December 15, 2004, Category: Short Stories

A decent man snaps when he catches his wife cheating on him.

Roxanne Tarnished

23678805_sI was innocently searching for a lost credit card when I stumbled upon the letter in her dresser which awakened my slumbering suspicions. The letter was my pass to pursue deeper. Not incriminating evidence on its own, but strong enough that I felt justified to dig.

In retrospect, the software which activated the web camera sitting on the computer monitor whenever movement was detected may have been over the edge. But she was used to the webcam. It had sat innocently on top of the monitor in the bedroom for months. I didn’t even have to hide it. It was a cool idea but turned out to be useless. Even the audio capture which allowed me to hear her end of all telephone calls paled in comparison to the real pay dirt; access to her email account. This is where I learned everything…and the beginning of my downfall.

She’d recently changed her password; something I hadn’t checked for months. I set up the account for her (she’s not computer savvy) but now I was locked out. Getting her password required key logging software on her laptop…a program that sat quietly in the background and recorded every keystroke. Several days passed before I had a chance to copy the text file and remove the program. It was tough to be patient but I knew I had to play it cool. She couldn’t suspect anything.

All her friends knew I was being dumped, but she hadn’t told me. Her secret lover also knew. But, because my key logging software had divulged her password, now I also knew what was around the corner. It gave me a chance time to get some of the tears and anger out beforehand.

Weeks later, pouting in my new apartment, I continued to monitor her life from amid my unorganized clutter. I’d set up the computer…it’s all that really mattered. I’d hadn’t been to work (and assumed I was fired by now anyways). I didn’t care about anything. I rationalized that things would work out and, therefore, I had a right to be reading her email. You can’t just cut off a five year relationship in one afternoon! At the time, my logic seemed sound. But if you knew the extent of the confusion and pain I felt…you might sympathize. But this isn’t a romance novel; it’s more of a horror story…so I’ll leave that part out.

Reading the secret emails between my former girlfriend and her married lover didn’t help to improve my weak mental state. What was left of my sanity crumbled away; along with my meager collection of dishes which I shattered against the wall in increasing spats of rage and anger.

And this is where the story begins. Because he was married, they only communicated via email. And because they were completely infatuated with each other, they communicated a lot…and I read every word (hence, the broken dishes). I’m not sure the moment I crossed the line and went from ‘pathetic invasive fool’ to psychotic. I certainly never planned it that way, but at some point between now and the end of the story I crossed it.

He was an older, wealthy, and respected businessman who traveled frequently throughout the world. She was a young, naive, and attractive woman who ogled and awed his every move. So when he emailed and suggested they take a secret trip together, she was ecstatic (YYYYEEEESSSS!!!!!! OHHH MMYYY GODDD YESS!!!) She probably came just reading his email. And it happened fast. In two days he’d pick her up at 4am and they would leave for Fiji, away from his wife and in a safe place where they could let loose with the sexual fantasies that oozed from nearly every email.

This drove me over the edge. The night before the trip arrived I tossed, turned, and watched the clock. At 2:30 am I gave up sleeping and went into the garage… not knowing exactly what I was doing. I climbed onto my bike, the real woman of my life; a 900cc two wheeled hussy who never let me down. I rolled out of the garage, fired the engine, and sped into the night.

I drove to his house; did I mention this bastard used to be a friend of mine? I hid my bike in the thick brush several blocks away and walked up the road. His house was dark and I crept through the trees toward his garage where I sat and watched. Why was I here? What was I doing? I didn’t really know. I didn’t have a plan…things were just happening.

I heard noises inside and the garage door opened. I saw the asshole load a suitcase into his trunk, get in his car, and start it. It was my intention to just watch him drive away…and it would have happened. But he backed out of the garage, stopped, got out of his car, and jogged back through the garage door and vanished into the house. His open car door was just yards from where I was hiding. For reasons I’ll never understand, I crawled from the shrubs, slid into his car, and slipped into the back seat. Before I really knew what was happening, I was laying in the darkness while my heart raced, apparently trying to beat its way out of my chest. It wanted no part of this.

He came back, climbed in, and we backed out of the driveway. He turned on the radio and began to sing (quite horribly, I might add) and totally ruined a perfectly good song for the rest of my life. Damn him…he stole my girl and “Roxanne.”

I had to do something…I didn’t know what…so I sat up. We were zipping faster than was safe along the back road and I envisioned me scaring him so bad he totaled his fancy BMW.

“You asshole.” I said.

I scared the hell out of him and he swerved sharply.

He screamed like a pansy, “Don’t hurt me! You can have the car! Take my wallet!”

The idiot hadn’t recognized me.

“Keep driving,” I said.

I expected him to stop the car and run for it. Hell, I would have…but he didn’t. He kept driving and followed my instructions back to my apartment. The garage was still open and I had him drive right inside. I took off my shirt and tied it around his eyes and told him to shut off the car. I told him if he yelled or made any noise I’d kill him. I wouldn’t have, of course, but it felt like the right thing to say. It kept him quiet too. I got out, closed the garage, and turned on the lights.

See how fast it all happened? I figure getting into his car was crossing one line. Putting the shirt over his eyes was another. But now, it was too easy to cross lines. I was running for the end zone like a madman.

I lead him upstairs and duct taped him to a chair in messy bedroom. I told him I knew he was having an affair and asked if his wife knew. He recognized my voice and became angry. He denied the affair and threatened me. He started getting loud so I shoved a dirty sock into his mouth and duct taped it into place. I pulled the shirt off his eyes.

I didn’t even try to hide the smug grin on my face as this former friend and current asshole sat tied and helpless in my bedroom. I moved the monitor so he could see and turned on my computer. I logged into her email account and read some of his corny letters back to him…laughing and mocking his lovesick prose. Nothing is quite as having your own love letters read back to you by a rival. He scowled, made muffled grunts, and pulled at the duct tape stuck to his arms, legs, and hips.

I picked up the phone.

“I can call your wife. I think she’d find these emails as interesting as I did.”

This calmed him down. He obviously cared about his thirty year marriage.

I still didn’t know what to do. I was in it now. In what, I didn’t know, but I was in it.

“What’s your password? To your email account?” I asked.

He shook his head. No way he’d give me that…or so he thought. I threatened to call his wife…that almost worked. But he must have sensed my bluff because he didn’t cave. I really didn’t want to call her. What would I say? I’ve kidnapped your cheating scum sucking husband? That would get us both in trouble. No, I’d need to get the information another way.

I ran into the garage, poured some gas into a plastic bag, and went back upstairs. He was lying on his back….he’d been kicking and wiggling. I shook my finger and head at him before lifting his chair back upright. He struggled against the plastic bag to his face, but it was pointless. He was stuck to the chair. He tried not to breath but I had plenty of time and it wasn’t long until he’d inhaled enough of the gas fumes that he passed out. Later, when he woke up, his crotch was exposed. His pants were around his ankles and fresh duct tape locked his hairy legs to the chair. But what made his eyes bulge were the small alligator clamps attached to each side of his scrotum. The clamps were connected to wires that ran across the floor and were lying next to a 12 volt car battery.

It took some time for him to regain his senses, but I waited.

“What is your password?”

I didn’t even wait for him to answer. I wanted to test my little device. I’d already connected the negative wire and I brushed the other line quickly across the positive terminal. It sparked and he instantly tensed, jumped, and let loose with a muffled cry. I laughed. It was funny. This was the fake friend who’d gotten a thrill out of lying and deceiving me, his supposed pal.

It didn’t take long. Several more jolts of increasing length and he was dripping with sweat. With his eyes drooping and he finally shook his head; no, he didn’t want another zap. He’d give me the password.

I didn’t trust him, so I ran my fingers across the keyboard one by one until the password had been entered. Then I pressed “sign in.”

The last ten emails were from my stupid ex. “Where are you? What happened? I almost called…” She was freaking out.

I had lost track of the time. It was nearly 1:00 in the afternoon. I searched his email until I found his itinerary for the trip. He should be in Hawaii right now. I answered her email for him.

“I’m sorry, no time to explain but wanted to send quick email. Had to go alone. Will email an explanation on my arrival. XOXOXOX.”

I read him the email and pressed send. He looked afraid and sullen. He’d been defeated.

I then sent myself copies of all his emails…everything in his saved folders, deleted folder, outbox…all of it. And I started to read. I realized that for the most part, he was a decent guy. He said kind things in emails to his wife. He talked about birds, hiking, and camping with his friends. He complained about politics on his church mailing list. He obviously loved his wife and kids. His only flaw, a major one, was the thing with my girlfriend.

I looked at him and shook my head. “Why did you do it? It sounds like you love your wife.”

He looked at the floor. He looked pathetic, pants down around his ankles, bags under his eyes, white shirt stained with sweat, and wires clamped to his sack.

“Well, do you?”

He nodded; yes, he loved his wife.

I felt bad for him.

“So why did you do it? Why did you lie to me and deceive your wife? Why?”

He shrugged his shoulders as his eyes welled up with tears. He shook his head and shrugged again.

I turned back to the computer and spent an hour plucking keys. He sat sobbing behind me. When I finished I spun back around.

“Okay, here is the deal. I’ve set up a macro that will automatically email a copy of all your cheesy emails to everyone on your church membership list in two hours unless I stop it. I’m going to take the tape off your mouth. If you try anything, those emails will be sent.” I paused. “Do you understand?”

I’m going to let you go. As long as you never speak to my ex again, I promise those emails will never be sent. You stole the only good thing from my life so I really don’t care if you try and get back at me. Send me to prison…I really don’t’ care. Just remember, if you do, those emails will go out. If I don’t stop them every week, they will automatically be sent. I’ll go to every smiling face of the Sunday morning congregation that looks up to and admires you. Walk away from here; never speak to her again and never say a word about this…and it’s over.”

He nodded.

I turned back to the computer and typed one more email that would cause some pain…but not anger pain like I felt. I didn’t want my ex retaliating and telling his wife about their affair…that would free him to get revenge on me. I knew my ex well enough to know she’d be hurt but not seek revenge if it was handled kindly (unlike how she had handled me). So in a nice way, I told her, in his voice, that he couldn’t hurt his wife. That he valued his marriage and family and couldn’t do this…and had returned home. He couldn’t ever leave his wife and he could no longer see or communicate with her. He also forwarded the unused electronic ticket numbers to Fiji and suggested she use it for a vacation. And he apologized profusely.

I read it to him and in my final sardonic act, ripped off the duct tape and he spat out the sock. And I let him go. He even gave me a ride back to get my motorcycle. I never saw nor heard from him again.

Later that night, she called…crying. She wanted me back and I went. She didn’t tell me about him; she just said she’d realized what a fool she’d been. I moved back. I sold my bike and computer for our vacation to Fiji. I tried to convince myself I was happy but several weeks later, in Fiji, I broke it off. Not out of spite; I just couldn’t do it. I hadn’t been able to sleep or eat. I’d lost twenty pounds (and I was already too thin). The guilt was too much and I knew I could never tell her. I couldn’t come clean. This was my burden to bear. I was glad I felt guilt…at least I had a conscience. But it ripped me apart. I’d thought I wanted her back and never intended on getting back together and then dump her out of revenge, but I’m sure it appears that way. Even without the guilt I knew I had to break it off. I couldn’t understand how she so easily hid her own betrayal. All the times she smiled, told me she loved me, and told me not to worry. It made me sick. She hadn’t lost weight. She hadn’t tossed at night. My remorse and confusion at her actions were eating me alive…I couldn’t trust her, I couldn’t deceive her, and yet I couldn’t tell her the truth. I couldn’t resolve my inner conflict. Had she mentioned him, maybe we could have worked through it. But she never did and it didn’t seem to bother her.

I sent her home, crying, and I stayed in Fiji. I can’t justify what I did. I tell myself the bastard deserved what he got. I tell myself that since she deceived me it was okay. I tell myself I did a good thing and saved a thirty year marriage. But in reality, I’m the pathetic one. Burdened by guilt (which thankfully still has the faith to speak to me), I am bound for a time to my own shameful chair by my own horrible actions. Perhaps in time I will heal and can do enough good to offset my guilt. I can only hope.

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