An adult stories – The Teacher’s Husband by offkilter123,offkilter123 This little tale is not designed to advance the LW genre in any form or fashion. It’s my attempt to get back into the swing of writing after taking the last couple of months away for a self-funded study of the validity of the claim that the best bourbon is in fact, distilled in Texas. My findings will be detailed in my soon-to-be-published scholarly treatise on American whiskey entitled, “Go Fuck Yourself Kentucky and Take Tennessee with You.” (Note: I forgot that Alamo hero Davy Crockett was from Tennessee so my book’s title will now be “Go Fuck Yourself Kentucky.”)(Note: Goddammit, I was just advised that Alamo hero Jim Bowie was born in Kentucky. My new book is now titled “Go Fuck Yourself France” because that title will surely stand the test of time.)
“We still have room in the freezer so I’m thinking a quick stop at the Kroger for some more ground meat.” I looked up at the face of Kate, my wife of twenty years as she spoke through the forty-foot luxury RV’s open window. This might very well be our last road trip/camping vacation as a family. Our daughters would be starting as freshmen at the University of Texas at Austin in six weeks and everyone had been looking forward to this trip. Kate had seemed a bit distant as of late and I thought this trip might be a chance for us to reconnect. There would be opportunities for our daughters to go off and explore together and I was hoping for some intimacy with my wife. Something that had been sorely lacking as of late.
“That shouldn’t take any more than a half hour so I don’t see a problem there,” I replied. We weren’t on any type of schedule and had given ourselves plenty of time to get from Fort Worth to Amarillo by mid-afternoon. I was in the process of loading the luggage into the exterior compartment of the giant RV. Anything that might be needed for tonight had already been stowed in the interior storage areas. Taylor and Kendal, our eighteen-old twin daughters were sitting in the lounge area of the RV texting their friends. It would be a month before they would see their friends; for a teen girl, that is a lifetime. Boyfriends and girlfriends would break up, get back together, and break up again over the course of this vacation. Rifts among friends would begin, heal, and begin again. The daily drama that is the life of a high-school girl would go on without them for a month, with only the electronic tether of a cell phone keeping them apprised of all the life-altering events they were missing.
We were towing our Toyota Highlander and would be able to take side trips and go on excursions leaving the RV at the various campgrounds for a base of operations. Hopefully, these adventures would take their minds off whatever life-altering events they were missing.
“Okay, I’ll put together a list so I can get in and get out as fast as possible. She pursed her lips at me and made a kissing sound. “Love you, baby,” she said before turning away from the window. This morning she was wearing black yoga pants, a black tank top, and white tennis court shoes. Her blond hair was pulled into a ponytail and the only makeup applied was a natural lip gloss. At 5’11” she was naturally lean with breasts that were proportionate to her body. She was only five pounds over her college weight when she started for the University of Texas women’s volleyball team. She was beautiful in a girl-next-door way and glowed with excitement about our upcoming vacation.
When I first proposed the trip, she seemed reluctant, but that reluctance had morphed from grudging acceptance to growing excitement over the last few weeks. It had been since before the pandemic began that we had last taken the RV out and the girls were almost as excited about seeing the Southwest United States as they were about seeing Disneyland when we got to California. They took after their mother physically, but they both shared my aptitude for math and logic and were leaning towards engineering as a career, just like their dad. But they were first and foremost teenagers looking for fun.
I had just placed the last bag into the exterior luggage compartment when I was startled by the screech of brakes as a red Mustang rocked to a stop, nose almost touching the rear of the RV. A young guy hopped out of the car and strode quickly towards me. He appeared to be in his mid to late twenties. He had blond hair and a blond mustache and looked to be about my height of 6’2″ but he looked to be in a little better shape than me. He looked muscular and fit, whereas I had acquired a “dad bod” over the 20 years since graduating college and getting married. I was twenty pounds over my college weight and had recently begun running again in an effort to lose that weight.
As he quickly walked towards me, I could see the anger on his face. “Where is she you sonofabitch?” he shouted at me. I took a step back, startled at his vehemence.
“Katie! Katie, come here! I’m taking you away from this abusive asshole!” he shouted.
I must have looked confused as well as concerned about this psychopath showing up at my house calling me names and shouting for my wife.
“Who the hell are you?” I shouted at him. I was bracing myself for an attack in case the crazy dumbfuck made a run at me.
“Where’s Katie?” He asked again. This time with even more aggression in his voice.
I was beginning to get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach about this. My daughters exited the RV and I could tell by the positions of their cell phones that they were recording.
My wife stepped out of the RV. She was pale as a ghost and her face appeared frozen in shock. She seemed incapable of speech at that moment.
“Katie, let’s go. I’m taking you away from this abusive asshole. You’ll never have to worry about him again!” He held out his hand towards my wife. “Let’s go.”
My daughters approached me and stood on either side of me slipping their arms around my waist. “Mom? Who is this guy? Why does he keep calling Dad abusive?” Kate did not answer Taylor’s questions. She looked from the stranger to me and then back to the stranger. She had a look that seemed to be a mix of shock and fear. Her mouth was open like she was trying to speak but nothing was coming out.
“I’m Kate’s fiancée,” he replied to my daughter. “We’re just waiting for your parents’ divorce to finalize so we can get married.”
I closed my eyes and slowly exhaled. I was trying to center myself to remain calm. Blowing up would do me no favors, especially with my daughters recording everything.
“Mom? What is that man talking about?” Taylor said and Kendal looked upon the scene with eyes that seemed to have outgrown her face.
“Kate,” I said gently. She just looked at me; face frozen in fear. “Kate,” I repeated. “Is this true? Do you know this guy? Are you engaged to him?” My wife just looked at me. Her eyes seemed to not comprehend the situation that presented itself. I had seen this to a lesser extent in previous situations with Kate.
“How long have you been in a relationship with my wife?” I asked the stranger.
For the first time since he exited his car, he seemed unsure of himself. “Nine months. We started at the beginning of the school year.” So, he was a teacher just like Kate. Given his appearance, probably a coach at the high school as well. “She’s told me all about how you manipulate her and your kids and are emotionally abusive and borderline physically abusive to them too. I’m here to take her away from your bullshit.”
“Our father is not any of those things! If our mother actually said those things then she is lying to you,” Kendal said. “Mom? Did you say those things about Dad?”
“Let me explain,” Katie said. She could finally speak and the first thing out of her mouth was cheater-speak. Taylor and Kendal both had disgusted looks on their faces.
“Explain what?” Taylor shouted at her mother. “Are you having sex with this guy? Are you cheating on Dad?” Tears were rolling down the faces of all three women.
I shook my head. “No need to explain anything.” I reached into the luggage compartment and pulled out Kate’s suitcase. I set it down in front of my wife’s “fiancée.”
“She’s all yours,” I said. I turned my daughters towards the RV. “Let’s go girls. We can still get to Amarillo by late afternoon.”
My daughters gave my wife a nasty look as they turned their back on her and walked towards the RV’s door. They turned in unison, extending their middle fingers to their mother and her lover.
Kate clutched at my arm. “Peter, please; don’t leave me behind!” The desperation was coming off Kate in waves. Her lover stood there helplessly. This was not playing out the way he envisioned. He had seen himself as the white knight coming to her rescue and was now faced with the idea that the damsel in distress might be the dragon in disguise. “Don’t throw us away!”
“I need to be far away from you. I’ll reach out to Terry and get the divorce started. Get yourself an attorney and give their contact information to Terry.” Terry Carr had been my college roommate and we had remained close friends for almost a quarter century. Although he did not practice family law, he did have a lot of connections and I knew that I would be in good hands.
Kate sank to her knees and began wailing. An hour ago, seeing her in that condition would have destroyed me. Now? Not so much. My daughters settled in and I pulled the RV away from the curb. In the mirror, I could see Kate with her face in her hands as her boyfriend awkwardly put his hand on her shoulder while watching the RV drive away.
The drive from Fort Worth, Texas to Amarillo, Texas along state Highway 287 is about as boring a drive as you will find anywhere in the US. Miles of nothingness until you get to the void that is Wichita Falls. I remember an article in an old edition of Texas Monthly magazine that I had come across at my grandparent’s home. The article listed the ten worst jobs in Texas. Coming in at number nine? Chicken sexer; the person that probes hatchlings to determine gender. Number ten? Being a resident of Wichita Falls, Texas. We did not stop in Wichita Falls.
After Wichita Falls is Quanah, Texas. Named for the great Comanche chief Quanah Parker. Born to a white woman who had been captured by Comanches as a child, Cynthia Ann Parker and her Indian husband, Comanche Chief Peta Nocona. We ate lunch in the small town and walked around the town square as I took pictures of the girls in front of the Quanah Parker monument at the Hardeman County building. Cynthia’s story was the inspiration for the John Wayne movie The Searchers. Another way in which my daughters took after me more than their mother was in our appreciation of classic films. In the weeks prior to taking our road trip, we had watched several classic movies, including The Searchers and the Paul Newman movie, HUD, filmed in Claude, TX which we would pass through shortly before arriving in Amarillo.
All three of us had turned our cell phones off as we drove away. I knew that one of two things was going to happen: either we would receive a barrage of calls and texts from Kate begging us to return for her, or there would be radio silence as she realized she was now free to leave us and her life behind and be with the new love of her life. No controlling, abusive husband or daughters to encumber her. Freedom!
A boring drive like 287 gave me plenty of time to think things through. The RV, although huge at forty feet, was a dream to drive. The RV was not actually mine. It was a joint purchase made by my parents, Guy and Toni Conroy, and their best friends Don and Emily Franks. My mother and Emily Franks had been best friends since the eighth grade. They had double-dated for prom in high school and roomed together at North Texas State University in Denton, TX. It was at NTSU that Toni Peterson met a shy pre-law student named Guy Conroy. They dated for several weeks before Guy and Toni introduced her best friend Emily to Guy’s best friend Don Franks, another pre-law student. Two years after graduating from law school, Guy married to Toni and Don to Emily. Less than two years after graduating law school and within six months of each other, both couples delivered healthy babies; a boy named Peter (to honor Toni’s family, the Petersons) for Guy and Toni and for Don and Emily, a beautiful blond angel they named Katherine, after Emily’s mother. Katherine was inevitably shortened to Kate.
Memories of Katherine began before I recall knowing her. There was never a time when she was not in my life. The first time I saw Kate naked was when we were less than a year old and our mothers stuck us in a bathtub together. That is a photo that I still shake my head over. Today, parents would be arrested for taking a photo like that.
We were each other’s first everything. There is no experience that was not shared by the two of us. Every action from the first ice cream cone to the first roller coaster ride to the first day of school to the first kiss to the first time making love. We went to the University of Texas together, me to the School of Engineering and Katie to a degree in literary studies and a teaching certificate. I got a job at an aerospace manufacturing company in Fort Worth and Kate began graduate school at NTSU, our parents’ alma mater. Over the next seven years, Kate received her Ph.D. in literature, began teaching at Fort Worth Community College, and gave birth to our daughters.
After Kate was settled into her teaching career, I made the decision to go into business for myself. I had six patents to my name from my time at the aerospace corporation. I was hoping to take all six with me, however, in arbitration, it was ruled that two of my patents were work product and belonged to my previous employer. Four of my patents, however, were ruled as belonging to me and were not work product. I was free to use and license them at my discretion. I licensed three of the patents and decided to open a manufacturing operation to build the fourth one.
Although two, we were entwined to form one. We were better, stronger, and happier together. We were destined to be joined forever. Until we weren’t.
This was not Kate’s first time to stray.
Five years ago, she suffered a miscarriage.
The pregnancy was a joyful surprise and once the initial shock wore off, we were thrilled beyond measure with the idea of a third child. Katie had been given antibiotics for an impacted tooth and as our doctor explained, this more than likely affected her birth control pills. Whatever the reason for the miracle, we were over the moon.
Three months into the pregnancy, while teaching a class on gender identity in the works of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Kate began to cramp badly. She excused herself from class, went to the restroom, and suffered a spontaneous abortion in a stall of the women’s restroom across from her class. Repeated calls to me went to voice mail (I was in a clean room test environment without my cell phone) so she called her mother which also went to voicemail. Her next call was to her other mother; my mom. She rushed to be by her daughter-in-law’s side. Kate did not feel an ambulance was warranted and so when my mother found her seated at her desk, crying softly to herself they walked to Emily’s car and drove to the hospital.
Her doctor told her that there was nothing physically wrong with her. Sometimes the body rejects the pregnancy. There might very well have been something wrong with the fetus that caused the rejection. If she wanted to try again, there is a good chance the pregnancy would go to term, although nothing is guaranteed. Kate did not want to take a chance on another pregnancy. She requested I get a vasectomy and I did. Our family of four was plenty for me.
But the miscarriage plunged Kate into a depression. The happy and lively girl I had grown up with was missing in action. All forms of affection from me were rebuffed. She became increasingly distant. She would not talk to me about it and became enraged when I mentioned her seeing a therapist. She stayed away from her friends and her social media went silent.
For months I tiptoed around her, afraid to say the wrong thing and set her off. I spoke with our moms and they told me to give her time and she would snap back. I wasn’t so sure.
Then suddenly, she seemed to get better. She was texting people again and posting on Facebook and I began to see glimmers of the old Kate.
Just as I thought things were getting better, one Saturday afternoon saw Kate rush through the front door shouting for Taylor and Kendal. She was almost frantic. Her eyes were wild and she was in a panic.
“What is it, Kate?” I asked. I grabbed her by the shoulders to calm her. “What’s going on? Why are you looking for the girls?”
“I have to see them. I have to explain something to them. I think they may have misunderstood something.” She was looking in every direction except towards me. At that moment, my daughters entered the house and walked up to her.
“Did you tell him yet?” Taylor asked.
“Of course not,” Kendal said. “Otherwise, Dad would be pissed off and yelling at her.”
“Girls, let’s talk about this in your room. This does not concern your father. I don’t know what you think you saw, but you are wrong.”
They both gave Kate an incredulous look before turning to me. “We were coming out of the movie theater at the mall. We walked right past the ticket line for the new Maria Montoya movie and what do we see? Our mother kissing some asshole! In public! In the freaking mall!!”
I looked at Kate with a deep frown. “Kate? What’s going on? Are you cheating on me”
She burst into tears while standing in the kitchen.
“She saw us watching her,” Kendal said. “She ran after us but we ducked into Engstrom’s and lost her. We came home to tell you what we saw before she could lie to you about it.”
“You’re having an affair,” I stated flatly.
“No! No, I’m not cheating on you or having an affair,” she said, unable to look me in the eyes.
“Who is he?”
“He’s just a friend,” she replied.
“I want a name,” I said. “I want to know which of your friends thinks it’s okay to kiss my wife!”
“I’m not going to tell you,” Katie said. “I’ll tell him it can’t happen again. We can be friends but we can’t do that again.”
“Bullshit. You tell me who he is right fucking now or the next time I speak to you will be in divorce court.”
Kate paled and her mouth opened in shock. “You can’t be serious! You would divorce me because of a friendship that went too far.”
“Test me,” I said. “Go ahead; test me. Refuse to give me his name and see what I do. Fuck around and find out.”
She broke. She gave me his name (Kevin Saunders) and the fact that he was an adjunct professor at her college. He had provided a sympathetic shoulder for her to cry on which led to inappropriate conversations which led to texting which led to topless photos being sent. Thankfully faceless. Although the same couldn’t be said of the dick pic he sent her.
I told her to pack a bag and go to her parents. I didn’t want to be around her now or for the foreseeable future. Kate was crying too hard to drive herself so I dropped her off. Frank was working in his front yard and had to know that something serious was happening. His crying daughter just got dropped off with an overnight bag and her husband, who was like a son to him drove away with barely a wave.
To her credit, Kate was honest with her parents. Then when my parents were called to come over, she was honest and apologetic to them as well. She was adamant that kissing was as far as things had gone. When asked how far things would have gone if the girls had not spotted her at the mall, Kate looked troubled.
“I hope that nothing would have happened. I hope that I would have come to my senses and realized that I was going down a dark road with no good ending. I just thank God that the girls saw me and brought everything to an end.”