Three Years Ago . . .
The late afternoon sun was still warm that day as Vanessa crossed
the parking lot; swinging her trendy brown recycled grocery bag and
clicking her high heels on the pavement. She had skipped out of work
early hoping to have time to stop at the market, pick up her two
daughters from her parents' house in the Flats, and be home before her
husband, Scott, returned from a three-day business trip. It promised to be
a perfect spring night for grilling the steaks she just bought and there was
a special bottle of red wine waiting at home.
Checking her phone for the time as she approached her SUV, she
noticed a missed call. If the woman in front of her with eleven items in
the eight items or less line had played by the rules she wouldn't have
missed her husband's call. Cursing the supermarket with its spotty
reception, Vanessa dropped the bag down on the passenger side and slid
in across the sun-warmed seat.
Dialing her voicemail, she listened to Scott’s familiar deep, yet
road-weary, voice telling her the meeting didn’t go as planned and he had
to stay another night. She listened with a frown as he said he missed her
and the girls and couldn’t wait to get home tomorrow. Vanessa felt for
him and thought the girls would be disappointed – but wasn’t that the life
of a regional salesman? It had been harder to close deals lately and his
time away from home had been increasing, like it did a few years ago.
Automatically she shook her head to force those thoughts from her mind.
They had shared nine years of marriage. Most were okay, the last
few not so good. But what marriage doesn’t have some ups and downs?
They were in their prime, had two beautiful children, good health, great
jobs, and lived in an affluent community with friends close by. What
happened a year ago had just been her own insecurities, or so she was
told – constantly.
The Dating Intervention
The phone chirped again as she was listening to the end of his
message, alerting her to another call that must have just come in. Hitting
delete, she moved on to the new message. In less than ten seconds, she
realized her husband was the no-good, lying snake she had suspected all
Listening to the second message she heard Scott's voice again.
Stronger and happier this time, if not slightly distracted by traffic, saying,
"Hey honey, it’s me. I told my wife I had to stay in New York tonight but
I'm heading back to Boston now. I should be able to pick you up by six.
Oh shit." Click. Silence. The coward wasn't even smart enough to wait
and go through the prompts to delete his own message but, being
flustered, hung up saving his lie for her to hear.
Vanessa stared blindly at her dashboard before her stunned brain
turned to anger and she realized she was very hot either from the rage
coursing through her veins or the simple fact that she had not started the
car to lower the windows. Her hand forcefully turned the key in the
ignition and the engine roared to life, all the windows racing downward.
Anger quickly slid that slippery slope into a deep blackness of utter fury.
Fury was good. Vanessa’s typically controlled and refined ways gave out
to her hot-blooded Italian nature. She would finally do something about
this troubled marriage.
Quickly she swung the SUV out of the supermarket’s lot onto Main
Street, cutting off a car in the process. Her foot pushed down on the gas
pedal, speeding through her quiet little town north of Boston, heading to
her house on west side hill.
Punching her speed dial, Vanessa's first call was to her father.
Struggling to keep her voice calm she asked him to keep the girls
overnight and promised she would explain later. Let him think it was a
work emergency for now, if he knew what was going on he would be at
the house when Scott got there and she wanted a piece of him first.
Her neighbors were next on her list. Darcy was her first call and the
second was to her next-door neighbor Barbara. Although she would
prefer to call her close friends, she knew her neighbors were a better
choice at the moment given their proximity.
Expertly maneuvering her SUV up the winding cul-de-sac, tires
squealing, she saw Darcy up ahead jogging across her front yard. Barbara
was already waiting on Vanessa's front porch, her arms crossed in front
of her tall, thin frame like she was the one waiting for Scott. Vanessa
The Dating Intervention
pulled into the driveway like a crazy woman, slamming the car into park
and jumping out; adrenaline running through her veins.
“How much time do we have?" asked Darcy, or it might have been
Barbara, she didn't know or care at the moment.
“My guess is an hour.” Not knowing who "honey" was or where she
lived, she only knew he would be in the Boston area by six o'clock. From
the many past accusations of infidelity, she expected Scott would rush in
with a plausible explanation, words of love, and looks of indignation, as
soon as possible.
Immediately the three women took action. “I'll call a locksmith.”
Darcy yelled out. She was sure it was Darcy this time as her brain
registered her neighbor with a phonebook in hand.
“Okay, Barbara, come with me – we are going to get rid of
everything of his from this house!” The two women raced up the stairs to
start in the bedroom.
Darcy stood at the bottom of the stairs, still holding the phone and
peering through the window next to the front door keeping a lookout.
“Where does he keep his clubs?” Darcy yelled up the stairs. In the
bedroom, Barbara was opening the two front windows as Vanessa
grabbed clothing from his bureau drawers. They turned to each other and
both women smiled. It was the first smile since discovering he was
cheating and it felt good on her face. Vanessa yelled back, “Great idea,
Darcy! In the garage!”
Two hours after that fateful voicemail error, Scott’s black Audi
raced up the curved, tree-lined street. The car immediately slowed as the
disaster on his front lawn came into view and he pulled the car to a stop
at an angle to the curb. Jumping out, Scott jogged around the car to the
lawn, looking shocked at the mess and screaming for Vanessa.
The front yard looked like a marital war zone. Clothes, shoes, golf
clubs, and everything else Scott owned covered their well-manicured
lawn. With every door and window locked and dead-bolted on the first
floor, Vanessa watched from an open second floor window as he ran
across the lawn and tried to enter the front door.
“Vanessa!” Bang, bang, bang. Scott's fist pounded on the midnight
blue front door. “Let me in!” Bang, bang. “This is ridiculous and you
know it! I can explain everything, honey!!”
Vanessa remained quiet in her perch, watching as he stepped back
off the front porch and looked up. Still in his white shirt and tie from his
The Dating Intervention
business meeting, the shirt accentuated his typically handsome face as it
turned from red to purple with frustration. Watching him bend down to
grab red striped boxers off the lawn she smiled with some satisfaction of
what they were able to accomplish in a short period of time.
“Where are my girls? Are they in there, Vanessa? Let me in!”
Leaning her chin on her folded hands, she stared down nonchalantly
which just enraged him. Scott stamped his foot on the stone walkway like
a child having a temper tantrum.
“I just want to talk to you!” He yelled, tightly clenching his striped
boxers in his hand. “This is MY house, do you hear me?” His Italian
loafer kicked at the wooden box that held his watches and cufflinks;
contents flying up in the air and settling into the deep, lush grass. He bent
over to retrieve what he could and losing all control he screamed, “You
are being a complete bitch!”
The floodgates opened and Scott only stopped screaming when he
finally grasped that Vanessa was not going to respond. Looking around,
he realized a group of neighbors had gathered across the street to watch
the show; all finding the need to walk their dogs at the same time. Scott
picked up his golf clubs, replaced them into the Nike golf bag and
lovingly placed the bag in the trunk.
Thousand dollar suits were stuck in the trees and hanging on bushes
like some deranged fashion designers decorating scheme. Boxer shorts
dangled from the lamppost at the end of the walkway and his cashmere
sweaters were lying in puddles in the driveway that came mostly from
the sprinkler, with some assistance from Darcy and a handy garden hose.
Muttering to himself, he gathered his clothes as quickly as possible
under the scrutiny of Barbara and Darcy standing at the end of the
driveway with looks to kill. Darcy encouraged Champ, their prized Great
Dane, to lift his leg and relieve himself copiously on the hood and grill of
“Jesus Christ! Darcy? Control that beast!” He yelled, pointing at her
dog. Darcy waved with a triumphant smile on her face, seemingly
oblivious to her dog. Barbara laughed, which provoked him even more.
Scott shoved everything he could into the duffle bag and carry-on
he had found in the bushes, and what he couldn’t fit he threw into the
trunk and backseat.
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