The Porn That Kills Wives


Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 1364

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 684

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 691

Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 4 in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 684

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /nfs/c12/h04/mnt/212628/domains/trulovestories.com/html/wp-content/plugins/pinterest-pin-it-button/includes/simple_html_dom.php on line 691

“Hey, gorgeous. Where have you been all my life?”

It was only five o’clock—too early for many people to be in the bar. It was my favorite time. Everything looked so fresh and clean, and there was a kind of expectation in the air

that wasn’t there later on when the crowds came and things got hectic and noisy.

No, at this hour, I could usually take my time sizing up the customers and not worry too much about having to fend off any unwanted advances. Because I was on yet another one of my fishing expeditions—and I was the bait. I was looking for married men, and, once I caught one, I was going to display him, just like a different kind of sportswoman would display any trophy.

Only, I was going to display him to his own wife.

It was a kind of crusade that I’d taken up recently.

For the last twenty minutes, the guy at the end of the bar had been giving me the eye. He was middle-aged, with a little paunch and a comb-over, wearing a halfway decent suit.

Out-of-town salesman, I thought immediately, and dismissed him.

He, however, had not dismissed me. Although I was in my forties, I had no trouble attracting attention, believe me.

Anyway, it really doesn’t take that much to turn a man’s head.

Now, he’d taken up his station on the stool next to me and was practically drooling on me. I knew at a glance that he had two or three grown kids and a shaky marriage, so he really didn’t have much at stake by approaching me.

That meant he wasn’t worth wasting my time on.

Anyway, I’d already picked out a much more promising candidate. I was only trying to decide how best to approach him. So I barely looked at the man sitting next to me.

“I’ve been minding my own business,” I told him. “How about you?”

“Hey, baby, don’t take that tone with me.”

He had a big smile on his face as he placed a pudgy hand on my bare leg. Instantly, I grabbed his wrist and squeezed with all my strength. I still didn’t look at him.

“You’re familiar with the laws against sexual harassment, right? Or maybe I’ll just yell, ‘Rape.’ Since I don’t see you getting smarter, it’ll be one or the other.”

He moved his hand immediately and gave me a cold stare. “Bitch,” he muttered, and then moved away in a huff.

I smiled to myself. I didn’t have much trouble handling the overzealous ones. Experience had taught me how to turn things around before they got out of hand.

I ordered another drink, and then moved to the booth in the corner. It was the only one occupied; I’d noticed the young man almost from the moment he came in. He seemed like the perfect candidate. He wasn’t looking for a good-time girl; he hadn’t worked up enough nerve yet. So it would take a little persuasion to push him over the edge.

I was good at persuasion.

“Do you mind if I join you?”

I settled down in the seat across from him without waiting to be invited. You had to take advantage of even the slightest opening; otherwise, you lost the momentum. Most men, I’d learned, cling to a certain politeness before being led into the swamp-lands of infidelity.

“I won’t be here long,” he said, without looking up at me. “I have to get back.”

I gave him a big smile. “I just need a place to look occupied. It’s supposed to be a free country, but when a single girl decides to have a drink, people seem to think she needs help with it.”

It wasn’t exactly a smile he gave me, but the corners of his mouth turned up. “Women are supposed to appear helpless. It makes men feel like they really have a function.” He took a healthy swig of the gin and tonic in front of him. “They don’t, of course. Most women don’t need any help at all. And those that do always need the kind of help we can’t provide. Yeah, it’s a free country, all right. We have the freedom to suffer.”

“Wow,” I said, taking a sip of my own drink. “I come in here to relieve some of the stress from work. I don’t think I’ve ever been that bitter about life in general, though.”

He looked at me now, and this time, he gave me a real smile. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to mire you down in my personal problems. It’s just that sometimes, you find yourself at the bottom of the well, waiting for Lassie to rescue you, and she never shows up.”

“Well,” I laughed, “I don’t know how much help it will be to you, but I was just called a bitch.”

He laughed, too. It was a nice sound, and I liked it. I also liked the way he didn’t try to hide the wedding band on his finger. He wasn’t thinking that far ahead.

Yet.

“I’m Nedra Shields.” I extended my hand to him, and he shook it awkwardly.

“I’m Ronny Dulfer.” He fingered his drink for a moment, and then took another big swig. “People have always told me that life goes on. Now, I find myself wondering exactly what that means.”

“You’re not having a midlife crisis, are you?”

“No,” he said quietly, staring down at the table. “I’m as healthy as a horse, despite my persistent attempts at destroying my liver.”

“Well, let’s drink to your health, then.” I raised my glass and touched his with it. “Health is good.”

“Yes,” he admitted, “health is good.”

We started making small talk then, and gradually, I felt him becoming more comfortable with me. It was just the kind of encouragement I needed. By the time he finished his second drink, he was treating me like an old friend. And when I put my hand over his, he didn’t take it away. Not immediately, anyway.

A few minutes later, though, he looked at his watch, and then stood up. “I have to get back,” he said. “Anyway, it’s been nice talking to you. It took my mind off things for a while.”

I batted my lashes at him and smiled. “Maybe I’ll see you again, then.”

“Maybe so,” he said.

So he was still a little afraid to make a move on me. I’d had him figured out five minutes after I started talking to him. He was the loving husband whose wife was becoming a bit too familiar, so he was starting to look at other opportunities.

Oh, it wouldn’t take much coaxing to get him into my bed.

And his trusting wife would be none the wiser.

Not until I told her, anyway.

Lord knows that’s how I’d learned about my own husband’s affair.

I was youngish when I married Jared. He was tall and handsome, and with an engineering degree, he had no trouble finding a good job. We were happier than any two people had a right to be, and there wasn’t a cloud on the horizon. Jared often put in a lot of extra hours at work, so it seemed like a good idea to postpone having a family for a while. We were young, and there would be plenty of time for babies.

We’d been married for about four years when Jared began to lose interest in sex. At first, I thought it was because he was working too hard, and I suggested he cut back. Jared had a secure position by that time, and I felt he didn’t need to knock himself out anymore.

“I’m doing this for you,” Jared said. “In another couple of years, I’ll be a partner in the firm, and then I’ll be able to do a lot of the work from home. We’ll have enough money to take vacations in Europe. That’s the kind of life you deserve and I want to give it to you.”

Jared always seemed to be putting me first, and I loved him for it. Still, I knew it wasn’t normal for a young man to lose interest in sex. I began to worry that he might have some hidden medical condition, but his annual physical showed nothing wrong. While that was a great relief to me, it didn’t explain anything. So I finally figured that maybe I just needed to spice things up in the bedroom.

I started buying sexy lingerie and reading marriage manuals, hoping to make myself more appealing to my husband. Jared noticed, and for a while, our bedroom was as active as when we’d first married. Then Jared lost interest again, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it back again. I began to think this was normal for marriages as they matured.

I got used to sex being only an occasional thing with us. In every other way, Jared was the same devoted man I’d married. And that’s the way the next few years went. I had no reason to think that there were any serious problems with our marriage.

Not until the day when the letter came.

It was from a lawyer, and Jared was visibly upset when he saw it.

“Is something wrong?” I asked him.

“Just business,” was the only answer he gave. He took the letter into his study and I never saw it again.

There were other letters, though, and the temptation to snoop became irresistible. Eventually, I stumbled across one while I was cleaning. It gave me the shock of my life. The lawyer was representing a woman who was suing Jared for child support. According to the letter, a blood test had proven that Jared was the father of her child. He could either agree to her terms, or face a court battle.

I couldn’t believe my husband was involved in this. There had to be some mistake. I confronted Jared that evening. At first, he was angry with me for snooping. Then he became defensive.

“It wasn’t anything serious, Nedra,” he insisted bitterly. “The pregnancy was just an accident. I told her she didn’t have to have it, but she refused to listen to reason.”

I couldn’t believe these words were coming from the same man I’d married. We’d been so much in love for so many years that it didn’t seem possible that anything could ever really go wrong between us.

“How can you say it wasn’t serious, Jared? You were having an affair! I—I thought we were happy together!”

“We are happy,” he said, putting his arms around me. “It’s just that men. . .we just need a little variety every now and then. . . .”

I pulled away from him and stared at him in disbelief. “Variety? You mean—I’m not woman enough for you? You—you have to find satisfaction in someone else’s bed? How long has this been going on, Jared? How many other women have you been with?”

He actually had the nerve to look irritated with me. “You don’t understand, Nedra. None of those women meant anything to me. My serious relationship is with you.”

“But not your exclusive relationship. You want to have your little flings and still always have a secure place to come home to. Is that what you’re telling me, Jared?”

“You’re making too much of this, Nedra. Be reasonable.”

I thought I was being reasonable. When I talked to some of my girlfriends, though, I began to have some doubts. I was surprised at how many of them reluctantly admitted to me that their husbands had been fooling around with other women, too.

“It’s just the way men are,” one friend said to me. “There’s no such thing as a faithful husband. You only found out by chance; most women never find out. Not unless the husband wants them to, that is. It’s the hunting instinct in them.”

I couldn’t believe that a wife could make excuses for that kind of behavior. “He’s been making a fool out of me for years,” I said bitterly, really realizing it then. “He always told me he was working all those extra hours for me, so that we’d have a better life together down the road. And all the time, he was in some whore’s bed. There’ve been half a dozen other women!”

“Welcome to the club, Nedra. Honey, what you want in a husband—it doesn’t exist. There are only women who believe that it does. But, when you get right down to it, we’re all kept women. You should feel lucky that he thinks you’re worth hanging onto.”

Lucky? I didn’t feel lucky at all. I felt betrayed. Fidelity wasn’t too much to expect in a husband. And yet, Jared had abused me just as if he’d attacked me physically.

Oh, if it’d only been one woman, maybe I could’ve dealt with it. But there had been many. And Jared never showed much remorse. He seemed to think he was entitled to sleep around once in a while.

And so we went through a bitter divorce. He pleaded with me to reconsider, promising that he’d never cheat again. But I knew that I’d never be able to trust him. Whenever he was out of my sight, I’d be wondering what he was doing. Lord knows, he’d been making a fool out of me for years, and I’d been too naive to ever suspect a thing until it was too late.

After the divorce, I started dating again. Lots of those men had pleasant smiles and sincere words, but I knew that underneath it all, they were no different than Jared. At the ripe old age of thirty-nine, I’d learned my lesson—the hard way.

What surprised me was how many women hadn’t—wives, especially. And so it became my crusade to enlighten them all about what their loving husbands were really up to. Honestly, I considered it a public service. After all, wouldn’t you want to know if your husband was cheating on you? Whether or not he could pass the simplest test of his resilience to temptation—a little wink, a bit of leg?

After all, if he couldn’t pass that test—

What good is he?

It was about five days later when I saw Ronny again. He came into the bar again one evening after work, and, without looking left or right, took up the same quiet booth as before.

Well, I wasn’t going to wait for him to work up the courage to approach me. That could take weeks at the rate he was going. So I picked up my purse and joined him.

“So, we meet again. Still mad at the world?”

He gave me the faintest of smiles. “I’m learning to accept my own insignificance in it.”

“That doesn’t sound like much of an improvement, Ronny. Does the alcohol help?”

“It helps me forget. It also helps me not feel so alone,” he admitted.

And so he bought me a drink. And we talked.

Ronny was thirty-four years old and worked for an electronics company. He’d been married for twelve years, and he had an eleven-year-old daughter named April.

His wife, Inga, was, naturally, the love of his life. But she’d taken ill over a year ago, and things had never been the same between them.

Oh, it was a pretty good story—the kind designed to make me feel sympathetic toward him.

Of course, I didn’t believe a word of it.

His wife wasn’t ill; she was just stale.

And he was clearly on the prowl for fresh meat.

We talked for quite a while that evening, and I really thought I had him hooked. Then, abruptly, he got up to go. He was losing his nerve—was on the verge of getting away. I realized I’d have to press my advantage, or lose him altogether. So I got up, too.

“My car’s in the shop,” I lied, “so I’ll have to call a cab. Sometimes it takes them half an hour to get here. Anyway, I live over on Park Place, and it’s a bit too far to walk in heels.” I extended my leg to show him, lifting my skirt at the same time.

He hesitated for only a second. “I go right by there. I could drop you off.”

“That would be great, Ronny,” I said, giving his arm a squeeze.

He liked being touched.

A few minutes later, we were in front of my apartment building.

“This is so sweet of you, Ronny, really. Do you have time to come up for a drink? I owe you one.” I leaned toward him with a hopeful look. A skimpy dress with a plunging neckline can be more convincing than any word could ever be.

There was a longer hesitation this time, and then his face broke into a grin.

“Okay,” he said.

I stuck close to him as we went up to my apartment. I could feel his desire building, but I knew I would have to move quickly. Once inside, I turned the lights on low, kicked off my shoes, and then went into the kitchenette to mix us two stiff drinks. Moments later, I pressed myself all against him on the tiny couch, not worrying too much about how high my dress hiked up when I sat down.

Ronny didn’t move away. There really wasn’t any place for him to go, anyway.

Except home.

All husbands have that option.

They just never take it.

“I don’t get a lot of company,” I said. “The office takes up too much of my time. Anyway, I’d forgotten how good it feels to have a little companionship.”

“I know,” Ronny said, and I could see the desperation in his eyes. He fiddled with his glass nervously, and then took a healthy swig.

When he’d finished most of it, I took the glass from his hand and set it on the coffee table. I leaned toward him, pressing my lips against his, and he responded hungrily. Within minutes, his passion had reached the point of no return and he was on top of me, his hands fumbling under my clothes.

“Not here,” I said softly, and then led him into my bedroom.

He began taking off his clothes immediately, and didn’t notice the switch I flipped—the one connected to my hidden camcorder. Without incontrovertible evidence, I knew, a wife will let her man smooth-talk his way out of anything.

Ronny eagerly pulled my clothes off. He was clumsy and impatient, and I had to give him a lot of help—and encouragement. The second time was much better. When he finished, he laid his head on my shoulder, exhausted, his breath coming heavily.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” he said quietly.

“I know,” I said, running my hands through his hair.

This might be the first time he strayed, but it certainly wouldn’t be his last. And, if not for me, he’d go on making a fool of his wife, perhaps for years, as my husband had done to me.

Of course, she’d be hurt when she saw the videotape of her husband in my arms. But it would be far better to find out sooner, rather than later, I reasoned. That way, she’d learn what jerks men really are, and never make the same mistake twice—

Never trust again.

Later, when Ronny got dressed, he seemed a little anxious. Perhaps he was feeling guilty about his sexual transgression. I wasn’t moved at all. Oh, Ronny did seem like a nice guy, and, in all honesty, all the aggression had been on my part, not his.

But that didn’t change the fact that he’d just committed adultery.

“I should’ve been back hours ago,” he said awkwardly at the door. “Inga needs me.”

Of course she does, I thought. All women need jerks. They can’t live without them. They’re so helpless.

   “Well, Ronny, maybe I’ll see you again sometime,” I said, and gave him a warm good-bye kiss.

The truth was I had no intention whatsoever of ever seeing him again. I already had all I’d ever need from him on tape in my bedroom.

The rest was up to his wife.

Because, while Ronny had been in my bed, sleeping his orgasm off, I’d gotten his address from his driver’s license. Later, I double-checked it in the phonebook.

Poor, stupid Ronny. He didn’t even try to be dishonest with me.

Now, all I had to do was put the videotape in a mailer and make a trip to the post office. I’d discovered that the U.S. postal system is much more reliable than people give it credit for being; there was an excellent chance that my little package would arrive by Saturday.

But Ronny would probably be home then, and if he saw the tape first, then all my efforts would be for nothing—and he’d be a lot more careful in the future.

No, the tape had to arrive during the week, when his wife, with nothing else to do, would let her curiosity get the best of her and pop it right into their family VCR.

I mailed the tape late Monday afternoon. I calculated that it would arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday.

As far as I was concerned, my work was done. It was time to check out other bars, and other men who were willing to cheat on their wives. In another world, where women are truly equal, I figured I’d probably be given a public service award for what I was doing.

It was late Thursday evening when I returned to my apartment. I’d been on another fishing expedition, and hadn’t had much luck.

With crime the way it is nowadays, I consider myself cautious. But I didn’t notice the man waiting for me in the shadows. He stepped into the light and grabbed my arm as I unlocked my door. I started to scream, but he shook me so violently that I stopped. Then, with a powerful thrust, he shoved me inside my apartment, and then closed and locked the door behind us.

Then he flipped on the lights—and I found myself looking up into Ronny’s face.

I’d never seen such hatred before.

Instantly, I was very afraid.

“Wh-what do you want? There are people who know where I am, Ronny—”

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m not going to hurt you. Although I can’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t. Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”

Slowly, I straightened up and looked him firmly in the eye. “Yes,” I said boldly. “I’ve got a very good idea, actually. I’ve exposed you for the cheating bastard you are, Ronny. Did you actually come here to deny that?”

He gave me a cold look. I felt like a cockroach about to be squashed. But I put on a brave face. This was the first time that any of my fish had ever sought revenge for my bait-and-hook tactics, but Ronny just didn’t seem like the type to cause real harm.

Still, that, I knew, made him very dangerous. I was more afraid than I’d ever been in my life.

“You seduced me, Nedra.”

I laughed. “You could’ve walked away anytime you wanted, Ronny.”

He was shaking his head. “I don’t get it. You could’ve blackmailed me. Why didn’t you ask for money? All you’ve done is cause pain.”

You’ve caused the pain, Ronny,” I said, gaining some bravery. “You’re the one who cheated on your wife. You can’t blame that on me.”

My apartment was very small. With only a few steps, he was inside the living room, where he collapsed on the sofa. He looked exhausted.

“No,” he said weakly, “that’s true. I wanted to blame you for what happened, but . . . it’s my fault.”

He sat there quietly, not speaking or moving. I backed away from him, over to the table where the telephone was. I picked it up. Ronny didn’t seem to notice.

“My daughter was there when the mail came . . . she was pretty excited at finding a video . . . she had to play it immediately. Once my wife saw what it was, though, she stopped it. By then, though . . . well, it was too late . . . both of them had seen too much. In their eyes, I’ll never be the same person again.”

“Maybe that’s something you should’ve thought about earlier, darling. Like all men, though, you’re not really sorry about what you’ve done. You’re just sorry you got caught.”

He didn’t say anything for quite a while. I had the phone in my hand; my fingers were poised above the numbers, 9-1-1. I knew I wasn’t safe as long as this man was in my apartment.

“Yes, you’re absolutely right.” The defeat in his voice was obvious. “I let her down. Inga—she really needed me to be strong . . . and I failed her when she needed me the most. And now . . . now there’s no way I can ever make it up to her. Or my daughter. I’m weak, Nedra. Is that what you wanted to hear?”

It wasn’t, really. I wanted to hear him plead—and make excuses. I wanted to see a man struggling—like a fish yanked out of the water, trying in vain to breathe.

Instead, I saw a man who was already broken.

That should’ve given me a great deal of satisfaction. But, somehow, it didn’t.

“I just want wives to know what kind of men they’re really married to, Ronny. Men like you—you make fools out of women. I have to put a stop to it.”

He was staring at the wall, like he was in a trance. When he finally spoke, his voice was so quiet that I had to strain to catch his words.

“She’s dying, you know. She has cancer. It will only be a few weeks longer, at the most. There are days when the pain is unbearable, and the medicine doesn’t do much good. Sometimes . . . sometimes I have to get away from it—just for a little while. A couple of drinks to settle my nerves . . . that’s all it was ever supposed to be. . . .”

He paused for a moment, and then I realized he was crying.

“I love her more than anything, Nedra. It’s been months since we were last together . . . and I let my animal instincts get the best of me. But, now . . . now . . . the last impression she will have of me is of seeing me, on videotape, having sex with another woman—a total stranger I picked up in a bar. And she’ll carry that memory with her to her grave . . . and my daughter will hate me for the rest of her life.”

Slowly, I put the phone down.

I wanted to believe that Ronny was making it all up.

But I knew that wasn’t so.

I had made a serious miscalculation about him.

And, suddenly, too late, I understood, finally, why he’d been so bitter . . . and so vulnerable.

I remembered then those words he’d said to me that first night when I met him—about how women weren’t really helpless, except when they needed the kind of help that a man couldn’t provide.

He’d been talking about his wife, who needed the kind of help that no one could provide.

And I had done an awful thing.

And I knew, even then, that there wasn’t any way to ever make it right again.

No matter what happened, that little girl would never again feel quite the same way about her father.

And the eternal anguish of his wife—

I didn’t like to think about that at all.

“I’m sorry, Ronny . . . I didn’t know about your wife; you never told me. You—you just said that she was sick. I . . . I thought you were making it up.”

He nodded, almost imperceptibly. “She’s very sick. But not for much longer. And what’s done is done. You’ve succeeded beyond your wildest dreams, Nedra.”

He looked up at me then; his eyes held mine.

“Does that make you feel good?”

“No, it doesn’t,” I said, almost choking on the words.

Ronny got up to go. In the doorway, he looked back at me.

“I wonder what kind of person you are, Nedra. I’ve never met anyone so cold or unfeeling before in all my life. You’re either inhuman, or you must’ve been hurt very badly. In any case, I feel sorry for you.”

And then he left.

About two weeks later, I saw in the paper the death notice for a Mrs. Inga Verona Michaelson Dulfer, who’d been ill for more than a year.

Memorials were suggested, for the cancer society, and I made one, anonymously, hoping that it would make me feel better.

It didn’t.

Comments are closed.