Bren calls me on my lunch break every day. Today she must have been busy. She’s always busy. I waited by the phone for a few minutes, thinking she may be washing her hands or in the bathroom. Nothing.
“We’re going out to get food. Would you like to join us?” Pam rested her forehead against the door, sweetly smiling at me.
“I’m staying here. Thank you.” I must have groaned or the expression on my face gave it away, because she took a seat at the chair meant for clients.
“Is everything alright?” I looked into her cobalt lightning eyes and I surrendered. I didn’t think twice when I rose to my feet and kissed her supple lips. Pam wore a cherry flavored lip gloss that made my lips feel slippery. My hands flew across her chest and I moaned upon thrusting inside her, made simple by her summer dress. Pam didn’t fight me, perhaps she too was sexually frustrated. Pam untucked my dress shirt and nearly ripped the button loose as she scratched my back and kissed my abs. The flurry of motion and intense passion made the world disappear for a moment. I could swear I heard someone outside, but I couldn’t concentrate on it. Nor did I care.
“I knew you liked me.” Pam moaned as she quivered against me, my climax quickly approaching. I said nothing, I didn’t even look at her, as I watched the wall behind her and groaned. Her birth against my girth was an exhileration I long since felt. The rush of excitement faded as we seperated and fixed our indiscretions. I looked up and realized the door hadn’t been shut all the way.
“Shit. I fucked up.” I sighed.
“I should go.” Pam said. I think she realized she made a mistake also. This time she closed the door behind her. I resumed to my fixation on my phone, when I realized, Bren called me. I felt like a salmon and I looked like one too. I took a few minutes to compose my alibi, then wrote it down while I still felt confident she would believe me.
“Hey honey.” I said. I took advantage of the numbness from the vile act I committed. The beginning of an affair is arguably easier than facing the fact later down the road.
“I just wanted to let you know that I will be in surgery late tonight. I won’t be home to make dinner. Would you like me to send over some money so you can order food or is leftovers good?”
“Leftovers.” I said. A one word response would have driven me up the wall, yet she glossed over it. She hung up without saying “I love you”, and without asking “how is work going”?
“Elias,” Pam said, “George would like to speak with you.” I cursed under my breath. I know exactly what he is going to tell me. Pam and I sat in his office, an office adorned with his personal achievements about his perfect life. I could only imagine the skeletons in his closet.
“Elias, do you know why we’re meeting?”
“I’m assuming it’s because I am about to be fired.”
“No, I was going to say that Pam here is moving in a month. I wanted to know if we should promote from within or hire a new secretary?” I stared at him, speechless.
“Actually George, I quit.”
“Wait, what?” Pam looked at me as though I had stabbed her in the arm.
“I’m leaving. I’ve been unhappy for a while and my marriage is falling apart. I’m moving.”
“I had no idea. I’m sorry to hear that, is there any way you can stay at least two days until I can find a replacement?” I shook my head, glared at Pam, and walked out. I vaguely heard Pam mention that should would stay and pick up some slack. I already knew she wanted to leave because I embaressed her.
When I got to the bus stop, I realized I am an idiot. I single handedly ruined my integrity and quit my job. I would soon lose my marriage. Bren will hate me. Hell, I hate me. Is it a mid life crisis at twenty-five? Who knows?
I opened the door to Bren’s house. I never felt as though I belonged in her house. I did not contribute to the mortgage, as this is her childhood home. Bren inherited it from her mother a year ago. I think that’s when this whole mess started. She refused to put my name anywhere on her bills, or her mortgage. In fact our finances are so seperate, my car is paid on my wages. Where is it now? My brother uses it more than I do. He pays the insurance while I pay the monthly payments towards owning the damn thing. Bren owns her car, paid in full, from a lawsuit she won against her ex husband. I should have thought my failures through before acting upon them.
The most terrifying phrase to hear from your partner is “we need to talk”, and that’s what she said to me. I knew it was coming. I think we both knew it was coming.
My coffee was quickly cooling as I took a drag from my cigarette, she was on her way soon. I would hear it, I’m sure of it. I felt the calm before the storm. I could see the clouds approaching, and could hear the thunder as the garage door open, then close. Bren is home.
“Hello sweetheart. How was work?” Bren appeared normal and Cherry, but for how long?
“Hi Honey. Work was annoying. I had to deal with Amy. You know how I feel about Amy.”
“What did you want to talk about?” I asked. I wanted the explosion to happen sooner rather than later.
“I recieved my bonus today and I thought we could go to dinner. Where would you like to go?”
“That’s what? Were you expecting a different question?”
“Yes. Sorry. What’s the name of that one restaurant we went to for our anniversary?”
“You must have good news for me. You only take me to Spike’s Steakhouse when there is good news.” Bren remained oblivious to my unease. Shit. She still had no idea. I must have a problem.
“You could say that.” I said. My coffee is now cold, and my cigarette is now extinguished. It’s going to be a long night.
“How was work?” She returned the question. I couldn’t admit my failure to her.
“Work dragged.” I neglected to elaborate, a bet I often made. I bet her, in my head, that she wouldn’t ask further and we’d fall into our normal routine.
It was all a routine. Perhaps I’d become complacent. She showered than went to the garage for yoga. I would shower and play pool in the office until we made dinner then watch television until we went to bed. The same routine everyday for over three years. In the beginning it seemed so safe and simple. I realize now, I dont know why I did this. Bren is gorgeous. She is intelligent and interesting, but so boring. I look at her and I feel the passion still bubbling, which makes this harder, but the thought of what I did to her is a leech feeding on my blood. I’m drained. I have to do this. I’m already a terrible person.
“Are you ready for dinner?” Bren called from the bedroom.
“Almost.” I stared at myself in the mirror. I wasn’t looking at me. I leered at the demon that resided within me.
“You look absolutely handsome.” Bren gripped my shoulders. The cringe that occured was an earthquake from the pit of my stomach.
“You look gorgeous.” I said. I swear I’m not lying.
Her heels clicked on the pavement, cool and ominous as we entered the steakhouse. “Table for two?” The pleasant hostess asked.
“Two in the private section.”
“Right away, ma’am.” She ushered us quickly to a quaint person booth. The hostess started us off with water, then offered an expensive bottle of wine.
“I think we’ll pass on the wine.” Bren brushed my comment off like dust.
“Nonsense. My bonus is plenty to cover a bottle of Chateau.”
“Bren,” I paused, “I need to tell you something.”
“What is it?” She looked so innocent. I am doing the right thing. I am doing the right thing. I dragged this out long enough.
“I’ve been seeing Pamela.”
“Pamela Anderson? I know about the magazine under the bed.”
“No, my secretary. When my boss found out he fired me.” Bren’s complexion flushed, an anger rose within her that I had never seen before.
“Is that why you’ve been so concerned about money?” I paled, staring into the eyes that once gazed upon me with lust, now they seared my skin with burning resentment. I don’t blame her. I hate me, almost more than she does.
“The affair began in February. Jerry fired me last week.”
Bren sighed once, then poured a glass of wine for herself. “This is my fault.” She said softly.
“I did. I can tell you when this started. I finally settled into my routine with healthy self care and you became complacent. Is this because I make more money? I’m a surgeon. Of course I make good money.”
“Bren, it’s not about the money. I feel like I made a mistake. Marrying you was a mistake.”
“You made a mistake?” Bren seethed. “I want you to call Jory, get all of your shit out of my house. When I’m done with dinner I’ll be home. If you leave anything for me, it’s getting thrown away.”
“I’m sorry.” I blurted.
“Fuck you.” She said while throwing the cup of water at me. She didn’t just throw the water, the entire glass cup smacked my chest and rolled into my lap.
I walked out that day. I took my work bag and a few changes of clothes in a backpack and left. She can throw away the rest. I imagine burning the rest of my clothes to be cathartic to her.
The embankment is steeper than it appears, I nearly tripped as I scaled it to the bottom. I know a man in this wash that slept under its bridge when the tide is low. There is no sight of him tonight. I placed my bag of clothes on the embankment and locked my work bag with the small dial and attempted to sleep. Bren stood before me with teary eyes and her hand on my shoulder. “Why would you do this to me? We were ready for children and filling our home with baked goods for Christmas.” Bullshit. She is not a motherly person. She would have the baby and immediately go back to work and I would need to figure out childcare.
I loved her at some point. Somewhere in the beginning when we were unsuspecting young adults with bright futures. I wanted to convince myself I tried, we all know, I didn’t. “I’m sorry.” I whispered. Shortly after saying this, a sensation of someone’s hand could be felt on my chest.
“Hey, what are you doing?” A man’s voice could faintly be heard until I shot up. Marty had come to claim his spot.
“I got kicked out.”
“You must have fucked up, bad. A backpack and briefcase? Yikes.”
“I know. Just let me crash here. I won’t be any trouble.”
“You got a plan?”
“Yes and no. I need to convince someone to hire me.”
“And your job? Damn, brother. You’re in for it.” Marty exclaimed.
“Let me sleep here and you can have it the rest of the day.”
“Hmm. I don’t like roommates. You’re lucky I know you.”
“Thank you. I’ll be awake by the morning and I’ll be looking for a job.”
“If you say so.”
Marty glared at me. He was high, though, I couldn’t tell which of his afflictions he had succumbed to, tonight. He is calm, eyes bugged, and awake. I’m too tired to assume which drug he meddles with.
“Sleep.” Marty said. In a small motion that was almost a nod, he allowed me to sleep on the embankment.
My dreams were sable blackness when I closed my eyes. It is like staring at the night sky in the middle of nowhere on a new moon. Pure black.
“Wake up.” Marty said, edging closer to my ear.
“I’m awake. What time is it?” I said in a sleepy daze.
“Hell if I know.” Marty said. Shit. I don’t know where my phone is. I had been so consumed with trying to sleep, I neglected to secure my phone.
“I’ll be back later.” I was off to apply for another job. How could I possibly attempt to find a job without a phone? I would need to resort to desperate measures.
“Hey pal.” The chill from the air conditioning was bitter against my moistened skin. Rhonda emerged from the back with a smile.
“Hey yourself. You look rough.”
“It’s been a rough day.”
“At seven in the morning, I should say so. What can I do for you?”
“I need a job.”
“Suga, you left us to be with our competitor. I’m not sure William will be so keen on you returning like this.”
“Tell him that I am determined. I’ll make it right.”
“I’m not making any promises.
I watched the hours tick away as the emotional pain overwhelmed me. It all came to head with tears streaming down my face. I was unaware I had a roommate until she peeled the curtain back.
“You must have gotten bad news.” She said. My eyes remained glued on the ceiling. “Me too.”
“I’m a terrible person.” I said, my lip quivering.
“I don’t know that much about you. I can’t reassure you.” Her comment made me laugh, a genuine giggle.
“If you knew me, you would know I’m terrible.” I saw her expression in my peripheral vision before my head followed.
“We all mess up. Do you want to tell me about it?”
“You wouldn’t care to hear it.”
“Is that a challenge?” I snapped out of my daze. Was she serious? Bren never challenged me like this.
“I cheated on my ex and she kicked me to street with nothing.”
“She didn’t deserve the way I treated her.”
“It’s in the past.”
“I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not.”
“I have no reason to be sarcastic .” I stared at her stunned. She is challenging me.
“I’m not used to this.” I laughed, like actually laughed. Perhaps the medication flowing in my veins, or perhaps I had met my match. My eyes focused on her features, from her hair to her neck. The pale green hospital gown is not a flattering outfit, but she appeared pretty enough. I couldn’t judge, as I probably looked as though I’d been hit by a dump truck, myself.
“I like you.” She said. “My name is Bexana.”
“That’s a strange name.”
“My parents were apart of the movement to create unique baby names. I go by Bex. It sounds more normal to me.”
“My name is Elias.”
“And you said my name is strange.”
“Never met anyone by that name? Live in downtown, I had a coworker with the same name. It was confusing during meetings.”
“You must have had a good job before the drugs bit your ass.”
“No, I never did drugs.” I hesitated at the thought because explaining that your friend who homeless accidently drugged you doesn’t sound likely.
“Narcan is only used when attempting to revive someone overdosing on herion. Explain that.”
“You’re not going to believe me. It’s not worth explaining.”
“How do you know that?”
“You assumed I did drugs. When I got kicked out, I had to sleep under a bridge in a wash. My friend lives down there, but he is afflicted with the addiction. They got high one night while I was sleeping and he was so out of it, he injected me instead of himself. I would have died that night if not for him noticing too late, and using my phone to call for an ambulance.”
“Oh, wow. I’m sorry I assumed you were a ‘druggie’.”
“I would have assumed the same if it didn’t happen to me. What are you in for?”
“I freebased some cocaine and apparently my heart can’t handle it.”
“But I’m the druggie?”
“Takes one to know one.”
Bex and I laid on our respective beds, watching the muted television set play through a channel neither of us picked. It seemed as though we both arrived recently, though I couldn’t be sure. I liked the banter. She seemed intelligent if not a little crass. The silence didn’t seem empty. I would glance at her periodically, I felt something. Bex didn’t appear to enjoy the telelvesion, as she would often turn it off and read.
“What are you reading?” I asked, feeling well enough to sit up.
“The stranger by Albert Camus. One of my favorites.”
“Wow, I’ve never met anyone who liked that book as much as I do.”
“Me either.” Bex and I officially bonded. Bren hated reading, perferring to watch a movie instead.
“I like you.”
“I like you too.”
The nurses came in to check my vitals when I was allowed to be discharged. The staff was nice to provide me resources such as homeless shelters and halfway houses. I was reluctant, but it didn’t hurt to have. Bex followed shortly after, offering me a cigarette by the side walk. “I live by myself.” She offered.
“Are you trying to me to stay with you?” I glared at her incrediously.
“I could use some company and we stayed in the hospital room for two days without an incident, which more than I can about any roommate. Just a few days.” Bex nudged me playfully.
“I can sleep on the floor.”
“The floor? I have a pull out couch.” Bex had a pretty smile. She looked as though she would clean up well. I hope she saw me that way.
“OK.” I couldn’t believe where she lived. We arrived at her apartment, which is a decent sized one bedroom, to find she worked at home as a bookkeeper.
“This is nice. You must make a decent living.”
“I also have a paid blog. It’s enough for this apartment.”
“It’s impressive to me.”
“Coming from an executive?”