I never knew what my husband saw in her. Sure his mistress was abundantly gifted in the womanly areas but she couldn’t add two plus two even with help from Alan Greenspan. But to her credit, Monica attempted to understand what I was saying, as her manicured powdered-pink nails scratched at her temples and perfectly-plucked right eye brow lifted.
“Now, how is it again?”
Her sugary voice dripped with innocence making me second guess my choice in accomplice. Monica tasted her Chardonnay as I searched for another way to explain the plan.
“It’s a means to an end. Honey, you must have noticed a drastic drop in attention?”
In an unprecedented move in the world of love and romance, wife and mistress will join forces against the man who double-crossed them both—a man whose thirst for the ladies was exceeded only by his hunger for expensive foods and liquors—my husband Jim. Jim’s lady thirst was so deep, he added a second mistress, young and spunky Amber, to his regular line up. Amber was Monica five years ago, except seconds older than the most recent newborn and with looks that were more model than bimbo. Ah, but the difference between Monica and Amber was the new kid’s intelligence—sharp as cheddar. For her, Jim the banker was Jim Mr. Easy Street Lover. Amber had extorted more money with her weekly shopping sprees than Monica siphoned in her first year. At this rate, either Amber would shop me out of a house or Jim, in his rabid stupidity, would marry her.
Obviously, he needed to be stopped.
After a brief telephone conversation with Monica, I asked for a rendezvous at Bon Temps, a hole-in-the-wall where no one would recognize us. My choice was almost on the nose with what I’d thought Shreveport’s shadiest establishment would be. The bar was a joint that had lost its old-world luster but was battling for a comeback—restored wood beams and accents, shiny new tiles arranged in eccentric geographic designs, and enough light pouring through unwashed windows that it would make a bat blinder. Duct tape-mended bar stools cozied up to a restored wooden bar, coated in a black lacquer finish. Rigid charts and tables dipped in the same lacquer sat empty, awaiting either the company of colorful customers or a wipe from a dust cloth. Adding to the hodgepodge atmosphere was a well-stocked bar and a bartender smart enough to ignore the patrons.
“Monica,” I started slowly. “I know that there have been some rough patches between us in the past with you dating my husband and all, but I think we need each other now more than ever.”
Her baby blues batted at me and I wondered if anyone was home.
“You see, there is a reason that Jim hasn’t been coming around as much.”
“I know,” she agreed. “He’s in charge of a big account at the bank and that’s taking all his time.”
I grinned. Jim had done a good job training her, I’ll give him that.
“Is that what he told you, Monica? I’m afraid he’s been lying.”
Reaching for my purse, I pulled out a large manila envelope. Jim’s recent actions were fishier than usual. I needed to know why so I had him followed. Heck, you become head of the harem without some intel. That’s how I learned about Monica.
I opened the envelope and slid the glossy, color pictures toward Monica. Putting down her drink she flipped through them with her brow wrinkling more with each image. Her glossy lips thinned to a line. As she approached the end, her breath deepened as if she was bracing herself for something unpleasant. With each flip, her happy-go-lucky glow lessened. Fading before me was her sparkle, her optimism, and her belief in a man whose truth was as warped as the delusion he had created for her. I know that look. I’ve lived that look. I never recovered.
Then she gasped. There it was, the money shot, Jim in bed with his hard-bodied love bunny.
“Her name is Amber.”
Monica pitched the scandalous pictures across the bar, cradled her face in her hands and cried.
A good Christian woman would have comforted her, put an arm around her shoulders and given her a hug. But I stopped being a good Christian a long time ago. However, her heartbreak gave me only an ounce of joy. I cried a river when Jim would came home late reeking of her perfume and grinning from his escapades. After awhile the tears dried up and I realized it was either love him for him, or leave him. By then I had invested too much emotionally to call it a draw. I had also become accustomed to being a banker’s wife. In the end I traded my happiness for a lucrative dysfunctional marriage. Don’t judge me. I don’t regret my choice.
I motioned for the cigarette-smoking bartender.
“Two double shots of Grey Goose.”
As she poured, Monica lifted her well-groomed head and looked at me, streaks of midnight mascara running down her cheeks.
“How could he have done this?”
“Yeah, yeah. We can go down the long line of questions I’ve asked myself for years if you’d like—I thought we were happy, I’ve given him the best years of my life, blah, blah.”
The bartender slid the shots toward us. I dug in my purse for a $100 bill and handed it to her.
“Keep them coming.”
She winked and disappeared. Taking one glass, I handed the other to Monica but she shook her head.
“Vodka goes straight to my head.”
“Vodka is the only thing that gets the hurt out,” I snapped, taking the shot myself. “Listen, Monica. We can sit here and drink and damn Jim for what he did to us or we can…make justice.”
I drank the second shot and motioned for the bartender again. Like before she filled the glasses and disappeared.
“What do you mean?” Monica’s heart was on her sleeve and I liked it. I knew that I could trust her with this.
“I mean if it isn’t Amber, it’ll be someone else. Anyone else except us. Men like Jim are in love with the newest and shiniest toy they can find. And let’s face it sister, we lost our shine a long time ago.”
“But he said he loved me!”
“But he’s married to ME and he tells ME he loves ME every day. Do you think someone who loves you fucks around?”
Monica stared at the pictures, her shoulders slumped and her lustrous blonde hair dulled, as if she was tarnished.
“Listen, honey. If you want to break up with him that’s fine but let’s face it, I’m in a much better position.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’m his wife. I can divorce him and a judge will give me half, maybe more, of his money.
You, well, you’re just the first mistress, the one he’s about to discard. Do you think that if we divorce, he’s coming to you? No. He has a new toy to play with,” I said pointing at the picture.
“That louse! I’ll be left with nothing! And after I gave him the best years of my life!”
“Yes! That louse will leave you out in the cold. No more apartment. Clothes. Trips to the beach. It’s so sad really. All that time with him and his bad sex.”
“Oh it’s awful,” she said. “He has this move…”
“…the one with the elbows in the sideways lean…”
“…the Jim Typhoon? Just horrible.”
“I know!” We laughed and for a second I felt an ironic kindred spirit with my husband’s mistress. Maybe under different circumstances…what the hell am I thinking? “Too bad that…oh, never mind.”
Monica’s eyes widened with wonder. A smirk crawled across my lips.
“Well, I was thinking that after all this time, it’s like we’ve both invested the energy and it just kills me, KILLS ME, that you’ll be left behind.”
“Well, what if we came to some sort of…arrangement.” I handed Monica a shot glass. “An arrangement that could be very lucrative for both of us. One that would solve all our problems.”
“Killing Amber?” Monica’s eyes grew wild.
Scary but promising.
“Not exactly but I like where your head’s at,
“If not Amber then who?”
I raised my eyebrows and my smirk grew into a grin. Monica, dear sparkly and slow Monica, caught my hint and a smile sprouted on her face too. With her free hand she wiped the mascara off her cheeks and raised her glass.
“To making justice,” she said.
“To making justice!” I copied as we clinked glasses.
It’s like I said, vodka is the only thing that gets the hurt out.