She awakes each weekday to a neatly arranged bedroom. After showering and adorning herself, she thinks: he’ll call soon. She proceeds to languish and goes down the narrow staircase to her kitchen. Then, she’ll survey her day’s activities before making coffee. She has to finish washing clothes, and drop off those letters. She looks out of the window and sees a crystal clear morning with soft clouds on the horizon. She wonders about her life, and the changes, its strange turn to an illicit affair with him. Her mind drifts to her husband, she imagines he’s hard at work at that moment, while she, she is free with unlimited time to spend idle. She turns from the window, to see the coffee is ready, and pours herself a cup. The clock in the kitchen next to the refrigerator reads 9:30 exactly. He’ll call in fifteen minutes, on his coffee break, oh God I hope he’s pleasant today.
It was such a short time ago, they met and embraced, he thought. They had both been yearning for these days to spend together. He leaned back on the couch, took a cigarette out and lit it; the picture of her firmly sketched in his memory. He crossed his legs, and let his thoughts return to the previous weekend. He twisted on his couch trying remembering the pleasure of it all.
She and he had constructed a plan for them meet that very day. They had planned it perfectly. For in fact she had decided against traveling to the west coast, though he didn’t know this. As he understood it, they were to meet the next Thursday. He was to malinger at work on that day. She would take a half-day off. He would leave work early and they would complete a tryst at a local shopping mall. But, that was not to be. Their passions were great and time was their enemy. It stood between them, it made them wait and grow impatient. But, chance is unpredictable, sometimes favoring and or misfortuning people. On this day, it favored, though not as he would have expected. That afternoon, as they sat next to each other at their desks, her husband called, and she talked to him in Togalog. He didn’t understand the language but guessed from her tone of voice, it was not good news. She completed the called and told him her husband was leaving for Sweden in two weeks. She was irritated about this turn of events. As the morning wore on, she became uncertain about her plans to travel to the west coast with her husband, Angelo. She cancelled their tryst too, which irritated him. But, can’t we just…No, trust me Trea. They had whispered while the other girls were on break. The day ended with a promise to call him that evening and figure things out.
Sitting at home that evening, he wondered if she would really see him, that Thursday. He never knew with her, she was so damn mercurial! He sat on the sofa, drinking Port wine, and occasionally reading a Greek tragedy. The book was Oedipus: A Trilogy, by Sophocles, the Greek philosopher. The phone rang. He jumped up spilling his glass of wine and cursing the event. Picking up the phone, he heard her soft, tender voice on the other end. She was dining out with family and friends. He wanted to tell her how much he looked forward to seeing her that Thursday, but felt it would sound pretentious. She told him about the place they were dining at. He listened uninterested in the details. He asked about her trip. Then she said the words that set him aflame with delight: I’m not going. He said: What? What do’ ya mean, you’re not going? Well, it’s going to be silly for me to go there for a day. He instantly thought of them together in his apartment, hugging and kissing, fucking, watching videos, him massaging her small tan back with the mole below her left shoulder blade, then getting below and tasting her thing. Her voice brought him back. Trea, look his conference is on Wednesday and ends Thursday, why take me with him for one day. So, I decided to not go. He said, but, Saloni I thought he was leaving Sunday and coming back—Yes I know, you thought that but I was going to his sister’s in Las Vegas and then going to meet him in Los Angeles on Wednesday, oh it doesn’t matter, I’m not going okay. She said all this with an irritated tone. Okay, okay darling I won’t question you, I’m not Sergeant Bevins, ya know? Though, I must inform you, you do have the right to remain silent, any and all…oh wait wrong speech! She giggled. Trea you’re so funny! You wanna see me Saturday? Of course Saloni, he intoned. Good, I’ll call you tomorrow, and let you know if I can get away. You know his relatives are here. Yes I know. Look darling don’t do anything risky for me—She cut him short again—Shut up, I know what I’m doing…there was a pause and then she said in a licentious whisper: you wanna lick me down there honey? He was instantly aroused, feeling a stiffening of his penis--Oh God yes, yes… yes… I do!!, with each yes growing louder. He heard background voices in the distance…Oh I gotta go honey, they got a table, call you tonight, it’ll be late okay? All right around 12, bye. The phone clicked and he heard a dial tone. He hung up feeling an instant sense of being alone and abandoned. There was no one to talk to after she’d hung up. It was just his quiet apartment with the drone of his air-conditioner across the living room. He picked up the book again and scanned the words not really reading them. He fell back on the couch with a sense of resignation to being alone that night.
She called him yesterday. She said she’d be back in town earlier than he’d expected. He was enthused by this news. They made plans to meet that Monday. Their voices were full of giggles and emotional squeals like two love-crazed animals. She asked what he’d done in the days since she’d left. He told her of going to work early Saturday to set-up some new screens his supervisor had discovered were available. She listened politely, but not really interested. They returned to their future encounter. She said: we could have a picnic like we did last time Trea?. Yeah, lets…lets do that kid. He asked about her ride down there. Was it hot? Was she tired? She responded that she was exhausted and yes it was hot. Also, they had picked up her sister-in-law, in Chicago. And all of the stopping, talking and getting in and out of the car at rest stops----woooo. It had left her completely down, if he knew what she meant. He knew for sure. So much so, that she couldn’t wait to come home. Come home to her quiet, clean home and to… well to her Trea. Though, he knew the last comment was directed at his egomania, it felt pleasing to hear anyway. But, at that time their love was changing now. There were fights between them. They revolved mainly around their arrangements to meet for sex. She told him about the expense for motels in and out of town was becoming burdensome, and worst yet, her husband was beginning to ask questions about how much gas she was using to go shopping every weekend. They argued about who was the blame for causing who anxieties like these. But, the deeper undercurrent was one of dominance. Who would control whom? This is what lay at the bottom of their love affair.
For the past week they’d fought vicious battles over next-to-nothing incidents. She had begun to protest and allege her desire to part with him. He would refuse and remind her that she was the one that took up with him. That she drew him in this adulterous affair not the other way around. This she acknowledged and by the same reasoning, she put it to Trea that she should have the right to end what she started. To which, he retorted (irrational even to himself) that she had no such right. That having started this thing she should remain in it, until he agreed to leave off of his own accord. He knew this made no sense, but so deep was his passion to have and possess, it didn’t matter.
At home that evening, he wondered how to bring her close to him again. He would wander his living room floor ranting about his need to put a stop to her dominance over him. He inveighed in long soliloquies that she was destroying him emotionally. She-she was turning him into a neurotic jellyfish! She wanted him, all right. But only as a subservient stud! But his thoughts would switch to another image of her. It was one of tender cares and gentle remembrances of her expressions of love. The exotic Filipino meals she’d labored hours to make and bring him during their trysts. The money she’d spent on clothes and appliances all for him. All of this done at risk of her of being found out by her husband. These recollections moved him and he became momentarily diffident. But this softening stance didn’t last, his pertinacious thought returned: she was wronging him and controlling him. Worst she was using him! He never would admit to himself any wrongdoing on his part. He was the victim of her damnable attraction and beauty. What could he do about it?
In point of fact, they both were quite guilty of inequities. A moralist would have had much to decry in these two. They were self-centered bodies that had fallen into each other’s orbits and their own narcissisms made them struggle against one another’s attractions. She had engaged in a sexual affair with him due to her loss of interest in her workaholic husband, he had never satisfied her sexual desires. This fact she had confided to him from their first kiss. One night at his apartment while they necked, she had demanded the oddest thing. She had told him undress and show it to her. he did as told obediently. After a moment of foundling it, she’d declared him worthy of her. He laughed in suppressed giggles as she joined in. She had been no doubt impressed with his intellectual abilities too, his erudition on diverse topics, and his high-culture way of talking. Through it all though, he had been a sexual object to her. What is worst, he was never meant to actually replace her husband as a life partner. She never saw him as someone to run off with and begin a new life. She foolishly, perhaps unconsciously believed that the current state of affairs could go on indefinitely. And him? He had initially enjoyed the role of being a kept man. It had served his irrepressible vanity well. Her largesse was indeed tremendous. He never had need of much due to her continual giving. From food, to households, to clothing and appliances she showered upon him. He needn’t ask, she almost insisted on giving him things. At one point, she had considered moving him into an elegant 2-bedroom apartment unit in a 50-unit building she and her husband owned in an upscale neighborhood. She was wondering how to keep his rent the same as his current place, but dismissed the idea, as her husband frequently was called to the structure to do repair work and the possibility of discovery was just too great. Yes, he had it good or so it seemed. It became clear to him within time that all this splendid outpouring came at a price. He had to more or less agree to be at her beck and call. He had strict rules of behavior set up for him. He was to call her every day after work before her husband arrived, and at night when he was to wait patiently for her to call him around 11 pm. He was made to account for his whereabouts down to the last details. She suspected him of having a woman on the side regardless of his protest that no such thing could ever happen. As her reins on him became more constricting, he rebelled. They were destined to collide. He expected to control her, not the other way around. One night before they had a dramatic scene at work, the harbinger of its coming was set in place. He was on the phone with her, having answered her call at about 11 pm. Unfortunately for him, he gotten drunk the previous night and missed her call. She was angered by that event, and now it was time to admonish him properly.
How come you didn’t answer the phone last night? I told you I’d call at 11:30 every night.
But, I told you I fell asleep?
Asleep huh, I bet you were drunk
I wasn’t… Look Saloni you gotta stop this. You’re insulting me. Do I do that to you? By the way, I can never be drunk which is the perfect past tense of to drink,
I can’t be consumed as a liquid, now can I? What you mean is I was inebriated which I wasn’t.
She is momentarily amused at his humorous feigned misunderstanding of her idiomatic usage of the work drunk and giggles.
Very funny! Yeah I should stop what? Telling you when you’re lying?
I’m not lying.
Oh yeah how come when I called your line was busy.
I told you I was talking to my brother in New Jersey.
Yeah, yeah Trea I know it was your other girlfriend.
Look, damn it! Wouldja stop this, you know and I know there is no other girlfriend!
I don’t’ know any such thing. You could be having some other black girl over there whenever you want.
I’m telling you Saloni watch yourself. I’m not a toy soldier you can play with and make do whatever you please. Though in spite of this comment, he knew that’s exactly what she could do, and did do.
There was a long silence with short inhalations. He couldn’t tell if she was inhaling a cigarette or sobbing. He figured she was smoking, no chance of her crying over this.
Saloni you there?
I’m here…look Trea I’ll forgive you this time, and if what you say is true, don’t let it happen again. When I call you, you should have the decency to pick up…I’m taking the chance to call and you can’t even be there. She said this in a plaintive whisper. In fact, the whole conversation had been in whispers, as not to wake her husband sleeping in an adjoining room. He mentally noted how lucky for them, he and she didn’t sleep in the same rooms.
Oh honey don’t say that, please can we forget it? He was hoping to avoid that distasteful little thing she’d make him do.
Trea….I want you to promise me, promise me…
Promise what? He knew she wanted him to submiss to her, and hated it.
I promise to answer when you call.
Yes, now say you’re sorry.
Ahh, I’m sorry.
Good now bye honey, I’m going to sleep now.
This was a castigating catechism she would put him through whenever he had transgressed one of her rules. It led him to feel a repressed resentment toward her. A resentment that was channeled into excessive drinking in the evenings or whenever he thought he could get away with it. That is, not have her detect he was drunk. When he was sloshed he could let out this repressed growing dislike of her domineering control over him. He could call her names and say how he’d like to wring her neck sometimes. Treating him like a little schoolboy, the nerve of this, this….
The inevitable collision came on a Monday after he’d managed to get through her phone call that Sunday. He had listened for her call that night, cursing having to do it. When she finally rang him, they spoke briefly, but she was particularly tried and decided to end the call around 11:30. He in turn was fed up with her and this wait-for-my-call-thing. He was so disgusted by it, that he opened a bottle of Port wine and drank the entire bottle by 12 AM. The wine made him sleep soundly, but he awoke feeling the effects of it the next morning. Nevertheless, he came to work early as usual, never being hindered by a night’s indulgence in alcohol consumption. Or so he told himself. However a distinct odor of alcohol must’ve been present on his person, though he’d gargled excessively and chewed 3 or 4 sticks of gum that morning before leaving for work. He sat at his desk, furiously typing calculation modules into his computer. He felt sick, with a growling upset stomach from the thick, sweet, rich wine he’d consumed the night before. His head hurt and he felt his face flush with a kind of feverish heat. In addition to this, he was in an ill temper and hardly spoke to anyone around him, including her, though she sat directly across from him. He got up and went to the bathroom through the rear door entrance at least twice. He surveyed himself in the mirror. His eyes were reddened, his brown skin seemed a reddish hue, almost as if he was doing what they did: blush. He popped 2 more sticks of gum in his mouth and returned to his desk. As the morning wore on, he could see her casting disapproving glances toward his desk. He tried to ask what was wrong by silently mouthing the words:
What’s the matter?
She shook her head to and fro rapidly and focused on her work, ignoring him.
A few minutes later, suddenly without warning she rose from her desk and walked over to him. He turned around from his computer to look up at her beautiful but stern face glaring down at him. He knew she was going say something chastising to him. He felt his anger mounting with the thought that she’d do this here at work. She leaned over and whispered in his ear:
That was the last straw. He couldn’t take this perceived insult, being in this bad sort of way.
He whispered back his voice bristling with anger
She stood there for a brief moment with shock showing in her eyes. She couldn’t believe what she’d just heard him say. Then it happened. He saw it coming like a time bomb about to detonate. The tears flooding her eyes came in a gushing stream and she shrieked, turned and stormed toward the rear entrance door leading to the parking lot. He knew she was heading for car and home. Everyone in the department looked around to witness the event. Of the 6 female workers in his department two, Denise and Ashley ran after her. Calling out to her: Saloni, Saloni what’s the matter. They rushed after her intercepting her just before she bolted for her car. Meanwhile, he sat there thinking: I’m fucked now man. Why did I haveta go and say that. Oh shit. He mused to himself as he saw that little blond bitch Amber make for Ron’s office (the HR manager), well I won’t have anything to clean out of my desk when he cans me. Yes his coworker Amber was running to spill the beans to their boss. In minutes he thought this will all be over. Little did he know, it would not be. No in fact they would work together for another two years before it was all over, at least as coworker lovers. But, now in this commotion and general disruption their scene had caused, he couldn’t see anything but dismissal coming.
Denise and Ashley came back soon afterwards, announcing that Saloni wasn’t feeling well and that’s why she went home. Things calmed down. About an hour later, Ron called him on his desk phone and asked to have a little talk with him. He knew what that meant. But it didn’t mean that. Ron had no intentions of risking a lawsuit by dismissing him. Ron Werzinski just wanted to scare this arrogant gigolo as he had concluded he was since those two started their office affair.
Saloni had driven home with tears still streaming down her eyes. Why did he do that? What go into him? Who did he think he was? She thought about the last time they made love and how he’d filled her up with himself so good and all those times he’d read novels to her over the phone. Yes, her Trea, her passion, her Trea. He was going nuts, and becoming a drunk, or maybe he was using drugs now….no not my Trea she said to herself while waiting for light to change on boulevard that led to the freeway route she took home. She took out a Merit menthol cigarette lit it with the car lighter and sped off as the light changed. Why did he act like that to her? Was he nuts? She thought about his cultural difference. He was the first Somali she’d ever known. She really knew nothing them.
He had survived this incident, but not without consequences. Saloni and he would have their desk situated 5 cubicles away from each other. They were given to understand that daily lunching together was not appreciated. Trea felt deep disaffection with these impositions to their affair. He spent evening mentally fantasizing on how he’d castrate and murder Werzinski human resources manager.