Over the next several weeks I was busy job hunting. My schedule was sporadic with job interviews, researching job openings, and using my free time to catch up on household chores. On a regular basis, I’d return home from job-hunting and discover Marilou and Robert out on his back patio talking.
In addition to his many vehicles, Robert had three center-console boats in about the 16 to 24 foot range, each on its own trailer, parked under a large shed in his backyard. The largest boat, a Boston Whaler and Robert’s professed favorite, looked in pretty good condition but the smallest boat was a wreck. Robert explained that a friend had given the small boat to him to fix up.
As the weather became warmer Robert started to get his mid-sized boat ready for the season, with Marilou’s help. She ended up spending nearly three straight days at Robert’s house working with him him. As much as I wanted to avoid Robert, I became drawn into the project simply because I had to go there to have any chance of talking with Marilou.
After several days work, the boat was ready and Robert decided to take it out on the Pascagoula River for an evening run. He “casually” invited Marilou and me to go with him and I knew something had been planned. Although they both acted like this was a spur of the moment idea, he and Marilou both dressed up before we took the boat to the nearby launch. I had on a pair of dirty coveralls I’d been wearing while working in the yard that day. Marilou wanted me to change; I refused on reason that we were only “taking the boat out for a spin.”
Once out on the river, Robert “spontaneously” suggested we pull into a riverside marina with a nice pier-side bar and restaurant offering live entertainment, which happened to be one of the nicest such places in Gautier. It was the type of place that he and Marilou were dressed for, not me.
As we pulled up to the pier at the marina I went forward to handle the mooring lines. I was standing on the bow as we made our approach and somehow sensed “something” was going to happen. I tightened my grip on the line, already secured to the boat’s cleats, as we drifted slowly up to the pier. Sure enough, just as we came close to the pier and I was ready to step across Robert threw the boat into a full power backing. I saved myself from being thrown overboard only because of my tight grip on the lines. The power backing was totally unnecessary for boat handling, and if I had not had a tight grip on the lines I would have been dumped into the water.
I continue to believe Robert deliberately attempted to dump me overboard that evening.
At the marina we ordered some food and drinks. With the perspective of many dinners we had previously hosted for him, the several days Marilou and I had spent helping him prep the boat, and that I had been out of work for several weeks, Robert let us pay for everything.
Easter Sunday came about a week after this boating event. Marilou and I always celebrated Easter with family friends at their home, and this year Marilou insisted they invite Robert as well. Her reason was she didn’t want him to “be lonely” at Easter. Despite all the friends he claimed to have around the coast, it seemed no one else wanted to invite him for Easter dinner.
True to form, Robert went to our friend’s house empty-handed even though I made a point of letting him know potluck was expected. During dinner Robert talked endlessly about his experiences in Vietnam, Hollywood and still complained about his former contractors. No stories new to me, but Robert’s monologues dominated the conversation throughout the afternoon.
After weeks of unemployment I finally landed a job at a near-by shipyard starting shortly after Easter. This put me back on a 7:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday work schedule. Right after I started my new job, Marilou’s work schedule suddenly changed to where she was working three weekday afternoon/nights and both days on weekends.
At various times during that spring we were visited by Marilou’s aunt from San Diego (younger sister to Lourdes), Marilou’s cousin from New Jersey, My mom, and my dad. Every visitor except my Dad met Robert. I never said anything to anybody about Marilou and Robert’s affair. Besides not having the proof I needed, I still had honest hopes of saving our marriage. I knew that the more Marilou’s affair became public knowledge the more it would be difficult to reconcile. I also knew that making accusations now, before I had solid proof, would blow back against me. I had to wait until I could either prove the affair, or until I could find a way to reconcile with Marilou.
Of all our visitors that spring, my mom was the only one who later told me not to trust Robert and was the only one who expressed concern to me about Marilou spending so much time around him. Leave it to a “mother’s instincts” to notice things.
One discussion I thought particularly interesting was between Robert and Marilou’s New Jersey cousin. Marilou and her cousin met him on his back patio, with me in earshot, and Robert treated them to a one-hour monologue about himself. This time, he talked mysteriously about his work in Hollywood, dealing with the Hollywood mafia, and his connections with the CIA. Afterward, I asked Marylou’s cousin, in private, her impressions of Robert. Her reply was that, based on his talk, she felt he was deeply involved with the mafia and various criminal groups. She also believed, based on his monologue, Robert was a big-time Hollywood executive.
After several weeks in my new job it was obvious that Marilou and Robert were having a torrid affair. Robert pretended nothing was going on, and was actually pretty good about pretending. Marilou was also pretending but was not very good at it, and I could see her becoming more distant from me each passing day. I decided I needed to force things out in the open.
Due to limitations of the web software this site is built on, this story has been broken into two parts. You may follow the conclusion of this narrative in Part II.
ETCS (SS), USN, Ret.