People never cease to amaze me...
A few days after working my first official case, I was contacted by a rather frantic woman. She claimed her husband was having an affair. I told her I could help with that and agreed to meet her right away. We discussed the case and she gave me all of the details. Her husband, Rick, had been spending a lot of late nights away. He would claim he was at the bar with friends but she did not believe him.
One night, while going through the laundry, she found a pair of red panties that did not belong to her. Her heart sank, utterly crushed. There was no more denying it. Rick was having an affair. Naturally, Jenny confronted him about it. Instead of owning up to it, he lied once again. He said he had no idea what they were and insisted they must have been an older pair of hers she forgot about. "They aren't even my size, Rick." she told him. In fact, they were bigger than her size. Jenny had never been a bigger woman, they could not possibly be hers.
The suspicion drove her mad. She knew Rick was lying about the affair but couldn't prove it. That's where I came in. She wanted me to snap a photo of Rick committing adultery so she could finally confront him about it. Jenny said they might see a marriage counselor and try and put the broken pieces back together.
I accepted, of course, and went about my routine. With my camera and other items, I went about tailing him one Friday night. He did, in fact, go to the bar and hang out with some friends. I started to wonder if he was telling the truth after all, though it didn't explain the underwear.
Around nine at night, he climbed in his car and drove off down the road. This is where I would catch him. I picked up my cell phone and called Jenny. "He's leaving the bar right now. Give him a call and see what he tells you." She did. He said he was still at the bar with his friends. Now I knew something was up.
Rick pulled up to a club that I didn't recognize and gathered up what looked like a duffel bag. A few minutes later, he walked inside the club. After a few minutes, I realized I had to go inside. Unfortunately, I would have to ditch my camera and rely on my smart phone. No big deal. It would get the job done.
I walked up to the front door and started to notice something peculiar. There was a major shortage of women walking in and out of the club. Shrugging, I stepped inside. Then it hit me like a semi-truck. I was stepping foot in a gay bar. Maybe he was having an affair after all, but with a man? I pushed further into the club, looking for Rick.
I approached the bar and ordered a drink. The bartender politely mixed the drink and slapped it down in front of me. Taking a sip, I pulled out my phone and showed him a photo of Rick. "I'm looking for this guy. His name is Rick. You wouldn't happen to have seen him, would you?" I realized I was acting too much like a cop but it didn't matter. The man's eyes lit up, then he smiled.
"Yes and no," he said. "He doesn't go by Rick here, though."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
Again, he smiled and pointed over towards the main stage. Taking my drink, I wandered over. A crowd of people gathered around the stage as if waiting for a show. The lights dimmed and a fog filled the stage. People cheered and hollered. I scanned as many faces as I could but didn't see Rick, or whatever alias he went by in the club.
"Please welcome to the stage," an announcer called. "Lady Lori!"
The crowd went wild. I stared at the curtain as a man dressed in drag emerged. It was Rick. I recognized him right away. He wore a red lingerie outfit with a long, flowing white wrap. He danced around the stage and put on quite a show. I snapped a picture with my phone and slowly made my way out of the club. I wasn't sure if Jenny would be relieved or angry to learn he dressed in drag and performed for men. At least he wasn't having an affair.
I waited with her until Rick got home. He stepped inside and saw me. Hesitating for a moment, he looked upset. "Jenny, who is this man?" He almost seemed jealous and hurt.
"He's a private detective I hired to follow you. After I found the underwear, I couldn't get passed it. Why didn't you just come clean about it? Why did you make me do this?"
"Honey, I don't know what this man has been telling you, but he's lying. I'm not having an affair."
"Oh, I know, Lady Lori." She held up her phone with a picture of him mid-dance, half naked in bright red lingerie.
He seemed taken aback by this and hung his head in shame. She had learned his "terrible" secret and he was surely afraid she would leave him for it. I remained silent and watched it all unfold. "I admit it. The panties you found were mine. I dress in drag and go to the G-bar downtown. It makes me feel special. I don't know. I'm not gay, though. And I'm not having an affair!"
Tears welled in her eyes and she ran to him. She threw her arms around his neck and planted a kiss on his lips. "I don't care. As long as you're not having an affair. If this is who you really are, I want to be there with you. I want to support you."
Now, he looked shocked. Not a lot of women would have understood. I wasn't completely sure if I did. But I was glad she accepted him for who he was. Saying my good-byes, I walked out into the night and headed home. It seemed the cases I had taken so far were never as they appeared at first.
Evan Bond, author of To the Wolves and Death Can Wait, is a thriller/suspense author. When not writing, he can be found hiking or camping in the beautiful state of Florida.