“How dare you accuse me of such a thing? Why, I can’t even think of doing anything so horrid let alone act upon such thoughts!”
I knew she was lying. She had this trademark way of stuttering on the ends of her sentences when she lied as if she were reviewing in her mind what had just been said to make sure she was being consistent. I caught it though. I catch it every time.
I eased into my questioning: “Then where were you last night?”
“You know damn well I was with Kathy the entire evening. She came to the house. We drove off together. You even waved to us from the living room window while we pulled out of the driveway! Or have you forgotten about that already? Simple memories such as these should not be so hard to recall. Do you know what it’s like for me to try and argue with someone who has to have events not 24 hours old repeated constantly?”
That was another thing she did whenever she lied. She attempted to shift the blame. But she wasn’t satisfied with just shifting it; she had to twist it and rearrange it until the blame was situated on me for something that had absolutely nothing to do with the initial argument. It was as if she thought she could confuse me into believing the whole thing was my fault. As if I would suddenly feel guilty for her trivial, self proclaimed plight. However, oftentimes this plan of hers would actually work. That was probably why she was still using it now. The only reason I would ever concede to such a weak tactic, though, was to put an end to the relentless banter that would otherwise run endlessly into the night without resolve. But this time the severity of the situation would not be compromised.
I moved onto my next question: “Then refresh my memory once again, if you would. Why is it that when I called Kathy’s last night you weren’t there?”
“But I was there. Kathy told you I had just stepped into the washroom for a minute.”
“Then why weren’t you there when I called ten minutes later?”
“No one was there! When I was finished in the washroom Kathy rushed me out the door to eat at some new restaurant she’d been dying to take me too all month. “
“Really? What was the name of this new restaurant?”
“What is with you tonight? I feel as though I am under interrogation by my own husband! A woman should not have to feel threatened in her own home. I thought we trusted one another, and here you are violating our trust with all of these far-fetched accusations!”
Ah, she speaks of trust! So often has the issue of trust served as a red light in many of our arguments. As a man dedicated to uphold the vows he spoke of on the day of his wedding I was never one to push a conversation any further when she spoke of trust. But I am more prepared for this argument than she could ever imagine. She has desecrated our martial creed and I believe I am entitled to forgo our covenant of trust just this once.
So I continue: “I am violating our trust? The future of our marriage is on the line here and you expect me to stop questioning simply because you mention that word? My trust in you is somewhat lacking at the moment and the only way to redeem my trust is to answer my questions. Surely I deserve some answers.”
“I just don’t see how you can question the integrity of our marriage based on two phone calls you made last night where you couldn’t get a hold of me! There have been many times where you have called me before and were unable to reach me. You never questioned me then. Why now?”
“Think of it as the straw that broke the camels back. There have been many more incidents concerning your absence where I have thought about it; where I have pondered the horrible reality that might be. But it wasn’t until last night that I’ve found myself to be more certain than ever.”
“Listen, last night Kathy and I went to ‘Pacey’s’ on Twelfth Street across from the Starlight Room. Kathy had some exotic dish that I couldn’t even begin to pronounce. I wasn’t all that hungry and ordered only a salad. We both drank from a bottle of Chardonnay but naturally Kathy didn’t drink much because she was driving. At around eight thirty we left and she dropped me off here. Satisfied?”
“Well now that you have had the time to think about it, I’m sure what you’ve told me is true.”
“You are absolutely incorrigible tonight. How do you expect to have a mature conversation about this when you start using snide remarks like that? I don’t need to hear of this any longer. It’s absurd and I’m tired. I am going to bed and I expect to hear no more of this by morning.”
A last ditch effort on her part. She felt the tensions rising and could handle it no longer. She always found some way to set her foot down in the end or sneak in a final word, leaving me the loser of every argument and her the victor. But this time it was I who had my foot raised like a gavel, poised to drop at any moment and cast its judgement. I would not let her get away with this.
I called, revealing the hand I held all this time: “Joseph spoke to me yesterday.”
“You haven’t spoken to your brother in over a year.”
“What do you think he said? He felt guilty as hell for what he had done. So he came clean. He called me after you left his place last night. I wasn’t surprised in the least”
She said nothing. She didn’t have to. Instead, an odd expression crossed her face, one that I had never seen on her in the fourteen years that I had known her. It was puzzling at first, almost paradoxical. Then it hit me, in a satisfying wave of realization. Somewhere in the back of my mind echoed a word that connected the expression on her face with the now painstakingly obvious feeling inside of her. Defeat.