Two's a Crowd Ch. 06byangiquesophie©
While Myriam went on destroying every item she could get her hands on (including the bags), she took me straight through college.
It was a story like a Swiss cheese. There were holes in it, which she could not explain. She only had second hand memories for them -- things "Estelle" told her afterwards. Or things her body told her.
She also heard stories from people who had obviously been involved -- mostly the good-looking jocks who started to approach her in a disturbingly intimate way.
She found clothes and accessories in her closet that she never bought -- to be precise, things: that she wouldn't want to be caught dead in. But she didn't dare throw them away. They always returned from the depths of her closet to the front. And they seemed to grow in numbers.
After one of those "lost weekends" that had left its clear imprint on her body, she found four guys at her doorstep. Two of them she vaguely knew from the training field, the others were complete strangers. They knew her name, though, and they seemed to have no intention of leaving. She threatened to call the police when one of them grabbed her and started kissing her. When she pushed him away and grabbed her cell phone, they backed off. They cursed her and called her a fucking cock-tease.
After she had been able to close the door on them, she stood in her hall, shaking. A tiny, silver laughter resounded at the back of her head. "Goddammit, Estelle!" she had cried into the empty little hall. "What have you done this time?"
"Shhhh, lil sis. Have some fun, honey. Don't be a bore."
"Leave me alone!!"
Another laugh. "Look in your purse, sweetheart."
There had been photographs. They were poorly-lit Polaroids of a naked woman sucking two cocks while being fucked by a third. She recognized the guys who had been at her door. She also saw that the woman did not object very much to the disgusting things she did in the photographs.
It was very hard to believe that she was that woman -- but she was.
As she looked at a close-up of her sucking a huge, fat cock, she heard Estelle whisper inside her skull: "Mmmmm... delicious, honeyyyy...you are soooo good."
She missed classes that day. And the next.
Myriam had completed the destruction of every piece of sexy garment on the bed. A small mountain of tattered silk and lace had piled up against her legs. She started trying to tear up an elegant suede leather purse. I guess she did it mostly to give her trembling hands something to do. The innocent purse stubbornly resisted her best efforts; her hands got frantic and I saw dark blotches of spilled tears spread on the surface. Her body shook. Her voice was thick with emotion.
"Things got worse and worse after that, Bruce. Whole weekends disappeared from my memory. It was usually late on Sunday afternoons that I returned to my thoroughly-fucked body.
"I started hating myself. More and more guys gave me looks and winks. I got felt up in crowded elevators. Totally unknown men bought me drinks. So one night after having almost been raped by two teenagers, I summoned Estelle."
I shook my head. The way she talked about Estelle as a separate person had almost begun to sound natural.
Myriam swallowed. She threw away the abused purse. "I told her that I would kill myself if she did not back off. I showed her the razor blades I had bought. And the bottle of sleeping pills. It was the only weapon I had and she knew it. At first she tried to convince me I wouldn't dare. But we both know each other too well to take a risk."
Myriam smiled weakly. The schizophrenia of her story made me reel -- it felt like vertigo. My voice was almost a whisper. "You seriously considered suicide?"
Her eyes focused. "Yes. I felt that my life was being taken away from me. My only weapon was self-destruction. It would rob her of her life too. And I knew she clung to life more than I did, by then. It was a wager, I guess. And she backed off.
"We worked out a compromise -- a deal."
I watched her. I really had to check myself. It all sounded so normal -- talking with yourself, fighting with yourself, making deals with yourself. Calling part of yourself by a different name.
"A deal," I said.
"Yes, Bruce. It was a few months before we met. I told her she could have her fun once in a while. But I had to have control. She'd have to give me notice and show me who it was she wanted to fuck. I had the veto on time and place and subject, so to say."
She again smiled. It was a wider smile now. A bit of color had returned to her cheeks. Her hands had lost the trembling.
"I rationed her from then on. I gave her Jason Wilson a few times, and Eric Bronski, the basketball player, you know him. I gave her Victor and Ed, the week before graduation. Victor LeBeau, I guess you know him. Ed Mazure was in your fraternity, if I remember correctly."
I knew Ed -- had known him since my first year in college. He was at the last reunion. To be sure, there were Charlie, Felix and Gus. Arnie and Ben. Their names made hot jealousy rise up in my chest, grabbing my throat. A thought flashed through my head. She talked about a week before we met, and she had this...deal.
"Have you...ehm," I croaked. I did not want to ask, but I had to. "Has Estelle slept with them after we met, Myr? And after we got married?"
Myriam looked away. I went on, feeling nauseated. "The deal never ended, did it, Myr? Ed Mazure? Charlie Fox, Felix Mankievic? Others I know? Friends? Colleagues? Neighbors?"
"I stopped it after we got married," she whispered. Her eyes were wide. "Don't ask, Bruce, please. Don't ask."
I banged my fist on the table where I stood. "Goddammit, Myriam. How can I not ask?"
There was silence again -- just the a/c humming, and the street below.
"Honey," she said, her voice broken. "After we married, I have vetoed Estelle time and time again. After a while she harassed me day and night, but I was strong. You made me strong, Bruce. Your love did. Your sweet, sweet wonderful love."
She reached out in my direction. I just could not look at her. I walked over to the window, my back to her. She started sobbing.
"Bruce? Please?" Her voice was distant. I turned around.
"Myr, can't you understand what this does to me? Can you just sit there and expect me to listen to how you took our love and sold it in a deal?"
She raised both hands. "It wasn't at all like that! It was before we met. And it wasn't me. Don't you see I had no choice? I fought for us, Bruce. For you and me, but I had no choice. I had to give in, but only a few times. I had to or I would have lost control. And I would have lost you forever!"
Her voice had gained force. A whine crept into it. Her hands strangled a piece of black garment. I could hardly see her through a haze of emotions. My voice was a mere groan.
"That isn't all, is it, Myriam? How long did you stay faithful after we married?"
She just looked, her eyes spilling tears. She shook her head in denial.
"It wasn't me, Bruce. It wasn't me!"
I cursed in frustration.
"So you did, didn't you? You let her fuck my friends, your colleagues, your clients and God knows how many greedy bastards while you played the prude, prissy wife to your clown of a cuckold husband. You let her dress up like a tart, a half naked whore, to meet with her fuck buddies while you accused me of lewdness when I only suggested a skirt that didn't cover your entire knee. You allowed her to get herself royally fucked in all of her holes while you could barely touch my cock with the outer skin of your sanctimonious tongue! And where? Where did you let her do it? In our bed, Myriam? In the house we built together? On the sheets we bought? Was that your love, Myriam? Was it?"
By the end of my tirade the walls rang with my voice. She covered her ears with her hands and started crying out loud. Most of her words were garbled "no's" and "stops" and "please don'ts."
Then she fell silent. Her hands left her face, her back straightened. She turned her head and looked at me. Through the ruin of her tear-stained make up she hurled the flash of two proud, untamed eyes at me. Her lips stretched in a sneer.
"Who on earth do you think you are, you silly, boring little man? To treat my Myriam like this?"
It was a voice I had never heard before. The woman on the bed rose and walked over to me. She was Myriam but she wasn't. There was a feline quality to her movements. Her eyes blazed. The sharp tip of her fingernail pushed through my shirt into my chest. She was very close.
"Go away, you bore," she hissed. "Go away and leave my sister alone. She doesn't need you, she never has. She has me, boy, and I'll protect her. Do you understand? Go!"
Her finger rammed the words into me. I grabbed her hand and pulled her against me -- her face almost into mine. Then a sudden flash of pain tore through my crotch. I bent over gasping, overwhelmed with nausea. She had kneed me mercilessly in the groin and the pain was excruciating.
I fell to the floor. For a second all went black.
After I had stumbled back to my feet, fighting the haze in front of me, I saw that Myriam had already left the room. She had also left the hotel.
For days after our disastrous meeting, I tried to find her, Myriam -- or Estelle, to be more precise. The bitch had obviously gone to some length to escape me. The Dallas-based escort lady with the southern drawl who had helped me so smoothly before was very sorry this time -- Estelle had terminated her contract and moved to another agency. No, she could not tell me where. And no, she wasn't very optimistic for my finding out, as she no doubt would have changed her alias.
"And just for the record, sir, did she perform satisfactorily the time you booked her?"
By that time my balls were still aching, so it certainly tempered the glow of my feedback concerning her performance.
The doctor told me not to worry. There were bruises, but they would be gone in a week or so. I should maybe postpone any sexual initiatives, though. Well -- that one was easy. I couldn't imagine having plans in that direction at all, for a while.
There was however one thing I could do.
Kathleen Collins had never really liked me. I don't think it was a personal thing. I think Kathleen had lost her trust in men in general. And I could well understand why, after what Myriam had told me -- if that had been the truth.
Kathleen Collins was Myriam's mother, of course. We met in a restaurant in Boston.
It hadn't been easy to get her to meet me. But when I dropped the name Estelle, her reluctance seemed to evaporate. I tried to imagine why.
The restaurant was rather empty as lunchtime had been over for an hour. There were three elderly ladies sipping tea. And a couple of obvious tourists, very much in love.
Kathleen Collins, née Rutherford was not alone. With her was her older unmarried sister, Agatha. She was the one with the townhouse in Boston where mother and daughter found refuge after the ordeal of the rape.
I had met Agatha on a few family occasions. She was a rather striking impersonation of the older Kathryn Hepburn, sandpaper voice and all. Right now she sat silently, just following our conversation.
Kathleen Collins was about fifty. She looked cute in a petite and brunette way. Myriam must have gotten her Nordic looks from her absent father -- or from her aunt, if that was at all a feasible, genetic possibility.
Kathleen smiled and offered me a narrow, white hand. Her sister only nodded.
"No need for small talk," Kathleen said. She never lost her smile. "I don't like you, Bruce, and never have. I had my doubts before you married Myr and dumping her like you did hasn't improved things. So, why this meeting?"
I sat down. Her dislike didn't surprise me, but laying the blame for the divorce with me did. The woman must know why I left her daughter. Then again, she might be the same surrealism-artist Myriam was. From that point of view it couldn't be hard to make me the villain, I guess.
"I need to know where I can find her," I said.
The woman just stared at me.
"Why?" she said. "So you can hurt her even more?"
My chuckle didn't sound very convincing.
"Me hurting her?" I said. "Kathleen, please go on believing whatever you need to believe. Maybe after what the two of you suffered you are allowed an escape or two. But you know very well that the divorce wasn't my fault."
She kept staring. The venom in her dark eyes made the hair on my lower arms rise.
"Who is talking about the divorce here?" she asked. Her voice was husky. There was a touch of Estelle in it.
"I was," I said. "You weren't?"
"No," she answered. "I was referring to the way you pushed her into Estelle's claws -- first back in that Dallas hotel, then at the New York Roosevelt. You might as well have killed her."
The silence was interrupted by the waitress. I don't remember what I ordered.
"Tell me about Estelle," I said when the girl left.
"Why?" Kathleen asked. "Does it matter? You don't believe she exists anyway, do you?"
Did I? Maybe not, but I had to know if Kathleen did.
"I don't know," I said. "But I very much want to believe it."
The words took me by surprise. I meant them. And they sounded as if I did, too. Even Agatha lifted her eyebrows. Kathleen's eyes were clouded with suspicion. She turned them towards her sister, who nodded.
"I think the fella does," she boomed in her raw Hepburn voice.
Kathleen pressed her lips together. Her fingers refolded her napkin.
Then she told about the endless chain of visits she and Myriam had paid to shrinks, hospitals and quacks. How she herself had been able to park the whole horrible event into a well-guarded niche of her soul. But how Myriam had become more distant with every visit, every treatment.
"We all wanted her to fight, Bruce. We loved Myriam. We didn't want her to change into this awful whore -- this bitch Brian released with his cruel nightmares."
The tiny lady shook with emotion. Her hands strangled the napkin now . "But maybe," she went on. "Maybe we were wrong in trying that. After two years I guess we had reached a status quo where Myr was more or less the controlling person. But she wasn't happy, Bruce. She was stressed out and scared and always on guard. She was never happy again."
"She was happy with me," I interrupted. "We were happy! We were in love. They were the best years of our lives!"
An ironic smile lifted the corner of the woman's mouth. "Yes, Bruce. And that is exactly why I didn't like you."
I felt indignant. "What is this? Shouldn't she be happy?"
"Don't be angry with me, Bruce, please," she said. "It wasn't your fault. But I knew it could never last. So did Myriam. Oh, she wanted it. She grabbed at the brass ring and fought to make it happen. But it could not last, Bruce. And it didn't. And when it failed, all the pain and shame and cruelty flooded back in. You did not make my daughter happy."
I sat back. I stared from the one woman to the other -- angry and speechless.
"Yes, Bruce," Kathleen went on with a very soft voice. "I do feel sorry for you. You were as much an innocent victim of Estelle as Myriam was. You had no idea. Estelle wasn't just a figment of Myr's personality. Estelle is the creative powerhouse at the very core of my daughter's identity. She eats us all for breakfast. And she is an amazing copy-artist. She can be Myriam if she needs to be -- stepping in for her 'protection,' as she claims."
Kathleen smiled ruefully. "And for her own craving sexual needs too, I'd say. She has taken over on many occasions -- even while you were married; even in your very arms. You can't distinguish her from the real thing, Bruce. You can't know.
"The girl we call Myriam may have disappeared altogether. She may have long turned into the Myr that Estelle plays. Why would you believe Myriam was the most important of the two, anyway? Just because she was the girl you fell in love with? Did you ever consider that maybe she wasn't more than just a name?"
Kathleen leaned forward, her eyes intense. "No, Bruce," she said. "By now we must assume that the original Myriam has gone altogether. Estelle has no need of her anymore, she is in the way. By now Estelle can be both the prude and the slut if need be. She has taken over."
I had stopped understanding what she implied. No -- I guess I had stopped wanting to understand. I think that about halfway through this idiotic conversation we had arrived at the ultimate edge of sanity. And I had no intentions of crossing it.
"Bruce," the black-eyed woman said, sounding distant. "That afternoon in the Roosevelt you killed what remained of my Myriam. Now go away. Stop looking for her. You won't find her -- never again. You killed her, you stupid man. She is gone."
Tears ran down the white face in front of me.