It was my honest opinion, but she was having none of it. Even when presented with the picture proofs, she remained steadfast behind him, tossing would be friendships into the fire that would be there to support her when he finally revealed his unfaithfulness, which I believed was just simmering on the back burner and would explode like a meth lab within days--a month at the most.
Tired of having nothing, and her world coming down around her ears, she clung to the hope that was hopeless. He would leave her eventually, a blithering mess--the way he'd done me. I was stronger now, but I couldn't tell her why I was involved or who I was. That would have to wait for the final unveiling.
The song "Big Yellow Taxi" blared in my head, as earworms often do, and the words somehow seemed appropriate.
"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got til it's gone. They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot." Then "And a big yellow taxi took away my old man."
Although I'm still not sure WHY they seemed appropriate, I simply knew that they were. I went over the whole song in my head as I was driving along, heading for Chicago. A quick stop at a McDonald's along the I-94 corridor at the drive through to wave at the step-daughter and smile. I'm sure he had told her his version of our history. I imagined her smile turning to a frown when I told her MY side of the story, and how all her pre-conceived notions about him came crashing down around her. Similar to the way Ms. Draner's would, should I ever let her know what had really happened. But for now, those things would stay hidden. The drive was long, slow and hot. Chicago was still a long, long distance away. I had a good six or seven hour drive ahead of me, and a storm brewing in the windshield. Little beads of water formed on my upper lip, so I turned on the a/c a little higher and pointed the air duct straight to my face. That was good for a minute or two...then it turned chilly, and the rain started pelting the car.
I turned on the radio and the wipers in a smooth arched motion, trading hands on the wheel, checking for lights before and aft. I was quite literally on the road alone, passing through another memory. I slowed to 55, even though the limit was 70, because my tires were slightly undernourished in the tread department. I flipped off the cruise control, too, as the rain got heavier, and water started to splash on the side of the car as I sped through puddles. As the wind came up, I noticed hail beginning to fall, so I pulled off at the next exit, and just in time to hear a tornado warning blast over the radio, interrupting a favorite song. I looked behind me in time to see it, too, whirling and tossing debris everywhere, but it was short lived, and the funnel cloud disappeared into the rainstorm. Things quieted down after that, so I resumed my trek, got back on the highway, and continued on into the rain, as the last of "Kentucky Rain" played on the radio. I dialed 911 and called in the tornado, although I was sure that it had been fully reported by spotters that I'd seen along I-94.
The rest of the trip was completely uneventful, save for the sun coming out and giving me a full eyeball's view of a spectacular sunset, reds, oranges and gold with a little purple tossed in the clouds here and there--a summer sunset to remember. I'd be in Chicago in minutes now, rather than hours. I'd been on the turnpike for an hour, taking in the highs and lows of Chicago suburbia.
I arrived at the Holiday Inn next to the Mall. Great placement, as far as I was concerned, even if it was a little expensive. It was here that I was finding out more information in my review of another cheating husband, this one, NOT my own, thank goodness. I mean, you have to trust somebody sometime, and my fella deserved it. I had work to do; however a short walk to the mall would hurt no one.
The Mall was open and spacious with lots of sculptures and balloons made of paper hanging from the ceiling. I stopped at a Sbarro for a slice of their pizza, and sat down in the food court watching people walk past. The Mall would be closing soon, but I made note of the couples who were dating and those that were long-time marrieds--easy to spot, by whether they were holding hands or not, looking into each others eyes as if to say "I want to know you, through and through." How I longed to tell them they could never know another person. They could turn on you, bite off your head and spit in your neck sort of evil, without your ever knowing. They could turn into someone and something that you never thought possible. I'd seen it time after time. In my line of work, YOU DO. The nature of the beast is to protect itself--even when the truth is staring them in the face, this type will deny until the end of the ages--pledge allegiance, and then when you aren't looking...ah, another time.
I spotted my mark at the Mall, just moments before closing, heading back for the hotel, and I decided that was my cue to follow. I knew in advance where he was going and who he was meeting. The internet is NOT as safe as it appears. I took it easy and kept well behind. He met up with her in the parking lot. He was dashing, and some might say good looking. She was pretty average, actually, and not his type at all. He smiled at her, even though I knew that disappointed look wasn't from the fact that he'd forgotten the condoms. I pulled my phone out of my shirt pocket and turned it on video.
His wife, completely unaware, was back in Colorado, thinking he was on a business trip. I'd heard that one a million times, but I tend to exaggerate. They clasped hands and walked into the hotel, and I turned off the video. No sense in going overboard and giving myself away. I was here to enjoy myself, too. Take in a few sights and sounds and native food, all while at the same time, getting stills and more of a man gone wrong. I ambled up to my room, which surprisingly was on their floor, and I touched my blue tooth as they went into the room together.
Blue tooth, my arse. It was a small camera. I had him. Right where his wife would prefer he not be, but there he was all the same. In a hotel room with another woman. I opened my own door with the access card key, and entered. Deciding to take a quick shower and hit the sheets. Tomorrow, I'd have to hit the ground running early if I wanted to get more--even though what I had was damning enough. A kiss, of course, would seal the deal. Another statistic bites the dust. I figured I would get my chance at some point over the weekend.
But for now, time to relax in a cool shower, and perhaps a quick drink, then off to la-la land. Tomorrow, I would eat well, visit Chinatown, the Sears Tower and a Mexican Restaurant, all the while running the A-Train everywhere around town.
The wharf, the library, the gargoyles, the copper sculptures the museum, the arboretum. Everyplace that was anyplace. I made a mental note to buy some new tennis shoes when I returned home. This trip was sure to put holes in my existing gumshoes, as they were already showing less tread than I remembered when I first put them on my feet. I turned off the lights, disrobed and slipped underneath the cool drops behind the shower curtain, and let them rain on my face and hair, before finally bringing soap to washcloth.
Ah, and you thought I was going to go into a sordid shower scene, did you? Shame on your imagination.
After the shower, I wrapped the towel around and stepped into the air conditioning, towel dried my hair, and flipped on the television from a glowing keypad on a remote control, but I wasn't really watching the television. I was playing over some things in my own head. Memories, long since dead, of he and I in our earlier days, when things weren't so stressed, and we were visiting Disneyland with friends of ours. They thought we were doing something nasty under those covers. Really not so much, but it was fun making them think so. Since tv really held no interest for me, I flipped it back off, turned down the bed, and lay down, resting the towel on the pillow so that the pillow didn't get soaked from my still damp hair. Then I stood back up, dropped the towel and crawled in, chilled now in the air conditioning, and little goose pimples rose the hairs on my arms. Yes, I remembered those days. It saddened me to think that he'd tossed them all away so easily for a quickie with a girl who didn't even have her head on straight.
I had to tell myself "That was then. This is now." and allow my eyes to close against the memories again, all the while convincing myself that sleep would erase things and tomorrow would dawn a new day when I could crush another scumbag.
Ah, yes, sweet revenge...but on the wrong guy.