Thursday, March 1, 2018

Her Potbellied Stud in Canada

Linda wakes at 8:40 and notes, with great ambivalence, that she’s still apparently alive. No one she knows gets up this late, but none go to bed after 1 a.m. every night, as she does. The first moments of wakefulness, before the ambivalence sets in, are usually the best of the whole day for her. After almost eight hours of her being in it, her bed is the warmest, most comfortable place on earth. But then she remembers last night, and there’s no bed on earth cozy enough to enable her to push the harsh words she and Joe snarled at each other out of her mind. “Don’t do this!” she tells herself, but of course she does it anyway — starts rehearsing her rebuttals to the cruel things Joe is likely to say again today. 

They spoke last night, at a high volume, of their pulling the plug on their marriage, as Linda has indeed pulled it a couple of times before. After five years together, she thought she could no longer bear the professional frustration she was suffering in Joe's native New Zealand, and returned to Vancouver, only to find that, without him, she felt as though a part of her had been amputated. Four more years passed, and then Joe was in his car crash, which left him paralysed below the waist, almost comatose with depression, and both incapable of and uninterested in sex. Linda, 41, at the time, decided that she had only one life, and told Joe she was going back to Vancouver, just for three weeks this time, for a week of sexual tourism with an old boyfriend, Carl. She’d hoped the sexual tourism part might make Joe laugh. It did not. She’d had the best sex of her life with Carl, though no other part of their relationship had been terrific. Joe was hurt and furious, but agreed, after hours of roared and shrieked recriminations back and forth, that it wasn’t fair that Linda should have to reconcile herself to never fucking again because of his paralysis. For the two weeks before she left for Seattle, though, the dread of losing her made him forget his gracious accession, and it seemed to Linda as though they did nothing but shriek at each other, and then sob, holding onto to each other for dear life.

Arriving in Seattle, Linda learned that Joe had figured out Carl’s identity via Facebook, and had sent him what Carl thought might be the cruellest message in the history of digital communication. Linda used that as an excuse not to fuck Carl after all. He’d grown himself a belly, unseen during their Facebook Messenger video chats, and bellies turned Linda off no less than horrid personal hygiene. She wrote Joe every morning from the Starbucks where she had coffee after her morning run, telling him she adored him. When he hadn’t replied after 11 days, she smoked some very potent weed with Carl — weed had always made her horny — and fucked him, belly or no belly, and it was pretty close to sensational. 

She nonetheless returned to New Zealand, as she’d promised she would. She arrived home to find Joe drunk and pointedly not speaking to her, but the two of them were able after several days to pretend that none of it had happened. Joe emerged from his depression and started making a lot of phone calls and sending a lot of emails, and returned to work as an investment counsellor. He got a high-end mobility scooter. He got his Subaru SUV customised so that he Linda didn’t have to drive him around. Linda was home all day alone with his chocolate Lab Barney. She’d never been an animal person, didn’t particularly bond with Barney, and sometimes resented being responsible for him. Joe looked into taking Barney to the office with him, but his boss declined. 

Within six months, Joe was his firm’s most in-demand counsellor. Linda — and Barney — saw less and less of him, as at least three nights a week he’d take new or prospective clients out to dinner after being all day at the office. The night Joe came home not in his own car, but in a taxi (he’d had three vodka martinis), Barnaby had shat on the living room rug while Linda was up in her study working. She told Joe she’d never wanted to be a dogsitter, and would appreciate Joe’s making other arrangements for Barney’s care if he was going to continue to be so busy with work. Joe infuriated her by pointing out that Barney wouldn’t have soiled the living room rug if Linda had remembered to let him into the garden periodically. He wondered what sort of asshole can’t muster some love for a dog as lovely as Barney, and if it might be time to draw a line under their relationship. Linda assured him she had indeed done let Barney out, and suggested that Joe fuck himself. She pointed out that his half-sister Cherie, with her knack for psychodramatising every get-together, wasn’t the only mean drunk in his family, and Joe told her maybe she ought to go back to her potbellied stud in Canada. Linda couldn’t help but laugh at that, though she didn’t want to give Joe the satisfaction, and it could have been that wonderful moment when two people who mostly love each other laugh together at the fact of their fighting, but Linda laughed alone. 

No comments:

Post a Comment