Saturday, June 25, 2016

NAME OF THE GAME - a short story

Rita used to wait for me at the door of the building where she worked. I would park close to the curb and linger until she came outside. Until that day, our routine was always the same. When I drove up, I noticed a powder-blue Mercedes had taken my usual parking spot. The car's nervous driver, a prepped-out, lawyer type with gelled hair, turned halfway around in his bucket seat to watch Rita leave the office complex.
“Who was that?” I asked.
Rita leaned across the seat and planted a sultry kiss full on my lips. “I didn't see anyone.”
The man in the Mercedes watched us with interest and continued staring at us as we pulled away from the curb.
“Today I want it hot and fast,” she said, turning the rear-view mirror and using it to touch up her lipstick.
“Whatever. How you been?”
Rita crossed her legs, revealing more than a momentary glance of her shapely thighs.
“Beyond irritation,” she said. “Russell came home late after leaving me alone with Jessica. Ever try communicating with a good looking, teenage cheerleader with tits bigger than her mom's?”
My smile was all the answer she needed. “What happened when Russell got home?”
“Absolutely nothing. I even paraded around in my stretch-lace teddy to show him what he was missing.”
Talk of Rita's husband always made me uncomfortable. Sensing my discomfort, she leaned across the console and squeezed my leg. It was late autumn, a beautiful clear-blue day, and Rita’s grin was wicked when I braked hard to avoid a squirrel scurrying across the road.
We barely spoke during the short distance to my apartment. The parking lot was empty, everyone at work, and we soon found a spot near the stairs. Fast and discrete. Just the way Rita liked it. She had her arms around me almost before I could lock the apartment door behind us.
“Miss me?” she asked.
“You know I did.”
“And these?”
She unbuttoned her flocked blouse to the waist and cupped her breasts. I traced a narrow path up her flat stomach with my fingers, but Rita was having none of it. Grabbing my wrist, she pulled me down the narrow hallway to the bedroom in back
Recently divorced, my apartment was small; one bedroom. The apartment was dark, only hazy sunlight shining through an open window. Rita liked the dark, and I didn’t bother turning on the lights
“Let's not waste it.” Releasing my hand beside the bed, she dropped her dress, slip, and bra in one practiced motion, and then fell onto the covers. “Now, I want it hard and fast.”
I’d left the air conditioner on high before leaving for work that morning and the room was cold as it was dark. Rita was neither, her eyes flashing. Already hot after having all the foreplay she’d needed during our lustful stroll from the front door. For the next five minutes, she clawed painful Xs in my back, yanked handfuls of hair from my head, moaned loudly, and squirmed like a woman possessed. When we finished she rolled off the bed, went into the bathroom, and closed the door behind her. She returned shortly, still totally naked, and carried a can of hair spray.
“Hurry,” she said. I have a prospective employee to interview at one. Can’t be late.”
“But we just got here.”
“And did what we came for. Now be a sweetie. You know my job is vital to me.”
As I got out of bed and pulled on my pants, Rita returned to the bathroom to brush her hair. This time she emerged looking ready for an urgent business meeting. Seeing I wasn’t quite ready, she tapped her shoe, waiting as I knotted my tie. Grasping my hand when I finished, she squeezed it and hurried me to the car.
Because of lunch hour traffic, we found the return trip to her job much slower. Rita remained silent most of the way, although I could see she was miffed. She didn’t talk until we were almost there.
“I have a question, and I need an answer.”
“What’s wrong?”
“Does there have to be?”
“It's your voice. You sound. . .”
Rita ignored my psychoanalysis, folded her arms, and turned her knees toward the door.
“Tell me. What's the name of the game?”
“Game? I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”
“The one we're playing.”
I didn’t understand the issue and paused before answering.
“Infidelity, maybe?”
Rita closed her eyes. “This isn't a joke. I need a serious answer.”
A blaring horn distracted me from the unexpected course our conversation had taken. “Have I done something wrong?”
“You've done everything just right, and I've enjoyed every minute of it. Cool drinks in smoky bars, peanut butter picnics in vacant lots and steamy sex in all the ways I love. That’s what our relationship has meant to me. I just want to know what it means to you. Anything?”
“Something exciting and truly memorable. I can't remember having so much fun since I went skinny dipping with the homecoming queen in the principal's pool on graduation night.”
Rita's strained smile flickered briefly. “Now what? It's almost winter. The pool is empty.”
“You're shooting over my head. Is this about Russell? Are you thinking of divorce?”
“Russell's not the problem.”
“But isn't Russell part of the equation? And Jessica?”
“That's not what we're discussing here,” Rita said, her voice rising.
“Then please tell me what we are discussing.”
By now, her demeanor had diminished from silent composure to barely suppressed rage, and I still was not sure why.
“Just let me off in front of the building,” she said.
I coasted into the slow lane and allowed some angry motorists to surge past on the left. “First explain why you're angry with me.”
She had neither a frown nor smile on her face, only the empty expression of quiet frustration as she pointed at the curb in front of her building.
“Pull in and let me out. I never play the game with someone who doesn't follow the rules. You don't even know we're playing.”
She hurried across the busy street without a backwards glance. When I phoned to apologize, she didn’t take my call.
Three days passed, and then a week, without a word from Rita. Finally, no longer able to control my curiosity and hurt feelings, I drove to our old meeting place by her office and parked at the curb. From there, I watched, aware of a sudden rush of déjà vu as she walked out the door at exactly our usual time. I quickly realized why.
Even though she recognized my car as she hurried across the sidewalk, she didn’t look my way or acknowledge my presence. Instead, she focused her smiling attention on a young man in a black BMW as he opened the passenger door to let her in. Once inside, she wrapped herself around him and gave him a sultry kiss. She knew I was looking, and I wondered if her lustful actions had been for my benefit. I never found out.
As they disappeared down the street, I watched the young man cast a curious glance in his rear-view mirror.
END

Born a mile or so from Black Bayou in the little Louisiana town of Vivian, Eric Wilder grew up listening to his grandmother’s tales of politics, corruption and ghosts that haunt the night. He now lives in Oklahoma with wife Marilyn, and continues to pen mysteries and short stories with a southern accent. If you liked Name of the Game, please check out his AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBook author pages.