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The Best $8.00 I Ever Spent

Based on a true story ©2006 P. Karl Benzforte All Rights Reserved.

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Author’s note:

This is the written account of my experience dealing with a cheating spouse, now ex-wife. It

is based on a true story, although names, places, and other identifying facts have been altered.

For this and other legal reasons, I will categorize this story as fictional, as I have had to take

certain creative liberties (wording of dialogue, order of certain events, etc.).

The key events, however, are real; having actually taken place. My goal in publishing this is

to perhaps help someone else who has faced or who is currently facing a similar situation.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Marriage In Trouble

4

Chapter 2: Uncovered Deceit

9

Chapter 3: The Phone Call

15

Chapter 4: Kicked Out

20

Chapter 5: The Net

26

Chapter 6: Realizations

31

Chapter 7: Just Kids’ Games

35

Chapter 8: The Hotel

40

Chapter 9: Meeting the Baritone

44

Chapter 10: Room 212

51

Chapter 11: Moving Out

665

Chapter 12: Down With Delmardin …………………….……………………………………….72

Chapter 13: To Be Faithful to Love……………………………………………………………

77

Chapter 14: Another Beginning's End ………………………………………………………… 85

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Chapter 1: Marriage in Trouble

October is a time of year is always a bit strange for me. It was in October 2003 that I

discovered my wife at the time was cheating on me. I don't know how long it will take before the

season comes and goes without me even thinking about the events that transpired over those

couple days; events that rocketed me into an entirely different life. I don't paint myself a victim

here; it's actually quite the opposite. While I wish my ex-wife and I had split on different terms, I

am really grateful that we did. Had we not, I never would have met Holly.

My ex-wife Rita and I had been seeing a marriage counselor for a number of months. She

had a few issues from her childhood, the subject of which I won't talk about here. Needless to

say, those issues had caused tremendous strain on our marriage, both emotionally and

financially. Our child-of-the-Sixties marriage counselor charged a steep $80 per session, and we

were going weekly. It was a lot of difficulty but it was paying off. At least, it seemed to be.

About once a year, Rita (who is French) had the overwhelming urge to return to France to

visit. Because I was working full time and going to school, we couldn't afford to have the

children and me to go as well, so she went by herself. I remember saying goodbye to her at the

airport. That was the last time I saw her before she changed.

During those two weeks, I recall feeling a profound peace which in turn made me feel

very guilty. It was so nice to not have to worry about upsetting or angering anyone. The kids and

I could spend time together and we didn't have to worry about getting in Rita's way. I can think

of no better way of describing it than comparing it to those games at carnivals or amusement

parks where the person has to loop a metal wand through a wavy wire maze. If the wand touches

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the sides of the maze, the game is over. It's difficult, it's delicate, and it's hard not to fail. Well,

welcome to marriage with Rita.

She returned in September 2003 and wasted no time getting back to routine of going to

school and being generally pissed most of the time. Only now that she had come back from

France, things were different. She was very, very easy to make angry. Sometimes she would

attack me verbally although I had done nothing to provoke her. I recall a very young Jeffrey

crying in the back seat. She screamed and turned around and smacked him. I felt instant rage but

could only yell at her because I was driving. This new Rita had become irrational, insensible, and

very quick to anger.

It was around this time that we started to talk about divorce. She said that because I

worked and went to school so much, she never saw me, so she felt like marriage was "

like

being single except you can't date" and "a golden cage." The 'golden cage' of marriage meant that

although her needs were taken care of by me, she wasn't free to do as she pleased. Remember

that she didn't have to work, and was allowed to go full-time to school to pursue a vocal

performance major, which is in the practical sense probably the most worthless degree there is.

Yet I tried to accommodate to her wishes to make her happy. But it seemed like the more I

caved, the less she respected me. This cycle of hearing her demand, me caving, and her losing

respect for me continued all through our marriage until I was no more than a servant to her.

When I spoke of my desires, it was like I was speaking out of place. You can imagine that

divorce was sounding more and more like a good idea for the both of us.

I called a buddy of mine to find out if he wanted to go in on an apartment together. We

met and talked about it, but ultimately decided against it. I went to my bishop for counsel.

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During that meeting, I recall the bishop saying many things, but nothing stuck more in

my mind than the following:

"If this is going to end, make sure that it's not because you gave up and walked away."

I know that his counsel was inspired of the Lord because it charged me with strength. To

Rita's utter dismay, I returned home that night with a resolve to make things right. I was going to

stop playing the victim and simply be charitable and long-suffering as Christ would be. I recall

the look on Rita's face as one of genuine disappointment. It was as though I had just informed

her that Christmas would not be coming that year.

Rita had become very preoccupied with chatting on the Internet. She was very private

about her laptop and I tried to respect that without being accusatory or suspicious. I had once

walked past her while she was on her laptop and saw her in some chat room typing the words:

"Do you want to f*** me?" I grew angry and demanded to know what she was doing. Rather

than apologize she treated me as if I had been a father snooping in his daughter's things. She later

said that she was just 'joking around' with a guy who thought he was all that, i.e. "do you want to

f*** me because I don't think you can handle it." Although I want to say more about that, I'll

stop right here.

That whole episode made me decide to sleep in the other room. I just couldn't stand being

with her and was sickened by her behavior.

One evening a few days later, she informed me that she had a concert in which she and

her choir were performing. I would be staying home with the boys. Once I put them to bed, I

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went and watched T.V. in the living room. Her laptop was sitting nearby on the desk, but I paid

no attention. I was lost in watching one of my favorite shows.

It was then that I distinctly recall knowing that I had to do something with her laptop. It

was the purest inspiration I had received since my missionary days in France when I felt led at

times to go up a particular street, or to stop what we were doing and do something else. I knew

what I had to do, although I had not even been remotely thinking about her.

I looked at her laptop and noticed it was unlocked, which was very unusual. Looking at

the clock, I realized I had about an hour to do what I needed to do to the laptop before she came

home.

Eight months previous, a couple of co-workers of mine were heavily involved in selling

things on eBay. They were making a lot of money and so it peaked my curiosity. I had never

before surfed the site, so I went and took a look around. After awhile, I stumbled on an auction

for a program that recorded keystrokes on a computer. Having been interested in computers for

as long as I can remember, I bid on the item and won it for $8.00. The best $8.00 I ever spent.

Now I didn't purchase it because I was suspicious of Rita's activities; I was intrigued by

the program and wanted to learn how it worked.

Less than an hour later I had installed this quiet little program, making sure to allow the

anti-spyware and firewall to accept it as friendly. I chose to have it run for 24 hours and then

silently send an email to me at my work account anytime she logged onto the Internet. When I

was finished, as strange as it may sound, I felt peace.

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The following night I returned from school around 9:00 p.m. and put the kids to bed. She

was typing away in a chat room as I watched T.V. I recall thinking that the spyware would help

me to be at ease about what she was doing; that her chatting was indeed innocent and that this

would prove it to me. In all honesty I wasn't expecting to find what I found, and had no idea of

the impact it would have on my life and the lives of my children.

That was Thursday, October 2nd, 2003.

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Chapter 2: Uncovered Deceit

The day is Friday, October 3rd, 2003.

When I look back in my mind's eye to that terrible day, I almost naturally picture it as

dark and gloomy, rainy even. But the truth is that it was a beautiful, sunny day. There were no

ominous signs that something life-altering was about to happen; nothing seemed out of place. I

was still sleeping in my "room" on the futon; Rita was sleeping in the master bedroom. It had

been that way for a couple of weeks since I had seen her talking about effing some guy in a chat

room.

I recall that the words of the bishop were on my mind that morning, encouraging me not

to give up. I decided to make an extra effort for Rita by bringing her breakfast in bed. I had only

done that a few times before in our three years of marriage, so this would perhaps mean

something more. I can still see her sitting up in her bed with a sort of uncomfortable surprise on

her face when I brought the tray in her room. I didn't know then like I know now that she was

uncomfortable receiving this nice gesture from me because of what she was doing behind my

back. I think it's much easier to demonize the person you're betraying; it eases the guilt and

attempts to justify the betrayal. I am positive her conscience winced when she saw me

working on something we had built together that she had long since abandoned.

As I placed the tray on the bed in front of her, I told her of my resolve to make it work

between us. She expressed her doubts, but I tried to remain positive. Maybe deep down I knew it

was futile, but for whatever reason I refused to let go until it was time. I left that morning with

her uncertainty on my mind.

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At the time I worked for a small company in Sandy as a quality inspector. I worked out of

a local subcontractor's shop inspecting product as it went down the line. I had recently been

asked to return to the main office in Sandy to continue my work on the in-house inventory. The

company was very successful and was growing faster than it could handle. Because of its growth

and my recent transfer, I found myself working without a desk for about two weeks. To get my

work done, I would grab an open terminal wherever I could. On this particular morning, that

terminal was in the main conference room, also known as the Wow! Room.

Only after reading what I was about to read would the Wow! Room live up to its name for

me.

I logged in and began to go through my email. By this time the spyware had been on her

laptop for about 36 hours, and had sent me a couple of emails in the form of log files. These were

simply files with computer timestamps and all inputted text, i.e.:

[USER RITA LOGGED IN ON COMPUTER RITASCOMPUTER

ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2ND, 2003 AT 18:07:04]

[MICROSOFT INTERNET EXPLORER STARTED ON THURSDAY,

OCTOBER 2ND, 2003 AT 18:08:34]

[MICROSOFT INTERNET EXPLORER - WELCOME TO YAHOO!

MAIL - OCTOBER 2ND, 2003 AT 18:08:56]

[MICROSOFT INTERNET EXPLORER - LOGIN TO YAHOO! MAIL -

OCTOBER 2ND, 2003 AT 18:08:56]

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[KEYS]

Rita521 schumann11

[MICROSOFT INTERNET EXPLORER - Rita521 - YAHOO! MAIL -

INBOX - OCTOBER 2ND, 2003 AT 18:09:26]

Now of course the username and password is made up--but this is just to give an idea of

what I was looking at. It appears really messy at first, but once you get used to reading it, it is

very straight forward.

I skimmed through these log files looking for anything that might help me understand

why she had started acting the way she had been acting ever since she returned from France. I

didn't know exactly what that would be, if anything, but I was pretty sure I would know it when I

found it.

And found it I did.

The words that immediately jumped off the page to me were:

"our relationship feels so good"

I realized at this point that I must be skimming through some sort of email she had sent someone.

Backing up, I skimmed to the point where it looked like the letter started. It was written to

someone named James, and it looked like they had some of the same classes up at the university.

Whoever this guy was, why was she saying 'our relationship'? Was I taking something out of

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context, or was this something that she was saying that she didn't really mean (like the guy she

talked about effing)? I didn't want to jump to any conclusions, so I kept reading.

The first three-fourths of the letter had a very gentle tone to it. She thanked him for

complimenting her voice at a recital. She talked about music assignments they had, and

commented about homework in general.

The last quarter of the letter turned toward talk of their relationship. She said that she

understood if he was not ready to be in a relationship at the moment, that she would wait because

of how good it made her feel. The final few sentences reminisced about something that had

happened within the past few weeks:

"I think of you and me at that park, you so close to me, kissing your warm

lips on that cool night

"

Reading this brought one of those movie moments, you know, where everything around a person

grinds to a halt and you're not sure things will ever start moving again. That's how I felt when I

saw those words. I stared at the screen, in complete shock. She had actually kissed him. She was

actually having a relationship with this James, this faceless person who had just earned himself

an enemy.

In many ways the part that made me angriest was this gentle, patient tone she had with

this guy. They had dated, made out, and who knows what else, and here he was not ready for a

commitment while Rita, who had a commitment, told him she would wait it out because of how

good the relationship made her feel.

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Wow. I couldn't have dreamed up a more surreal situation. Here I had been doing

everything in my power to make her happy, including paying for her to go to school for a degree

that would never pay for itself. And in going to that school she finds someone who makes her

feel so good. He spends time with her while I work full-time and go to school full-time. He cares

about singing and knows many things about classical composers. I, on the other hand, think

singing is a nice hobby but not much more and the limit of my classical education being the

movie Amadeus.

There was room for only one emotion at this point, and that was the complete and utter

shock. Unfortunately, what I had just read was the sampler; the main course was yet to come.

I reached a portion in the log files where it seemed at first as if she were talking to

herself. I quickly realized that I was now sitting in one one-half of a chat session; the key logger

having of course only recorded what she had typed. It didn't take long for me to figure out that

James was on the other side of this chat.

She started out gossiping about the people with whom they went to school, who she liked

and hated, etc. She then asked James if he was going to a party the following night. Because she

had typed this the night before, this meant that the party was that night--the very day in which I

was reading this. Suddenly I didn't feel so removed. I was in the middle of this thing.

He must have said something about going but still wanting to see her at that moment,

because she replied:

I "

want to see you too, but it's all the better sex tomorrow!"

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I can't really describe to you how I felt when my eyes crossed this line. These were not idle

words or a brief lapse of judgment. This was not a mistake or a misunderstanding. This woman,

this shell of a person I had once married, was having sex with another man in a very real and

calculated manner. When she typed this, I was not 5 feet away. Jeffrey was in his crib, and

Anthony was sitting next to me. I recalled her giggling and laughing a few times as she sat and

typed, but like the obedient husband I had been trained to be, I never inquired as to whom she

was chatting or the subject about what they were chatting.

And then I made the connection. She had told me the day before that there was a music

get-together that she wanted to go to Friday night. Would I mind? No, of course not Rita. I'll

babysit while you go have sex with some guy from school. Anything else I can do for you?

Sickening.

The chat quickly turned into a stroll down their sexual memory lane as they talked very

graphically about what they had done to each other and what they were planning to do in their

upcoming encounters like, say, that very night. Now I don't care to list all the things she said

because of the graphic nature of her words, but I have to say that I was ill. The whole chat

session seemed to go full circle as she started gossiping about one girl in particular that she didn't

like, who would be at the party. On this topic Rita exclaimed:

"I'll show [her] that I too can f*** a baritone."

That was Friday, October 3rd, 2003 at about 10:00 a.m.

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Chapter 3: The Phone Call

Bright late-morning light was shining through the highly placed windows of the Wow!

Room, the sounds of co-workers working and laughing finding its way through the room's closed

doors. The soundtrack of work and laughter mixed with the warmth and brightness of the

morning sun seemed to insult the weight of my situation. Surprisingly, the shock of what I had

just read was not insulating me from the regular activities of the co-workers around me.

Regardless of whether or not she cheated on me, work would continue. Even if they had read the

words I had just read, they would not have called it a day and gone home. They probably would

have sympathized and then gone back to work. The world was telling me; perhaps God was

telling me that life would go on.

I stepped away from the podium on which the computer was set and sat at the large

conference table, her words repeating through my mind. It was like having a bad song stuck in

my head, one that I wouldn't soon forget.

"

show

her that I too can f*** a baritone

it'll

be all the better sex tomorrow night

kissing

me

softly

kissing

the baritone

the

relationship feels so good

f***ing

the baritone

warm

lips on a

cool night

"

These words, these persistent, evil words brought with them images of this woman, my

wife, doing unspeakable things with a faceless baritone. What happened? Why would she do this

to me?

I believe that adultery is painful to a man in different ways than it is for a woman. Being

cheated on severely hurt my pride, but not the shallow feelings of pride or vanity. I'm talking

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more about the pride that goes along with the roles a man has; namely pride as a husband and

sexual partner, pride as a provider, pride as an example and leader, pride as a man. Her actions

attacked me on all these levels, stripping me of the dignity I had felt in fulfilling these roles. Now

I was questioning where I went wrong; wondering what I could have done to push her into the

arms of the baritone.

On the surface, the pain came from thinking of the sexual act between herself and another

man; the overall betrayal. Deep down, the pain was the failure. My failure to keep her interested

in me.

The deep feelings of failure became roots to my anger, the anger that quickly made its

way to the surface; anger that would threaten to cloud my judgment as I handled this situation. I

quickly reached for my cell phone and began vigorously dialing, not knowing yet what I was

going to say, but knowing that it was going to be swift and angry. I would tell her that it was

over, call her a dirty whore, and that would be it. That would ease the pain, yes, making her feel

as bad as I do.

A feeling then came over me that this was not the best thing for me to do. I followed that

feeling, and put the phone down. Praying in my heart, I told God of my pain and asked Him if

He would help me to best resolve this situation. The surge of anger seemed to subside, and a

little clearer, more rational thinking seem to take its place.

I then thought of what had happened maybe a month before when I had walked up behind

her while she had been chatting with someone on the Internet, and had typed, "Do you want to

f*** me?" in some chat room. When I confronted her about it, she became angry that I was

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prying. That became the point of argument in her mind. No, it wasn't that she was being

disrespectful to herself, to me, to our children, and to our marriage commitments. It wasn't that

she was turning her back on everything that we had built--no, that wasn't the problem. The

problem was that I was prying.

This made a clear point in my mind: if I were to just call her and tell her that I had put

spyware on her computer, had found out about her lover, and was going to divorce her she would

turn the whole thing into an argument about me invading her privacy with spyware. The invasion

of privacy would have become the point of argument; the adultery would be pushed aside rather

than treated as the true problem. I was not going to let that happen, and a plan formed so clearly

in my mind it might as well have been handed to me on paper. I knew what I needed to do, and I

now felt enough strength and clear thinking to do it.

I reached for the phone and calmly dialed the number.

"Hello?" she answered, after a few rings.

"Hey it's me." I started, "I just got the strangest phone call, and I was wondering if you could tell

me what's going on."

"Call from who?"

"I don't know--they didn't give a name--but when they called they said: 'Is this Pete?' and I said

'Yes' and they said: 'Is your wife Rita?' and I said 'Yes' and they go: 'I just thought you should

know that you'd better keep a tighter leash on your wife because she is f***ing James.'"

I recall Rita gasping at this point.

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"What? Who was that? What did you say?" she clamored.

"Is it true? I asked, straining to hold back the anger I began to feel welling up.

"Of course it's not true" she insisted. "Who is this that's out to get me? They obviously hate me

and are trying to hurt me with these lies!" she insisted.

"Well who's James?" I asked, allowing doubt to stripe my voice. "And why would somebody

think this?"

"That's just some guy that we've all gone to lunch with at school" she said. "Somebody who's out

to get me probably saw me talking to him and wants to try and hurt me."

"What were you doing going to lunch with this guy? And why would somebody hate you enough

to go through the trouble of getting my number and calling me anonymously to tell me that?" I

demanded, my voice getting noticeably angrier.

Rita went on to say that the lunches with this guy were nothing; that they weren't dates or

anything like that. I felt that she was telling the truth about the lunches; that they had started out

going to lunch together and it was innocent enough. It was only when I demanded to know if she

had ever dated him that things started to unravel. After a lot of prodding, she stated that yes, she

had gone on a couple of dates--but quickly insisted that she had never kissed him or anything

else. Her voice was guilt-laden and already asking me forgiveness for a little dating-but-not-

kissing indiscretion.

Her half-truths splashed like kerosene on the fire of my anger. I am not proud of what I

said after that, but can tell you that I swore more on that day than I had my entire life, before this

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point and up to the present time. I came up with things to call her and ways to say it that I had

never even heard before. She was crying but would still not admit to kissing him, let alone

"

f***ing

a baritone."

I told her that enough was enough, I was leaving work right then, and I was coming home

to get my things and move out. We were finished.

That was Friday, October 3rd, 2003 at about 10:45 a.m.

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Chapter 4: Kicked Out

I was probably speeding as I drove home that morning. Although she had only admitted

to going out on a date with this guy James, it was enough for me to take action. I had gotten her

to admit to a very small degree to what she was doing, and I was going to use that as best I could

to make things change.

I arrived at the University Village where we lived at about a quarter past eleven.

Grabbing the flat boxes and tape I had taken from work, I followed the sidewalk up to our

apartment with determination in my steps; determination to prove to her and to myself that I am

not to be taken so lightly. Betraying me would not come cheap, and I was going to show her that.

It was no longer about trying to tiptoe around her so as to not upset her. It was no longer about

doing her bidding so as to avoid a conflict. She had betrayed me, and I would make her pay for

it.

Swinging the front door open wide, I stepped into our apartment not quite knowing what

to expect. She was sitting at the laptop, the same laptop that had just become my greatest ally.

She was crying loudly, turning toward me as she rose to her feet. She looked at the ground as she

walked toward me, her arms outstretched and wanting an embrace. I brushed her away and

launched into a tirade about how disgusting she was, calling her many names and accusing her in

non-specifics of things I knew she had done.

Never during our three years of marriage had I spoken to her like this, and I think about

three years' worth of repressed anger came gushing out of me as I said what I had to say. She was

crying more bitterly than I had ever seen her cry before, her head in her hands as she got on her

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knees and begged me to forgive her for going on a date with this guy. She didn't understand that

I knew of what she had truly done from her very own words, and it wasn't one or two dates I was

angry over. Her display of bitter tears and kneeling confession looked, on the surface, as a

sincere demand for forgiveness. But because of what I knew, I saw that display for what it truly

was: before me was a master liar and manipulator seeking forgiveness for one smaller wrong

while hiding twenty more that were much, much worse.

This only further infuriated me. Seeing a picture of us together as a couple on the shelf, I

walked over to it, took it in my hand, and threw it across the room onto the floor. The glass

shattered and the frame broke. She, still crying and kneeling on the floor, crawled over to the

picture and started gathering the pieces. The part of me that was somewhat removed from the

anger that I felt watched in half-amazement that she was picking up the broken shards of glass.

Why would she do that? Why would she care? Was it for safety, or was it symbolic? I still have a

distinct image of her kneeling over that shattered symbol of our marriage, crying, and trying to

pick up the pieces.

Her display of caring seemed to have an effect on my anger, and I calmed down

somewhat, yet was still very angry. Maybe she really was sorry; perhaps she wanted to try and

make things right by confessing everything, but was afraid to do it. In a much calmer voice, I

asked, "Rita, is that all that happened? Have you done anything else that you need to tell me? No

more lies." Not looking up and still bawling, Rita said that that had been it. She had dated him

once, and she was sorry. She would never do it again.

Looking back, I wonder what might have happened at this point had she told me the truth,

had she confessed everything she had done. I think her decision to lie right there rather than

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confess deprived her from at least showing me that she respected me enough to allow me to

know where I stood with her. I can't emphasize enough the whirlwind of emotion that goes on

inside a person who discovers he or she is being cheated on. She had assaulted my self-esteem,

my pride; all the things that gave me confidence as a person. And each time she lied to me after

that, it was a renewed assault. I felt as a stepping-stone on her path to divorce; someone for her

to appease long enough to get herself together before leaving me. I suppose that everything

would have changed course from that moment forward had she simply come clean with me. We

would have surely still been divorced, but at least she would have shown me enough respect to

allow me to know where I stood with her. I would have still been fiercely angry, but things

would have turned out much better for her overall.

I looked over and saw the flat boxes and packing tape I had brought from work that

morning, and remembered that I had come to get my things and move out, probably to go to my

parents' house. It then occurred to me that I had done nothing wrong; she should leave. That is

when I told her to get out.

Her crying, which had never really stopped, was intensified. I reminded myself that these

were selfish tears, tears of a woman caught in her tangle of deception. The anguish she had was

the sorrow of being forced out of a comfortable life into the unknown. She stood and looked at

me, her face red and tear-covered, and asked, "Where am I supposed to go?" I replied, "I don't

know, to your boyfriend's place maybe?"

She implored me not to make her go, but I became hardened with resolve and demanded

that she bring me her wallet. She did, and I took all of her credit cards and put them in my wallet,

to her utter despair. At this moment, something in me changed. Remembering that this was the

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mother of my children, I softened. Regardless of what she had done, there was no way that she

was going to be homeless on account of me. Had I forced her out on the street, the greater sin

would have been on my head. She was from a foreign country; had no family here and had no

one to which to turn.

Reaching back into my wallet, I took out a credit card and placed it in her hand. "Take

this card," I said, "and go to that Extended Stay hotel where your parents were going to stay that

one time. Pay for a week and just stay there until we can figure some things out." Her crying

lessened, and she said, intensely, "But I have nowhere to go, no family here, nothing. I want to

stay here. “I repeated what I had said, and added that she would be just fine. Besides, it was right

next to the light rail, so she could still get around.

For the next two hours she packed a black backpack full of clothes and her laptop while

trying to talk me into letting her stay. She never fully stopped crying, but never once did she

make any attempt to come clean with me. Few words were exchanged as she left, and 'goodbye'

was not one of them. The whole episode had taken nearly four hours.

I collapsed on the couch and considered what had just happened. My anger had gone

from a roaring fire to hot coals, and my pain and sorrow were beginning to come

through. I fought those emotions back as best as I could as I was not ready to confront them. She

had been gone for about forty-five minutes when I thought I'd better do something else to occupy

my mind before breaking down, so I went and got on our desktop computer.

Logging into my work account, I re-read all of the disgusting log files and got angry all

over again. Her words from the night before worked to discount her actions of the last few hours.

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I began to feel like she, despite everything, still took me for a fool. Near the bottom of the page I

noticed her AOL username and password; something I must have skipped over the first time

through. Without hesitation, I logged into her AOL account and went to her inbox, where I saw

that there had been no new mail for that day. I then went to her 'Sent Items' folder, and to my

utter astonishment, she had sent an email not ten minutes earlier to my logging into her account.

The Subject line read: "Where are you???" and the email read as follows:

James,

I have been trying to contact you

please

pick up!! He knows now but

everything should be getting back to normal pretty soon here. Please, I need

to speak with you, pick up!

Rita

In disbelief, I re-read the email over and over again. She had left with the University Shuttle only

to go straight to the University library to send an email to her lover. But even the fact that she

was so quickly writing him wasn't what blew me away, it was the phrase 'getting back to

normal' that did it. This ten-minute-old email told me a lot about her level of remorse for the

whole thing: she had none. She wasn't sorry for cheating on me. She was sorry that I had found

out what I had, and was probably laughing to herself saying, "If he only knew

"

Well, I did know, because she had told me in her own words. And because she was

comfortable enough to think that things were about to get back to normal, I was about to make

things a whole lot worse. It was time, I thought, that she came face-to-face with her own words.

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That was Friday, October 3rd, 2003 at approximately 4:00 p.m.

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Chapter 5: The Net

Seeing that she was still taking me for a fool created a sort of white-hot anger within that

made me want to get her back. I wanted to make her face her words, and I quickly realized just

how I could do that. It would take a bit of scheming, but I figured it would have the desired

effect on her.

Immediately I went and created a Hotmail account with some nonsensical name like

delmardin9227. Next, I logged into my work email account and copied all of the text within the

log files. With that text, I opened Word and cleaned out all of the computer tags with the goal of

making it look like a fresh document. After about twenty minutes of cleanup on those files, I re-

copied the text and pasted it into a new email addressed to me.

I pondered for a minute on what the Subject of the email should be. What would a person

who hates Rita and wants to ruin her life put as a subject in a very damning email? I decided to

go with the simple but eye-catching Subject "Your Wife." I figured that would be straightforward

enough to get my attention, but not so raw or mean that I would think it is spam and delete it.

With the Subject in place and the freshly-edited text pasted, I looked it over one last time.

It seemed to be missing something; it seemed as though this person were doing me a favor. I

wanted to take that away; it seemed to me that it would be much more perplexing to her if it were

clear that the sender of this anonymous email was not a friend of me or of her. To accomplish

this, I added the following to the first line of the email body (edited for content):

f*** you, f*** her

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I recall making sure not to capitalize the first letter of the line. I guess I figured someone

who would do this wouldn't be too interested in capitalizing.

With that final touch, the email looked ready to go. I hit Send and had it in my other

email box within a matter of seconds. I had already dialed her cell phone number by the time the

email arrived.

"What!" she answered in a very annoyed tone, obviously trying to restrain her anger.

I told her that I couldn't believe her; I couldn't believe what kind of a sick person she had

become. Her voice took on a panicky what-now? kind of tone as she asked me what I was talking

about. I had just received an email, and I demanded to know what it was supposed to mean!

I could think of no better way to explain what I meant than by having her explain it in her

own words. That is, I would read her own words and she would understand it. And that's exactly

what I did. I took the most graphic portion of her words to James and read them to her, word-for-

word, with anger and trembling in my voice.

She answered with a restrained gasp. It was completely beyond her how I could be

reading to her the very graphic words she had sent to James just the night before. I finished what

I was reading and demanded to know, yelling into the phone, what was going on and who

delmardin was. The unfamiliar 'delmardin' snapped her completely out of her silent response and

sent her mind racing for an explanation.

"I have no idea who that is, Pete, you have to believe me! I don't know what's going on, but

somebody has been watching me!"

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"So these ARE your words!" I screamed, adding a lot of choice expletives.

Desperately she insisted that somebody had been watching her, somebody had been

recording her chat conversations

was cheating on me.

and

somebody had changed them to make it sound like she

"Somebody is setting me up" she sobbed. "It's like that movie The Net where the girl is

watched. I'm scared."

"I don't believe you" I said, still fuming with anger. "You've been lying to me this whole time,

and I think you're lying to me now! But if you really are being set up, well then it's obvious that

this James guy is selling you out!"

I hadn't really thought about making her paranoid about James; that one just sort of came along

as the situation progressed. She quieted her sobbing as she actually considered whether James

would do this, and why.

"I'm scared" she repeated. "I don't trust anyone."

Suddenly Rita's voice was screaming, her anger having finally broken through. "Don't

you worry about me; you'll never have to see me again!" With that, she hung up.

Less than a minute later the phone rang and I answered.

"Tell the kids I love them! I may never see them again!" Rita screamed, followed by a cry of

anguish that has been burned into my mind. It is the kind of anguished, hopeless cry I would

expect to hear if the gates of Hell were cracked open just a bit. With that scream, she hung up.

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I collapsed on the floor in despair. Our little family had been torn apart from the very

core, far beyond repair. I had planned to be married for eternity, and had gotten three years.

Everything we had tried to do to strengthen our marriage had been for nothing; she had chosen to

take the path of lies and deception, and because of her choices, our family structure was in ruins.

This new reality weighed heavily on me, and the tears of anger, bitterness, guilt, and sorrow

brought me to the lowest I had ever felt. It was complete hopelessness.

Perhaps awakened by my screaming into the phone, Jeffrey was awake. I could hear him

gleefully babbling the few words he knew. Hearing him gave me strength.

Jeffrey had been napping through the whole thing. When he had been put down for a nap,

it had been by his mother. When he had awakened, she was gone. As I opened the door to his

room I discovered him standing in his crib, binky in his mouth and hands on the railing. He

happily chirped upon seeing me, and was oblivious to how I was feeling. I was grateful that he

did not have to witness what had just happened. I was also grateful that Anthony had been

spending the night at my parents' house. He was older and would have understood much more. I

was blessed to have the children protected from that.

As the evening went on I fed and bathed Jeffrey, my mind numb with sadness and worry.

I had tried to call Extended Stay a couple of times to find out if she had made it to the hotel. I had

also tried to call Rita's cell, but it was evident that she had turned it completely off since it went

to voicemail after the first ring. Although she had screamed that we would never see her again, I

knew that this wasn't the case. She had threatened suicide before but had never attempted it. I felt

like it was her way of screaming at the problem in the heat of the moment. Avoiding my repeated

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phone calls was her way to control me by making me wonder what happened to her and why she

wasn't answering the phone.

None of these tactics were new, but it was still very unsettling not knowing what she was

doing. Although she had repeatedly betrayed, lied to and disrespected me, I still felt a

responsibility to take care of her. For reasons that are beyond me, I was worried for her.

After putting Jeffrey to bed, I could do nothing but pray. I prayed for the strength to bear

that burden, to successfully meet all challenges that were coming to me with success; to keep

Rita safe and out of harm's way. I didn't know where she was, I hated her for what she had done,

yet I wanted her to be safe. I wanted her to be punished for what she had done to me, to our

family, yet I wanted her to be able to move on and eventually find happiness.

Needless to say, with swirls of opposing emotions flashing through my mind, often

punctuated by graphic images of her having sex with this faceless James; sleep did not come

easily that night.

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Chapter 6: Realizations

My eyes fell open around seven o'clock on the morning of Saturday, October 4th, 2003. It

was with sort of an exhausted daze that I laid there, staring at the ceiling, thinking about

everything and nothing; wondering if what I had experienced was real, although I clearly knew

that it had been. I wondered where Rita was, if she had stayed at the hotel, if she was alright.

This re-awakened the push-and-pull feelings of anger and concern I had been feeling for her

since I had heard her desperate scream the evening before.

I didn't want to think about her anymore and was tired of her incessant assault on my

peace of mind. It was as if I was losing the freedom to decide my thoughts; her words and

actions taunting me on every channel of my mind, not unlike the President's attack on primetime

television with the State of the Union address: I didn't want to see it, I didn't want to hear it, but it

was on every channel.

This was, in part, why I was feeling so exhausted. After putting Jeffrey to bed the night

before, I tried to distract myself from thinking about her. I thought that perhaps I might be able to

just push it out of my mind, making myself fall asleep. Somehow I knew that the hardest part

would come during the night, during that time when sleep was far out of my reach. It's during the

silence of the night that thoughts have the loudest voice.

Impossible to sleep in the racket of all that silence.

It didn't take long for the Bishop and one of his counselors to come over after I called and

told them what was happening. Of course it had taken a lot of self-coaxing to make that call. For

some reason I felt like I had it covered; that I didn't need any counsel and was barely feeling any

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sadness. After all, I hadn't cried, and I wasn't planning to. Why should I shed tears over this?

Sure, my pride had been hurt. And yes, it was painful to think of her having sex with another

guy. But hadn't I been miserable? Hadn't she turned me into her loyal servant; always on the tips

of my toes ready to fulfill her latest whim? Why should I cry, when I should be overcome with

joy? I could now get away from this horrible woman, the most selfish woman I had ever met in

my life.

"I'm sorry, but there's no way I can give you that promotion," my boss added in a pre-

recorded voice from somewhere in my mind.

"This position would require you to work extra hours. You should be at home taking care

of your wife."

I saw myself sitting across from him. We were at work, and I had been delicately

working toward getting a promotion and had just been denied. Politely protesting, I heard myself

assure him that everything was just fine at home. There wouldn't be any problem with me

working extra hours.

"Pete, there are complaints about how much she calls during the day. She calls your desk,

and if you don't answer she demands to have you paged. People tend to notice when the same

person gets paged four to five times a day, every day of the week."

There was nothing I could say to that; he was right. I hated feeling what I felt; somewhere

between being ashamed of my wife and afraid of placing work before family. But despite how

much she paged me or demanded that I come home right at 5:00 p.m. regardless of what was left

to be shipped, I felt like I could still do the job. My boss, however, had to disagree for practical

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reasons, and the promotion went to someone else. She had nagged me for months to push him to

get me this promotion, and the irony was that I was not going to get this promotion precisely

because of her.

Why should I shed tears for her? Why am I struggling to hold back emotion for a woman

who has brought me so much pain? What else had I lost out on because of her selfishness?

"I remember when I moved down to the cubicles by where you were,” the voice of a co-

worker friend interrupted in my mind. "You were sitting at your desk and on the phone saying

over and over again, "It's going to be alright honey. Don't worry; it's going to be alright, over and

over again."

Some first impression. "And in this corner we'd like to you meet Pete, the first and only

person to have ever been conquered by the French

Shameful.

"

I couldn't. I wouldn't cry over this. I would get through this a better person; I was getting

a 2nd chance. Forget Rita and whatever-his-name; divorce would give me another chance. And

this time I'd get it right.

The Bishop's visit was very powerful. He didn't judge; he didn't preach; he just offered

me support. He offered to give me a blessing, which brought me much strength and comfort. Yet

there was still no outward emotion; no crying. I felt like I could make this through mainly on my

own; everything else would be extra that I would tap into if I ever needed it.

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As they were getting ready to leave, the Bishop turned to me and asked if I would pray.

He didn't say about what or why, he just asked me if we could have a kneeling prayer. I suppose

I was surprised because I thought the blessing was the prayer, why did I need to pray?

Despite this, I accepted, and began to pray for a lot of the same things for which the

Bishop had just prayed in his blessing. But as I prayed, the Bishop's repeated words faded from

my mind and others were given to me. It is a spiritual experience with prayer that I will never

forget, for the words I spoke did not come from me directly. It was still me there, still my voice,

still everything--but when I prayed for the power to forgive Rita and James, I was at complete

and total peace. And that is when the tears began to flow. That is when I understood that if I was

ever going to have a healthy relationship and marry again, I was going to have to forgive Rita

and James. If I did not forgive them, I would never be able to heal my trust in women; I would

never be whole again.

My pride and selfish thoughts were washed from me for one very brief minute, long

enough to cry for the death of our marriage, for the loss of a wife and mother to the children; for

the sins that had completely destroyed our family. By refusing to mourn, I was declaring that

there was nothing worth mourning. I was unwittingly enclosing myself in barriers, barriers

that could only have been broken down by pure communication with God through prayer.

The ringing phone snapped me from my thoughts back to my bed, where I had been lost

in thought while finding random patterns in the tiled ceiling. Was it Rita? Why was she calling

the landline instead of my cell? Was she alright? My English "Hello?" was greeted with a

familiar French "Allô" of her mother, calling from France.

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Chapter 7: Just Kids’ Games

"Bonjour, Pete. Tu vas bien?" Rita's mother asked in her usual kind tone and perfect

French accent. She was asking me how I was doing, and honestly I wasn't prepared for this. I

didn't know whether or not to just lay it all on her, or whether to tone it down until some more

time had passed. Quickly I decided to just tell her what was going on, and that I would be

divorcing her daughter. I wasn't even sure I had the vocabulary for that.

"Ca va pas, ca va pas du tout" I said, telling her that things weren't going well at all. "We

are getting divorced" I continued, struggling over a simple sentence in French that normally

would have come easily.

"Who is getting divorced?" she asked, quite confused. "Who did you say?"

"We are, I mean Rita and me are getting divorced. She has been sleeping with another man, I

found out about it, and I'm divorcing her."

Silence followed the few seconds after my last statement. I don't know whether she

thought I must have been confusing my French verbs or something, or if I actually had meant

what I said.

"No, it can't be. You must be mistaken" she said decidedly. "Rita would never--"

"She did and I have the proof!" I interrupted. "Right here. She's done nothing but lie to me all

month since she came home from France. We're finished."

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"Pete, come on, you have to give her a second chance. These are just kid's games, she

didn't mean it; you need to take her back. Please. It was probably just a little fling, and I'm sure

it's over. Please." She was acting very motherly with me, and I was really beginning to resent it. I

was sure my words were correct in explaining what had happened, but she was essentially telling

me to stop making such a big deal out of it.

Why did she have to give me such a stereotypical answer from a French person at a time

like this? Why couldn't she understand that some people actually intend on keeping their marital

vows, and expect their spouses to do the same? Didn't she get it? Didn't she understand that in

my mind, there was no such thing as a 'little fling' when you're married?

"I'm sorry, but I need to do what is best for me and my family. I have to go now; I have a

lot of things to do." She could tell that I was not going to follow her advice, responding only

with, "I'll call her." And with that, Rita's parents knew, even if this wasn't a big deal to them.

After all, why should it be? Wasn't Rita's mom the mistress to her dad while he was

married to his 2nd wife? Did he and his 2nd wife get divorced over it, leaving him to marry

Rita's mom? I had heard the story once or twice, and remember that it really struck me how

cavalier they were about it. I had served two years as a Mormon missionary in France, so I knew

a lot about their views on marital fidelity. Perhaps I had supposed that this would be different;

that they would understand that we don't take infidelity as lightly as they do.

I can't count how many times some snarky French person would say that we, the

puritanical Americans, were overreacting to President Clinton's little affair with Monica

Lewinsky. "Our own Prime Minister has had many affairs, and we just don't care. Neither should

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you." Dually noted, Mr. French Person. Maybe we as Americans should look to you, the French,

as our moral compass. Your society is the pillar of enlightenment in all things ethics and morals.

I never bothered to mention that the real reason many were angry over the Clinton/Lewinsky

affair was because of his lying while under oath.

I didn't have a lot of time to get Jeffrey and myself ready before heading out for the day. I

had called my father before the Bishop arrived the night before. I told him about what had

happened, and he wasn't surprised. He expressed sympathy but then went into action. He called a

lawyer friend of his and arranged for some free legal advice concerning divorce and immigration

status. Our meeting would be at 10:00 a.m. the next day, which meant I didn't have a lot of time.

A smiling and seemingly ever-optimistic Jeffrey was standing in his crib as I went into

his room, arms outstretched for a combined hug/let-me-outta-here embrace. He would be going

to a babysitter's for the day; something the Bishop had arranged for me the night before.

As we walked over to the babysitter's apartment, I reached for my little video recorder

and made the following video of Jeffrey walking. To this day I am still struck by the trusting

manner in which he looks up at me, making sure I'm following closely; making sure that I'm still

there.

A short time later I was seated in front of some very important-looking men in a tall

downtown building. My father was next to me, our having just gotten seated after the

introductions. These high-priced lawyers dealt in business contract something and immigration

something else. They weren't family law attorneys, but would recommend me a good one. Or so

they had just said.

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They asked me to explain what had happened exactly, which I did, and then asked me

about my concerns with immigration status. I was afraid that this would somehow affect

Anthony, Rita's biological son or my stepson. Because of their status as Permanent Residents, I

was told there would be no problem. I should keep in mind, however, that it would be in my best

interest to change all of my bank and credit card accounts to protect my credit and overall

financial well-being. Immediately I saw myself giving Rita that last credit card the day before,

feeling a tinge of regret. With that, the immigration lawyer excused himself, a business card left

in his wake.

The other man was LDS (Mormon), and began to offer me some very good, very

grandfatherly advice. It was a nice meeting, but I was eager to get my accounts changed.

Because it was Saturday, banks wouldn't be open very long and I wanted to get it done for the

peace of mind. An upset Rita could wreak havoc on an already delicate financial situation.

This good man probably sensed this and wished me the best. With another business card

in my pocket, my father and I took the long elevator ride to the ground level. The elevator

opened to an empty, marble-floored lobby. We stepped out into this echo-y hall where my father

turned to me and said, "Son, stay close to the Lord." With that, he gave me a hug and added,

"Now go straight over and close your bank accounts right now. Don't wait."

"Don't worry Dad," I replied. "I will." He turned and went one way; I went the opposite

direction to where I was parked below. I could still hear his still echoing steps when I stopped,

closed my eyes, and asked God for guidance. No sooner had I asked when I received a very, very

strong impression not to go to the banks. It might as well have been spoken to me, because I

knew without a doubt where I was supposed to go, and it wasn't to close my accounts. I needed

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to go to the hotel where Rita was, and I needed to go right now. Thanking the Lord, I ran down

to the parking with a feeling of urgency--not because the banks were closing--but still a feeling

of urgency that I needed to get to that hotel as quickly as I could.

That was on Saturday, October 4th, 2003 at around 11:15 a.m.

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Chapter 8: The Hotel

The distinct impression to get to her hotel as quickly as I could remained clear and at the

front of my mind as I drove south that morning. It was as though I had an appointment that could

not be missed. Fortunately traffic was light, so it only took me about ten minutes to reach the

freeway exit that was a few hundred yards from her hotel. I had suggested this hotel the day

before because of the proximity to Trax, Salt Lake City's light rail system. Being close to the

train meant that she could still get to school and generally get around despite the fact that she

didn't have a car.

I began to feel a sense of peace as I took the exit and turned toward the hotel. I knew that

this was where I was supposed to be, but wasn't sure exactly why at this point. During the drive I

had called her cell phone, but it had gone straight to voicemail, so I wasn't even sure if she was

here. Regardless of what I thought I knew, I was directed to be there, at that time, by the Lord for

a very specific purpose.

Scanning the hotel parking lot as I pulled in and found a space, she was nowhere to be

seen. This still felt like this was where I needed to be, so I asked the Lord for guidance as I went

into the hotel.

The lobby was void of people and completely silent. There was a dark-haired man in his

thirties standing at the front desk typing on a computer. I approached him hesitatingly, not really

sure how I was going to phrase what I needed.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for--my wife is staying here and I'm not sure which room she's staying

in. Is there any way you can look that up?"

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I was mid-sentence hearing myself and thinking how absurd it was of me to ask this. If

she was really my wife, why wouldn't I know the room number? The man at the front desk must

have thought exactly what I was thinking, for that was his very next question.

To his question, I hesitated a moment and replied, "Well I know it sounds ridiculous, but

I know she's staying here, she just forgot to tell me which room."

"It's our policy to protect the safety of all of our guests" he said, flatly. "I can't give you her room

number, I'm sorry."

"Can you at least call her and let her know I'm here? Can you at least do that?" I asked, likely

sounding desperate.

Now annoyed and highly skeptical, the man at the front desk asked for her full name and

date of check-in.

"Yes, she's staying here" he said, very proficiently stating the obvious. "I'll call her room."

I rolled my eyes as he blatantly covered the phone keypad as he dialed in an obvious

attempt at keeping me from getting her room number. Sure it was great that this guy consciously

worked to protect his customers, but I was getting impatient.

After less than a minute he looked up at me and said that there was no answer

while giving me a half-shrug of the shoulders.

I blankly looked at him, automatically replying with 'Thank you' before turning and

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was supposed to be, but where was she? At least now I knew that she actually had checked in at

some point the night before, which brought me some comfort. But why would she leave the

hotel?

After taking a few paces out into the parking lot, I stopped and scanned the area around

me. The traffic was busier than when I had arrived a few minutes earlier, but only really around

the Burger King that was next door. It then occurred to me that she might be over there having

lunch, it being around a quarter to noon.

Food could not have been further from my mind as I walked into the busy restaurant and

scanned the patrons, not immediately seeing her. I thought that perhaps she was in the restroom,

so I decided to wait for a minute or two. After a few minutes and still no Rita, I left the

restaurant, more confused than ever.

I got back into my car and blankly stared forward while I thought through what I was

doing there. She wasn't in her room, she wasn't eating lunch next door, there's nothing else

around here that she would likely care about visiting

where

is she and why won't she answer

the phone? Is she at the banks, emptying all the accounts?

For the first time since arriving there, I began to doubt the impressions I had received.

Maybe I was just pushing myself to go and see her to ease my own guilt, and attributing it to

inspiration. Maybe I was just making the whole thing up. I started the car and admitted to the

Lord in prayer that I was having doubts, asking if He would guide me.

As I started to drive out of the parking lot, I thought I should probably take one more lap around

the hotel to make sure.

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As I slowly approached the baggage drop-off area near the front entrance, a woman

stepped out of a car that had just turned into a parking stall in front of me. It was Rita.

The car she had gotten out of was still idling. I couldn't see the driver's seat from my

vantage point, but could tell that she had just gotten out of the passenger seat. As she crossed

only a few feet in front of me, she saw my car and stopped, backpack on her back and hands on

her hips, giving me a look of pure contempt and hate. The term 'evil eye' doesn't begin to

describe the way she glared at me that instant. She had shown no look of surprise, but had gone

from a look of neutrality to complete loathing at the turn of her head. She had stopped for only a

second or two, long enough to growl:

"Go to room 212 NOW!"

I had showed her no emotion as I sat looking at her, responding with a simple nod. With

that, she stormed into the hotel and out of sight. I pulled into the nearest parking stall and got out

of my car with an overwhelming sense of calm and serenity. I walked in the direction of the hotel

entrance, only room 212 was not my immediate destination. She had gotten out of a car, a car

that was still idling with someone in the driver's seat whom I presumed to be James.

I was not going to go inside and see Rita until I had a chance to meet James, and I could

not have felt more prepared, mind and soul, to meet him than I did at that time and in that

moment.

That was on Saturday, October 4th, 2003 at around 12:00 p.m.

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Chapter 9: Meeting the Baritone

“Are you James?" I asked through the driver's side window. Startled, the man rolled down his

window and quickly sized me up before replying.

"Yes."

"Okay. James, I know you know who I am so I won't bother to introduce myself." My voice was

calm and quite friendly.

James looked quite unsure of this situation, and likely felt vulnerable sitting in his car

with the window rolled down while I stood outside. He looked pretty much like I'd imagined the

baritone to look. He was large and broad, not muscular but not fat; brown, feathery hair that was

not well kempt. His face was wide with a strong chin, brown eyes and about three days' worth of

unshaven facial hair. He could have easily been cast as Gaston in a real-life version of Beauty

and the Beast. In short, James was a large and intimidating guy.

I'm not entirely convinced that he knew who I was at this point, but I figured I'd let him

figure it out as I asked a few questions.

"Listen" I continued. "I just have a few questions for you about Rita."

No sooner had I mentioned her name had he figured out who I was. His eyes widened

somewhat; his face became flushed. Attempting to conceal how flustered he was becoming,

James nodded for me to continue.

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"Have you, or have you not ever had sex with Rita?" My tone of voice was so plain and friendly

that I could have easily been asking him if he had ever eaten bran flakes.

James' eyes had already been refusing prolonged contact with mine, and this question did

not help. He turned his head towards the steering wheel, face flushed and eyes looking down.

Letting out a stress-lined sigh that seemed to deflate his shoulders, James confessed. His body

language seemed strangely out-of-sync with itself; his large frame shrinking and seemingly

losing strength.

"Yes." There was neither anger to his voice, nor remorse. He was obviously answering truthfully

in spite of himself.

I nodded my head to this very unsurprising news. After a moment's pause, I asked,

"When was the last time?"

It was clear that James was expecting this question. He turned his head toward me,

looked up and said, with half-gritted teeth, "Last night."

Truthfully, I received this with much more shock than I let on. It was unthinkable to me

that in spite of everything that had transpired the day before, Rita would still go and have sex

with this guy. Wow. One would think that being kicked out of your house by your husband of

three years, away from your children and all you hold plain and dear, that it would actually be a

mood-killer. But apparently it wasn't that way for Rita.

At that instant it dawned on me what was going on here. Rita must have called him from

the hotel the night before. He came and picked her up; they probably went to the BBQ and then

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had sex at his place. She was coming back this morning because she probably needed to get

some more of her things she had left in the room.

I decided from that moment on that I could no longer place limits on just how low Rita

could go. This turned out to be a wise decision, especially as more and more of her lies and

deceit were uncovered.

All of these thoughts flashed through my mind as I stood there, arms crossed across my

chest. James had again turned away; face flushed and now perspiring, hands clasped with

interlocked fingers in his lap.

Despite the shock I had received from this news, my voice remained steady and anger

was far from me. "How long has this been going on?" I asked, trying to feel out the limits of this

affair.

"About two weeks" James muttered, his voice starting to show some remorse.

"And during those two weeks" I asked, quickly thinking over Rita's actions during that time,

"how many times did you have sex with her?"

James again sighed and then leaned forward, his forehead on the top of the steering

wheel. "I don't know, like maybe 20 times?"

Twenty times? Did he just say twenty times? He is saying that roughly during a fourteen-

day period, she had sex with him twenty times? That's like more than once a day with her. How

could she possibly have done that without me knowing?

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These thoughts brought me simultaneous feelings of infestation and infection as I realized

that they had probably been having sex at our apartment. It felt the same as when I once

discovered that Anthony had lice. I didn't want to sit on any furniture or touch anything until I

knew that the entire apartment had been sanitized. Now I wasn't sure what had gone on in my

own home, and it news of this carved a gaping pit in my stomach.

"James, could you please get out of the car?" I asked, standing up straight again, arms crossed.

Instantly the remorse in James' eyes was replaced with a focused, threat-assessing look that was

reminiscent of a cornered animal. Sensing that he was assessing me as a physical threat, I

quipped "What, do you think I am going to punch you or something? Come on! Look at you, and

look at me. Let's be reasonable."

This seemed to do the trick, as I am no body builder. He slowly opened the door and

came to his feet, sanding a good foot taller than me. Guilt and remorse had turned to his eyes, his

face still flushed and smeared with perspiration.

Exhaling some stress of my own, I looked up at him and repeated words that were given

me at that instant:

"James, I have to tell you that your actions have contributed to the destruction of a family, a

family with two very small children. What you have done has destroyed what we have built, but

I have to tell you right here and now that I forgive you. I forgive you."

At these words, James seemed to lose strength and control on his emotions. He leaned on

his car for support, arms on the roof and head in his arms in sobs of bitterness the likes of which

I had never seen. This mountain of a man was crumbling in shame and remorse in a way that was

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beyond my understanding. My words, like weapons, had completely disarmed this person; words

for which I can take no credit.

After all, I had told him that I forgave him. That was definitely not something I had

planned on saying. Yet it came, by my own mouth. Twice, actually. And I was glad they had, for

with those words came a feeling of peace of mind during one of the most troubling conflicts of

my life. These words were the words of Christ; words of peace and forgiveness that were setting

me free.

I began to understand the power of forgiveness as I stood there feeling sincere sorrow and

pity for this man who had done so much damage to my family. My natural instinct was of course

to go at him swinging, regardless of his size and regardless of my potential physical injuries.

Having related this story many times to friends, a common response to my words with James is:

"Man, I don't know how you did that-- I'd kill him!"

In many ways, they would be justified. After all, he should reap what he sows, which

means he should probably reap a fist across his face.

Yet, a gut reaction like this would have played out very poorly for me, and I'm not just

taking about the broken nose I probably would have received. I know with certainty that if I had

approached him with aggression, he would have responded with aggression, essentially hiding

behind his fists.

Hiding behind his fists.

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In the spirit of self-preservation, James would have buried his emotions and enclosed

himself in a shell of justifiable self-defense. The conflict with me would no longer be primarily

about what his actions had done to my family. The conflict would turn into one man protecting

himself physically from another man. In so doing, James would always feel justified for the

wrongs he had caused me. Instead of this, James was engulfed in the bitterness caused by his

actions.

BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, BLESS THEM THAT CURSE YOU, DO GOOD TO THEM

THAT HATE YOU, AND PRAY FOR THEM WHICH DESPITEFULLY USE YOU AND PERSECUTE YOU;

(MATTHEW 5:44)

I never really understood the real meaning of that scripture until I had this experience.

While on the surface it might seem that doing good for your enemy will show weakness, the

truth is that the opposite will take effect. It may not happen right away or even in this life, but it

will happen. The words of Christ shall set you free.

Taking a couple of steps toward James, he turned, red-eyed and soaked with tears, and I

him a brief hug--to my own surprise. I don't really know why I did it, but I believe it had

something to do with sharing the hope I felt. With my own words, I had told him that I forgave

him, but knew that forgiveness is a process, not an event. Vocalizing it was the first step to

complete forgiveness, despite all the pain and despair I had yet to confront because of his

actions. I knew that I never wanted to be the victim; the angry little man on Jerry Springer who

was cheated on by his partner and throws chairs across the stage in response.

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I was learning that granting forgiveness is just as liberating as receiving forgiveness, if

not more so.

"James, why don't you take a seat for a few minutes" I suggested. "I need to speak with Rita."

James nodded his head and collapsed in the driver's seat, his head in his hands.

I felt stronger walking away from that car than I had approaching it, despite the

disturbing details of their affair. This was not my trial to handle alone; I was guided with every

step I took. Grateful for this experience, I offered a prayer of thanks as I walked into that hotel,

past an eyeing clerk at the front desk, up the stairs and to the room 212.

That was on Saturday, October 4th, 2003 at about 12:15 p.m.

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Chapter 10: Room 212

Room 212 was at the end of a long, poorly lit hallway. Many things were on my mind but

nothing specific. I knew that something significant was about to happen; a crossroads in our lives

that would probably leave us going in separate directions. In my mind there was no longer a

chance for any reconciliation whether she would claim to want it or not. She had completely

destroyed one of the three pillars of marriage: trust. The other two, namely Love and mutual

Respect, had decayed on their own. With the final support of our marriage destroyed, we were

standing in its ruins; any hint of a foundation hidden by the collapsed rubble. It would be

impossible to rebuild that marriage after such a tragic collapse.

Many people, including myself up unto that point, attach a certain stigma to a person who

is divorced. In many very real ways, a person in a miserable and perhaps abusive marriage is

held in higher esteem than the one who says "Enough!" and frees himself. As humans, we are

forced to judge people. When we are approached in the street, we have seconds to size up the

stranger's intentions. Does this person want money for food? Or is it for drinking? How well lit is

this area; is this person going to rob me? What is this person's race, and does that matter to my

judgment? These are all things that go through our minds; we have to judge as a matter of

survival.

However, I think there is a clear but subtle difference between judging and passing

judgment, and the engines that drive each term have only but one difference: intention. Passing

judgment has a more negative connotation because it hints at an inequality between the person

passing judgment and the one on whom judgment is being passed. As a divorced person, I would

probably looked down upon by some, deemed less spiritual, or perhaps held in disdain.

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When a person passes judgment, a person has no intention of placing him or herself on

equal terms; delighting only in pointing out the inequalities while hinting at their own perceived

superiority, spiritual or otherwise:

He is getting divorced, that must mean that he wasn't doing what he ought to have been

doing. Spiritually he doesn't cut it because if he were a worthy Priesthood holder, he would have

been able to resolve this. Why are they getting divorced? Maybe he was abusive to her? Why

didn't they just go to marriage counseling? Oh, I heard that she had an affair. Do you think it

was because he couldn't satisfy her? She probably left him because he was lousy in bed or

something like that--why else would she cheat?

Yet regardless of what I knew I would have to go through, there was no way I could ever

be with her again; no way I could ever fully trust her again. If I forgave her and we tried to move

on, doubt would haunt me for maybe the Every time she left for school or work, I would wonder.

Whenever she sat down to use the computer, I would doubt. It would be impossible to build

anything enduring with her after this, despite our best efforts.

Rita must have heard me coming; she having opened the door to the room after only one knock.

She held the door open for me as I entered the room. There was a small, vaguely white and

seemingly unused kitchenette to my left complete with full-size refrigerator and gas-powered

cooking range. These appliances were really the only thing that made this an Extended Stay

hotel; otherwise it looked completely like a normal hotel room with an overly flowery bedspread.

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There were no lights on in the room and the curtains were drawn on each side up to a few inches

from each other, allowing a little light into the room. The grey-toned light coming through

indicated that had gotten cloudy outside; the sun drowning in a coming storm.

Rita closed the door and walked over to the bed, sitting on its edge. I noticed that it had not

looked slept in, and although a maid may have been by to make it, there was an overall sense that

this room had not been used by her at all. Even her body language; the formal way in which she

sat told me she was about as familiar with this room as I was, having been there not thirty

seconds. Her backpack was on the floor at her feet where she had just sat down, zipped shut. Rita

sat there looking at me, still having said nothing, her palms flat on the edges of the bed. I

remained standing.

"No more lies" I started. "Rita, just tell me the truth."

Rita wore an expression that is best described as restrained desperation combined with tempered

anger. She could not successfully hide the stress that was in every line on her face.

I continued: "Did you or did you not have sex with James."

Rita, obviously expecting this question, offered an obviously rehearsed, "What? No, we did not!

Somebody is trying to set me up, somebody is trying to ruin my life with lies--somebody from

school but--"

"Rita! No more lies!" I interrupted, no longer surprised at this response. She stopped, but

continued to mouth the words "we didn't."

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"I just had a conversation with James downstairs in the car" I said, somewhat emotionless. "and

he says that you did have sex. He said you had sex last night even."

Her eyes widened as she stood to her feet. "What?" she stammered. "Why would he---"

Ignoring her reaction, I continued: "James also told me that this has been going on for about two

weeks, during which time you guys had sex over twenty times."

"Twenty times, what?!" she said, her face and voice now showing signs of fatigue as her became

weaker and weaker. Rubbing her eyes, Rita sort of exhaled a response, saying: "Twenty times?

No, not that much."

"Thank you, Rita." I said, her newborn confession not two seconds old. "Thank you for telling

me the truth. Now I know where I stand, and it's no longer next to you."

Immediately she began crying; automatically reaching for me to embrace her for comfort.

Reaching instead for a rolling chair at the table, I helped her take a seat before sitting down

myself.

"It is important for you to understand that we are getting divorced, you and I. This marriage is

over." She cried bitterly, but her mourning felt oddly misplaced. It felt like had this been a

funeral, she was mourning for the loss of the casket, not the deceased.

Declaring to her that our marriage was over had a strange effect on me. These were no idle

words, and pronouncing them immediately changed my relationship with her. It felt like business

now; I was like a lawyer representing his client, myself, and was happy to answer any of her

questions. Across the table, on the other hand, was a crying woman in mourning for the loss of a

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perfectly good, hand-crafted casket. What a shame it would be to put it in the ground and let it

rot

At length her crying lessened enough for her to speak.

"Where will I live?" she pleaded, in desperation.

"With James of course." I answered, academically.

"And the kids?" she continued, "What about them?"

"The boys will be fine. They'll stay with me, and you will come and see them anytime you

want." I had no intention of punishing her, let alone through the lives of our precious little boys.

She would come and see them whenever she could, but they would remain in their stable home,

with me.

"I can't move in with James!" she cried suddenly. "He lives in a small house with three other

roommates! There's no room, and where am I supposed to put my stuff?"

"I'm sure you two will manage." There wasn't a whole lot I could add to that; I was still thinking

about the children. And frankly I didn't really care. It wasn't a hateful apathy, but an apathy

nonetheless. Rita buried her face in her hands.

"Please let me come home" her muffled voice expressing sorrow, yet without tears. "We can start

over, all of this, we can start over."

With her words my heart began to soften. I removed the business-only mask and began to speak

to her with a real concern for her welfare--not only physically, but also spiritually. Before were

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the ruins of a woman who had promised to be my companion for eternity; someone whom I had

promised to look after and protect. If she was where she was that day, I was not entirely

blameless. I had a played a role in this; I had some responsibility in it.

My sin in this was likely a sin of omission. That is, I failed to act when I should have acted.

Through the year of our marriage she had been very active in church; she attended to her

callings, regularly read the scriptures and regularly prayed. In fact it was typically after her

insistence that we would have Family Home Evenings on Monday nights, since I had never been

a big fan of it. Spiritually, she was an example to me.

We had lived with my parents for that first part of our marriage in order to save some money.

During that time I was working full-time as a bank teller while going to school; she was trying

her hand at being a stay-at-home mother. I recognized that this was no small feat for a French

woman, whom I knew were generally more aggressive than the men and far less apt to stay at

home. Doing this for her would be a major cultural adjustment.

When Rita undertakes something, she has a tendency to be consumed by it or awhile before

moving on to something else. There is rarely middle-ground with her, she had always been an

all-or-nothing kind of woman. As a stay-at-home mother, she couldn't simply stay at home. She

had to undertake needlework, sewing, and cooking--all things that she felt the good Mormon

woman had to do, yet had never done really before in her life. I didn't expect this of her; these

were self-imposed. Needlework to me seemed like a new hobby for her, and she genuinely

seemed to enjoy it. She tried her hand at scrapbooking, eventually declaring that she was going

to scrapbook my collection of mission pictures, which was nearly 12 albums and hundreds of

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pictures. Reluctantly I agreed to let her do it, unsure about this massive undertaking she had

assigned herself. She made 4 pages total, using 9 pictures in all before giving up.

Eventually we moved to the university apartments and began attending the married student ward.

She was given the assignment of coordinating Enrichment activities for the Relief Society. She

passed around surveys trying to find out what the women of the ward would be interested in

doing for Enrichment. I recalled her dismay in learning that the women of the ward wanted only

to learn about cooking or quilting, things Rita had abandoned as the phase passed. She now

wanted to have yoga Enrichment sessions, or cheese-tasting activities. When the ward wasn't

excited about this, she took it personally. She wanted to be accepted and belong, but on her own

terms.

She continued to attend church up until about six months after Jeffrey was born. She had just

been called to a Daytime Activities Coordinator for all the stay-at-home mothers, although she

had specifically wanted to teach. When the bishop visited us around that time, Rita expressed

this desire to him because one of the teachers would be moving shortly. She wanted to fill the

calling, but the calling went to someone else. Rita grew bitter; starting sporadically to refuse to

go to Church. Eventually she stopped altogether.

It wasn't until she was in France in December of 2002 that she declared herself no longer

Mormon. I recall that day with clarity.

“I’m not Mormon anymore.”

Silence.

“Hey?” she repeated. “Are you there?”

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Silence. “I’m here.” I replied absently through the phone, although I wasn’t. At least, not like I

had been before.

“I just can’t follow a nineteenth-century belief system anymore, and being here has helped me

realize that.” Rita’s voice sounded sure of itself; its resonance echoing differently through my

mind. She had said things to me before, hurtful things, yet somehow this was by far the worst

thing could ever say to me. It wasn’t about being Mormon or not being Mormon, it was about

independence, Rita’s independence from church, from rules, from the past, from me. Rita wasn’t

doing this to me and me alone. I was to be a part of the shakedown of her life, excess baggage

that would only impede progress in her trek through her experiences of life.

No, this wasn’t about me. Never about me. In fact, for three years of marriage, it had never been

about me.

“If that’s the way you feel, fine.” I managed to say, restraining my vindication. “I’m not going to

try to force you to go to church with me—I mean—I’ve been going alone for the past few

months anyway. You just do what you want, but please respect the fact that I still believe in it.”

“Of course. It’s just that those people are so shallow-minded, all they care about is how they look

to their neighbors, and nobody cares about anything but blessings. ‘If you come to Saturday’s

service project, you’ll get blessings’ is all they say. It’s like we can’t just go to help because we

love God, we go just because we have this reward, these ‘blessings’ being waved in our face. I

think it’s so fake, they’re all so fake.”

“I still believe, Rita, despite what people do. And you used to believe too.”

Used to.”

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I suddenly became quite aware of a familiar feeling of frustration that had come over me, one in

which I felt as if my words were being thrown into a great fire, with no hope of extinguishing the

flames. Conversations with Rita were often like this.

“I have to go, Rita. Take care and I’ll call you later.” I didn’t wait for her to say anything before

disconnecting. Not listening to her subsequent goodbye’s was a sort of pathetic way I had

developed to protest the conversation. I had to be careful not to hang up on her though, such a

move would produce a tsunami of call-backs and screaming.

How had I chosen to marry such an unbalanced woman? Where along the line did I feel that this

woman was the right one for me, far more than any other woman could be?

I pushed the “Off” button and set the phone on the table unceremoniously, briefly imagining its

short descent and sudden demise on the kitchen floor. We had spoken for forty-five minutes

long-distance to where she was visiting her family. I wasn’t there with her not only because of

the cost of the tickets, but also the fact that we just couldn’t afford to have me miss that much

school. She didn’t mind, of course, and in many ways, I didn’t either. For one, I was free to

watch anything I wanted—to eat anything I wanted, even to play computer games for as long as I

wanted. There was nobody to complain about the mediocrity of her life, always with a tone of

blame in her voice. I was home, I was in peace, and it was an entirely new feeling.

That feeling of peace brought with it, of course, a feeling of guilt. After all, I had married Rita in

the Salt Lake LDS temple in August of 2000. I was supposed to stand by her during times of trial

and difficulty—to be there for her when she needed me most. The trouble was, I felt like she

didn’t need me at all anymore. It was like she had rolled everything she used to believe into one

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lumpy mass, and I was included in it. I was perhaps the personification of her ‘antiquated’ belief

system, and was not too sure how much longer she would need me around.

It hadn’t always been like this between Rita and I. There had been a time that I felt so much love

for her, and she for me. The feelings of deep affection had always been punctuated by turmoil

throughout our marriage, and somehow we had always managed to stay together. This time,

however, I wasn’t too sure we would. It was not like I was giving up at this point. Rather, I felt

like the rules were changing and Rita was becoming someone far different than the young

woman I married.

The Rita I met four years previous was a young, bright-eyed woman with long, curly brown hair.

She struck me as a decidedly stalwart young woman, whose sense of humor and wit unusual

from any ward member I had previously met.

I collapsed on to the couch, feeling its wooden support frame pressing against my back. It had

been a clear and bright December morning, the sun magnifying itself on the stale piles of snow

outside University Village. Sitting there on the couch, I became aware of a sudden loss of light.

Even though it was only about 11:00 in the morning, the sun must have gone behind some

clouds, creating a darkness that seemed to be out of sync with the day.

As I mused over the telephone conversation, feelings of anger, frustration, remorse, and

desolation created an off-key orchestra within my mind; simultaneously playing out my feelings

and keeping me from thinking straight. I needed to, in all meanings of the phrase, “clear my

head” enough get a grip on things. I wished I could get in my car and drive away, returning only

when I was sure my problems wouldn’t. I wished I could turn back the clock to the time when

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Rita was still the Rita I had married; the woman who had seemed so stalwart in her testimony of

scripture study and prayer. I wished I could go back and change the mistakes I had made,

perhaps even change and repair her testimony of the LDS religion; changes that would help her

remember the promises she made in the temple.

Thinking of these things was a waste of time—at least, the cynical part of me thought so. Rita

had always been unstable, and my choosing to marry her was my fault and my fault alone. If she

chooses to no longer be Mormon, should that really change things between us? I mean, after all,

did you marry her because she was a Mormon, or did you marry her because you loved her?

It was as though I had just split in two, and was being cross-examined by a part of myself void of

self-pity and fueled by responsibility.

“I married her because I loved her” I stated plainly, as if reciting a memorized fact. “And that is

the truth.”

“Well-spoken, however not true it is. You married her because she was French.”

This imaginary prosecutor created a feeling of taboo; as if he was talking about something so

utterly difficult and immense that the very thought of it created a pit in my stomach. “You loved

France since you were 13. You were sent there on your mission, to your great delight. Whether

or not you allowed it to enter your conscious mind, you were open to and even encouraged the

idea of marrying a French member.”

I dismissed this image and his claims as quickly as I had permitted him to tarry. I knew that what

he claimed to be truth was a possibility, but I had refused to believe I had married on the basis of

discrimination—or rather, reverse-discrimination. If this were true, then I had not married Rita

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because I loved her, but because she was both French and a member of the Church. If this were

true, then I should not be surprised that Rita ended up as someone other than I thought I had

married. If the allegations were true, then she was keeping at least half of the deal: she was still

French.

My feelings of anger and self-pity were quickly being replaced with a sort of breathless

desperation. It didn’t matter what I thought I had known, or even whether or not I had married

her based on race and religion. If any of that were true or not, it still wouldn’t change the present

situation. I could choose to fight for our marriage; fight for something better. Or I could choose

to resign myself to one fact; one simple fact that gripped me, held me bound and promised

nothing in return: I was being held hostage to the choices of my past.

When she returned she, as promised, removed her garments in exchange for sexy underwear she

had hoped to use to get my approval. It was the literal outward manifestation of what was going

on inside of her: she was removing spiritual restraints for carnal pleasure.

The downward spiral accelerated after this; the alcohol, tarot cards, tattoos, Internet flirting,

adultery. And all the while I made her know what I felt about what she was doing, but never had

put my foot down.

How do you respond when your spouse comes to you and says, "Either you let me have alcohol

in the house or I am going to go to bars to get it." Where does charity and long-suffering fit with

that? Should I have kicked her out then, over alcohol? Did I marry her, or did I marry her church

membership card? Where is the line, and how do I draw it?

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That all didn't matter so much now. I had never put my foot down, and this hotel room bore

witness to that. The very least I could do now is have some compassion on her. I couldn't change

the past but I could help her future. The 'golden cage' of marriage had become the steel-barred

trap of infidelity, and the least I could do would be to help her mend her wings before setting her

free.

"I can't have you come home, Rita. But I promise I will make sure you are taken care of." She

looked up, her eyes desperate for reassurance.

Light was now shining through the parted curtains. The clouds had parted, at least momentarily.

"May I give you a blessing?" I asked, acting on a feeling that this was perhaps the last time in a

long time that she would be in a position to receive one.

"Yes. Please."

That very emotional blessing spoke of many things, including encouragement to call upon God

in all times and in all places, no matter what circumstances would befall her; to remember her

spiritual identity and to never deny what she knows to be Truth. It was as though this were a last

swallow of cool water before a voyage into the desert and I, her failed companion was seeing her

off. This was goodbye; everything would be different once we left Room 212.

Hugging and teary-eyed, I whispered to her that I wished things could have turned out differently

for us. She whispered back, "I do too. I'm sorry Pete. I'm so sorry." For the first time since this

thing began, I believed her.

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She reached for her backpack and we walked out of that room, hand-in-hand. There would be no

reconciliation between us, yet we still held hands as an unspoken symbol of our dissolving

companionship. Our fingers remained interlocked until we reached the lobby, where we both

naturally let go, never to hold her hand again.

James' car was no longer idling. He was sitting in his car, looking exactly like he had when I had

left him forty-five minutes earlier, although red-eyed but less teary. Rita looked at him with a

slightly surprised expression but said nothing. I guessed she hadn't expected him to be crying. As

she went to put her things in the car, I asked James if he would get out of the car again. This time

he got out without hesitation and walked over to me, raw emotion still fresh in his face.

"James, I need you to give me your word--promise me, man-to-man, that you will take care of

her. Please. Make sure that she is safe, that she has what she needs--food, clothes, whatever. I

need you to please accept responsibility for your actions and make me the promise that you will

care for her."

For the first time he looked at me in the eyes; eyes that were as an overstressed dam, straining to

hold back. "I promise."

With that, I shook his hand and gave him a hug, catching Rita's look of utter astonishment as we

released. I stepped over to Rita, hugged her, and said, "James has promised me he will take care

of you. Please, be careful. We will be in touch."

"I will" she whispered, her voice breaking with emotion.

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As I drove away that sunny afternoon, James was leaning against the roof of the car sobbing

while Rita comforted him. I felt the chasm of incredible peace and incredible sorrow; a chasm

that could only be bridged by the power of hope and the power of forgiveness.

I had left my wife in the trust and care of another man, a man whom I hoped would be good on

his promise to care for her. I could never have dreamed a more unusual scene. Had I not lived it I

would, perhaps, have trouble believing it. But now she was in his care, having begun to reap the

bitter fruit of her unrighteous actions. The titillating and sensuality of a romantic affair would be

replaced with a shared bedroom in a house with three roommates. Midnight sexual rencontres

under the bright stars would be replaced with morning breath and clogged toilets. The trap had

been sprung and she had been caught.

Maybe marriage is a 'golden cage' after all, as Rita put it. But a cage to a bird, is home, is

protection-- and a golden cage is beautifully-crafted protection. With that in mind then perhaps

that phrase should receive a slight modification; one that could have perhaps help Rita to avoid

all of her troubles.

Marriage is a golden cage Over a pit of vipers

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Chapter 11: Moving Out

As I returned home with Anthony and Jeffrey that night, the feelings of peace I had felt

that afternoon at the hotel began to melt away, only to be replaced with a persisting sorrow and

feeling of despair. Our apartment was cold and empty, but not for lack of heat, but rather for the

missing wife and mother. In her quest to achieve personal freedom, Rita had completely

ensnared herself. And I had stood by and let it happen.

The boys declared that they wanted to watch "Nee-mo", which meant they wanted

Disney's animated Finding Nemo. I popped in the DVD and set about making dinner. It would be

nothing fancy; probably corndogs and baby food, but it was the type of food the boys were used

to having me prepare them. Rita had been a self-declared worthless cook, so it was mainly frozen

meals for us.

As the microwave worked its magic, I sat at the kitchen table and looked out the window;

the sun having almost completely set in the west. It had gotten dark quite early--almost as if it

had snuck up on the long, warm summer days of light. Again I remarked that the peace I had felt

that afternoon at the hotel had been weakened; sadness was taking its place. I wanted the

normalcy of life to return; I wanted freedom from the feelings of failure that were within me. I

wanted this trial to be over, but knew it had just begun.

Pushing back the surge of emotion that was welling within me, I abruptly got to my feet

and walked into living room to get the boys; the microwave having just declared dinner ready.

Finding Nemo was just getting underway. It is the story of a clownfish named Marlin.

Living on the reef with his wife and expecting their dozens of eggs to hatch, the two are quite

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happy. When a large fish comes along and kills his wife and eats Marlin's baby eggs--his

children, Marlin is devastated. That is, until Marlin discovers one egg that had survived--Nemo.

Holding that precious egg within his fins, Marlin declares that he will take care of Nemo; that he

will not let anything happen to his son.

It was too much for me, too much to handle. Not wanting to worry the children, I went

into my room and sobbed into the pillow on my futon. Tears flowed freely as the pain I felt was

almost physical, almost as if the core of my being was now held within a great vice that was

slowly being turned, crushing with great pressure. Somewhere within me a distant part of myself

wondered why the peace had gone; why I was feeling such pain, pain that was so easily triggered

and so incredibly deep. A part of me began to feel foolish as I pictured myself forgiving them,

hugging him, and holding her hand. What was I thinking to give my forgiveness so easily--what

had I been thinking?! Again, I was being made the fool.

The tears left as quickly as they had come. Laying there in the dark, the sound of the

movie playing in the next room, I had been emptied of emotion. Even the surge of anger had

departed as quickly as it had come. I no longer felt foolish, nor did I feel sorry for myself. I felt

nothing other than exhaustion and a numbness that left me void of strength. Never in my life had

I felt a clichéd "rollercoaster" of emotion as I was feeling now.

It vaguely reminded me of the time when I had gotten food poisoning as a senior in high

school from McDonald's. The sandwich that made me sick had been my lunch; the first sick

feelings had not come until that night. For eight miserable hours, I threw up every half-hour,

almost like clockwork. My entire body seemed to be working together to void itself fully of that

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poison, in much the same way it was now. Only this wasn't a spoiled Arch Deluxe sandwich;

these were emotions being processed, worked through, and managed.

It was naive of me to think that I could simply say 'I forgive you' and expect everything

to instantly be OK. Everything wasn't OK; my wife was with another man, probably at that very

moment, and I was alone and exhausted, in the dark and hostage to emotion. Whether I liked it or

not, I was going to have to allow myself to mourn; to allow myself a chance to go through the 5

stages or whatever it was until I reached acceptance, the stage where I would be free again.

Looking at the clock and realizing what time it was, I got up to go take care of the boys.

They still needed to be fed, have their baths, and be put to bed before 9:00 p.m., when Rita and

James were to stop by. Before we had left the hotel room, we had agreed that Rita would come

back and get her things that night. I had suggested 9:00 p.m. as a good time; a time when the kids

would be in bed and would not have to see their mother packing her things to leave with another

man. It was important to me that they be insulated wherever possible from the traumatic

experiences that were going to be happening as part of this transition. I was grateful they were

young--Anthony being 4 years old and Jeffrey being 18 months old. They wouldn't remember

this, remember the pain and sorrow of the night their mother left.

For this, they were indeed fortunate. The children were both very happy that evening,

playing nicely and behaving well. Although neither of them had asked where Rita was, I did not

take this as a sign that they were better or happier without her. They probably just assumed she

was at school, where Mommy had been spending many evenings lately. Tucking them in and

turning out the light, I told them I loved them before stepping out and closing the door behind

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me. Glancing at the clock I figured I had about 20 minutes before they were to show up. Wanting

to get through this as quickly and painlessly as possible, I got to work.

Fortunately there was the stack of flat boxes I had brought with me the morning before,

that fateful morning that now seemed to be ages ago. I taped up the boxes before opening the

door to her room, which used to be our room. I hadn't slept in that room for a month or two, so

stepping in there was almost as if I were stepping into the bedroom of an acquaintance. There

was something familiarity foreign to the room, if that makes any sense; something in the feeling

of the room that was void of any substance. The feeling in her room was cold and empty,

although it was nicely furnished. In many ways it was like the feeling that comes with hotel

rooms: although all the right furniture and décor is in place, you wouldn't really ever mistake it

for someone's home. The feeling is just not the same.

Rita's room was on the bottom floor of the building, south-east corner. Because of its

position on the corner with two outer walls, it had always been an especially cold room. This

time was no different. The queen-size bed with its iron-work frame and white, deceptively-

virginal blanket covering sat perfectly made, in stark contrast to the Kama-Sutra paintings she

had framed and hanging throughout the room.

The paintings were actually laminated pages that had come from a Kama-Sutra book we

had received for our wedding. After I had "moved out" of our room, she decided to make it her

own sanctuary of sorts by bringing in statuettes, incense burners, a number of wicker boxes and

hanging these pictures, despite my protests. All I could do was to make her promise me to keep

the door shut at all times, which she did, faithfully.

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I took as many of her "essential" clothes as I could and packed them in boxes as neatly as

I could, trying to keep things together as much as possible. After a few minutes of packing I

heard a hesitant knock on the door. Opening the front door to Rita, boyfriend James in the

shadows behind her, is not something I care to ever repeat. In fact, I knew she didn't have her

keys--my keys now--so I made sure to leave the door open so as to allow her to walk in. I am

sure that being let into her own house was as surreal an experience for her as it had been for me.

James' thumb pointed back behind him as he mumbled something about waiting in his car.

"Most of your clothes are on your bed" I said. "I packed most of what I thought you'd need."

"Thank you" said Rita, politely as she stepped past me. "I can't take a lot--there isn't much

room."

Not sure if I was supposed to read anything into this, I nodded. "I'll help you carry the

boxes" I said after a moment of awkward silence.

She turned and said nothing, lightly stepping into her room as I followed. Slowly and

almost emotionlessly, Rita looked through her closets and chest of drawers, occasionally adding

an item or article of clothing I had missed. The drawers almost made no sound as she slid them

open. This silent movement of objects in that frigid room created a feeling of haunting that left

me invisibly unsettled. After that evening, I probably entered that room only a couple more

times--during the day only--before eventually moving out. Beyond that the room remained

undisturbed, the door firmly kept shut.

Once we had all of her essentials--about six boxes worth--I began carrying them out to

James, who was sitting in his now familiar-looking car. As he saw me approach he stepped out

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and opened the trunk, helping me to place them inside. His face was expressionless but his

person exuded stress and concern. After a couple of more trips, I went to Rita, who was hugging

a sleeping Anthony, and told her everything was ready. She kissed Anthony before stepping over

and kissing Jeffrey, who didn't stir.

Rita then turned her head and kissed me, to which I responded by kissing her back, in

spite of myself. For a very brief moment everything was going to be alright, we would get back

together and James would be more than happy to go away. For one brief moment, Rita was

faithful to me and me only. But it didn't last. Her kiss fed me as water to a famished man: it was

something to feed me, but nothing to fill my hunger.

Pulling away I simply looked at the floor and said, "No."

She didn't persist, but instead turned and silently walked to the front door, emotional but

not crying. I followed. With one hand on the doorknob Rita turned toward me, opening her

mouth to say something. She paused, exhaling slightly, and simply said "See ya."

"See ya" I repeated, automatically.

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Chapter 12: Down With Delmardin

I suppose it was naïve of me to think that things would sort of wind down after Rita had

moved out; she would begin to settle into a routine living at James’ apartment with his

roommates; I would begin to sleep at night without first fighting the realization that they were

probably having sex, in his bed, as I laid there on my futon alone. It was a sick feeling, despite

how much I felt repulsed by her. It was a feeling that came mostly at night, when there was

nothing else to occupy my mind.

Indeed, things had not winded down since then. Rita was trying to get her life in order, and

had decided to begin by going after the person, this delmardin9227 person who had been spying

on her and trying to ruin her life. She was angry with him for making her leave what she didn’t

want anyway, namely us as a family, and wanted revenge. She wanted to take him to court; to

make him see her strength, to make him pay.

Of course she had no idea that delmardin9227 was actually someone I had invented to cover

my own tracks. She was convinced that this was a guy, regardless of the fact that I told her that

the “anonymous phone informant” had been a woman. She felt confident that this was a guy, that

had been spying on her, and she had was determined to get him back.

“I need you to help me write an email.” Rita was standing at my door one afternoon,

unannounced.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, not really sure of where this was going. “Who are you

writing?”

Suddenly I knew who she wanted to write, and why.

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“He wrote me again–that guy, this Delmardin guy. I need to get him back!” Rita spoke with

determination in her voice.

I should have seen this coming. The day before I had been going through my emails when I

re-read the email she had sent James from the library on Friday, the day I kicked her out. The

words “…things should be getting back to normal…” seemed to snicker at me, so on an impulse

I decided to send her an email from the delmardin account. It wasn’t anything fancy, I just

wanted to remind her that “someone” was watching. The resulting email:

—–Original Message—– From: delmardin

Sent: Saturday, October 04, 2003 11:11 PM To: Rita****@********

Subject:

It’s me again…

James, I have been trying to contact you….please pick up!! He knows now but everything should be getting back to normal pretty soon here. Please, I need to speak with you, pick up! Rita

The point in sending this was to show her that he could still watch her, even if she used the

University library computers. Because of the key logger, I had access to her email account, and

was able to access the Sent Messages folder. By copying that message and making it look like it

was intercepted, I made delmardin look a lot more sophisticated than he really was. Sending her

this email seemed to have the desired effect, although now I was beginning to regret sending

it. Before I could protest, she had pushed her way into the apartment and was logging into my

computer to get on the Internet. She was of course careful to make sure I looked away while she

typed her passwords, even though 1. I already had them, and had been receiving regular emails

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detailing her online activity for the few days since I had put the program on her machine and 2.

the same key logger program was running on my computer and thus recording every stroke she

was now making. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the whole thing was an exercise in

futility. It took much more out of me not to get lost in the irony of the situation. Here the cheater

is feeling betrayed and violated and is thus seeking revenge on a “masked” third party who

happened to be the person on whom she cheated in the first place. Thus I was helping her get him

for exposing her deeds that had been against me. Whew. Say that three times fast. Shall we go to

the flowchart for this?”What do I say?” Rita asked, eyes not leaving the screen, and in full attack

mode. “I want him to know that he can’t just do this to people. I want to make him afraid.”

“I

know just how we can do that” I said, knowing just what to say if I were trying to intimidate

myself. “Make sure that you say something about pressing charges. Oh, and about hacking.”

Having never considered myself any sort of hacker, something about receiving an email

accusation of it sort of spoke to me.

She vigorously typed, occasionally stopping to correct

spelling and grammatical errors as I pointed them out. Leaning back, brow furrowed, she

declared, “We need a lawyer’s name here. Obviously not a real one, but so that it looks real.”

“I know one we can use” I said. “My dad has a lawyer friend–what’s his name–Greg Bauerbach.

He’s a good one–that’s the guy that’s downtown in that tall office building.”

“Great!” Rita

said, turning back to the screen. How does that look? She slid back as I looked over the email.

—–Original Message—– From: I will get you [youwatchout_239] Sent: Sunday, October 05, 2003 1:11 PM To: delmardin9227; Jimbo******@*********; Pete@********; Rita****@********; GBauerBach@BauerbachLaw******

Subject: Law suit

The president of the School of Music has been informed, and my lawyer

Stalking people eh?

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Gregory Bauerbach at the Bauerbach Law Firm (in case you need to check) has been contacted. We will press charges, and we have smart computer geeks on our side too. This is called difamation, hacking into someone’s computer is a federal offense. Give it a shot now.This is serious. You will be contacted by Gregory Bauerbach soon after we have gathered all of your information and our files against you. If you have any questions you can contact our lawyer or any of us. I am not forwarding our phone numbers, I am sure you will be able to find them by yourself.If you think you’ve won, you haven’t. Best regards.Rita

I was silently amused at the email account she had set up to do this. She had set the username

as “I will get you” and the email address as “youwatchout_239.” Briefly I thought about using

the freshly-recorded username and password to this account for future email mischief. I decided

against it, thinking that she might figure out that it was me. As my eyes crossed the words “…we

have smart computer geeks on our side too”, it struck me as one of the nicest compliments she

had ever given me. She thought Delmardin was a smart computer geek. Since I was the

“mastermind” behind him, that meant that indirectly she thought of me as a smart computer geek,

too. Plus she said that she had smart computer geeks on her side as well, so she actually

complimented me twice. Such a sweet one, that French girl is.

“It looks great” I declared.

“Hopefully he’ll get the point.”

“Yeah, hopefully” she repeated.

With that, Rita got her things, thanked me, and left, never hearing from Delmardin again. I

decided then and there that my alter-ego had run his course, and that it was time to let him go.

Although I could have had a lot of fun tormenting her with him, it was not something that would

help me to move on, nor was it helping Rita as well. She would probably become obsessed over

finding out who was watching her at school, and why he wanted to ruin her life. The only way to

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get her focused on more important affairs was to silence Delmardin, and this was my chance. She

would think he became intimidated over the lawyer business, and that would end it.

And that’s exactly what happened, except she complimented me along the way. Twice,

actually.

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Chapter 13: “To Be Faithful To Love”

About a week had gone by since discovering Rita’s affair. She was living with James and his

roommates, and by the sound of it, the situation was much less romantic than their midnight

rencontres used to be. Rita wasn’t happy living there, and took nearly every opportunity to try

and convince me to take her back.

Conversations with her were highly unpredictable, as she could start out telling me how much

she was sorry and wished that she could change the past; to angry tirades on how I was being

hard-hearted and unforgiving, stealing her children from her and ruining her life. At the end of

those conversations, she essentially blamed me for her predicament.

Typically, I’d respond with something like: “Hey–you wanted your freedom, you got it. And

everything that goes along with it–including a job.” This of course would make her start

screaming at me through the phone, declaring that it was my fault, that I was trying to steal ‘her’

children; that I was being cold and unforgiving.

“Have you forgotten that you chose to leave?” I’d say, voice raised.

“Oh, so that’s how it’s going to be–I can say nothing now that I’m the cheater–it doesn’t

matter what I say, you’re always the one who was cheated on, so you’re always right” Rita

screamed back.

“Should we just pretend that you didn’t cheat to make you feel better? I’m sorry, but that’s

the way it is. That’s the way you made it” I said, firmly.

“I miss my kids, I miss them so much…” Rita’s angry voice was breaking.

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“You know you can see them anytime you want–I’ve never stood in the way. But if you miss

them, well then–”

Rita screamed suddenly, her voice filled with rage, “I didn’t do this to the kids, I did this to

YOU! Don’t you get it?? I did this to you!” With that, Rita hung up.

I sat there in a trance, marveling at how deluded her reasoning had become. Could she

honestly believe that when she had cheated on me, the damage would be limited to me? Didn’t

she realize that with a family, when you cheat on your spouse, you’re cheating on each one of

your children as well? I was dumbfounded at what Rita had become, so very different from the

person I had married–at least, from the person I thought I had married.

The following morning I received an email from her. It was written in French, with many

spelling and grammatical errors, having obviously been written by a very distraught Rita. Its

English translation is after each paragraph and in blue below. (I have tried to preserve spelling

and grammar errors in my translation to preserve the tone.)

—–Original Message—– From: Rita****@******** Sent: Saturday, October 09, 2003 11:36 PM To: Pete****@******** Subject:

Je ne peux rien dire ou faire. Tu seras toujours celui avec le plus d’argent et de “stabilite”. je

ne peux pas jouer a ce jeu, tu vas gagner avant meme

que je commence.

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(I can’t say anything or do anything. You will always be the one with more money and

“stability”. I can’t play this game, you are going to win even before I begin.)

Oui, je vais travailler a Subway, et je vais gagner combien? Je te le demande juste assez pour

payer un petit loyer, pas le genre de loyer ou logement ou je pourrais etre avec mes enfants

(pendant que toi tu seras dans ton bel appart avec mes enfants. Mais c’est normal, car je t’ai

trompe, n’est ce pas?)

(Yes, I am going to work at Subway, and I am going to earn how much? I am asking you for just

enough to pay a small rent, not the kind of rent or housing where I could be with my children

(while you will be in your beautiful apartment with my children. But that’s okay, cause I cheated

on you, right?)

Tu me coules Pete, et je n’ai plus la force d’essayer de remonter a la surface. J’ai trois

solutions. Je pars avec anthony en France, mais comment pourrais-je faire cela a mon fils? je

pars en France seule, et essaye d’oublier que je viens de m’arracher la moitie du coeur, ou

alors, je vais dans la chambre de James tout de suite pendant qu’ils sont tous partis au cinema et

je’avale tout les medicaments que je trouve. Au moins tout s’arreterait, je n’aurais plus mal.

(You’re drowning me Pete, and I don’t have the strength anymore to try to come back to the

surface. I have three solutions. I leave with anthony to France, but how could I do that to my

son? I leave and go to France alone, and try to forget that I just had half of my heart torn out, or

otherwise, I go into James’ room right after they all leave for the movies and I swallow all the

medicine that I can find. At least everything would stop, I wouldn’t hurt anymore.)

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voila, je suis a genoux, et je crois que cette fois ci je ne vais pas avoir la force de me relever.

mais tu ne cederas pas dans ton assurance d’etre le meilleur parent, dans ta justice des

consequences, alors a quoi bon meme esayer peter, vas tu as tous les droits, prends le peu

d’argent que j’ai, vole moi mes enfants, et continue a vivre.

(There it is, I am on my knees, and I think that this time I am not going to have the force to get

up again. but you won’t budge in thinking that you’re the better parent, in your justice of

consequences, so what good is it to even try peter, go you have all the rights, take the little

money that I have, steal my children from me, and continue to live.)

ne t’inquiete pas, je vais disparaitre de ta vie et de la leur d’une faocon ou d’une autre. pourquoi

je resterais ici/ tu as gagane pete. tu peux avoir mes enfants, trouves leur une belle blonde et ne

mentiionne plus jamais mon nom. je suis morte a tes yeux, tu l’as deja dit, tu en sais pas a quel

point tu avais raison pete, non tu ne sais pas.

(don’t worry, I am going to disappear from your life and theirs in one way or another. why

should I stay here/ you have won pete. you can have my children, find them a beautiful blonde

and don’t mention my name ever again. I am dead in your eyes, you already said it, you know

don’t know how right you are pete, no you don’t.)

je t’en veux tellemtentent, si tu savais. je ne chercherais pas vengeance, mais je ne te le

pardonnerais jamais. tu dis que tu veux m’aider, ah je devrais rire, mais j’ai juste mal. ttu ne

m’as laisse aucune chance commetn oses tu me demander ce dont j’ai besoin/ j’ai besoin de

vivre avec ems petits et j’ai besinoin d’argent. tu m’as trnasforme en mendiante et tu le sais. je

dois demander a james ou toi pour avoir du papier toilette. j’imagine qeue ca doit te plaire n’est

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ce pas. je le sens bien, a faire ton petit cinema de bon papa devant moi, ‘motre maison est une

maison de paix a present’ j’ai envie de hurler.

(I hate you so much, if you only knew. I was not looking for revenge, but I will never forgive

you for it. you say that you want to help me, ha I should be laughing, but I just hurt. you have left

me no choice how dare you ask me what I need/ I need to live with my kids and I need

money. you have made me a beggar and you know it. I have to ask James or you to have toilet

paper. I imagine that that must please you right. I can feel it very well, how you put on your little

show of what a good daddy you are in front of me, ‘our house is now a house of peace’ I want to

scream.)

mais je n’aurais meme pas assez d’argent pour me payer a manger. tu dois bien rire. toi, tu peux

aller pleurer a papa et maman, n’est ce pas, maintenant ils etre beien content de ne plus avoir a

faire a a moi, ils ne pouvaient pas me voir de toute facon. alors maintenant, c’est bien que je

rame dans la merde n’est ce pas.

(but I don’t have even enough money to buy something to eat. you must really be laughing. you,

you can go cry to daddy and mommy, can’t you, now they must be really happy that they don’t

have to have anything to do with me, they couldn’t stand me anyway. so now, it’s great that I’m

stuck in sh** isn’t it.)

pete, c’est aussi simple que ca, je ne tiendrais pas le coup.revideo store sois reconnaissant que

je t’ai mis deux enfants au monde, et que tu epeux les garder, pour toi tout seul. j’espere qu’ils te

comprendront plus tard pete. je vendrais peut etre cherhcercher mes autres affaires demain, peut

etre pas. si dieu existe, alors je ne vais pas me reveiller demain. parce que j’ai trop mal.

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(pete, it’s as simple as that, I won’t survive this. be grateful that I have given you two children,

and that you can keep them, for you alone. I hope that they will understand later pete. I will

maybe come get the rest of my things tomorrow, maybe not. if god exists, then I won’t wake up

tomorrow. because I hurt too much)

je pourrais me debattre dans tous les esens, je sais que jamais plus, je n’aurais ma vie avec mes

petits. je ne vais plus me debattre a present, je suis fatiguee, et ca n’en vaut pas la paieine. tu

m’as enleve ma derniere chance de sortir de cette situation et d’essayer d’etre avec mes

petutitsenfants.j’erespere que tu as mal au coeur quand tu penses a james et moi en train de faire

l’amour, si tu as approche seulement ma propre douluereur, alors il y a un peu de justice.

rita

(I could fight in every direction, I know that never again, I will no longer have my life with my

children. I am not going to fight any more, I am tired, and it is not worth the pain. you have taken

from me my last chance to leave this situation and I am trying to be with my little children. I

hope that it hurts your heart when you think about James and I making love, if you begin to

approach the anguish that I am feeling, then there is maybe a little justice.)

It was simply amazing to me that she could take what she had done against me and

completely turn it around as if it had all been against her instead. This letter, in all its form,

wording, and overall construction, was so typically Rita. Its words almost seem to reach out of

the screen and try to wrap themselves around you like the vines in the movie Jumanji. I didn’t

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doubt that she was in pain, and I didn’t doubt that she missed our kids. But if I were to take this

letter at face value then she was poor, homeless, destitute, and judged. Please.

Almost as if on cue, I received an email. It was the latest log file, covering the last 24

hours or so of activity on her laptop. I clicked over to it and began reading. Immediately I could

see the letter she had sent me, yet with all of the system tags around the text, i.e. [Space], [Shift].

She had made a lot of [Backspace] marks in writing it, which told me just how emotional she

was being when she typed it. Skimming below this I noticed another block of text, in French,

written to someone named Jean-Pierre. What caught my eye most, translated in English, was:

You remember that you and I spoke at length about being faithful to our love. I am. Just please

be patient with me. I am limping a little at this moment. Rita

I could not remove my eyes from the phrase ‘faithful to our love’. No. It couldn’t be.

No, it couldn’t be! Who was Jean-Pierre? Faithful to love, what did that mean??

Perplexed, I tried to piece the facts together. I knew that she had typed this the night before,

right before writing her tirade to me. The rest of the letter looked to be mostly her talking about

her difficult situation, how I was acting unfairly with her, etc. This was definitely not a first letter

to the French-speaking Jean-Pierre, and with a name like that he was definitely French. Had she

met him on the Internet? Why was she writing him?

It then occurred to me that I was reading through her typed response to this guy, a response to

what must have been an email that he sent her. Quickly I was over in her email, looking at her

inbox. Sure enough, there was an email from a Jean-Pierre, a Jean-Pierre…

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No.

It couldn’t be.

Jean-Pierre Rochambeau — a man whom I had now personally from the branch in Pierianne

when I was there as a missionary. The same branch Rita was from. The same branch Rita had

just visited, just over a month earlier.

Opening the email from the man I knew as Brother Rochambeau, written to the woman I had

just kicked out for cheating, my eyes found the words:

Je n’ai pas eu d’autre femmes depuis toi

In English, this translates as “I haven’t had any other women since you.” And in case there

had been any doubt in my mind about reading this out of context, Jean-Pierre began reminiscing

very graphically about the time they had spent having sex together in France that summer, just

over a month before. His writing was so detailed that I could see them there in my mind’s eye, at

his house and on an animal skin rug, both making a mockery of the promises Rita and I had

made.

The letter concluded by Jean-Pierre inviting Rita to remember their time together, and to be

faithful to love. This woman, this woman who had left her family at great financial sacrifice to

visit France only to sleep with a former ward member who knew me personally, to throw away

everything in the name of lust and self-indulgence; this was the same woman who was being

invited to be faithful to love….

To be faithful to love.

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Chapter 14: Another Beginning’s End

Jean-Pierre had been the branch mission leader in Pierianne, a city in which I had served for

six months in France. At the time he was married, but over the last year or so I had heard from

friends that he and Sister Rochambeau had separated; she having taken the kids and moved to

northern France somewhere. But while I had been serving there–around four years previous–they

had been a solid couple and very strong in the Church.

I had distinct memories of working with Jean-Pierre, who was about as stereotypically French

as it could get. He was tall and skinny with a slight build, balding light brown hair, bronze-

colored skin and round, gold-framed glasses. He spoke English with a very heavy accent, and

had a certain friendly arrogance about him.

As branch mission leader, his calling was to coordinate full-time missionary work with

member missionary work. In other words, he helped us to work with branch members in helping

to build up and strengthen the branch. We usually met weekly in the upstairs of the church,

above the chapel in the Relief Society room. I recall a certain life and enthusiasm for missionary

work about him. He wanted to help other people to find what he and his family had found. We

worked with him regularly, and I left that city thinking of him as a great example to the other

members in the branch.

Now, four years later, I had just been sickened by his words to my wife; words of lust and

carnal desire, words that retained the arrogant tone by which I had come to know him. His words

explored the excitement of having sex with someone at whom he could only fantasize about; at

the discovery of their passion and chemistry, their love to which they must be faithful.

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I was sickened. This feeling of sickness, however, was quite different than that which I had

discovered a few days earlier regarding James. Surprisingly, I wasn’t quite surprised that there

had been another man. It was almost as if I had been expecting it in some ways. The sick feeling

I had came from the depth of her treachery to me and to our marriage. She had sought my

forgiveness for having only dated James, but supposedly never having kissed or had sex with

him. Right. The depth to which she had sunk was beginning to make itself clear to me, and it

made me want to vomit.

I sat there reflecting on all the things I had learned about Rita over the past few days, about

James and his trials, about Anthony and Jeffrey, about Rita’s parents–who had not called since–,

and now about Jean-Pierre in France. Of course I also thought about Rita and what had happened

to her to have made such a series of poor decisions. It all seemed to begin the moment she

declared herself no longer a member of our religion, any other religion, or religion at all. She

claimed that ‘organized religion’ was holding her back; that she was spiritual but not religious.

Her reasoning supposed religion to all be man-made institutions, not inspired by God, but

made by man to seek power, authority, and money over other men. Rules and so-called

commandments, she’d say, were just designed to keep the masses under control. Followers of

organized religion, to in her eyes, had begun to seem weak-minded and unwilling to find

themselves spiritually. Being religious meant adhering to a certain religious institution first, God

second. Because she felt like her spirituality went much deeper than this, she declared that no

longer would any third-party institution stand between her and God. She would develop her own

relationship with God, and nobody would tell her otherwise.

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Of course I told her that we, as religious people, must develop our own relationship with

God. If there is a principle of religion that we are asked to live that we cannot accept, we must

take it up in sincerity with God. Why would attending church each week and meeting with other

believers weaken this relationship? To this question Rita would usually roll her eyes, sigh loudly,

and mumble something about me just not getting it.

This was her state of mind as she had left for France around a month before. As a ’spiritual’

person who didn’t subscribe to any particular rules, she was free to act as she pleased without

fear of retribution from an angry god who was eager to punish her. Indeed, she was free and

unencumbered from rules that would bind her and hold her back.

It was beginning to make sense in my mind. Without any sort of moral guidelines, she was

free to follow her whims and desires, which in this case unwittingly led to the bed of another

man, a man nearly twenty years her senior. As romantic as it might seem to claim ’spiritual but

not religious’, it is not practical for humans who are emotional, temperamental, moody, self-

serving, egotistical, and self-absorbed. This is like having a compass with four magnetic norths

that changes depending upon your mood or perhaps the drugs or alcohol you have consumed.

At the risk of sounding preachy, I have to wonder: if God is the great Giver of the Law by

which we will all be judged, can we really expect that the law would be continually changing? If

He is perfect, then wouldn’t His laws be perfect as well? How could we expect to be perfectly

judged if 1. We have no knowledge of the law and 2. The law is regularly changing and/or

doesn’t really apply as long as we are trying to be spiritual?

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The whole thing sounds like a trap, a sort of carnal lull with a forged label of spirituality that

allows the follower to do as he or she pleases, all the while feeling freer than the ’sheep’ who

choose to follow rules that others have put into place, essentially letting others think for them. In

this state of mind, the freedom that comes from keeping the law is seen as binding; the peace that

comes from having a moral compass is seen as ‘opium for the masses.’

Having done what she had done in France, she had been unable to escape the guilt that

followed her home to America. Unable to deal with this guilt, Rita chose to make me her enemy

and to blame me for her pain. If she could make life miserable enough for me, she could drive

me to the brink of divorce. This would serve as self-justification: if we were going to be divorced

all along, her indiscretion in France had been a natural outgrowth of that, and cheap

rationalization would extinguish the flames of her guilt.

Meanwhile of course she was free to do it again, which she didn’t hesitate to do. Enter James.

Now Jean-Pierre seemed to know nothing about James, talking only about past and future

encounters with Rita and ‘being faithful to love’. James knew nothing about Jean-Pierre, and had

probably been lied to about me.

One woman was cheating on her husband with a lover, whom she was cheating on with a

second lover, both of whom were ignorant of each other, all of whom thought the woman was

faithful.

Wow. And the world thinks that having one spouse to whom you are faithful is restrictive of

freedom? How much more backwards could this line of thinking be?

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Regardless of how she had gotten there, this is where we were. I wasn’t really sure what I was

going to do or say to bring up this topic of Jean-Pierre, but I had a few ideas in mind. Somehow,

and without blowing my cover, I would bring up this Jean-Pierre, and what she had done in

France.

* * *

It was around this time that I found myself in the office of Steven Depeche, family law

attorney, having been highly recommended by my father’s friend Gregory Bauerbach. He had

listened carefully, almost clinically, to my story while taking notes. It reminded me of the many

marriage counseling sessions I had attended, although this time I was alone and the counselor

was a lawyer. Instead of asking me about my feelings as the counselor usually did, Steven

thought for a minute before replying, “Does this guy, this…” (pausing to look down at his notes)

“…James guy–does he have a lot of money?”

Somewhat surprised, I replied by saying that I wasn’t sure how much money he had, but

knew it couldn’t be much. Steven explained that this was important because marriage is a

legally-binding contract, and if a third party interferes, you can go after that party–just like any

other legally-binding contract.

Before I could start wishing Rita had had an affair with a wealthy man, our hour was up. He

would begin preparing the initial paperwork for the divorce. His secretary would call me when

the paperwork was ready. It wouldn’t be much more complicated than that. I marveled at how

easy this part had been so far.

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Rita of course wasn’t happy that I was filing for divorce, but she wasn’t opposed to it either. I

assured her that she would of course share legal guardianship over Jeffrey with me, which was

one of her big concerns. Anthony had been my stepson (his father lived in France and we were

never able to have me adopt him), so I had no rights over him after divorce but would keep and

take care of him along with Jeffrey. Whenever I brought up the status of the paperwork for our

divorce, she usually ended up saying that she would sign, but that it would be “…[my] divorce,

the divorce that [I] wanted.”

When she said things like that, I had the impression that she was like wet cement at this point;

that she was soft and malleable right now, but would not always be. I had no intention of tricking

her or otherwise deceiving her; I just wanted to be free of her, and I wanted to protect my kids. If

I didn’t fight for them to have a stable, loving environment, who would?

A few days passed before I found myself sitting with Rita at our kitchen table, divorce papers

out and ready to sign.

“Pete, is this what you really want? Isn’t there something we can do, something to work this

out?” Rita spoke with a resigned tone, soft and surrendered.

“Yeah, this is what we have to do” I answered plainly. “It’s what you wanted.”

Rita sighed and closed her eyes before signing the document. It was finished. Once the judge

signed the document, we would be officially divorced. We would share legal custody of Jeffrey,

and both kids would live with me. She would work and go to school, seeing them whenever she

could.

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We got into my car; papers signed and ready to deliver to my attorney.

“I have been having these weird dreams, Rita” I started. “Since you’re kind of into Tarot and

dream interpretation, maybe you can tell me what you think they mean.”

Rita turned and looked at me with interest. “Sure. Tell me.”

“Well, the dream starts out in France. I’m me, but I’m not me–it’s like I’m there but I’m not.

Anyway, I’m in a big, old house, and the walls are like mirrors, but they’re not like mirrors.” I

turned to look at Rita, who was listening quietly.

I continued. “I am usually in this particular room in this house I don’t recognize, and there is

this bed with animal skins on it…”

Right on cue, Rita let out a silent gasp. Her mouth was open.

Pretending not to notice, I went on. “There is a man there, someone I sort of recognize from

my mission, but can’t place my finger on who it is because it’s like he has two faces, both of

which I can’t recognize. Anyway, he’s talking to you, but I can’t see you anywhere, so it’s like

he’s talking to himself, or one face to another. But it’s like a conversation, and the only word I

can understand is ‘peer’ or ‘pire’ or something like that. It’s very odd, and usually happens right

before I wake up.”

Rita’s hand was covering her mouth. She was no longer hiding her astonishment. “Pete–” she

trembled as she spoke. “Pete–I never knew this–Pete, you have a psychic gift!

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Suppressing the grin that wanted to form beneath my cheeks, I furrowed my brow and turned

to her, confused. “What are you talking about, what does this mean?”

She said, “Maybe you’re picking up energy from that brother in the Pierianne branch–what’s

his name–yes, Jean-Pierre. That’s probably what ‘pire’ means.”

Looking surprised, I exclaim. “Yes, yes, you’re right–that’s the guy! Yes, it makes sense

now!”

Rita continued. “So I bet he has a crush on me or something, and you’re picking up on the

energy intended for me. Wow, this is amazing. I never knew you had this gift.”

“Neither did I” I said, now forcing a thoughtful expression on my face.

Rita sat, now looking out the window.

“Now that we’re talking about it, I do remember one more thing that pire or Jean-Pierre says

to himself, usually as the dream begins to fade” I said.

“What else does he say?” asked Rita, again looking toward me.

Quickly looking at her in the eyes while driving, I answered, “He says something about love

and faith, lovingly faithful–no, he says to be faithful to love.”