When Plotting Revenge-byj267|
When plotting revenge, first dig two graves...
I first heard this saying at the ripe old age of twenty-five, when an early career mentor offered the sage advice in an attempt to defuse my anger. He was successful, and a few weeks later when I looked back on the affront, I realized that it had indeed been minor. The advice stayed with me, and numerous times after, when feeling attacked, I would take comfort in the words. In fact, I ended up using it as something of a safe spot, as I would often convince myself that I was being the mature professional by letting go of the slight, whether it was perceived or real.
I met my wife, Mary Helen, whom I simply call Helen, when I was twenty-seven and she was twenty-five. We hit it off pretty fast, finding we shared the same likes and carried similar opinions in most areas. It helped that she was a very attractive young woman that met most of the characteristics I liked. She is a tallish 5'8" and slender, with long lovely legs that end at a wonderfully toned butt. In addition, she has raven hair, dark brown eyes and full juicy lips. To top it off, she has a cute, impish way of smiling that always disarms me. Similarly, I think she likes how I am put together. She is always quick to say that she likes bigger guys, and at six-foot and one hundred and ninety pounds, I certainly fit that description. Still, I would call myself more rugged than handsome, quite happy to have her as the looks winner in the family.
Our dating progressed to the serious stage quite swiftly, as I think both of us were ready to settle down. So, thirteen months after our initial introduction we were standing at the altar of the Catholic Church, saying our vows. The next seven years seemed to fly by, and we were blessed with two wonderful children, our son Greg and our daughter Sally. Things seemed damn near perfect, and besides success in our family life, my career was also doing quite well. I had left the corporate world two years after we got married, and with Helen's full support, had started my own business. Amazingly, it had proved successful almost from the start, and we were now doing quite well. Actually, we were doing better than well, which had allowed my wife to quit her job and concentrate on the family. In addition, she was active in the church and did some volunteer work with several non-profits for fun.
Our success had also allowed us to afford nice things and during our marriage we had progressed from our initial apartment, through a starter home to the large residence we now enjoyed. It had been almost a perfect run, and looking back, I should have paid more attention to how good things were going.
I first met JD Thorton at a customer function. They were having a reception for key suppliers, and we were introduced by the VP of Procurement. We engaged in a brief conversation, and I learned enough to know that he wasn't a competitor, but that he was quite full of himself. It became almost comical to listen to him talk and several times, when glancing at the customer, he winked at me to let me know he thought the same. After that, months went by and I had completely forgotten about him when one day I got a call from him on my cell phone.
"Hey, man. This is JD Thornton, remember we met a while ago," he belted out, quickly bringing back the memory of our brief conversation.
"Hello, what can I do for you?" I asked, eager to get to the point.
"I wanted to see if you were available for lunch. I have a business idea I'd like to discuss that I think could be beneficial for both of us," he explained.
Reluctantly, I agreed, and the following week found us in a booth in a small out-of-the-way diner. We had just sat down when he got a phone call, and quickly he was in the middle of a loud conversation. While annoyed at the distraction, it did give me an opportunity to size the man up. I guessed JD was around forty, and he looked to be a couple inches taller than me, although he was leaner, almost rangy looking. He had a ruddy complexion and his brown hair was cut very short. He was dressed in jeans and a simple button shirt, with showy reptile cowboy boots. In total, I took him to be a man that was more focused on business than his appearance.
"Sorry about that," he mumbled when he ended the call a couple minutes later.
"Yeah, no problem," I replied, then continued, "What do you have in mind?"
"Let's order first. I'm starved," he answered.
He waved the waitress over and when she left, we idly chatted about random things until our food arrived. Only when we were almost finished, did he broach the subject of the meeting.
"Look, I think between our two companies, we have the capabilities to replace the supplier for the Neptune product line. You have a solid supply chain for the technical components and my fabricators in Mexico can bring in the structural elements very cheap. I'm thinking we join up and see what we can do," he explained.
Surprisingly, his idea had merit, a lot of merit actually, and I sat up in my chair as the potential sank in. We spent another hour discussing the concept, and then agreed that we would spend some time the following week getting into details. For the next few days, I pulled together some information to get prepared, and also did some back of the envelope calculations on the idea's potential. Conservatively, it looked like I could add thirty-percent to the income of my business, and the best part was it could be done with almost no investment.
The meeting the following week went well, and we put together a straw man of the new venture, including the business structure. We talked about approaching the customer and presenting our plan, but JD was adamant that we wait until we had developed it further. We agreed that the next step was due diligence on the supply chain, so as soon as we finished, I set up meetings with my key suppliers. Over the next month, we met with them, and although I thought it would be prudent to visit his fabricators in Mexico, JD wanted to wait until we finished the technical due diligence.
So far, things had gone exceedingly well, and my enthusiasm was evident to Helen. I had been holding off telling her about the opportunity until it had more legs, but finally I was forced to.
"What's got you so giddy?" she asked, then added, "You've been buzzing for weeks."
I started to laugh from her description, and then explained, "I'm working on a new business idea that I think will be very good. It should make us a lot of money."
"Don't you think we have enough money?" she asked, although I knew part of it was meant as a tease.
"Keeping you looking good is expensive," I said, instantly knowing I chose my words poorly.
"Oh, really?" she replied, as her left eyebrow arched.
"Sorry, that didn't come out right," I followed.
"I would hope not," she said, feigning annoyance.
Later that night, as soon as the kids were in bed, I trailed her like a hound until I had her cornered in the bedroom. She giggled while I maneuvered her to the bed, and we made slow, satisfying love. I was always thrilled when Helen climaxed beneath me, and was rewarded when her moans and sighs signaled she was on her way. Near the finish, she bit my shoulder to mute her sounds and I felt her body spasm as her legs lifted into the air.
"A nice one," I whispered as we cuddled.
"You're so proud of yourself. I think this business thing has made you horny," she replied.
"You make me horny, and the business thing is to take care of the family," I answered.
"Honey, if it works, maybe we can give some to the church," she whispered while snuggling closer.
Helen's caring soul was one of the things I loved so much about her. It wasn't the first time she had communicated she had all she wanted, and wanted to help others. Certainly, her work with the church and the non-profits played a part, but I knew it was something central to her as well. Even without those influences, I think she would have made a similar request.
"We'll see," I replied, pulling her tightly against me.
I'm not naturally optimistic or enthusiastic when it comes to business matters, as experience has taught me it was far better to be deliberate and maintain an even keel. However, I was breaking this tenet with the new venture. There was a jauntiness in my step, excitement in my day-to-day dealings, and a smile that I couldn't get off my face. Thus, I didn't pick up on the message at first when JD suddenly went radio silent.
I had been trying to contact him through phone calls and email for almost a week when I realized something was amiss, and during a phone call with one of my long-term suppliers, the dirty reality was suddenly made clear.
"Hey, I thought you and JD were working this Neptune thing together?" Ron, the technical manager at the supplier asked at the end of an unrelated call.
"We are..." I answered, feeling the hair on the back of my neck stand-up.
"Okay...well... I think you might want to look into it," he said, showing obvious discomfort before adding, "Give Sam a call."
Sam, or Samantha, was a crusty older woman that handled contracts for the company, and as soon as I ended the call with Ron, I was on the phone to her.
"Sam, what's going on?" I asked after the normal pleasantries.
"It's confidential..." she started, then no doubt thinking about the years we had known each other, she said, "The guy, JD, said he was going to go this alone."
Now, it was all suddenly very clear. JD Thornton had used me, manipulated me, to get knowledge of the supply chain, and once educated, was now going to cut me out. It was a dirty trick, but thinking about it, I realized I shouldn't be surprised. My initial thoughts on him were not positive, but I had allowed my interest in the deal and the eagerness to make money to overcome my concerns. It took another two weeks to get the complete picture, and in that time I learned that he had contacted all my suppliers and even made a presentation to the customer. I seethed as I realized all this had been done behind my back with definite malice.
"Hey sport," JD said through the phone with dismissive arrogance.
It had taken two more weeks to get him to answer, and I suspected he felt he now had the deal with a bow around it making me no longer a threat. Thus, he could enjoy the win while taking the opportunity to rub my nose in it.
"JD, I'd just like to hear in your own words what the hell you're thinking," I said.
"What am I thinking? I'm thinking I just rammed it up the ass of a limp-dick," he fired back, and then broke out laughing.
I had been rehearsing in my head how the conversation would go when we eventually connected, however nothing had prepared me for this message. I had expected him to be evasive, likely dismissive, but not evil. It put me on my heels and I struggled to gather words to respond.
"You know...don't you think this is wrong?" I asked, immediately feeling the inadequacy of the message.
"Wrong? Fuck wrong. I'm going to make a lot of money," he replied, and then hung up.
Stunned, infuriated, angry...a thousand feelings swept through my body for the next few days like being on a Ferris wheel, enduring a never-ending cycle. Then, very slowly, one thought began to separate from the others - revenge. I wanted to kick JD in the balls and have him feel the deep humiliation that I was experiencing, and looking back, that desire was so powerful it blocked me from all rational thought.
Amazingly, I was able to set aside my emotions as I plotted my revenge, and I created a very deliberate attack strategy. First, I intended to reach out to two suppliers that I knew were essential to the deal and use my long-term relationship to try and convince them to drop JD. Then, I intended to strike back. His line of business wasn't all that differentiated, so I was hopeful that with some work I would be able to find others that at least would threaten his customer base.
Carl Westbrook, was the owner of the primary supply company, and I had known him for almost ten years. He was in his early seventies, one of those men that would likely die within weeks of retiring, and although our relationship had always been positive, I wasn't sure what to expect. Sitting in his office, I explained the situation in detail, leaving nothing out, while he leaned back in his chair and took it all in.
"Okay, what else you got?" he asked when I was done.
His answer confused me, so I asked, "What do you mean, Carl."
"Fuck him is what I mean. I'm too old to work with pricks," he answered, then after a pause, he leaned across the desk and started again, "How long have I known you? Ten years? In all that time, you've never been anything but straightforward and honest. You know how rare that is?"
"Thanks, Carl," I replied, feeling my chest tighten with emotion.
"Fuck him. He's an asshole," he reiterated.
The next supplier wasn't as straight forward, and it took some pleading on my part. However, I was eventually able to get them agree to cut-off ties with JD, too. I had to promise that I would do everything I could to replace the volume they were foregoing, but if my plan worked, I knew that wouldn't be a problem.
I was pleasantly surprised with the success of the first phase of my plan. I had thought it might take more time, more convincing, but there seemed to be a consistent distaste for JD, which helped. Feeling good, I convinced Helen to let the kids spend the night with their grandparents so we could have some alone time. After a nice, expensive dinner, we were curled up in bed after a fulfilling round of love making, simply talking and cuddling.
"What happened to your new venture?" she asked.
I had purposefully shielded her from the drama, but I couldn't hide my loss of enthusiasm, so I was a bit surprised it had taken her this long to probe.
"Oh, it hit a bump in the road," I answered, purposefully being vague, as I knew she wouldn't understand or support my tactics.
"And, I had already spent all the money you promised," she teased.
"Patience, sweetie," I countered while tickling her ribs.
My touch made her squirm and giggle, and when she finally settled, in a breathless voice she said, "I would still like to do something for the church."
The next part of my plan took much more effort. For about a month, it consumed all my available hours, with even Helen commenting on my lack of family time. I was able to locate two companies that had the capabilities to compete with JD and which had similar, if not superior, cost structures. I used my contacts at the customer to get them established as vendors, knowing they would have, as a minimum, a detrimental impact on JD's pricing. In addition, through my efforts, I realized one would be an outstanding supplier to fill JD's scope on Neptune, if I decided to resurrect that initiative. If the customer suspected what I was up to, they never brought it up, and seemed thrilled to improve their supplier base.
Surprisingly, and quite contrary to my expectations, JD had been silent about my actions to cut-off the suppliers. Then, I learned that the companies I introduced were asked to bid on some competing work, and I was certain I would hear from him. I had even scripted and practiced the message I would deliver that was intended to humiliate him the way he had done with me. Still, all stayed silent and after almost six months had elapsed the whole situation started to fade from my thoughts.
When plotting revenge, first dig two graves. There should be a corollary to that message that goes, if you can't follow the advice, at least don't seek revenge on someone meaner than you. Unfortunately, the solace I took in JD silence was about to be interrupted, and I would learn that I was only using conventional weapons while he went full thermonuclear.
"Hey, chief...we should talk," JD said over the phone.
I had recognized his number, so I was prepared, and replied, "JD, how's business?"
"Oh, you know...up and down," he said, and then added, "Seriously, let's get together."
"JD, I have absolutely no interest in ever seeing you again. I think things have ended as they should and I'm moving on," I answered, pleased with his contrite manner and my own controlled voice.
"Sport, let me tell you, you want to come see me," he said, slipping back into his condescending tone.
"Nah, I'm good," I replied and hung up.
After that, I went about my day, giggling to myself several times at my victory over the pompous ass. I was just about to head home when I noticed an email from JD, and opening it, I was stunned to see a picture of my wife attached. Helen was standing with her back to the camera, but partially turned so the side of her face was shown. There was no question it was her, but what made it shocking was that she was dressed only in a black thong. The side of one of her breasts could be seen, and if it was anyone else, I would have considered the picture to be sensual and slightly erotic. However, it wasn't anyone else, it was my wife.
My immediate reaction was to call the police, as somehow JD had managed to invade our home, but looking closer, I realized Helen wasn't in our house. I didn't recognize any of the furnishings or the color of the walls which left me confused about what I was seeing. However, slowly the reality started to sink in, and knowing it was coming from JD, I suddenly felt it must be sinister.
Several times, I reached for the keyboard, but each time I backed away. I needed to know more, to somehow gather more information and collect my thoughts before I replied. For that reason, I merely turned off the computer, and left for home. On the drive, my thoughts went to my wife's involvement, and I hoped that she would rush to my arms and explain it all away. However, when I walked in the door, both wife and kids acted like it was just another day.
My wife was all smiles, and the kids crawled into my lap after dinner while we watched a movie. Later, after she had cleaned the kitchen, Helen joined us with a glass of wine and engaged me in her normal discussion about all that had happened that day. However, while she spoke, my mind refused to let go of the vision of her in the picture.
"What else has been going on?" I asked when the conversation hit a lull.
Although it was a ham-handed attempt, what I was trying to do was give her the opportunity to come clean and explain things. It failed, as all she did was start talking again about her charitable activities. I tried again when the kids had gone to bed, but that effort was unsuccessful as well. Evidently, my lovely wife was capable of keeping her secret buried while conducting herself in the normal family fashion. In fact, her manner was so relaxed, I began to wonder if somehow, he had digitally placed her into the picture.
I didn't contact JD the next day as I just didn't want to give the bastard the satisfaction. However, the following morning, I couldn't take it anymore and with shaking hands I dialed his number.
"Well, fuck me. Look who called. Imagine that," he laughed.
"Where did you get that?" I asked, unable to think of anything else to say.
"Oh, I got a lot more than that...lot's more," he answered, laughing again.
"What the fuck did you do, you motherfucking asshole," I screamed into the phone, no longer able to contain myself.
"I fucked you. Hard! You wanted to play games and you lost," he replied, no longer laughing, then after a second of silence, he continued, "Now, if you don't want your life on display to the world, be here at 3:00 PM today."
I was shaking as I set the phone down, and thinking about the dilemma, I realized my choice was either to confront Helen or go to JD's and find out more. Since I was still confused, I decided I would attend the meeting that afternoon.