The guy coming out of the duplex across the street was sleeping with my wife. I didn’t know for how long, but I found out about their little affair last week.
She was in the shower at the time, about ten at night, when her cell phone started beeping. She left it in her purse beside the bed where I lay watching an Adam Sandler movie. I rolled over, reached in the pricey Louis Vuitton bag, and pulled out the phone to check the number. It was a text message from nightlife10 saying: Off 2maro callout n cum 2 my place.
I was suspicious right away. I tried telling myself it was just one of her girlfriends. But I knew. Something was telling me this wasn’t right. It felt so secretive: a text message this late telling you to call out from work so you could meet this mystery person.
The shower cut off. The curtain was pulled open. She’d be in the room in a minute or two. I put the phone back in the purse and rolled over, eyes back on the television.
The toilet flushed. The bathroom door opened and Sarah walked in the bedroom wearing a towel and another wrapped around her hair. She heard the beeping of her cell phone that I pretended to ignore.
Out the corner of my eye, I could see the look of shock on her face. It came and went in a second but was there long enough for me to catch it. That confirmed it for me. My wife of six years was cheating. Pissed me off so much that I wanted to scream in her face; ask her how could she do something like this to me, to us, to our four year old son, Billy.
But I didn’t say a word. I bit down on my tongue hard to stop myself from losing control―I swear I drew blood. The anger was subsiding. I clenched my right hand into a white-knuckled fist, and the rest of it died away.
My eyes went to Sarah. She grabbed the cell, looked at it, shook her head in disgust, shut it off, and placed it in her handbag.
“How long was my phone going off?” she said.
I played dumb. “What?”
“You didn’t hear my phone?”
“No, was it ringing?”
“Geesh, I’m caught up in this movie. I didn’t even notice.” I paused, looked at the television, and said, “Was it important?”
She said, “Not at all. It was one of those spam messages, offering discount vacations or something,” without hesitation. Little bitch was proving to be a pro at lying. Christ, I would’ve never realized it. What else was she lying to me about?
We went to bed that night not saying much else to each other. Both of us thinking; her probably wondering about her big date, and me, trying to figure out how was I going to follow her without her catching on to me. It took me close to three hours to fall asleep, too much going on inside my head. But it wasn’t in vain. Before I finally dozed I had it all planned out.
I woke up before sunrise and called a buddy of mine, worked in the same precinct as me. I asked if I could borrow his car for a few hours. He was fine with it.
I was back in my neighborhood as Sarah was leaving to drop off Billy at her mother’s for the day. Sarah didn’t think anything of me being gone because I was supposed to be at work, but my captain let me have the morning off to take care of personal problems.
She had no idea I was tailing her from our house to her mother’s, then from there to Kerper Street.
My eyes stayed on her as she stepped out of her Camry, appearing nervous as her blue eyes darted side to side, making sure no one saw her enter the door of the duplex.
I waited in the car across the street for two hours that seemed more like twenty, but I didn’t grow tired. I was so goddamn angry. My head was hot, like blood was boiling and reaching my brain. I wanted to run over there and find out what my wife was doing to make me feel so miserable.
But I didn’t have to.
The door opened and Sarah and some Latino guy walked out. They were holding hands.
That was a few days ago. Now that same guy, who had no right touching my wife’s hand, was locking the front door of his duplex, while I watched from the inside of my patrol car.
He began walking down the steps. That’s when I got out and crossed the street in his direction. Our eyes met and he stopped in his tracks.
He sounded like a scared little boy, intimidated by the uniform, as he said, “Hi, officer.” I stopped in front of him. “Can I help with you...er...uh, can I help you with anything?”
My eyes were down on him, teeth were clenched, as I said, “How’s it feel to fuck a police officer’s wife?”
Not a word came out of this young guy’s mouth. All I could hear was the hard swallow that he forced down his throat.
“Relax, it’s broad daylight, and I’m in uniform. I didn’t come here to kill you or anything like that. I just wanted to talk.”
He shook his head. “I...I don’t know―”
“Cut the crap. I know what’s going on. Now turn around and get back in your apartment.”
His startled eyes went to the badge on my shirt that read: Roberts. “Listen, I gotta get to work. I’ma be late.”
“Call out, like you told my wife in your text message the other night.”
He hesitated, then tried to walk past me. My hand pressed against his chest and he stopped. His wide eyes came to mine. He said, “Please. I’m sorry.”
“You will be if you ignore me again. I’m a respected officer, and you better believe that I will hurt you if I have to. And I will easily find a way to make you a dangerous criminal. Understand?” He nodded. “Let’s go inside your home.”
I was calm and casual following behind him as he walked back to the duplex. He was nervous and even tripped over his own foot walking up the stairs.
He fumbled with his keys as he tried to find the right one. I reassured the handsome asshole―who couldn’t have been more than twenty―of his safety, just so he would calm down. He let out a deep sigh and opened the door.
We stepped in and I closed the door behind us. The hallway was dimly lit by a single bulb in a cracked ceiling fixture. There was a staircase five feet in front of us that led up to the second floor. To the right was a door. “Is this you?” I said. He shook his head and motioned up the stairs.
Then a hunched back old lady came out of the first floor apartment―must’ve been peeping out her window, being nosy, watching us outside. She looked at me then turned to him and said, “Carlos, everything okay?”
Carlos’s eyes came to me. He hesitated long enough that I knew I had to say something so this fragile woman wouldn’t grow suspicious. “Everything is fine, ma’am.” I smiled and kept it on until she was forced to return it, but hers was an awkward, unsure grin. “I have a few questions to ask Carlos. That’s all.”
“Questions?” she said. “What about?”
“Related to a drug deal that he was involved in. Now go back in and relax. Everything will be fine.”
The old woman was shocked. “Carlos, is this true? You were buying drugs?”
Carlos sounded annoyed as he said, “Missis Carducci, go back inside. I’ll explain everything later.”
She nodded and we watched as she closed the door, her nervous eyes never letting go of us, and my charming grin directed at her the entire time.
I waited to hear the lock turn. When I did I nudged the pretty boy. He started up the stairs. “Look, it’s not what you’re thinking.” He paused, like he wasn’t sure whether it would help or hurt if he kept on. Then he continued, “We’re friends...that’s it.”
“Yeah, I bet,” I said.
He said nothing further, except when he cursed under his breath. That was it.
We reached the top of the staircase. He looked back at me, then down in the direction of the old lady’s apartment, then back at me again. “That’s the landlady. She’s gonna wanna know why you were here.”
“And? I already told her why. You’ll be lucky to have a place to live after today.” He shook his head. “Maybe next time you’ll be more mindful as to where you stick your dick.”
His focus went back to the door. He opened it and stepped in. I followed and locked it behind me. Pretty Boy turned to me and saw my palm meet his nose. There was a crunch and a spurt of blood that shot back on his face.
He yelped, but I was quick to place my hand over his mouth, my face touching his, cheek to cheek, as I said, “Shhh, relax, pretty boy.” He struggled but was no match for me. I outweighed him by about fifty pounds and was well built. “We don’t want Mama Italy knocking, asking what’s wrong. The last thing we want is me having to hurt her and blame it on you.” His wide eyes were stuck on me, probably thinking I was crazy. But I wasn’t. I was just hurt and heartbroken. “Are you going to be quiet?”
Blood shot out from his nostrils onto my knuckles every time he exhaled. He was having a hard time breathing, and it showed from the color of red his face was turning and the tears that were building in his eyes. My fingers parted a bit, enough for him to breathe through his mouth.
He let out a few deep breaths before I asked again. He nodded and swore he’d keep quiet.
My hand came away from his mouth, didn’t even bother wiping his blood off. I was too concerned with other things.
Standing in the living room of Pretty Boy’s apartment, I stole a quick glance of the layout. There was a black futon in the carpeted living room with one of those foldaway TV trays acting as a coffee table and a 45 or 50 inch HD television resting on a television stand. On the stand were a few stacks of DVDs and videogames and an empty liter of soda. Besides that, the living room was bare, your typical bachelor pad.
He said, “Look, she came to me, okay? I...I wasn’t looking for her.”
“How many times?”
“You fucked her. I want to know how many times.”
He stared at me. I could tell he was paranoid.
After waiting for a minute or so, I said, “It must be a lot?”
“Huh? No, man. I’m just nervous. I’m trying, I want to answer, but it’s hard. You standing here with that outfit and that gun. It’s scaring me a lil’ bit.”
“Why don’t you have a seat and relax, loosen up some.” He sat on the futon, his hands over his knees, as I stood in front of him, doing my best at intimidation. “You work at her job, I suppose?”
He nodded. “I work in the Shipping department. Um, about six months now, something like that.”
“Six months?” My right hand drifted over the firearm in my holster. Pretty Boy’s eyes followed it. I could see the sweat developing on his long forehead. “That about how long you two been seeing each other?”
As he mumbled he slid off the futon and onto the floor, one arm resting on the futon, the other resting on the TV tray. His eyes never left my holster. “Uh...yeah, pro...probably...”
Hearing that was like a blow to the chest. I took a few steps back and sat on the edge of the television stand. Tears were welling up in my eyes. I was beginning to accept it, more and more: my wife, the reason I put my life on the line day after day, was unfaithful in our marriage. I spent years working hard to become a real man and build the foundation of a family, and Sarah comes behind me and destroys it in a heartbreak.
I forgot he was there for a moment. I cried and brought my hands to my face and didn’t realize the firearm was resting in my palm. I gazed at it, just for a few seconds, then my eyes past the gun and landed on Pretty Boy.
He was terrified. Blood was running out of his nostrils, onto his lips, and he could care less. “Please let me go. I’m sorry. Please. I won’t bother her...Ever...”
I pointed the firearm at him. “I’m not a bad man.” He began to cry. “I’m a good person,” he begged, “a loving father,” and I ignored him, “a caring husband,” like he didn’t even exist, “but I feel betrayed, and that can take away everything good that I stand for.”
“I don’t wanna die.”
“Yeah? And I don’t want to see my family torn apart, but now I have no choice.”
“Please,” he got on his knees, “let me go. You can still have your family. I promise, man, you’ll never see me again.”
“Know something? The way I feel, I could definitely kill someone...”
Then there was a knock at the door. “Carlos?” It was the old lady.
We looked at each other. I whispered, “Say something,” with the Glock still on him.
He tensed up and tried to spit something out, “Missis Carducci, everything is...okay.”
“Well, I was going to head to the market. I wanted to know if you need for me to pick you up anything.”
“No, thanks,” he said, wiping the blood from his nose on the back of his hand.
She said her goodbye. We heard the light footsteps heading slowly down the stairs. The front door of the duplex slammed. The old lady was gone.
I composed myself as best I could. It was becoming more difficult to do lately. Too much stress with the job and now this. I was piling too much on my plate to deal with at once. I stood up and put the firearm back in its holster.
“Don’t say a word to her about what happened here, or about me finding out, got it?” I said. Pretty Boy nodded. “Let me find out you said something and I’ll be back. Just go ahead and keep on with your little fucking love affair,” because I planned on dealing with my wife my own way. “Pretend as if we never met. Matter of fact, this morning never happened. Don’t tell anyone how you got the busted nose and the broken arm.”
There was a squint in his eyes, like he wondered, What broken arm?
My foot came up and crashed into his forearm resting on the tray. The tray shattered and Pretty Boy fell on the broken pieces, crying.
I didn’t hear any bones break, and he was still moving his arm, so I stomped on it again. He screamed, but no break. Again and again I stomped until I finally heard the bone crack.
Sweat was running down my armpits as the aching Pretty Boy screamed. I wrapped my hand around his throat and told him to shut up or I’d cut off his air.
He started gagging and coughing. I stepped away and he threw up all over the carpet. Splashes of puke landed on my polished black shoes. I shoved him to the floor, onto his own vomit, and aimed the firearm at the back of his head. “You’re not a man. A man thinks before he acts, especially when a family’s involved.” I turned him over so he could see the firearm up close. “Remember what I said.”
I walked down the small hallway and into his bathroom, checked myself in the mirror, making sure I appeared as close to a well-polished police officer as possible, then I left. I went outside and kept a smile on my face as I headed back to my patrol car. The only thing on my mind was my wife, Sarah Roberts, and how she ruined my entire life.