Posts tagged ‘relationship’


If You Try Sometime…

by mdjb

“Well, you know,” I reminded her, “One of the prime facets of due diligence is you have to understand the custom obtaining in the target’s home jurisdiction.”
“Mmmm,” she agreed in an ostensibly distracted way as if to let me know she did not enjoy being advised in regard to the job she was paid to do. She knew her stuff, and I knew that she knew by the way she skimmed two blood-red fingernails down the side of her wineglass while keeping it perfectly balanced with the rest.
The Stones were playing on the piped-in system but sounding somewhere off in the distance. Low and not at all antagonistic.
No, you can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime, you just might find
Apropos, I thought, but said to her, “Now, there’s a chestnut you don’t hear every day.”
Fully aware of every detail going on around us, she remarked, “We live it, though, don’t we?”
In a black sheath, one I would suppose had never before been worn, and her hair familiarly swept up, she was an enchantress—the embodiment of the lyrics’ character. And I was her footloose man.
“Ah, here he is,” she said as an elderly man in a tux came up beside us. “I take it you and Mr. James have already met.” He appeared too old to be in this or any business and looked uncomfortable dressed formally—probably more at home on the beach in Acapulco with a cuba in one hand and some young coqueta on the other arm, enjoying the perqs of seniority.
We had not.
“Oh my dear,” he said, raising her hand to kiss it, “Are you bleeding?” He took out his handkerchief, wiped her fingers, and added, “Ah no, it is merely the cherry wine.”
I heard his slight Mexican accent and tried to equate it with his English sounding name, wondering at the same time how she had missed the flecks of red as she was so on top of things. There was a disconnect floating over this reception. Everybody had an agenda including the victims. Due diligence indeed!
She was practiced at the art of deception
I was aware she was playing us off against each other, and though I had it over him in fresh-faced youth, his wealth and prestige would win every prize, which he would retain only for safekeeping until it was to be delivered over. I hoped at least I was considered a more enjoyable fuck, and though I knew from my morning mirror that as yet there were no hairs sprouting from my ears, I found I had involuntarily brushed a finger over my right lobe as if in anticipation of their growth.
I considered it time to bow out to halve her amusement. I mouthed the words, “Will I see you Monday night?” and she patted her breast. I could not be certain if that was a yes or meant “Let me check my calendar,” but coinciding with her smile found it easy enough to interpret as the former.



by mdjb

When autumn arrived again the whole situation was murky. Not on the surface. Ostensibly, everything appeared as it had before only now there was an undercurrent in which the truth swished and swayed. I was a woman alone. I’d said some things I could not take back. I’d told him how I felt and for how long I’d felt that way and I’m sure it made me look bad.

He still set up things for me to do. He still announced these tasks in front of others. I was still proud and trying to prove myself efficient. Still afraid of the possibilities; only now he knew. The knowledge gave him an advantage. He could berate me for any little thing and what could I do but acquiesce? Sure, I could just pack it in and move on to another place. I could go to England as I’d originally planned. Or Toronto. But to do so would announce to all that there had been a contest of wills between us and I had lost. His reputation would be sullied and I would be alone for the second time in one year.

He told me it was transferrence. I knew it was. Except that it had started before I lost Eric.

When I said, I have something I have to tell you, he said, No, you don’t.

Yes, I said, No, you don’t, he said.

It was an innocent lunch and I had told him he looked his age. No, that’s incorrect. It had not been innocent. We had eaten lunch both aware that there was more beneath the surface, but he was willing to let it lie while I was boiling and about to erupt.

For some time I had been aware that the only acceptable emotion, though strictly unsatisfying, was to get him riled and feel the heat of his discomfort. He was unaware of those dynamics, but I would go back to my desk after one of these encounters and I would feel dizzy with keeping quiet about what I knew had occurred. I would wonder, is he being discreet or is he ignorant of what just happened? Does he think I really want to see him annoyed? Does he not realize my emotions are making me say things I very quickly regret?

From the way he reacted, he obviously knew all along.

He told me it was transferrence and that I only directed my feelings toward him because I knew it was safe. Nothing could happen because he was monogamously involved and had a son. Yes, I knew this. But I also observed over time that he paid more attention to me than to any of the others.

When he told Enid about how I would be handling the timesheets from now on, I took it to mean he is willing to overlook my true confession, but I also see that he is covering himself. I am sure his wife advised him how to react. Oh, yes, I am certain at this point he has spoken to her. If I were to do anything stupid, he could say, I never suspected she felt that way, I just thought she was a good worker and I was willing to give her more responsibility, she must have mistaken my intentions. He has mistaken me. I would never do anything stupid. I mean dangerously stupid. My only error was in crossing the line and saying what we both knew was happening. In that regard, I always seem to do the foolish thing.

That was how I met and fell in love with my husband, Eric. I miss him so much. Perhaps I am transferring some of that feeling to William, but the truth is I started feeling heat from him long before Eric became ill. I was being discreet then. Except for this one slip, I will continue to be so.

I hope to work with William for quite a long time. He helped me through the roughest season of my life. He has told me he’s counting on me. He’s told others he believes I am capable. I must not give him cause to waver.


Talking to Dad

by mdjb

— Dad, It’s me, Peter.

Why’d you double lock the door?

Never mind,

— I’ve got my key.

— Dad? Susan’s going to be a little late today. She called me and told me. So I came over to see if you need anything. Dad?

Oh, still in bed.

— Listen, I’ll make some tea and we can sit and talk for a while. Don’t try to get up. I’ll help you after I get the water on.

Kitchen’s spotless. I guess Susan is earning her money. She doesn’t really have to do all this, what with taking care of his other needs.

— I spoke to Aunt Anne yesterday. She sends her regards. I told her you were doing all right.

Now, where’re the teabags? Don’t seem to be any here in the fridge. Oh, there behind his insulin. God, looks like he’s got enough to last a couple months.

–Dad, are you taking your insulin everyday? I’m going to ask Susan when she gets here, ’cause I know you’ll just tell me what I want to hear.

It’s so warm in here. Okay, let it steep three minutes. A little bit of milk. I bet he misses his sugar. He doesn’t have to know I take a spoonful, but I bet he hears me rattling the sugar bowl.

Okay, a couple of these plain biscuits and we’re all set.

— Here we go, Dad, a nice cup of tea and some biscuits. Susan’ll be here in an hour or so. You don’t have to use the toilet or anything, do you?

— It’s so dark in here and it’s a beautiful day outside. Let me put this down over here and I’ll open the blinds a bit.

There, that’s better.

— I have a lot of things to tell you Dad, so I’m glad we have this time together before Susan gets here. I guess with her here twelve hours a day, you sometimes don’t get enough time to think. She keeps you busy, right?

— We’re going to miss her when she goes for her RN license, but the agency will send over someone just as efficient. I hope it’s another woman and she’s as nice as Susan. I’ll specify that’s what we want.

— Don’t try to drink that tea just yet. It’s too hot. Have a biscuit.

— What’d you do, knock your pill bottle over? Here, let me get that.

Almost empty. So low on the pills and so much insulin left. Going to have to straighten this out with Susan.

— Aunt Anne gave me a letter from Uncle Jack. Let me get it out of my case and I’ll read it to you.

Let me see. Here. This is it.

— Aunt Anne said Uncle Jack was going to send it to you, but since I was coming over, she wanted me to bring it so I could read it to you instead of Susan, well, she said instead of the home care attendant. Here’s what it says.

— Dear Pete. I’m sorry for my part in the events that have caused us not to be close for the last fifteen years. I would like more than anything to let bygones be and come over and see you. We are brothers after all. It’s just, I need to know you forgive me for being a fool, but I don’t want to give you further cause to think me foolish by coming to visit without your invite. I’m truly sorry we haven’t spoken to each other in so many years. We’ve lost a lot of time, but don’t let’s lose it all. What do you say? Jack.

— How about that Dad? It took him long enough, didn’t it? You know Aunt Anne has been after him for so long to make amends. She misses you. And Mom. I miss Mom too, Dad.

— Here, I’m going to leave this on your night table and you speak to Uncle Jack when you’re ready.

— That tea is all right now. It’s cooled a bit.

— Remember how Mom used to make it with the loose tea. She would never have teabags in the house. We always had to wait three minutes, no more, no less. It should be a little darker than amber before you put the milk in, she always said.

Still have her things on the dresser. Her brush and combs. Never let Susan move them, only dust them. Her wedding band still on your little finger. I know a couple of her housedresses are hanging in the corner closet.

— Oh, I know you took care of all the financial arrangements, but remember at first I didn’t know whether to call an ambulance or the police. We’re both a bit self-centered. We’re lucky to have Aunt Anne. She took care of all those early details. You know, I thought at the time, I really couldn’t depend on you, but you’ve been like a rock since then. I don’t know what I would have done if I lost you both together. I don’t know why I’m bringing all this up. It’s just we’ve never discussed it and it bothers me a little we’ve never been able to communicate our grief to each other.

Or our happiness, for that matter.

— So many times I wanted you to be there and you couldn’t be.

I wanted you to be there for my graduation from grammar school. For my graduation from high school. For…

— It’s all right, I’m working now. I’ve got a good job. I’m up for a raise in a couple weeks.

— Dad, I still think about Mom all the time. Sometimes, I get like a zombie where I’m blindly reliving those days after her funeral. I wish you and I had been closer. I don’t remember too much of those days, but when I think about them, I imagine I handled everything just the way you would’ve wanted me to.

— I did, right?

— Sometimes, I wake from a dream and it feels so real. In the dream, Mom says, Everything was fine, Peter. You did me proud.

I know she really wanted you there. I was just the chip. The chip off your old block.

— Did you hear about Mr. Abbott and his wife? They’ve made up with each other. He still calls me every so often and asks how you are. I thank him every time for being there and calling the medics.

I haven’t spoken to him in months. Not since before their divorce. But you were lucky to have him for a neighbor.

— After the diabetes, who could have foreseen the renal failure? The day I called and there was no answer and then Mr. Abbott called and said you were taken to the hospital, all the way over in Staten Island, Dad, I never understood why they took you all the way over there.

Supposed to be the best dialysis set-up in the city, but I think it was because we didn’t have the money. Leave it to Mom to take care of things. You were even luckier to have her for a wife. Or to be her widower. I thought for a while I hated you. Hated you’re being my father. But Mom wouldn’t let me stay angry.

— I know I don’t say it often enough, but I love you, Dad.

You don’t have to say anything.

— Let me bring these teacups out to the kitchen.

And I’ll put this away. You won’t need this letter. I think it’s the one I got from the magazine.

Why was Uncle Jack so angry? With you? He was always nice to Mom.

I’m sorry about the letter, but I was sure that’s what he would have wanted to say. He just didn’t get around to it.

— Susan should be here shortly. I’m going to have some things to ask her, let me tell you.

Like why she isn’t here already.

Can’t complain really, though, she’s been very good about so many things. What would I do without her? How could I work?

Mom would have been jealous of the way Susan takes care of you.

Mom would have said, Get your young girlfriend to do it.

Get her to clean up after you.

Why have Peter come all the way in from the city, when your insurance covers a home care attendant. Got a job to maintain.

There are reasons for everything, but why’d you lock the door.

Mom was the planner.

Mom would have said, Mom would have said, You did me proud, Peter.

Dad, don’t leave. Please. Everything is fine. Mom would have said…

Scratch. Scratching. Tapping. Someone knocking.

Must have dozed off.

— Well, Dad, that sounds like Susan. I’d better go let her in.

— Good-bye, Dad.

“Susan, I’m so glad you’re here. I have to ask for your help with Dad.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Donsie, that’s what I’m…Mr. Donsie, what is it? Oh, no, Mr. Donsie, don’t tell me…”

“I, don’t…”


“Yes, I’m afraid he’s passed away.”

“Oh Mr. Donsie. Peter, I’m so sorry.”

“It must have happened sometime this morning. I think he was expecting it. He double locked the door after you left him last night. He’s still warm. Oh, Susan, my dad’s gone, and I miss him already.”

“Don’t. Don’t be upset Peter. Please, for him. It’s been so hard for him. He’s at peace now. He’s with your mum.”

“I…Will you help me? I don’t know what to do.”


We Can Still Be Friends

by mdjb

-So it has come to this, Elaine said. To think we only began dating four months ago.
-All good things have to end, Turner said.
But this stopped being a good thing weeks ago. She was filing her nails and looked up from under hooded eyes.
-Do you want your key back now or can you wait until next week? In any case, you’ll have to wait. I left it in my desk drawer at the office.
-Why’s that? He looked at her hand. Short choppy nails. He couldn’t see the evidence of all her attentions. She smelled nice though. He thought it was lilacs. Real lilacs; not a chemical mix.
-When I was coming over, I would come straight from the gym after work. I just never brought the key home after that last time I went straight to work from your place.
-Why do you think we soured on each other, Turner asked, I mean in that way? Do you think we can still be friends?
-Sure, we can be friends. Hand me that little bottle will you?
How he hated the color she was applying to her nails. It made them look as if she had clawed him with them and the cuticles had filled with blood. He could feel heat and welts along his arms. He rubbed his right arm with his left hand.
A smile played on her lips. -Cold, she asked. -You can turn off the air conditioning. I just turn it on when it feels stuffy in here. Her apartment was crowded with furniture. Much more than a single woman needed. On the radio, Roger Miller sang, -Trailers for sale or rent. Rooms to let, fifty cents. No phone, no food , no pets…
-Do you mind if I smoke, Turner asked.
-I’d rather you didn’t, if you’re going to turn off the air conditioning, Elaine said.
-I’ll leave it on, he said, -I’m not cold anyway. He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply then turned his head to one side so as not to exhale the smoke all over her. After that he turned to her to smile and to see if she had appreciated his gesture, but she was preoccupied with painting her pinkie nail.
-So it’s come to this, she said, and held out one finished hand.
He thought she was admiring how the light bounced off her red, red nails. They were very shiny.


The Last Time

by mdjb

He keeps banging on the door and calling out her name, but she is not going to let him in. Not now, at any rate. “What do you want, Charlie?” she asks. She knows what he wants, but there’s no answer. He must have stepped away again. He keeps going away and then he comes back and pounds some more. “Let me in, Lana,” she keeps hearing him holler. She knew he’d come around. He always does.

She thinks, he thinks I’ve sliced my wrists again and he’s going to find me in a tubful of bloody water, but I won’t do that again. Not for him. He’s not worth it.

He’s a bastard and there’s no pleasing him. First he tells her she’s changed and when she tries to show him she hasn’t then he tells her he’s changed and they can’t be together any more. What the hell is she supposed to do? Pretend she doesn’t know all about the other one? That she’s the reason he’s the one who’s changed. That bitch. Oh, she knows everything about her, and she knows how long it’s been going on too. This is not a new thing, but she’s not going to argue about it any more.

She says in a soft, dry voice, as if he were in the room with her, “She pretends she doesn’t know it’s me when I call her. She just keeps asking, ‘Who is this? Who is this? Why don’t you leave me alone?’ And I’m not going to give her the satisfaction of answering. I know it drives her crazy that I won’t shout or get mad on the phone. That’s just what she’d like to happen. Me getting all excited like the last time because you’re spending nights over there. She should live so long.” Charlie always comes back to her. They have too much history together.

There he is now, banging again. He must have left his key over at her place. He told Lana he wasn’t coming back again, but she knew he would.

“Did she throw you out Charlie? Like I did yesterday? She hasn’t got the brass I have. You know I won’t put up with your shit for too long. Oh I know, I give you a hard time, but I’m not a phony like she is. You told me she cooks for you, but I think you just told me that to get a rise out of me. Like telling me she gives you gifts. A man is supposed to buy things for his wife, Charlie. Where did you go to school?

“Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. I don’t hear you, Charlie. I’m not getting up to let you in. You’ve got to cool down first. I’m afraid you’ll hit me this time. I was afraid of that yesterday too. That’s the only reason I threw the chair. It only grazed your forehead, you big jerk. Don’t you know how to defend yourself during a little domestic squabble?”

She changes the radio station from soft rock to classical. It’s much more soothing. Charlie’s gone away again. It’s quiet out there. Maybe he’s trying to trick her into going to make sure he’s not there and when she opens the door he’ll pop out from behind the wall in the hallway. Well, she won’t do it.

She’s not a simpleton. No siree. He thought he could keep his affair from her, but she found the bitch’s number in his wallet. And later, the airline tickets too. He thought he would take his little floozie on a trip, but she made short work of that. Tore those babies into little bits and left the pieces on top of the trash where he’d be able to see them.

The phone rings. She hesitates a moment or two, and it rings again. Should she answer it? It’s so far away and she’s so tired. To get up and walk to the phone, it feels like dragging lead. It’s the pills. They make you so dopey. The phone rings a third time and she waits for it to ring again before reaching for it. How can he be calling while he’s still outside the door? He doesn’t have one of those cell phone things does he? He’d better not be calling from a cell phone.

Reluctantly she picks up the receiver, and notices the carpet is wet. There is a trail of footprints behind her.

“Mrs. Adler, this is the super, will you please let the plumber in to check if the leak is coming from your apartment? He’s been knocking at your door for the last twenty minutes. I was about to come up and let him in with the key, only I thought I’d try you on the phone first. I was sure you were home. Are you all right?”

That catches her off-guard and it takes her a moment to come up with an answer. “Only a little mishap here with the tap in the bathroom. I’m taking care of it now,” she says without rationalizing.

“Well, if you’re sure you’ve got it under control, I won’t send him up again.”

Oh, Charlie will be back all right. He doesn’t give up that easily. Nice touch getting someone else to call to try to trick her into letting him in. She’s not going to fall for that one. But at least her excuse will buy her a little time. She walks slowly back to the bathroom trying not to stumble and lowers herself back into the warm soothing water, which is still dribbling over the edge of the tub, and she looks at the razor blade with the masking tape on one side of it. It’s now or never.