"Jill, you can't be serious. Donald Long is nowhere near being in your league. He's short, and nerdy, and a truly terrible dancer; and he's a pussy compared to the men that you could have. Now, Kyle Woodrow, he is in your league; you snap your fingers and he will be on his knees begging you to marry him when we graduate," said Penny. "And, you can add to that that there is no doubt that Kyle is going places."
"So would Donald, Penny, get on his knees and propose, that is, if I snap my fingers. And, I don't care if my husband goes places, as you put it. I'll be the one doing the going places. I'm determined to be somebody, Pen; and you can take that to the bank. No, I'm looking for a man who will be there for me when I need him: the wind beneath my wings as the song goes.
"Kyle's tall, dark, and handsome; and, absolutely stuck on himself. His ego will all but force him to keep me on the backburner. I am not into being on the backburner for any man, Penny. Plus, Kyle would be cheating on me in a year tops. I will be able to dictate to Donald and make him think he's won the fucking lottery in getting me for his wife," I said. "No, no Kyle Woodrows for me."
"Oh I see, you want to be the knightess in shining armor and have your husband be your loyal squire: a Sancho Panza to your Don Quixote. Is that it?" she laughed. "You want a man who is so pussywhipped that you can do whatever you want, is that it Jill?" said Penny, now positively breaking up laughing.
"No, I just want to have clear sailing to the top in my profession. I want a man who will have my back, that's all.
The dance was the swan song of our college sorority's seniors. A bunch of us would be graduating in a week's time. Then, we would be off to our niches in the real world. Penny and I had been close since our freshman year, and we were discussing who we were going to choose to be our significant others.
"Don't look now, girlfriend," said Penny. Here comes your pirate—uh—I mean your loyal squire in waiting." I gave her a sarcastic look that told her to cool it.
"May I have this dance?" said Donald Long. I rose as he took my hand. I had a good six inches on him with my heels, but he did not seem to feel intimidated by that little reality. Yes, Donald would do. A ne'er do well in the offing for sure, but a gentle man who would be more than tractable; I was certain of it.
The gavel sounded and that was it; we were divorced.
The light went out of my life that day: three months gone now. The most beautiful woman in the world, the sexiest woman in the world, the sweetest girl in the world and I were no longer an item; we were now a statistic.
I'd met Jill Rodgers thirteen years earlier at a costume ball. She was Tinker Bell and I was Blackbeard the pirate. Her costume left zero to the imagination. Mine, on the other hand, suited me. I was tough, and gruff, and rough around the edges. She was smart and pretty and quick witted. She was going places; one could just sense it.
The ball was sponsored by one or another of the sororities, and I'd been invited by Pauline Carter an old high school flame to attend. I'd been two years ahead of Pauline at Central High. She'd been one of those quiet, pretty, fragile kind of girls that every guy feels duty bound to protect, and my last two years in high school were spent protecting her, and that for purely selfish reasons.
Pauline was a senior at State, a Business Administration major, the night of the aforementioned soiree, and I'd just been discharged from the Army. If it matters, I'd been a supply sergeant. I was there, at the dance, as Pauline informed me up front, to escort her and to make her current boyfriend, Dennis Rodman, jealous. Dennis, it seems, had not been as attentive as he might have been toward our girl. Anyway, I was game, and we'd succeeded: we'd made him jealous. And, predictably, Pauline ended up leaving with him. Which was okay with me, it left me free to cruise the party. And cruise I did.
Anyway as my pirate ship cruised lazily around the premises, I fell in to the rear of the line of guys trying to get on Tinker Bell's dance card. I knew miss 'Bell'—well, from afar—from our high school days; she'd never given me a tumble then, and I'd never expected her to. Though I'd never dated her, I had socialized with a few who had. But now, ex-army and all...
I did manage to get two or three dances with her, and, surprise-surprise, a date for the following weekend. And I was surprised. I'd asked her to dance that first time thinking I had but little chance of getting anywhere with anyone in her league. But, to prove the adage that nothing ventured would result in nothing whatsoever gained, I'd managed to get up enough courage to ask, and had gotten my reward.
To make a complicated and longish story a trifle less complicated and a deal shorter, let me say that our date the following Saturday night was spectacular. The woman was a thrill a minute, and the sex was outrageous. And, no, I did not even begin to question the fact that she'd given it up kinda easily; and that, even though, as I think I mentioned, we had never mixed socially before that fateful night at the party the week before. And, allowing myself the latitude to jump ahead a little here; everything I had imagined about her that first evening at the party, ended up being true. She was smart, she would indeed become very successful—I mean very—and she was way out of my league. This last was not really brought home to me until, well, until earlier today.
"Hi Helen, the boss in?" I said. "I'm supposed to have an appointment."
"Yes, Mr. Long. She said to send you right in when you got here. But, she does have Mr. Loring in there at the moment. Could you hold on for just a sec while I check?" she said.
"My boss? My boss is in with her?" I said.
"Yes sir. But, I'm pretty sure that they are about done," she said. I nodded my understanding. I watched as she buzzed the boss' line.
"Ms. Rodgers, Mr. Long is here," said Helen.
"Thank you Helen. I'll be right out." Helen turned to me and tendered me a half smile. For some reason her smile unsettled me. It was almost like—something. Just then the door opened and my boss exited.
"Good morning, Mr. Loring," I said. I smiled, but he didn't return it.
"Good morning, Mr. Long.
"Helen, I'll be out in the field today. I have some mending to do with some of our customers. I'll be on the cell if anyone needs me," he said. And then he was gone without again even looking in my direction.
"Yes, Mr. Loring," said Helen, to his retreating form.
Helen seemed about to say something to me, but just then my wife came out and motioned me in: and yes, my wife is the CEO of Castor and Weintraub Consulting, a company dealing mainly in public relations and personnel arbitration. I'd been hired as a field representative for the firm a dozen years earlier, and, I was still a field rep; well, whaddya gonna do; it was my niche. At any rate, my job was to see to it that our clients were satisfied with C&W services, and when such was not the case, to fix it so that they were satisfied. Without so much as a half-smile, my wife turned on her heels and headed inside. I had a bad feeling, but I followed her.
She sashayed her way behind her desk and seemed to fall into her throne. I followed her example and took a seat across from her without being invited to do so. She eyed me—what—coldly.
"Good morning, dear," I said. We'd not seen each other since early the day before. She'd come home and to bed after I was asleep, and she'd left before I was up; well, she was the CEO.
"Donald, Brad Loring has had some not too complimentary things to say about your work. Know anything about that?" she said.
"Huh? What? I'm doing good," I said, with confidence. "I just saw him a minute ago. He came here to complain about me?"
"He says the Montrose account is about to split from us and a couple of others are thinking about it. All three are yours, Donald," she said.
"Montrose! No way. I was there this week doing the tour. They were happy. They said so, Jill. They said so!" She gazed, no stared at me—hard.
"Donald, Mr. Loring wanted to fire you. I told him I had to talk to you first.
"Donald, you're my husband. We've been together a lot of years. When we both signed on with C&W those many years ago, I thought, well, I thought that it was a nice idea, a good thing. Now, well now I'm not so sure. I never thought that someday I would be your boss. But, I am, and that's the long and the short of it," she said. "I have to think of the company first: and that for the good of the both of us, you and me," she said.
"Huh? Yeah, the company first, for the good of us," I wasn't quite being sarcastic. "Jill, I think it's great you've done as well as you have. I've got no ego problems when it comes to that. I think I've done pretty good too, no matter what Loring says. And I do not believe that Montrose torpedoed me like that; I can't believe it."
I smiled, "But you can't fix the Fawcett at home and I can," I said, smiling and trying to lighten the mood. She still didn't smile.
"Donald, you're fired," she said. "You'll get the usual severance package." What she said took a moment to register.
"What? What! I'm fired. But—but—but you're my wife. I mean don't I even get a second chance. Maybe see if I can find out what's the matter with the Montrose account? Fix things up with them, if there is something wrong? And those other companies too? I said.
.... There is more of this story ...