We met in a bar. Where else? The Castellano serves real Spanish cuisine and very good whiskey. That Jennifer Randolph was cruising the boulevard and looking for something or someone was obvious: her glance was everywhere. I was dateless, into my second round, and I decided to gamble and offer my services.
"Miss, would I be out of line to offer to buy you a drink?" I said. She looked me up and down. And, apparently, decided that I wasn't a total loser.
She took another look around, turned back to me, and smiled. "All right," she said, offering me her hand to shake. "I'm Jennifer Randolph. My date is apparently a no show."
"Garfield Kline," I said, as I pumped her hand. "And, I'm glad your date didn't show up." She smirked.
"Travis," I said, signaling my favorite barkeep. Travis was only twenty-four, but he had a head on his shoulders and he was good at what he did. "Whatever the lady is having." Travis gave me a look I couldn't read, walked a few feet down the bar, pulled out a bottle of wine and poured a drink for my new girlfriend; for that is exactly how I was seeing her: talk about love at first sight. Anyway, a man can dream.
"We know each other," she said, nodding toward Travis and thereby explaining why Travis had not asked what the lady was having; he clearly already knew. I nodded my understanding, and our love affair was launched.
And it was love; it was for me at any rate. Yeah, and likewise love damn near at first sight. She was sexy and tall and slim and redheaded and possessed of the cutest freckles; and, she smelled fantastic. I would have done practically anything for her just to be rewarded with a smile.
That first night we danced, and she molded herself to me. And me, being a bit shorter than she was, didn't bother me in the least. I figured she was maybe five-nine to my five-seven, but I liked having my face close to her titties while we danced. And my face was close to her titties because she was wearing what I estimated were four-inch heels. She smiled down at me, and I thought I detected a smirk as we toured the dance floor. Song done, we headed back to a table away from the bandstand. I wanted to be able to talk to her.
I seated us next to each other. I noticed a couple of guys kinda watching us, but I paid them no mind; I was otherwise occupied. She giggled. I smiled.
"And you're giggling why?" I said, trying to decide if she were laughing at me, or just enjoying the moment. Her expression seemed to say that she thought I was a doofus; but, if that is what she thought, she was wrong. I was feeling goofy all right, but I was no dumbo.
"You're not bothered by the fact that I'm so much taller than you are, are you?" she said. "I mean most short guys won't ask me to dance like you did. You intrigue me."
"Bothered? Not a t all. You're so pretty your height doesn't even enter into it as far as I'm concerned. I had to try and get you to dance with me. If you'd turned me down; well, I've been turned down before and survived it. Plus, I really do know how to dance. So again, no," I said. "Oh, and short? I was turned down when I applied to be a jockey; they said I was too tall. Can't seem please anybody." She laughed.
"And a sense of humor. Hmm, Yes, you are quite a dancer; and, I do like a man who is confident in his manhood. And therefore, before you ask, of course I will go out with you next Saturday. What time?" she said. Now, I laughed.
"You can read minds can you?" I said.
"Of course! I'm a woman. I know everything a man is thinking even before he thinks it," she said.
"Well, you were wrong this time," I said. Her face showed surprise—no—disappointment.
"Oh, okay—I'm—I'm sorry—I just..."she started.
"No, I was thinking Friday night, not Saturday. But, Saturday's okay. Sevenish good for you?" I said. She smiled brightly.
"Sure. Seven is fine. Good," she said. I think I'd momentarily shaken her confidence—point for me.
I picked her up at 6:50. She seemed mildly surprised by my eagerness, and I was eager.
Our first date began with dinner at The Scorcher and then dancing at the Hacienda. We finished with a night of wild ass sex. And sexually, we'd done it all, which included me fucking her three times and draining myself dry. We lay on her apartment's front room carpet staring up at the ceiling.
"Was it good for you?" she said.
"Is that a serious question?" I said, still not quite breathing steadily.
"Me too," she said. "You're pretty good for a little guy. You can call me again. I mean if you want." I wasn't quite sure about her little guy comment. Was she referring to my five-inch cock or my five-seven height? I didn't ask.
"Oh, I do want," I said. "I most certainly do want." She turned her head to face me. I thought I detected a sense of something in her look.
"I hope I don't disappoint you, mister Kline. You're different, a lot different than a lot of the men I've known. And, never doubt it, mister Kline; I've known a lot of men. That said, I do think you're interesting, and I would like to get to know you better—perhaps a lot better."
"I can assure you, Miss Randolph, that mister Kline wants to get to know you better too. Oh yes, much better," I said. She smiled: it was the same enigmatic smile she'd tendered me moments before. The woman was going to be something of a mystery to plumb of that I was certain.
Miss Randolph and mister Kline did date again, and six months into the relationship found themselves in Amarillo, Texas, in front of s justice of the peace and two strangers—witnesses.
In the months before Jennifer and I married, we got to know each other well. Well, that is, that's what I thought; it would be many years before I learned just how erroneous my thinking had been. But, things did go mostly well for us in those early years.
Jennifer had been nervous about telling me about her past. I guessed, and rightly as it later turned out, that it had something to do with the men she'd known and had alluded to on our very first date. At any rate, when she started in with her true confessions, I'd interrupted her.
"Jennifer, do you love me?" I said.
"Yes, of course, but..."
"Then, the men you've known before we met mean nothing to me. And, yes, I know how complicated some of those kinds of things can be. But, unless there is some physical danger to us attached to your history, you know, that I should be made aware of; well then, let sleeping dogs lie. What I don't know won't hurt me. And, we are starting new lives together," I said, "and that's all I care about. I mean our future. Okay?"
She sighed and shrugged. "Okay," she said. "And no there is no danger to us." I smiled.
"Good!" I said. "Now, let's get on with the business of building happy lives."
"You betcha! dear man," she said.
And we did get on with the business of life. We were both thirty years old. I worked for Rosten Investments. We sold real properties, mostly commercial, and business for us was booming. Jenn, worked at Rosa's Beauty Station. She and her cohorts ensured that senior, and mostly rich, ladies looked their best, and that for truly big dollars. Jenn often annually out-earned me, And, I was in the low six figures most years. It always surprised me how much some people were willing to lay out for the sake of vanity. But, was I complaining? Not on your life!
The next nine years were fantastic as far as I was concerned. And, I was sure that they were for her too. It was one of those unions where the couple turned out to be actual soulmates; or, so I thought.
Jennifer was a sex goddess. There wasn't anything I could come up with that she wasn't willing to try. Indeed, some of the things that she came up with gave me pause. No matter how far out the fantasy; she was up for it.
I was thirty-nine years old and sitting in the Castellano with a near empty sixteen ounce Red Horse (San Miguel ale) in front of me. I'd come to love that particular Philippine staple. I'd just signaled Travis to deliver me a refill when an attractive, dark haired, woman, probably Latino, took the stool next to mine.
"Hello, Mr. Kline," she said. I looked her up and down.
"Do I know you?" I said.
"Alas, no," she said. "But, I know you, well, of you. I also know your wife. The name's Kimble, Diane Kimble." I nodded my understanding.
"What can I do for you Ms. Kimble?" I said. Her look was—what—purposeful. I had the feeling that she was no kind of friend, but I wasn't sure. She was pretty and engaging. Women like her would always get the benefit of the doubt, sure as hell from me.
"I have some information for you, Mr. Kline," she said.
"Information?" I said.
"Yes, sir. Mr. Kline, I'm a prostitute. A pretty good one too if I do say so," she said.
I started to laugh. Ms. Kimble, I'm sorry. But, I don't..."
"Do prostitutes? You do them all the time, Mr. Kline," she said. I looked at her and smiled indulgently. I shook my head in the negative.
"No, Ms. Kimble I don't. I..."
"Mr. Kline, your wife's a pro. A dyed in the wool, you better damn well believe it, first class play for pay whore," she said. She was smiling from ear to ear—or was it smirking.
My smile faded fast. "You're not funny, Ms. Kimble, not in the least," I said. She placed a manila envelope on the bar in front of me.
"Among other things my phone number is in there," she said. She slid off of the stool and was gone.
I'm not brain dead. It was clear, even without looking, that whatever was in the envelope was supposed to be proof that my wife—the woman that I had adored forever—was a prostitute. But, even with all of the confidence and attitude of the Kimble woman, I still didn't actually believe her. I ordered another drink; I needed it. And, I didn't open the envelope. No indeed, if there was even a smidgen of truth in what the woman had said to me, I was going to find out the right way. No storming into the house and demanding answers. No beating around the bush either, uttering meaningless nothings trying to gently lead my wife into telling her side of it, whatever that might be. No, I had a better idea. The envelope was sealed. I wouldn't break the seal. I downed my drink. Threw a twenty on the bar, and headed out.
I walked in the door dropped the envelope on the dinette table and went into the kitchen where Jennifer was preparing dinner. "What's for dinner, honey?" I said.
"Pot roast," she said. I was genuinely pleased and my smile must have told her so: she gave me a big hug.
Ten minutes later she was toting the dinner into the dinette and noticed the envelope. "What's that?" she said. I looked to where she was pointing and shrugged.
"Some woman, one I never met, gave it to me at Castellano's earlier. I think it's just so much bullshit, but I brought it home for you to look at if you want. I guess the woman—said her name was Diane, Diane something, oh yeah, Kimble—has something against you. Said this envelope would prove that you are not the woman I married, thought I knew. I didn't even bother to open the damn thing. I don't like back biters and liars. I almost threw it in the trash, but at the last minute, I decided that you might want to go after her if her libel is really bad. At any rate, I know the stuff she told me is shit, so I don't care about the envelope. You can toss it if you want," I said.
I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't what I got.
She dropped down in the chair she'd been standing next to. "So this is how it ends," she said, mostly to herself. "Actually, I'm surprised that it hasn't happened before this."
"What's should have happened before this, love?" I said.
"You finding out that I play for pay. I'm a whore, Garfield. And before you ask, in case you might; I do love you and only you. And for the record I never risked your health or shorted you in the sex department; you have to give me that much. I have always treasured our times together.
"And again, before you ask the next question, I mean if you would want to; no, I do not intend to stop doing other men. I like fucking for money. It's exciting." She sighed.
"So, Diane decided to out me. That kinda surprises me. I suppose you'll be divorcing me now." I sat across from her stunned. This was surreal.
"Garfield, you're a good husband. The only man who gets me for free. The rest of them were just fill-ins, substitutes to fill an insatiable need I have, and of course there's the cash. I don't, and never did love, or have the slightest emotional attachment to, any of them, just you got any of that. Sorry, for the pain I know this must be causing you. I would've given a lot to have spared you that. Anyway, what's done is done," she said.
I continued to stare at her. "And the envelope?" I said.
"I don't know, pictures maybe. I don't know. I would suggest you don't look at whatever it is, but that'll be your choice. I'm not going to," she said.
In my whole life I had never felt so low. After talking to the Kimble woman, I should have realized that this might be the way it would've played out, but I didn't. I suppose I really didn't believe it. An affair maybe, that's what I kinda deep down expected, but not this.
"I'll be leaving tonight," I said. "I'm going to be having a hard time dealing with this. Seeing you there all smug and telling me that you intend to keep on—well—doing what you're doing; it's more than I can handle. Have a fucking good laugh at this poor cuckold of a husband you've been duping forever, Jennifer. Jesus! Was I stupid. Stupid-stupid-stupid!" I got up and walked out of the room.
I headed upstairs to pack. Thirty minutes later I was standing at the front door, and looking at a concerned soon-to-be-ex-wife. "Jennifer..." I'd run out of words. I turned and walked out; I didn't look back.
"Asshole!" she said.
"Don't get your well used twat all in a wad over me outing you, dear girl. You've been screwing over that man for the last seven years. I just couldn't take it anymore. And, it was affecting your performance on the job!" said Diane.
"You're still and asshole. You could have at least warned me, so I could've let him down easy. Now, he's gonna be all pissy and sad and teary-eyed, and I mean maybe for years because of you," said Jennifer.
"Jennifer, we've talked about this. You want to stay in the business, god knows why at your age; but you do, so I've set it up for you to do just that and to stop cheatin' on good 'ole Garfield at the same time."
"What you did was turn him against me. You've solved nothing. Garfield was never going to be onboard with what I—we—do. He's way too square," said Jennifer. Boring and square, but the best kind of man you'll ever be likely to find. And trust me, I've looked!"
"No, what I did was get the ball rolling. Yes, he may end up hating you. But, I'm betting he loves you enough to talk to you before he goes off the deep end. Yes, it's a gamble. And yes, it may take quite a while, maybe a really long while; but, it was always going to come down to that, to taking a risk.
"He's a man. A man who married way out of his league. He knows it, and he all but falls all over himself trying to please you every day you're together. He's going to come back hat in hand, hoping," said Diane.
"Hoping? Hoping for what," said Jennifer.
"Hoping that you'll be able to convince him that everything you've done and continue to do is no threat to him and indeed works to his advantage.
"Let me put it this way. You need to give him an excuse to come back to you and accept your lifestyle, your career choice," said Diane. "He's got to want to, and to that end, what you give him has to sound logical and be mighty persuasive. It won't be easy, because he'll be down on himself. He'll be thinking that you're a whore because he can't get the job done. He has to believe that what you're doing is good for the both of you and for the marriage."
"Yeah, like that's going to happen," said Jenn.
"Again, I know it's not going to be easy, and a lot of things have to fall just right for you, the two of you; but it is possible. I mean he is a man; which definitely means that in reality he's already behind on points," said Diane, and she laughed.
"You better be right, Diane, because if you're not, I'm going to kick your skanky ass from here to the moon!" said Jennifer.
"I am. But, you have to be patient. You have to let the man stew for a while, maybe a good long while. He'll come around. You're too good a piece for him to give up on," Jennifer nodded at her friend's words.
"Okay. Okay," said Jennifer.
I was looking up at the blinking Budweiser sign above the bar. It'd been six months since I left the house. I had not seen nor heard of Jennifer since that night. Nor as far as I knew had she made any effort to contact me. I was remembering back, as I had almost nightly since, that I hadn't even eaten the pot roast she'd prepared for me that final night. Pot roast, not the sex, not the betrayals, not the disgrace, not her wonderful career choice—nothing—just the pot roast: it's all I could think about. Helluva thing.
The tears had come. The anger. And most of all the bitterness. Bitterness because of the fact that my Jenn didn't care a whit what I wanted needed or cared about. That she'd made no attempt whatsoever to contact me proved that. It was all about her money and sex and men and—well—and her contempt for me. I had reason to be bitter, lots of reason. The tears flowed, and that almost nightly too, even now.
It isn't exactly true what they say: time isn't the healer of all things. There might be other healing agents out there, but time was definitely not one of them, not to my mind. Six months and not a word from my ex, who wasn't even my ex. Well, not as far as I knew: I'd never gotten any papers. And, I sure as heck hadn't filed myself. So, as far as I knew, we were still man and wife—or—maybe man and whore was a better definition. What I did know for sure was that six months into the—what—separation, I had not seen or heard from Jennifer Kline nee Randolph. But well, that was true until three minutes ago.
The Thirteen Fishermen had become my favorite watering hole after my breakup with Jennifer. I still visited the Castellano on a rare occasion, but I knew for a fact that so did Jennifer. Well, I didn't need the problems running into her would have caused, so I didn't go there as much as I once had. So here I was now, sitting at the far end of the bar at the Thirteen Fishermen. And, I was sitting there with no hope of escaping without being seen. Jennifer and her John—or so I supposed he was—were seated too near the door not to notice me if I were to try to leave.
I wondered at the wisdom of just staying put and trying to not notice or be noticed. But, my fear that I would see, that which I could not endure seeing, made my choice a no brainer: I'd leave.
Rising, I headed for the counter to pay the bill. I didn't look at them, but as fate was determined to have it; they saw me. I was maybe fifteen feet from them when I heard the first, "Oh, my god!" I ignored it. A half minute later the waitress arrived to run my credit card.
"That's him? That's your little dicked wimp of a husband," said the man with her. Getting my card back and signing the chit took a half dozen seconds. I turned to look at them then. Jenn was open-mouthed. The man was almost laughing; then, he did laugh. I lost it.
"Fuck you, asshole," I said, as I flipped him the bird. "You too, slut."
"What did you say, shrimp?" said the man. I repeated my words. He got up so fast that I hardly had time to brace myself. He was on me in seconds. He had me cold. That partly because, like the wimp she evidently thought I was, I'd tried to turn for the door. He grabbed me by the hair, spun me around, and the next thing I knew I was surrounded by three very pretty girls—all dressed in white, hospital white.
"Mister Kline, you have a visitor?" said one of the nurses. I felt my eyes flutter open.
"How long have I..." I started.
"Forty-eight hours," she said. Then she smiled at me and left. My vision was still a little blurry, but there was no doubt that the woman tentatively approaching my bed was Jennifer Kline nee Randolph.
"My god, Garfield, I am so sorry. For the record, I called the police even before the bartender did and preferred charges against the asshole," she said. "He's in county lockup as we speak. God, how sorry I am. All I seem to be able to do is hurt you. Jesus!"
"Whaddya want, Jennifer? Why are you here? I don't pay for sex, so you can forget any liaison between you and me," I said. She frowned.
"I guess I deserved that. But, Garfield, you never paid for it before, so why would you even imagine such a ridiculous thing. You're my husband, even if you don't want to be. So all of my love and my body are yours any time you want me," she said.
"Yeah, just so long as I'm willing to share you with the paying public," I said. "Oh, and why did your asshole john imagine, know, that I had a small cock; and who was it told him I was a wimp, Jennifer? You? I'll pass on your implied invitation, thank you very much. And, I'll ask you again, why are you here?"
"I just wanted to make sure that you were okay. Like I said, you're my husband and I love you," she said. "And, as for the rest, well..."
"Yeah, well, whatever, right? Anyway, your john didn't kill me, so you can feel good again. And, you can leave," I said.
"Okay, Garfield, but there is one other thing. When you're up to it, I mean when you feel a little better, please, I'd like to take you to lunch or dinner if you'd allow. It's been a long time between meals for us. We need to sit down and talk. I mean if you'd be willing."
"What would be the point, Jennifer. I'm still a one-woman man, and you're still not a one-man woman; unless I missed something here?" I said.
"Food and talk, that's all, Garfield; oh, and the food's on me, I mean in case you were worried. Think about it." She placed her business card on the night stand beside the bed: Rosa's Beauty Salon. "Please, Garfield," and then she was gone. Rosa's Beauty Salon: blue hair for the ladies, sweet pussy for their husbands.
My next visitor was in a uniform. "Yes, officer, I'm mister Kline. And, yes, officer, I was assaulted. And, yes officer, I did tell the asshole to fuck off after he insulted me in front of god and everybody. And, no officer, I do not want to press charges. My medical bills are going to be paid by the guy, so my lawyer assures me, so it's okay. I just want to get the heck outta here and get on with my life," I said.
"All right, mister Garfield, it's your choice," he said, "Saves me a ton of paperwork, so who am I to complain. Have a nice day." The name plate on his navy-blues said McCoy. I waved weakly at him as he retreated to the nurse's station, no doubt looking for a day old donut.
I lay there thinking about Jennifer's request. Lunch? Dinner? Talk? Why? So I could feel worse than I already did. Not on your lily-white! I didn't need to talk to Jennifer Kline nee Randolph; I needed to forget her, an enterprise that was proving way more difficult than I'd hoped it would be. Difficult, hell! It was impossible.
I was sitting in my cubicle making a list of clients that I would be seeing the following week. One in particular figured to make my bonus for the year. If it closed by week's end, I was ten grand to the good. I hadn't had much to smile about since breaking up with Jenn, a year gone now; and no, I hadn't had that dinner and sit down with her; what would have been the point. But today I was smiling. Nothing was going to ruin this day for me.
Fred Lytle was CEO and the primary decision maker for Lytle Enterprises Inc. The for sale mall I was the sales agent for was being purchased by LE. It would be their flagship business center if all went according to plan. I waited for the call. No, that's not right. I waited nervously, anxiously, desperately for the call!
"Mister Kline, mister Lytle's on the phone," said Marilee, my assistant. I smiled and I answered it. Hanging up, I buzzed Marilee to come in.
"Make reservations for Antonio's for tonight, Marilee. Mister Lytle and I have a date," I said. I don't think I was too puffed up.
"Mister Kline, that's wonderful," she said.
"Yes, yes, it is," I said. "Marilee, I'm taking off now, I have some things to get ready for tonight."
"Certainly, sir, and I will have the reservations in your name for 7:00PM—as usual?" she said.
"Yes, yes, seven. I don't know what I was thinking. Seven it is."
"Yes, mister Kline, your parties are already here," said Ernie, the maître d'.
"Thanks, Ernie. But parties?" I said.
"Yes, mister Lytle and his lady friend.
"Oh, okay. Thank you," I said. He led me into the back where a private room for special occasions was located. I had called Marilee later in the day and instructed her to be sure that we got that room. We needed no interruptions.
He rose when I entered, and I hurried forward, not too obviously, and extended my hand. "Mister Kline, so good to see you," he said, as we shook. But, I didn't really hear him. I glanced past him to the lady, previously half hidden by the large man's body, the woman paled as did I. He noticed.
"I don't blame you for staring, mister Kline. Let me introduce the beautiful miss Randolph," he said.
She smiled mechanically at me, and offered me her hand. I did not smile back.
The shock was purely stunning. "Are you all right, mister Kline?" he said. I turned to face the man who a moment before was going to be the catalyst that made my career. But now..."
"Uh—actually..." I started. Jennifer seemed to be gathering herself.
"Mister Kline, I hope I didn't embarrass you," said Jennifer. Her words shook me. I made an effort to pull myself together. Lytle gave each of us a queer look, but Jennifer's charm brought him back. And the dinner meeting continued.
Jennifer was clearly a consummate professional escort. She had him laughing and me phonying up smiles to keep things on an even keel. The contract signed, the dinner eaten, the cocktails consumed: we parted.
I arrived at 7:00AM. The boss was waiting for me. Apart from nearly breaking my back, he hugged me so hard, everything went smoothly. The champagne flowed even though it was early A.M. Bonuses were passed out. I didn't even open mine. I just smiled and joined in the professional banter, by 9:00AM it was over, and we all got the day off.
At home I looked at the two things on the dinette table. I'd been sitting there staring at them for more than three hours. My stomach was awash in butterflies. I just couldn't shake the image of her and Lytle in bed together. He was only the second of her johns that I had ever met, and the first one had put me in the hospital. This one was responsible for getting me a big ass bonus.
The two items held my attention.
I opened the first one: my bonus check. I knew that it should be ten grand. Peeling back the envelope's flap I pulled out the check. It was not the ten thousand that I had expected; it was for twenty-five thousand. Twenty-five thousand dollars to watch my wife make hay with her john; I was sick.
I picked up the other item, my cell. I dialed the number on the business card. She answered on the second ring.
"Hello," she said.
"The IHOP on third in half an hour." I hung up. I knew she'd be there. And, she was.
I stood behind the chair across from her. I was on a mission. "Your john was responsible for getting me a large bonus. Biggest I ever got actually." I still had not taken my seat. I pulled out the check from my blazer's inside pocket. I held it out for her to see.
Her eyes got big. "Jesus, Garfield, that is something," she said.
"Yeah, I guess," I said. I pulled out a lighter and set it on fire, burning it in front of her eyes. Eyes of customers near our table focus on the burning paper as I set the last flaming remnants of it in a utility dish that was on the table; it shriveled and was gone.
"For godssake, Garfield what are you doing," she almost screamed.
"I will not take money from anyone, even indirectly, who is screwing my wife, not ever, Jennifer Randolph, not ever," I said. She was mouthing something, but the words were incoherent to me. I turned and walked out.
"You mean he actually burned a twenty-five thousand dollar check right there in the restaurant!" said Diane.
"Yes. I guess holding out hope that he might someday lighten up is kind of a waste, huh," said Jennifer. I mean it's been over a year now—and the check." Diane smirked.
"Actually, there's a chance that you might have turned the corner with him. The way I see it either his love for you or his anger at you is fast flaming out. Like a falling star that glows brightly for a moment than is cold forever. I figure it's fifty-fifty one way or the other.
"Yeah, well you know which one I'm putting my money on," said Jennifer.
"Yeah, not exactly a 'glass-half-fuller' type are you," said Diane. "But the truth is, it really could go either way. If you can get him to sit down with you, you'll get him. If not, well, it is what it is."
"It's gone on too long, Diane. If he was going to knuckle under it would have happened already," said Jennifer. "I don't know why I've waited so long. I should just divorce him and put us both out of our misery."
"No, not even. Do you know he hasn't even had a date since he left you. Reason? Because he can't get you out of his heart," said Diane.
"Maybe true, but I'm a prostitute and he is not going to go along with me remaining one. Not a chance."
"Hmm, I think it's time for me to have another chat with your hubby," said Diane. "He's suffered enough. Time to pull him out of the blue funk that he's in." Jennifer looked her askance. Diane just smiled and it was the smile of a conspirator.
I saw her come in. I was on my third out of what figured to be ten manhattans. It was how I was coping anymore with the things my sooner-or-later-to-be-ex had done to me and was continuing to do to me.
Twenty-five fucking thousand dollars down the shitter, and that didn't even begin to compare to the heartache that Jennifer Kline nee Randolph had caused me.
"Hello, mister Kline," said a smiling Diane Kimble. "What did you think of the stuff I gave you a while back?"
"Why do you care? You did your worst, and it destroyed my marriage. But, to answer your question, I never looked at your garbage. Is that plain enough for you. Get lost," I said.
"Now, is that any way to talk to a friend," she said.
"Friend! You've got to be kidding," I said.
"Yes, friend. If I hadn't clued you, you'd still be an unknowing cuckold, and when you did find out, and you would have; it would have been a whole lot worse," she said.
"How do you know? It's plenty bad as it is," I said.
"I know because I'm your wife's friend—her best friend actually. Spoke to her just today," said Diane.
"Really. Best friends are you. With friends like the two of you—well, you get the picture," I said.
"Look, Kline, I outted her because I couldn't stand to see her screw around on you like that. It actually pissed me off. Here she has a good man, and what does she do? She fucks everything in sight and delivers sloppy seconds to him about half the time. No, I am not sorry I outted her, and for the record she understands why I did it and forgives me.
"And, if you have a brain in your head, you'll be doing the same for her. Forgiving her I mean, and getting by your mad. Being a pro is not the bad thing that the religious nuts say it is. It can be a good thing, a healthy thing. And it is, the way Jenn and I do it," she said.
"You're crazy. The both of you are crazy," I said, standing up and getting ready to leave.
"Sit down, sport, I want to talk to you," she said.
"About what," I said.
"Just sit the fuck down. I didn't come all the way over here just to see you run for cover like some high school kid. So, sit your ass down and hear me out," said Diane. I felt like a little boy in the presence of this particular whore for some reason, and I'll be damned if I knew what the reason was. I sat.
"Good. Now, are you ready to believe me when I tell you that your wife loves you?" she said. I looked at her and almost sneered—almost.
"If she loved me would she be a fucking prostitute?" I countered.
"Yes and no," said Diane. "The two things being married to you and being a prostitute are not necessarily mutually exclusive. So, okay, I've answered your question. How about you answering mine." I looked her askance and mouthed my answer.
"Yes, I guess I believe that she does, at least on some level," I said. "Just not enough to be my wife in the true sense of the word. A one-man woman," Diane snickered.
"Au contrar, sir. She is very much a one-man woman, and the one man is you. She just doesn't see that her getting paid to fuck means anything in regards to her love for the one-man she loves. She sure as hell doesn't love any of the men she screws for cash. I am more than sure you can understand and believe that," said Diane. "So, I guess the question is, can you see your way clear to talk to her about the way she sees things. I mean give her a chance to sell her position?"
"To talk to her? Maybe. To go along with her idea of a marriage? Not real likely," I said. "But, I guess, I've cooled off enough over the past year to talk to her. But, look, I have another question."
"And that would be?" said Diane.
"When you outted her, when she laid it on me that she was going to continue whether I approved or not: she had a choice. She could choose between her life as a lady of the evening or keep her marriage. She obviously chose her life of crime. Doesn't that indicate as clear as anything that whatever she feels for me that her life on her back means more to her than I do?" I said.
Diane smirked. "For a smart guy you really are a little bit behind the curve in your reasoning, Garfield. The short answer is no. The way she saw it, she figured that you would either approve of her little career or not, and if not then there was too much history—hers—for you to forgive let alone forget. She told me she actually considered dumping her activities to keep you. But, she knew you'd always have it in the back of your mind what she'd been doing for the past seven years, and never really forgive or trust her again. The way she saw it, she had no choice but to let you go. Her only hope was—is—to get you to be okay with her lifestyle.
"Garfield, she is willing to meet you half way, maybe even more than half way. Kind of adjust what she does to suit your life together. But, for you and her to get back, she needs to get you to appreciate that what she does is not the bad thing you think it is. One thing is for absolutely sure: if you can somehow some way see your way clear to accept her activities, she will more than show her appreciation to you," said Diane.
"I don't know. I just don't know. Talking to you it all seems so nothing. But, to be at home with her, watching her get ready for a date. A date where it is absolutely certain that she will be letting a man, some john, screw her—I just don't know. Could I handle it? Ever? I know I couldn't now, but even ever? Could I get used to it? Tell me, Diane, how does any man get used to something like that!" I said, with a little more vigor than was perhaps necessary. She nodded.
"There would be a learning curve, Garfield. And in the early going it might be a bit steep. It would be up to Jenn to handle things very carefully. She, we, the both of us, understand the male ego. She knows things would be a little hard in the beginning. But, in the long run you definitely would be able to handle it if you just gave it and her the opportunity.
"Look, Garfield, other prostitutes have husbands and do fine. And I mean the husbands do fine. You want a vanilla love life with malaise setting in after a few more years? You wanna be bored to tears for the last half of your life? I don't think so!" she said.
"'Yeah well' nothing. That's what you'll have. Your wife is willing to give you time to wake up and get it. But, she won't wait forever, even though she's told me that she will. It's been a year already. Sooner or later some stud is going to ring her chimes, and being lonely will no longer be an option," she said. I had to admit her words made me squirm.
I looked her in the eyes. "Do it," I said. "Tell her I will meet with her. No promises, I'm not sure about any of this. In these last minutes, I've been mulling something over in my mind. But, that said, I will talk to her, see her. And, her without one of her johns hanging on her arm. Okay?" I said.
"You got it, big boy," said Diane.
We were sitting across from each other not quite staring. More a case of being tentative about what we wanted to say—both of us—than anything else.
Jennifer broke the ice. "Shall I start or do you want to," she said, in a voice that seemed almost disinterested, which surprised me. I had thought she'd wanted this sit down.
"Is there something wrong, Jennifer? Are you wasting my time?" I said. My voice was far from being disinterested; it was decidedly irritated. "Because, if you are, we're already done." Now, she was the one that looked surprised.
"No-no," she said. "It's just—I'm—I just don't want to; well, Garfield to be honest, I just don't want to have to defend myself or what I do. I came here because Diane thought it would be a good idea, and because of the distant hope that, well, you and I might mend our fences. But, I also worry that you might be thinking of trying to convince me to live—well—conventionally."
"Interesting. Okay, I'll be honest too, I don't know how this is going to go tonight, or really, what I might be willing to do or not do. But, I do have a question that I'd like to ask. I was afraid to ask you before, but I guess tonight is the night that we get it done, settle things once and for all," I said.
"Okay, I guess I kinda feel the same way," she said. "So what's your question?"
"Why, and—how long? I mean really?" I said. Jennifer sagged back in her seat.
"You want the truth? Actually, I should say, you really do not want the unadorned truth," she said.
"That's what I thought. No, don't tell me," I said. She just looked away. "That bad, huh?" I said. She turned back to face me.
"Yes, knowing the male ego as I do. Yes, that bad." I nodded.