This was written as an entry into a Writer's Challenge on another site. The assignment was to write a story that referenced a black-and-white picture of a young woman sitting on a bench in some kind of hallway or concourse. She is dressed in a little black dress and "fuck-me" shoes, and has her long dark hair in a pony tail. She seems to be looking at an older man who has walked by with a woman about his age. The man appears to be looking back over his shoulder at the younger woman.
I hope you enjoy.
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Maya was out shopping with some friends from work one day. At her favorite boutique, she had to endure the embarrassment of having all three of her credit cards declined. Red-faced, she mumbled an excuse about card security services perhaps having frozen her cards due to a security breach, and went outside to call her credit card companies, since the music in the shop was too loud.
After wading through several menus on each card company's answering system, she learned that her cards had indeed been frozen, because there had been a flurry of purchases over the last day and a half that had taken her over her credit limit. All but two of the purchases had been at men's shops and sporting goods stores that she knew her husband Gerry liked. How irresponsible could he be?
The last two charges scared her. One of them was to a property management firm, which the employee at the credit card company said could have been a renter's security deposit. The other was a security deposit and three days' rental on a drive-it-yourself furniture moving truck. Frightened and angry, Maya called Gerry's office number.
"Mr. Petersen's office," a familiar female voice answered.
"Carla, is that you?" Maya asked.
"Yes, it is. Who's this?"
"Carla, it's Maya Johnston. Why did you answer Gerry's phone as 'Mr. Petersen's office'?"
"Maya! Hi! I haven't talked to you in months. How are you?"
"Confused. When did you transfer to Sam Petersen's office? Why does he have Gerry's number?"
There was a long silence. Finally, Carla answered, "Um, well, when Gerry left the firm, they kept me here to work for Sam, since he took over Gerry's duties."
"What? What do you mean?"
"The boss thought it made sense to keep me here, since I know my way around the files and the department. Sam agreed he wanted me here when Gerry left," Carla said.
"Wait, what do you mean Gerry left?"
"Maya, is something wrong?" Carla asked.
"I think so. Carla, what the hell is going on? What do you mean Gerry left? He went to the office this morning just like he always does," Maya said, hysteria creeping into her voice.
"Maya, where are you?" Carla asked.
"Standing outside a shop downtown. My credit cards were declined. I just called the card companies, and they said we're over our credit limit. That's why I was calling Gerry. Where is he?"
There was another, longer silence. Finally, Carla said, "Maya, Gerry gave his notice about two months ago. He said he got a better job offer. His last day was this past Friday."
"What! He didn't say anything to me about any of this. That can't be true!" Maya said.
Then it hit her. She needed to get home right away.
Gerry's car wasn't in the garage. Neither were his golf clubs, fishing gear, or motorcycle. His power tools were missing from the shelves in the garage. When Maya went into the mudroom, she saw that his coats and jackets were missing from the closet, although hers were still there. She started to feel sick to her stomach.
The kitchen table and chairs were gone. The dining room was empty except for her collection of antique dishes stacked neatly on the floor. There was nothing in the living room but the hope chest her mother had given her when she and Gerry got married. Gerry's office was stripped to the bare walls.
She ran to their bedroom. Everything looked intact, until she opened his closet. A few hangers lay on the floor, but all of Gerry's clothes were gone. She flung open her own closet, and found everything in place, just as she had left it this morning. In their bathroom, her cosmetics and prescriptions were right where they should be, but everything of Gerry's was missing.
Maya didn't feel sick anymore. Anger had blotted out those feelings. He had just disappeared. Going back into the bedroom, she spotted a note on her pillow. It said, "Sorry, I found someone else. G." That was all.
Remembering what had started all this, Maya opened her laptop and went to her bank's website to check their accounts. The joint checking account had only the minimum balance required to keep it open, as did their savings account. Gerry's IRA had been closed out.
How could he do this? What right did he have to do this? Sure, there had been some rough spots in their marriage, but their relationship was good lately. Wasn't it?
There had been the disappointment when they had learned that Maya was infertile. They had come to grips with that, deciding that their jobs and their interests could fill the void for a while. They had talked about inquiring into adoption after the first of the year. They didn't think it would be a problem, even though Gerry, at forty, was almost thirteen years older than she. They were both fit and healthy, and Gerry had a fantastic job.
Maya wouldn't even have had to work, but she didn't want to just sit home all the time. That's why she had gotten her part-time job. It didn't pay very well, but that hadn't mattered. She was happy, doing something she enjoyed, working with people she liked, and contributing a little money to the household. Basically, her income was her pocket money, and Gerry's salary and bonuses bought everything else.
That thought created new panic in Maya's mind. How was she going to maintain their house, now that Gerry had run off? The mortgage had to be paid, along with the utilities, the insurance, and everything else that Maya's modest income could not possibly cover. Would she lose everything? And how would she face her friends and neighbors when the story of her abandonment got out?
The phone rang. Maya ran to answer it. Maybe it was Gerry. Maybe he would explain everything, make it all okay.
"Hello?" Maya said.
"Maya? It's Fran. How's it going? I haven't talked to you in a while."
Maya finally did what she had been on the verge of doing for hours. She burst into tears. "He's gone, Fran. Gerry's gone."
"What?" Fran asked. "What do mean?"
Through her sobs, Maya tried to tell her friend the story, but she just couldn't get it all out.
Finally, Fran interrupted her. "Stop right there, honey. I'll be at your house in ten minutes. Make us a pitcher of margaritas. You need a friend to help sort this out."
When Maya opened the door, she had stopped crying, but one look at her told Fran how bad it really was. They stared at each other for a few seconds, and then Maya flung herself into Fran's arms. "My life is over!" Maya wailed, her tears flowing again.
"Your life is not over," Fran stated. "Now come over here on the sofa with me. I need you to calm down and tell me everything, exactly as it happened. But here, drink this first." Fran poured her friend a margarita and handed it to her.
"Thank you," Maya said with a sob. She took a sip.
"Drink it," Fran said. "You need to calm down, so bottom's up. You can sip the next one."
Maya wiped her eyes again and said, "OK." In a few seconds, she was holding her empty glass out to Fran. "More, please. But if I'm getting drunk, you'd better be drunk too."
"For you, sweetie, I can do that," Fran laughed. "Just like old times, huh? I remember us getting good and trashed a few times at our sorority house, when one or the other of us needed girl talk."
The drinks went down as Maya told her friend the story of that afternoon. "The bastard did leave me one thing, though," Maya said, slurring her words slightly.
"Yeah, your freedom," Fran said.
"If that's what you want to call it. But no, I mean this," Maya said, pulling Gerry's note from her pocket and handing it to her friend.
Fran read aloud, "Sorry, I found someone else. G," She looked at Maya. "That's it? Five years of marriage and that's it? Oh that slimy bastard. I just can't believe he did this. You poor baby."
Maya was much more composed now. A little tipsy, maybe more than a little, but, definitely better than before. "I've never told anyone this. Not even you. But you're my best friend. We've been through a lot."
"I'm here for you baby," Fran whispered, stroking her friend's hand. "Talk to me."
"This isn't the first time Gerry cheated on me."
"I wondered," Fran said.
"Why the hell didn't you tell me if you knew?" Maya asked.
"I didn't know anything. I just saw the way he looked at women. Hell, he looked at me enough."
Maya squeezed her friend's hand. "I can't really blame him for that. You're at least as hot as you were in college, all those years ago."
"You're so good for my ego," Fran said. "Anyway, I even spoke to him briefly at our New Year's Eve Party. I told him to look at me all he wanted, but that you were my best friend, and I would never hurt you. He swore I was mis-interpreting him. He admitted he looked at women, but insisted he could never be unfaithful to you. I wondered, but I decided to let it go. Besides, we were all pretty drunk. I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Maya said. "I never worried about you. It was his former secretary. I got an anonymous phone call telling me to go to some cocktail lounge. He had his hand up her skirt when I found them."
"Maya!" Fran exclaimed. "Why didn't you tell me? I would have helped you cut his dick off!"
"I was too hurt to do that. At first, I just wanted to crawl in a hole and die. Then I decided to get revenge," Maya said.
"You made him fire her?"
"No, Gerry did that on his own. I did something much worse," Maya said. "I had an affair of my own. Well, more like a three-night stand."
"Whoa! I thought party-girl Maya died when you met Gerry," Fran laughed.
"It wasn't like that. I went to a bar, found this guy, told him I was married, and said I needed to get even with my husband. There was no emotion between either of us. It was almost like a business deal. He wanted to get off, I needed to feel like a woman. After the third Friday night, I told him we were done. He agreed," Maya said.
"Did Gerry know?" Fran asked.
"After that third night, I told Gerry we were going into counseling. It all came out there. I thought we were okay. Looks like I was wrong. That cheating bastard!"
"He certainly is," Fran agreed. "Should I make another pitcher?"
"No, not now. I should make some dinner. I haven't had anything but a bagel and a latte since this morning," Maya said, working her way to her feet.
"Let's go out. My treat," Fran said.
"Neither of us should drive," Maya said.
"I'll pay for the cab, too," Fran smiled.
"I'm a mess. I've been crying for hours," Maya protested.
"Do you remember the time in college, when that football player dumped me?" Fran asked.
"You were almost as much of a mess then as I am now," Maya giggled.
"Remember what you did to make me feel better about myself?"
"Yes," Maya whispered.
"I'll bathe you. I'll make you feel good. Just like you did for me last time," Fran said, leading her friend to the stairs.
Maya held her composure when her friend began washing her face. The shower stall wasn't very big, and there was the occasional brush of Fran's large breasts against Maya's more modest ones. The first kiss was a small one, Fran just having rinsed the soapsuds off Maya's lips.
The second kiss came when Fran squirted a drop of shower gel on Maya's nipples. Both women watched as the thick, white liquid dripped off Maya's hardening buds. Fran then rubbed her own hard nipples against her friend, washing their breasts. This kiss lasted a lot longer.
"You're my best friend, Maya. I love you," Fran said as she knelt before her.
Maya was wet before Fran's tongue ever touched her. The first butterfly kiss on her clit made her gasp.
"You need this," Fran said, gently parting Maya's legs to allow her to push her tongue inside. After a few minutes, Maya released the fist-fulls of blond hair she found herself holding, and pulled her friend to her feet.
"Thank you," Maya breathed, as she crushed her mouth to Fran's, furiously wrestling with her tongue.
Fran came just before Maya had her second orgasm, each with their fingers buried in the other's pussy.
As they dried off, Maya asked, "Where are we going? How should I dress?"
"Can I borrow some clothes?" Fran asked. "We should look sexy."
"I don't know how many of my tops will fit you, and you certainly can't wear my bras," Maya observed.
"You're not going to wear a bra either, honey," Fran smirked. "You didn't when we went prowling in college, and you did pretty well."
"Is that what we're doing?" Maya asked, sounding apprehensive. "I don't know that I want to do that just yet. Besides, I'm not sure what Ill be looking for when I do decide start seeing men."
"Come on, find me a cute top with strong seams," Fran said, walking to Maya's closet. "We'll do our hair, I'll make you up like I used to, and we'll just feel pretty. Girls' night out."
As soon as they stepped out of the cab, the first guy made a comment. It wasn't much, just an appraising look at both of them and a quiet, "Good evening," followed by a smoky smile as he turned and walked away.
"Did you see that?" Fran asked. "He was undressing you with his eyes."
"Bullshit. They were glued to your boobs," Maya smirked.
"He might have seen me first, but he didn't start looking hungry until he looked at you, sweetie," Fran laughed.
Fran ordered for them both, and they sobered up a little as they ate. The discussion finally came to Maya's financial status.
"The mortgage is due in three weeks. I have about fifty dollars in cash. I probably have enough food in the house and gas in the car to be able to save my paychecks to allow me to make the next house payment. But after that, it's all downhill. I'm going to beg for full-time work, and start putting my resume out, but I don't know how I'll make it," Maya said. "Tomorrow, I have to find a lawyer."
During an after-dinner drink, Fran said, "You told me a secret earlier. I'm going to share something with you. Do you remember about two years ago when Joe lost his job?"
"Yes, I was so worried about you guys. At first you were afraid you were going to lose everything. I guess you were pretty good at cutting back," Maya answered.
"We cut back all right. Pinched every penny we could. We even had a yard sale. Joe's unemployment benefits weren't enough. We were sinking. I finally did something I've never told anyone about. Only Joe knows. I made a video."
"What kind of video?"
"I know, I know. But it paid two thousand dollars cash. Joe went with me to my interview, he was at the audition, and stood right behind the director on the set. It was all very professional, really."
"What all did you do?"
"It was a naughty housewife threesome thing. The woman was very nice and pretty, and the guy was a hunk, in a very clean-cut type of way. Everyone was polite and considerate. It was a pretty high-class operation, all things considered."
"And they paid you two thousand in cash?" Maya asked.
"Plus, I get a small royalty check each month. It's not much, but it's kind of fun knowing guys are paying to see me."
"I have to know, Fran. Did you cum?"
"Did I ever! The first part had the 'wife' going down on me, and me on her. She was a hell of a lot better at it than I was, but she faked her orgasm really well. I didn't have to pretend. Just after I came, her 'husband' walked in and caught us. Then we did the threesome. He did me doggy while I ate the woman some more, and then he came on our faces. I'm not ashamed to admit that it was hot, but I've never done it again."
"Aren't you afraid someone will see the video that knows you?" Maya asked.
"A little, but this studio does stuff for export only. My video was overdubbed in Russian and in German, with English subtitles. The idea is that people probably won't see it around here, and if they do, they'll think it was made abroad."
"I could never do that," Maya said. "What if my relatives saw it?"
"If they watch that sort of thing, they probably would be afraid to tell you," Fran re-assured her.
"What if Gerry saw it? He does watch that sort of thing," Maya said.
"Fuck Gerry. To Hell with that cheating bastard. He'll just get to see what he gave away," Fran said.
"I don't know. I need the money, sure, but am I that desperate?" Maya wondered.
"I still have the director's number. It's just a thought," Fran said. "Now, we're going dancing."
"I'll never make it to work tomorrow." Maya said.
"No, you won't," Fran agreed. "You're going to take a sick day. I know you. You've never called off sick from this job, have you?"
"Well, tomorrow's the first. You can be honest with them, mostly. I seriously doubt anyone would question why you need a day off with what Gerry did to you," Fran said.
"You're right. Tomorrow's Friday. I need a three-day weekend," Maya agreed.
When the taxi delivered the girls to Maya's house, they decided that Fran should stay the night. She slept in the guest room.
The next morning, the friends made plans to get together again the following Friday night. Fran drove home, and Maya got started on shopping for a divorce attorney.
On Thursday, Fran called Maya. "Joe is making dinner tomorrow night. Can you be here at six?"
"Oh, okay. It would be nice to see Joe. Does he know what Gerry did?"
"I told him. I've never seen him so mad. Joe really likes you, you know. I think he'd seriously hurt Gerry if he saw him right now," Fran said. "Anyway, he's going to cook for us, and you know how good he is. After dinner, we're going out again."
"Where do you want to go?" Maya asked.
"There's a club Joe and I went to a couple of months ago. Dress to impress, girlfriend."
"You're incorrigible, Fran. You always were," Maya said.
"I'm not trying to get you laid, honey. That's your responsibility. I am trying to make you smile. Don't bring any money with you. Joe's paying for everything. He wants to see you smile, too."
"Oh, he's coming along?" Maya asked. Suddenly she wondered if it would be awkward, being around him while dressed slutty. After all, they had fooled around a bit in college, and he had been at his wife's porn shoot.
Fran laughed. "No, he'll be playing poker at a buddy's house later. Heaven knows when he'll get home."
"Okay," Maya said. "I'd feel a little weird dancing like I did last time in front of your husband."
"Maya, Joe cares a great deal about you, but it's not like that with him. Would he like to dance that way with you? Sure, he's a guy and he's alive. But he would never try anything. You're like a sister to him," Fran said.
"I've heard of how some guys are with their sisters. That's not really all that reassuring," Maya laughed. "Seriously, right now, I'm a little sensitive about other people's spouses."
"Joe is my husband and your friend. Just be here at six."
Maya rang Fran and Joe's doorbell precisely at six Friday night. Joe answered the door. "Wow, Maya, you look good enough to eat! How's my wife's best friend?"
"I'm surviving," Maya said, forcing a grin.
"Surviving? I'd say way more than that. Gerry is a complete idiot," Joe said.
"Please, can we not talk about him?" Maya asked.
"I'm sorry, Maya, but one of the nicest people I know just doesn't deserve to be hurt like this."
"Thanks, Joe. It smells good in here. What are you making for dinner?"
"I have a pork tenderloin in the oven. I make my own teriyaki sauce. Come in the kitchen with me while I baste it again. Fran's still getting ready."