Back to School

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Phillip Johnson

Chapter One

Saturday morning I found her note propped up against the coffee pot. “Russ, sorry to do this to you honey, but Haley needs me right now and I’ll call you about the first of the week and let you know how things are going. If an emergency comes up leave a message on my cell phone because I won’t be able to use it in the hospital. I guess that’s all for now. Enjoy your days as a bachelor and I’ll see you by Wednesday unless something comes up,” and Joyce’s name was scrawled at the bottom.

I Wasn’t looking forward to my days as a bachelor, but I understood that Joyce wanted to be there for her sister’s surgery. My day started by dropping my shaver in the sink and busting it all to hell. Then I put on a pair of jeans only to find the zipper had come apart. My day didn’t get much better after that either.

Other than a couple of games that I liked to play on the computer, I didn’t really have anything that held my interest. Certainly no hobbies. We lived in town in a modest three bedroom house sitting on a modest and typical city lot and that was fine by me. Minimal upkeep other than trim the evergreens that sheltered the patio from the afternoon sun and half an hour to mow the yard once or twice a week.

Our neighbors to our right were quite a bit older than us and the neighbors to our left were quite a bit younger than us, so there wasn’t a lot of bonding going on there. I’d see Glen or Theo and wave, but that was all. Oh yeah, they were quite gay. Nice guys I guess but we had nothing in common. To summarize, I was bored before I even had lunch and I had four or more days to go before Joyce would be home.

I even mowed the yard and trimmed those eight foot tall evergreens, as much for something to do as anything else, before returning to my computer and the games. I thought losing my hundred dollar shaver was bad, but what was to happen to me next would make me forget about that shaver and most everything else.

My computer was still booted up so I dropped into my office chair and brought up the game I was going to play. Then my computer locked up. I rebooted, but once again it locked up even when I tried to open a simple file. Now I was officially in a very bad mood and stomped out of the computer room as I spewed a string of expletives. Once I had settled down I remembered Joyce’s old computer in the basement. She had a brand new laptop and I had just disconnected her old one and put it on my workbench downstairs. I disconnected mine and straightened up the wires, and then brought hers up and hooked it up using my components.

In minutes I was back in business. Still in a bad mood, but at least I could do some gaming. Then I discovered her computer was password protected. I tried our usual ones, but they didn’t work so I stopped and tried to think it through. Why the hell did she use a password anyway? It was just the two of us after all. I had nothing better to do so I tried different possible words, but I knew I wasn’t going to get any place like that.

Then I remembered she had her new Mustang so I tried that word, but that too failed. Once again my memory helped me by remembering we usually added numbers at the end, so I tried Mustang oh eight, the year of her car, and I was in. I sat there and savored my little victory and then looked at her desktop. I saw nothing out of the ordinary, so I decided I would check our e-mail before I started playing. There were only a few and I forwarded a couple of those and then deleted all of them. I was settling down by then and leaned back and decided to clean out the sent and deleted files e-mails and even did a disc scan before I would spend the rest of the day playing. I started with the deleted files. There were quite a few, but most of them were from Rob78333. Who the hell was that, I wondered.

I started at the first one of those and it appeared to be a fairly benign note from some guy named Rob. Then the next one dated a couple of days later was longer and more personal. On I went until I read one that in my opinion went beyond acceptable language, so I checked her sent files and soon found a whole series that she had sent to Rob. Those too were well beyond acceptable. I copied them one by one and put them in order by date. His email and her reply or her email and his reply. I read them as I copied them and was soon being pulled into their secret online affair.

One that Rob wrote for example read, “I loved your last note to me. Thank you for saying those nice and very sexy things to me. Even though we only met that one time I could envision you as you toyed with yourself as you described what you were doing. I looked at the picture of you that you sent me and just added your writing and I was transported to your bed. I was so excited and turned on I had to take my problem in hand. Joyce honey I really hope we can get together soon I love sharing emails with you but I want to be able to touch you and look at you in person. Please send me more pictures of you and I’ll poker oyna get some of me to you as well. I still remember how it was when we spent that evening talking over dinner and drinks and how I was so overwhelmed by you, even though we did nothing more than talk and hold hands. I think of you everyday love. Until next time….Rob.”

I was so damn mad I could hardly see to continue reading, but I went to her reply and read, “Hi Rob. I was so very excited that I did myself that night as I thought about us. Like you, I wish we could see each other in person again. I still remember your touch and your smile and I can still feel the electricity between us. I look forward to getting your pictures baby. I just hope you’re not wearing too many clothes. Better yet don’t have anything on.” The last of her email was more mundane, but it didn’t matter because I couldn’t read anymore of her crap. Without reading them I continued to save and print every email between them and put them in an orderly stack. As long as I stayed busy I could cope with what I had just discovered, but as soon as I stopped, my world crashed around my ears and I cried.

I got up and walked around and I cried and then I got so mad I was looking for things to throw. I was seething with anger now and if I just knew who that Rob was I’d go find him and beat the crap out of him.

I tried to think objectively and figure out when she might have written those messages but I finally decided it didn’t really matter. I had the dates but even that wasn’t all that important other than to prove all of those emails had been a fairly recent. Some semblance of control returned and I picked up an email at random and it was from Rob. “Joyce honey when we met at the restaurant and I held you in my arms I was floating.

That whole evening was an amazing and wonderful experience for me and my head is still spinning. I still have to smile when I remember you peeling off your blouse for me while we were still in the parking lot. I loved you and I couldn’t take my eyes off of you, but then that guy that saw you couldn’t either. I have to laugh when I remember how you turned to face him and he stared. You are so damn hot honey.”

I still didn’t know if or when they actually made love so rather than torture myself by reading all of them I went to the end and started with the last one and planned to work my way back until I had my answer. I didn’t have to read very far.

“Rob baby you were awesome. My body still tingles when I think about us making love last night. It was even better than our first time a few days ago. Please tell me we can be together again soon. I don’t know how I can work it but if you can find a way to get away from Beth, I’ll figure out a way to be with you. Then she signed it by saying, “I love you.”

That was all I needed to know and all I could handle. I knew what I had to do, but I had to stop my feelings of rage and try to think straight. I had to confront her and I had to prove to her that I knew everything, but I didn’t want her to know how I knew so much. I didn’t even know why I didn’t want her to know that I’d read her emails, but I was keeping that a secret for the time being. I also wanted to find out who Rob was. It wasn’t essential, but I wanted to know just the same and that became my focus for the next three days. I looked in our list of phone numbers for any Robs that might be listed. Then I tried to connect the name with people she had mentioned from her office but I just couldn’t remember very many. Then Sunday night I tried to see if I could figure out what seven eight three three three meant. I knew my chances of figuring that out were slim but I had to try.

Since there were five numbers I started by trying to think of last names with five letters. My only hope was that was his way to remember his code name. I had my system and I used numbers and words that meant something to us rather than just random picks. I’d never be able to remember all of my passwords otherwise. On top of that I used the same password for several different functions and that helped me a lot. Then Monday afternoon as I sat in my office, Rob came into my mind yet again and I stared at my desk for a minute thinking. Then I looked at the phone and saw the letters next to the numbers. Damn, could it be that simple? I wrote down the sixteen corresponding letters and started making lists of possible words that could be made.

I had to stop and get back to work, but as soon as I was home I hit it again. Any five letter words that I could create out of those sixteen letters went on my list. By Tuesday I had a rather long list. Then I drew a line through any word that didn’t sound like it could possibly be a last name. It was just after dinner when I remembered him. Rob Steed. A sales rep that Joyce had mentioned several times but I had forgotten about. I remembered he called on her weekly, but I didn’t know whether or not he was from Maryville. I looked up his name in the phone book and found four Steeds but none named canlı poker oyna Rob. Then I went to Knoxville and looked him up there. There were ten with that last name but only one named Rob. There was a Robert but I had a feeling he always went with Rob. I was so sure I was right that I dialed the number. If he answered I’d just hang up but if his wife answered I would have to talk fast.


“Hello is this the Steed’s?”

“Yes it is.”

“My name is Russ and you don’t know me, but I have proof that your husband and my wife are having an affair.”

“What? Are you certain?”

“As sure as I’m breathing. I have copies of their emails back and forth. Is it safe for you to talk?”

“Yes of course Eileen, how can I help?”

“I understand, let me give you my number and address.”

“Yes of course.” I gave her the information and she asked me, “Is she very ill?”

“Quite ill in fact, and the deadline is tomorrow afternoon.”

“Oh my that is serious. Okay let me tell Rob, and tell her Beth is on her way.”

“Thank you Beth and I’ll be waiting for you.”

Chapter Two

It was over an hour before she pulled into my driveway. I met her outside and we shook hands and before she could say anything I told her, “Beth before we go inside I want to show you something so you’ll know I’m not some nut trying to pull something.” I waited while she read two of the most damning e-mails and then she let her hand that held them drop to her side before looking at me. “Beth I’m sorry. I just discovered all of this myself a few days ago and it’s taken me this long before I figured out who it was that she was having the affair with.”

She wiped the tears from her eyes and asked me, “How did you ever figure that out?”

“Let’s go inside where we’re more comfortable and I’ll explain everything.”

As we went into the living room I asked her if she wanted something to drink but she declined. I sat across from her and told her all that I had discovered and how I came up with her husband’s name. “Beth if you want to see all of the e-mails just say so.”

“Not right now, but thank you. How long do you think this has been going on?”

“I only know as far back as the e-mails go and that’s about five weeks worth but I just don’t know beyond that.”

“I don’t know what to say or even think.”

“I don’t either. I didn’t suspect Joyce of anything at all, so this has really hit me hard.”

“I’m sure it has. I’ve suspected Rob of straying before but this still really hurts me.”

“Beth, Joyce will be home tomorrow afternoon and that’s when I plan to confront her. Would it be possible for you not to say anything to Rob until then?”

“Yes. I just won’t go home for a couple of hours and he’ll be asleep in the chair or on the couch. After that he won’t feel much like talking and I won’t see him in the morning. He thinks I’m with my sick friend right now.” I was looking at her and thinking about something so when I didn’t comment she asked me, “Are you okay Russ?”

“I’m sorry, yes I’m okay all things considered, but an idea just came to me.”

We talked for the next half an hour and then I offered her a glass of port and she accepted.

“Russ I know that as soon as I leave here I’m going to fall to pieces.”

“Then stay until you need to get home. You don’t want to be out there wandering around by yourself with all of this on your mind. At least we can keep each other distracted a little bit.”

“How long have you and Joyce been married?”

“Just over five years.”

“Not very long at all, but Rob and I’ve only been married eight years.”

“I just wish I knew or could understand why she would do this to me. I thought we had a pretty good marriage.”

“Were you two getting into some kind of rut or were you fighting a lot?”

“We didn’t fight often and when we did it was more of a spat that would just fizzle and we’d get on with our lives. Were we in a rut? We were in a routine, but I don’t know when a routine would be considered a rut so maybe we were.”

“We all fall into a routine I think, and I don’t see that as a bad thing unless it becomes so bad that it causes friction.”

“I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable but even our love life was pretty good.”

She smiled and said, “They’ve been sharing a bed so I guess we can at least talk candidly. I thought Rob’s and mine was okay too but…you know maybe that’s part of it. Our love lives were okay. Not good it would seem and certainly not great, but just okay. When I think of it that way I start to see it differently.”

“I see what you mean. I think the pressures of work and advancement do take their toll on us. It should never interfere with our love life, but I guess it does sometimes.”

“I do know that even after we have confronted them I’m not going to feel any better. I’m not going to feel like a weight has been lifted from me or that I’ll want to go out and have fun.”

“I won’t either. If anything internet casino I’ll probably just cry and take one day at a time.”

“What about anger or hate?”

“I wish I could sort it all out. I’m mad as hell at both of them for ruining two marriages. Well one at least because I don’t know how you plan to handle your side of it.”

“I don’t either, but the way I feel right now tells me I won’t be married much longer either.”

“You know if I had abused her physically or emotionally I would understand. If we had major financial problems I might be able to understand, and if our sex life was a disaster I’d understand, but none of those things have been an issue.”

Beth was quiet as she tasted her port and looked down at her deep red wine as she slowly swirled it in her glass.

I just watched her and let her work through whatever she was thinking about, and then she took a long drink and paused before saying, “I even agreed to experiment with bondage because that’s something he was interested in. I let him…” then she looked at me and shared a thin smile and said, “Well we tried several different things with him. Not so much because I wanted to, but because he wanted to. I’m not saying I hated those things either, but I did that for him more than for me at the beginning.”

“Beth, don’t feel like you need to answer this but I’ll ask it anyway. Did you and Rob experiment with flashing or exhibitionism or anything like that?”

She looked at me about half surprised and then said, “Yes, several times in fact, but what made you ask that?”

“Because Joyce and Rob were trying that too and from the sounds of it Joyce was enjoying herself.”

“Had you and Joyce ever tried that?”

“We never had and I’ve never seen any indication that she might want to or even be willing to do that.”

“We both know we’re going to have unanswered questions and that’s likely to be one of them.”

Then I smiled at her and asked, “Did you enjoy doing that?”

She hesitated then before answering with a guilty look, “Yes. Well most of it if we didn’t get too carried away. I liked the feeling I got and I liked knowing I could get Rob so excited just by showing my boobs to some unsuspecting guy as we passed them or as the elevator door closed. Things like that.” She emptied her glass and to my surprise she added, “I even lifted my short skirt one time and flashed some guy when I wasn’t wearing any panties.” Then she realized what she had just said, and blushed. “I’m sorry I’m getting a little carried away.”

I laughed and said, “Thank you for sharing that. Beth we’re being dragged through some pretty ugly things right now so the more relaxed and open we can be with each other the better. I’m already sure we’ll be friends long after all of this is over and we’ve moved on with our lives.”

She leaned back then and actually smiled. “Yes I think we will be. We certainly have a good start at building a strong bond between us.”

“Do you and Rob have any children?”

I saw a cloud pass over her as she answered, “No. I was into my fifth month of pregnancy when I lost my baby.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Seven months ago. Now the doctor isn’t very hopeful that I’ll get pregnant again.”

“I’m so sorry Beth.”

“Thank you. I was so devastated at the time, but now I’m almost thankful as cruel and heartless as that sounds.”

“I really do understand. It’s funny because it wasn’t that long ago that Joyce and I talked about having a baby, but we wanted to wait until next year. I’m not even sure why we made that decision now, but I’m glad we didn’t decide to go ahead.”

“I really hate to go home and have to look at Rob.”

“I hate to have you go. It really helps talking to you and…I don’t know, sharing the misery I guess. Besides, I find I really like you and think Rob has to be out of his mind.”

She smiled and said, “Thank you. I don’t know if you meant that, but it helps to hear you say that.”

“I did mean that. It takes a lot longer than this to really get to know somebody, but I know I’m right. Now if I find out you’re a hard line republican I might have to rethink that.” She smiled again and stood up.

“Russ would you mind if I called you from time to time?”

“Not at all. In fact I suggest that maybe in a couple of weeks we should get together for dinner and compare notes.”

“I’d like that.”

“Maybe you’ll share another of your flashing incidents with me.” Once again she blushed as she looked at me. “I’m teasing you, but at the same time I thought that was so adventurous of you that I’d love to hear more of your crazy stunts. The more we can smile or laugh the better we’ll do.”

She smiled and kissed my cheek at the door but I walked her out to her car and watched as she slid in behind the wheel. “Russ I so wish none of this had ever happened, but I’m glad I met you.”

“I feel the same way Beth. I wish I could do something to help you, but I’m afraid we each have to fight our own battles right now.”

“We do, but we have each other as backup now too.” She backed out and then smiled and waved as she headed home and I went inside to compose an e-mail to Rob and call Haley.

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