HOOFBEATS IN THE WIND
- Gini Roberge
Now what the hell was I supposed to do?
I stood at the patio doors of my house and stared at the dozen people talking or just lying in the summer sun while they enjoyed the company barbeque. I turned back to my laundry room door that I had just shut to block the sounds of the couple having sex in the small bathroom inside.
Curious as to who it was that would do such a thing at my party, I scanned the faces of my guests. I first searched for my best friend Andrea Richards and her husband, Stan. I was relieved to see him flipping the steaks on the grill and Andrea at the back of the yard. She was standing next to the pasture fence running a hand down the nose of my one of my horses while she talked to her brother, Greg Lawson. Logical progression…I looked for his wife, Jodi. Twice, I scanned each face. From the brick patio to the built-in grill to the large swing hanging from an oak tree and back to the horse pasture. She was not in my backyard. A queasy foreboding set into my stomach.
I searched the other 12 faces of my friends and co-workers. The ball of acid in my stomach began to bubble when I realized who was in the bathroom with Jodi. It was my boss, Dave Armstrong.
“Ugghhh,” I groaned and looked back at his wife, Sheila, who was talking to Stan at the grill while he flipped a large steak.
My best friend’s brother’s wife and my boss were having an affair. I had no idea that Jodi and Dave even knew each other.
So, now what the hell was I supposed to do?
I always kept the laundry room door shut and the only reason I had stepped in there was to retrieve another roll of paper towels stored in a closet. Damned paper towels; if it wasn’t for them I would be blissfully unaware and wouldn’t have heard the moans, giggles, and panting.
Unless I made a scene, I’m not sure anyone would believe me. Was it even my place to say anything? Would I be destroying two marriages if I did? No, they were destroying their marriages, not me.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket and turned on the recorder. With a deep breath and quivering stomach, I slowly opened the door of the laundry room and set the phone on the shelf so it would record the door. That way I could confirm that it was Dave and Jodi before I said anything at all…if I said anything at all.
To my full displeasure, I could hear the woman squeal and moan, “Oh, oh, oh…”
“That’s it…yeah…there we go…” The man’s voice was barely audible.
I was almost 100% sure it was Dave. The sound and the image made me shudder. Although he was tall, fit, and handsome, he was still my boss that I had worked with the last two years. No matter how much time went by, I would never forget the ‘there we go’. It would haunt me.
Jodi owned a chain of fitness centers and was a Pilate’s instructor. She was extremely fit with long brown hair and today she was wearing a tiny, barely covering her ‘nether regions’ yellow dress. The tanning beds didn’t go unused either.
I shut the door, picked up the paper towels, and scurried to the backyard.
“Lauren! There you are,” Andrea laughed. Her blue eyes twinkled with too much alcohol and innocence of the situation. “We were just thinking of breaking out the ring toss game.”
“Oh, that sounds fun,” I smiled to cover the nausea in my stomach. “We can set it up to the side of the swing.”
The game pieces were in the small shed to the side of the large yard, so I kept my mind busy by helping her set them in the expanse of green grass. It was deep green, thick, and well-manicured in preparation for the party.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Jodi smiling innocently as she walked out the double French patio doors of the house. With a pep in her step, she walked to the small group of people gathered at the patio table that set next to the pasture gate. Within moments, Dave walked around the side corner of the house. He strolled over to his wife at the grill and nodded to Stan. His eyes flickered to Jodi who had her back to him.
Nausea rose again when he slid an arm around his wife’s tiny waist and kissed the top of her head. He whispered something into her ear that made her grin and nod then he casually joined the conversation. That just made me sick, angry, and I had the urge to tell everyone to leave so I could burn down my bathroom or at least use a long mop and wipe it down with a gallon of bleach.
At that moment, I knew I was going to quit my job. There was no way I could work for a loathsome asshole that would do something like that.
“Lauren? What’s up?” Andrea’s voice drew my attention back to reality.
Her long blonde hair was in a loose braid down her back, the bright blue dress she had on made her look like she was in her twenties, not forties like me. I looked into her eyes and tried to decide what to do but it didn’t work. I had no idea.
“We need to talk. Can you stay after everyone leaves?” I whispered.
“Is everything OK?” She whispered in return.
“No…” I walked back to the shed to retrieve the whiteboard and easel we used for keeping score.
I had it set up and turned to ask who was going to play. Greg was standing right behind me.
“Hi,” I gasped…the fear that I may blurt out ‘your wife just screwed my boss in the laundry room’ ran through me and I clenched my teeth together.
“Didn’t you say on the invitation there would be a karaoke machine?” He asked.
“Yes, it’s just outside the patio door behind the buffet table. I forgot you were in a band in high school.” I smiled but I felt cold and shivered. It was 98 degrees outside. We were in the shade so it wasn’t so bad…but still…I shouldn’t be shivering. “Do you take special requests? I’d love to hear you sing that song from your high school prom.”
“Sure,” He said as he turned. “As soon as I play…” His voice trailed off as he walked away.
I’m not even sure he finished the sentence because my eyes went to his hand…that was holding my phone.
“Son of a bitch…this isn’t good…” I closed my eyes tightly then opened them to see Andrea standing in front of me with wide eyes.
“What…?” She asked.
The whine of the karaoke machine rang out and drew the attention of everyone in the yard.
The acid in my stomach ate the lining and my hand covered it.
“Oh, Greg! I love to hear you sing!” His wife laughed.
He turned and looked at her with a bored expression as he fiddled with the settings on the box. Then the microphone went to his mouth as I stepped back and cringed.
“What?” Andrea’s voice was tight as she turned to follow my gaze.
“Testing,” Greg said and his voice was barely heard. He adjusted the knobs and turned back to the awaiting crowd and repeated, “Testing…”
My nearest neighbor was a half mile away but I had no doubt they would be able to hear it.
Well, I certainly didn’t want that.
“No…” I started and took a step toward him.
His eyes shot to me with a bland ‘fuck you’ look then he placed my phone on the top of the karaoke machine and tapped the front of it.
“Oh, oh, oh…” Spewed from the speakers and everyone froze in place.
“Oh!” Rang out from the patio table and there was no doubt it was the same voice saying both.
I turned to Jodi. Her eyes were wide, one hand to her stomach and one to her mouth.
I turned to Dave as the “That’s it…yeah…there we go…” echoed from the machine.
His wife’s shoulders rose and face turned white. Dave stared hard at Greg.
“Yes…yes…” Jodi’s voice panted.
“You sweet little flower,” Dave panted.
No one moved as the voices continued so I took a deep quivering breath and walked next to Greg.
His body was rigid and eyes staring at his reddened wife.
“We have to get to the party…” Jodi panted then a low moan vibrated from the phone.
My hand trembled as I pushed the stop button on my phone. I made no move to pick it up. The last thing I wanted was everyone to know that I had recorded them.
The yard was silent; everyone waiting for someone else to make the first move.
That move was from Andrea as she walked to her brother. Her husband joined them and without a word, the three of them walked into the house.
I’m not sure that any of the 14 people left in the backyard beside me, Jodi, and Sheila knew it was Dave on the recording but when his wife stepped forward, grabbed the two foot long barbeque fork then turned with lightning speed and a force beyond her petite frame and jabbed the three-inch tines into his chest there was no doubt.
There was no sound from the shocked crowd as his hands went to the fork with his wide eyes looking at her with a ‘what did you do?’ question. He slowly dropped to his knees.
Jodi screamed as Sheila turned and walked away.
Dave slid to the ground as the world came alive and people rushed to his side.
“Call 911!” Someone yelled.
I picked up the damning phone and made the call.