My job situation continued to deteriorate. In late February the conflicts with my co-worker came to a head and I was put into a situation I could not live with. Early Friday morning, February 23, 2001, I walked into my supervisor’s office and handed in my letter of resignation. I cleared out my desk and by 9:00 AM I returned home unemployed. When I came into the house I discovered Robert sitting in our kitchen talking with Marilou. I announced my new status among the unemployed and we talked for a while about possible job options.
One subject I discussed was in joining the merchant marine. I had already been job hunting and among other options had been talking with merchant marine recruiters. I had learned about the Merchant Marine’s two to four week sea-shore rotation schedules and the pay scales that were better than any other career prospect open to me in our area. During this discussion Marilou expressed support of my joining the merchant marines, on the grounds that going to sea was something I loved. It came time for her to get ready for work on the afternoon shift, so we said goodbye and Robert and I walked out into my backyard. On my way out I grabbed the long-range wireless telephone (the one Marilou had purchased several months earlier) just in case a job prospect called.
Robert and I walked around the backyard talking about my reasons for quitting, and my prospects for new job. It was a beautiful day and all the windows in both our houses were open for the fresh air. After a few minutes Robert excused himself and went into his house. A moment later I heard a phone ring. Thinking it was our phone ringing, and thinking Marilou had already left for work, I answered up on the wireless telephone I was carrying.
The first words I heard was Marilou’s whispered “I Love you.” Then I heard Robert answering back with some inane comment. I stood there for a moment, uncomprehending. Their romantic banter continued. Then I did understand, and with understanding felt as if I’d stuck my finger in an electrical outlet. I was totally paralyzed, waves of shock running up and down my body holding me as immobile as stone while Robert and Marilou continued to banter with each other.
I heard Robert say “It’s going to be hard for a while, with Ron home all the time these next weeks. Hopefully he’ll get another job soon.” And then “You know, if Ron goes back to sea and is gone two weeks at a time we can have a lot of fun.” I heard Marilou agreeing with him and whispering some more romantic nothings. I finally recovered enough from my paralysis to disconnect the phone.
I stood in the yard trying to come to terms with what I had just heard. Robert nonchalantly walked back out of his house a few minutes later just as Marilou called me in the house. Marilou and I had a few words as I attempted to act as though nothing was wrong, then Marilou left for work. I went back outside, chatted a few moments with Robert, trying to clear my head, attempting to pretend nothing was wrong, and then Robert left.
Robert went into hiding – I didn’t see him again for about one week.
I spent the rest of the day thinking hard, trying to decide what to do. It was obvious now that Robert and Marilou were having an affair, but I simply did not know how to deal with it. I finally decided that I owed Marilou a chance to work things out. She nonchalantly returned home much later than normal that evening. I confronted her with overhearing their morning conversation, and Marilou immediately protested that it meant nothing other than “just talk.” Marilou denied anything was going on between her and Robert other than a lot of talk.
It’s now apparent to me that she had returned home late because she had been talking with him via cell phone after she left work.
We talked a long time, but Marilou continued her denials of any affair. Marilou did confess that Robert had recently given her some jewelry as a gift. She even showed two pieces to me; they were expensive 18 carat gold with inset gems. I asked her to give it back and she promised she would. I never asked her about the jewelry again, and I honestly do not know what ever happened to it.
I ended our talk by telling Marilou that Robert was no longer welcomed in our house, and demanded that she avoid him. The one honest thing Marilou said to me that long night was that she did not understand Robert’s “draw.” She admitted she could not understand why he attracted her so much.
Robert reappeared a week later, out and about in his yard as before. When I was close to his property line he’d drift over and attempt to chat with me as if nothing had ever happened. I didn’t invite him over to my house ever again. Within days, Marilou was back visiting with him at every opportunity. When I pushed the issue, Marilou became indignant. She insisted they were only friends and she had the right to socialize with whomever she wanted to.