The bullet came out of the gun before I could even think about it, and he fell on the floor. Blood started running towards me, and then back into his body.
I had said I didn’t want to be with him anymore and I said I was sorry but he just wouldn’t listen. He tried to convince me about giving him another chance. How many chances can someone ask for? And how many is the normal person willing to give?
When I entered the room she was there, on top of him on the sofa. We had talked about this before, I knew our ‘thing’ was dead already. He thought of me like a kid who wouldn’t understand the ‘big people’ issues. I understood exactly, even better than him, that when a relationship is destined to fail, there is nothing to do about it.
I got out of the office early. My boss seemed to be having a good week because he canceled the Friday night meeting and had canceled the Thursday lunch meeting also. So, I had two options, go home and spend the night staring blankly at Jake’s empty eyes, or have a drink alone. I preferred the first one because I really hate to sit alone at a bar.
My desk was clear before I knew it. In part thanks to my great secretary, Elsa, and also to the hands-on attitude I woke up with that morning. There were so many things to do, so many people to call. Hank was the hardest one to talk to, he is no good at telephone conversations and I don’t have much patience for people like him. But thankfully I convinced him that the project would work and that giving us money wasn’t the same as throwing it in the fire.
That morning I got up and didn’t find Jake next to me. He usually stays in bed longer than I do and drags himself out of it to have coffee with me. But he had been acting weird all week and when I asked him what was going on, he would just look at the floor, like that was going to give him an answer. I ignored him and when he didn’t get up for coffee, I didn’t miss him. All I could think of was a reason for him not to be a coward anymore and tell me he wanted to leave me. I would’ve understood.
At night, looking at the popcorn ceiling of my apartment, I read the ending of the romantic novel a friend of mine wrote. The happy ending made me gag, if everybody knows those aren’t real why do they keep writing them? Of course, some people can pull them off, but really, how many can you count? One, two? It leaves me with too many fingers left. And I watched TV, the almighty digital anesthesia for the lonely hearts. Around midnight Jake came in, he didn’t even care about shutting the door quietly anymore, or not stepping too hard on the wooden floor. He kicked his clothes away, took a shower and threw himself on the bed like a corpse. And snored, loudly.
I really hate afternoons, but since my boss had canceled the usual Thursday meeting, I found myself wandering around my office like a stray dog looking for a place to sleep. A cup of coffee later I grabbed my phone, went out to the building’s terrace and called an old friend to try and play catch-up. To my surprise he was visiting the city and was trying to get in contact with me, so we arranged to have coffee. My second coffee of the afternoon. Damian was as charming as always, we talked for hours and the topic of Jake came up. His advice was the same thing I had already thought of so many times, leave while you have the chance.
At lunch I had to meet with some clients, trying to make up for a bad negotiation. The frowns and the mischievous looks were all around. They played their cards, I played mine and a contract with many amends was signed. Smile sarcastically and wave goodbye, that a girl. You always feel a bit like crap, a bit like God, but it works.
It is not easy to work with contractors and having to visit construction sites, but it gives you the advantage of getting out of the office and around the city. An early morning visit to one of the many sites we are developing, and I was off to take a stroll. Jake knew about this, but, as with everything, he doesn’t pay attention to detail or to very large signs with my firm’s name, and we ended up in the same place for a breakfast bite. He didn’t see me but I could see him clearly from where I was sitting. All smiles, touching here and there and a kiss that almost made me spit my orange juice. It was all so cynical and disgusting. She wasn’t half of what I am worth for, a stupid grin on her face, the stupid wavy hair and stupid shiny eyes. I could have walked to them and punch her for being stupid, right then and there, but I knew it wasn’t her fault, it was his, all his.
He drank his coffee with only one eye open, which wasn’t looking at me at all. I asked a hundred times if everything was okay and he just nodded for an answer. Why won’t he talk? If I kept on asking myself I would always get the same answer: because he is a coward. But not getting his answer was really frustrating. I wished I could cut out his tongue, so he’d have a real reason not to answer.
That night before going to bed I thought of my friend Gabrielle. A tall, strong woman that got beat up by her husband. She’d forgive him every time until the day he killed her. Is it worth it, really? It was the saddest funeral of my life, not only because she was dead, but because she let him kill her by not doing what she had to: fight back. It made me angry then and it makes me angry now. But there is nothing I can do for Gabrielle, I can only fight for myself. Not that Jake was the violent type, he was worse, the passive one. The one who shuts his mouth and looks away, making your insides burn.
Driving home back from the office I couldn’t think of anything else but what had happened that afternoon.
When you find a note inside your husband’s trouser with a woman’s name and a phone number, what do you think? Oh, she might be a friend. Yes, a friend I don’t know about. Or maybe she is exactly who she must be, the one that’s keeping him away from his home late at night. I did the last thing I thought I would, I dialed the number hoping to get a voicemail, but to my surprise she answered it. Thanks to my many years working as a telemarketer while I was in college, I pulled it off. Of course she refused the credit card I offered her, even when it was the best offer anyone could get. There I knew that she was not even near my category and it made me even angrier.
During lunch I played around with the little paper note. She hadn’t scribbled her name in an I’m-in-a-hurry way, or the I’m-drunk-here-is-my-numbah way either, it looked well-thought and patiently written. I crushed it in my fist and then finger ironed it flat. It was killing me.
The first thing my secretary asked me that morning was if I was feeling well. I lied and she knew, so she left me to my sick self. I sat behind my desk, not knowing if I wanted to cry, or scream. Then my boss came in and I couldn’t do any of the two.
I woke up very early to do some laundry. Having to fish Jake’s dirty clothes around the apartment and finding from money to bubblegum wraps inside his pockets. I put all his dry cleaning clothes in a bag and threw the rest inside the washing machine before getting coffee. He sat beside me on the dining table in silence. None of us being morning persons, we sat in silence.
But now it wasn’t morning. I had a bad feeling since I parked my car in the garage, something just wasn’t right. The moment I walked through the door I had no chance to think. She was startled by my presence, crying that she didn’t know he lived with someone. Live? I asked. He is married, for heaven’s sake! I shouted and her horrified face looked up at me in plead. I told her to get out as fast as she could and that if I ever saw her again she wouldn’t be sorry, she would be dead. She ran like a coward, of course, and left him to do the begging. Why beg if we both knew it was going to happen? Was he really dumb enough to believe he could pull off an affair and keep it hidden from me? Me, the one that always knew what my present was before unwrapping it. Me, the one that could smell surprise parties from a mile away, in time to ditch them. He asked for another chance and it tasted like a sour candy to me, so I pulled out the gun and before I could wink, he was shot, on the ground, bleeding. He squealed, not even a manly scream, trying to see the wound. Just a flesh wound, nothing too bad. And as I turned my back to him I told him to clean the blood before getting his things and walking out the door.