Thursday, March 15, 2007
MAR 07 EXCERPT: No Regrets
Feeling a moment of relief, she meandered to the window, which was squeaky clean as far up as a step-ladder-assisted arm could reach. She stared into the evening wondering where the week had gone and how late her husband would get home this time.
Johnny could still turn the heads of women when he walked into a room. His six-foot-two silhouette stood in the arched doorway of the large banquet room. [He’d] been coming to this club for over eleven years, with more frequency in recent months. He kept his slightly graying hair short to draw attention away from his balding. He no longer had the trim body he sported in college. Over the years, extra pounds had taken up residency in his physique. His age had started showing, but his handsome demeanor was still winning out.
He eased into the room like a warm knife slicing butter.
Standing next to the bar was Johnny’s friend, Tyrone. The two leaned on the bar and Johnny scoped the room. [He} was on alert. His game seemed to work best with a married woman or a pure party girl who was looking for fun without commitment. The ‘nice, goody-two-shoes type’ was too dangerous. Johnny didn't want to kickoff a fatal attraction with a single, available, and searching woman. He wanted companionship without any strings attached. A shred of a good time away from his pressures was all he needed. He wasn’t looking for a wife seeing that he already had one of those at home. Isabelle was a red flag, but something about the game drew him in. Even though he was married… [he preferred] the kind [of women] who knew he was unfaithful and liked him anyway.
[Several hours passed before] Tyrone held up his wrist and pointed to his watch. He didn’t mind meeting Johnny for a drink from time to time but always knew when it was time to go home. Johnny got the message.
Heading for the door, Johnny helped Isabelle put on her jacket. Outside, he pulled the parking ticket from his pants pocket and handed it to the valet.
Isabelle’s eyes widened as the car approached.
He peeled a ten-dollar bill from his pocket as the valet attendant drove the new Cadillac up to the curb. He walked around to the passenger’s side of the car and opened the door for Isabelle. He hadn’t opened the door for Karen in ten years, but then she wasn’t someone he had to impress.
“Hi, Johnny,” a soft voice echoed from over his shoulder.
He turned to see who it was.
“Tina!” He went cold on the inside, but struggled to maintain his composure. Of all the people he could have run into, Johnny was wondering why it had to be Ms. Motor Mouth. Karen’s nosey friend was the last person he wanted to see.
Tina flashed a cunning smile, knowing Johnny was caught in the act. She had him right where she wanted, squirming.
“How’s Karen?” Tina asked while getting a good look at the lady sitting in her girlfriend’s car.
He closed the door and walked towards the driver’s side of the car. “She’s fine.”
“Tell her I said hello.” Tina walked past the car and without looking back said, “No, better yet, I’ll just call her myself.”
“Will do.” Johnny hopped into the car. He drove away as quickly and with as little drama as possible.
The twenty-minute drive was filled with small talk and moments of complete silence. The unexpected run-in with Tina had put a damper on Johnny’s playboy routine.
As soon as Isabelle got out of the car, he pulled off without extending any extra courtesies. Three blocks down the road, he was back in husband mode.
Johnny sat at the stop sign, turned on his cell phone and dialed home to see if Karen still needed him to stop by the pharmacy and pick up anything. His best hope was that Tina hadn’t told Karen about his escapade at Floods.
Karen answered the phone to hear Johnny on the other end.
“Hey, I’m on my way home.”
“It’s about time!”
“I told you I was going to be out.”
“If I’d known you were going to take this long, I would have gotten the Tylenol myself.”
“Look, I’m tired and your nagging is really starting to get on my nerves.”
“Well, I’m sorry Johnny, but I deserve a little more consideration.”
“I’ll be there when I get there. Bye.” Beep went the sound of the disconnecting cell phone.
Johnny was feeling the weight of running a plant and a household. He was doing the best he could. The only gratitude he got from Karen was suspicions and constant badgering. He thought more and more about what he'd been working for? He didn't want to give up living the American dream, but Johnny felt the installments were becoming too difficult to keep up. Something was going to have to give and soon.
Karen heard the dial tone and put the receiver on the hook. When the phone rang again, she grabbed it.
“No, it’s not Johnny. This is Tina, Karen. How you doing?”
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