Sean Alan


She had met Raymond five years ago at the Lido bar south of town. She had been
there with her friend Laura to while away the Saturday night. She often came to the Lido
with Laura to dance, drink and drown her troubles. The men in her life were the source of
her troubles. They had been conniving and deceitful, luring her with love and making off
with sex. They leapt like startled rabbits in the woods when the talk came to commitment.
She felt lucky she had not fallen into the same trap again with someone at work. He had
bribed her with chocolate and flowers and then she found out just that week through
another colleague that he had a girlfriend down in Middletown.

The Lido offered a cheap escape to a night of bustling dance music and a milling
crowd of pretentious suburbanites. It was a fairly large bar with clusters of tall vinyl
covered chairs and high tables lining the dance floor in the center. The women who came
were mostly heavily made up and dressed in low-cut garbs boosting a maximum exposure
of chest, back and flesh. The men, often sporting smoothly combed greased hair, eyed
and leered at them. As the night progressed they would be emboldened, and move to
stand near the women along the dance floor and make advances. Some got lucky and
others, the boorish, not so tall or good-looking, met with contemptuous responses. The air
felt abject, cheapened and urging.

In glimpsing around the bar she had not noticed Raymond. He must have been
eyeing her from some remote corner and she was a bit surprised when this thin young
man with large dark eyes, a hooked nose and the wisp of a mustache, meekly asked her
for a dance. She looked him up briefly, turned a glance at Laura, and shrugging her
shoulders accepted the invitation. Why, she couldn't tell. Perhaps it was Raymond's
youth and seeming innocence.

She liked to dance and he danced with such freedom and zest that it made her
laugh. Laura looked at them from their table and sighed. Already, her friend Margaret,
showed signs of being attached to this lanky stranger dancing with her.

After they had danced a good long time, Margaret excused herself from Raymond
and found her way back to Laura, looking hot and sweaty from her exertions. She felt
good, sort of exorcised from her troubled emotions of not a while ago. When she had
seated herself and ordered a drink from one the floating bare-backed waitresses, Laura
smiled at her and asked:

"How was it?"

"Very good," Margaret replied smiling.

"I saw you two whispering," remarked Laura, who looked flushed from fending
off two unattractive men, one burly and the other short and bald, who had approached her
one after the other.

"Yes, and so?"

"Did you give him your phone number?"

Margaret deigned not to respond. Yes, so what if she had given her number, it was
not a crime. It had not been the first time she had given her number to a man she met at a
bar. Often it led to friendship, though twice before it had led to sex with men she did not
know. She had done it to quell her desires. Though, in the days after it had led to an
intense feeling of revulsion, guilt and shame. The sex had not been emotionally
satisfying, just physical. And also it felt as though she had behaved as a loose woman. It
bothered her, despite herself, that she could have behaved loosely - immorally, by the set
standards of an insidious world. God was forgiving, but this insidious world seemed not
to be.

She meant to behave differently with Raymond. He seemed docile, he would be
insignificant in her life, at best a casual friend. If he would call to ask her out, she would
only accept to go to the movies, eat out or go dancing to pleasantly kill time. She wanted
to stay away from sex, from the beguiling men who tricked you into it. They seemed at
first aloof from it, but in their soul they stank of wanting it. You could sense it from the
sly look in their eyes. Like Martin, the college professor she once dated. He would draw
her in with cynical intellectual talk, and surreptitiously give her a look over. She was
naive and led by him. He made cynical sex too, the kind where he gave short kisses,
groped with unfeeling hands, quickly did his job, and went to sleep. The night would then
tick on with the taste of his stale breath lingering in her mouth. She felt no power over
him, and when he broke up with her she felt as though stranded in a vast empty desert.
Since then she sought men who were plain and simple.

Raymond did call a few days later. His voice sounded thin and hesitant on the
other end of the line.

"Hello, can I speak with Margaret?" he asked.

Margaret recognized his voice and laughed. It was pleasant to be pursued by a
likable man. The beginning of a courtship touched off so many vibrant signals in the
brain, it was like the first blush of spring. At thirty-two she had already been courted
many times, and in spite of the ways the ensuing relationships had terminated, the start of
them were like putting on wings and flying the wide blue sky.

Raymond was several years younger than her. He was only twenty-one. It
intrigued her that he was. He lacked the confidence and polish of older men, who
possessed the agility of sharks, preying on women, knowing what worked and what
didn't with them. He seemed innocent in contrast to these men.

She was reminded of the dreams of her younger days, the fairy tale like hopes of
being swept off her feet by a long-haired simple young man wholly devoted to her. She
had seen her sister Elizabeth, who had stunning looks, receive the greatest attention from
the most handsome boys. Elizabeth, her only sibling, was six years older than her and
married right out of high school. She left town with her husband to settle out in Arizona.
Margaret only knew the kind of attention Elizabeth got, and expected the same herself
when she stepped into the adult world, and much to her dismay the world turned out to be
a road potted with disappointments.

Her first mistake had been Ian, a boy from her class in high school. By seventeen
she had heard and read so much about sex that she wanted to know what it was like in
reality. She proposed it to Ian with whom she often did her homework. They chose to do
it on a sunny afternoon when her parents were out. It was a mechanical affair that
involved much groping and searching. When they finally did it, it was painful and
hopeless, and she swore she would never do it again.

Raymond reminded her of the simple young man she had always yearned for,
though he was not as long-haired or handsome. She went out with him to the cinema and
cycling in the country, and he seemed tender and attached to her.

However, her happiness with Raymond was soon tainted with misery. Raymond
had only been with two other girls, with whom he had only huddled and exchanged
kisses, one in high school and the other at work. He felt jealous of the past men in
Margaret's life and she felt guilt and shame. But, it was too late for him to leave her for
his distrust of her past. They did so many things together that their lives were entwined.
And then they had such passionate sex.

She would often meet him after work at the pizza restaurant where he was a cook.
She liked that simple aspect of him, the hours he toiled to earn an honest living, at the end
of which he was able to be cheerful as though it had been nothing at all. She, on the other
hand, led a life at her work as an office manager attempting to please everyone's whim.
She hated her job, it has nothing to do with the Bachelor's she had in English, but it paid
the rent better than being a teacher. From the pizza place they would go to see a movie or
go to a quiet place for dinner. On the weekend they would go to dance till the wee hours
of the morning.

They fought for the first time, almost a year into their relationship, when he got
drunk and made a cheap pass at a blonde woman with a big chest. It had been at the Lido,
and he was angry with her for not wanting to dance. He drank too much and while she
was in the ladies' restroom went over to this blonde girl and made advances, putting his
hand across her rump. When Margaret came out of the restroom and saw that, she flew
into a rage and dragged him out of the bar, and once in the parking lot they fought. He
called her a slut referring to the string of men she had dated. She was disgusted by his
drunkenness and his language. They broke up their relationship that night in the parking
lot, going their own separate ways.

But they couldn't keep separated for long. Physically they had tasted each other
and were completely bound together. Several weeks later he called her and they made up.
She was the world to him, knowing and showing him its ways, and even showing him
how to do sex. He had lost his virginity with her. To her he was a lover as well as a child
she was helping to grow up. She floated in his mind as the goddess of love and surrender.
But she was also the goddess of sex, tinged with promiscuity, and the ecstasy that gripped
him about her was pumped with jealousy and suspicion. He attacked her for the other
men she had had in her life, and sometimes called her in the middle of the night to assure
himself that she was sleeping by herself.

She felt secure in his jealousy. She felt wanted. She attacked him too for flirting
with other girls. They would each have fits, fight and then make up with each other. Their
relationship was stormy. And passionate. She had her first orgasm ever with him. That
was two years into their relationship.

For a time they lived together. They moved into a two bedroom apartment in a
high-rise building. It was cheaper to share expenses and they could more easily be
together. At first it was practically like being happily married. She could groom the lover-
child closer at hand and he could wallow in her loving care. But little by little irritation
grew, he wasn't much of a help around the apartment and he watched TV too much, and
that too the silliest of shows. Her mind was far more critical and her taste more
discriminating than his. She would chide him for the vulgar expressions he sometimes
picked-up at work, for the way he picked his teeth after eating, among other
shortcomings. She tried to steer him in different ways. She took him to see the passing art
exhibitions at the downtown museum, and to several plays and dance performances in

In time, he grew less in awe of her. The museum exhibitions and plays were fine,
but they seemed almost imposed on him by her. There were things he had to do his own
way to be his own man. It was with a proud grin that one day he rolled up his shirt sleeve
to show her the tattoo of the sun and a winding snake that he had just had drawn on his
upper arm. She was incredulous. It was as if a child of hers had renounced her.

Their relationship grew tense. She cried by herself at night in her corner of the
bed, and pushed him away when he tried to take her in his arms. And then he began to
drink at times after work and one day he came home very dunk. She would not put up
with it. She walked out on him.

They remained separated but a few months. Some parts of their minds were too
strongly trained for each other. At first, they began to meet sporadically out of
aimlessness and a physical hunger for each other, and then on a more regular basis. The
past had often been a broken toy, but it had also been a sea of passion and fury. Like
before he was overcome by jealous fits and she was stirred by it.

They had now been a long time together, off and on into the fifth year of their
relationship. She was now thirty-seven and he twenty-six, and often the thought of a
settled life and marriage entered her mind. She planned to speak to him about it. She
would marry him on the pre-condition that he would stop his bouts of drunkenness and be
more helpful around the house.

It was sometimes in October and their relationship of late had been balmy. He
planned, with her consent, to take a week long Caribbean cruise with a buddy at work. It
had been a special limited time offer and she was unable to go because she to had to
attend a business conference in Dallas the same week. The night before he left she spoke
to him about the nuptial thoughts that had passed through her mind. She asked him to
consider her words carefully while he was away. He remained quiet while she spoke.

It had always been their deepest understanding throughout their stormy times
together, even during their bouts of violent separation, that infidelity would finally end
their relationship. Through a rebellious volition of his, Raymond crossed that line during
his week long cruise. On the last night of the cruise he met a plump girl with short blonde
hair and blue eyes from New York. That night they danced together and then she invited
him to her cabin for drinks. They spent the night together rolling with the sea making
love. He never saw her again after the next morning when the cruise ship returned to port.
He felt satisfied with himself. The night with the blonde assuaged the jealousy he had felt
towards Margaret, for the love she had made to men before him.

For several days Margaret did not hear from him upon his return from the cruise.
She called him and asked him why he hadn't called her. For a while he remained silent on
the other end of the line, and then he said it was all over between them because he had
made love to another woman. It was up to her to if she wanted to continue their

Margaret was crushed and she swore not to see him again.
While in Dallas, Margaret had been intrigued by the instant way Walter seemed to
be attracted to her. Their eyes had crossed while they rode on the bus from the airport to
the hotel in Dallas. They had exchanged a few platitudes. It turned out he was from
Middletown, and finding out that she was from nearby there, he felt a surprising deep
bond towards her. The next morning at breakfast he sought her out and sat next to her.
She laughed in his company. He made humorous comments about the other conference
attendees who came from all over the country. He had a sense of humor that made her
laugh but which did not exactly jive with her own. It was at times a bit too slapstick.

Some days after the conference he called her at work. She had only the weekend
before heard the crushing news from Raymond and she welcomed Walter's call.
Raymond it seemed to her had stabbed her in the back, and she felt anger and nausea
sweep through her. She needed to tear away from him and avenge herself in some way.
Walter offered to visit her. He came the following weekend and they went out to a
restaurant near the Lido. She eyed his tall body, his long face, his pointed nose, his
sensuously shaped mouth, the gold-rimmed glasses he wore, and his balding hair. She so
strongly felt that she needed to make love and be loved. They ended up sleeping together
that same night.

She felt a liking for Walter. He was older than her, successful and confident about
himself. After their weekend together, she often thought about him. But then,
involuntarily, she also grew suspicious of him. She felt vulnerable. She had sex with him
too soon - the first night they dated. She blamed herself and she blamed him for being a
womanizer who preyed on sorrow stricken women. When Walter got back to Middletown
and called her she hung up on him.

Walter felt confused. He liked Margaret for her intense ways and her intelligent
mind. She also made passionate love. What sort of relationship did he seek with her? He
did not know, he just sought to be in a relationship, however it ended, if it ended.. He
was enticed by Margaret, enticed by her intelligence and her sylph-like body. He called
her again after she hung up, and pleaded with her not to think of him as the womanizer
she accused him of being.

They met again. He came up to see her on another weekend. They went to a street
fair in Springfield, held hands as they walked through the streets and kissed in public.
At night he felt tired after the long day and she felt he lacked passion. She accused
him of not finding her attractive. He kissed her to pacify her. In the darkness, she
imagined Raymond kissing her. She was reminded of his passionate love-making. Her
mind turned in turmoil. She wanted someone passionate and jealous. Walter was neither.
Later in the night, when Walter fell asleep she cried by herself.

The next morning, on Sunday, they had a peaceful brunch by the window of her
living room. They looked out at the clear blue sky peppered with white clouds. The
night's trouble simmered no longer in her mind. When it came time for Walter to leave
she kissed him fondly good-bye.

The next few days she did not return Walter's calls. He finally reached her at
work. He said he was angry with her for not returning his calls and would readily break
off their relationship if that was what she wanted. She said that she was distrustful of him
because he was a man and men like him preyed on unsuspecting women and broke their
hearts. She sobbed as she spoke. Walter felt his ego and virility stroked. He calmed her,
said tender words to the effect that she was important to him, and they arranged to meet
the next weekend in Middletown. Together they would go see a play at the New Theater.

That evening, at home, she lay stretched out in her living room sofa looking out of
the window. The sun had set and left after it an orange-purple glow in the sky. It had not
been too long ago that she and Raymond had watched these same colors in the sky from
the same place she sat on her sofa. It seemed so impossible that they were separated. It
was true that he had seemingly stabbed her in the back, but now she too had made love to
a stranger in the meantime, and so were they not now even? Need she resent him

She walked over to the phone and called Raymond that moment - she could not
wait. He answered. She said she had forgiven him and would like to see him. He came.
She embraced him at the door, and led him to the sofa. She sat close next to him and
kissed him. It seemed such a relief. They traversed the night in reckless love.

In the morning, when Raymond rose to get dressed and leave, she confessed to
him about her affair with Walter. It was with a very pained look that he gazed at her. And
then a fit of jealousy seized him, he flew into a rage and beat her furiously with both his

She suffered from concussion and a fractured jaw. When she came to herself
much later, she called the police. He was arrested and charged with assault and battery.
Then over several months, he was tried, convicted and jailed. He felt remorse, and she felt
sorry. But, finally they had both tamed the source of their jealousy. They made up and
she faithfully visited him while he served his jail sentence.

Walter learned of the events much later. He exclaimed to himself sardonically:
"What a tight bitch!"



Copyright 1996 Sean Alan
Published on the World Wide Web by ""