“He thinks that since I can’t see him, he’s safe,” Tamara said, “but I know what he’s doing.
“I get home, and there’s the phone cord running under the bathroom door. Does he think I’m stupid or something?” She asked.
Tamara was engaged to a man she didn’t trust, that much was certain. Why she was seeking advice from a pair of losers was less clear. She suspected her fiancée of cheating, but wanted a second opinion. By way of bribery, she invited her cousin Jason and his good friend – Me – to coffee.
“You’re jumping to conclusions,” Jason said. “Maybe he’s talking to a friend. It could be completely innocent. Maybe he’s being secretive because he doesn’t want you jumping to conclusions.”
I felt uneasy giving Tamara advice on this matter. Despite the fact that Jason and I were both older, we knew nothing about relationships. Tamara had had her fair share of dates before she’d met Derrick, and before that when she lived in Tennessee. Jason was dating a woman for the first time in four years. I was just chronically undateable.
“Why don’t you just ask him?” I asked. “If you confront him directly, that may just work, won’t it?”
Tamara looked at me without responding. She had a way of doing that. For someone three years my junior, she had a way of making me feel like a naïve child. The look she gave me spoke volumes; it made clear just how unsophisticated she thought I was.
“That won’t work,” Jason said into his coffee cup. “Why should he tell the truth? She hasn’t really caught him doing anything.”
“And even then, he’s not the type to admit it. He has to be caught red-handed,” Tamara added.
I found this all quite puzzling. If he can’t be trusted, and he can’t be accused, then why was she engaged to him?
I couldn’t keep from asking. “So you’re saying you don’t trust him, and you think he would lie to you. Why are you marrying him, then?”
There was that look again. This time she spoke, though. “Do you really know that little about love?” she asked.
“I know a lot more about trust,” I answered peevishly, “and honour. Here you are suspecting your future husband of being a cheat and a liar. Confront him about it and get it over with.”
Tamara didn’t answer. It was as if my suggestion made no sense to her.
“Not a good idea,” said Jason simply.
“Yeah,” added Tamara, “It could hurt our relationship. We’re not even married yet. I don’t want to start things off that way.”
I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She was so worried about losing face that she was unwilling to risk an argument over her suspicions.
“You could put a splitter on,” suggested Jason. “Just add another phone, hide it, and pick up when he sneaks off to make his call.”
And that’s just what Tamara did. She got Jason’s help in installing a splitter on her phone jack. They bought a small second phone, attached it, turned off its ringer and hid it.
She found that her suspicions were justified. Derrick was seeing another woman. Tamara was devastated.
— — —
The next time I saw Tamara and Jason, we were riding the Metro. It was a dull Saturday afternoon, and we were on our way to a movie. The train car was nearly empty, except for a group of high-school kids and a blind man with his seeing-eye dog.
“I can’t believe he would do something like this to me.” Tamara moaned.
“What did you hear?” I asked softly, trying to reduce our conversation volume on the quiet train.
“They were going on about meeting up and going away for the weekend. They’re probably doing it when I go home to visit my parents.”
There was a pause in our conversation as the train pulled into a station. The blind man’s dog seemed very uneasy. It placed its head on the carped and whined almost inaudibly. No one seemed to notice. No new passengers boarded the train when the doors opened.
“So why didn’t you bust him then and there?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied dolefully. “I just don’t know what to do.”
“Are you just gonna let them do that?” Jason asked. “Who knows how many times they’ve met up already.”
“I know. I know,” said Tamara miserably. “Don’t you think I’ve thought about that? I just don’t know what to do!”
The blind man’s dog was whimpering again, this time louder than before. The train was pulling into another station. This time its noise got everyone’s attention.
“Is your dog okay?” Tamara asked the man.
“She’s fine,” the blind man replied pleasantly. “She just gets excited when we ride the train. She doesn’t like being underground; it confuses her.” The man knelt and touched his dog tenderly, and she seemed to calm down a bit. She was still uneasy, and her big brown eyes refused to be still.
Her curiosity assuaged, Tamara went back to her dilemma as the train arrived and departed the station. “What do you think I should do?” she asked, her question directed more to Jason than me.
I was determined not to offer any advice this time, and it seemed that Tamara was in no mood to hear it. I returned my attention to the confused dog. The poor creature was clearly uncomfortable on the train, but performed dutifully. Her noises not only expressed her fear, they also alerted her owner vocally whenever they approached a station. I watched the dog attentively, as which each approaching stop, the her noises got louder. Finally, she jumped to her feet and released a loud bark. The blind man held firmly to the dog’s harness and at the next station, the pair exited the train.
“So, anyway,” Jason continued. “How are you going to follow him? He’ll recognize your car pretty quickly.”
Apparently, during my reverie, Tamara and Jason had concocted a plan. She would not go to Tennessee to see her parents, but would instead go to a local girlfriend’s place. She would stake out their apartment in this friend’s car, and follow her fiancée when he left for his rendezvous.
“Now why would you do something like that?” I asked before realizing. “Why can’t you just bust him based on what you’ve already heard? He’s already sneaking. Why do you have to sneak to catch him?”
“I have to see her for myself,” she said. “I need to see who I’m sharing his love with.”
“Why?” I asked. Maybe I didn’t know anything about love.
“Because I need to know if she’s better than me,” she answered.
— — —
So, Tamara followed her plan. She bought a plane ticket, planned her trip, and even had Derrick take her to the airport. Her best friend picked her up an hour or so after she kissed her fiancée goodbye. She borrowed a car and staked out the apartment. From her phone surveillance, she knew exactly when he would be going out, but not where. That night, when Derrick left in his car, she followed closely.
There was one thing she didn’t expect. Derrick recognized the borrowed car as Tamara’s girlfriend’s, and a chase ensued. Unfamiliar with her car, Tamara lost control and crashed into a lamppost.
Derrick saw the accident in his rear-view mirror and rushed to help. He was shocked to find Tamara unconscious behind the wheel. He didn’t wait for an ambulance and drove her to the hospital.
For the most part, she was okay, but she suffered a concussion and glass from the windshield had flown into her eyes. Her right eye was fine, but the glass damaged her left, leaving it with only 20% vision.
— — —
Five months after the accident, Tamara and Derrick got married. I wasn’t invited to the wedding, but Jason told me it was beautiful. Derrick never asked her why she was in the car that night, but I would guess he knows.
According to Jason, Derrick continued his secret phone calls, but Tamara just ignored them. He eventually got a mobile phone, so now no one really knows what he’s doing.
I’ve spoken to Tamara several times since her wedding. She’s blissfully happy, but when I asked her if she ever confronted Derrick with her evidence, she was in no mood to talk. Jason told me that she never dealt with the issue. It’s as if losing her left eye has made her completely blind.