Folie a Deux, Episode 06Folie a Deux, Episode 06


This is the long-delayed finale of the story Folie a Deux. It’s been an awful long time coming, and it feels really good to put the last period on electronic paper.

This story includes an Epilogue, which some people might find anticlimactic. I have been sitting with these characters and having them tell me their stories for so long that I needed to do justice to them and bring them to conclusions. I’ve kept that section as brief as I could while saying what I needed to say.

Folie à Deux

Episode 6: A Million Pieces

By Senor Smut

Against a black screen we hear the familiar voice of a man. “Tolstoy gets credit for saying that all happy families are happy in the same way, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

We now see a closeup of a white man somewhere in his 40s. He is very handsome, with regular features, dark hair with a few strands of silver at the temples, and piercing blue eyes. He is wearing a gray shirt and, unlike in his previous appearances, a red tie; it looks natural and very good on him. His expression is thoughtful, intense, and perhaps a bit melancholy. Words appear at the bottom of the screen identifying him as Bob Larsen.

“He did say that,” he goes on, “but people understood that as far back as Aristotle. The same principle applies to other things, too. There’s one way to be smart and infinite ways to be stupid. There’s one way to be wise and infinite ways to be foolish. There’s one way to live honestly and a million ways to deceive…or be deceived. Or deceive yourself. If you’re enough of an idiot you can make all those mistakes at once.”

The screen goes black and we see a title card with white letters:

Folie à Deux

Episode 5: A Million Pieces

Several seconds later, that card disappears and is replaced by one reading:

August 28

Back to Bob, who goes on. “Emily and I got married when we were kids, basically. We were 20 years old when we met. It was a brief infatuation for both of us, and it had already ended when Emily learned she was pregnant with Mike. We stayed together and married because of that, but nobody thought we’d last long. Maybe not even us. We did, though. Olivia came along a little later. We stuck it out. We built a life with each other — around each other, around the kids. I thought we had what we wanted.” He pauses again, then adds, “I guess you can believe anything, as long as it’s what you want to believe. Right up until the moment you can’t anymore.”

We hear the voice of the English-accented male interviewer from episodes two and four, who asks, “What was that moment for you?”

“Coming home on a Friday evening and finding a pair of my wife’s panties on the laundry room floor, filled with cum I didn’t put there.”

“How did it make you feel?”

Bob curls his lips sardonically and gives a slight shake of his head. “Gee, I guess I’d have to say it didn’t make me very happy.”

“Can you be more specific?”

“It…it made me feel like I’d been punched. Like I’d been punched really hard by someone really strong. The air went out of me. I got dizzy. I didn’t know where I was for a few seconds. I just kept looking at my hand, sticky with someone else’s sperm. Then I ran to the sink and washed and washed and washed.”

“And then?”

Bob frowns. “It was all too much. I had too many things going through my head to make sense of any of them. I was in a daze. I took a broom and pushed her panties back between the washer and dryer, back where I’d found them. I’d come downstairs for some things for Emily and I got them, brought them up. I know we talked but I honestly can’t remember anything we said. I went upstairs to the little spare bedroom we used as a home office, shut the door, and just…stared.”

“You didn’t confront her?”

“I was in a daze.”

We cut to a white woman in her early 40s. She is utterly striking, with looks that could be taken from a Greek statue: square jaw, huge brown eyes, and stunning, perfectly formed lips around a broad mouth. Her nose is a bit out of proportion, large and prominent, but it does nothing to detract from her loveliness. Her blonde hair is frantically wavy and obviously unmanageable, tumbling down onto the shoulders of her pale blue blouse..

The name below her face reveals her to be Emily Larsen.

From this point until the end of the episode, we only see one person on screen at a time.

“I do remember the evening in question,” she tells us in a lovely, rich alto voice with a Midwestern accent. “I had finished making love with my son in his bedroom more than an hour before Bob got home.”

We now see a photo of a young man who looks like a cross between Bob and Emily, with much of his mother’s facial structure but with his father’s shockingly blue eyes and dark brown hair. It is labeled Mike Larsen.

Emily goes on. “I had put all the soiled clothes and bedclothes into the washer and had moved them to the dryer before bağdatcaddesi escort Bob returned. Bob had gone down the basement to fetch some things for me, and when he came back, he went upstairs. There was nothing unusual in that; he sometimes would spend an evening on the computer, the same as anyone else.

“What was unusual was when I went downstairs to take the things out of the dryer,” she continues. “I spotted the panties I had worn that day lying on the floor between the washing machine and the dryer. I had obviously dropped them there, and it gave me a moment of panic. That was the sort of foolish mistake that could get us caught. I concealed them in the hamper and thanked my lucky stars that my husband hadn’t seen them.” She pauses, and a faint, mirthless grin curls one corner of her mouth. “More the fool I.”

Back to Bob. “It was…ahhh…difficult to get my head straight. Emily’s behavior and her dress had changed a lot over the previous month or two. I’d noticed it and wondered whether she might be cheating, but there had never been a problem in 18 years of marriage. I mean, I was the one who cheated on her a couple of times years before, not the other way around. She’d never given me any indication that she was doing anything she shouldn’t. I wasn’t going to believe she was until I had proof. And once I had the proof…”

The ensuing pause stretches long enough that the interviewer finally asks, “Yes?”

Bob sighs. “Once I had the proof, I still didn’t believe it. Oh, I knew it was true, don’t get me wrong. The mess in those panties was irrefutable. But knowing it was true and believing it was true were two different things. It was going to take a while for head and heart to get onto the same page.”

“Did you have any idea who her paramour might have been?”

“No. Well…yes and no. I mean, I had ideas. She taught dance at the University and worked around a bunch of very very healthy men, some of whom had reputations. I could think of half a dozen of them who might have been responsible. She had students. We had neighbors, we had friends — look, Emily was a very beautiful woman. She drew attention. I was never ignorant of that fact. It could have been a lot of guys.”

“And you still did not suspect your son?”

“No. And this is the first time you guys have asked that question that I might conceivably have answered yes. But I still didn’t, because…well Christ, because. Almost literally any other guy in the world was a more likely suspect. And besides, the ‘who’ of it wasn’t even what was worrying me the most.”

“No? What did worry you?”

“The cum in those panties was there because it had run out of her body,” Bob explains. “A man had put it into her body. Emily couldn’t use birth control because she had bad reactions to it.”

“You were worried she might get pregnant?”

Bob nods grimly. “Very worried. I knew the marriage might survive infidelity. Hell, I’d cheated on her, I wasn’t preaching from high and dry moral ground. And…and it wasn’t as though our sex life could keep her satisfied if she had any drive.”

“Your sex life was…?”

“Nonexistent,” Bob supplied. “Or close enough to it. The physical attraction we’d shared when we first met had burned bright, but it had also burned out. Back when the kids were just born and very young, we were both too tired for anything anyway. Years passed, both of us exhausting ourselves with work and child care and daily life, and sex had just fallen off the table. Oh we still did it from time to time, but it was…nice. Just nice. Just something we’d do because we wanted each other to feel good. There was no passion, and there hadn’t been for a long time. If something — someone — had reawakened her sex drive, then it was understandable she’d look somewhere else to satisfy it.”


“But if she got pregnant with someone else’s kid, that’s a completely different ball game. Even if she got an abortion — and she was always a staunch supporter of abortion rights — it would still have been something I doubt I could have forgiven. Just knowing she’d been carrying another man’s child would have been a very wide river for me to cross.”

“But the sex itself wasn’t?”

Bob is quiet for a moment. “I loved Emily. I really did. It wasn’t a passionate love. It wasn’t a Hollywood love for the ages. But she was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I loved her, I admired her, she was my best friend. If the price of that was…was an open relationship, then I think I could have handled that. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have been challenging. It wouldn’t have been easy or comfortable at first. But if we’d had the conversation, if she’d have said that she wanted to get sex from somewhere else, if I was free to do the same, and at the end of the day we would be together because we loved each other and wanted each other to be happy…I could have been convinced.”

“But the person she wanted it with was your son.”

Bob says nothing.

We return beykoz escort to a thoughtful-looking Emily. “Even a perfectly fulfilling marriage can be a fragile thing. My marriage to Bob was not perfectly fulfilling. The further I went with Mike, the more we added emotional components to our sexual relationship, the more…the more we fell in love, the more it became obvious that my marriage was never going to give me what I needed.”

“You didn’t love your husband?” the interviewer asks.

“No, I did love Bob,” Emily says emphatically. “In a great many ways I still love Bob. He’s a very good man. Fairy tales tell you that all you need to last through any difficulty is love, but that is ridiculous. Love is a piece, but it is not the only piece. And besides — and more importantly — there are different sorts of love, and in different degrees.

“The simple fact was that Mike gave me more. More love, more lust, more passion, more enjoyment, more fulfillment, more happiness, more excitement, more tenderness, more compassion, more completion, more connection. Being with him, even simply watching television or cooking a meal with him, gave me a greater sense of wholeness than I had ever gotten from Bob.” Emily shrugs her shoulders eloquently. “I was beginning to think the most extraordinary thoughts.”

“Such as?”

“Such as my son and I possibly having a life together. Man and woman. Lovers. Husband and wife in all but name.” She pauses a moment, then adds, “Parents.”

“You were thinking of children with Mike?”

Emily nods slowly. “Yes. It was a thought that I was fighting against because it was fraught with difficulties, but I couldn’t be rid of it. It kept creeping into my mind at odd times…the thought of conceiving a child with Mike, feeling it grow inside me, bringing it into the world to be loved completely by me and my ideal man. After all, I was nearing 40, and the biological imperative is strong…irresistible at times.”

“Is that why you never practiced any form of safe sex?”

“Not at first. At first there simply wasn’t room in my mind for practical considerations when I was so taken with the newness of the relationship, the exhilaration of it. Eventually there came a point, though, when I could have insisted Mike begin to use condoms.”

“And you didn’t because you wanted him to make you pregnant?”

Emily shrugs again. “I told myself I didn’t because I’ve never liked the things. They’re uncomfortable to have inside me and decrease sensation for the man, no matter what the advertisements would have you believe. Besides, as a woman nears menopause, her fertility drops dramatically. I told myself there was no need to be careful because the chances of conception were dwindling by the day. But…those were excuses. Deep down, yes, I wanted a child with Mike. Children.”

We see Bob again. “There could have been another explanation. Maybe the guy she was with was infertile, or maybe he’d had a vasectomy. But even then, there’s disease to consider. It was irresponsible, even if the sex itself was understandable. It meant that she was already moving away from the marriage. In her heart, in her mind, the marriage wasn’t worth saving. It took me a few days to realize that, but I got there.”

Emily again, who speaks slowly, obviously considering every word before she says it. “When a married person finds passion outside of the marriage with a new partner, it is not necessarily a fatal blow to the marriage. But when that person finds love — let alone such a powerful love as Mike and I shared — then yes, the marriage is doomed. My marriage was doomed. I was becoming more and more conscious of the fact each day. One cannot imagine a future with someone other than one’s spouse and still have confidence in one’s marriage. There was no other way for things to end than how they did.”

“I spent the rest of the evening in the office,” Bob tells us. “I waited until Emily had gone to bed, then I went downstairs and turned on the TV. I was there when Mike and Olivia got home, and I stayed there when they went upstairs to sleep. I knew I couldn’t go lie in my marriage bed with Emily. I didn’t get a wink of sleep all night.”

Another black screen, this time with the words:

August 29 – September 21

Mike appears now, wearing a white button-down shirt with the collar open. “The hell of it is, mom and I had been really careful,” he tells us in his deep, certain voice. “We’d been going at it like dogs for weeks and all of a sudden we were backing way off. We were both horny all the time, but it was better than dad finding out.”

“Did you notice any difference in your father in the ensuing days?” the interviewer asks.

“Mmmm, no, not really. I wasn’t paying that much attention, honestly. College was going to start in a couple of weeks, I was still working my summer job, Olivia was still robbing me blind to keep her mouth shut.”

We see a photograph of a lovely young woman of obvious parentage. She is wearing a maroon Boston caddebostan escort College jersey and carrying a lacrosse stick. She is identified as Olivia Larsen.

“One phase of my life was ending and anoter was beginning,” he goes on as we see him again. “And that’s not even counting the fact that most of my mental processes were taken up by mom. I didn’t have room for much else. Which…doesn’t mean I wasn’t starting to feel more guilty about what we were doing. Not, you know, not guilty about doing it, but after Olivia’s interventions, I couldn’t ignore the fact that what mom and I were doing was damaging the rest of the family. It wasn’t enough to make me stop what we were doing, but then nothing short of guns to our heads would have stopped us. It just made me aware that we were being selfish dicks.”

Bob again, who says, “During the next few days, as the shock wore off, I was starting to piece things together. I wasn’t piecing them together correctly, but I was putting them in a pattern that was believable to me. At first I thought that Emily’s affair had begun either at or right before the 4th of July party at her department chair’s house, since that was when her behavior started to change. That made me think it was someone at the party that she was messing with, probably a coworker. But then I started thinking about the accident that started everything, when she and Mike were driving out to California for the wedding. There had been weeks of tension between them after that, and then suddenly it resolved and they were happy with each other, spending more time together, being really affectionate. I remember thinking, ‘It’s almost like she’s having an affair with Mike,’ but I immediately dismissed it because that’s insane.”

“What did you think was going on instead?”

The question earns another sardonic grin from Bob. “I built a little narrative in my head. I decided that it was likely that Emily was having an affair before the trip. On the drive, Mike found out about it somehow and they argued, and it was her distraction during that argument that caused the crash. They stayed angry until something happened — I thought maybe Mike saw that she was happier and the marriage wasn’t in danger — and then he got OK with it. They bonded over a shared secret. He was helping her cover it up.”

“A reasonable supposition.”

“For something that’s wrong in every particular, sure, perfectly reasonable.” He pauses for a beat, then adds, “And it’s still more probable than what actually happened.”

“How did that make you feel about Mike?”

“At first I resented him for not telling me, but that didn’t last long. I wasn’t even sure what was going on, and it’s stupid to resent someone for something that they’ve only done in your head. Besides, I thought about how I would have reacted if I was 18 and I’d found out one of my parents was cheating on the other, and I’m pretty sure I’d have buried my head and done my best to pretend I didn’t know a thing. If I was right and he had confronted Emily about it, well, good for him. Later, I had yelled at him to resolve the tensions between him and his mother, so if he was doing that by covering up her affair, it…wasn’t ideal, but hell, he’d done what I’d told him to. They weren’t angry at each other all the time anymore. You can’t expect an 18 year old kid to always make good calls. And I figured he wasn’t the one cheating on me, so why should I be mad at him?”

“What about Olivia? Did you notice any change in her behavior?”

“All I noticed was that she was spending a lot more time away from the house and had a lot of new things — clothes and shoes mostly, lots of shoes. I assumed she had a boyfriend she wasn’t telling us about, someone old enough to be out of high school. I confess I wasn’t a very good father then, because that’s definitely something a parent ought to talk to a child about, but I let it ride. She was a smart, strong kid, and I didn’t have the energy to focus on anything that didn’t look like an emergency.”

“How long did this period last?”

“Period of…”

“Of thought, of consideration, of not taking action.”

Bob frowns. “It lasted until the third week of September or so. But of course, things weren’t standing still waiting for me to make up my mind, were they?”

Mike again. “I started college the day after Labor Day.”

“Which is?” the English interviewer asks.

“First Monday in September,” Mike chuckles. “That year the first Monday was on the 7th, which meant I started on September 8th. And anybody who’s ever started college can tell you how that makes you feel like you’re in a different world. Up until then you’ve had everything fed to you, everything handed to you. College is a different vibe — mine was, anyway. There was a kind of a…frisson in the air, like this dog-eat-dog mentality that came out even during orientation and the first few classes.”

“Were you a good student?”

“Yeah, I was a really good student. I still am, false modesty aside. My grades were good all through school. I’d earned a scholarship to my college that was supposed to include on-campus housing, but they’d fucked that up on their end so there wasn’t a dorm room for me. I had to live at home, which honestly was fine with me, given how intense my relationship with mom was.”

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