"YOU CAN'T BLAME ME for this!" Forrest reasoned. "Sure, I didn't handle the situation great, but I had to do something. I'm a man; I have needs!"

A slightly plump redhead tossed several folded men's shirts at Forrest, and they fluttered to the ground around him. "Oh, you have needs do you?" his wife asked mockingly. "I'll give you needs! Now, you're going to need a roof over your head, 'cause I'm not letting you back into my house."

"Stephanie, please," Forrest begged, but his wife had already disappeared into their trailer. A minute later, she emerged with a lamp shaped like a football- Forrest's favorite piece of furniture. Stephanie hurled it at Forrest's head, and he barely ducked in time. It shattered on the sidewalk behind him.

"Please," Forrest began again. "It was a mistake, really, it was. I don't feel anything for Tara; she was just available. You're the only woman I love, and I'll never hurt you again. I just needed to-"

"You needed nothing," Stephanie retorted, cutting him off. "Things you need are food, a house, and air to breathe. You don't need sex; no man has ever died for lack of sex. You wanted, Forrest."

"All right, so I wanted to be with her," Forrest amended. "But I needed an escape! I love you, Stephanie, but you don't understand how suffocating our relationship was."

Stephanie's eyes narrowed, and she turned to go back into the trailer. "I hope you do die for lack of sex," she declared.

"Yeah, well, you've tried," Forrest grumbled in response. Stephanie heard him, and disappeared into the house. Forrest's shoulders sagged in defeat, but a moment later, Stephanie opened the door once more with a pan in her right hand. Forrest realized the time had come to run.

Stephanie screamed at Forrest as she chased after him, waving the pan in the air and attempt to smack Forrest with it any time she came close. "You think that just because I'm your wife, I'm supposed to cater to you every night?" she shouted. "You'd better think again, Mister!"

"I'm sorry," Forrest shouted back at her. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it!"

"You're sorry," Stephanie repeated. "Just like you're sorry for cheating on me? Well, I'm not going to forgive you that easily. You'd better learn to keep that thing in your pants!"

The situation was a familiar one to Forrest. Stephanie was the first woman to chase Forrest around in an attempt to brain him with a frying pan, but she wasn't the first lover he'd jilted.

In high school and college, Forrest had always prided himself on his ability to keep a minimum of three girl friends at all times, and usually he had more. If one found out about the others, he would use all the lines he knew to try to convince her that she was the only girl he loved. Sometimes it worked, but more often, it didn't.

Then, Forrest met Marlee. Once he'd gotten to know her, Forrest had realized that he didn't need any other woman, because he was genuinely in love with Marlee. He'd dated her for a few months, and they'd been married the summer after he graduated from college.

After a few weeks of marital bliss, however, Forrest had begun to once more be aware of the great big world out there, and he'd especially begun to notice Brittanie, who lived down the street. He'd begun to visit her in the mornings after her husband left for work.

His relationship with Brittanie had been purely about sex, and they'd both known it. In all reality, Brittanie had annoyed Forrest, with her high, nasally voice, and her habit of calling him embarrassing pet names like "Bunny-poo" and "Smookie." Just because Forrest slept with Brittanie, it didn't mean he had any less love for Marlee, but she didn't see it that way when she found out.

Marlee had thrown Forrest out of her house after she'd learned of his affair with Brittanie, and no amount of begging would convince her to take him back. Even worse, Marlee had taken it upon herself to tell Brittanie's husband, Justin, about what she'd learned. The night Forrest had to sleep outside, Justin came after him with a wooden bat.

Apparently, during Forrest's time in the hospital recovering from the attack, Marlee came to forgive her husband. The fact that he'd been bandaged from head to toe and had suffered physical pain for his crimes against her probably made Marlee a little more forgiving than she would have been otherwise.

During his time at the hospital, however, Forrest met Nicole, the beautiful nurse who emptied his bedpan every morning. Granted, the situation that brought them together was less than romantic, but Forrest had always been quite the romantic, and after he was released from the hospital, he convinced Nicole to go on a few secretive dates with him when Marlee was busy.

Once more, Forrest's romance with the other woman had no bearing on his relationship with his wife. He'd loved Marlee as much as he ever had; he just got a little action on the side, which may have even helped their marriage, or so Forrest told himself. After all, Marlee had still harbored some resentment about that first affair, and could be rather cold and callous in bed. Nicole had kept Forrest from going crazy.

When Marlee had learned about Nicole, she'd been far from reasonable about the affair- she didn't even let Forrest explain himself. Before he could blink, Forrest had found himself single once more, and Marlee had over half his stuff.

Mistaking lust for love, Forrest had then made the worst mistake of his life in marrying Nicole. While his marriage to Marlee had been based on love, his marriage to Nicole was based on lust alone, and given enough time, Forrest came to resent the woman who'd ruined his first marriage.

When Forrest had cheated on Nicole, he'd done so out of resentment. Remembering his school days, Forrest had kept several mistresses, and might go out with four different women in one week. He'd hoped that when Nicole found out, she'd cry. Like his previous affairs, however, Forrest felt nothing for his mistresses. They were only tools to show his distaste for Nicole.

When Nicole had found out, she'd cried indeed, which Forrest had originally found particularly satisfying. They'd divorced, and a month later, Nicole had committed suicide.

For nearly a year afterward, Forrest had attended therapy to deal with grief and the guilt that he might have driven Nicole to kill herself. He'd looked within himself to find out why he hurt the women he loved by cheating on them, and after his last session with Doctor Shultz, Forrest had felt like a new person.

When he'd met Stephanie, Forrest once more had fallen madly in love, and more importantly, he'd promised her and himself that he would never cheat on her.

When Forrest had first found himself to be attracted to Tara, who worked with him at the grocery store, he'd honestly tried to resist her. He'd volunteered to work in produce so he wouldn't have to work with Tara at the cash register, and he'd hung every photograph he could find on every available spot on the back walls to remind him of his marriage.

Inevitably, Forrest had come to realize he couldn't avoid Tara forever, and their affair had begun. He hadn't cared for Tara at all, and didn't bother to even get to know her. He'd hoped he could end everything quietly before Stephanie found out, but as his wife chased him through the trailer park, Forrest realized that he'd made a severe mistake in underestimating his wife's ability to figure things out.

Forrest slipped in a muddy patch, and feared Stephanie would take the opportunity to kill him. She towered over him with her pan, glaring at him. "Please, baby," he begged. "Just take me back. The affair meant nothing."

Stephanie spat on Forrest's face. "You had sex with her!" Stephanie declared. "How can that mean nothing?"

"It was only lust," Forrest insisted. Now that Stephanie was listening to him, he only needed to explain how everything had happened. "I don't care about Tara, I care about you. Say the word, and I'll never speak to Tara again."

Several emotions flashed over Stephanie's face: disbelief, pain, anger, and finally hope. "You tell that slut that she'd better never touch you again," Stephanie ordered her husband. "I'll give you one more chance, Forrest, but if you hurt me again, you're going to wish you'd never been born."

"I understand, baby," Forrest declared. "Now, listen, baby, you're not going to regret taking me back. I'm going to be the best husband who ever existed. I'm going to make this up to you like you wouldn't believe!"

Forrest might have continued to declare his future fidelity, but Stephanie had already turned to walk back to the trailer. Forrest climbed to his feet to follow her, but when they reached the trailer, Stephanie turned around to face him. "No," she said. "You're sleeping outside tonight, and every night until you tell your whore that it's over."

Forrest winced. Stephanie had never been much for cursing, and the fact that she used such strong language now suggested to Forrest just how angry his wife really was.

Stephanie slammed the door behind her, and Forrest backed up and sank to the ground. At least she'd tossed a blanket and a pillow outside along with the rest of Forrest's things. He settled to the ground, preparing to show Stephanie just how repentant he was by sleeping right outside her door.

As the sun began to set, Forrest heard the sound of thunder, and freezing rain began to pelt his face.

"OH, FORREST, YOU LOOK awful!" Tara declared as Forrest pulled the apron over his clothes. Stephanie hadn't let him in that morning, and he'd been forced to dress himself in the driest clothes he could find. Luckily, she'd thrown all his clothes out in one big pile, so those on the bottom of the pile had been almost clean.

"Yeah, well, I had a bad night," Forrest replied, intentionally offering a vague answer while surrounded with his coworkers. Under his breath so only Tara could hear, Forrest continued, "Stephanie had a fight, and I slept outside- in the rain."

Tara followed him out of the main room into a more secluded hallway. There, she wrapped her arms around him and sighed, "Oh, my poor Forrest. Has wifie been mean to you? I guess I'll just have to fix you up until you feel all better."

Forrest twisted out of her arms and turned on her. "No, Tara, that's not what you're going to do," he hissed, releasing all his pent up frustration from the last night on her. "Don't you get it? Steph was mad at me because she found out about you! I don't want to see you any more!"

Tara made a pouting-face that Forrest had always found sexy in the past. Now, he just found it annoying. "Are you going to let her boss you around?" she asked, reaching for Forrest once more. "You're so tense, and she treats you like a dog. Why don't you just relax with me?"

"You don't understand, do you?" Forrest demanded. "I don't want to relax with you! I don't want to do anything with you! I don't even like you very much, but I love Stephanie!"

Forrest hadn't expected his outburst to be so dramatic, but as soon as he was finished yelling at Tara, her eyes began to tear up and her lower lip began to tremble. He might have tried to comfort her, but Forrest would rather let Tara cry than risk falling back into the old affair.

Just as Forrest was ready to walk away and leave Tara with her tears, she shouted a curse word and slapped him. In surprise, Forrest lifted a hand to his cheek, and Tara fled. At least she wasn't following him around any more.

BONNIE SMILED AS FORREST walked into The Mug, the slightly trendy but very inexpensive coffee shop where Forrest usually ate lunch each day. Bonnie, who always worked as a waitress when Forrest came in, greeted him by asking, "Your usual table, Forrest?"

"I don't really care," Forrest responded. He'd been in a bleak mood all day. He'd started the day off on the wrong foot, of course, but to make things worse, Tara had taken it upon herself to tell everyone at the grocery store about how Forrest had told her he loved her, but had dumped her as soon as his wife had found out.

All day long, his coworkers had snubbed him and made a point of inconveniencing him. All the things Forrest usually accomplished easily and quickly were slow and difficult, and those tasks that were ordinarily difficult were impossible for Forrest when his coworkers left food in the aisles for him to trip over, hid his tools, and refused to help him with anything.

Bonnie grimaced sympathetically, as if she could sense how bad Forrest's day had been. Next, she led him to his usual table by a giant picture window, and set a menu in front of Forrest. "Would you like a few minutes to look over the menu?" she asked.

"No," Forrest replied, folding it and setting it aside. After eating at The Mug every day for the past six months since it had opened, Forrest pretty much had their menu memorized. "I'll have a chicken salad sandwich on wheat bread with a side of wild rice and a piece of cornbread. Just ice water to drink."

Bonnie didn't need to write down the order, as Forrest had ordered the same meal every day for weeks on end. She practically had it memorized. "I'll get that to you right away," she promised.

Ten minutes later, Bonnie entered the dinning room with a tray of food. She set the plate with the sandwich, rice, and cornbread before him, the cup of water at his right hand, and a mug of coffee at his left. Immediately, Forrest protested, picking up the coffee and saying, "I didn't order this."

Bonnie smiled and said, "Don't worry, it's on the house. You looked kind of tired, and you seemed like you might be having a bad day, so I figured you could use a little pick-me-up."

Forrest forced a smile, then said, "Thanks, Bonnie." He didn't like coffee very much, but he drank it with his lunch just to be polite. After all, Bonnie had good intentions in trying to cheer him up, and the cost of the coffee would probably be deducted from her paycheck. The least he could do was drink it, even if he wouldn't enjoy it very much.

After Forrest finished his lunch, he left a nice, big tip on the table for Bonnie, then, he returned to work.

"WELL BABY, HERE I am," Forrest said, standing before Stephanie, who glared at him suspiciously. "I told Tara it was over, and I'll never do anything with her again. I bought you these." He thrust a bouquet of flowers forward.

Stephanie glared at the flowers, and if looks could kill, they would have wilted. "You think you can buy me back with flowers?" she asked.

"No, of course not," Forrest replied. I'm not trying to buy you back, I bought these for you because they were pretty, and they made me think of how pretty you are."

Stephanie looked from the flowers to Forrest, then back to the flowers, and asked, "You think you're pretty smooth, don't you?"


"You show up at my door with a smile pasted on your face, a bunch of cheap flowers, and some silly line, and you expect me to just let you back in?" Stephanie demanded. "You think that's all it takes?"

"You told me you'd take me back if I broke things off with Tara!" Forrest blurted before he could stop himself.

From nowhere, Stephanie's fist flew through the air and stopped when it hit Forrest's face. He stumbled back, and Stephanie said, "I refuse to have that tramp's name spoken in my home."

"Sorry," Forrest answered. "What I mean is, you told me I could come home if I dumped you-know-who."

"And I'm supposed to be grateful you ended the affair after I found out about it?" Stephanie demanded. "Fat chance."

Forrest refused to lash out at her in anger. Instead, he said, "Fine, I'll sleep outside again."

"Wait," Stephanie commanded, and Forrest stopped short, then turned around.

Stephanie seemed to find the words distasteful even as she spoke them, but she said, "I guess I did tell you I'd let you sleep inside if you ended that affair. It wouldn't be very good of me to go back on what I said."

Gratefully, Forrest leapt forward to walk through the front door, but one lifted finger from Stephanie stopped him. "Don't expect any favors from me," she reminded him. "I'm still angry at you."

That night, as Forrest tried to sleep on the lumpy couch, he reflected on his recent affair, and wondered how he could ever make things up to his dear Stephanie.