Page 24 Friends

REAL FRIENDS ARE ALWAYS THERE FOR YOU.                    3 -1-10


                   My ex-wife’s name is Maya and when I met Karen, who was her best friend in college and law school, she was already married to Tom and the four of us hung out together and if none of us had wangled an invitation to somewhere special we often went on vacation together too.

We live in the same apartment building – they have the penthouse while we have a regular two bedroom – and when the landlord decided that extensive repairs were necessary to the floors and ceilings and windows in all of the apartments they moved in with us for a couple of months and then we moved in with them when it got to be our turn to under-go the upheaval.

Well, Maya walked out on me after we’d been married for nine years after yet another argument based on our having children or not – she was for it and she was getting within hailing distance of forty and I am, and always have been, dead set against bringing any of them into this world – and after that I saw little or nothing of Tom and Karen.

Well, one weekday morning at close to eight o’clock I was about ready to leave for work when the phone rang and it was Karen and it was difficult to understand what she was saying because she was obviously very upset.

I managed to make out something about our “being in the same boat now and could you come up?”

“You mean right now?”

“Right this minute, please, or I don’t know what I’ll do.”

When I’d knocked on her door she opened it and I saw that she was wearing pale blue pajamas that might have been silk and over them a flimsy robe that had one of those long red dragons clawing it’s way down that, it seems, the Japanese are excessively fond of.

She started crying again as soon as she saw me and full, real tears began coursing down her cheeks.

I steered her to a sofa and she eventually came out with the fact that she’d had a nasty shouting match with Tom two nights before and he’d ended up sleeping on the sofa, the same one that we were sitting on at that moment, and early the next morning he’d packed two bags and had walked out on her without saying another word no matter how much she’d pleaded with him to stay around and talk.

“What was the argument about?” I asked.

“It was on the same subject that yours and Maya’s was. Ha! How about that, hey? Well, your break-up should have been a warning to me but I was so despondent about the fact that I’m going to be thirty nine next week that when he asked me at dinner if there was something special that he could get for my birthday I couldn’t stop myself from saying, stupidly, ‘Yes. A little baby would be nice, please.’ ”

Here she flung herself against the sofa back and started in on another crying jag and it went on for so long that I began to think that she’d forgotten how to stop.

I was glad that she hadn’t see my face before she’d dissolved into tears that time because my mouth had fallen open in near shock because the scenario that she’d just trotted out was close to being the exact same one that had taken place between Maya and me years before.

I thought right then that it was a bit strange and I knew that I’d have to do some thinking about it but in the mean time I felt obligated to try to comfort her and so I put my arm around her and when she felt it she turned to me and put her head on my shoulder and continued with her industrial-sized, heart-rending, crying.

I did some patting and some ‘there, there’- ing and eventually she calmed down until she was merely sniffling.

I still had one arm around her shoulders and my other hand was on my knee and she reached for that hand and she pulled at it until it too was holding her and then she said “Having you here makes me feel a whole better, Brian. Can you please hold me a bit tighter?”

After I’d obeyed she snuggled into me some more and turned a little so that our bodies were able to get even closer but after a few minutes the effect evidently wore off for her because she started wailing again and then she surprised me by pushing me away and standing up but then she reached for my hand again and she forced herself to get calm enough to be able to tell me that her head was spinning and she had to lie down and then she asked me, “Will you please come up to my bedroom and hold me again ‘cos I really don’t want to be alone right now?”

She lay down on the bed, still whimpering, and I paused to take my jacket and my shoes off and then I joined her and I wrapped her in my arms whereupon she cuddled up and it became clear that she’d been right about needing bodily contact with someone because after a minute or so she stopped sniffling. When she’d taken a few more minutes to settle down and her breathing had gotten back to normal she moved her head back to be able to kiss the side of my face and she told me that I was an angel and that she thought that she’d be all right in a little while and I could then leave her and go to work.

Our close contact had obviously eased her pain and I was genuinely happy for that but her kiss took me over the threshold and I stopped being big-brother and a totally inappropriate idea formed in my mind and it manifested itself by sending a signal downtown.

As all men know, when IT stirs from its slumbers it makes its owner aware of its presence long before it grows to its full size and an adjustment has to made to – uh – the lie of the land when its growth is restricted by trousers and underpants. Its owner isn’t merely advised that it is time to act he is warned that if immediate action isn’t taken to remedy the situation something is going to break – either the restricting clothes or, difficult to even contemplate, the rapidly showing-up and firming-up back bone of the member in question.

I had to do something about it so I moved away from her so as to be able to reach down and ease the tight situation and as I did so I looked into her eyes and said, to distract her, “I’m sorry Karen but I really do have to go to work right now.”

“But why? What will a few minutes matter? That’s all I’ll need.”

“The heart has its reasons.” I said, stupidly, but just then I was given a second, far more urgent, warning because by continuing to grow it had gotten caught up again and I had to dart my hand down right that second into my pants to rescue it and help it find true north and because of that she saw what I did and, wonders of wonders, she giggled and said, “Oh! You mean that heart!” and then she reached down to feel for herself and she said, “Oh, my! Well! Fancy that! Over all those years I didn’t think that you liked me much in that way. Uh, not this much anyway.”

She held onto it as she thought about what was happening and then she said, “You know what, Brian? I know that you’ll think me very forward but I’d really like to take care of your problem for you right this minute because maybe raw sex is what I need to help get over Tom. Do you want?”

I had difficulty speaking so in answer I kissed her mouth as my hand began to cast about until it caught itself a breast.

With that she eased away from me and stood up and the robe slipped off her shoulders and then her pajama top got pulled open and off and got dropped to the floor and then the bottom part followed suit and then her wonderful little panties joined the other things on the carpet.

She’d always been startlingly beautiful and although she’d been a tad overweight for several years by then I, personally, like big women and because of that, and the fact that I hadn’t been with a woman for weeks, I found out in a hurry that I had no option but to hurry to get naked too.

I’d seen her breasts exposed before because we four had gone to topless beaches often at one time in our lives – if any prizes had been in the offing she would have always won them all, hands down, wherever we were – and while I’d always been grateful for being allowed to look at them for as long as I wanted – always accepting that Tom was asleep or wasn’t around – it had mostly been for aesthetic reasons and not for lascivious ones. It was for my love of beauty I like to think but in reality it was more likely because being such close friends for so long a time had negated the possibility of any hanky-panky developing along the way. Good friends are hard to come-by and, anyway, her breasts only barely bested my wife’s for beauty and heft and allure and hers were freely available to me.

That, however was then, and this was now.

When I’d mounted her she reached down to offer directions but the second that she touched it she cried out in astonishment and pushed me off to be able to get a look at what she was about to take on.

She couldn’t seem to believe her eyes and it was a long time, far too long, before she composed herself enough to be able to lie back again and let me get on with it.

When I began to push my way into her I had remarkable difficulty with gaining ground even after she’d followed my suggestion about putting her ankles up onto my hips.

I wasn’t about to complain about it – in fact it was extra thrilling because, except for the lack of an actual physical barrier just inside her, it was very like being with a virgin – and I made a mental note to ask her about it at a more suitable time.

When, at last, our pelvis bones were grinding together another strange thing happened. My need to get started on the old in-and-out had disappeared!

When I’d, bemusedly, analyzed the phenomenon I found that it was as if I’d felt an over-whelming sense of having arrived home already. I guessed that that was because when I got to be fully accommodated I’d found my ultimate comfort zone inside her – in both width and length – and so I was content simply to be there and was loathe to retreat so much as an inch from the perfect haven that I’d found even knowing that by not doing so it precluded any kind of friction from getting generated along with pleasure and relief the getting of which usually overwhelms a man’s homing instincts by a huge margin.

It’s hard to believe it, I know, but I just stayed there, reveling in the feeling that I was totally satisfied with the status quo.

She was puzzled, of course, and so she tried to contract muscles inside her vagina, thinking that that was what I wanted her to do, and when that didn’t change anything she started wriggling her hips and then she tried heaving them up at me to try to work up a little friction on her own.

I couldn’t let her go on putting out all that effort for long so after a while I lifted my head and I said, “Sorry lil’ darlin’ but it looks like it’s found its home and it doesn’t want to leave it again even for a half inch. Please believe me on this, Karen, but I honestly don’t understand what’s going on because this has never happened to me before. I’m really sorry but I just want to stay like this for a while. Can we, please?”

She liked hearing the ‘home’ part – of course she did, it’s a huge compliment for any woman because it clearly tells her that at least one man in the world values her love canal for more than just its utilitarian purpose – but nice words weren’t what she was interested in right then and so she whined and protested a little and then she stopped and she reached up and lifted my head up and said, “Brian, please start moving because I’ve wanted to have a vaginal orgasm my whole life and with you I know that I can get one.”

By then I knew that I wanted to keep this beautiful woman in my life – she was also the guardian and keeper of my ‘perfect haven’ – so, after thinking quickly, I said, “Listen up, Karen. The thing of it is that although I’m feeling very much at home all the way up inside you – because we fit together so well – I was Tom’s friend for so long that I’m finding it almost impossible to change from simply sharing with you, as we’re doing right now for therapeutic reasons, to making you have to adopt a submissive, receiving role which would, I think, mean the end of all three of our friendships.”

Boy, did she get mad!

“I don’t give a shit about your loyalty to Tom or about our friendship or what’s going to happen in future and least of all about ‘sharing.’ I want you to get on with it right now so for the love of God, start moving and FUCK ME TO A FRAZZLE.”

“Ah, how I wish that that was possible. Sorry but the same thing holds. Much as I’d like to help you it can’t be done. Sorry . . . “

She broke out with deep sobs of frustration but soon that changed to an outburst of vile cussing and crying but I soldiered through that and when it had eased off into frustrated whimpering again I could just about feel her clever, legally trained, analytical brain casting around to find a way out of her desperate dilemma.

Evidently she came to the conclusion that our – that is, Tom’s and mine – friendship had to be sacrificed immediately to a greater cause and the best way to do that would be by exposing Tom for what he was and she implemented that strategy by telling me that she’d lied about why Tom had left her.

The truth turned out to be that although there had been a big falling out when she’d asked him to give her baby for a birthday present that had been weeks before and he’d only actually walked out on her two days before after telling her that he’d fallen in love with an Australian colleague at work and that he and the woman in question were going to catch a plane to Melbourne that day. She went on to tell me that they’d arrive there at around seven o’clock this same morning, our time, and would be ensconced in their hotel room at around nine.

She told me that when she could get some words out after the bombshell that he’d lobbed at her she asked him – what else? – “How long has this been going on?” and was told that they’d been planning on it for months and months but because the woman had laid down some conditions – consummation was to take place only in the pent house suite of the best hotel in Melbourne, which is where she was brought up, and they had to fly there first class and that when they got back they had to set up a home in a different city – which had all taken a lot of time to arrange.

Karen then said that after delivering that statement to her he’d packed two suitcases and a backpack and had then walked out.

She’d stayed home from work that day and had hardly slept that night and when she could pull herself together enough to think straight she’d come up with an idea that would, she hoped, at least partially thwart his cold-hearted plan and help appease her sense of self worth a little.

Her idea was that she’d commit adultery before he did and that was why she’d pleaded with me to come up to her apartment and had then inveigled me into joining her in her bed.

However, she hadn’t bargained on three things: my unlikely recalcitrance; the size of my apparatus – she told me that she’d had no idea that a man could be as well hung as I am – and, following close on that fact, that she’d been closer than ever before in her life to having a full-blown orgasm with no need for the complicated apparatus and the boring gymnastics and the extensive love play that Tom had had to employ every time to give her even a clitoral one.

I was delighted with the position of strength that her statement gave me and so I told her that her explanation had succeeded in releasing me, and my body, from all restraint due to misplaced loyalty to double-dealing Tom.

I then used all of my techniques to get her back into the mood and when she’d started murmuring “Mmmmh’s” again I started to move and she went through, “Aaaah’s” and on to,  “Eeeyyyy’s” and then to screaming at me to “Don’t stop. I’m so, so close, please keep going. I’m so very close.”

After a few minutes of hearing that it became obvious to me that because she’d never gotten off through being pummeled alone she needed a trigger but before I could experiment I had to ejaculate and while it was happening I was hoping that doing so would prove to be the catalyst.

It wasn’t.

I, altruistically, kept moving as long as I could – through the pain and in the face of Nature’s disinclination – and that took her even closer but then I got too soft to maintain any useful friction and I was about to give up in dismay when I remembered reading somewhere of a technique that men who can’t get a proper erection can use to excite their partners.

It seems that what you have to do is to keep the end of your semi-hard dick inside the woman and then you kind of use the bend in it to rub against, and to squash, her clitoris while you keep moving up and down and sideways instead of in and out.

I managed to start that going before she lost much ground and so, added to the pounding that she’d received from me was the familiar feeling that she was long used to, and – Hallelujah! – it did the job and they must have heard her final “Arrrrrrrghs” down on the street and she lives on the thirty fifth floor.

Her first intelligent words when she came back to earth were, “What time is it?” and I looked over at the clock that was on my side of the bed and I saw that it said ‘nine twenty three’ and, on a hunch, I turned it away from her and told her that it was ten before nine.

“Ya-fucking-hoo!” she shouted and then she turned to me and said, “You know, it wouldn’t matter really if it was ten minutes before nine tonight or tomorrow, or next week come to that – would it? – but it sure is nice to hear anyway. Say Brian, let me tell you something else about Tom. OK? Well, he often told me, ‘You’ll never have a proper orgasm, not as long as your ass looks down’ was how he politely put it and ‘no other man will want to sleep with you ever, more than once anyway, because you’re an ice maiden and, on top of that, you’re also way too fat.’ So, when I see him in court I’ll give him the finger and I’ll tell the ineffectual, penciled-dicked ass-hole that not only was he wrong about me and the hopelessness of my ever having a decent sex-life without him but that I found out just how wrong he was about that at least ten minutes before his tramp of a girl friend got to find out how hopeless he is in bed and how ill equipped he is!”

She did some chortling and then she remembered who it was who had turned her world around in less than an hour or so – fundamentally and dramatically too – and that instead of crying piteously, as she’d done for days, she was now able to laugh again and then she recognized that her whole body was jubilant too – it was still singing praises for being shown, at last, what its capabilities are – and so she lifted herself up and started in on showering my face with kisses and then she decided to go further and that took the form of using her magnificent breasts to frottage my body from my knees up to my face.

          I graciously stayed still for her.

          However, I really did have to go to work by then and so I told her that and, when the edge had worn off the reactions that I was getting out of her acrobatics, I got up and got dressed.

When I was pulling my shoes on she said, “Uh, Brian dear? I’m sure that you already know how grateful I am – Wow! Was it ever good? You’re a real man. What a find for me! Maya must be crazy – but I want to tell you that ‘life-saving’ is not too grandiose a name for what you’ve done for me. Really.”

          And then, as I was walking to the door, “Uh – Brian, I don’t want to get out of bed for the rest of the day and so I’m going to call in sick and stay here and revel in this marvelous feeling, but that aside, shall we catch a movie or go out for dinner tonight, if I can walk by then, that is?”

          I was brought up short and had to think rapidly again . . .

          I’ve been living on my own since Maya left and I’ve learned to like it. It’s definitely true that one gets set in one’s

ways but, that aside, I never have liked the dating scene at all, with its crazies and its cruel rejections, because women

know that they have the power for only a limited time and sometimes use it to get back at the last guy who’d used them

and let them down. And I hate all the energy and expense and effort that it takes to get a partner for the night and the guilt

mixed with the shame that comes from knowing that I’ll be feeling nothing but vast relief when I get to leave in the

morning. I also hate the fact that the urges that force me to go out looking in the first place – Einstein said that it was like

having a large monkey on his back – are close to being ungovernable.

        As for marriage – I sure did like the almost unlimited access to sex and I liked having a magic dirty-clothes basket

in the corner of the bedroom and, uh . . . well, there have to be more reasons but they escape for the moment – but I certainly didn’t like that annoying rule that’s so hard to break once it’s set up – ‘In this house, we share the cooking and the one who does the cooking doesn’t do the dishes.’ – nor the fact that I had to deal with the garbage, and handle all the emergencies including the ones where all that can be done is to call the super. And I can really do without the lit candles in the bathrooms and those stupid, short lived, cut flowers that appear all around from time to time. And I really don’t miss getting those calls at the office, “I’ve got two tickets for the Met. So don’t be late getting home ‘cos it’s black tie.” Or, “Will you please stop in at the supermarket on your way home and bring me some half and half and some bacon and some tomatoes? Frying ones please and not the Israeli ones because although they look the best they’re way too expensive – oh – and get some brie too.” Also, the fact that all household problems seem to become ‘yours’ and are never ‘ours.’

As I said, I had to think rapidly and I did so and I came up with a masterstroke even if I say it myself.

What I was looking for, of course, was unlimited access to her but on my own terms in that although I prefer to read the newspapers in my own place at my own pace I wanted to be included in on those Sunday sessions of hers that were beloved by Tom in that I wanted to have a permanent invitation to come up to her place to have sex and then have brunch with some wine and then do some quality laying around with both of us naked and accessible.

I wanted to be able to take a nap between bouts and then leave her at around six o’clock so I could take a shower and then go out and shoot some pool or play some cards and have a few beers with my friends.

Also, on selected weeknights – selected by me, of course – I wanted to be able to call her at around nine o’clock and ask if it was OK for me to come up and then take her to her bed and be able to leave in plenty of time so as to be able to see the eleven o’clock news at home and then look for a good movie on cable.

Now is that too much to ask? . . .

“I’d love to see a movie or go out for dinner, or both, with you,” I said, “but I think you’ll agree that we have to be careful. Right? What I mean by that is that that ‘friendship’ thing applies to you too and if we start going to places together as friends it will rear up again and we might well find ourselves in the same nasty predicament that we were in earlier on. Right? Remember my being unable to move because my body thought that it was merely comforting a friend? Well, we don’t want that to become a permanent feature, now do we?”

“Oh, dear me! No, Brian darling, I really don’t want that to happen again ever so, all right. I agree. You’re correct about the precautions that we have to take, so, to that end, will you call me later tonight and then come up again? Please?”

She sat up as she was saying, “Please?” and doing so made her groan and she went on to say, “Oh wow! Wait. I was forgetting something. You’d better give me a few days to heal because I’m so sore that I can hardly move my lower body. All right?”

“Tell you what, Karen. Why don’t we leave it until Wednesday night, about nine o’clock? Is that all right with you?”

“Perfect. Thank you, Brian. Oh! And what about Sunday mornings? Are you sometimes free then? Yes? Wonderful. What about this one that’s coming? Yes? Good. So how about you coming up and having brunch with me? I promise to make it an interesting meal for you. (Giggle, giggle). Please say that you’ll come.”

“Uh – well – uh – all right then. Sounds good. Let’s try it out this Sunday shall we? Well. Let me go. I’m already way late so I have to run.”

As I opened the bedroom door I found that I was so happy with my cleverness, and with my prospects, that I went back and kissed her before saying, “ ‘Bye, Karen.”

“ ‘Bye, Brian. See you on Wednesday then and thank you again.”

She’d had to shift her base to be able to respond to my kiss and when she moved her hips to be able to settle back under the covers she groaned involuntarily again and then said, “Oh wow! You’ve made me really sore, Brian. Not only at the entrance but for an unbelievably long way up inside too . . . but, even so, I’m grateful to you and I thank you for having done it because it’s an eminently acceptable pain. It’s a properly-fulfilled-woman’s pain and it’s about time that I got to feel what that’s like.

“Uh, wait a minute more, please. I’m going to check it out again . . . I’m far from being a masochist but I want another reminder.” She slipped her hand under the covers . . . “Ow, ouch! Yes. Really, really sore. Ha! Isn’t that fine, though? It’s telling me, forcefully, that I’ve been fucked properly for the first time ever. You know what, Brian? I can’t hardly wait for Wednesday night to come because it will have healed some by then and we’ll have much more time to make love and, hopefully, you’ll make me so sore that I’ll have to take a whole week off!

“Oooh! I’ve just thought of something else. We’re going to have a lovely long session on Sunday, right? Well, thank God that I’ve got three weeks of vacation coming!”

As I was going down in the elevator to my own floor I barely kept from hugging myself in celebration. I remember thinking, “So, now I know what hedonism is all about and I sure do approve of it.”

I continued to enjoy my new found ideal lifestyle for the best part of six weeks but one weekday night I got a phone call from Karen telling me that she didn’t want to see me again!

I found it difficult to speak and she pushed past my spluttering to say that it wasn’t personal and that she would always love me and she was really sorry but her lawyer had told her to stay strictly chaste until her divorce had gone through and until the financial arrangements as to alimony and the distribution of property was dealt with.

She went on, “That will take a long time so, although I hate having to say this, I can’t see you again and so I think that this had better be the last time that we speak to each other.”

And with that she hung up.

I was despondent for weeks – it’s not easy to give up what I’d had – and I lost interest in everything except work (I had to keep paying my bills) and sports (because I could just sit there in the stands, or on the couch, and watch) however, luckily I had several BFWBs who I could call on when I knew that I’d go nuts if I didn’t find some sexual relief. None of them even approached Karen as to providing a custom built haven for me but, of course, I hid my disappointment from them and tried to be extra nice to them and I was always lavish with praise.

More than a whole year went by before I got another phone call from Karen and it lifted my spirits just as high as her previous call had knocked them flat.

“Hello, Brian. It’s Karen. Remember me? It’s been a long time, right? Far too long a time in fact. Uh, has anything changed in your life? Are you married or engaged or something?”

“Hello Karen. No, nothing has changed. I’m just plodding along as usual.”

“Whew, I was dreading . . . uh, well . . . let’s let that go shall we? But, you know, I can’t tell you how glad I am to hear you say it. Wow, I took one hell of a chance but, you know, I’m a pretty good judge of people and in your case I got it right, didn’t I?”

“I sure do wish that I knew what you’re talking about, Karen.”

“Oh, uh, yes, of course you do. I’ll explain but I’d like to do it face to face. Can you come up here?”

“You mean, right now?”

“Yes please. I want to show you three things that will surprise you and that I’m pretty sure that you’ll love them all. Ten minutes or so?”

She let me in and she kissed me hello chastely and then led me into the living room. When we were sitting next to each other in a sofa she said, “Well, Brian dear, let me look at you – – – you’ve not gained any weight I see. Are you still going to the gym three times a week?”

“No, that’s over but I don’t eat nearly as much as I once did so that compensates, I guess? You haven’t changed a bit, Karen. Still as attractive as ever. Uh, did everything go smoothly for you as regards the divorce and the, uh, the settlement?”

“Yes thank you. It all went ‘swimmingly’ as my lawyers put it.”

“Good for you. I’m happy to hear it. Uh, you said something about showing me three things that you know I’ll like?”

“Yes, but not just ‘like,’ you’ll ‘love’ them all I’m sure. Especially this first one.

“Ah, Jo Ann,” she shouted in the direction of the passageway where the bedrooms are, “please bring him in now.”

A very dark skinned woman – who, I found out later was Jamaican and that her real name is ‘Juan’ which is a common name on the island but, because the Spanish language has become all-pervasive in the city nowadays, people find it close to impossible to call a woman by that name – came in and she was carrying a baby.

Karen took the baby from her and then – clearly prearranged I guessed because no words were used and no signals passed – Jo-Ann promptly went back out of the door that she’d just come through.

After Karen had done some of the mandatory kissing and “Coo coo-ing” at the baby she said to me, “Well now, here’s the first thing that I want to show you. Isn’t he a beautiful baby? His name is ‘Ryan’ – that’s as close as I dared get to ‘Brian’ without causing suspicion but I’ve always liked the name anyway – and he’s your son! Yours and mine, that is. What d’you think about that?”

I had to force my mouth to close to be able to say anything at all and what came out of it was mostly, “Puh, puh, but . . . . how?”

When I could speak properly I asked her to explain.

“Yes, I guess I’d better. Must be a huge shock for you. Do you want to hold him while I tell you what happened?”

I’ve never liked babies much but I knew at once that this one was special so I took it, gingerly, and tried to cradle it.

“Ahh, isn’t that a nice thing to see? He knows his daddy, look, he’s smiling. Well, first I have to apologize for – uh – deceiving you a year ago but please believe me when I tell you that it was really difficult for me to – uh – banish you but it was very necessary as will become clear.

“Well, what I told you about Tom running off with that Australian tramp who was a colleague of his was true and it’s also true that my idea at first was to simply humiliate him by being able to tell him, when we met outside court, that I’d committed adultery before he had and that he was a pathetic, penciled-dick-ed loser and that the Aussie was welcome to him.

“Well, as is obvious, doing it once with you would have been enough for that plan to work so I went ahead and seduced you with that in mind but when I found out how good a lover you are and how much I’d missed out on for all those years I couldn’t get enough of you and so I procrastinated and then, after our first wonderful Sunday session out on the terrace, when you’d gone back to your apartment a much better idea came to me.

“As you probably know, Tom was the one with the money and I had very little of my own and I realized that if I didn’t come up with something quickly his clever, expensive lawyers would see to it that I’d end up with next to nothing and I’d certainly have to move out of this apartment. So, after a while it came to me that if I got pregnant right away with ‘Tom’s’ baby my cause would be strengthened a good deal. I went to see a divorce lawyer and when I lied and told him that I was already pregnant with Tom’s baby he told me that in that case I was home and clear. He gave me some pamphlets that covered the ‘wronged wife’s’ side of the procedures and they all said that the woman had to stay squeaky clean, with no male attachments and, especially, no ‘over-night-visits’ ever until the judge had ruled on the amount of alimony that was to be awarded and on the division of property according to State law.

“Yes. I know it was inexcusably mercenary of me but after years of living in luxury I couldn’t possibly go back to renting a studio apartment and wondering if I could afford to buy new panty hose or – uh – well, have something better to eat than packaged frozen food entrees from the supermarket.

“Well, what I did next was this: I stopped taking the pill right then and I got you to come to see me often and give me multiple – uh – injections – finding out that I have the ‘perfect haven’ for you helped no end – and I followed the advice in ‘How-to-get-pregnant’ books and I kept that up until I knew that it had worked.  I decided to keep at it for a few weeks after that – believe me I didn’t want it to end ever – until I was sure that the – uh – what is it called? – uh – the litmus thing, would show positive and when it did I found a Gynecologist who agreed, for a price, to give me a professional opinion, in writing, that the baby inside me had probably been conceived a month before it actually had been and then I showed that to my lawyer and he told me that if I was careful to stay chaste for a year or so I’d be home and dry.

“Well, I found that it was way too difficult to stop seeing you, because it was always wonderful, but when I began to show I had to make the big move because I figured that if you found out what I was up to you’d maybe, no, you’d probably get on your high horse and take a hand in the proceedings and ruin my schemes. You would have done something drastic and noble, am I right about that?”

“Yeah, I guess that I would have had to do something about it.”

“Ha! You see? Well, it was a huge sacrifice for me to decide to stop seeing you, but look at what happened! It worked out really well. Oh! You don’t know what happened, do you? Well, let me tell you what the final settlement was: I gave up my rights to the house in Maine and to the condo in Barbados for full ownership of this apartment and its furniture and I got $4,000,000 in cash and I get $20,000 a month alimony and there’s a trust fund for Ryan of $3,000,000 and there’s a child care allowance of $5,000 a month until he gets to be eighteen when his college education will be taken care of. There. That’s it except for all of my jewelry too. Not bad, eh?”

“Wow,” I said, “ that is really impressive. I knew that Tom was rich but not that rich.”

“Well yes, he’s always had family money but he’s been the CEO of his company for around five years now and he gets a huge salary and options and perks and all that and his last few year end bonuses were up in the eight figures. So, you don’t worry yourself on that score. He can afford it.”

“Well then, in that case, congratulations, you’re set for life. Uh, you said that there were three things that you wanted to show me. The others can’t be anywhere near as exciting as this baby here but what are they?”

She said, “Wait a minute,” and then she called out to Jo-Anne again and the nanny came in and, also clearly prearranged, she took the baby from me and kissed it and said something like, “Boo, booo, my precious. Are we ready for some nice walkies, then?” and then she carried him over to where a huge baby carriage was parked and she put him into it and then pushed it out through the kitchen to the service elevator in back.

Karen stood up and waved an invitation to follow her and she led the way to the terrace and when we got there I was surprised to see that she’d had a third of it enclosed and that she’d furnished it similarly to what was outside – only, of course, it wasn’t weather proof and the covering of the chaise lounges looked like suede – and she told me that the space is heated in the winter and cooled in the summer so that it could be used the year round.

When I’d checked the lounge chairs out, and had lavished praise on her for her good taste, I asked her what was the other thing that she wanted to show me and she said, “Ah, yes. That comes right now. You’ll be amazed and, I hope, delighted with this one too.”

She came over and stood in front of me and then she undid the bottom buttons of the blouse that she was wearing and then she slipped the clasp of the belt on her toreador pants and she moved her blouse out of the way with one hand and rolled down the top of her pants with the other one and she said, “Ta Ra! Behold.”

I saw a long scar on her belly and it took me a few seconds to realize that I was looking at what had to be the result of her having had a Cesarean delivery.

“I knew all along how important my ‘perfect haven’ is for you so I paid that same Gynecologist five thousand dollars extra to think up a good medical reason that would force me to avoid giving natural birth because that would have turned it into an ordinary haven and I couldn’t take that risk, now could I? Not if I want you to stay with me forever, right? Which I do.”

She sat down next to me and she took my hand and put it up and inside her blouse and then she said, “You know what, Brian? We’re the only ones in this apartment right now so this is the perfect time to check out these lounges. They were made by the same company that made the ones outside and those are, as you’ll remember, very good for making love on but there’s only one way to find out if these are too. Right? What do you think?”

When I was in the elevator, a couple of hours later, on my way down to my apartment to collect some toiletries and personal items – slippers and stuff like that – I thought to myself, “And I thought that I was a hedonist. She makes me look like a self-flagellator who wears a horse-hair undershirt and who eats garbage and lives in a leaking tool shed!”