Derby Line Marriage Ch. 18byjtuf©
Benjamin drove a rented car to the suburban address that Francis had given her. Kahnawake, Quebec was on the south side of the St. Lawrence River. Row upon row of posh houses with grand lawns created a bucolic setting. This town reminds me of Stepford, Connecticut. I wonder who does the programming here. Benjamin parked on the street in front of the address. A woman was weeding in the garden next door. Benjamin stood by the car watching.
A portly man emerged from the house that the garden belonged to. "Wanda, get out of my garden."
The woman held her ground. "I'm here on official government business."
"You have no business uprooting my flowers."
"These aren't flowers, Eric. They're weeds, and they are invasive species. As a member of the Environmental Commission, it is my duty to maintain the delicate ecological balance in this community."
"Hogwash. You just have a chip on your shoulder because of the sculptures I had up last year. I can't believe you brought me to court to have them taken down."
"They did not match the character of the neighborhood. They were hideous."
"Funny, the complaint you filed only mentioned that sculptures were 3 cm too tall. Don't worry, Wanda. I'm used to it. Your not the first woman to complain that I have too many centimeters."
"That's harassment," Wanda accused.
Eric rested his hand on his beer belly and shook it. "What? Because I mention that women complain about my gut. You're the pervert who keeps imagining other meanings."
"I know the law."
"And you're skilled at twisting it to your advantage."
"If you don't like the laws here, go back to Michigan," Wanda suggested.
"If you don't like the immigrants here, go back to Africa."
"My family is French," Wanda corrected.
"Trace you family history long enough, and we're all African."
Wanda responded with venom in her voice. "My family is not African."
Benjamin jumped in the fray. "Excuse me, madam. I seem to be a bit lost. Is this Nairobi?"
Wanda spun around to see Benjamin. She stammered a response, "I ... I ... Sor ... I'm sorry. I didn't know your were there."
"Obviously," Benjamin replied. Wanda retreated to her hybrid van. Benjamin approached Eric and waved. "My name's Benjamin."
"Eric here. Nice to meet you."
"What brings you to this hick town?" Eric asked.
Benjamin pointed to Francis's house. "Francis invited me."
"Yeah. I know Francis. We spoke many times on her front porch while she was waiting for her husband to come home from work." Eric looked Benjamin in the eye with a serious expression. "Did you bring a condom?"
"No. Will I need one?"
"I doubt it matters. If you had a condom, she would probably poke holes in it while your back was turned anyway." Eric's face softened. "Women. They either love you or hate you."
"I wouldn't know. I'm gay."
Eric spit on his lawn. "You know that's a sin. You Westerners are all sex fiends."
Benjamin was unmoved. "We're in North America. When in Rome, do as the Romans."
"That's odd. JFK still has daily flights to it."
"It's an airport. Anyway, welcome to the Eastern Seaboard." Benjamin left Eric and walked to Francis's front porch. He waited in front of the door to collect his thoughts. Dealing with Francis would be infuriating enough without residual anger from his encounter with Wanda and Eric. Once his mind was calm, he rang the doorbell.
Francis opened the door a crack. She was wearing a silk, black bathrobe. It contrasted sharply with her alabaster skin. She stepped back as Benjamin walked through the door. Francis arched he back as she stretched and yawned. "Sorry. I slept late and did not have time to dress," she said.
Benjamin noted the mascara and blush on her cheeks. "You found time to paint your face." He closed the door before the neighbors could see her display. "How many men have you invited in like this? How many times have you cheated on your husband?"
Francis turned away from Benjamin's harsh tone. "It's not what you think."
"I spoke with Eric," he informed her.
"Eric is a boor," Francis declared, her gaze fixed on the floor.
Benjamin circled Francis to see her face. "A boor who fucked you?"
Francis jerked her head up indignantly. "No!" Her angry facial expression softened as she mentally added, He's a boor who doesn't want to fuck me, just like Patrick.
Benjamin was unmoved. "You should go to your bedroom to get dressed." As Francis obeyed, Benjamin walked through the downstairs of the house. He brushed his fingers along the chrome chairs and glass table in the dining room. The modern, urban furniture seemed incongruous in this neighborhood of suburban colonials. Sliding oak doors separated the dinning room from the living room. In the living room, Benjamin saw a tan leather couch and a black media center filled with expensive gadgets. The time on the grandfather clock in the corner read 9:06 am.
After 10 more minutes of waiting for Francis to return, Benjamin got tiered enough to sit down without his host's invitation. From the couch, Benjamin noticed the pictures hanging over the oak doors. The series of outdoor photographs started with a wedding picture. Judging from background scenery, a new photograph was taken each month until the year was complete. Benjamin recognized the woman in the pictures as Francis. The man in the pictures seemed familiar. He reasoned that the man was Patrick, Francis's husband. Then a realization dawned on Benjamin. It was Patrick, the man from the Jazz Festival last September, and the man who bumped into him in New York City last October.
Benjamin jumped of the couch and grabbed the wedding picture for a closer look. Yes, that is definitely the man who lusted after me those two times. He rushed upstairs to confront Francis. The door to Francis's master suite was open. Benjamin walked in. Francis was sitting in the antechamber with her head in her hands. A gas fire burned in the fireplace next to her. She still wore the black bathrobe. Benjamin shoved the wedding picture in front of her and asked, "Who is he?"
Francis slowly looked up. She saw the wedding picture in Benjamin's hand. "That is Patrick, my husband," she sighed. Then she retreated through the arched entrance to the sleeping chambers.
"Did he ask you to sleep with me?" Benjamin asked.
"No. It was my idea."
Francis pointed to the his and her dormers in the bedroom. "Why do you think? Because I'm lonely. We've slept in separate dormers ever since we moved in to this town. Patrick has lost all interest in fucking me." Francis stormed to her dormer and showed him the leather straps on her bedpost. "Look. He makes me tie him up and fuck him. The man is twisted!"
Benjamin rushed to close the curtains to the window by the bed. "Some things should be kept private."
"Don't worry," Francis assured him. "This is the suburbs. No one sees into your home and no one cares what goes on there."
"You know I won't sleep with you," Benjamin insisted.
"I know," Francis acquiesced.
"And I'm not giving you my sperm in a cup either."
Francis was panic stricken. "No, please!"
The dire tone in her voice softened Benjamin's heart a bit. "Maybe."
"Please say you'll do the donation," Francis begged.
"Maybe," Benjamin said firmly. "I need to speak to Patrick."
"He's at the Jazz Festival."
"Give me his cell phone number." Francis wrote down the number for Benjamin. Benjamin put it in his pocket. "I will make my decision before I leave for New York."
Francis lied in her bed with tears dripping onto the pillow. Her plans for love had evaporated in minutes. Her chance to bear Benjamin's child hung by a thread. She had to devise a new plan before Benjamin returned.