My story is one about the dangers of temptation and how they can totally screw up your life. After what my wife and I had to go through, I felt that warning others of what can happen is the right thing to do.
Let me give you a picture of the main players in my little slice of life. My name is Hennessy, John Fitzgerald. I was 30 on my last birthday. My wife is Alyssa is 26 and a fine looking lady she is.
Alyssa is tall, for a woman, at 5 feet 10; she has a slender build and a body just right for me. Her hair is auburn and she wears it long, hanging down her back. I am 6 feet 3 and about 215 pounds. I have been told that I have rugged good looks and that I clean up pretty good. The rugged look must be because of a slightly crooked nose; it has been broken at least twice.
I grew up on the "mean streets" of the inner city. We didn't know they were the mean streets; it was just home to us. That's where I got my first broken nose. When I was young, I had a bad temper and would fight at a moment's notice. My reputation preceded me and the first time I got arrested after I turned eighteen, I was offered a choice.
I could go to jail or I could go into the service of my country. Army, Marines, or the Navy, it didn't make any difference to the judge. Jail didn't seem like the place for a boy with a big mouth and a bad temper so I enlisted in the Marines. My brother Sean had been a Marine. It may have been the best thing that ever happened to me.
During my basic training, I got my second broken nose. In our hand to hand combat training, I just couldn't believe that Sergeant Jackson could toss me around the way he did. I felt that if I could meet him off duty I could take him. There wouldn't be any rules or any sergeants to stop a recruit if an instructor was about to get his bell rung. The reason that Jackson's control of me in the staged fights bothered me so much was his size.
I was 6 feet 3 with no slack belly and he was barely 5 feet 8 and weighed about a hundred and sixty. The other thing that bothered me is that he had to be 40 years old. On one of the few nights that I didn't have the duty, I waited for Sergeant Jackson behind the "Slop Chute". That's the NCO club and I felt I had an even better chance with him if Jackson had been drinking. When Sergeant Jackson came out of the NCO club, I invited him to meet me behind the building.
"I think we need to talk Sergeant Jackson," I told him. "A little discussion about the merits of different styles of fighting is due. Don't you think so Sergeant?"
"Are you sure you want to do this Hennessy? I've got nothing against you. You're not a bad recruit, just young is all. Better think about it son."
"Damn it Jackson, quit stalling. Fish or cut bait. Will you come behind the building or don't you have the balls without the other sergeants around to back you up?"
Sergeant Jackson shook his head and said, "Come on boy, time to teach you some manners."
We went behind the building and Jackson took off his Smokey Bear hat. Then the fight began. I should say the fight began and finished. I threw about three punches and the next thing I knew, I was on my back holding my broken nose.
"Sorry Hennessy," Jackson said as he helped me up. "You rushed me a little and I couldn't pull my punches. You all right? We better get you to the medical center and have you nose looked at. Come on son, I'll walk you over."
That was the second time I had my nose broken. I thought I knew a lot about fighting but I realized that someone with training would clean my clock almost every time and that wasn't going to happen again. So by the time I finished my second tour, I was a lethal weapon.
The funny thing was that as I took the combat classes and learned new ways of wreaking havoc, I was able to control my temper much better. I seldom got really angry anymore and usually tried to talk instead of fight.
My first tour was for three years and I had made the rank of corporal. When my first enlistment was over, I was offered a bonus to reenlist for another three years. There was no one or nothing waiting for me back home, so I stayed in the Marines for another three years.
My second tour came to an end and I was again offered a bonus to reenlist, I decided to get out. The Corp had changed and I didn't have the stomach to listen to a bunch of shit for brains Second Lieutenants tell me how to do my job. Most of them wanted to change the way we did things even though our way had worked for over a hundred years.
If I stayed I'd probably beat the hell out of one of them and spend years in the stockade. So I became a civilian again. I had just turned 24.
I had a buddy, James, whose family owned a construction company. He got me a job as a cement worker. Lots of hard work, but I made good money. After two years, James asked me if I could help out with a couple of houses and do some framing work. The jobs were running behind because two of the framing crew was in jail. He told me that the foreman would show me what to do. So I became part of the framing crew and never went back to working concrete.
The next step was learning how to plan and schedule jobs. I really enjoyed that part of the business. I had the best of both worlds, I was outside instead of in an office most of the time and I didn't have to do any of the grunt work. Good Deal. That job led to me meeting my wife Alyssa Riley. Well, she wasn't my wife then but she would be.
We were building a summer house for Alyssa's dad and mom. She would come over to the building site every couple of days to check the progress. I thought it strange that a young woman would be checking on the house until I learned that Alyssa was an architect. She wasn't checking on progress, she was checking to make sure we were building the house correctly. Alyssa would inspect the framing to see if it was plumb and square and that the studs were on the correct centers. I was attracted to her the first time I met her. She was very pretty but more important she was intelligent, knowledgeable, and self assured.
Late one afternoon we got into a discussion about a special little alcove off the kitchen that we were framing. She said it was all wrong. I told her that the framing was according to the plan and the drawings. Alyssa started to argue with me and I invited her to come over to the onsite trailer that was our office and check out the drawings.
We went over the plans together and she agreed that we were following the drawings. That didn't mean it was right, but it was in the plan. For better than three hours we discussed this little alcove and changes that needed to be made. Dinner time rolled around before we knew it. Then I had a brain storm, it was like a bright light went off inside my head.
"Alyssa, I think we are about done here and I'm going to dinner. Would you like to join me?"
"You're not going to change my mind about these drawings by feeding me, you know," she told me with a big smile. "Yes, I would like to go to dinner with you, John."
The rest is history, as they say. I don't think we spent more than a day apart for the next three months. Almost every night we took in a dinner or a movie, or dancing, or just spending the evening together at her place or mine. Mostly we were at her place because I lived in a dump. On the evening of our three month anniversary (I know, it's a woman's thing, but Alyssa liked it) I asked her to marry me.
"What took you so long? I've been waiting for the last month for you to ask me. Yes, of course I will marry you John."
Now I was 28, had a good paying job that I really liked, and was married to my soul mate. We were trying to start a family but had no luck yet. The doctor checked us both and there wasn't anything wrong with either of us. Be patient he said and have fun. Don't get too clinical he suggested. So we just continued trying to make babies and loving each other.
The Irish have a saying, something like "If you are happy and prideful, it will lead the devil to your door." The devil kicked in my door sixteen months after Alyssa and I were married.
Alyssa and I hadn't been apart for more than two days at a time after we were married. She would have to fly somewhere to check on a building or I would have to travel to check up on something for my company. We always made it home in a short period of time.
I had to go out of town for a seminar on new building codes for our state. I would leave Sunday and come back the following Saturday. A week apart was going to be hard to take, but I really had to go. I promised to call her every night and at lunch time if I could. I should have broken my leg or something, anything to have kept me at home.
All week I went to classes, and seminars and discussions. I was almost ready to pack it in and become a bus driver or something. Every night I called Alyssa and we talked, mostly about how much we missed each other. I called her on Friday after our last class. I told her that a bunch of the guys, eight of us in fact, were going out to dinner and have a couple of drinks to celebrate. It would probably be late when I got back so I wouldn't call her and would be home tomorrow.
The night started out innocent enough. We went to a very good steak house to have dinner, drinks were served with the meal and there were a lot of toasts. "Here's to finishing those damn classes. Here's to no more boring lectures. Here's to whatever." A lot of toasts. I had more to drink that night than I should have.
Somewhere during dinner, a suggestion was made that we go to a "gentlemen's club". You know a strip club. I should have gone back to the hotel right then! A couple of the guys were with companies that my company did business with and I wanted to do a little networking for future projects together.
As soon as we entered the strip club, I knew I should just turn around and leave. Alyssa would not appreciate me being there. There were almost naked women all over the place. What did I expect? It was a strip club for god's sake. We were met by the manager and taken to a private room; apparently someone in the group had set it all up. I was actually going to leave but all of the guys convinced me to have just one drink. Again, I should have known better; there is no such thing as just one drink.
After just one drink, more like three or four, I was getting wasted. Somehow my pants and underwear were down around my ankles. The next thing I knew, a naked woman straddled me as I sat on the couch. She pushed two very nice breasts into my face and put my penis somewhere it never should have gone. I think you get the picture.
Let me say here, I was totally at fault. No one forced me to have so much to drink. I used bad judgment, but no one forced me. No one forced me to leave my pants around my ankles; I could have pulled them up. No one forced me to examine those two very nice breasts so closely, I could have ignored them.
Yeah guys I know, not a realistic statement but no one forced me. No one forced me to sit there while the stripper had her way with me, I could have pushed her off me. No one forced me to let all of these things happen, but I did.
When the stripper climbed off me I heard her say to one of the guys, "That should just about do it, don't you think Pat?"
I knew then that I was screwed. I mean both literally and figuratively. The guy she spoke to was Pat Johnson and we had butted heads before. He worked for the same company that Alyssa did. Her company had done some drawings for us on a job and Pat had done the drawings and was in charge of the project.
I found some mistakes in the drawings that would have cost the customer close to a hundred thousand dollars. Pat claimed that I had made the changes and then blamed it on him. He was called on the carpet; he was almost fired but was put on probation and demoted back to an assistant. Pat blamed me for his downfall.
If I didn't tell Alyssa about the night at the strip club, Pat would love to. After I sobered up, I wondered why he hadn't called her that night or on Saturday. It was perfect revenge for him. I knew that when I got home that I would have to tell Alyssa everything. If she found out on her own, it would destroy our marriage. I hoped that by confessing I had a chance to save us. Not a good chance, but a chance anyway.
I got home on Saturday and Alyssa was very glad to see me. After what had happened I didn't want to make love to her so I pretended to have a cold or the flu or something. I wasn't sure if I had used protection when I had sex with that stripper and I didn't want to expose Alyssa to any type of STD. She insisted on taking care of me and babied me all weekend.
On Monday I went to my doctor, explained the situation, and had him run a test to check for STDs. He had been my doctor for several years and said he would put a rush on the test for me. I told him to bill me for the test and not to run it through my insurance company. The doctor told me that if I had a STD, I would have to tell Alyssa and he would have to notify the health department. Just great, just fucking great.
Two days after I saw the doctor, one of the guys on our outing called to talk about a joint project. He brought up that night at the club and said he had never seen a rubber as full as the one I used that night. Thank god, I hadn't been totally stupid
On Wednesday my doctor called me and told me that I had dodged a bullet, I was clean. I told him about the phone call I had gotten the day before and apologized for having him run the test. He said it was okay, he understood, but I would still have to pay for the test and laughed.
That night I made love to Alyssa like it was the last time. It could be when she found out what I had done. She even said something about how intense and loving I was. The next day I got the call I had sort of been expecting. Pat Johnson called.
"What do you want Pat?" I had no idea what he would want.
"Meet me for lunch at Dewey's at 1:00 today," Pat ordered. "I have a proposal for you,"
"I can't get free today. I just got back and am way behind. How about next week Pat?"
"You don't understand, I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. Be there ... or life as you know it is over. Get me?" Pat felt he held all the cards.
At lunch, I found out how big of a shaft job I was going to get. Pat said, "I have pictures of you and that slut at the club. I'm will to give them to you but you need to do something for me. Here are some sample pictures to prove that I have them." Pat handed me a large envelope.
There was no reason to look at the pictures; I knew what they would show. I sat there waiting for him to continue. He was waiting for me to ask what he wanted me to do and it pissed him off that I just sat there.
"Don't you want to know what you have to do for me?" Pat was enjoying this.
"I figured you'd tell me sometime before we left. I know you didn't drag me down here because you like me," I replied.
"You're right I don't like you. You were the reason I got demoted," Pat was almost foaming at the mouth.
"I didn't screw those drawings up, you did. Then you weren't man enough to admit it and tried to blame me. You got what you deserved," I told him.
He looked at me angrily and then told me, "You will go to my boss, admit that you changed the drawings and that you let me take the fall to save you own ass. When you do that, I will give you the pictures and the card from the camera. If you don't I will send the pictures to Miss High and Mighty Alyssa. She will divorce you in a second." Pat thought he really had me between a rock and a hard place.
I sat and stared at him. I have been told that when I was angry my stare could melt steel. If it could, Pat would have been a puddle on the floor. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of seeing me sweat, so I played it cool. What I wanted to do was reach across the table, grab him and send him to the morgue.
"How long do I have to make a decision, Pat?"
"I'm feeling pretty good right now. You can have until end of business on Monday. If you don't agree by then on Tuesday I will send the pictures to Alyssa by messenger." How's that big guy?"
The urge to attack him and get rid of his body in the river was almost overwhelming. I had to actually sit on my hands to keep from knocking that smirk off his face. He must have read my eyes.
"Don't try any of that martial arts bullshit. I have everything in a safe place and if anything happens to me, Alyssa will still get the pictures. You have until Monday." Pat got up and left.
I had four days, if I counted Monday, to make a decision about my life. Whatever I decided, things would never be the same. Back at the office I was useless. I kept going over the two ways to handle this screwed up situation. I could do what Pat wanted and save my marriage, maybe.
If I gave into Pat he would just want something else later on because I really didn't trust him to hand everything over to me. Also if I did what he wanted it would cost my boss, James, a lot of money. James would have to pay Pat's company back for the cost of redoing the drawings. It would also cost him a lot of respect in the construction community and lose a lot of business for him.
If I didn't do what Pat wanted he would send the pictures to Alyssa and he would make sure to send them to her at work where it would humiliate her. I couldn't let either of these scenarios play out. There was a third option, I could tell Alyssa about everything myself. It would certainly hurt our marriage, but there was a small chance that she could forgive me. I made up my mind; I was going to tell Alyssa myself.
But first I was going to take care of Pat. They say payback is a bitch and this time I was the paymaster. No, I wasn't going to kill him, although I had thought about it before I got control of myself. Killing Pat would solve that problem, but I wouldn't have much of a chance saving my marriage if I was in jail for life or on death row.
How I got through that weekend I have no idea but I think I hid it all from Alyssa pretty well. The one time she asked me if anything was wrong I was able to use pressure at work as an excuse. Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday I made love to Alyssa. On Sunday, we didn't get out of bed except to eat and clean up.
On Monday morning around 10:00, I called Pat. "Is this a good time for me to see your boss Pat?" Can I come over now?'
"I didn't expect to hear from you so soon. Sure come on over and I'll set up an appointment with Mr. Hanson." Pat was excited; you could hear it in his voice.
Pat met me in the reception area and led me to the executive offices on the top floor. My only concern at this point was running into Alyssa. I followed Pat into Mr. Hanson's office. He and I knew each other as we had worked on several projects together.
"Hello John. What's up? Pat said you had something to tell me and needed to do so right away." Mr. Hanson was friendly but a little puzzled.
"Mr. Hanson, I was at the seminar on building codes two weeks ago and did something I shouldn't have. I had sex with a stripper," I told him. When he started to question my reason for telling him, I held up my hand for him to let me finish. "Pat called me on Friday to tell me that he had pictures that he took of the woman and me. Here are the ones he gave to me."
He said, "I don't understand John." He was leafing through the pictures I had given him. "Why would you bring these photos to me?"
"Pat threatened to send those pictures to my wife if I didn't come to you and tell you that I had changed those drawings on the Simpson project. I was to assume responsibility for the mistake and he would be off the hook. After I confessed, Pat thought he would get his old job and salary back.
I couldn't do that to my boss so I thought I would let you know what kind of man you have working for you. As for my wife, I will take her to lunch and tell her all about those pictures. I doubt that she will be coming back to work this afternoon."
Mr. Hanson fired Pat on the spot. He called security and had Pat escorted out of the building. So much for Pat running to talk to Alyssa. On his way out of the office, Pat started yelling at me that he would get me etc, etc, etc. I'm sure you've heard it all before, in one form or another.
My reply to him was just two words, "Bring it." Now for the hard part. I had to go to Alyssa and tell her about the stripper. She deserved to hear about it from me instead of some gossip in her office. What did Robert E. Lee say just before he surrendered? "I would rather die a thousand deaths", I know exactly how he felt.
Alyssa was in a meeting when I got to her office. Her secretary offered to interrupt them and tell Alyssa that I was there, but I told her I would just wait. I had been waiting for about twenty minutes when Alyssa and two others came out of her office. She didn't see me at first; she was giving orders to the people that had been in the meeting. Alyssa turned around, saw me, and a big smile came over her face.
"Hi honey. What are you doing here? I've been thinking about you all morning. It's really nice to see you." She came to me and gave me a kiss and a hug as she talked.
"Thought we might go home for lunch. I've been thinking about you all morning too," I told her.
Meeting her for lunch was not something I normally did and she looked at me a little funny but said, "Okay, I got my meeting over with. The company can do without me for a couple of hours. I'll meet you at home in about twenty minutes."
"I'll pick up some Chinese and meet you there," I told her.
All the way home, I tried to think of some other way to handle this mess I had gotten myself into. The truth was the best way and the only way I might save my marriage. As hard as it would be to tell Alyssa, letting her find out from someone else would be worse. I walked in the door and she was setting the table for lunch.
"Are we really going to eat lunch, or did you have something else you wanted to do?" She was teasing me and smiling.
"Babe, sit down. I've got something to tell you and it's going to hurt. Please let me finish before you say anything" That was the way I started on the road that could destroy our marriage.
"What's wrong John? You're scaring me," Alyssa said, worried now. The smile was gone.
So I told her the truth. I explained about the celebration at the classes being over. I told her about me drinking too much. I told her about the strip club and how I was going to leave after one more drink with the guys. I told her I knew she wouldn't like me being in a place like that, but that I wanted to network with two of the men I was with. I told her I had more than the one drink.
Then I hit her with the big one. I told her about the stripper. I told her I was out of it and didn't know what was going on until it was too late. I told her I tried to push the girl off me but that I was too drunk. I admitted that I could have tried harder but must have been into screwing her by then.
Alyssa had listened without saying anything up to that point. Then she exploded. "You rotten bastard, you lousy son of a bitch." Those were probably the nicest things she called me. She ranted at me for what seemed forever, but was actually about five minutes. I never knew that Alyssa even knew some of the things she called me. Finally she wound down a little and took a breath.
"I'm sorry babe. I know it's a rotten thing to do and then a rotten thing to tell you about it, but I didn't want you to hear about it from someone else. I felt that it would be worse coming from someone else."
"Sure you're sorry. Sorry you got caught," She said. "Who else knows about this?"
"I wasn't caught, I came to you," I reminded her. About the only defensive thing I could say. Then I explained the whole deal with Pat. The pictures, the blackmail, the meeting with Hanson, and Pat being fired.
"Sorry doesn't begin to say how I feel and how ashamed I am Honey," I continued.
"Don't call me Honey, your rotten bastard. You don't have the right anymore." She was starting to repeat the name calling.
"Please Alyssa; I know this is a terrible thing. I'll do anything to show you how sorry I am, anything to try and make it up to you. Please don't give up on me and don't give up on us." That was all I had left. If it didn't work, I was toast.
Alyssa sat there silent for about three minutes. Three minutes is a long time when you're waiting to see if your world is going to implode. Finally she looked at me and said, "I don't know John, I'm so hurt and mad right now, I can't think. I'm going to spend the night with my sister because I don't want to be around you right now."
"You don't have to leave, I'll go to a hotel or something," I offered.
"No, I need to get away and I can talk with my sister. Maybe she can help me figure out what to do or how to handle this mess. I don't know." After saying this, Alyssa packed an overnight bag and as she was going out the door she said, "Don't call me, I'll call you when I'm ready to talk. It may be a few days, but don't call me John. I can't stand talking to you right now."
I nodded and she walked out of the house, maybe out of my life. Alyssa didn't call and by Wednesday of the next week I was a basket case. I couldn't concentrate at work and if I stayed home my mind just went round and round. My head felt like it was going to explode.
I called for Alyssa at work and disguised my voice. Her secretary was really the one I wanted to talk to. I just wanted to know if Alyssa was there. I was told that Mrs. Hennessy was taking a few days off and I said I would call back. Well, apparently Alyssa was having the same problem concentrating as me.
That Thursday around noon, my cell phone rang. I didn't want to talk to anyone, so I checked the caller I.D. It was Alyssa. I almost broke the phone getting it open to answer her call.
"Called you at work and they told me you were taking some time off," She said.
"Yeah, I was just wasting time there. I couldn't concentrate," I admitted.
"I'll be home tonight about 7:00. We need to talk. I have decided what I'm going to do about us," Alyssa told me.
"Good, I'll talk about anything except a divorce. If that's what you're getting to do, then just tell me now. Don't torture me, please." She hadn't mentioned divorce so maybe we still had a chance.
"Don't be too sure about the anything. You're not going to like my decision. See you at 7:00." She hung up before I could question her last statement.
What the hell did she have planned? Whatever it was I needed to listen with an open mind and not get defensive. After all, I was the one that caused this whole thing, and I had some atoning to do. Alyssa pulled into the driveway at 7:00 on the dot and I opened the door for her. I tried to hug her and kiss her but she just ducked around me and went into the kitchen.
There was a fresh pot of coffee so I poured two cups and set them on the kitchen table. Since Alyssa left I had been living on coffee and cigarettes. I hadn't smoked since I started dating her because she didn't like the smell. Now I was smoking almost two packs a day and drinking way too much coffee.
"You've lost weight and it doesn't look like you've been getting very much sleep," She observed. "Are you smoking again, I smell cigarettes?"
"Yeah, my nerves are shot and they seem to help. I haven't been eating or sleeping much either," I confessed. I knew I had to wait for her to start, if I tried to prod her things could go bad in a hurry.
She stared at me for more than two minutes and then said, "I can't get over what you did to me, to us, in a couple of days. I need time to think about us, our marriage, and if I even want to stay in this relationship. So I have decided on a plan to give me the time I need."
"Fine, I'll do anything you want. What do you want me to do?" For the first time I had hope.
"It's not a matter of you doing anything; it's a matter of what I'm going to do. I need some time for myself so that is what I'm taking. We will be separated for all intents and purposes. I will be living like a single woman."
My head came up on that "single woman" comment. It's strange when someone cheats or lies that person expects other people to do the same thing. Alyssa's single woman statement made me think of her dating other men. I started to speak up, but she held up her hand for me to wait.
"That doesn't mean that I'm going to be dating or seeing other men. I mean, that I will do what I want without checking in or telling you about it first or explaining afterward. I will have no one to account to for my actions." I had my head down again, shaking it as if to say no, no, no. I didn't like what I was hearing.
Alyssa wasn't done, "If I want to stop after work for drinks, I won't have to tell you first or get permission. If I want to come home, change clothes, and go out to dinner or whatever I will. Without any comment or interference from you."
"How long will this go on Alyssa? What am I supposed to do during this?" The hope I had earlier was quickly disappearing.