Scene One: "Poker Night"
"There's three stages of sex in marriage," announces Don.
"Yeah," says Milt, "Dating, engaged, and who cares." Tom is reshuffling the deck. Ike is pouring himself another Irish.
"The first stage is the kitchen stage."
Peter passes some popcorn to Bill.
"That's when the newlyweds do it all the time, trying every conceivable position and location, even the kitchen table."
Peter and Bill yell "boo" almost in harmony. Milt adds, "If they'd try inconceivable positions, there'd be fewer kids!" Tom keeps shuffling. A few cards fall on the table and he has to start over.
"Next is the 'bedroom' stage. Wanna know why?"
"No!" yell Peter and Bill.
"Because they always do it missionary style, on Saturday night, and..."
"I know!" yells Tom. "In the bedroom! Right? Do I win?"
"Tommy earns an 'A.' Now the last stage is the 'hall' stage."
"'Cause It takes place in the hall?"
"Shut up, Tommy. Wanna know why?"
"Please, please tell us why!" chime Peter, Bill, and Milt.
"Okay. Every so often you pass each other in the hall and yell 'Fuck you! Fuck you!'"
General booing. Tom shoots cards at Don and some fall to the floor. Milt growls, "So my wife is normal?" Ike asks, "Will you pick up the freakin' cards, Donnie? I gotta win more of your money."
When Peter slips into bed, Maria stirs. He kisses her and runs a hand from her shoulder down to her hip.
"Hi sweetie." Yawning. "How'd you do, tonight?"
"It was fun, honey." He caresses her thigh.
"That's nice. Fill me in, in the morning." Maria gives him a peck and turns on her side.
Peter lies in the dark, his hand draped over Maria's hip. After a while he sighs quietly. The joke got it all wrong.
Scene Two: "Domestic Life"
Peter asks Maria, "Are you sexy?"
"I'm sorry, honey."
The next night they're lying in bed, talking and touching. Peter kisses Maria and caresses a breast with his fingers.
"I'm sorry, honey. I have a little headache."
"I'll massage your head."
"That would be nice."
Maria lies with her head in Peter's lap and he plays with her hair, massages her temples and forehead, and runs his thumbs lightly over her eyelids. It's not long before she breathes her first contented moan. After a while he asks, "Would you like me to get you anything?"
"That's okay, sweetie. You're so good to me. You're all the medicine I need."
"Well, get your sleep. I hope you feel better in the morning."
The next night they begin kissing and Peter touches his hand to the triangle at Maria's mound. She grabs his penis through his underwear.
"You're wearing too many clothes," she says, and they strip.
"I want to kiss you all over your body." He sits up and moves his face down toward her vagina, kissing her nipples and belly on the way, but she stops him with her hand.
"Not there," she says softly. "Come inside me."
There's a flash of disappointment on his face. He turns his head until it passes, crawls between her legs, and kisses her before he begins to pump. She sighs a little. When he's done he says, "I'll get the vibrator."
"No. That was just fine. You is my sexy wuvver."
They kiss and talk for a while, and then Maria turns on her side to go to sleep. After a minute she reaches back for Peter's hand and places it on her waist, where he keeps it for a while.
The next day Maria tells Peter her period has started.
Scene 3: "Poker Night: II"
Peter's stomach is bothering him tonight. He has to leave the game early.
At home, though, there's a strange car in the driveway. A gray Camry. The house is dim and the kitchen door is locked.
By now, Peter's chest has gone tight. He opens the door quietly and closes it without a sound.
"Do it, you bastard! Do it!" It's Maria's voice, coming loudly from the bedroom. "Fuck my ass! Fuck me! Fuck me!"
She's shouting. A man's voice responds.
"You fuckin' slut! I'm gonna fuck your ass off!"
Both scream out "ohhs" and "ahhs" and other sounds. Peter puts his hands to his face. After a few minutes he turns around and leaves quietly the way he came. Before he drives off, he looks at the license plate on the Camry.
Back at poker the guys are surprised to see him. "Well," he explains. "How often do I get a chance to take your money?"
But he has to go home sometime.
Maria stirs before he gets to the bed. "Hi, darling. Was it fun tonight?"
"Not so much. My stomach was bothering me a little."
"Well, you should have come home. I'd have fixed you something."
"That's all right. How was your evening?"
"Quiet. Mom called and we talked for awhile."
When he's in bed there's a hesitation before he leans to her for his goodnight kiss, then Maria turns away to go to sleep.
Peter doesn't touch Maria. He lies on his back and stares into the darkness. He hardly breathes. When he does finally move, it's to wipe his face with his fingertips, but after more time has passed he eases out of bed and tiptoes to the den, where he cries for a good long time.
Scene 4: "A Room With A View"
"Have fun at poker." Maria gives Peter a kiss. "Win enough to take me to Paris!"
Peter drives half a block, parks, and switches on a little device. He doesn't have to wait long. Within a minute there are seven beeps. She's dialing. A man answers.
"He's gone, Ron. I'm all yours."
"Good. Prepare to get reamed out completely tonight."
"From a man with a big sausage."
"Oh, sausage man, give me your mustard!"
"You'll swallow my mustard, you slut, and get it in your buns too."
"You'll have to make me, you Neanderthal!"
"Oh, I'll have fun making you. You're my bitch! My come-sucking bitch. You better get your mouth and ass ready!"
A car turns the corner and pulls into the driveway. Ron has been talking and driving. The lights begin going off inside the house, so by the time Ron gets to the door the house is at rest. Peter can just make out Maria opening the door for him.
Peter stays away until midnight, driving in circles. He passed the house twice, and Ron's car was gone by 11:00. Before he gets down the darkened hall, Maria calls out, "Hi, honey!"
"How was your evening?"
"Quiet. How did you do at poker?"
"So-so." He fumbles at something in the dark. "I'll be up awhile longer. I'm pretty wired."
"Oh sure. Make me spend the night alone and then sleep alone, too."
Peter gets fresh underwear and a tee, and carefully lifts something tiny from atop the armoire. He closes the bedroom door, carries it into the den, connects it to a port on the computer, and watches. The video lasts about two hours. He doesn't move the entire time.
"That bitch!" he whispers. "That come-sucking bitch! That no good, come-sucking bitch!"
Scene 5: "The Letter"
A man is standing in the driveway when Maria gets home.
"Can I help you?"
He hands her two envelopes. "These are divorce papers. This other envelope is a personal letter from your husband."
Maria hardly breathes until the man has gone, then staggers against her car. She tears open Peter's letter.
I know all about your sex sessions with Ron Brightman. Frankly I'd have thought you could do better. I'm through, though. Peter the patsy. If you had asked, I'd have given you a no-fault divorce. I'd have given you anything. Well, we're far past that point. I don't care to ever see you again.
Now: business. I cleared out our joint checking and savings accounts, including our CDs, mutual funds, and IRAs. Did you know there were substantial penalties for early withdrawal? Was that a problem with Ron? I cancelled our credit cards. Get your own. I got an apartment and I'm through paying for the McMansion. I took photos I wanted, jewelry I gave you, papers of mine, etc.
You'll notice the CD-ROM. I set up a nanny cam on the armoire and made a video of your coupling on Friday the 13th. It's amazing how long you two can go at it, and how loud you are. Imagine my surprise! I took the liberty of sending a copy to Ron's wife. I'd sure like to be a fly on the wall when she shows it to him! I also sent a copy to your boss, since Ron is in your office. Tsk!
Oh! Right. Almost forgot. I sent it to everyone in our email address book, including your mother and some names I didn't recognize. They've all gotten it by now.
Is there anything else? Just this:
Scene 6: "Hail Maria, Full Of Grace"
The last thing Maria's mother said before she hung up: "You should get down on your hands and knees and beg him to take you back, if it isn't too late!"
"Thanks for nothing, Mom!" Maria is debating with the air. "Take his side! As though he had nothing to do with it! As though no woman ever made a mistake before!" She's crying and talking and walking at the same time, down the hall to the den, kitchen, living room. Sit down, Maria. Get up. Back to the den. Turn the TV on, off. To the bedroom. Pick up a book. Throw it down.
Later, she rises slowly. The sun is gone, the house now full of shadows. A lamp pushes them back a little, and she avoids them. In the lamplight her eyes are swollen. Her footsteps echo faintly, but when she stops to listen it is deathly still.
Maria wipes her eyes with her palms and stands in the hall, halfway to nowhere.