I Stopped Reading the Newspaper


(page 5 of 10)

“You dating anyone?” he asked. “You were married for a while, weren’t you? Do you mind if I ask what happened?”

Yes, I mind, you intrusive bore. But I said, “It didn’t work out, that’s all. I’m not exclusively dating anyone.” Actually, I wasn’t seeing anyone at all, but married men were not remotely on my list of potentials and anyone with a molecule of gray matter could see what Joe was up to here.

“You must get frustrated,” he said. “I mean without anyone.”

Oh for crying out loud. “It hasn’t been that long,” I said, still in my nicer tone of voice. Though any minute...

“A nice, sexy, good looking woman like yourself in the prime of her life...”

I stopped wiping. He had the look of any male animal on the rut. I hadn’t seen that for a while, but it was like riding a bicycle, you never forget it.

“Joe,” I said. “Your daughter is in serious condition in the hospital and you’re coming on to me.”

This didn’t seem to faze him. “Look,” he said. “Even before Susie had the accident, Chrissy and I...well, we had our problems.”

I sat down across from him, still gripping the dishcloth. “What marriage doesn’t have problems?” I said hopefully, trying to get him onto a more abstract path.

“We haven’t had sex for seven months.”

“Oh,” I said. I made my voice chipper. “I read in Elle that thirty-two percent of women don’t want sex, so it’s not unusual. I mean it’s a general problem these days. People are overworked, have too many distractions...”

He wasn’t buying this. “Like, I knew this marriage was a mistake two years into it,” he said. “She hardly ever wanted sex since the beginning.”

“Then why did you have three kids? If things were so bad.”

He looked out the window. “You keep going on,” he said. “You keep thinking maybe the way things are is temporary and it might get better, but the years go by and it doesn’t. And then there you are, fifteen years older and everything still sucks.”

The atmosphere had changed, like the air pressure in a room when your ears pop. Joe looked vulnerable, real all of a sudden. But while the trusting, wanting-to-connect part of me was up and ready, like a protective big sister, the been-around, cynical element stood back observing wryly.

“That’s too bad,” I said, my voice neutral. “I’m sorry you’ve had such an unsatisfactory life so far.”

There was a long pause before he said, “How would you feel about hooking up? No one would need to know. No one needs to be hurt. And when this is all over...” he paused, “whichever way it goes, I could maybe find a job for you in my company.”

“Your company...?”

He looked offended. “Yeah. I’m incorporated. I run a contracting business, you knew that.”

I blushed rather hideously. So, he was offering me a position as his mistress with all the trimmings, just like the girlfriends of married politicians got. Not the first time I’d been offered a mistress position, but the first with trimmings.

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About Margaret Karmazin


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I am an official Old Fart now, yet retain my wild and borderline crazy imagination. With my husband and two cats, I live by a lake surrounded by woods, bears, coyotes and possibly aliens and fairies. Over the years, I've had 120 short stories published and four nominations for Pushcart awards. I'm an artist...read more too with work published in SageWoman and other magazines and shown in galleries and shows in my area. My stories are literary, sci-fi and fantasy.
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