Loose Cannons - Cover

Loose Cannons

Copyright© 2022 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 18

Finished with checking the daily updates for the websites, Max sat back in his office chair waiting to be called to dinner. His thoughts turned to the events of the past eight months. It had been a wild ride. It was hard to believe that it had all started with the best morning of his life followed by the worst afternoon of his life. Things had changed a lot since that time.

He was a millionaire and well on his way to being a multimillionaire. The websites were doing so well that he had six people working for him. His skills as a salesman had paid off. Most of the specialty websites had three revenue streams. In addition to membership fees and advertising revenue, he had lined up corporate sponsors who paid him to put their content on his website. It was hard to believe that there was so much money in knitting, scrap book making, carving, fishing, canning, etc.

He never would have attempted it without being laid off. His anger at his old company had led him to be a little more reckless than was his nature. The cheating spouses website was so far from anything he would have considered that he was still amazed that he had actually done it.

Some people wondered if he didn’t resent having partners who did nearly nothing in the day to day operation of the websites. The fact was that he didn’t mind all. Without Guy and Maggie as partners in the cheating spouse website, it would never have existed. Personally he was disgusted by Maggie’s extra-marital affairs, but it was the video clips of her cheating that had started everything.

Without Guy’s help, the specialty websites wouldn’t have existed. After the first check, most of the money they sent to Guy was returned to be put back into the website. It had really helped knowing that there was a cash reserve to call upon during those early days when he was calling upon potential corporate sponsors. He would never mind a dime that went to Guy.

It wasn’t only his economic future that had improved tremendously, so did his family life. His kids had really straightened up over the past eight months. It was like they had matured overnight. His son was serious about his future and took a lot more interest in his school work. He had gone from being a B student to being an A student. Everyone had been proud the day he came home with a report card saying that he had made the honors list.

His daughter had shown the greatest improvement. It was like she was a changed person. Gone were the freaky hair colors and ratty clothes. She had let her hair return to its natural color and had grown it a little longer. It was brushed to the point where it was shining. She wore dresses almost all of the time – something that was rare among teenagers where blue jeans and tee shirts were the norm.

Her attitude had shown the greatest change. She pitched in around the house without having to be threatened. She vacuumed the carpet, dusted, and even did the laundry on occasions when Marylou was busy with the business. She accepted failures as learning lessons rather than insults against her dignity. There had been a few burned meals with subsequent trips to restaurants while she was learning the fine art of cooking, but that was to be expected.

She had acquired pride in herself. It was a subtle difference from the high self-esteem she had once possessed. Now she pointed to things and said, “I did that.” Now she talked about skills and said, “I know how to do that.” She had even taken up knitting as a hobby. She was a far different woman from the vacuous girl who boasted about how great she was without anything to back it up. She had depth.

Both kids had taken part time jobs over the summer. They were surprised to learn that bosses could be even more critical than their father. Seeing a coworker get fired for screwing around had been a real eye opener. They had spent their wages on things important to them. It was amazing to see the difference in how they treated things they had purchased with their own money, from the things that had once been given them.

His marriage had gotten deeper and better. In a way, it was a reaction to the cheating spouses website. Repeatedly, they had watched one partner in a marriage destroy something that was precious to the other. Seeing and hearing one spouse badmouth the other had brought home how special their marriage was and that it was worth working on in order to improve it. Intimate discussions had increased in frequency and the subject matter of their talks had gotten deeper.

It was strange how even trivial conversations had changed. In the old days, she would ask him how his trip had gone when he returned home from a sales call. Now, she greeted him by telling him how much she missed him and how she had thought about him the whole time he was gone. In the old days, he would have grunted that the trip went well and dropped the matter. Now, he would tell her of some incident and how he had wished she had been there to see it. It was a minor shift in emphasis, but now they each felt a little more special after the conversation.

Their sex life was better than ever. Maybe it was the improvement in communication between the two of them that accounted for it. He suspected it was watching a cheating spouse do things for his or her lover that they wouldn’t do for his or her spouse. It had opened their eyes to what their reluctance to explore such matters was doing to their marriage. Regardless of the cause, they were now doing things in bed that had been unimagined eight months ago. They were both happy with the expanded repertoire.

There had been a rather embarrassing moment when Robert had caught him and Marylou testing an update to the cheating spouses website. He had been dismayed to learn that his parents were visiting porn websites. He had been floored to learn that they actually owned one. It had taken some fancy footwork to explain that one. He occasionally called them the King and Queen of Porn in a teasing manner.

It was September when Selena’s business finally turned a profit. It was a considerable profit when all was said and done. All of the calendars were printed, shipped to the distributors, and payment received. She had paid the business loans, the printer’s bills and all of the photographers were sent royalties with more than enough left over to fund the next year and to cover her personal bills. She was busy working on the calendars for next year. He was happy for her.

Thinking back on it, he had come to the conclusion that she had been the saddest case of the four of them. Sure, Cody’s problem was the ugliest and Guy’s problem had really hurt. That didn’t change the fact that Selena had never really known what it was like to be loved. The one lasting relationship was with a girlfriend who apparently didn’t value the friendship all that much. Her only relationship with a man had been with a guy who was using her for a place to live while he lounged around unemployed. He felt that was a sad commentary on the life of a woman in her early thirties.

Even her job had been awful. She had worked for an overbearing man who used her without paying her a tenth of what she deserved. She was making him a millionaire while she was earning poverty wages. It hadn’t been fair. Working alone in the office had just re-enforced how lonely her life was.

According to Marylou, Selena had blamed a lot of her unhappiness on her appearance. She was just one of those women who was naturally big. She’d never grace the cover of a fashion magazine. Despite her substantial breasts, she didn’t have the body type that would get her into a men’s magazine. She wasn’t fat, just stout and that didn’t seem to attract men. Her features weren’t really that plain, she had just never discovered the knack of presenting them well. Her choice of dowdy clothes had given her the appearance of an old maid.

Things were changing for Selena. The day Guy’s divorce became final, he and Selena had their first official date although there had been a few weekend long sci-fi film marathons before then. One weekend wasn’t nearly long enough to watch fifty sci-fi movies. They had gone out for dinner and dancing. According to his kids, it was quite late when Guy finally returned home with a smile on his face. They were thrilled with the prospect that the relationship would continue.

According to Marylou, Max had learned that women could still look at men in a certain irresistible way. He wasn’t sure what that meant, but that night his wife had given the best hand job of his life. She had this look of fascination on her face when he came that was etched forever in his memory. Guy could only wish to be so lucky if some woman ever looked at him like that.

Guy’s kids were handling the divorce quite well. Ellie had gotten a part time job as a filing clerk at the office of the lawyer who had handled Guy’s divorce. She loved it and would come home from work talking about all she had learned that day. She was even more interested in becoming a lawyer. He didn’t doubt for a moment that he’d be invited to watch her cross the stage with law degree in hand.

Sean was taking advanced programming courses in high school and making good grades. After researching the job market, he was seriously considering a degree in software engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. He had heard good things about their program.

The divorce had been hardest on Bill. He had been of the age where parents were still pretty much infallible. The initial hints that his father was cheating on his mother had shaken him. Learning for a fact that his mother was having an affair and had a sexually transmitted disease had turned his world upside down.

Max thought it funny that Guy credited the cat with saving Bill. Without even being asked, the boy had taken on the responsibility for feeding the cat and taking care of the litter box. It had to be the most pampered cat in the country. It wasn’t always a perfect relationship. Bill discovered the hard way that you don’t give a cat a bath. That was a story that provided a lot of laughs around the dinner table.

About a month back, he and his wife had found a website that they suspected belonged to Cody’s daughter. If so, then Cody had understated the degradation his daughter was ‘enjoying.’ He had mentioned that she was thinking of going into fetish material. He didn’t know about that. Some of the images looked more like rape than anything else.

The other day, he had gotten an email from Cody that he had sent to everyone. It was the first he had heard from the man since the day he had driven off for parts unknown. He opened it to read it again.

Hello, everyone,

I know that I kind of disappeared off the face of the earth. I thought I would let you know what happened to me after I left home.

When this story gets more text, you will need to Log In to read it