A fter the reception, Ann waved to the crowd of well-wishers as she stooped through the door of the limousine ahead of Carl. Carl got in behind her but didn't wave because he knew that earlier, when he'd said I do, he really didn't, and because he was distracted by Ann's ass as she wiggled it into the limo.
The trick wedding was the part of his plan that had caused Carl the most consternation. How could he make such a promise before all these people, particularly his family and friends, without any intention of keeping it? He'd resolved the dilemma by reasoning that although he would make the promise publicly, the promise would only be binding between him and Ann. And since he already knew Ann had betrayed him and most likely had no intention of keeping her promise to him, he owed her no obligation to keep his promise to her.
Three months ago, during the final semester of Carl's senior year in law school and Ann's senior year in general studies, Carl had learned that Ann was actively having at least two affairs one with a jock on the LSU football team, and one with her former sorority house roommate. Sometimes she had them both at the same time.
Carl's pal Dave had heard about the jock from his girlfriend Jennifer, who'd seen Ann leave the jock's apartment at 3:00 a.m. one Sunday morning when Carl was at his parents' house in New Orleans with Stephanie, his seven-year-old daughter, for the weekend. Dave broke the story to Carl that Monday morning as they sat drinking coffee in the law school coffee shop.
Dave suggested that Carl ask Phil Springer, who'd been a divorce detective before law school, to investigate Jennifer's story. "Better to find out now than after the wedding," said Dave.
But Carl didn't care to discuss it with Phil Springer or Dave or anyone else. "Fuck that," he said. Then he left.
At lunchtime Carl met Ann at the Student Union dining room. She was standing talking to two girls seated at a table, probably sorority sisters. Despite what Dave had told him, and even after living with her for almost two years, the sight of Ann excited him. The contours of her finely toned muscles, smooth skin and firm flesh, even beneath the khaki shorts and cotton top, were impossible to ignore. Two years ago, in the summer after his first year in law school, those same contours had persuaded him to invite her to move into his apartment. But still it seemed every swinging dick who laid eyes on her wanted her, and she seemed to enjoy the attention a little too much for comfort. So in the summer after his second year in law school he spent an entire month's stipend on a diamond, a one-and-a-half carat princess-cut that said Back off, dude! Property of one rich and powerful motherfucker!
Baring her bright white teeth in an expertly poised smile, Ann gave Carl a peck on the lips. "Hi hon," she said. "Did you pick out the tux?"
"No, your mother did." Ann's mother had driven down to New Orleans on Saturday to ensure the tuxedo selection did not clash with the bridesmaid's dress selection. Carl just let her make the selection.
"She liked the gray one, didn't she?"
"That's the one," said Carl. "What'd you do Saturday night?" They set their bookbags on an empty table and walked toward the food line.
"You know," said Ann. "My psych report."
"Oh," he said, "because Jennifer Dawson thought she saw you out."
"Oh really? Where?"
"You tell me."
"I told you. I worked on my report."
"Then I guess Jennifer was mistaken," shrugged Carl.
"Oh, that's right," Ann recalled, "I met Brawne at her boyfriend's apartment to work on the report with her. Maybe that's where Jennifer saw me."
"Must've been," said Carl as he grabbed a tray and got in front of Ann in line.
The next day Carl approached Phil Springer, the divorce detective law student, and explained the situation. "How much is this gonna cost?" he asked Phil.
Phil was among the older, thirtyish crowd of law students like Carl. But unlike Carl, Phil had never been married and had no children, so he was still very much the party animal. Carl, on the other hand, remained deadly serious about learning and practicing law. He was in the top four percent of his class, had published two law review articles, and was elected Managing Editor of the law review for his senior year with a full scholarship, an office, and reserved parking. During the last two summers he had clerked at three of the most prestigious law firms in downtown New Orleans, and in the fall after graduation he would begin a one-year clerkship for a federal judge in Baton Rouge and then assume a permanent position as a partnership-track associate at the largest of the New Orleans downtown firms.
"How about a copy of your Security Devices and Con Law outlines?" asked Phil.
"You got it," said Carl.
Several weeks later, just before finals and six weeks before the wedding, Phil motioned to Carl to follow him as their last class let out. They went into the atrium of the law school building, the smoker's area, where Phil lit a cigarette, then pulled out a brown envelope and opened it. He took out a printed report and handed Carl a photograph.
"This is Brawne Filmore," said Phil, exhaling smoke. Carl knew Brawne. She had been Ann's roommate at the Tri Delta sorority house before Ann moved into Carl's apartment. She and Ann still had a lot of the same classes and spent a lot of time studying together, and sometimes she joined Carl and Ann for drinks. After a few drinks she liked to paw Carl, which Ann seemed either not to notice or not to mind.
In the photograph, Ann and Brawne were sitting across from each other in a booth in a restaurant. Brawne's arm was stretched across the table with the tips of her fingers brushing the back of Ann's neck. Ann's head and hair hung forward. Her eyes were half shut, and her lips were curled in a slight smile.
"This was taken at the Chimes Restaurant on Friday, April 5th at 8:47 p.m.," began Phil, referring to the report.
Carl would have been in New Orleans for his weekend with Stephanie at that time.
Phil took a drag of his cigarette. "As you can see, Ann and Brawne appeared to be intimate." He blew smoke. "At 9:52 p.m. they left the restaurant and drove to the Winn Dixie supermarket and purchased a fifth of Cuervo Gold tequila and a bottle of Jose Cuervo margarita mix. They then returned to your and Ann's apartment at 10:25, after which no one entered or left the apartment before the interior light was turned off at 1:31 a.m., when I ceased surveillance for the night."
Carl had a vision of Brawne's red hair splayed across his pillow. Big deal, he thought.
Phil next handed him a photograph of a white Ford Expedition parked at a campus lake at about dusk. Carl made out the dark silhouettes of the driver and a passenger.
"The Expedition belongs to one Marcus Williams, junior left guard on the LSU football team," said Phil. "The Expedition was a recruiting perk."
Phil consulted his report as he inhaled, then exhaled, smoke. "So Williams picks up Ann from your apartment at 7:39 p.m. on Saturday, April 6th, and they arrive at the University Lakes at 7:47 p.m. and park."
He handed Carl another photograph of the Expedition. "What's missing?" he asked.
Carl saw the silhouette of the driver, Marcus, but Ann's silhouette was missing. He looked up quizzingly.
Phil explained. "At 7:48 p.m., Ann disappeared from view. None of the doors or windows opened. No one exited the vehicle. She reappeared in view seventeen minutes later, at 8:05 p.m."
The smell of smoke overwhelmed Carl. He dared not speak.
Phil then handed Carl a photograph showing Ann's backside as she stood with her blonde head turned up toward the smirking face of an enormous black guy. The black guy was standing in a lighted open doorway in an apartment building, wearing only a pair of black elastic-waist shorts. Ann wore a strapless halter and a short skirt Carl had never seen her in before. Her hands rested on the black guy's bare chest, her fingers outspread, the diamond sparkling in the dim light.
"Friday, April 19th, 10:27 p.m.," reported Phil, still smoking.
My weekend with Stephanie again, thought Carl.
"The gentleman is Marcus Williams," said Phil. "It's his apartment. Ann goes inside."
Phil handed Carl another photograph showing Ann standing in the same lighted doorway holding Brawne's hand as Brawne is entering the apartment. This time Ann is wearing a dress-sized purple jersey displaying the letters "LSU" and the number "64" in gold. The diamond is not visible.
Phil continued. "Brawne arrived at 11:44 p.m. and entered the apartment. Marcus Williams is number 64 on the LSU football team. No one exited the apartment before the interior lights went out at 3:22 a.m., at which time I ceased surveillance."
Phil put out his cigarette and gave Carl the report and envelope. "It's all in here."
"Thanks," mumbled Carl.
"How's those outlines coming?" asked Phil.
With great concentration, Carl inserted the photographs and report in the envelope and clasped it shut. "They'll be finished by Friday," he managed. "I'll e-mail them to you."
"Excellent," said Phil.
Carl retreated to his Managing Editor's office in the basement of the old law school building and shut the door. He dropped his backpack on the desk, flopped spinning onto the swivel chair, and turned on the computer in the corner. Staring at the blinking monitor he pictured Ann's head disappearing into the stinking depths of the white Expedition. He pictured Marcus, Brawne and Ann doing all sorts of unspeakable things to one another. Amid these visions he took out his Con Law II notebook, opened it, and gaped like an idiot at notes having something to do with equal protection of the laws. When the desktop completed loading he clicked on the word processor, opened his Con Law outline, and began typing the notes one empty meaningless word at a time.
No wedding, he thought. His fingers stopped typing and he repeated, "No wedding," whispering the words aloud. Then, slowly, he realized that besides humiliation, disgust and anger, he felt relief. He was free. In less than four weeks he would graduate, he would be a lawyer, and he would be unwed. It was a familiar feeling. He had felt it five years earlier when he decided to divorce Vicky after admitting to himself he'd made a mistake when he married her. Only this time there was no child to make him question the decision. There was only a lying fiendish slut.
In the meantime, however, he had exams. He spent the next two and a half weeks cramming and even sleeping in his office, leaving only to shower at his apartment, to buy fast food at drive-thrus, and to take his exams. He avoided Ann, and when he could not avoid her, he made it clear to her that he was in the middle of exams. He crammed law into his brain until his brain overpowered his heart, admitting no thought of Ann, of what she had done, or of what he would do about it. Like a hydro-electric dam, he regulated the direction and flow of his feelings and harnessed their roaring energy to generate more than enough brainpower to ace his exams.
When the last exam was over, he cleaned out his office and found the brown envelope in the drawer where he'd put it the day Phil gave it to him. He had to face Ann.
At the apartment, Ann opened the door before he could turn the key in the lock. She stood posing in a red lace bra and matching thong panties. "Fuck your brains out?" she said.
At once the dam Carl had constructed burst as a tidal surge of passion and desire descended upon him. Without a word or thought of what Ann had done, or of what he would do about it, he fucked her brains out, then let her fuck his brains out. Then he slept.
Late the next morning he woke hard beneath Ann as she ground herself upon him. She breathed in moans with each stroke of her hips. He let her come, then turned her over and pounded her until they both came.
Afterwards, as Carl lay spent but refreshed by his long sleep, Ann sat up in bed and grabbed her wedding planner from the end table and opened it. "You won't believe everything we've done during the last two weeks," she began while flipping pages in the planner. "We finally got your family's names and addresses from your mother and mailed the invitations. Then we had to move the rehearsal dinner up to Friday the fourteenth instead of Thursday the thirteenth because Linda couldn't get a hair appointment until after her flight was scheduled to leave on Thursday."
Carl noticed the diamond, which to him had always seemed to wear the hand rather than the other way around.
"Then we spent half the day Saturday going to at least six stores to pick out the wedding party gifts and reception favors. . . ."
And what did you do the other half of the day? Carl wondered. He looked around the room for his backpack with the brown envelope in it, but didn't see it. "Where's my backpack?" he asked.
"Your backpack!" she exclaimed. "Carl, school's out and the wedding . . . the wedding is in one month!"
"That's a long time," replied Carl. "A month's a long time." Might as well be forever, he said to himself.
"It is not," she protested. "There's so much more to do. And it's the biggest day of my life." She leaned over him, her heated breasts hovering weightlessly above his face as she reached down and gently rolled his penis under her palm. "It's the biggest day of our lives."
Not me, he thought, starting to grow hard again.
She stopped fondling him. "I wish you could see the dress," she said, getting out of bed and standing up. "It comes down like this in front and like this in back." She twisted her naked body from front to back, tracing the design of the dress with her fingers, going on and on about the dress as he watched her ass beside the bed.
Carl had to tell Ann it was over and there would be no wedding, but the time did not feel right. He wanted retribution for what she had done, but simply breaking up with her and calling off the wedding seemed far too mild a sentence. Besides, then she would have a license to just run off and fuck Marcus and Brawne and God knew who else, a thought so wrenching that suddenly Carl sat upright against the headboard.
That's when he conceived the plan. Ann wanted a wedding, her big day. She probably dreamed about the wedding while going down on Marcus and Brawne. So he'd give her a wedding, then he'd give her a divorce. He'd marry her to divorce her! Wasn't he a lawyer? He'd handle it himself. He could attach Phil's report and photographs as exhibits to the petition.
Now, on their wedding day, the door of the limo slammed behind them, and according to the plan, now was the time to serve her with the Petition for Divorce, with attachments, which was safely tucked in the inside pocket of his coat. The limo was supposed to take them to the airport for their flight to New York, where they were to spend two nights before their flight to London for their month-long honeymoon in Europe. Instead, Carl would direct the driver to take him to 55 Falcon Lane in Metairie, his parents' house, and when Ann asked him why, he'd hand her the petition and say, This is why. I want a divorce. Then on Monday he'd file the petition and have it properly served on her by the Sheriff.
But both he and Ann were somewhat drunk after the reception, and Ann started kissing him and rubbing his crotch as soon as the limo began moving. Then she hurriedly unzipped his pants and reached inside to free him, and he clutched her silken blonde head as she went down.
This is what she did to Marcus, he told himself as he leaned back into the plush leather seat. That was why he had to divorce her, just like he'd divorced Vicky. But the plan was flexible; it could wait a little longer.
When they finished, Carl noticed through sleepy, drunken eyes that they were almost to the airport, well past the exit to his parents' house. He still had time to carry out his plan; the driver would only have to backtrack a few miles. On the other hand, he could sleep on the plane, then he'd be ready to fuck Ann some more when they got to the hotel. And Europe--Europe had been his idea anyway.
"I love you," whispered Ann, nestling on his shoulder.
"I love you too," he said, thinking at least till the honeymoon's over.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JACK STRANGE lives, works, and writes in and around New Orleans. He can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org