Short Story: The Swing

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The story is now revised to include an intriguing Louisiana setting with the most unusual ending and is part of four stories available now in Amazon:

They said 1965 was going to be a rather eventful year and I guess those old bastards at the diner were right. Come to think of it, many things had already happened with Malcolm X gone in February initiating a rise in civil unrests and if I got my stories right, it was the same year when national issues began to make their most unlikely impact in the international arena beginning with the Vietnam War. I remember how hot the news got when 25,000 protesters did the SDS march expressing resentment at the American bombing of North Vietnam. Yup, the memories weren’t all too sweet and to be true, they weren't so on the personal front as well.

You may wonder why, so I will tell you. 1965 was also the same year when my wife Emily decided that life without me would be the way to go. It blew my life apart. You see, my wife wasted no time throwing dirt back at me when she said walking out on me was the best thing she ever did in her entire life.

When she handed me the papers that would seal our lives completely apart just a couple of weeks ago, three weeks to be exact, I had pondered over the matter rather deeply. I had invested ten years of my life into this woman, providing and loving her every step of the way, and giving her just about anything she wanted from this world. But now, she decided that it was not what she wanted anymore and that she was bored. But what she eventually chose was something I never quite understood. It was the one man she claimed to have loved all these years. And that man was to be my best friend. Like a fool I believed in both of them not knowing the web of deception they had already sewn for me. It was a double blow as you can well imagine!

Of course I had never expected to face betrayal at the hands of my own best friend, Charles O’Hara. I had known him since I was a kid when we were schoolboys at Kirk’s Elementary School, much longer than I ever knew Emily. The thought of having been betrayed by someone you trusted all your life, produced a rather conflictual feeling indeed when all feelings come into question and you wonder if you had perhaps been responsible in propagating that effect at all.

When I recall every bit of conversation and every glance that Emily gave Charles, I knew I should have been more vigilant. Because if I had been the husband who never believed in trust, I would have been quick to catch the way her eyes had doted upon him and the times when she would smile and seek a personal joint with him. And the high phone bills should have told me more because if I had just done my homework, I would have found out that the long bills were ascribed to only one phone number - the number to the residence of one Charles O'Hara.

Like a fool, I had remembered telling Charles many a time to guard my wife while I was away on my business trips. It began with me asking him to make a phone call or two then when I thought I could trust him for more, the biddings went on to include making sure Emily took her diabetic pills. You see, she suffered terrible fainting spells if she missed them and I had asked Charlie to watch her lest she went into one again. The tasks then just went on from there on to even getting the groceries for Emily if my trip stretched two weeks of more.

Little did I realize that the old coot had other plans and my neighbor, old Mrs. Worthington, had later commented she even saw the man kiss Emily on the lips, a long French kiss that stopped when she had knocked on the window wanting some sugar to bake a pound cake. I was outraged of course! Who wouldn’t be but then my mother told me, I had really created the capacity for their own little world to mold the way it did. She told me with the old round glasses perched on her big nose, the same nose I got born with in the end, that it was wrong to have left them alone together like that for days on end. Mom was right. It was my mistake indeed! I should not have any one else to blame not even Charlie for that.

Fact was I should have trusted no one with Emily. She was the kind of woman who would sweep a man off her feet with those deep green eyes and killer moves she takes as she did a long time ago doing the cat walk in glitzy Paris where she claimed to be once a high priced model debonair. Beauty aside, Emily had the ability to intelligently discourse on any matter that could really make you drool over her. She was supposed to be a whiz kid you see, but she was my Emily at least up until a couple of weeks ago. After ten years, she had shown a propensity to dispense me, her lover of ten years, for a man who could do nothing much for her. I could not understand how. So, I walked the road towards loneliness and towards the painful possibility that nothing could dissuade my Emily from putting an end to our marital bliss. I was now on the road to the lonely trail of bachelor boys who have lost it all.

So, I pondered rather deeply over the sheaf of papers which sat precariously before me. They came in a large, thick brown envelope, the contents within looking so official from her up town lawyers. Yeah, the same up town lawyers she kept all these years to give them the right to walk over me. It seemed so hurtful thinking about what sat in the papers and the way the legal system worked in enforcing my wife’s good intentions to leave me. And get this. These were the same bloody lawyers who attended our pool parties and I never knew they would be out to kill me in the end. Word slingers who would leave me perished and famished in court if I did not let Emily have her way. I couldn’t help the smirk. Sorry…you should understand I hope. Emily was going to drain my bank account. I knew that well and good. I still love her you know, and I resented her choice in the lawyers naturally. They were the best and they were out to fleece me for everything if they could.

I have lived all my life helping people come to terms with their own drawbacks in life and now, it was my turn to put my own practice into effect and make it stick. I took one good look at my wife’s picture and retired it to the drawer. It seemed so easy to do that, but the feeling that railed in me was incredible. But what ticked even more was when I drew out the wedding band I had stubbornly worn even knowing she was now another man's wife. That too, took its place in the drawer. I felt the pain stab me so many times just doing that but the truth was she was gone and life had to go on. Quickly, I signed the papers and sealed them into the envelope the damn lawyers had thoughtfully sealed within the larger envelope they presented me. All postage paid too! An easy move that got them the quicker commission I guess.

I walked as lightly as I could to the mail basket by the door where Susie the maid would ensure that the mail left behind would get shuttled off to the post office for mailing. There was no point looking back. She had fallen into the arms of a chivalrous man I considered my best friend and it was time to let go. There was no hope for a re-union. Emily was gone.

For the next few days and perhaps what turned out to be weeks eventually, I worked myself into a frenzy. Perhaps, it was the only way I knew, to drown myself into my work and hope for a glimmer of light of some kind to pass. I never looked at another woman though nor did I seek interest in any of the female race in any other way. Work was possibly the only factor that kept my life from breaking apart. I never had the opportunity to think about the terrible state of affairs both on the personal and international level, and I never did even think much about the wedding card that came in the mail that sealed the love of my now ex-wife to that roguish best friend of mine. Of course, we had departed as friends. I for one, am far from the kind who believes in fights to resolve a matter but the pain of losing Emily was the pain that was going to hurt me the most. The house just simply filled with memories of everything we did and everything else that we had planned to do.