It quickly became common knowledge around the neighborhood what had happened between Marilou, Robert, and I. Two evenings after Marilou left, I was visiting with my neighbor Beth getting drunk and talking things out with her. Then, Beth told me about the conversation she had with Valerie earlier that day.
During her conversation with Valerie, Valerie had casually asked Beth “So what do you think about the abuse?” Upon further discussion, Beth learned that Robert had told Valerie, during the daytime of the previous two weeks he had “disappeared,” that Marilou would soon be leaving me. Valerie claimed Robert had told her I had routinely beaten and sexually abused Marilou for the all the years we were married. Valerie explained that Robert was taking Marilou into hiding, giving Marilou a chance to start her life over. Valerie claimed I had been described by Robert as a “monster.”
I was stunned. Beth explained she had flat told Valerie any stories of my abusing Marilou were simply not true. Beth also suggested I confront Valerie. I was still sober enough to act rationally so I immediately went over to Cris and Valerie’s house. I knocked on the door and Valerie answered, half hidden behind the door. She told me to go away but Cris, standing behind her, told me they were eating dinner and offered to come over and talk with me shortly.
An hour later Cris came by and we talked while sitting at my kitchen table. I started by asking him if he knew what was going on with me. He answered, cautiously, that he knew “infidelity was involved.” I then asked if he knew anything about Robert claiming I was abusing Marilou, as the reason for her leaving me. Cris looked puzzled and said “no.” I explained the conversation between Valerie and Beth earlier that day. Cris told me he would not believe any stories like that about me, but would ask Valerie what was going on and get back to me.
About 30 minutes later Cris returned. He looked angry and shook. He told me he and Valerie had talked, and Valerie had admitted to being told by Robert about my alleged abuse of Marilou. Cris would not tell me exactly what Valerie had claimed, on the grounds that Cris would be “concerned for Robert’s safety” if I knew what had been said about me. The only thing Cris would detail was a vague reference to “Coke Bottles.”
I was now angry. Cris and I talked for a few more minutes. He said he knew nothing of the conversations between Valerie and Robert before now. I could see in his eyes his sudden suspicion of Valerie, wondering what else had been going on between her and Robert. As Cris made to leave, he gave me a hug and wished me strength. Under the circumstances, I still consider his simple gesture one of the kindest I have ever experienced.
Tom McKenny, previously advised that Marilou had left and was in hiding with Robert, happened to call shortly afterwards. I told him of the story. He attempted to discount it as “probably exaggerated.” I was too upset to press the issue.
Several days later Marilou called me for the first time since she left. She refused to divulge where she was staying. During our talk I advised her that Robert had told Valerie she left because I was physically and sexually abusing her. She immediately and belligerently defended Robert. Marilou claimed that Robert had already told her Valerie had made passes at him that he turned down, so Valerie was probably jealous and attempting to make trouble. During this discussion Marilou demanded a divorce and I hung up.
Over the next several days, Marilou contacted me several more times. Each time it was to demand a divorce. She refused to even tell me where she was. I knew she was somewhere in the area close by, as neighbors told me they had seen her with Robert around his house several times during the day since she left me.
Tom had told me, during our first talk several weeks earlier, that Robert was planning a solo summer cross-country RV trip to visit with his family and spend some time back in Seattle. He mentioned it on basis that with Robert out of the picture, Marilou and I would have the chance to reconcile. But on Wednesday June 20 I returned home to a message from Marilou waiting on my answering machine. She told me she was leaving the area for several months and would sign divorce papers when she returned. I looked out the window and saw that Robert’s RV, formerly parked in Cris and Valerie’s driveway, was now gone. Beth later confirmed that she had seen Robert and Marilou drive off in the RV earlier that day.
That night, I started to make phone calls to our family informing them of Marilou’s affair, and that she had now left me. The family members who had met Robert were double shocked at her choice of man. During one of my calls an in-law made what I consider a most insightful comment. After I described what had happened between Marilou and Robert, my in-law observed “Marilou is a deeply moral person. For him to get her into his bed, he must have walked her through the fires of hell.”