Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Mistress (Short-story- fiction)

It was just after five o clock. Arthur finally relaxed. It had been a long and grueling day. He loosened his tie and sighed before collapsing on his plush chair. Despite his weariness, he felt elated. The takeover had been a success. His bank now would be the largest in the city if not in the state, and he would make millions. His shares would fetch him a fortune when the rest of the city learnt about the takeover. With these thoughts in mind, he gazed out of his window savoring the moment.  His phone rang. It was Carla. "Hello Honey!", he said in a joyous voice.
 "Hello Darling, are you gonna stop by later?"
  "I promised I'd take Michele to dinner sweetheart. I'm afraid I cannot. I'll take you away this weekend.     I promise"
  Carla sighed. Arthur felt uncomfortable. To hell with it! he thought.
  " I will stop by on my way. I'm coming.", He said.
  "I will be waiting", Carla purred like a satisfied cat.
New plans for the evening. He thought. He got up, left the office, hailed a taxi and asked the driver to take him to 21st and third.
Arthur was a successful banker. He had also been a devoted husband and had never laid his eyes upon another woman after marrying Michele. That was until six months ago. Six months ago, he had met Carla at a party thrown by one of his banker friends. Though he had come to the party with his wife, his eyes kept searching for Carla. That night, he had felt really uncomfortable and was full of guile. He loved his wife. She had borne him two children. She was everything he had always  wanted. But lately, his marriage was not going that well. He had started spending more time at the bank and had paid little attention to her. His wife failed to show any enthusiasm as his successes grew. It irritated him. When they slept together at night, they just slept.  She still waited for him to come home every night before she had dinner, but the dinners usually were silent and neither of them spoke as much as they used to.
Also, his wife was nearly forty and had lost her looks. Arthur himself was forty-two. But he had remained in shape by exercising regularly and he looked no older than thirty-five. Carla was twenty-seven. She was a beauty. Her long brunette hair was shiny and soft. Her rainbow eye-brows, perfectly shaped nose and thin lips would always turn heads. Her body was slim and perfectly proportioned. In short, she was the ideal mistress for any successful guy going through a bad marriage.

Arthur paid the fare and got out of the taxi. He climbed the stairs and rang Carla's doorbell.
She answered it at once. He walked into her apartment and told her about his day at the bank over a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Carla was wearing a black negligee and looked gorgeous. He devoured her with his eyes. She didn't miss it. After spending an hour with her doing things steamier than the hot chocolate, he got ready to leave. "We'll go away for the weekend darling. I promise. But I must get back now. Also, I have a surprise for you!"
"Oh Arthur! I love you!", She said and kissed him on the lips.
When he finally reached home, his wife was waiting impatiently and he apologized nervously. "Those damned lawyers would not let me go! They kept going over every single line and I really couldn't leave. I'll make it up to you!"

He showered and dressed quickly. Around eight, they went to the Brundage's and the maitre de' showed them to their table. The evening passed amiably. His wife didn't seem to mind his delay and Arthur was just glad that she didn't ask him too many questions. After talking about the bank and the takeover, he had nothing left to say. Michele talked about getting some new furniture, re-modeling the drawing room and other trivia. He pretended to listen. When they were leaving, he took her to a jewelry store and bought her a magnificent string of pearls. Michele was genuinely surprised but very pleased and kissed him on the cheek and hugged him.

When the weekend came, Michele told him that she would go and visit her mother in Florida. He was delighted but said faking utmost sincerity, "I was hoping you'd join me for a trip to Vermont. I have a lot of meetings to attend there but I thought we could have a little time for ourselves."
"I'm sorry Arthur. I already told mother I'd come and she'll be expecting me."
"We'll go on a long vacation next month my darling. I have it all planned out. I'm taking you to Lausanne and We'll spend a month there."
She smiled and kissed him. "Take care."
"You too".
Once she had left, he dressed and asked Carla to meet him at the airport. In precisely one hour, they were on a plane to Vermont. After they had checked into the hotel under false names, they spent the rest of the day in bed but neither of them slept. The next morning, Arthur went to his bank's branch and got some paperwork out of the way. He returned to their suite around mid-day and they spent the rest of the weekend dining out, partying, skiing and taking long walks. Arthur felt like a teenager when he was with Carla.

When he returned home on Monday, he went straight to the bank. The takeover had made him a multimillionaire and though he had always been well-to-do, he began to think of himself as "rich" for the first time. The day passed as usual and he answered all the congratulatory letters he had received over the weekend feeling happy and buoyant. He even bought flowers to his wife while going home. When he arrived at the gate, Michele was waiting for him. He handed her the flowers and she took them brusquely. She didn't smile or in fact make any gesture of acknowledgement. He started rambling about how good the day had been and of the important position his bank was now in. She lead him directly to the living room and sat down on the sofa. She looked at him like a cop looking at a suspect.
"Arthur, sit down. I have something I must ask you."
He felt dread when he heard those words. He slowly sat down and was unable to meet her eyes. Thoughts were racing through his mind. had she found out about his mistress? what would he do now? Or was it something else she wanted to ask him?. He felt like a young school boy caught in 
wrong-doing and waiting outside the Principal's office. All his exuberance had vanished.
"How long have you and Carla been sleeping together?"
He felt as if someone had punched him in the face. He tried to breathe and relax, but his heart was pounding and he began to  sweat. For several moments, he could not speak. He took out his handkerchief with a shaking hand and wiped the sweat off his brow. She knew. How did she know? he had been careful. He had missed something. It was all over. He decided that the best thing to do would be to tell her everything and beg her to forgive him.
"Six months", He whispered and covered his face in his hands.
He told her the whole story. And when he had finished he begged her to forgive him.Michele did not speak at first. She considered him for a moment and then said acidly,
" I am afraid this marriage is over Arthur" and left without a word.
A month and a half later, Arthur and Michele were divorced. Arthur's guilty conscience had gnawed at his soul and he had given away millions of dollars to her as compensation and alimony. It still did not bring him peace. Michele moved to Florida and settled there permanently.

On a lovely sunday afternoon, Carla showed up at Michele's new summer home. She was taken directly to Michele by the butler. The butler left quickly. Michele took out her checkbook and wrote out a sum of ten million dollars to Carla and silently handed it to her. Carla accepted it without a word and carefully placed it inside her purse. Michele then poured Carla a drink.
Michele said," I could never have done it without you. Cheers."