|Posted on September 10, 2010 at 4:23 PM|
Author's note: This has been published before, but all those sites are defunct! So here it is again.
Jennifer came down the stairs to the living room. Her husband, Louie, was already planted on the couch in front of the television, wearing his favorite Giants sweatshirt.
"I'm heading out shopping; are you going to be okay here without me?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'll be fine, babe." said Louie, tossing a Nerf football back and forth between his hands. "The game's about to begin. Vinnie and Joey will be over soon, we're good. Have fun, baby." His eyes never left the television screen. The Giants were 6 and 2, after all. He could talk to his wife any time.
Jennifer went out the front door of their co-op apartment and down the stairway to the street. Pausing in the vestibule, she put on her sunglasses and wrapped a scarf around her head. You never know who might be watching. Then she stepped out to the curb to watch the cabs running up and down Central Park West.
Raising her arm to just the right angle, Jennifer flagged down a south-bound cab. She whispered an address. The driver passed no judgment; he proceeded south to her destination.
Jennifer leaned back in her seat and pondered on her situation. She loved Louie, and would never want to hurt him. But she had certain needs that he could just never fulfill. And that was why she found herself in a taxi cab heading downtown on a Sunday morning; so that she could attain what he could never give her, and thus keep her marriage intact. Right. That's what she told herself, over and over, that she was saving her marriage, not endangering it. But she knew, deep inside, that it was a lie.
The cab stopped. Jennifer paid in cash. No paper trail. The cab sped off, leaving her in the cool Autumn air, standing on the sidewalk, looking at the neon lights in the window of her destination. She asked herself once more, for the hundredth time, if she really wanted to do this. But she gritted her teeth and made her way to the door. She pushed it open and walked resolutely inside.
The bar was dark and cool; she could smell beer and peanuts and vinyl and a thousand other fragrances, so common in the seedy bars of downtown Manhattan. She pushed her sunglasses further up her nose. Clearly not needed in the dim light of the tavern, but she did not want to be recognized, except by the eyes of her rendezvous.
Back, back, into the furthest reaches of the tavern she went, past the casual drinkers and the gadflies at the front counter. Further and further back she went, to where the shameful and secretive people hung out, far from the reaches of the mainstream of humanity. Deep into the dank interior of the bar. Finally, she saw her target, sitting at a table in the farthest and darkest corner of the room. She walked quietly to the isolated table.
A pair of eyes looked up at her. "Jennifer. Thought you might have chickened out," said a quiet voice.
She laughed nervously. "Never," she said. "It just took me a little time to sneak past my husband." She took off her coat and hung it over a chair, then sat down primly. She set her purse on the table, and looked nervously back and forth.
"Don't worry; we're alone here. Nobody will bother us."
"I know," said Jennifer. "It's just that, well, you know..."
"Yes. Friends. Relatives. Coworkers. You can never be too careful."
Jennifer relaxed. She looked from face to face around the table. There was Phil from Toledo. There was Amy from Cincinnati. There was Alan from Columbus. There were even a few new people that she hadn't met yet. But she knew that she was among friends. She glanced up at the big screen TV on the wall.
"Did the Bengals win the coin toss?" she asked.
"No," said Alan. "They're going to kick. But it's going to be a great game."
Jennifer ordered an Iron City Lager from the waitress and thought about her hometown and her team. She just hoped her husband never found out. She loved him to death, but he would never understand.