Two's a Crowd Ch. 05byangiquesophie©
Why can't I sleep -- again? Hadn't my plan promised me it would all be over by now? After more than two years it should be, shouldn't it? My idea had been fool proof. She would show me what a dirty, cheap whore she really was and that would cure me forever -- and her too. Like an insecticide it would kill all the damn germs that still infested my soul. I'd be clean and happy. At long last I would be ready to move on.
And now look at me. Ever since I left that reeking hotel suite I have been walking in a daze. I don't remember the cab that took me back to the airport. I don't remember the plane -- it is amazing that I got on the right one home. All I remember is her thick voice calling after me. "Bruce...don't abandon me again." It had sounded like the most forlorn thing I had ever heard. It made me stop for a heartbeat.
And although I had walked out on her, the words have haunted me ever since. Soft, pathetic me.
My first game of tennis with Erica, since I returned from Houston, lasted only half an hour. Then she told me she hated playing against zombies. I apologized and we quit. When I slumped down in a corner seat of the restaurant, I did not even remember one game we played.
She stared at me over her juice. "Peekaboo time again?" she asked. "Hiding from the world the gross injuries that have been done to you? How long will it take this time, honey?"
My eyes burned. I cursed under my breath the pathetic silliness of it all. "I should see a shrink," I said.
She chuckled. "From where this sudden insight?" she asked. The wounded flash of my eyes made her apologize. Her hand was on mine. "Oh God, honey. You are serious. I am so sorry. Please tell me what is going on, Bruce. Please, this is Erica, you know? You can tell me. It's the damn whore again, isn't it?"
I shrugged. I had told her about meeting Myriam in Dallas. About her being an escort girl. But I had never told her about my plan and the action I took. I did now.
To my surprise she didn't call it a stupid action. No, that's not true. She said that the whole sick adventure just proved that I would never get over the whore. So it didn't matter if what I did was right or wrong. I thanked her for nothing and she laughed, patting my hand.
"Sorry, Bruce," she said. "You are the sweetest man I know. Even in your stupidity you are utterly lovable. Good God, I am just trying to imagine that afternoon. Why on earth did you have to fall for a slut like her?"
Good question, no answer.
"So she says she is mentally ill?"
"Maybe schizophrenia," I agreed. "Or multi personalities disorder. I talked to a shrink -- a friend of a colleague. May have been triggered in her youth. Sexual abuse, usually."
"She never told you?"
"Can't it be a trick?"
I looked at her. Of course I had considered that. "I don't know, really. Only a psychiatrist can tell. Do you know a good one? The colleague's friend is leaving the country. Said she'd look for a good one."
Erica raised her hand. "Hold it, Bruce. Are you telling me that you plan to help her?"
She shook her head, smiling. "You're an utterly lovable idiot, as I said before," she said. "You are a fool, but sometimes I wish I were straight enough to grab you."
Her voice was a mere whisper. "Bruce."
I had called her on her personal number. I had deduced early afternoon would be the best time to reach her. "Myriam." I allowed a pause. Then I said: "I want you to tell me everything."
A new pause.
"Now?" she asked. "On the phone?"
"Of course not. Can you come to New York?"
"I have to be in Washington next Tuesday. We might..." She stopped in mid-sentence. Sudden irritation blocked my voice -- it made the silence stretch until it was unbearable.
"Sorry," she then said. "I am such a stupid bitch."
"I'll pay for the flight," I offered.
"It is not the money," she said.
"I'll be there Monday," she decided. "Your place?"
"No," I answered -- too quickly. "Ehm...pick a hotel."
A last silence fell. My finger hovered over the red button.
"Thank you for this, Bruce...I love you."
I pushed the button. Little beeps filled my ear.
She had picked The Roosevelt on Madison Avenue. A calm and stylish hotel -- so very much like her. Like Myriam, I mean. The Myriam I tried to remember. Her style, her class. Every sweet thing from long ago. I walked under the clock into the spacious lobby. It was getting close to five in the afternoon. The cocktail bar was filling up. I looked around and saw a hand waving.
Myriam was all Myriam. The suit was pearl gray on a white silk blouse. It had one extra open button, but that might have been a necessity caused by her newly acquired cup size. She rose and leaned in -- for a kiss, I suppose. Then she pulled back with a blush. I took her cool slim hand. "Hi, Myr," I said. "Good to see you here -- how was your flight?"
Things stayed awkward for a while. We spent ten minutes on inane small talk and the careful sipping of our drinks. She never once referred to our last meeting -- neither did I, as this woman seemed light years away from the fucked-out slut I had left lying on the soaked hotel bed.
We went over to a low table that had just been vacated. The back of my mind registered a slightly higher hemline as she walked before me -- and modestly elevated heels. They looked expensive. She was right -- money wasn't the issue.
There was silence as we sat looking around. She hadn't flown across half the country to just sit here taking in the stylish scenery, I guessed.
"You came to explain," I reminded her.
Her eyes returned to mine. There was a puzzled expression in them as if what I asked came as a surprise. "I am so glad to be with you, Bruce," she said. Her voice was almost a whisper. "I've missed you so much."
An uncomfortable heat rose from my collar. "Stop this, Myriam," I said. "I haven't come here to hear bull shit. It was you who forced me to leave, remember?"
Her gaze didn't move an inch. "Did I?" she asked. "I never would have done that."
I rose. "This is getting us nowhere, Myr. You have been fucking around on me for years. Then you turned into a full-time whore the moment I left you -- and still you want me to love you? Now, either you explain this crazy nightmare to me or I'm out of here."
Her hand was up. She touched me. I recoiled. "You're right, Bruce," she said. "I'm sorry -- please sit down."
I suddenly felt stupid, standing. So I sat down. The leather of the chair sighed under my weight. Did I see a smile on her face? Must have been the light.
"Bruce," she began. "This is very difficult for me, so please be patient. And yes, I understand -- who am I to make demands or to complain? It must be much worse for you."
She inhaled deeply. "Bruce, I married you under false pretenses." Her lashes fluttered -- she seemed to be surprised by her own candor. "Ehm...not false, just... Myriam really never lied to you, Bruce. But she did not tell you all about herself either -- not everything about her youth, her...ehm ...problem." Her fingers demolished the paper napkin in her hands. Her talking in the third person felt eerie.
"You need to know -- Myriam has always been honest with you, Bruce. Her love for you was true -- profoundly true. It still is. She may be a weak person, but she never cheated on you -- not even in her thoughts. Her heart broke when you accused her of cheating and left her. She never stopped loving you, Bruce. These last years have been hell for her -- only her hope against all odds kept her going. If you kill that, she'll die. I'll die, Bruce."
I just sat there. I guess the word flabbergasted was invented for occasions like this. The woman in front of me had lost her cool, stylish control. Slow tears ran down her face now.
"I," I began.
"Bruce," she went on. "Telling you this has always been impossible. You see -- Estelle never allowed me to tell you. She forbade it -- forbids it. She threatens to leave me, if I do. She protects me, I need her. She has always been there for me."
Myriam looked away. "Only when it was too late," she went on in a whisper, "did I discover what she had become -- she is like a sick rubber wall around me. No -- a cage made of sticky gum. It opens less and less. It gets so tiring to struggle free -- even for minutes. Even right now, I don't know how long I'll be able to fend her off."
I stared into the face of the woman who had been my life for almost ten years. The woman I had thought I knew better than myself. And here I was -- once more realizing I had never known her at all. I peered into an ever-shifting, surreal haze.
"Myr," I said -- which was a huge improvement on my former one-syllabled "I." "What on earth are you talking about? Estelle, you say? Estelle is your hooker name, Myriam. All the escorts use one. It is just a professional alias. You can't blame a name!"
A hidden spark suddenly surfaced in her eyes. Subtle shifts molded her facial expressions -- a horribly sweet smile painted her lips. It lasted only a few seconds before it was washed away, but an after-image seemed to hover. Myriam panted. Her body trembled -- so did her lips. "Please, Bruce." She struggled to regain control. "Please, just hear me out. Don't interrupt -- we may lose precious time. This could be my only chance."
Her fingers had finally shredded the napkin, causing a layer of snow on the table. It fascinated me. It also gave me something else to watch other than her weird, upsetting eyes. "When Myriam was eleven, almost twelve, her stepfather raped her," she went on in her freakish third person way. "Yes, I know -- you never knew he wasn't her father. He married her mother after she had gotten pregnant with her. She loved the boy that had made her pregnant, but he was young. Under pressure from his parents he fled from his responsibilities."
She finished her gin and tonic. "My mother is from old money -- lots of it. She also had a very strict upbringing, as you know. The pregnancy and the loss of her sweetheart killed all her independency and resistance. She married my stepfather only two months later. His name was Brian Collins. He was 15 years her senior and from good but impoverished stock -- the only memory of wealth left in his genes was how to spend it quickly.
"My mother didn't love him. But then again, love wasn't very important in the world she came from. He loved her madly -- that is to say, her money. The first years they both kept up the semblance of a good, if rather stiff marriage. I was four when my brother John was born. Half-brother, to be precise. You know him. We were never close.
"Then my grand parents were killed in that damn sports plane my grandfather insisted on flying himself on his 65th birthday. They were on their way to Florida, for a third honeymoon, as they called it. But you know the story. I was eleven, by then."
I nodded. I thought about her stepfather. We had never met. He had died before I was with Myriam. At the rare family gatherings nobody talked about him. As I took him to be her father, I had always wondered about that.
I asked Myriam if she wanted a new drink. "Water," she said. I got up and retrieved it, refreshing my scotch and ice. When I returned, Myriam had risen from her chair.
"Will you hold me, Bruce?" she asked. "I know I disgust you, but please? Just a hug."
I took her in my arms. She let out a long sigh. I felt her tremble in my embrace. Her breasts were very much there. "Shhhhh," I said.
"She fights me, you know -- tooth and claw," Myriam said. Her voice was muffled by my shirt and jacket. It took me a second to realize whom she meant. "She had been so good to me," she went on. "I needed her so much. But she threatened to tell everybody what I did."
"Shhhh," I repeated, not knowing what else to say. Then she struggled herself free.
"We must hurry, Bruce! She is close!"
Looking down into her panicked eyes I felt buckets of ice-cubes hurl down my spine. "Myriam," I said. "We really must find you a doctor."
"No, no!" she cried. "No doctor. You are my doctor. She can't get through our love, honey. She never could, as long as you loved me and held me. It pissed her off! It still does!" She giggled insanely. "She can't get out as long as you hold me and love me. Bruce. Bruce, do you love me?" Her face was flushed. As long as I held and loved her, she'd said. Not quite, I mused, thinking back.
We must have been a sight, holding each other tightly in the neatly stuck-up surroundings of the hotel. I felt Myriam fumble against my belly and looked down. She had produced a key-card from her purse. "Please, Bruce. Let's go up to my room -- I don't want to be a spectacle. I promise I'll be good, but I need privacy and my bathroom."
She seemed better. Her face was in ruins, but she smiled. I agreed with her plan. I took her hand and we went for the elevator.
My head was in chaos.
So was her room. On and around the bed lay bags of almost every trendy shop in the city. Strewn across them were stacks of clothing -- dresses, lingerie and all kinds of shoes, boots, purses and sandals. I saw Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and any other expensive brand Europe had to offer. The shoes were all staggeringly high-heeled. The lingerie and dresses were made of silk, satin and precious lace. I saw a few leather items too. Money wasn't her problem indeed.
Myriam looked at the floor as I watched the consumer frenzy trail from the bed, across the floor to the bathroom. "She sure had a good time," I heard her mutter.
"Estelle bought this?" I asked.
"She loves to shop."
I couldn't suppress a snicker of disbelief. I picked up a sheer, short negligee. It ran like liquid through my hands. The price tag was still on it. Three hundred thirty-nine dollars, I read.
"There is a small fortune here, Myr."
"Estelle makes a lot of money," she almost whispered. "And she doesn't want me to have it. She spends it as soon as it gets in. Or even before."
I ran my hands through the silks and satins of embroidered bustiers, bra's and skimpy evening gowns.
"All I am allowed to have is this suit, some jeans, underwear and a few blouses and sweaters," she went on. "Now please excuse me. I need to go to the bathroom."
She left the room. I went over to the window, looking down into the canyon formed by the tall buildings. My thoughts were all over the place. Was she telling the truth? Or was it just an elaborate hoax? Was she mentally ill? How could I know? Had I been married to two women? Or only to half of one?
She was raped when she wasn't even twelve, she'd said. The shrink had told me how such profound shocks in early youth could create all kinds of personality disorders. Should I believe her? I remembered the half naked woman I saw with the Argentinean playboy at that fundraiser, years ago. I compared her to the Myriam I married. I remembered the outrageous slut who signed the divorce papers -- the boob job. The plastic escort in Dallas and the insatiable whore at the Houston Hilton. Were they and Myriam ever even close to being the same person? Would Myriam have lost herself in an insane shopping spree like this -- for blatantly erotic outfits like these?
I walked back to the bed, staring at the colorful mess. Just look at that vinyl tube top. Could I imagine Myriam buying those golden laced up sandals? I remembered how she had ridiculed women wearing stuff like that. "Porn sluts," she had called them.
I looked up -- the black see-through teddy I had just picked up slithered through my fingers. Myriam had returned. She looked fresh and relaxed. The jacket had gone. I guess I'd never get used to those tits. "Feeling better?" I asked. She nodded. Her smile was timid, but it was an original Myriam.
"You really must see a doctor, Myr," I tried again.
Her smile disappeared. "She won't let me," she said, looking away.
"Don't give me that Estelle rubbish again, Myriam," I pleaded.
She looked hurt. "You still don't believe me."
"Would you believe me if I had been the one cheating on you?" I sounded rather bitter.
A semblance of resolution made her stand taller. "Sit down, Bruce," she said with an urgent voice. "Sit down and hear me out before it is too late." I sat down. She didn't.
She went over to the bed and picked up the three hundred-plus dollars see-through nothing. With a flick of her fingers she tore the flimsy fabric in two. Then she started talking while calmly picking up items and destroying them. The beads on a sheer top flew through the room; silvery thong panties were shredded like paper.
"I have come to hate Estelle, Bruce. She took over and she is bad for me. But I can never get rid of her. She is part of me and I owe her. She was there for me after my stepfather raped me. She took the brunt when he abused me over and over in a weekend my mom was away. Afterwards I lay in my bed wishing I'd die. I bled, my body hurt. I felt betrayed and forsaken."
Myriam talked without emotion, but her hands shook as yet another expensive article was reduced to shreds. "From that moment on, whenever the asshole cornered me, Estelle came out and told me to hide. She saved me, Bruce, but when I returned, my entire body was ravaged. My poor pussy and...and other opening hurt and felt stretched. There were bruises around my nipples and all over my skin."
A torn-up leopard print bikini-top joined the pile at her feet.
"Mom asked me about it when she happened to see a few bruises. Estelle interfered with a plausible explanation -- then forbade me to tell anybody "our secret." I asked her why, but she just told me to trust her. I trusted her. Estelle had saved me -- I didn't dare lose her. I would be all alone again."
A pair of sexy nylon stockings fell victim to her vicious fingernails.
"Things went on like that for a while. I hardly know what happened, as Estelle kept me away from everything. Until the time I suddenly woke to loud screaming and yelling. I lay in the middle of naked bodies. They were of sweaty, smelly men on soaked and stinking bed sheets. At the foot of the bed was my mom, yelling at my naked stepfather. I felt sticky and sore -- even my jaws hurt."
Myriam paused. She swallowed, and went on. "The men around me struggled to get off the bed, but my stepfather told them to stay. He grabbed mom and tore at her dress. She resisted, but he threw her with me on the bed. Then the other men held her down while Brian stuck his hard cock into her. I had never seen that -- it was awful, degrading. The bed shook with his violence. Mom's fingernails clawed at his skin, leaving bloody traces. Then she stopped fighting and screaming. I heard her sob -- then nothing."
The tearing up of delicate clothing articles was now as violent as her memories. She threw down an expensive Prada sandal and started trampling on it until the stiletto heel broke off. I rose and tried to hold her, but she struggled free.
"No! No, Bruce, please let me. I have to do this." Tears streamed down her face again. But she pushed me away and grabbed another lacy item to lacerate.
"The men on the bed were too busy with mom to mind me. I lay frozen with horror. Then Estelle whispered in my ear. "Get the trophy. Go, get the trophy, Myriam. Wrap the sheet around your hand and get it!" There was a heavy brass trophy on the bed stand. Asshole had been quite a jock at high school. He never got rid of his awards -- they were all over the house. One of them was this ugly brass quarterback throwing a ball. "Get it! Grab it at the top and use the heavy pedestal," Estelle urged on. So I wrapped the soaked sheet around my hand, reached for the statuette and looked back at the panting, groaning bunch of naked men. Brian's red, sweaty head bobbed up and down with his exertions.