by Marcella Simmons
Last week, my husband Gene and I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for our fifteenth anniversary. Santa Fe is where we met and we come back here every year. Gene and I have a strong relationship, and he understands me. We get along very well together and we have a wonderful loving relationship, and I have never had reason to suspect him of chasing other women. I have always prided myself in taking care of my man at home so he don’t have to get his needs fulfilled elsewhere. We’ve been very happy together over the years, and we both work and have a really good home life. What more could a man want?
Gene is quiet, kind and compassionate. One word that describes him better than any other is ‘gentleman.’ And gentleman he is. He is considerate and loyal to me, as well as smart.
I love stopping at yard sales and going to thrift stores. Gene, on the hand, would rather spend his time at the pool or watching a game on TV on his off days.
We went out to dinner last night and I read a sign on one of the street corners near the motel that read: Estate Sale – All day Friday. It gave the address with an arrow pointing down the street.
“Gene, I am going to run down the street to that Estate Sale. Do you want to come? It’s almost ten, they should be open by now.”
“No, I think I will stick around here and watch TV. If I get bored, I’ll stroll down to the pool. You go ahead – get out of the room awhile.”
I drove along the street until I came to the house where the estate sale was going on. There was a lot of nice furniture and paintings for sale. A really pretty Mexican lady who looked to be about thirty-five walked up and said, “There is a lot of stuff inside. If you need help just let me know. This was my mother’s house. She passed away last month and the house has been sold.”
I went inside after thanking her. There was stuff on tables everywhere that had been marked down. I saw four real nice picture frames made of oak that were marked down to a dollar each. There were photos in each one. There was one of the pretty Mexican lady, one of her and apparently her mother, one of her and a little boy who looked to be about five or six, and then there was one with her and a man standing together with the little boy in front. The man was none other than my husband Gene.
I dropped the photo, breaking the glass. No one was around so I took the back off the picture frame and took out the photo. There was an inscription on the back that said, “Gene, Cynthia, and Martin.” Below that was an inscription that read, “With Love, Gene.” It was dated three weeks ago. It was Gene’s handwriting.
I put the photo back in the broken frame and picked up all four photos. The lady walked back over to me. “Are you alright? You look like you seen a ghost,” she said, smiling.
“I…uh… I dropped this frame and the glass broke. But I want to purchase these frames.”
“Oh no, I forgot to take these photos out before I put the frames out to sell. If you don’t mind, just take the pictures out and leave them on the counter,” she said before walking over to another customer who needed assistance.
My hands were shaking so bad that I could barely remove the pictures from their frames. When I went to pay her for the frames, I asked, “Is this your husband and son?”
“Yes,” she said. “My husband is gone so it is just me and my son Martin. He is six years old. I gave these photos to my mother but she passed away. I am from El Paso, Texas – just came to close up the Mama’s old house,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes.
“How long ago did your husband leave you?” I asked.
“We broke up two weeks ago,” she said. “But he chose another woman over me and I will never have him back. Maybe I will go back to El Paso or to Mexico after I sell this stuff.”
“My husband and I are also from El Paso,” I said. “So, this is your son?” I asked feebly, with shaking hands as I handed her the picture.
“Yes. Martin looks just like his father.”
“He sure does,” I agreed.
Some other customers had gotten her attention. Slipping the four photos in between the frames was easily enough and since no one was watching me, I eased my way out.
I drove around for awhile before going back to the room. This was the last straw for me. How on earth could Gene have another family? But it was true because I had the pictures to prove it. How did he meet this woman Cynthia? When did he have time to cheat on me? He never wanted children with me. Why her? How could he do this to me? They couldn’t be married because he was married to me – or could they? What made him do it? How would I tell him what I found? Should I tell him now or should I just pretend nothing happened and let it be? Or should I get a lawyer and turn the photos over to him? Should I leave him or ask for a divorce? Tears filled my eyes and I pulled over in a parking lot and cried. Questions without answers were plaguing my mind.
After an hour of driving around, I made my way back to the motel. Gene was watching TV when I got back. “Where on earth have you been? I thought you got lost or something?”
“No, I wasn’t lost,” I retorted hotly.
“What happened to you? Why are you in such a bad mood. You were fine when you left.”
“Do you know a lady named Cynthia? She has a son named Martin?” I decided to throw it out there and see how he responded to the question.
“Never heard of them,” he said and started flipping channels.
“Is that so?” I asked. “That’s not true and you know it. Look at these pictures.”
“You’ve made a mistake, Melinda. I’m going for a swim,” he said nervously.
“Gene, we need to talk.” Tears filled my eyes. “Gene, please tell me the truth about this woman Cynthia and the little boy,” I pleaded. “When did you start seeing her? When did you two have a son? She said you was her husband.. Is that true?”
“I have nothing to say.” He walked out the door.
Grabbing my purse and starting out the door, I was going to that woman’s house and talk to her one more time. It was useless trying to talk to Gene. He knew he had been found out and he was a closed book. I must go and talk to Cynthia one more time. Maybe this is a big mistake – maybe it was somebody else. It can’t be real – this is Santa Fe. How did those pictures turn up here? And why? It seemed as if they were set there for me to find. How could that be possible?
I pulled onto the street where the estate sale was earlier that morning. There was a large truck in the driveway from a thrift store. I walked up to one of the guys as he was loading the stuff and asked, “Is Cynthia here?”
“The lady who owns this house left about an hour ago to catch a plane. My boss bought everything she had. He’s right over there.”
I walked over to him. “I need to talk to Cynthia.” I said feebly.
“She left earlier. She had a plane to catch and we are locking up the house when we are finished,” he said. “Sorry,” he apologized.
“Do you know where she was going on that plane?” I asked.
“No ma’am, she didn’t say. But she was in a big hurry and didn’t have time to talk very much. She told me her mother owned this house but she passed away. I never knew the family, or where they came from.” He went back to loading boxes on the truck.
I tried calling Gene on his cell phone but it went straight to voice mail. I sent him a text and asked him to meet me in the room. He never text me back.
When I arrived at the motel, the receptionist at the front desk said, “Mrs. Melinda Parker, may I speak with you for a second?”
“Sure. Is there a problem?”
“Mr. Parker came down about a half hour ago. He checked you guys out and told me to tell you to head back home as soon as possible.”
“He can’t do that,” I muttered.
“Well, yes ma’am, he did. If you’d like to pay for another night, you may but he had me to cancel the payment on his credit card so you will have to pay again.”
“No, that won’t be necessary,” I said, tears rolling down my cheek. “Excuse me. I need to get my things.”
“Housekeeping already packed your things and brought your bags down. Check out time was at eleven.”
“I can’t believe Gene did this to me,” I said, now sobbing. The receptionist helped me carry my bags to the car and I loaded them in the trunk.
“Who did he leave with, or do you know?” I asked.
“Yes ma’am, he left in a taxi.”
I drove out of the motel lot crying. “I just know he boarded that plane with Cynthia. He probably planned this all along.”
I pulled into a station for gasoline several hours later. I tried calling Gene’s cell phone once again but again, it went straight to voice mail. He wouldn’t answer the phone or the texts I sent. Why did he leave me without a word? Why didn’t I see this coming? He never gave a clue that he was unhappy with me. Why did he chose to have a child with Cynthia and he never wanted one with me? How long had he been seeing her? How could he make love to me knowing he was making love to someone else? The questions just kept going through my mind. How could I have been so stupid? What am I going to tell my friends and family back home?
Later that evening, I stopped for a salad before finding a motel for the night. Once in the room, I cried again, this time they were giant sobs. How could Gene do this to me? We went back to Santa Fe where we first met to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary and he ran off with another woman that he apparently been sleeping with for years. I sobbed into my pillow. Why? How? How could I have been so blind? Why didn’t I see it coming? Was I that naive?
About midnight, I got up and opened my overnight bag and took out the photos. Tears filled my eyes again. Why Gene? I asked. How could you do something like this? We had a good marriage, I whispered, angrily shoving the photos back inside my bag.
The two of us had a good relationship and we did a lot of things together. There were days he had to work late and occasionally he had to take weekend trips to different parts of the country, but they were business related trips. Or were they? Was he flying somewhere to meet Cynthia and spending the weekend with her and lying to me? How could he do this? Why didn’t he just ask for a divorce?
I arrived in El Paso late that Sunday afternoon. After unloading my bags from the car, I went to our bedroom and noticed right away that things had been moved around. Gene had apparently came and got his clothes. The dresser and closet was empty. The study door was open and all his things were gone. The file cabinet where we kept our bank account information was empty as well. Immediately, panic set in. On Monday, I’d have to call the bank to make sure that Gene didn’t take all of our money. He could have left me a note saying he was sorry – anything to ease my pain but he didn’t.
The phone rang that evening but it wasn’t him. My aunt called to see if we’d made it back safely. I let it ring until the recorder picked it up. I just wasn’t in the mood for phone calls right now and have to explain that Gene left me.
On Monday morning, I called the bank only to find that Gene had emptied our checking and savings account. Panic set in and I called my job and took the day off. I went to the bank and closed out the accounts and reopened another one with the only twenty five dollars I had left in my name where my check from work would be deposited every week. The banker was upset after she found out what Gene had did to me. Later that evening, I stopped for gas only to find that my credit card was declined because of insufficient funds.
Not wanting to go back to the house alone, I stopped at my friend’s house for awhile and broke down and told her everything that happened this week.
“Melinda, oh my gosh. How could Gene do this to you? Do you have any idea where he is?”
“Katie, all I know is that he is with her. They have a six year old son named Martin.”
“I can’t believe you found out by stopping at a yard sale in freaking Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is really weird, my friend. You need to divorce the Bastard,” she said angrily.
“What am I going to do, Katie?” I sobbed.
“You’re going to make it, Girlfriend. Here, take this and use it,” she said, writing me a check for five hundred dollars.
“I can’t take your money, Katie.”
“Melinda, take the money. You can pay me back later. I’m going to shoot that prick if he shows back up around here. I can’t believe he had the balls to do something like that. Why don’t you stay here tonight and try and get some rest”
“I’ll be okay. Thanks for everything, Katie.”
Several weeks passed, and not a word from Gene. I called his job and asked to speak to him one day and they said he no longer was employed with their firm, and he left no forwarding information.
Late one night, I got a call from a woman from Santa Fe who said she was Cynthia’s aunt. “I know you don’t know me, Melinda but I am Cynthia’s aunt. I have some bad news about the two of them and I thought you might like to know it.”
“What is it?” I asked sleepily.
“Gene and Cynthia were on their way to the Belize and their plane went down. No one survived the crash.”
“What about the little boy?” I asked.
“He’s here in Santa Fe with his aunt,” she said.
After she hung up, I called Katie and told her the bad news. “I can’t believe Gene is dead,” I told her.
“He got what he deserved,” she muttered. “I’m sorry, honey but he did you so wrong. He was living a double life, one with you and one with her. The only thing I am sorry for is that he died on a plane when I should have been the one to kill him for hurting you this way.”
“Katie!” I scolded. “Don’t say things like that.”
“I’ll be over shortly. Put some coffee on.”
About the Author:
Marcella Simmons has been writing professionally since 1988 – she has over 650 published credits in over 350 small press publications nationwide, and continue writing for local newspapers. In 2005, her first book of poetry was published entitled Bittersweet Morsels, and she is currently working on several romantic suspense book projects at this time. “Writing is a way of life for me. I couldn’t imagine ‘not’ writing.” Marcella commented. “One of my many passions is writing fiction and children stories – some of my children stories appeared in Pockets Magazine, Primary Treasure and Christian Educator.” In 1991, Marcella graduated from THE INSTITUTE OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE: Writing for Children and Teens; WRITER’S DIGEST SCHOOL: Nonfiction Writing; and ICS School of Short Story/Journalism