Nobody reads these posts, and that’s fine. Just means I can be more me without worrying about pleasing people. …
That said, here is Part 3 of Owned. I’m realizing I need to bring more technology into the mix. But if you promise to keep reading, Part 4 is where things REALLY begin to heat up. Part 3 even has a FIGHT! What action/adventure/Sci-Fi/romantic something or other is truly complete without a fight? Or at the very least murders and car chases.
A brief stop at the house to shower off the anxiety that had collected on my skin. One tap of an app and the front door unlocked. No key necessary anymore. Another, the shower yawned to life. Preset to a comfortable 103.5, I turned it down to 78 for a more exhilarating rinsing.
Waiting for the alarm letting me know the shower temperature plateaued, I checked my tablet. Same pale magenta screen of death. Turning it off and on again erased the magenta screen. It worked. So I tried my cell again. Still no texts from my wife. Everything was in its proper place again.
Perhaps it was all in my head. Too much work will do that to a person, I’m told. Maybe those texts never existed. Nothing logical explained why they were there one minute, gone the next. I’ve read people can think they hear their cell ring only to find out it’s in their mind. There are even studies of people feeling their cell vibrate in their pocket only to find out their phone never rang, never vibrated, that their cell was perched across the room. It’s more plausible I imagined those texts. My tablet rebelling just a figment of my subconscious. It’s not that great a leap from hearing or feeling your cell ring to your cell producing texts that never existed. Right?
Convincing my mind this truth was accurate, half certain I heard the shower alarm, I showered. No washing, just standing there. Letting lukewarm water whittle away at those festering negative thoughts. Thoughts I over analyzed. She loved me. We were just in a slump of not talking. What marriage doesn’t have at least one of these? I suspect none.
Refreshed, ready to follow my wife to her now not-so-secret date or my still-secret imaginary scenario, I ticked through my cell again. Still nothing there. It really was my mind. This damn technology is going to get to me yet. If it hadn’t already.
Then another text came. Or at least I thought one did. It showed for only a moment before it too departed into the cloud ether. But I was ready for it. It read, “You’re weird. But whatever. 6PM.” I didn’t know what was going on with my tablet or my cell or my wife’s ill-sent texts but I did know I only had 30 minutes to get to wherever my wife was going for her date.
Pinging her GPS coordinates brought me to a bustling coffee shop in our city’s center. It didn’t smell or look like fast food as many do now. So, it attracted lots of patrons hoping to appear more cultured and refined than they truly are. Thus far, I’ve done everything to avoid such places. Now I find myself seeking the damn place out. It’s nothing more than a daytime bar for mating rituals. “I read, therefore I am a perfect mate.” “I am important enough to drag my laptop to this place, sipping sugar infused coffee during a lunch break, come talk to me.” I hated bars. I hated coffee shops for the same painful reasons. These places were more Mark’s thing. Not mine. He knew how to chat women up. I just stared at them wantonly. How my wife took to my awkwardness, I’ll never know. Maybe she just liked my money. Why would she want to come here. We talked about these places when we first met. She felt as I did. Yet here she was, somewhere in here, making nice with some new man.
I ordered something expensive, impossible to repeat five times fast, the only difference between bars and coffee shops: “Beer, please,” versus, “Double Ristretto Venti Half Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double Shot Gingerbread Frappucino, please.” The sign of a truly feral breeder, I’m sure. Besides, I couldn’t draw attention to my venture. Blending in is key.
Like a predator, alert one’s prey and there is no dinner. With so many people crowding the place, it took until I actually got my paragraph drink before I found her. Sitting in a far corner, staring down into her tablet. Whoever he was, I’d beaten him to the punch. I held back in wait.
No one but her looked familiar yet. Our lives were so separate now, I couldn’t place her with any person at all, not even me any longer.Who she was seeing escaped me completely. I never introduced her to any of my colleagues directly, nor did she introduce me to any of hers’. Worlds like that should never collide. Work and private are just that. However, our social networking lives were so well connected, we had access to each other’s colleagues’ profile pages. Then I thought, she might’ve used mine as some dating site, picking and choosing based on their employer choices, profile pictures, bios, what his friends looked like or spoke about on his network wall. It was quite possible I added fodder to her growing need for attention by not providing her with any. Then, after years of inattentive husbandry, she peaked through the windows of my other world, my work world, that I created. No, I left open with advertisements peaking her interest posted everywhere.
A pang tapped at my sternum. This was the first time my eyes enjoyed her presence in months, what with our busy, conflicting schedules and all. Oh, who am I kidding. My schedule. Not hers. I’m sure she requested my time on more than one occasion. We did argue for a few years at the beginning. Things just went quiet after a while. I assumed, or stuck my head in the sand and hoped, she had stopped being angry, needy. Unfortunately, I realized, she did give up on being angry at me. The latter, she apparently didn’t give up on so easily. But realizing all this might be my own doing did nothing for the anger and jealousy bubbling up inside me.
All I wanted to do was run up, give her a romantic hug coupled with passionate kisses. I’d tell her how much I missed her, how I learned my lesson, that she should give me one more chance to prove my commitment. As it was, my jealousy gave me an unwanted strength to hold back. Catch the man. Show him, and her, who was who.
The time, exactly 6:30 P.M. according to my cell. My eyes shot around from face to face. No one walked toward her. No one looked familiar except that beautiful woman slipping away from me. Then it hit me: If I received those texts, that means her accomplice didn’t. I was waiting for a nobody.
Figuring this out, I looked back at my wife. She was still alone. Her wavy black hair tucked behind her ears like always, but she laughed out loud at her tablet. Well, she laughed with her body. Coffee shops are too loud to hear any one voice or thought, let alone her intoxicating full-body chortles.
Who was she laughing with or at? It was an insane thought, but my mind convinced me for a moment she was laughing at me. In a way she was. Right? Besides, those texts each disappeared. Maybe her lover did receive them. Far fetched idea, I know, but so is the idea of disappearing texts in the first place. She probably realized I might find her. To be safe, they would meet over the Web in some inconspicuous place. All bases covered. Or so she probably thought. That’s what I thought she probably thought.
Someone bumped my elbow, bringing me back to reality. Hippie didn’t even apologize. I always hated these fake places. For all I know, she’s looking at some MEME and this is all consuming me. A vacation was in order. Eventually. Damn this technology. Always causing more problems than it rectifies. It was then that Mark walked in looking lost. His gaze found her sitting in the corner.
That’s when it hit me. That look of concern from Mark back at the office wasn’t concern at all. Not for me anyway. Mark was concerned with whether or not I was going to find out about him and my wife. He knew at any moment I would figure it out. I am the teammate with the ideas after all. I always think outside the box. I just cannot explain my way out. She may have even told him of her mishap in texts. My frazzled nature earlier tipped him off and he was nervous.
The next segment of time escapes my memory.
One moment an Epiphany shot through my skull. The next moment Mark and I were struggling in the parking lot. The first words I remember were “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Of course those words confused me since they should have belonged to me. I was the cheated. He was the aggressor. I was merely the responder to his aggression. Play with fire and get burned. Add to that the anger in his arrogant question, I left him bloodied up in the face but otherwise just fine in that parking lot. Let him explain his bloody nose and shiner to her.