I guess I’ll be seeing you?”

“Maybe, but not like this. I don’t want you to come crying to me when it doesn’t work out with one of your floozies. Good bye.”

She watched impassively as her ex walked out, slamming the door behind him. With him gone, she changed back into her skimpy outfit she had one before he called, pulled out a joint and lit it. Once she felt relaxed, she pulled out her phone and called her friend.

“Dante? It’s Lizza. You were right,” she laughed.” He came crawling back to me, just like you said he would. I told him I didn’t want him back. As for tonight, it’s still on. I never let my marriage to that joke get in the way of our fun time did I? No. Just make sure you and the guys are ready to have some fun. I’ll be over some time after dark, and hey, clean sheets this time, okay? Can’t wait. Bye!”


Short Stories

Next story – Revenge is but a game
Previous story – The Girl on Highway 287

Three years strong

Joe.jpg

Me back in 2011.

Late last month, I let a milestone pass unobserved, not because I meant to, but rather because I completely forgot until after the fact. Three years ago last month, my then wife chose to runaway to move in with some guy she had never met in person, a guy she met online and talked on the phone behind my back.

I almost posted about it the next day but chose to let the past stay in the past, and to stop dwelling on things that I should forget about. And I did, until yesterday, when I logged onto my WordPress site and saw a notification that it had been three years since I had signed up for this blog, although I wouldn’t post my first blog, an observation about trying to find myself after a break-up, until the next day.

KINDLE_CAMERA_1391351350000

Me today, playing with my Kindle. I’m not so good with the smiling, but I’m actually in a good mood.

I never thought I would still be on here, let alone with my own domain name, three years on, but I’m still here. I’m not posting as often as I had been, and I’m no longer obsessed with my stats, as in I want more page views, but I’m still here. My focus no longer is on my poor, sorrowful self. Bygones are just that, and I’m focusing my energies elsewhere.

So, in honor of my three-year anniversary, I want to share a few good things to have come out of the debacle of 2011.

  1. I finally escaped a toxic relationship. I know I’m not the only one to have found themselves stuck in an unhealthy relationship/marriage. We had problems from the beginning, but I did my best to stick it out. Not once did I engage in extramarital affairs, not that I was a perfect husband. Still, I stuck it out until she ran off. Then I found the strength to file for divorce. Had I not, I’m sure she would have tried to come back, again.
  2. I started this blog. More importantly, I began to write. What started out as an outlet to express my disappointment and the bitter pain that consumed me, over time morphed into a desire to write something more. I began a journey to fulfill a dream to become a published author, and though I’m not there yet, I’m still on the journey. I will publish a book!
  3. I met new friends. Through writing, and in particular though NaNoWriMo, I met an awesome set of people who supported me that first year, and who still support me via Facebook. I couldn’t have made it this far without the North Texas Rough Writers. (Don’t tell them that. They might get a big head.)
  4. I graduated college. After more than a decade of wishing I could find a way, I went back to school last spring to finish up my remaining hours. In August 2013, thirteen years after I dropped out, I finally earned my Bachelor’s Degree. Now I want another one, but one I can ACTUALLY put to use.
  5. I’ve spent time reconnecting with my family. I did so reluctantly at first, but I’m spending time with my parents, brothers, and sister for the first time in any meaningful way, now that we are all adults. I’ve rebuilt a large part of my childhood home, watching my nieces and nephews grow up, and actually met a new addition to the Hinojosa clan, a new niece born last month.

Sure, I few bad things have happened as well, but that’s life. The biggest change is that I’m working to see the good instead of dwelling on what’s bad. I’m looking to the future, and working to make that dream a reality. I have not artificial deadlines anymore. I’m trying to be realistic with myself, pushing myself to met my goals without imposing too strict a time frame. Maybe this time next year, we’ll revisit this and see how I’m doing.

Maybe…

Turning away from the past

Joe Hinojosa

All my old posts have been successfully mothballed. I created a private blog and moved them so I would still have easy access to them, but no one else would, unless I give them access. I don’t see a reason why I would, but you never know.

Before I continue, Happy New Year! I know it’s a day late, but I worked all day yesterday, and coupled with only four hours of sleep, it made me a very tired and grumpy person. I’m better today, although I didn’t get much sleep. But I’m off today so I’ll get plenty of rest. Probably.

Now to the reason I’m writing today. I was asked on my Facebook page why I made all my old posts private. I didn’t have an answer then, but I do now. I want to take some time to address it one last time. I created this blog as a way to deal with a very painful chapter in my life. My marriage fell apart, I got a divorce, got into a new relationship, and then that relationship fell apart. Emotionally, I was a falling apart.

Psychologically, I feel that I wasn’t well. I was depressed, angry, and hating myself and life in general. I left a horrible job but ended up unemployed for a year. In a matter of about two years, I lost everything I had in my life, everything I had worked so hard to gain. Through it all, this blog helped keep me sane. So from 2011 through today, almost three years I’ve recorded my life on this site, my pain accessible to anyone who cared to visit it, not that I had many visitors.

For the past few months, a thought has been growing in my mind that I needed to prune the bad from the good, and that maybe the time had come to focus this blog solely on my writing. I came to the conclusion that the new year would be the time to do so.

This year, I’m moving forward with my life by leaving all my baggage behind. My intention was to leave everything I had ever published accessible forever, but now I decided otherwise. Moving on has come to mean leaving the pain behind. I’m not repressing it, I’m not burying it, but I am wrapping up that part of my life. I don’t want to look back on it any more. I want to focus my attention on what’s ahead.

As such, I’m dedicating this blog to reading and writing. I’ll continue to do my book reviews as long as people are willing to let me do them. I still plan to post on a regular basis, I haven’t decided what that schedule will be. The only decision I’ve made regarding that is I will no longer publish three times a week. At least for the foreseeable future.

We look at the new year as a time of renewal, a time of new beginnings, so I’m taking advantage of this belief. I’m saying goodbye to the painful memories and embracing the possibilities that await me in the future. I’ve carried 2011 with me for far too long. I’m ready to live in the present and I’m determined to make 2014 the best year of my life to date.