Unexpected Relief Ch. 01bytendermindholes©
I sat there like a stone, trying to let the bubbling life of the cafe just flow around me as I sipped at what was now a lukewarm mocha. I was equally lukewarm about my current task- to write an analysis on the specious, clumsily written article arguing that Creationism should be banned from all public school curriculum in the name of scientific freedom and free speech. I really didn't care about Creationism, I just thought it was a poorly written article. Unfortunately, regardless of my own personal opinion on the subject, it had to be a critique that wasn't be too critical because my English professor had Richard Dworkin's snooty atheistic cock so far down her throat you'd think he was Jon Bon Jovi and she was some big-haired soccer mom from Jersey trying to relive her glory days of 1988. It was a shitty assignment from a shitty teacher on a shitty subject and forcing myself to care about it, let alone anything else took what little energy I had.
It was a choice between being here- a place full of people, or being home alone in my townhouse. I knew if I tried to study at home, I would have just found a million distractions. Despite the clinking of cups and dishes, the rasping grinding of the coffee, the sucking whoosh of the milk steamer and the various little bleats, blips and chimes coming from both the cafe employees and my fellow customers with their myriad devices and conversations. It was still more peaceful here than at home.
When it came down to it, I only had one true distraction, and she was more than enough. The accusative silences and jarring, repetitive memories were near deafening at home. I saw her face, heard her voice, recalled moments tied to songs, movies and just random happenstance everywhere and and everyone was sharp enough to cut like a razor. Her name had been Janette. I speak of her in the past tense even though she is still alive. Well, just not anymore for me. We had dated for almost two years, and it hadn't worked out.
That's putting it simply. These things always seemed to be stated too simply, especially when everyone with a pair of eyes and ears could see and hear that it was anything but. It wasn't for my lack of trying that we weren't together anymore. A friend had suggested that perhaps it was because I tried too hard. I'm still not sure. As much as I wish I could forget it, I remember the day our relationship, and my future, had come crashing down around me with unflattering clarity.
It had been a long, brutal day at school, I had finals, something that comes as both a relief and strain. As often happens, my end-exam schedule was a bit different, so I would get out earlier than I normally would. I rushed home so I could surprise her by cooking her favorite dinner; Shrimp Scampi on a bed of Risotto, a hand-made arugula salad, served with fresh-baked bread from our favorite little local bakery and a bottle of the Chardonnay we had picked up on a trip to a Napa winery together right around when we first met. I was looking forward to a wonderful night with my fiance eating good food, drinking great wine, curling up together to watch one of the French films she loved so much and I had learned to appreciate, capped off by a night of love-making, (if she wasn't too tired or down with a headache, which happened during times of heavy stress.)
That sounded like a more than suitable reward for our hard work during the semester. I was (and still am) hard at work on my Master's degree, in the hope I could teach grammar and vocabulary to the uninspired- and if I was very lucky, the joy of writing to those select few who could be while earning a decent living and tenure. To make ends meet, in addition to the various grants and loans, I tutored my fellow students. It was enough for Janette and I to afford a two bedroom townhouse in the mid-town area, not too far from the University. I would have preferred an apartment, it would have been cheaper, but she made the convincing case that she needed a downstairs for entertaining, and I wanted to make her happy. We had only been living together for a few months, but it was a big milestone for me, this was the first relationship I've ever had that reached anywhere near this level of serious. Janette had exes, and had lived with a few of them- yet another difference between she and I.
I always felt awkward around women and Janette was so beautiful, smart and gifted not to mention naturally charming- a great catch by any measure. She was tall and slender, delicate as a living doll. Everything about her was gorgeous, from the tips of her toes, to her heart shaped face and her hair, long, wavy and lustrous, like the color of buckwheat. I thought her best feature though, by far, were her eyes which were large and green like emeralds. I loved the way they sparkled when she smiled and laughed, how they grew shiny when sad or how the smouldered with lust. My own eyes were blue, some have described them as "icy." I was hoping our children would have her eyes.
Being with Janette made me feel like the luckiest man in the world. Our schedules were hectic and full, and our relationship, like anybody else's had it's rough spots. These were mostly due to both of us being so busy, as well as being very different from from one another. It often felt like we were speaking two very different languages from one another, and she would often, at great length, let me know how it would frustrate her as well. Regardless of the occasional bit of turbulence and misunderstanding, I loved knowing that I had her to come home to. No matter what was going on in my life or how I was feeling, be it sadness, stress, fear, anger or joy- I knew I had someone so lovely, passionate and creative waited for me at home to share it with. I knew that even though she was a free spirit, one with her own free mind and will that Janette loved me, knew that I loved her we both wanted the same thing for each other- a life where we could have a career pursuing what we were passionate about and start a beautiful, loving family. As cliched as it was to say, she was the wind beneath my wings, and I was her rock.
That night she was supposed to be working a bit of overtime with her Art History professor Peter (no last names for this guy, he wasn't a square like that). I had met him several months ago after Janette raved to me for a week. By the way she spoke about him, you'd think he was the the lovechild of Jesus Christ and Patty Guggenheim. Try as I did to be a mature adult about the situation, found myself not liking him. It was irrational, I had thought, and my reasons both Janette and I had dismissed as silly.
Peter stood taller than I did, and he was older, more experienced, but still somehow young and vivacious for a tenured professor of his stature. He always seemed to smirk at me as if he was laughing at some private joke, most likely at my expense. Lastly, he always stood so uncomfortably close to Janette, and seemed so casually intimate with her. It caused roiling black tendrils of jealousy to coil in my gut but I constantly fought them back, because Janette, or the people in her life, shouldn't have to pay for my unreasonable jealousy. It was my insecurity, my issue.
I was setting out the ingredients and getting things ready to make dinner, all carefully pre-planned out ahead of time. I heard a loud thump upstairs. Alarmed, I hurried upstairs, if Janette was home, she would have told me- she wasn't due to be home for at least another hour and fifteen minutes. When I opened the door to our bedroom, I was finally let in on Peter's private joke- only I didn't find it amusing in the slightest. I opened the door to discover Janette's pretty face buried into the same pillow cases we had picked them out the week we got this place together- a silly little ritual of domestication that I admit now, I had enjoyed immensely. It's funny what you think about during times like these. I remember how that set of bedding was more than I wanted to pay, but I conceded because she had made the argument "We're going to be using them for both rest and PLAY, don't you want them to be able to hold up, stud?"
I had always hated it when she called me "stud", but I didn't say anything about it, because I didn't know why it had bothered me at the time. Something about the word and the way she used it seemed so very chintzy. Her teacher, the one she told me again and again that I had no reason to be jealous of, was fucking her on that same set and she moaned and mewled "Oh Peter, you do that the best....oh fuck...You fucking STUD!"
I remember feeling pole-axed, my guts turning to ice water as I stared in disbelief and shock as echoes of a conversation Janette and I had on that very bed rattled through my brain like shrapnel, in concert to the creaking squeals of the bed frame. "Why don't you trust me? What about all those pretty young girls you tutor?"
I had tried to get her to understand why these things were different,"I haven't ever flirted with them, let alone flirted in front of you. Not to mention, I haven't eaten dinner at their houses without anyone else there!"
"How can I trust you if you don't trust me?" She would say in that convoluted, crazy Janette logic of hers, that always seemed so reasonable at the time. Her tone would take on this injured tinge and her large green eyes shining in hurt and frustration," This isn't the Fifties anymore- I'm not some piece of chattel!"
I had conceded, again, like I did three dozen times before with the pillows, the townhouse and a multitude of other things- because I loved her and a man should be able to trust the woman he loved.
"Of course she loved me," I had told myself afterward. I didn't want my own silly insecurities over some old bohemian artist poison the love I had for the woman I was going to make my wife.
"Trust..." That was the only word I could get out at the time, as my fiance and her professor fucked on our bedset, her knees padded by the quilt my mother had made us for our first anniversary. I chewed on that word, it was so lumpy, bilious and bitter in my throat that I nearly choked. Still ignorant to the fact they were no longer alone, Peter blithely thrust into Janette again and again, I can still see clearly in my mind's eye his back hair speckled with grey. his hand dappled liver-spots, paint and clay as it firmly gripped the thick, buckwheat tresses of the woman I wanted to be the mother of my children.
Here was this man, married, with children of his own and a pretty young wife, about the same age as Janette. Her name was Victoria, if I recalled- I had met her at one of the snooty artiste parties Janette liked to drag me to. I wondered why Peter's pretty young wife, who was about Janette's age, looked at my girlfriend with such angry bitter eyes and why some of the other artists titter behind their hands at me- yet more people other than myself who knew the hilarious punchline to Peter and Janette's secret joke. Now, I can't help but realize what a tremendous capacity for cruelty Janette had in dragging me to those parties.
I remember thinking as I stood there like some stone sentinel to my own betrayal, "How much did this man need? He had a wife who loved him, children (Janette had been quick to remind me several times when I mistakenly said child)- and a good career. Why did he have to take the woman and the life I had worked, planned and risked so much for?"
With that, Janette climaxed on our bed making high, sounds in a melody that was in stark contrast to Peter's absurd grunts and wheezes. Impotently, I watched as she turned around to regard him, her green eyes large with bliss and adoration. I couldn't help but notice the contractions of her slick, shaved sex milking the dregs of cum from his cock. She wasn't wearing a condom, apparently. She always made me wear one so we didn't have any "accidents" before we were ready. Janette saw me now- my hands gripping a pasta spoon like a drowning man would hold onto a buoy, my knuckles white, my muscles tensed and she let out a guilty, shocked gasp as she continued to involuntarily shudder from her recent orgasm.
Her mentor looked back at me like a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar. Blinking twice, he replaced that with a slick mask of arrogant entitlement as he slowly pulled out of my love with a wet, sickening sound. It sounded eerily similar to the same sound a dagger would make when pulled out of raw meat- or in this case, my heart.
"Hun...let me explain" Janette had said, small, delicate pink tongue slicking against lips swollen with lust, her large, green eyes full of fear at being discovered and something else I couldn't quite place.
I just stared at her, my powers of speech robbed from me. I could feel my heart thundering in my chest, as I helplessly looked at her body, unable to unsee her lithe, pale flesh flushed from fucking, the lips of her pussy still wetly glistening and dripping with another man's spend.
She had tried to cover herself with the same quilt my mother had made us, as if that would prevent me from seeing what was happening, could undo the destruction her betrayal and lies had caused to us.
"EXPLAIN WHAT?" My voice cracked and throbbed of it's own volition, my vision blurred with tears and rage, it was hard to see anything but red.
"Look- there is no need to yell," Peter's voice took on this placid, condescending tone like I was a student that didn't agree with his expert opinion on post-modernistic interpretation. Was this beatnik, progressive, granola crunching piece of shit actually trying to talk to me as if I was just some unruly student? Was he trying to lecture me like I wasn't the guy who just witnessed him fucking my fiance in my own house? My eyes were blue and hard as he squatted on my bed like some kind of bohemian jackal over a scavenged kill- his lean, wiry body still dripping with his sweat and the juices of the woman I loved,"We can talk about this like rationa...."
I didn't let him finish that thirteenth word. Instead, I hit him. Then I hit him again, then again and again. I always had been strong, and when I was a boy I had been taught how to box by my uncle. Janette had always considered fighting and violence to be such a brutish thing, but now, gauging by the big red hand prints on her slender, pale ass, I could tell she didn't mind brutishness as much as she had said she did.
I hate to admit it- even now, but it felt so very good, his face, no longer so smug, yielding to my fists. Though I loved writing and the written word, this was the best and only way I could communicate what needed to be conveyed at that moment.
"No...Peter!" Janette had leaped at me, frantically trying to push me off of her mentor, who was curled up in a fetal position, trying to guard himself from my heavy, angry blows. In that moment, I saw in her eyes who it truly was she loved, who she actually cared for. I think that hurt as much as anything could, that stark, absolute epiphany that it wasn't, and never was, me.
I'm not proud of what I did next, in fact I still wake up in a cold sweat from the nightmares caused by me replaying that moment in my mind. Janette had grown up in an abusive household. Her father was an engineer, a very intelligent man, but one who also drank and had a horrible temper. I was always careful to keep my tone down, to never yell at her. It scared her so badly. When we argued (and that we did), I did my best to keep my voice even and calm like a human metronome, rather than an equal participant in the argument, doing my best keeping it in a sane and sound rhythm in my voice, in my head and in Janette and I's relationship.
I felt her small hands trying to push me off of her lover as if I was the intruder into our house, and in her eyes I saw absolutely not one drop of any true regret for what she had done, but rather, only concern for the man who had made me a cuckold. That concern overpowered even the panic of getting caught and fear of seeing her lies brought to light my rage reached a new crescendo. I backhanded Janette with my large, heavy hand, more suited to labor than holding a pencil and struck with knuckles already broken open upon her lover's face. I can still hear that sharp report of my hand meeting her delicate face in a fellow student slamming down a book, or someone shutting a door too hard. For a moment, her tall lithe body lay in the corner of our room, crumpled and twisted and twisted. Despite everything that happened, my first instinct was to go to her, afraid that I had broken something. She pulled herself up by one pale arm and regarded me with burning venom. Eyes that had been filled with such tenderness for me were replaced by fear and hate, shining with tears that mixed with the a trail of blood caused by an abrasion from either my fist or her hitting the wall.
"All my friends were right about you!" She said, as if this act justified her repeated betrayal." You're just a brute, nothing but a fucking brute!"
I sank into the bed, I felt so numb and tired, everything felt so heavy.
"Go." After a few tense moments that seemed a lifetime, that one word was all I could bring myself to say.
"What?" Janette said, her voice hard- she was afraid, but she always got indignant when she knew she had done something wrong. I knew, that in her mind, she had already whitewashed this scene, repainting herself as the victim and Peter as the sympathetic, understanding savior that was comforting her through the rigors of life, a hard home life, and living with an uptight, controlling were-beast that lost control in his jealousy. Despite Janette's betrayal and delusions, I wasn't innocent in this either. There were so many signs I had ignored, so many red flags my few, but loyal friends had tried to warn me about. I know, that no matter what she had done, nothing excused what I did.
But it still wasn't fair, I had put up the money for the deposit, I had paid most of the bills. I didn't have much but I spent wisely. Janette, despite having a stipend from rich parents and the same scholarships, loans and grants I did, was so wasteful with her money. I didn't play with her heart and mind, I didn't humiliate her for my own amusement, I didn't play games with her head and heart, and I didn't fuck anyone else behind her back, I didn't betray her. No. I had always conceded before, but I wasn't going to now- not anymore. She was going to be the one to leave. She could sort that out with Peter and Victoria and his two (not just one!) children, Janette wasn't my problem anymore.
"Don't make me ask you again Janette." Though exhausted, my voice had steel too it that surprised the both of us.
Peter moaned pitiably on the floor and I resisted the urge to kick him. It was easier to no longer be violent, my rage had cooled into a kind of numbed shock.
Janette quickly put on a robe, and called her best friend, Tanya.
Tanya hated me- seeing me as some controlling patriarchal conservative who wanted to subjugate women. She had gone as far as openly saying so to others, that I was wrong for a free spirit like Janette. Her open derision towards me rankled, but I did my best to be respectful because she was Janette's friend- though I knew she had nothing nice or considerate to say about me.
I remember hearing the commotion downstairs as I just sat there, deflated, numb and bloody on the edge of the bed, not all that far from a wet spot that Janette and Peter had made. I couldn't help but wonder how many spots like this have been made before that I unknowingly slept on? How many times did I nearly miss there indiscretions, how many exasperated pleas of "Just trust me!" did I swallow on this bed?
I could still smell the scent of her familiar sex, now made dishonest by mixing with peter's intrusive alien one. I also couldn't forget the scent of blood- Peter's, Janette's and mine. I stared down at my knuckles, scraped raw and red for what must have been an hour.