The pastor was becoming animated as he said, "So you know Jesus?"
"Oh yes," Randi exclaimed, "and I really came to like him. A carpenter, a shipbuilder I'm sure 'cause he loved to hang out with the fishermen and go boating. I can see him, muscles rippling under his bronze skin, sweat rolling down his body as he worked in the sun. He was a real friend to women you know and the bullies feared him. He wasn't judgmental and the children loved him. Too bad what happened to him. He would have been an ideal husband and a perfect father."
Fully engaged now, the pastor next asked, "Did you read it again at sunset too?"
"No," Randi said, "but we had other French books Pierre and I would read together in the evening. They were pretty interesting too."
"NO Randi," I shouted, "NO, NO, NO, DON"T GO THERE."
"OK," she said without looking at me, "but we like them."
"I sure would like to see your smiling faces in church; we have some real fine discussions," the pastor said.
I was going to thank him but Randi beat me to it again, not yet finished with her funky mood. "Thank you but I don't know. They always have those discussions about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin and they never get to the part I'm interested in; 'What kind of dance are they dancing.' I mean, is it the 'twist and shout' or is it the more sultry erotic moves lovers make as they swim in the exquisite sea of ecstasy."
With that, I pushed Randi into the water. "We have to go check on the kids," I said as I jumped in after her.
Randi rolled onto her back and waved good-bye. "Keep those mission offerings coming; you never know what poor girl is going to need some help."
I scolded Randi for her behavior but she only smiled. "We gave them some memories they will never forget." I can still hear her chuckle as she said that. "Besides if you don't want to know my truth, don't ask."
I sat next to Ken, watching the kids. That didn't stop Dan from coming to join us. When our youngest wandered out to be with some of the bigger children, Ken left, sitting out in the middle of the pool, so he could be close to the little guy.
"No bikini this week," Dan remarked, as he looked me over.
"No," I said, "I didn't have time to shave." No sooner had the words left my mouth then I realized I had taken things in the wrong direction; then again, maybe that is where I wanted things to go. Self-deception is so hard to figure out!
"I know what you mean," Dan replied, as he rubber the stubble on his chin. "Still, I like that color of brown on you. The way it shows off your breast is quite sexy."
Somewhat embarrassed, I thanked him for the complement then said, "I can't compete with Susan when it comes to voluminous breast and she looks stunning in her yellow bikini doesn't she."
Dan looked over to where his wife was gabbing away with her friends. She had long beautiful hair that framed a pretty face and overflowing breast. "She does," Dan agreed. "She has yellow pajamas too that she likes so much that I have to beg her not to wear them to bed."
I was a bit at a loss as to what was the right thing to say, so I just started saying whatever came to me. "Relationships can have their bumpy spots. I am sure yours will get better soon." Dan didn't reply so I continued, filling the silence. "My friend Randi has hit a rough spot in her marriage too."
Dan nodded, "I've heard," he said. "Susan has developed a close relationship with Dr. Morgan, so she tells me things." Dan worked in the physical therapy department at hospital and Susan was a nurse, so both knew Randi's husband.
Suddenly curious about what Dan meant, I asked him straight out what he knew.
Ken showed up just then, said he had to go inside for a bit, so I waded out to take his place with the kids.
When Ken got back, he sat down next to Dan and they talked for a while. I was dying to get back to my conversation with Dan so I fabricated a need to use the restroom, forcing Ken back out into the pool. When I got back, I sat next to Dan again and worked the talk back to where we had been interrupted. I could tell Dan had mixed emotions, not wanting to say too much but at the same time wanting to talk. It was hard to hear as the pool arena echoed with the sounds of yelling kids and splashing water. Without really thinking, I pressed myself against Dan so I could hear what he was saying.
"I guess the short most polite version is, Dr. Morgan is a ladies' man," Dan said. "I don't understand it, but women are attracted to him and he takes advantage of it."
"Takes advantage," I repeated, "Do you mean flirting or what?"
"Let's just say, the Motel over on Alder Street has seen a good share of women go spend a night there with him."
"No," I gasp. My heart was already aching for my friend Randi. They may have left Hawaii but Casey's addiction for women, apparently came with him.
Dan took several deep breaths before speaking again. Quite a while ago Susan got called in at night to cover for a sick co-worker. A few days later, I saw that coworker and asked how she was feeling. It was then that I learned that she hadn't been sick at all. I checked the work schedule and it confirmed that Susan did not work that night. When I asked her about it, she got really mad and out came the yellow pajamas."
"What did you do," I half whispered, half chocked.
"They are not trying to hide the affair," Dan said. I went over to the motel early one morning and saw Dr. Morgan leave a room then a while later Susan came out. I followed her to work and confronted her. She was unapologetic. Said in college she had many sleep over boyfriends and was missing it."
"I just want to know what the rules are so I can play too, if this is how it is going to be. If it is going to be musical beds, then I want you in mine!"
"Oh Dan, I'm a married woman, you know we can't do that."
"Susan is married, but that hasn't stopped her. I'm not saying you leave Ken, but let's just have some fun on the side. We can be more discrete that Susan and Casey, we can be more like Randi and Ken."
Dan motioned out to where Ken was. Even in her bright orange bikini, I hadn't noticed that Randi had joined him, playing with the children. "People have noticed how much she hangs around your house. She has been known to hire a baby sitter for several days and be gone, it just so happens, when your husband is working out of town on one of those jobs up north. I don't know it for a fact, but it appears to me, that you and I are the odd couple out. I didn't make up this game and I'm not here to throw stones, but if that is what is going on then there is no one I'd rather play it with than you. You have enamored me for a long time and I know how you look at me. I'd like nothing better than to consummate this love."
"Jack and Jill," I said.
"Jack and Jill, Randi said you wanted to play JJ with me. Now you tell me she has been playing it with my husband. I can't believe that's true." The thought initially shocked me but if Ken was doing it, then why shouldn't I. I couldn't tell it had hurt our marriage at all.
"How long do you think they have been doing it," I questioned Dan?
"Susan thinks it started sometime very early in Randi's last pregnancy. That's a worry free time to have some fun, you know."
"I don't know what to think. It was just before Randi's little girl was born that Ken did have a vasectomy, but it was I who suggested it. Other than that, there has been nothing obvious, at least to me. Besides Randi swears she would never do that."
"Deny, deny, deny, that the cheaters motto," Dan said. "It is to be expected."
Dan pulled me tight against himself. "It will be fun and you don't have to worry about getting pregnant because I've been 'fixed' too. I want you in the worse way and I know you want me too."
"You'd better stop," I said, you're causing me to soak my pants. I hope you like a real wet pussy." I don't know why I said that but then again maybe I did. It seemed so forward, so unlike me. Something told me to examine my thoughts but I didn't want to, so I didn't. Instead, I enjoyed the tingling thrill that washed over me.
Dan left when Randi came over to see what was going on.
"What up? Randi asked.
"Dan told me some things that I can't believe are true. How can I make sense of this tangled web, who can I trust?" I was shaking as I said these words, mostly because I didn't want my thinking exposed. Randi gave me a long hug; trying to reassure me things would be ok. Jumbled thoughts raced through my head.
"You keep on trusting those who you have found trustworthy before," Randi counseled. "Truth has a way of revealing the hidden. And though life is not fair, there is enough good out there that we can find it and be happy." Months later reflecting on what Randi said, I had the strong impression that she needed that human touch and to hear those words, more than I did.
First things first; I realized that I really did not know if any of this was true, though I was pretty sure Randi wasn't trying stealing my husband from me, even if she did steal some treats once in a while. I was strangely calm about the situation. I loved Ken, I loved Randi, I was infatuated with Dan, so I could understand how these things could happen.
I reasoned, I could assume the best, nothing was going on between Randi and Ken, but was that really the best, for I felt I needed an excuse to get with Dan. I could assume the worse, that would give me the go ahead, but it seemed ironic that I was cheering for the worst. Alarms were going off in my head but I pushed the silence button.
Saturday afternoon Ken liked to watch sports and Randi and I liked to go shopping, leaving the children with him. We had done it often enough that Ken had a system down to where he didn't mind too much. When I got into Randi's car, she announced that instead of our usual shopping she had arranged for us to go meet some friends at our favorite café.
There was one booth in the back of the café that was private, apart from the rest. Business deals got made there. Relationships started and ended there. Whenever I went to that café, I'd go out of my way to see who was back there just for that reason. Today Randi had called ahead and reserved it for us. We are going to do an intervention, Randi told me. I did not like the idea but had little time to protest because she did not tell me until we were headed back to the booth.
Susan was already there and so was Ann. We were still looking over the menu when Ann jumped up upon seeing her new friend Mandisa. "We are over here," she said as she waved. Ann grabbed a near by chair and put it at the end of our booth so Mandisa could join us "Do any of you know Mandisa," Ann asked.
Ann had met her at church, Susan knew her from work, Randi hinted she knew about her but she was new to me.
"She is a housekeeper at the hospital," Ann continued with the introductions. "She comes from South Africa and is here to take nursing at our Community College."
We placed our orders; I shared a burger with Randi, as I had lost my appetite over the thought of confrontation. Poor Ann thought this was just a fun time out with the girls so was in a chipper mood, apparently not knowing about the significance of 'the booth.' Randi ordered a mug of beer for each of us, which I thought unusual because she normally didn't drink.
When I asked her about that, she recounted how in the past, one beer would put her in a 'happy place,' and two would shred her inhibitions, making her an easy prey. She started to say more but stopped abruptly.
Toward the end of the meal, with both Susan and Randi being nurses, Randi had managed to work the conversation from food to fat, diseases to the prostrate, seminal vessels to sex. Ann seemed particularly interested as she began to understand the biological forces that drive a man's sexual appetite.
"Intercourse is brain control," Ann mused, her eyes darting back and forth while exploring these new thoughts. "By collecting his semen, I'm cutting off those demanding sexual thoughts that would cause him to look at another woman and instead focus his thought on me. Frequent and passionate ...." Glancing around, Ann stopped suddenly, blushing at the boldness of her own talk.
"Love is sexually transmitted," Randi said, picking up where Ann stopped. When there is no love, sex will transmit lust, or anger or control or infatuation, or whatever. For you and your husband love is the driving force and that makes sex very special. Just add some 'eye candy' to your love, and you have a rare and beautiful marriage."
From there the conversation turned to Mandisa as she told a little about herself. Mandisa seemed as sweet as her name implied. She spoke with confidence, her voice somewhat loud; her accent was thick but charming, though a bit difficult to understand at times. Slender and at least 5'10', her black skin radiated beauty. How she came to be here was a story in itself but the part that caught my attention, and I'm sure Randi's, was her relationship with the good Dr. Morgan. She had not been here too long when she got appendicitis. Luckily, her insurance covered 85% of the bill; however, 15% was still a lot to come up with for a student working part time. The good Dr. Morgan forgave what she owed him for doing the surgery and even gave her a thousand dollars to help cover the rest of her medical bills. She was, and for good reason, a fan of Dr. Morgan.
Looking at the expressions on everyone's faces, I could tell that Susan knew the story, Ann looked intrigued, and Randi looked stoic.
"That was so generous of Dr. Morgan," Ann bubbled, her eyes darting back and forth between Randi and Mandisa. His wife is so lucky to have a husband like that," Ann said, smiling at Randi.
"Oh yes," Mandisa agreed, not knowing who Randi was, "and quite cocksman too."
"Cocksman," Ann said, "I'm not familiar with that word."
"You know, a seducer. In my country too, such a man will have many girlfriends."
"Are you one of Dr. Morgan's girlfriends," Randi coolly probed.
"How can a woman say 'no' to such a powerful man? My door is always open. When he comes, it is like a feast. Men are always hungry and women know how to cook so he is always welcome at my house."
"You feed him African food," Ann asked with a confused tone in her voice.
"The very best," she laughed as she slapped her hip. "You can't expect a man to have the same meal over and over again; it's not in their nature. My friend Susan, she feeds him creamy vanilla, I feed him dark chocolate. We are his dessert, a place to rest from his important work."
Ann's face had turned ashen. Her focus on Mandisa was so intense; it was like the rest of us were not there. "That is bad, it's not right, you are hurting his wife and family. You are putting his marriage in jeopardy. She'll be devastated when she finds out about you," she paused, looked at Susan and finished with, "you two."
"It is like a game where everyone pretends not to know but really, everyone does know. It is a big open secret," Susan said. "We attract men because they instinctively know we are ten times better than what they can get at home."
"It is not about being good or bad," Mandisa added. "I am a female living in harmony with the nature of man. Besides, Susan says his wife has a boyfriend too, so I am sure she is well fed."
Glancing around the table, Susan said, "I don't know why all the talk about keeping your man 'emptied out' because we all do a good job of that, not only with our husbands but with each other's husbands too!"
"You see Ann, the big open secret is that, yes Mandisa and I have sex with Randi's husband while Randi is fucking Dawna's husband and Dawna is screwing my husband."
"That's not true," I protested as my fist pounded the table.
"Oh give it up Dawna," Susan said. "Dan likes to brag about what a good fuck you are; a real screamer in bed. Dam how he likes your pussy, can't get enough of it, all soft and wet, the prettiest cunt he has even seen. You know when he like to tell me this stuff; when we are fucking, that when. Don't give that monogamous bullshit. It is Dawna this and Dawna than. 'Boy did I have her boobs bouncing; or she had the wettest 'O' I've ever felt.' You make me sick with your fake virtue!"
Randi asked Ann if she was going to drink her beer. Ann, wide eyed and shaken, shook her head no. Randi helped herself too it. When I reminded she had a very low threshold for getting drunk, she responded, "I know," then took another big gulp.
Susan, continuing her attack said, "As for Randi and Ken, I've run the time line and I am sure Ken fathered Randi's girl and I think you both know it and probably even planned it."
Randi stood to leave. "Time to go, the beer is gone and I got to go pee. Mandisa and Susan, I hope you are using condoms, because you are not the only woman my husband is seeing, who are 'ten times' better than me. In fact, with so many willing women around, he hasn't approached me in the past year, so that might make you a fifty times better, or however many times he has fucked you."
"Oh, and one more thing, there is no circle. I am not fucking anyone, least of all Ken, who is a good and decent man and married to my best friend! Sexy, you bet. Any man who loves and cares for his family, who works hard, is honest and faithful, that is the kind of man I want. But he can't be had by another woman nor could another woman take him without destroying what makes him the desirable man he is."
When I got up, I held up both my hands towards the women. "I'm innocent, believe me I'm innocent. I am part of no circle."
I cried when Randi told me her marriage was over and she was going to leave. She had only stayed this long because of our friendship. I asked where she would go. She told me about some far off islands on the equator. During her pirate days, she had met some people there who ran a small hospital and school. She had contacted them and they were looking forward to her coming to help them. Randi looked happier than I had seen her in a long time as she talked about a medical clinic they operated from a boat that traveled from Island to Island.
We exchange letters during the holidays. They all look happy, tan and healthy. She is holding her third child, her Aussie husband, a doctor no less, has one arm around Randi and the other hugs the children. I tell her I want to come and visit. "We'd love to see your family," she writes back. "And be sure to bring your bikini and your husband, for the water is wonderful and you'll find the evenings romantic."
Since Randi left, I have spent quite a bit of time cleaning up those rooms in my head. One spot keeps reminding me of a big mistake I came so close to making. I shudder each time I think about it.
Another room I visit often was once alive and vibrant but now only holds memories of my friend Randi. There I came to realize with tears in my eyes, that as painful as it was for Randi, she had orchestrated that 'intervention' for me, not for them.
Oh how my heart aches for her friendship.