by Mel Waldman
|part 1 of 3|
“When I met your wife, Laura, I fell madly in love with her,” announced the dark-eyed woman.
“How did the two of you meet?”
“We met at the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn Heights. Or was it the Hotel Roosevelt on 57th Street?”
“The Roosevelt Hotel is on 45th and Madison.”
“Oh, well, we met under water in the swimming pool of some hotel — either in Brooklyn Heights or in Manhattan, and probably on 57th Street. But I forget right now. My memory escapes me. Would you mind if I had a drink?”
“No. Go right ahead.”
“Would you care for a drink, Norman? You look terrible. I’m glad you called and decided to come over. I’m glad.”
“No. Not right now. I’m in a lot of pain, you see. The stitches are throbbing.”
“I can’t believe the old lady really tried to murder you. Let me see those damn stitches.”
“Here they are!” Norman shouted as he moved Sheri’s hands across his wounded scalp.
“Christ! It’s true!”
“I guess you really thought I was crazy when I called you earlier. A madman, perhaps. What you must have thought! But didn’t you know about Laura’s family?”
“Laura often told me her folks were outrageous. On several occasions she mentioned that her mother took pills for her nerves and loved a good bottle of Johnnie Walker, too. I heard a lot of things. Seems the old lady had more than one nervous breakdown and spent time in psychiatric hospitals. But I never suspected that... Even now, it’s hard to imagine, Norman.”
“I’m a guilt-ridden man, Sheri. I haven’t lied too many times in my life.”
“Listen, Norman. I feel for you. Come have a glass of white wine with me. I don’t like to drink alone.”
“Only if you tell me about Laura.”
“Of course, Norman, I’ll tell you everything. I care about you. You were foolish to get hurt. But the wine will help.”
“Did you really love her too?”
“I lusted for her, darling. My passion swallowed me, consumed me with exquisite feelings that were ineffable. And I still care for sweet Laura. I lust and love and feel! And so what? I need one more drink and then I shall be more lucid.
“Even today, I have those same unfulfilled feelings. Before and after my lovely divorce I had those clutching thoughts. Still, I became her friend. I was afraid to lose her completely. The foolish woman needed a man’s love.”
“The stitches ache. I’m sorry, but it’s hard to concentrate now.”
“Have some white wine, Norman. The pain will disappear.”
Sheri and Norman drank white wine together. After a few drinks, Norman forgot about his pain. But he was high and could barely keep his eyes open.
Sheri grabbed Norman’s pretty hand and walked him to the red leather couch a few feet away. “Sit down and shut your eyes, my poor baby,” she commanded. The brawny, olive-complexioned man obeyed. And soon, his head lay in her lap. As he slept, she drank white and red wine and Johnnie Walker, too.
Later, he awakened suddenly, gasping for air. Underneath the room’s sprawling blue lights, Sheri was assaulting him, choking him. Right? Or was the drunken woman caressing him and turning him on in a bizarre act of erotic asphyxia? His vision was blurred, for Norman wasn’t fully conscious. Breathless and aroused, he lay submissively beneath Sheri’s ferocious and feverish body.
With her long, red-taloned fingers and her wet, hungry lips, Sheri controlled him. Her sexual, athletic legs entangled and clutched him. Her aggressive mouth encircled his skin, her sharp, white teeth biting and penetrating his dark flesh. And his skin bled. But still, he didn’t know if he were molested or adored.
Looking up, he saw an alien face, the soggy flesh of an angry woman. Or was she merely passionate? At that fugitive moment, she was an abstraction contained within the illusory blue room which soon became a bright yellow and then a fiery red. She was Woman. She was Super Woman. And Norman lay beneath her dark omnipotent eyes.
Sheri touched and possessed him with her physical beauty and when they kissed, he tasted and smelled the foul odor of burning liquor. A battered father, a helpless child, Norman lay beneath Sheri, the furious mother of sin. And both were without child.
Then, as Norman recalled, they had sex. Entwined, they shared their loneliness and violent intimacy on this empty night. Afterwards, Norman collapsed. And the night died. Together, the lonely couple disappeared underneath the seething lights.
“Good morning, Norman. How are you feeling today?”
“I’m in pain. It seems to be my destiny.”
“The endless pain of life. I must endure it.”
“Don’t be so dramatic, Norman.”
“I’m a fatalist. My son is gone, my head aches, and my soul is ripped in half. I am a fool, too. But last night was lovely, my dear.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You are a sensuous woman, Sheri. You touch me.”
“Thank you, Norman. But what do you mean?”
“I mean I love the way we made love last night.”
“You’re dreaming, Norman. Nothing happened. Don’t you recall?”
“I think I do. It was lovely. But of course, we fell asleep.”
“You never touched me.”
“I didn’t have to, Sheri. Not in the beginning. You did everything. I couldn’t believe that with all the pain I could...”
“You’re demented! Stop this foolish talk! I’m Laura’s friend. I couldn’t make love to her husband.”
“Laura’s gone. The marriage is over. And last night, we made love.”
“Foolish Norman, how could I love a man? Do you know what happened on my wedding night?”
“My beloved father committed suicide. He blew his head off. Poor fellow, he missed a good wedding.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Don’t be, Norman. I was more foolish than Daddy. I married a drunken paranoid who carried a gun everywhere we went. When we screwed, he kept his gun on the night table. He was such a damn weakling.”
“Was he a cop or a soldier?”
“No, he was a mediocre actor. Such a gorgeous man, and I loved him. But his daddy cut his balls off. His father was a self-made man and highly critical of his gorgeous little boy whom he ridiculed everywhere they went. His mother adored him. And so did I.”
“Why did you divorce him?”
“I had to. He almost murdered me on several occasions. Always accused me of screwing around. I didn’t. I worshipped the beautiful creature.”
“But what happened to you, my poor boy?”
“I’d rather not talk about it now.”
“Sure, Norman. But let me make you breakfast — sizzling bacon and eggs with white toast and butter and a hot cup of coffee. What do you say?”
“Sounds like a delicious idea.”
After breakfast, Norman opened up and talked about his marriage. “Well, you know that Laura and I were not getting along, always fighting over her mother and father. I loathed her folks. They were cruel and disapproving. Still, I loved Laura and little Jonathan, my precious son.”
“I know, Norman.”
“But Laura was so damned paranoid. Sometimes we had vicious arguments. Once, in the heat of an argument, I told her I wished her parents were dead. And if she ever ran off again, I warned her that something bad might happen to her parents. And they’d be very unhappy. Didn’t spell out what I meant. And probably Laura assumed the worst. The imagination is a dangerous gift and sometimes a curse.”
“What did you mean, Norman?”
“It wasn’t my best moment, Sheri. Weeks before the argument, I found some of Laura’s old diaries. And I read them. I shouldn’t have, but I did. Well, I discovered some dark family secrets. If Laura ran off again, I planned to reveal the dirt.”
“What did you discover?”
“Well, Sheri, I really can’t reveal this to you. Or anyone! But what I discovered could have destroyed her parents’ marriage.”
“You were going to uncover their dirty laundry?”
“Laura was always running off to her family’s home whenever we had a disagreement. I felt impotent. Then after our altercation, I told her I didn’t mean what I had said. I apologized and kissed her goodnight. She kissed me too and said she loved me. I held her in my arms for a while. Then I turned over and fell asleep.”
“Sounds like the two of you had made up.”
“It seemed that way. But the following morning when I was at work, she ran away again to Kennebunkport, Maine, where her folks live. She is just like her mother who always ran off to Europe whenever she was angry with Laura’s father.
“Her family is old money. Her father is the CEO of a big corporation. I’d rather not mention the name of the company. Guess I’m still a bit paranoid, even though I’m back here in New York. Her folks are crazy and addicted to power. Perhaps, you knew this already, Sheri.”
“Laura told me they drove her mad!”
“They own their daughter. But let me explain. I followed Laura to Kennebunkport three days ago.”
“I love Laura and Jonathan.”
“But you almost died.”
“Yeah, I’m not sure what happened. I have partial amnesia. I may never remember.”
“What do you recall?”
“My mind went blank. I was inside their sprawling house and the old lady was chasing me upstairs. She struck me with a gun. My hands were dangling as my body shriveled up.”
“Why didn’t you defend yourself?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps, I was afraid I might hurt her. I lift weights and I’m very strong. I was numb and in shock and I just let her pound my head with a gun. Maybe I’ve got a death wish. Maybe I just wanted to die.”
“What stopped her from killing you?”
“I don’t know. Someone must have stopped her. Someone did, I guess. I can’t recall. Afterwards, they called the cops and had me arrested for trespassing. But first, I was stitched up at a local hospital. The cops told me horror stories about the old lady. Apparently, she had quite a reputation. In fact, the entire family is notorious.”
“Did you go to court?”
“Yes. The case was dismissed as a family dispute. Yet her family has my son. And I can’t see him until the divorce trial.”
“That’s a shame.”
“And yesterday morning, Laura called me. She claimed she’s conflicted about getting a divorce. But her father wants a swift divorce and he’s paying for it. She confessed she’s afraid of the old man.”
“My poor, fragile Laura is a lost soul. She always put on this marvelous front of being this great actress, the strong, macho, superwoman type. But I understood her. She’s really weak, you know. She needs me, Norman.”
“She needs me too, Sheri. Yet you won’t believe what she told me.”
“She claimed I threatened her mother and that the old lady attacked me in self-defense. It’s a lie!”
“You’ve got partial amnesia, Norman. Perhaps you went berserk.”
Copyright © 2010 by Mel Waldman