Mike got himself together, gathered his belongings and packed them quickly and roughly into his luggage case and headed down to the lobby to check out from his room. As he was going down the elevator, thoughts of what to do next, where to go, who to see and talk with for some consolation raced through his aching brain. He paid his hotel bill and went out to his car and sat there for what seemed like eternity collecting his thoughts. He had to find a place to move into quickly. He couldn’t keep paying hotel bills, as it would be eating into his resources and he knew it was going to become costly once they had both forced themselves to get lawyers involved. Mike finally turned on the ignition and slowly pulled out of the parking lot into the street, still in a fog. He was feeling very hung over from drinking half the bottle of Jack Daniels he had brought with him to his room. Mike drove to his office, got out of his car and started walking across the parking lot when he was spotted by Gary, his boss.
Mike straightened himself up and tried to seem his usual bubbly self but Gary could see right through him. Hey Mike, how are you feeling? Mike could sense right away that Gary knew more than met the eye. I see your production level is climbing steadily, you should be on target to reach number one salesperson for the second month in a row. Mike replied under his breath, umm … sure thing Gary, you can count on it. I’m having a great month so far. Of course, Mike’s heart was bursting with pain and he was doing his best to leave this conversation and quickly find a safe harbor in the confines of his office.
Mike finally walked through the front door and saw Kathy sitting where she usually sat to greet staff and clients that came by her desk. Good morning Kathy. Nice to see you. Hope you had a great evening. She chirped back, sure did Mike, how about you? Mine wasn’t so great he blurted, walking quickly by her trying not to seem rude. But first he had to grab a coffee. He needed one so badly. He poured a cup, opened the fridge for milk or cream and there was none. Shit, he muttered under his breath and walked to his office annoyed.
He threw his briefcase on his desk, laid his coffee cup down, only to knock it over and spill coffee all over the top of his desk. This set Mike into a tail spin. He screamed and threw his wet briefcase across his office. Kathy came running in. Mike are you okay? He apologized for his tantrum and asked her to please leave and close his office door. Mike flopped into his chair, started to cry and laid his head on his desk. He wished that he would just die right there on the spot. His life was a mess and he didn’t know how badly it was going to affect his health and his career. He knew he had to call his best friend Dave to talk to about what happened between Susan and him yesterday. He needed reassurance and Dave was just the friend who could give him solid advice without judgement. He composed himself, wiped tears from his eyes and made the call. They made arrangements to meet for lunch at the Kinko Cafe for some sushi and maybe a Jack or two.
Dave agreed to meet at noon and looked forward to the lunch and finding out what was going on with Mike and Susan.The phone started ringing and clients were calling and wanting to discuss their accounts and asking for help with decisions that only Mike could offer. At all times, Mike kept his composure while speaking to them but inside he was dying. His concentration levels were off the mark. All he could think about were his kids and what was going on in their minds about their father not coming home last night. His heart also ached for the loss of Susan. A few times Mike had to interrupt a client and tell them he was not feeling very well and asked if he could call them back later. Fortunately, his clients were understanding and forgiving. No problem, Mike. Give me a call tomorrow when you’re feeling better.
Lunch couldn’t come soon enough for Mike. He walked into The Kinko Cafe and saw his friend Dave had just arrived and was being seated. Hi,Dave. Nice to see you, buddy. They shook hands with the usual greeting. Well, Mike, what is going on? You don’t look yourself at all. I cansee it in your eyes. Mike hung his head and in a low voice, almost a whisper said, Susan put meout of the house. She changed the lock on the front door so I couldn’t use my key to enter. Dave’s jaw dropped. You got to be kidding me Mike. What the heck compelled her to do a thing like that?Dave knew that his friend’s marriage was rocky but he didn’t think it would ever come to this. My bag was packed and it was sitting beside the door with a scribbled note attached to the effect that she’s had enough with my lifestyle and job and late hours. Dave knew how busy Mike kept himself in his selling career and knew that a lot of his calls with his clients had to be handled in the evenings. Dave never felt for a moment that Mike was not a loving father and provider to his kids.He was also very aware of Susan’s insecurity about Mike. She had shown insecurity from the first day they met.Dave and his wife, Sharon, had warned Mike about it and had questioned Mike often about Susan’s jealousies over absolutely nothing. It was almost like a fatal attraction. The signs were there when they first met but Mike was too in love and sexually aroused by Susan to take much notice of her visits to the psychiatrist once a week. He was blindsided by her beauty and her passion. She had told him she was visiting a doctor because of a previous problem with a boyfriend who had dropped her to date her best girlfriend, causing Susan to go off the deep end. At the time, Mike was more amused by it all and liked the attention of a jealous woman. Little did he know that it would cause problems throughout the 18 years of their marriage.
So Mike have you decided where you are going to live and what arrangements you can make to see the children? Mike was jolted back to reality. Dave believe me it is all I have thought about since I woke up this morning with a throbbing hangover. Dave looked at his friend now with great kindness. Well our door is open to you. Come and bunk down for a week or two until you can find an apartment and sort out your legal stuff with Susan. I’m sure you will be hearing from her lawyer any day now. Mike felt the heavy weight shift ever so slightly. Thanks Dave, I will take you up on your offer. I don’t have anywhere to go and it would be nice to stay with you and Sharon and have a pair of listening ears. Also I will get to spend some time with your kids. You know I will be missing mine, so being around your three will help me keep my sanity.They finished lunch. Mike grabbed the ticket and paid at the cashier, thanking them for their great service and left.
Dave assured Mike that he could call him any time and insisted that he be at their home for dinner that night and to put his belongings in one of the two bedrooms in the basement. He would have use of the extra bath, TV and pool table but they expected him to spend some time upstairs with them, too. Mike assured Dave he would be on time for dinner and looked forward to seeing the family again. It had been awhile. He needed to be around people to help distract him from thinking about this whole mess he was in. He knew that this was just the beginning of a long and expensive process and did not look forward to the pain that he and his family were going to be put through.
Dave thanked Mike for lunch and said his goodbye until that evening. Hey, Mike, chin up. Things will work themselves out. You need to be strong and remember I am your best friend. I’m here for you anytime you need me. Just give me a call and I will go to wherever you are. Thanks Dave. Mike headed towards his car.Mike felt a little happier knowing that he would not be alone at night. He would have his two great friends, Dave and Sharon, to talk with and share his feelings. They would listen and give him the best advice they could muster up. Their kindness was given with nothing expected back. They showed their concern for Mike’s situation and never once pointed fingers at either Mike or Susan.They simply knew it was a sad situation all around for both and their young family and prayed that it would correct itself over time.A couple of weeks came and went. Emails exchanged between Susan and Mike were mind numbing.They were often gut-wrenching, expressive, emotional, outbursts of tears, anger, fear,loathing and bitter endings. Mike would leave each email with a feeling of total uselessness,emptiness and drained of feelings. He was left wondering how could they possibly ever get back what they both threw away.
Finally that dreaded day came. Mike received via courier a letter from Susan’s lawyer. He was asking pertinent questions and wanted Mike to check the requests by his client, add any of his own and return it to him signed. Of course it was only in draft form to start. Mike read the letter with trepidation. He made some mild revisions and returned the draft copy back to her lawyer. Little did he know that this would get the snowball-from-hell rolling and it would dictate the demands that both Susan and her lawyer planned and conjured together for the best interests of her and the children. Mike would soon feel the sting of divorce and the demands that are put on the party who no longer lives in the household where the children live. Whichever spouse has control of the children also has control of their minds. That would be proven to Mike in the very near future as one by one he lost the love of and respect of his children. Little did Mike know what lay in store for him. He was blindsided by Susan’s sudden pleasantry when asked about the home and what was in the best interests of the children. It would be the right thing to do by allowing her and the kids to stay in that house. After all, they had good friends in the area, attended a school they loved and were close to relatives. It would be unkind for Mike to suggest that they sell the house and move into an apartment like he would be doing very shortly.
Susan suggested that Mike allow them to keep the house. Mike had no intention of it being otherwise. He wanted his family to stay in that neighborhood. So Mike agreed to sign his homestead rights over to Susan in another letter from her lawyer and even agreed not to demand any of the equity rightfully due to him. He, with the stroke of a pen, released his part of the $40,000.00 in equity to be left in the household, with no attachment from him whatsoever. He felt that he had enough in his account to tide him over and that he was doing so well in his career that money would not be an issue. He also agreed to pay off any credit cards in both their names as well as a small loan that they both had together. All in all, Mike was being a good man and father and felt good about it. He felt it was the absolute best thing to do. He also thought he would keep the respect and love of his children.
Mike had a habit these past couple of weeks of stopping in at a local bar and meeting his new friend Jack. Together they both could review the days events and spend some comfort time together. He knew it was a fast fix and Jack would help drown his sorrows while they were together. Yes, Jack and Mike were starting to become regular fixtures at that bar and there were some nights that the bartender had to put Mike into a cab and send him home. Sometimes that home was back to his office, where he would pass out at his desk and be found by his assistant in the morning.
Mike knew it was time to have a meeting with Gary his boss. His production suddenly came to a grinding halt. Mike was avoiding talking to his clients or meeting with new ones. Instead, he would talk to a fellow professional and turn these new and old clients over, with a request for a referral fee when any new business was awarded to his associate. You see, Mike didn’t realize he was heading for a big crash. The walls were closing in on him and he was about to come face to face with something that would deal a devastating blow to Mike and his career.