The simple explanation would be that my husband and I were married, I started to work nights, he couldn’t live with that, and we got divorced. Simple as that. But the real story has more to it. The real story is what saw me holding a reference note from my husband in the middle of the street outside our house, the rain sticking my clothes to me. Him inside, sitting at his desk. The real story is this.
Just after my husband and I married I finished my studies and got my first job, a low paying job with bad hours. For this job, I would be working at night. My husband didn’t like this, with him working days and all, as we got to see a lot less of each other. One day I said to my husband that he sould come in and visit me at work because it’s at night and no one is there but me so maybe he should come in and have my dinner break with me. I showed him the office, the deserted desks where people worked all day, computer screen savers lighting up small family photos and cheap ornaments. My husband said that he’d been missing me at home and kissed my neck. My husband said he’d always wanted to have sex at work, up against the photocopier, like those office party stories. He lifted my skirt up, bunched it up onto my hips, his belt jingling to his ankles. And no-one else is around at night, except us. The adrenalin rush at the risk of getting caught having sex in the workplace He unbottoned my work shirt, dropped his underwear to his ankles. And he took me under the flickering flourescent tube light above.
It was two days later at work when my husband called. He asked if there was anyone there, if maybe he could come have dinner break with me again. I laughed, told him no, that was a once off. He called again the next night, same thing, said he really liked it, having sex in the workplace, that he didn’t know what it was about it. He called the next night too. Said he was out and it was on his way home, if I wanted him to stop by. Said that he missed seeing my beautiful eyes. He always said he loved my eyes, always said they demanded attention. That he could get lost staring into them.
On a weekend was when it started, when we were at home. My husband was kissing my skin, unbuttoning my jeans, lifting his t-shirt off. My husband led me into the bedroom, lay me down, took his pants off then stopped, looked around the room for a second. He turned the computer in the corner of the bedroom on, let it go to screen saver, then returned to me, slid my underwear off over my ankles. He said nothing about this. Afterwards, I watched the animated screen light up a photo of us that sat by the keyboard. My husband was asleep, his breath on my naked shoulder.
This is when it started.
My husband rang me at work again that week, asked if he could come in. I told him, no, not laughing this time, told him it was seriously a once off, and that it would not happen again. He asked if I was sure. He asked if maybe he could just come in for a little while. No, I told him. He told me agina how he really liked having sex in the office, how he couldn’t explain it. He rang two more times that week, then stopped.
There was a water cooler in my loungeroom when I came home. A water cooler, just like the one at work. It was humming and bubbling to itself over next to the counch against the wall. Tiny plastic cups waiting to be used. My husband walked by me, said hello, then went straight to the water cooler, filled a plastic cup.
‘It came in yesterday, do you like it?’ He asked.
‘Baby, why do we need a water cooler, we have water taps here’
‘Yeah, but not this spring water stuff, I watched TV report on it, it’s really good for you.’
‘But we don’t drink that much water’
‘That’s right, not enough. I’ll bet you use the one at work though, cause it’s there. Well, now there’s one here too, just like it.’ My husband took a sip, let out a satisfied ‘ahh’.
On saturday morning my husband woke up at eight thirty. He had showered and was dressed in his business suit, straightening his tie in the mirror.
‘Where are you going?’ I, half awake, asked.
‘Oh, no where, just making sure I look nice for my lady’ He smiled over at me. The computer behind him was turned on, it’s screen saver darting across the monitor. There was a new whiteboard up on the wall beside it.
‘I’m gonna’ do some paperwork today, bills and stuff, what are you going to do Mrs. Butler?’ With my eyes still half open, I stared back at him. I said nothing about this. I stumbled into the hallway, past the bathroom which smelled of fresh deodorant, and stubbed my toe on a box. My husband came to me, hearing my cursing it’s presence.
‘Oh, sorry about that honey, I’ll make sure it’s moved ASAP.’ As the pain flooded reality to me two things flashed into my mind. The first was, why the hell was there a box for a photocopier in my hallway?
The second, why did my husband just say ‘ASAP’?
Later that night, my husband, still in his business suit, he ran his hand along my skin in the kitchen.
‘Oh, Mrs. Butler’, he whispered to me, his hand now moving along my thigh. ‘Mrs. Butler, I need to see you.’ His words tingled onto my neck. My husband turned me to face him, kissed me, then stepped back, smiled.
‘Meet me in my office, Mrs. Butler.’
‘Why are you calling me that?’
‘Just go with it baby, for me.’ He said, leading the way. My husband strode into our bedroom, loosened the tie around his neck, put something into the new photocopier then turned to me.
‘Mrs. Butler, we need to talk. It’s about your dress sense.’ I looked down at myself, a t-shirt loose across my body, tracksuit pants for around the house.
‘What are you…?’
‘Please, baby,’ My husband broke out of his character for a moment. ‘Just go with it’. And though I could not justify it in my mind, he looked so happy. So excited. His obsession with sex in the workplace was overflowing slightly, but maybe this once it would be okay. Maybe.
‘So, Mrs. Butler, you are really not meeting the dress standards of our office.’ My husband leaned back on the photocopier, the bright light sliding across beneath the lid.
‘I am sorry, Mr. Butler.’ I said, playing the role. ‘Very sorry.’
‘Well’ My husband picked up a plastic cup from by the copier. ‘I’m going to have to ask you to take that t-shirt off.’
The photocopier beeped. It’s job was done.
It was another week before things took the next step. Our bedroom was now flooded with paper trays, stationery and pictures of cartoon which had things like ‘Don’t ever give up’ and ‘I hate Mondays’ written on them. My husband called me into his office early, criticised my clothing, then told me to pay some bills. Immediately.
‘Look, you’re starting to…’
‘Babe,’ My husband reasoned. ‘Please, just go with it.’ And he kissed my forehead. ‘Now, pay those bills or we may have to have a serious talk.’
The TV in the lounge room was on the news channel. always on the news channel, no exceptions. The photocopier was noisily flashing back and forth in the corner. The water coolrt bubbling. And here we were, in what was once our home. Now, a workplace that produced nothing. My husband CEO of the Nothing Corporation, sitting at his desk. He asked me ‘What are you getting up to on the weekend?.’ My husband, who I loved.
He’d ordered two new computers for the kitchen.
On a Thursday my husband called me into the office, criticised my clothes, then sat me down.
‘Our business is expanding.’ He told me. ‘Our needs becoming more diverse. So, it’s time we took the next step.’
‘Okay, look, this has gone…’
‘Please be quiet, Mrs. Butler.’ My husband snapped. ‘Now, I have ordered a new desk and have placed an ad in the paper this week.’ My husband, the CEO, flipped a newspaper in front of me, a job ad highlighted.
Secretary/Admin. Must be confident, professional in appearance, have good typing speed (60 WPM) and have eyes that demand attention. Call during business hours.
‘What?’ I stood over him. ‘A secretary? What for? We don’t have an actual business here. You’ve gone too far with this. I mean, you’re starting to lose your grip.’
‘No, don’t do it. Just stop with this. Babym I love you, but this is too much. I mean, what is a secretary going to do?’
‘Mrs. Butler.’ y husband spoke calmly.
‘No, no more Mrs. Butler. That’s it. I’m done with this. this is our home.’ My husband stood staring at me, then looked around the office.
‘You’re done with this?’ He asked, looking at what was once our bedroom. ‘You’re done, Mrs. Butler?’ His eyes met mine. ‘You’re done?’ He yelled. ‘Fine. You’re fired.’
For a moment I struggled for words.
‘Fired, Mrs. Butler, you can pack your things, I will give you a good letter of reference. Good luck.’
And that’s how it happened. Me standing in the rain, a reference note from the CEO of nothing in my hand. Him working away inside. The real story. I never saw him again. But I have seen his ad in the paper, still looking for the perfect business partner to share his empire with. Someone with eyes that demand attention. He changed one thing on it though. It now has a title, his little job ad, in bold print above the description:
‘Seeking Mrs. Butler.’