It took 50 years for me to find out who I had married. He failed to inform me that he was a polygamist. The other two wives on opposite ends of the country were as clueless as me about his other families. I only knew him to be a sales manager who worked for a nebulous privately-owned company that supposedly required him to travel several states and be home very little over the course of a year.
I imagine the other women were told a similar version of his long line of lies and just as dumbfounded when they received a phone call requesting someone claim his body in a Cincinnati morgue. The airport there was a connecting hub for his travels, and a security agent found his body slumped in a chair. Apparently he was waiting for a flight, but I don’t know which family he was en route to see. In retrospect, I don’t care. This fatal layover represented poetic justice.
This triple-life must have kept Jacob on his toes and exhausted most of the time. A busy schedule and his web of deceit surely precipitated his ultimate heart attack.
The wife in Utah was the only one who found it in her heart to pick up his worthless remains in Ohio. I considered not going to the memorial service out in Salt Lake City but wanted to meet the women who’d also been duped by Jacob. Come to find out, he had several children with Mrs. Utah, but she was nowhere near as upset about his duplicity (triplicity?) as me or the wife in New Hampshire. Maybe it had something to do with being Mormon, that whole sister-wife thing.
His grown children had kids of their own, although none of them minded the discovery of multiple families much. Just another fact of life for them. I suppose they thought ‘the more the merrier.’
Not so with me or my east coast counterpart. We were livid to find out the years we’d spent as Jacob’s wives were not as they appeared. If it wasn’t bad enough I’d spent days and months on end wondering whether my spouse was safe in the city where he claimed to be working (cell phones were not his thing), the times he was home were just as circumspect. His freshly laundered clothes and pressed boxer shorts never ceased to amaze me.
At the risk of making such a sexist judgement, no man — especially one continuously on the road — could be that neat. Early on I speculated, much like Jerry Seinfeld claimed people used to assume about him, whether my husband was gay. Since he was both thin and neat, I thought he must be gay. While I was glad to not have done his chores, it struck me how he spent so much money at the professional laundry. Little did I know the wife in Utah kept him in clean clothes.
His lies were only uncovered much later after his dilapidated body was retrieved from the Midwest and taken to the Great Salt Flats. Jacob deserved to be buried out there in nothingness. Maybe his Mormon wife would visit his desert grave, but not me. I was suspicious of him then and despised him now – would despise him for eternity. Maybe Joseph Smith would’ve approved of his earthly behavior, but not me.
My resentment followed me all the way out West to attend his service, and I went only out of a morbid curiosity as to what those other wives were like. Meeting them might quell the insatiable rage inside me at having fallen for such a blatant misrepresentation of what I thought constituted my 50-year marriage. Such a fool I’d been!
The one from New Hampshire felt much the same as me, realized upon our commiseration at the funeral home in a nice Salt Lake City suburb. She also felt betrayed, but we set aside our shame in deference to the Utah wife who arranged the memorial. She was gracious enough to pay for Jacob’s burial, so we conceded to not make a scene and embarrass her in front of her religious community. We sat in the back row and bit our tongues, wishing to not raise any awareness of our relationship to the deceased.
I felt a smug pride in being able to rise above the circumstances and keep my mouth shut. Jacob had to explain his misgivings in life to his maker, not the wives he’d wronged. It wasn’t my place to punish him for eternity, as much as he deserved to pay.
A man dressed all in black arrived and sashayed to the front of the chapel, his exaggerated wails echoing throughout the sanctuary. Every eye in the room turned to watch the demonstrous display as the gentleman approached the casket. He was thin, as neat as a pin in his seer-sucker suit, and he choked back mournful sobs and pulled a silk handkerchief from the front jacket pocket to staunch a great flow of tears. He was clearly in mourning, and anyone who didn’t know better would think he had also just lost his spouse.
*This fictional post was prompted by #GetYourWriteOn at Indie Chick Lit.