Thanks to Carnillia for his help with this story, Crkcppr for beta reading and blackrandl1958 for her editing. Thanks Pat.
I was at loose ends. My wife Carole had taken off on a two-week trip to see our sons, Oliver and Carl. Carole’s job allowed for extended time off, but mine did not, and truth be told: I didn’t really have a very close relationship with either of our sons.
I wasn’t sure if it was my time away serving in the Air Force, or the long hours my job required, but in the end, it really didn’t matter; it was what it was.
When I got home to our brownstone in Boston’s Back Bay after dropping Carole off at the airport, I had just hung up my jacket and was heading to the kitchen for a cold beer when the doorbell rang.
Opening the door, I saw an attractive impeccably dressed middle-aged woman, with a large package wrapped in plain brown paper leaning against her leg.
“Can I help you?” I said.
“Yes, I’m looking for Carole Johnson, is she in?”
“No, she’s out of town for a couple of weeks, is there anything I can help you with?”
“I hope so. I should probably introduce myself. My name is Maria Pirelli. Carole has mentioned me, no?”
“No, I can’t say that she has, I’m sure I would have remembered such a unique name. Maybe she didn’t want me to meet such a beautiful lady!”
“You flatter this old woman, Jon, you are Jon, Carole’s husband?”
“Yes, yes I am, but I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage, Mrs. Pirelli.”
“This is quite embarrassing; Carole has told us so much about you that I can’t believe that she has never mentioned us.”
“You say ‘us’. But I don’t see anybody else here.”
“Oh, that would be my late husband Antonio. That’s why I stopped by, to deliver her portrait for the exhibition.”
“Yes, I have it here. Could you please help me carry it in?”
“Of course,” I said, taking the package from Maria’s hands, “Won’t you please come in?”
“Thank you, Jon,” she said, as she took a seat in the front room of our house.
“May I get you something to drink? Some white wine, perhaps?”
“Yes, white wine would be fine, just one glass as I am driving,” she smiled.
I went to the kitchen for the wine, returned to the front room and handed the glass to Maria.
“Maria, you said this was ‘her portrait’, I assume you meant Carole. May I see it?”
“But of course! It is quite lovely, I’m sure you will appreciate it!”
I started tearing off the paper, not sure what I was going to see, but expecting a more or less typical portrait.
I was quickly disabused of that notion, as a nude painting of Carole on our bed came into view! And not just nude – she looked freshly fucked!
“I have to ask, Maria – was this painted from life?”
“Of course, why do you ask, Jon?”
“Because I’m no art expert, but I would bet almost anything that Carole had had sex just before this painting was done.”
“And I don’t remember this, and I think I would have noticed an artist hanging around while I made love to my wife!”
Maria laughed, “Of course not, this was done while you were overseas serving in your Air Force.”
I felt my blood pressure rising. “Then, please tell me, just who had fucked my wife before this painting was done?”
“Why, my Antonio, of course! Who else could it be?”
“It couldn’t, it shouldn’t have been anybody but me!” I growled, barely containing myself.
Maria slowly turned from the painting to look at me; my expression must have made it clear that she had seriously misjudged the situation.
“I thought you knew. Carole said you knew.”
“You thought I knew about this, that I was okay with this? What kind of a man do you think I am?”
“Surely you’re a man of the world, a man who understands that men and women have natural urges that must be met?”
“Are you insane? Are you telling me that you knew about this, that you were all right with your husband fucking another woman?”
“I wish you wouldn’t be so crude...”
“Well, I wish that my wife wasn’t a cheating slut! I guess neither of us is getting our wish! So, tell me, just how long as this little Peyton Place been going on?”
“I ... I think you should talk to Carole,” Maria said and started to get up.
“Oh, no you don’t! Carole isn’t here, and you are, so you’re going to tell me everything, starting right now.”
“It began about twenty years ago...”
“Twenty years!” I nearly hit the roof.
“Please, Jon, if you want me to tell you the story you’re going to have to calm down as much as you can or I am going to have to leave.”
“Okay, Maria, I will try, but you have to understand the impact this has had on me.”
“I think I do, Jon, but you have to understand that Antonio and I thought you knew about this, and approved.”
“Well, I can’t imagine how you could have possibly thought that, but go ahead, I’ll try to control myself.”
“As you probably realize by now, Antonio and I have what you Americans would call an ‘open marriage’. Antonio’s work took him away from home for long periods, and we both had needs, so we agreed that we would each have discreet liaisons.”
“Well, that’s wonderful for you, but how does Carole fit into this? I can assure you that we had no such arrangement, if I had known she was fucking...” Maria started to protest, then sat back.
“I don’t care if it offends your delicate sensibilities, but that is precisely what she was doing! If I had known she was fucking Antonio he wouldn’t have had to worry about his painting career, he would have been lucky if could hold his dick, let alone a paintbrush. But go ahead; finish your little fairy tale.”
Maria continued, “While Antonio was here on a special project, he met your Carole and they had an immediate connection. Carole was apparently having some sexual difficulties that Antonio helped her with”
I couldn’t contain myself, “What? That’s certainly news to me! I can just imagine the kind of ‘help’ he gave her. If she was having sexual ‘difficulties, ‘ why didn’t she talk to me? I’m only her husband after all!”
“That I cannot tell you; you will have to ask Carole that yourself.”
“I don’t see how that can happen, since I will never speak to that cheating cunt again!”
“But you must, Jon! She loves you!”
“She certainly has a funny way of showing it. Please, don’t mind me, finish your story.”
“After a couple of months, Antonio returned home to New York, although he and Carole remained in touch. Then came the war, and you had to go overseas. About a week after you left Carole called Antonio in tears. She was barely holding it together. I told Antonio, ‘You must go to her.’
“Antonio didn’t even call; he just packed his bags and headed to your house. When he got there, Carole was a mess. It took her five minutes crying on his shoulder before she could even begin to tell him her problem. Carole was at her wit’s end between her work, keeping the house together and dealing with two young sons.”
I had to interrupt again, “You do realize that the military has resources to help the families of deployed servicemen?”
“I wasn’t aware of it specifically, but I can see how that would be so.”
“Yet, instead of calling her husband, or military family affairs, she calls her lover! My apologies, I keep interrupting, I assume this is what led to the ‘portrait’?”
“Yes, Antonio helped with her boys, then took her to bed and wrapped his arms around her until she fell asleep.”
“Did you hear what you just said?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
“You said ‘her’ boys. You do know that I am their father, that they’re ‘our’ boys?”
“Yes, of course, that’s what I meant.”
“We’ll see. I’ll let that one pass for now, so how many times did they fuck? I was out of country for an entire year; they must have fucked like rabbits!”
“It wasn’t like that! They had a true love, a pure love!”
“So what did that make me? Garbage time?”
“No, Jon, you mustn’t think that, Carole loves you deeply, but what she had with Antonio was special...”
I had enough. “Maria, I think it would be best if you left now.”
Maria started to leave, but I called out to her, and she turned around. “You said something about an exhibition?”
“Yes, there is to be an exhibition, a retrospective, of Antonio’s works, and Carole’s portrait was to be the centerpiece.”
I nearly exploded! “What! She hasn’t humiliated me enough; she has to make it public?” Maria started to say something else, hesitated, then let herself out leaving me alone with my thoughts.
I was worried. I couldn’t reach him, and he didn’t answer calls from Oliver or Carl either.
My phone rang, and I jumped, hoping it was Jon, but the display indicated it was Maria.
“Maria, how good it is to hear from you, but I’m afraid I can’t talk long. I’m trying to reach Jon.”
“That is why I am calling. I stopped by your house, I didn’t know you were away and I saw Jon.”
“That’s wonderful! How is he doing? Do you know why I can’t reach him?”
.... There is more of this story ...