The Tag On The Quilt
He was the slyest of weasels, everyone ultimately agreed. Even his own, usually
nonjudemental mother said so. He, his new gray, tailor-made suit and expensive shoes
arrived at the courthouse fashionably late -- as though he had not a care in the world,
because he didn't. He didn't know what was coming next.
On the other side of the long table was his soon to be ex wife who looked him in the eye
when he looked only once directly at her and then down at the table. She never stopped
staring through him.
He thought he was cool. He thought he was so very slick. There was no way she could
prove his infidelities or find hidden assets he claimed were lost in a bad business deal.
He was so much smarter. He covered his tracks. He didn't even really care now that she
knew about the money, because he was so smart and business savy that he made tons
more than he stole and could easily replace it. He met women out of town who never
knew his real name. He rented cars for that purpose. He kept cheap cell phones for
those calls. Credit card bills for all those charges went to his office, so she could never
have access to them. He almost always went to hotels where he wouldn't look out of
place and would likely be unrecognized.
There were never phone calls to the house late at night to raise suspicion. He never had
lipstick on his collar. He never smelled like another woman's perfume. He didn't spend
hours on the internet. He and his wife still had sex as often as they did all of the10 years
they were together. He still listened when she talked as though he really cared. He
thought he had all his bases and outfield covered. Thinking about the pre-nup agreement
which she signed so willingly over a decade ago brought a smile to his face in court as
the lawyers for the two sides started to talk. He was getting excited as the final days of
this union drew to a close. Her eyes met his again when he looked at her for the second
time with a slight grin on his face. Then he started to worry a little when she smiled
He so wrongly underestimated her intelligence, her gut feeling. She continued to stare at
him from across the court house table and smile, not grin. She hadn't smiled since all
this mess started. Her smile caught him way off guard. He hadn't agonized at all since
this mess started, but now wiped his brow with his hand. It was catching up to him.
For in the pre-nup there was a clause that if she cheated on him, she got nothing. But if
he cheated on her, she got half of the moon and the kids got a quarter of what was left
of his half of the moon if they divorced before the kids were grown.
There was that one time last year when she went out of town for a week without him.
Something was different in the room when she returned. Something. She could feel it,
but she talked herself out of thinking the worst. After all, he drove mid week to spend a
day and night with her on her trip. They didn't just have sex. They made love and it
hadn't been like that for a long time. She liked how she felt -- as though it were new
love again. So she unpacked from her trip, took a shower and waited for him to come
home. From the bathroom doorway towel drying her hair, she froze in her tracks, in
such disbelief. It was all so clear from there.
Sitting in court, he wanted to feel secure again, so he smiled a little broader smile to
himself thinking how sly he was after leaving her in that hotel on his way home to
surburbia to pick up his umpteenth infidelity and take her to his home him with him for
the night. He broke his own rule, but with this one he had faith and trust, for this
Twinkee had a prenup of her own with some big shot who could outbuy him any day
with his pocket change. This Twinkee had more to lose than he did if news of their hot
affair got out and she was even much greedier than he.
So he unbuttoned his suit jacket and leaned back comfortably in his courthouse chair,
smiled that broader smile to himself and looked at her across the table almost with pity
for being so stupid. He had got away with it. He would be free of her and her
outrageous demands to meet with teachers, go to church, vacation with her relatives,
tolerate her boring and under educated friends and spend more time with his kids than
he cared to do. And he would be free at such a little cost of some low alimony until the
kids were grown. He didn't even consider that she might remarry along the way; he saw
that as too remote a possibility. She had aged more than he did. Who would want her,
he almost said aloud. It was just a given in his slick, shallow mind that she would
struggle to maintain anything that even remotely resembled the lifestyle that she had
become accustomed to with him.
The lawyers talked but only hers would hold the trump card.
It was the tag on the quilt on their bed that caught her eye coming out from her shower
when she returned home from that week-long trip to see her sisters. The tag on the new
quilted bedspread wasn't hanging down on her side at the foot of the bed as it was
before her trip when she noticed it on her last quick look over the room to make sure
she packed everything. She made a mental note to cut the tag when she returned. Under
penalty of the law, she always cut those off right away, but this time, with her wet hair
and spirit crushed she left it on when she mustered the courage to pull down the spread
at the top of his side of the bed and saw it.
She sat in court staring through him again, remembering how hard it was for her to pull
off the quilted bedspread and put it back on their bed the right way, with the tag hanging
down at the foot of the bed on her side. She used the towel that dried her hair to dry her
eyes and made the bed perfectly. In court, she continued staring through him,
remembering how hard it was not to throw that quilt away that night. Twelve months
later, she was looking across the courthouse table again and thinking how smart she got
overnight after noticing a detail so insignificant as the tag on the quilt. He noticed her
again staring through him across the courthouse table, again with a faint smile on her
face. He started to fidget. Without realizing it, he tapped his foot so rapidly on the
courthouse floor that his lawyer touched his client's knee for a moment to communicate
that he needed to appear calm. His knee and his foot stopped moving immediately but
panic was soon taking over his mind.
He didn't care about the home that they shared. She could have it. He felt that sorry for
her. She'd never get another house quite like it. The poor stupid thing could have it. The
neighborhood was too boring for him anyway. The cars, sure she could have 2 of those,
too. He still had the rest of the vehicles worth much more. He didn't want shared
custody of the kids, only visitation one weekend each month. He didn't have room in his
life and time for the kids.
Her smile was beautiful; he always told her so. She'd make a good wife, he once
thought. Beautiful but naive. He knew he could get away with leading a double life so to
speak with her because she just wouldn't think the worst. But the lawyers in the
courthouse room with them stopped talking and looked at the envelope that she pulled
from her purse containing evidence that would be introduced as her valuable trump card
and pre-nuptual agreement buster. His lawyer looked at him and back at her. Neither
liked surprises of any kind, especially when they thought they were almost done.
The day after she washed the quilted bedspread, she purposely went out of town again.
She didn't have the heart or courage to install a suveillance camera in her own bedroom,
but had one placed right outside its door and another placed in the garage. When she
returned three days later, through tear-filled eyes she watched the video of the Twinkee
coming into her home with her unfaithful husband and the two in various stages of
undress entering and leaving and re-entering their bedroom multiple times over a
10-hour period. She watched as he went out in the hall with the phone to talk on the
phone - she knew it was she on the invisible end of the line. He had lied and said he
didn't answer the phone earlier because he didn't feel well. In the middle of one of his
fake coughs, Twinkee came into the hall to pull him back in the room.
She watched the tape over and over but not to the end. She reconsidered her instinct to
leave, instead had the locks changed on the house and called him at work to say not to
come back. When she did finish watching the tape, she caught him alone removing bank
books from a secret hiding place in the hallway closet that was easy for her to access
with a hammer and screwdriver. This worked out perfectly. By the time he retrieved his
message from her, she said she knew that money was missing from an account
specifically for the kids' college funds.
He and his lawyer rehearsed the next part incase that truth came out in court. He was
prepared to repay the account the couple hundred thousand dollars that he planned to
say he used as start up money for a business that quikly failed. But he watched frozen
in time as she opened the envelope and handed the tape to her lawyer. Her lawyer read
the attached note that paraphrased the pre-nup ageement and asked for the tape to be
played. She smiled a full smile at her dearly shocked spouse who would have to do a lot
more than repay the college fund.
His lawyer objected but its viewing was allowed. She didn't take her eyes off the two of
them as they watched video of the garage door opening, his car pulling in and Twinkee
getting out of the car with him. She had seen the video so many times. She didn't need
to see it one last time in court. The movie across the table was more pleasurable to
view. His lawyer was taken aback, equally shocked as well to see his own naked wife in
his client's hallway pulling him back in his bedroom for more. His lawyer never saw it
coming, either. She smiled one last time at her soon to be ex husband who just shook
his head in disbelief as her lawyer handed him a small envelope containing something so
insignificant to him as the tag from the quilt cut in two.
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