Joanne Faries
“Thirty eight years ago today we arrived in Texas after driving from Rapid City. Left in a blizzard and never looked back. Cheers, dear.” William raised his glass and gazed fondly at his wife.

“Thirty eight long years. Cheers.” Elizabeth finished her drink and signaled to the waiter for another. She glanced at her phone and then her watch, verifying the time.

“Here, here.” Clark and Melissa toasted.

The two men graduated from engineering school together. After working ten years in Texas, Will struck out on his own, then urged Clark to join him in his lab. Twenty years later, business flourished. Elizabeth kept the books. The couples traveled together, celebrated holidays, and the men lived and breathed work.

Drinks flowed and dinner was served. A cell phone buzzed. Elizabeth glanced at hers and excused herself. “I’ll be right back.” Heavy set, she straightened her cashmere sweater, brushed aside a loose strand of hair and lumbered from the table.

William paused from talking with his mouth full and frowned. He resumed cutting his steak and discussing the latest technical article, interrupting Clark’s comments.

Elizabeth returned followed by a man bundled in a heavy coat and wearing a cowboy hat. She sat down, placed her napkin, on her lap and raised her glass. “A toast to forty two years of marriage, thirty eight years in Texas, and now to my future.”

The man removed his gloves and said, “William Travers. You’ve been served.” He handed a stunned William an envelope, put his gloves back on, tipped his hat to Elizabeth, and left.

William opened the envelope. “Divorce? You want a divorce after forty-two years?”

“I wanted it thirty eight years ago, but I wanted out of Rapid City more. You got me down here.”

“What stopped you then?”

“What do you think? Money, honey. It’s so cliché, but I helped you through school, aided in your upcoming new business. I wanted a payoff.”

William turned to a quiet Melissa and Clark. “You know about this?”

Elizabeth chimed in. “The other thing I wanted was Melissa, and you moved them down here, William. So perfect. So innocent.”

Clark leaned in and hissed, “You can’t be serious.”

“Tell him Melissa. What happened during our Christmas family holiday – our tryst in Taos?” She laughed. “You passed out Clark. William flew back early to work as usual. Mellie and I had the hot tub to ourselves.”

William lashed out. “You’re just going for shock value now. You waited for my wealthy aunt to die.”

“Yeah, and the old bird took long enough. Jesus.”

“You won’t get the business.”

The waiter hovered near William. “I’m sorry sir. This credit card appears to have an issue.”

Elizabeth laughed.


First published: February 2016
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