At first it seemed an utter disaster. I heard the door slam and something glass smash in the hallway, and before I could call out asking what it was there stood Helen in the doorway of my study, an avenging angel, livid, her body one huge clenched fist, eyes glaring out of her head.
"Is something wrong?" I asked.
I already knew the answer. She had finally found out. Nearly a year ago. I'd never altogether forgotten it, though I'd tried to bury it in my mind with all those other lapses and indiscretions people mean to make up but forget about after a while, because there's nothing to be done about them, really, and anyhow noone knows about them. All those debts never repaid, and promises not kept. But here it was. The big one, now found out. For me the big one, anyhow, because I was never a great sinner, just an average well-meaning kind of guy, brought up to be decent enough, to keep my word no matter what, not to lie, or cheat, or steal.
Well, anyhow, not to steal. A year earlier I had cheated on my wife, and for a while I'd done a lot of lying to her to hide it. Understand me, that was the only time I ever fell off the monogamy wagon into a real torrid no-holds-barred affair. I've never been a great seducer, just one more account executive worried about middle-aged flab though still fairly thin, a nice guy, always polite to everybody. To get along, go along, was always my motto. I never understood why Estrella picked me out to be her sex partner while she was in town. I guessed it was because she knew I'd be no problem for her. And I wasn't, not at all.
One afternoon there she was, Estrella, this ripe, sultry Sales Manager from downstate somewhere, sent up for a six-week training course she said. She was related in some way to Dora, our across-the-street neighbor and my wife's dearest friend, though it didn't appear they ever spent any time together. Apparently it was Dora who suggested that Estrella drop by my office to meet some people, and to ask me about the available after-hours entertainment.
Which turned out to be me.
When Estrella stood over my desk to introduce herself I went weak in the knees, even though I was sitting and it didn't matter. I couldn't take my eyes off her.
"You're Dora's friend's husband?" she asked. "This is where you like to play with yourself?"
I looked up and my mouth gaped open. Her lips were moist, red, and curled all over themselves. Her eyes were sparkling black smudges, looking down at me amused. Her slender red fingertips clicked lightly on the top of my desk, and when I glanced at them I saw her crotch just behind, sheathed in form-fitting spandex slacks tucked tightly into her slit, rubbing and pressing against the corner of my desk. I looked back up embarrassed, and saw that she had just reached some kind of decision about me. She smiled to herself and leaned forward, and her cascading brown hair tumbled down over me. My field of vision closed over and became a fragrant tent filled with shadowy dark tips on the peaks of the lacy bra I could see she wore under her transparent chiffon blouse.
"I haven't even checked into my hotel yet," she was saying, "Do you think you'll have time to show me around first?"
I suppose I was ripe for it. My sex life had gone quiescent, because I didn't want to violate my wife's desires, and she didn't have too many. Helen had never gone in for gratifying physical appetites, or even encouraging them. No bingeing of any kind. She ate moderately, and never indulged with junk food, chocolate, or second portions of anything. Not that she was thin -- there were some curves there, but she thought their purpose was to fill out the trim suits she favored wearing. She was gentle, never stiff or prissy but never provocative either, even by accident. Not exactly shy, but no way assertive. I sensed early in our relationship that to ask her to do something she didn't want to do would violate something within her she valued deeply, her innate sense of tidyness, or neatness. It wouldn't have been nice. She might have accommodated me, but it wouldn't have been fair. It would have been taking advantage of her good nature.
So our sex life leveled down to what she liked, and that wasn't much. It was pretty tame. She didn't care for oral sex, or anal sex, or most of the time any sex at all. She liked to cuddle, and to kiss gently, and she liked me to stroke her hair, and just hold her. After lights out, when other couples turned to fulfill each others' desires, she liked to settle down and just "make nice." I think she decided to marry me because I was so considerate, never insisting we make love all the way, settling most of the time for gentle caressing. She seemed to want full scale sex with me only occasionally, to recharge some moderate libidinous energy within herself perhaps. Some nights she'd let me know it was all right, and I'd penetrate her, and she'd have a small orgasm after a while, then she'd wait for me to finish, and then she'd turn over without a word and go to sleep, and that was that for another few weeks. Or longer. I can't say she was ever really passionate. No. Then in the morning, when I began to renew my affectionate stroking of her in the hope that it would lead to something more, she'd wait me out, and after a while I'd get the message and ease off. "That was nice," she'd say when I'd stopped nuzzling and caressing her. Then she'd get up to dress for the day.
But she enjoyed hearing me talk about who at the office was doing whom, and to hear any speculation about how they were doing it. In her imagination she could deal with any kinds of sexual coupling, no matter how raunchy, any numbers and combinations of matings. She liked sex at one remove, I suppose because then it was safe and undemanding, and had nothing to do with her. She's the only woman I've ever known who liked not only Harlequin romances, where sex is a blurred fusion of stars and floods and explosions and things, but also liked hard core sex novels, the kind that inventory specific peculiar and perverse cravings and body parts and then let rip. She kept a stack of them by the bed. I suppose for her it was like reading science fiction or the National Geographic, depictions of other people's strange folkways, novel and interesting, maybe even educational. But it never touched her behavior, or her attitudes. In her real world there was very little physical desire.
Even when we were making love I always had the impression she would rather be doing other things altogether, like planning menus or vacations, or keeping the family finances at her little spindled desk. She could be relentless following out and making sure that workmen around the house did what they had said they would do. A deal was a deal, and she expected that everything promised would be fulfilled. Once when a house painter overbooked himself, as they like to do, and started our job late and finished it much later still, she wanted to sue him, to return what she conceived was injury with injury, to "get even," to re-establish a balance in her moral universe. It was only with great difficulty that I persuaded her to forget it, and I'm still not sure she ever did.
Above all what she loved doing was lunching or shopping with Dora, whom she saw all the time. Dora lived close by, was divorced and childless and well-off, and had time on her hands. My wife managed the Art Shop at our local museum, where Dora was a Docent and would often drop by to chat. They had a lot in common. Dora also didn't seem much interested in sex. She didn't date that I ever noticed, or talk about men other than her ex-husband, whom she had left, as she said, for good and sufficient reasons she didn't find interesting enough to share. We were also childless. But then we'd only been married a few years, and I can't say we'd worked frenziedly at making babies. As I've said, when sex did happen between us, it was...well...nice. That's the word, nice. Helen liked hugging and snuggling, and the other less messy ways to be nice.
Not Estrella. Sex with Estrella was always frantic, and never merely nice. I couldn't stop her from overwhelming me, and after a while I didn't want to. She became an obsession. So far as my wife was concerned, I spent the next six weeks working nights and weekends, called out-of-town overnight repeatedly, with scarcely enough time to stop at home to pick up fresh shirts and socks. It was glorious. Estrella led the way, and I followed eagerly. We began by climbing all over and into each other all night, night after night, juiced up and overflowing and sucking from each other in a kind of wet frenzy. It was madness. I couldn't get enough of her. She was a tease, always testing how far she could go with me and then goading me further. By the end of the first week she had me drinking any fluid she could produce from between her legs, my own or hers, nursing at her crotch like a baby for hours at a time, and by the second week she had me begging to let me nibble at her rear no matter what. I wanted any part of her around me and inside me.
By the end of the third week she was entertaining herself by looking for something I wouldn't do for her. I never found out what that might be. She had me jumping through hoops, once literally, in order to get to her, to be allowed to kiss her, or lick her, or swallow her, or express myself inside her. Whatever she asked me to do, soon I craved it. Toward the end we were into some pretty kinky stuff. Once on a whim she brought in a pair of cocker spaniels owned by a friend, she said, and her delicately manicured fingertips stroked my penis while touching my nipples, while she crooned into my ear what she wanted me to do. To screw the female was what it came to, so I did, lying on my back and working the little dog up and down my belly until she finally admitted me and we both got hot. Then when I was myself unable to stop, and the bitch was pumping my crotch like a vibrating piston, yipping and whining, both dog and man out of control, when my head was thrown back and my eyes were closed, and my mouth was wide open, she set the other dog down on my face with his hind legs straddling my jaw and his thin red penis extended into my mouth, and said "Suck!" In no time at all that animal was turned on too, his forelegs wrapped tightly around my ears and his hind quarters fucking my face in a fury. I glimpsed Estrella watching with a wicked smile, sprawled in a chair and slowly working a huge dildo into herself, sliding it in and out while the dog was working his prick in and out of my mouth. A day or two later she saw to it that I got to know that dildo very well, and I learned to beg her for it.
Half out of my mind, toward the end of our affair I asked her why she never brought in other women, or other men, to share our pleasures. She never did answer me, but smiled broadly and patted me on the top of my head, as if I had earned special approbation just by asking. "Yes, you'll do very well," she said. "You'll see." That night she took some special metal and leather contraptions out of a bag she kept in the closet, and said, "This is to reward you for wanting to share with others." Then what she did to me with those things, for two sleepless days and nights, well, I'd better not talk about it now.
Part of the craziness was its danger. I lost all sense of caution as well as dignity, and given Helen's instinct to get even whenever anyone failed any obligation to her, this was doubly crazy. In between our entanglements we went to clubs and restaurants and shows where friends might see us, and some did. A male associate from work winked at me in a gay bar she took me to once dressed in black stockings and hot pants (that was the same night she lifted her breast out of her scoop-necked top and again commanded, "Suck!", which I did blissfully, though we were both perched at the bar in full view of everyone). At a concert once some friends came over during intermission, and I introduced the gorgeous girl on my arm in the green sequinned mini as my business associate, and tried to remember where I had told Helen I was supposed to be that night. Estrella admired a pendant on one of the wives, and managed to touch a fingernail to the wife's nipples while lifting it to look more closely. The men smirked, and the women made polite noises. Then as it turned out, they did plenty of talking about me when they got home, and later at each others' cocktail parties. Mostly they were amused. Mostly they thought Estrella should put a leash on a ring in my nose to make it even easier to lead me around. They didn't know the half of it. Not even half.
Once in a restaurant I thought I saw Dora and Helen sitting at a table across the room. Maybe not. Neither came over, and when they finished eating they left without a glance back. The next day I stopped home briefly, and Helen showed no sign of anything. I was relieved we had gotten away with it, if we had.
Helen never did find out what we were doing while we were going at it hot and heavy. Not then, anyhow. When Estrella's training ended -- and mine, she said jokingly -- she wound down and undulated her way back home, and our great flame died down and went out. And that was that. She never even wrote to me. I had closed out an incredible, frantic fling, gone deranged and risked everything, found dark places in myself I've never been near since then, but there was no harm done. In a way I was glad, even relieved to return to hugging my little Helen to sleep and doing very little else. If anything Helen seemed even less interested than ever in sexual activity. She and Dora kept each other company when I was really away on business, and talked about art exhibitions evenings when they visited each other, and planned trips to visit some gallery or other, and that seemed to fill her life. I was usually inattentive as they chatted away over tea or coffee or dessert or drinks, and often went into my study to catch up on unfinished work. I once asked Dora if she had ever heard from Estrella, her cousin or something, and Dora was puzzled. It seemed she hadn't known Estrella was still in town, all that time we were crawling all over each other.
But now, a year later, came what I correctly surmised was the aftershock. The day of reckoning. Helen had obviously finally found out that last year her nice little hubby had been another woman's sex fiend.
"Did something made you angry?" I asked Helen as she stood glaring at me in the doorway. Mistake, I thought immediately. Much too ingenuous. She knows I know the answer to that question. If I were innocent I'd be bewildered and concerned, because just look what she looks like right now, her body twisted and her face knotted up. I'd be getting up and going over to try to console her. But here I am sitting here asking questions, and the moment when I could have convinced her it never happened has already passed. Damn!
"You!" she said in a loud, shrill voice, as if she needed to get my attention. "Dora told me!" Then she hissed "About you and that... woman! I can't believe it!" She believed it all right. "You worm! You snake! Bastard! You sneaking, two-timing bastard! "
"Helen, that was a year ago," I said, trying to put the best face on it I could. "It was nothing. Not really. There was nothing before and there's been nothing since! Not ever!"
"Oh?" she said. "Is that supposed to make me feel better? You've been MOSTLY faithful to me? You've NEARLY kept your marriage vows? You're ALMOST my husband?" She suddenly burst into tears and stomped away. I could hear her upstairs in our bedroom, where she threw herself on our bed and screamed, then started to sob aloud, piteously.
I felt terrible for her, and not so good for myself. But I knew better than to go up and try to say anything. These things have to follow their course. I spent that night in my study, stretched out on the floor. The hard surface reminded me of a time when Estrella tied me...well, never mind. Once or twice the phone rang, and I guess Helen answered it upstairs, because it stopped ringing almost immediately.
The next morning I avoided Helen, and she went to work without saying a word. I got a glimpse of her eyes, red, heavily made up as if to cover deep circles, and her mouth was clamped as tight as a purse someone had squeezed shut. I didn't dare try to speak to her, though my heart went out for what she was suffering. I was bitterly sorry to have caused my gentle wife such misery. But what could I do? I spent all day trying to think of ways to make it up to her, and the more I thought about her anguish the more desperate I got. It was torture.
That night she stayed out late, and just when I was starting to worry that she'd done something serious to herself she came in and went straight to bed. I guessed she'd gone to Dora, or to another of her friends, for advice what to do now. I heard more sobbing, then silence.
The same thing the next morning, and the next night.
The next day was Saturday, and I was distraught. I couldn't take it any longer. "Please!" I said when she came down to breakfast, and I handed her a cup of coffee. "I know how you feel! But tell me what I can do! I can't stand to see you so miserable! I'll do anything to make it up to you! Anything! Just tell me what to do! Please! You can't know how very very sorry I am!" I went down on my knees, and tried to put my head in her lap. But that's where she had the cup of coffee.
She just looked at me, and her face began to break up into tears again, but her mind went somewhere else instead. She looked away, then she looked back at me again, and didn't say a word. Good, I thought, she's already feeling more sorry for herself than outraged by me. She even pities her hubby a little. I've got a chance!
I pressed what advantage I had. "Believe me, there's been nothing since then! Nothing! And there never will be! Ever! I never really wanted to in the first place! It just started up, and then it was over in only a few weeks!" Bad move. She might know it was longer than that. But she picked up on another word.
"Oh?" she said. "Only a few weeks? ONLY a few weeks! ONLY? You wanted more time to spend screwing that bitch, cheating me, making a mockery of our marriage, betraying and lying to me, you miserable macho fraud? You dare to tell me you wish it had lasted longer? I hate you! I hate you! ONLY a few weeks?"
Better. A mistake the way I had phrased it, but better. If she can express her anger, then as the marriage counsellors say, she can dissipate it. "Please," I said again. "I beg you! How can I make it up to you! Just tell me what to do. I'll do anything."
"Everyone knew but me!" Helen began to sob again. "I'm so humiliated!"
Thank God! It was out! The worst of it wasn't rage that I had betrayed her, or sexual jealousy, or insecurity that she might lose me, or the knowledge that I had granted intimate favors to another (in fact, noone ever granted Estrella anything -- she took whatever she wanted, and it was never enough!). There had never been a strong physical relationship between Helen and me, nothing Estrella could alienate from Helen and appropriate for herself. Again, that may be why Estrella saw I was so easy. I never felt I was depriving my wife of anything.
But here it was. Helen had suffered a loss of respectability. The worst of it was shame! Loss of the respect due her by the supposedly respectable people in her circle, because she had been credulous, and trusting, and other things wives should be, and had been deceived, duped, and other things wives should never be if they were to remain respectable.
"How can I humiliate you the way you've humiliated me?" she asked. "How can I get even with you, you bastard." And she started to cry again.
"Helen, please," I said, still on my knees at the kitchen table, wondering if we should adjourn to the living room, where there were rugs and soft chairs. "I want to help you. If you want to get even, that's what I want too. I want us to be the way we were. Tell me how I can help." Even to myself I sounded oily, and I decided I had to be more sincere. Really sincere.
"You can't! I can't!" Tears started to brighten her eyes again.
I reached down into myself and offered a real sacrifice. "Helen," I said, "Now don't be shocked at what I'm about to say." I was a little shocked myself, but it was the only thing I could think of. "You want to get even. You want to hurt me the way I hurt you. Suppose you were to have an affair too? Suppose I didn't know about it? Or suppose I did know, but promised not to interfere? Would you want that?" I took a deep breath. "If that's what you want, then that's what I want for you."
Talk about kinky? Estrella really had activated some weird places in me. Would I end up advising her to avenge herself for the Cocker Spaniels by taking up with a Great Dane? But I plowed on. "What if you were to disgrace me the way I've disgraced you, the way I've disgraced myself?" I asked her. I was sounding pretentious again, but I really did want to offer her some kind of retribution. I knew it would be important to her.
"I can't! I tried!"
I was shocked. I listened attentively.
"Those nights after Dora told me about you and that...that whore, that Estrella, I tried. I tried to get even. I went to a bar where people pick up other people. Dora told me where. And I met some men. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it. They wanted to, and I tried to make myself, but I just couldn't! They started to act like animals with me, each of them. It wasn't at all nice! So both times I ran away. Then there's this man in our office, an impossible man, propositions everyone all the time, tries to get into everyone's pants, thinks he's God's gift, and I thought about him, and about starting up something with him. But even the thought of him disgusted me! I couldn't do it!" And she started to cry again, this time loudly, beginning to wail.
I stood up, and stood her up, and wrapped my arms around her and nuzzled into her hair, and said "There, there, Helen!" over and over, and she clutched me and cried all the harder, her shoulders wracked. When she had calmed down she continued, while I still held her.
"And the worst of it," she said between sobs, "is that everyone has been feeling sorry for me, or gloating over me, or feels contempt for me because everyone knew about it, and I didn't know. You made me a laughingstock. For a year now!" She buried her face in my shoulder, and for some reason she clung to me as though she were drowning.
"Oh my dear," I said, hugging her. "That's not true." But it was, of course. "Just tell me how I can make it up to you. I want to make it up to you." I returned to that theme, now that it seemed perfectly safe.
There was nothing I could do to make it up to her. She was prim, sexually timid, unventuresome except in her reading, and that was that. In fact I was feeling enormously relieved. A burden of guilt had been lifted from me. Now she knew. At last I had no more secrets from her, about the past or the present. A year after that torrid time I was again being honest with my wife, in the clear. "I owe you," I said sincerely. "I'll make it up to you. Breakfast in bed for life! Anything! Just name it!"
She knew I barely knew how fix instant coffee, much less prepare breakfast. But the intention was there. She could respect that. I hoped. I felt generous. I was out of the woods.
Or so I thought. For a week afterward we seemed altogether reconciled, Helen and me. She returned to her regular life. She no longer hated me, and I returned to our bedroom to sleep, and she scarcely seemed to notice. I reached for her one night, and she said "Please, not yet!" and turned away with a nearly regretful look, as if to say, "I'd like to, but you know how it is." I pretended I knew.
Then one night after dinner, she said to me, "Come into the living room. I want you to know how things are."
Not especially concerned, I went in and sat down.
"Do you love me?" she asked.
"Yes, of course," I said, wondering where this was going. "I told you that."
"And you said you'd do anything for me to make up for that affair of yours? Anything? Anything at all?"
"Yes," I said. "I told you that too."
"Well," says my quiet little wife, "Would you be willing to go into a singles bar and seduce someone for me?"
I was astonished! I knew that some men get off on that kind of thing, setting their wives up, getting them into bed with other men, watching them fuck away. Not me. Not my thing. Not Helen's thing either, from what I knew about her. She just didn't have enough sexual drive to carry out a night in bed with another man, even one I set up for her, with or without me helping her, much less with me watching. But obviously she was still thinking about some way to even the score. Her notion now seemed to be, if she couldn't bring herself to pick up a man and get him into her bed, maybe I could arrange something so that all she had to do was make love to a man who was already there. That seemed a lot to ask of me, I thought, though for some reason a corner of me felt a little stirred. No matter. I had promised to help her, in effect to help her revenge herself on me, so I just nodded cautiously, signalling understanding but not necessarily agreement. And I waited.
"The problem is this," she said. "You had an affair. You went at it hot and heavy for more than a few weeks, from all I hear. For more than a month. For six weeks you made love to her."
The phrase sounded quaintly old-fashioned. For six weeks Estrella used me as a novelty sex-object. She did things to me, and with me. But I didn't try to correct Helen.
"Then it ended, she moved away, and I never knew. You've deceived me for the past year, when everyone else seems to have known. They've pitied me. I've been duped. I've been playing the fool, the trusting innocent. A week ago or so I made a harmless comment to Dora about how we don't entertain people as much as we did, because you're so busy with your affairs. And Dora says, 'Oh, he's having another affair?' So I ask her what she means by that, and the whole thing comes out. Six weeks! And then a year more when I still didn't know! I trusted you! You were my husband! You should have been protecting me, and defending my reputation. Instead, you made me everybody's joke!"
I guess I couldn't disagree. Again, I felt just terrible. But I had done this to her. It was awful. I couldn't speak.
"So now our relationship is tainted by two things. One is, I resent you. You deceived me. You violated my trust. I don't really hate you, you know that. I love you. But I have to get even. I need to get even, to clear my feelings for you. You owe that to me."
I looked down, mortified. And then tried to look mortified.
"The other thing is that you embarrassed me in front of our friends. You played me for an idiot while they watched. You conspired with them to keep me looking like an idiot. They shared with each other an intimate secret about my own husband, for a whole year, while I remained ignorant. That's unforgiveable. I have to get even for that too."
It all sounded forgiveable enough to me. Even forgettable. But not to her. Not at all. And that was what mattered.
"Well," I said, returning to the old theme. "Let's consider this. You could have an affair for a few weeks, and go at it hot and heavy, and let everyone know about it but not me. That would even the score. Maybe you've already done that?"
I felt safe enough suggesting it, now. The idea of my dull wife in some passionate man's arms now seemed ludicrous. Helen was no temptress. No. Not Helen. But if she thought I thought maybe she HAD had an affair, she could be consoled that I felt helplessly jealous and demeaned, and disgraced, if only because I didn't know for sure. That would be a kind of revenge for her.
But she didn't pick up on that cue.
"No, I can't," Helen replied. "I told you I tried, and I just can't take up with another man. I'm just not that kind of person. I'm just not made that way."
"No, you're not," I said smugly, trying to sound sorrowful.
"But you're exactly that kind of person," she said. "You've proven that. You're like those horny men in the books I sometimes read, who can sleep with anyone, anytime."
"I guess so," I said, beginning to lose her drift. Had she lost it?
"So you could have the affair for me."
"Just what I said. You said you'd do anything to make it up to me. Anything. You said 'Anything!' You begged me to tell you what to do. So now you'll do whatever I tell you to do to even things out between us, won't you."
"Yes, of course," I said. I started to worry about her sanity. "A promise is a promise, and that's that," I said. I looked at her closely. "But I can't have an affair with some woman to make up with you for my little...uh...fling of a year ago. How would that even things out? It wouldn't make sense."
"No, dear." Helen leaned forward. "Not for you to have another affair with some woman. Only for me to have an affair with some man. Only that would even things out, right?"
"Right," I said. I didn't dare say anything else.
"But I'm incapable of having an affair with some man, as I've already told you. It just isn't in me to do something like that, right?" She seemed now to be talking patiently to a small child who was slow to understand. Was that small child herself? Me? I was getting more uneasy about her.
"But you could have an affair with some man for me, couldn't you?"
I looked at her narrowly. She had gone off the deep end. She waited for my response.
"Let me understand you," I said. "You mean, my punishment would be that I find some gay man and er...be intimate with him, to make up for my affair last year? Helen, come to your senses. I'm not queer. Besides, that would only be another act of infidelity on my part, going to bed with some man, the same as a year ago I went to bed with a woman."
I tried to pull her back to reality, and myself too. "I do regret what I did, Helen. I really do. And you know it'll never happen again."
Helen looked at me with perfect composure. I began to get a strange feeling.
"You're not listening," she said. "I don't mean that you should have another affair as yourself, even to punish yourself. I mean, you could have an affair for me. As me. Pretending to be me. As my surrogate. My proxy. My representative. As me by mutual consent. You like bedding down with strangers. I don't. But you can pretend to be me bedding down with a stranger. That would fix things."
I stared at her. She was off the wall, but she thought she was making sense.
"Think about it. You can be my hero, my knight in shining armor, and avenge the injustice you did me, by dressing up like me, even wearing my clothes, and taking up with some man while pretending to be me. You could right the wrong you did me. You could have the affair I can't bring myself to have. You could be your own wife fucking the ears off some man the way you fucked Estrella, screwing him the way Estrella screwed you, only this time doing it to get even with your unfaithful husband. But I'd know all about it this time. Each night you would come home and tell me what new things you did together, you and your lover, you being me. Each night you'd be unfaithful to my husband in some new way, and loving it. Each night you would humiliate yourself watching me fuck someone else, as you, and then again humiliate yourself as my husband by listening to yourself tell me how much you enjoyed it. And when you told me about it and I saw what you had done in my own mind, that would be my revenge. My vicarious revenge!. Like those novels I like to read. Only real! The wilder and more passionate you got, the greater would be my revenge on you! And the more you'd suffer as my husband, because you'd know all about it, even while it was happening. And then, afterward, you'd deserve all the more to be forgiven."
Understanding seemed to dawn. "Helen, I can't do that!"
Now Helen leaned way forward, staring straight at me. I flinched. "Look at me," she said. I did. "You thought you'd get off easy. Promise her the world, since you don't own it anyhow, and since you have no intention to deliver it."
I nodded, my throat choked up, staring at her.
"Well, you promised to do anything for me. Anything. Remember? And this is what I want you to do. And you will do it. You have no choice. I want you to dress up like me, make yourself look like me, become the most attractive woman you can, and then have an affair with some man as if you were me. At least one man. Maybe more. I want it to be hot and heavy and horny, like yours was, and to go on for a long time. If being unfaithful to your marriage vows violates you in some fundamental way, then good, because your affair with Estrella violated me in a fundamental way. And if you feel humiliated to have sex with a man, if your manhood feels demeaned, then good, because you humiliated and demeaned me. You, my dear husband, will be my champion, and with your body you will avenge the injury done to me by my dear husband. Then we can talk about resuming our marriage."
"Helen," I began. "Now let's be sensible."
"From my point of view there's nothing more sensible. You've already given me your word, and pledged to do anything to make up for the injury you did me. Anything. And this is the only way we can make up for that injury. So there's nothing more to say."
She paused, and then spoke very slowly. "I see I had better emphasize what's at stake here, so I don't have to keep reminding you over and over. This is going to cost you, and cost you dear, over a long period of time. For the six weeks you betrayed me, I want you to suffer. The way I would have suffered if I'd known. Then for the year that everyone knew but me, I want you to do anything I ask you to do, anything, to make it up to me."
Now Helen looked directly at me, unblinking. "Say it. Tell me again now that you'll do anything I want you to do to make it up to me."
I said it.
Then she asked me to repeat "Anything," so I did.
She asked me if it was necessary for us to put my promise into writing, in case there was some question later on what we were agreeing to. I told her no.
And she said, "Now come over here."
I did, uneasily.
And she kissed me.
That much felt good. I agreed to her terms, and she forgave me. I couldn't get out of it, now. So I had better look at what I've gotten myself into. As I thought more about what she wanted, I found myself thinking, this isn't too bad. It could be a lot worse. It seems a little kinky, but I can go along with it. Heck, it's a lot kinky, but not worse than some of the things Estrella had me do. Her notion that I should dress up and pass as a woman, and have an affair with some man somewhere, isn't altogether far-fetched. I'm not a large man, and my featureas are regular, though no one would ever call them pretty. Not without makeup, anyhow. She wants me to dress up and go out on dates and get laid, to act as if I were bisexual and enjoying myself. OK, not too bad I guess. She wants me to prepare for these dates by spending a certain amount of time trying on makeup and costumes for the part. Well, actors do it all the time -- I can manage it. She wants me to pick up some hapless dope who can't tell a woman from a man, and to deal with him somehow, maybe all night, and then to tell Helen different juicy stories about my night's true romances. That's the kind of sex she likes, and that's what she really wants. It could be a lot worse. This revenge of hers will kill my weekends for a while, but I wasn't doing much with my weekends anyhow. And in six weeks it's over.
But I was wrong. Helen had a different sense of the timeline from mine
"No," she said, when I described what I thought she had in mind, "It'll be closer to the full year you owe me. And then some. You'll be living like a woman the whole time. You have to become a woman to do this."
She drew a deep breath, again as if she were talking to a slow-witted child, and went on. "Just think about it a moment. We aren't talking about dressing you up like some crossdresser to take a sashay down the street, or through the Mall, or over to Burger King. We're talking about sex. We're talking about real bodies, close up. For example, just think about breasts. What did you do with Estrella's?"
I remembered. "Felt them. Caressed them. Lifted and kissed them. Squeezed myself against them." I remembered, but didn't say, titfucked them. And I remembered that every night Estrella had me go to sleep suckling on them, and then wake up still suckling, so my waking and my sleeping were as surrounded and filled by them as any nursing baby's. I didn't tell her I had become addicted to those gorgeous soft mounds, with their delicate pink stubs of nipples I couldn't take from my lips once I had closed on them, so Estrella had to gently tug me away when she wanted my mouth and tongue for other purposes. I didn't tell her how all Estrella had to do was deny me her breast while she was teasing my cock, and I'd do anything for her. Anything. That word again. That was how she had gotten me going with those dogs, and that night when I was already licking and sucking on her asshole, when she...well, never mind. I didn't tell Helen most of it.
But Helen already knew the essentials. "That's right. Squeeze and lift and kiss them. And more. There are no bras with prosthetics that let a man do that. You'll need real breasts. What you did with Estrella, I want some man to do to you. And some man will. So you can tell me all about it, how it felt, and then he'll be doing it to me, to my breasts, in my imagination. That's how I'll be unfaithful to you. I'll also want to know how it feels for a husband to watch another man fondling and kissing what are understood to be his own wife's breasts, even though they're his own breasts. No. You'll need your own boobs, dear, if you're to be me. Now, we'll start you on hormones, but hormones are slow and unpredictable, so we'll need to get you an operation for implants. There's no way you can argue yourself out of having real tits for other men to feel, and caress, and lift, and kiss..."
I reached for an argument, but I couldn't find one.
Then came the zinger. "And then, of course, for the main event you'll need a vagina, and that means getting rid of those things you've got dangling now between your legs. You did stick them into Estrella's pussy once or twice during those six weeks, didn't you. And then do other things with her pussy? Well, for this you'll need the same equipment. And your genitals are in the way, so they'll have to go." She sat back, having patiently stated the obvious, and waited for me to understand there was no argument here either...
I was horrified! But all I said was, "But how can I carry real breasts around in the office? And how can I get my genitals back again?"