Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
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It was a Saturday. Julia and I had planned a cookout at Sherman Park. I drove her house. We were getting the food ready when the phone rang.
Julia picked up the phone, listened, then handed it to me. “It’s for you,” she said.
Puzzled, I put the receiver to my ear.
It was my daughter, Dolores.
“Dad, Mom fell a little while ago. The ambulance came and took her to Wilson Memorial. She wanted you to know.”
“Thank you, Dolores,” I said “how did you know where to reach me?”
“Mom asked me to open the sealed emergency envelope that you gave her when you and she separated. I hope I didn’t interrupt anything.” Her tone sounded slightly sarcastic.
After I had hung up, I turned to Julia and said that we should probably cancel our plans for the cookout. I told her what Dolores had said.
She exploded with monumental fury. “What right does your wife have to spoil our day? You’re separated! Being separated is like being divorced. It’s none of your concern. She’s probably just got a sprained ankle, if that!”
I insisted I should go to the hospital.
“Go then!” She threw the silverware that she had been holding to the floor. “Go to your poor dear mama. Be sure to hold her hand and speak sweet words in her ear and make her feel better.”
“I’ll be right back.” I started for the door.
She began screaming obscenities of assorted kinds as I left the house. I drove to the hospital.
At the hospital, I was informed that Ellen had broken her hip and that x-rays were being taken. Ill at ease, I waited until the x-rays had been examined and she had been admitted into the hospital. I went to her room to see her.
“Thank you for coming,” she said.
“I can only stay a minute. I hope you’re feeling all right.”
“It hurts,” she responded, “but nowhere near as much as when I fell. I hope you didn’t mind when Dolores called you at, at . . .”
“No, I didn’t mind.”
I glanced at my watch while Ellen wasn’t looking and saw that almost three hours had passed since I had received the phone call. I left hurriedly. In the car, I dialed Julia’s number.
“Ellen has a broken hip,” I told her. “She’ll be in the hospital for a few weeks.”
Julia was still fuming. “Do you realize how long you’ve been there? Have you been holding her hand and comforting her?”
“No, I didn’t even touch her.”
“I’ll bet! I wouldn’t put it past you. You are not one that can be trusted. Come back. Come back now!”
“I’m on my way.”
While driving, I nursed bitter feelings about how she had reacted to Ellen’s fall. It seemed that she could have been more reasonable about the whole thing. It would be normal for me to still have some feelings for Ellen. There was no real reason for her rage.
This was the first time that I had seen Julia really upset since we had started dating six months earlier. Her capacity for expressing anger was appalling. A few days ago, I had sent her a single red rose to express my love. This love had now begun to cool.
My stay at Julia’s home was short that evening, but I was at her house early on the following day. It wasn’t long before she let out a yelp.
“You’re going to do nothing of the kind!” Julia’s voice was shrill.
I had just told her that I was going to the hospital to visit Kathleen and that I would be back in an hour or so.
“You made your courtesy call,” she screamed. “This visit is unnecessary. Besides, I was planning on preparing a nice meal for you. Look!”
She opened a can of tuna fish and began toasting four slices of bread. Rather than get’s her more riled, I agreed that I wasn’t going to see Ellen while she was in the hospital. Inwardly, I was planning on how to do it without her finding out.
“You’re staying here tonight!”
“You heard me! If you think that you’re going over to Wilson after you leave here, you’ve got another think coming!”
“I don’t have any clothes for tomorrow. What do you expect me to wear at work?” The idea of spending the night at Susan’s had a favorable-sounding quality that I found exciting. This was the first time she had offered this benefit.
“We’ll go over to your apartment and pick up something. I’ll wait for you in the car.”
Using, Julia’s car, we drove to where I lived. I went in and selected some suits, shirts, socks, and underwear. Then, went back to where she was waiting.
At Julia’s house, she and I watched TV in the bedroom. Then, she put some sheets, a blanket, and a pillow on the couch in the living room. The last words she a uttered before going to her bedroom were “that hideous woman is not going to come between us.”
In the morning Julia and I prepared for work. We left the house at the same time; she went to her job, and I went to mine.
In the afternoon, I took time off to visit Ellen at the hospital. Back at work, I felt fortunate that Julia had not tried to call me during the time that I had been out. She did, however, call ten minutes after I returned. It was obvious that she was checking up. I felt smug. I had gotten away with something!
The next day, I left work half an hour early so that I could go to the hospital before showing up at Julia’s house. I arrived at her home about half an hour later than I normally would have.
“Where have you been?” she wanted to know.
“Something came up. I left work a little later than usual.”
“Liar!” She shrieked. “I was over at Wilson a little while ago and saw your car parked on the street. You went to see that freak!”
I could have kicked myself for having parked so openly on the street. I could have parked in the parking garage and been safe from discovery.
“All right, I lied,” I admitted. “But it’s only right that I should visit Ellen. She was, after all, the mother of our child!”
“How would you like it if you saw my car in front of Dr. Marshall’s house? How would you feel? This is what you have done to me. Don’t you see that? Do this one more time, and you’ll regret it. Beware, Richard!”
I resolved to be more careful. The next day, I went to see Ellen during the afternoon. I told the office secretary that if Julia called, she should say that I had been called to a meeting, and that I would be right back. Ginny retorted that she would not do this. She made it clear that she would not lie for me! Fortunately, Julia did not call while I was away.
Over the next several days, my trips to see Ellen were randomized during the day. At the hospital, these visits lasted only ten minutes or less. I was out of the office for only about forty-five minutes at a time. Julia would call several times during the day. When I was out, Ginny would tell her that I was out, but would probably be right back. In the evening when Julia asked me where I had been, I would mention the bathroom, or something vague like the lab or file room.
Somehow, the two weeks went by without Julia discovering that I had violated her edict about seeing Ellen. I was, however, required, to sleep on the couch at her home during the entire time. I thought this kind of surveillance had ended when I told Julia that Ellen had been discharged from the hospital. I hadn’t expected her next move.
“You’re moving in, Richard,” she said.
“You heard me!”
“I’m doing nothing of the kind! We’re not ready for this!”
“You can’t be trusted! I believe you may be thinking of going back to mama. Aren’t you?”
“We’ve talked about it.”
“You know, of course, that you would lose me!”
“Why would you trade a funky creep like her for a woman with class like me?”
“Because I think I have come to my senses!”
“Explain that, idiot!”
“When I asked you for that first date, I made an error of judgment.”
“I was more concerned with your face and shape than with your character!”
She raged as I packed the few things I had in her house and went back to my apartment to do some serious thinking.