“Marcella, what are you doing?” I sat all the way up. The way she jumped into action scared the living daylights out of me.
“I’m calling the police, Zoe. You need protection.”
“No!”I sprang to my feet, and a sharp pain struck me in my side. “Put the phone down!”
“Zoe, you’ve got to go to the police. He tried to kill you. What makes you think he won’t come after you again?”
I wrestled the phone from her hand and replaced it on the cradle. The irony of it all hit me. Less than three weeks before, Brina and I had the same argument, but she had been the one begging me not to call the police. Was I setting up my own untimely demise, just like she did?
“Please, Marcella. I really need to talk. After I’ve told you everything, if you still think I should call the police, I won’t argue with you. Right now, I just really need a friend.” I gazed into her eyes, hoping she would go along.
“Okay, Zoe.” She got out her pad, pen, and tape recorder while I went and lay back down on the chaise. She sat down in the wing chair beside it. “Let’s talk!”
I ended up doing all the talking. I spent the next hour telling her everything that had happened since I stormed out of her office. I told her about how I left with the intention of going to talk to Brina but found nothing except her body full of stab wounds and her blood splattered everywhere. I told her about Dempsey, how I pulled a switchblade on him that one time, and how the police had had no luck in tracking him down since the murder.
I told her how I had decided to go against her advice and try to end all the affairs at one time instead of gradually. I told her about all the shit I had endured since the sun came up that morning, and all the things I feared might happen before the sun went down that night. I told her about the confrontation with Tyson and Dusty and how a fight ensued between the two of us. I told her about my confrontation with Quinton and how he had shocked me by kicking me to the curb after he had a luncheon meeting with my husband. I told her about the confrontation between Quinton and Tyson after Tyson followed me there and tried to strangle me to death in the hallway.
I told her about the ultimate and last confrontation with all three of my lovers in the hallway. I told her about the sexual experiences I had with Diamond after her continual insistence that I try bumping coochies. I told her how I didn’t like it at all and never even touched Diamond but just let her touch me. I told her how my need for affection had gone over the edge and that I regretted that situation most of all, because I was not and had never been attracted to women.
I told her that I would keep my eyes closed the majority of the time I was with any of them, imagining thattheir hands and tongues and dicks and other body parts really belonged to Jason, the only true love I had ever known.
Marcella listened intently and never interrupted me once. I felt much more relaxed after I let it all out and realized the explanation of what had been going on was more for my benefit than hers. As I listened to myself speak the words, it became all to clear to me what had to be done. So when she asked the question, I was quick with my reply.
She put her pad down, cut the recorder off, and then reached out to caress my hand. “Zoe, you do realize that if there is ever to be any happiness or hope for your marriage, you’ve got to tell your husband everything? You’ve got to tell Jason!”
I looked over at her and whispered, “I know.”
Marcella lent me some clothes she kept in a duffel bag for working out at her gym three nights a week. The sweatpants were a size too big for me, and the T-shirt swallowed me up, but I didn’t care. I simply couldn’t face Jason with torn and battered clothing. I needed to maintain a slight air of dignity. Her tennis shoes were a perfect fit, though, so I didn’t have to wear my heels with the sports clothing.
She was such a sweetheart, even trying to insist she go with me to hold my hand while I told him. I refused; it was something I had to do alone. We went to the ladies’ lounge, where she helped me fix my hair and touch up my makeup, which was smeared all over my face. The marks on my neck were horrendous. She used some cake makeup to try to make them less startling.
I called Jason’s office to tell him I was going to catch a cab over. I wanted to make sure I caught him before he headed home, so we could drive somewhere and talkwithout the kids being present. His secretary said he had someone in his office and was adamant about not being disturbed by anyone. I started to tell her I was the exception, which she should have already known, but elected to have her inform Jason not to leave until I got there.
The next call was to my mother, who was already at the house with the kids, having picked them up from school shortly after three.
I asked her if she could stay late, because Jason and I had decided to have dinner in the city and possibly take in a movie, and she agreed. After I hung up the phone, I felt guilty about all of the lies I had told my mother. She was one of my many victims, along with my husband, my kids, and my lovers. I had no idea how I was going to admit all my appalling deeds to her—I would cross that bridge when I got to it.
Jason was the matter at hand, and one of two things would be the result of confessing all my sins. He would either believe I never meant to hurt him, realize I had an illness, and stick by my side throughout the recovery process, or he would leave, which was a fate worse than death to me.
Marcella called me a cab. While I was waiting, I asked if she was a religious woman. She smiled and told me how she had grown up in the church and was a true Christian. I told her I didn’t have much experience with religion but did believe in God and asked if she would teach me how to pray. We both got on our knees, leaned our elbows on the chaise, clasped our fingers, and prayed for my salvation.
On the way to Jason’s architectural-firm, I stared out the window of the cab at all the people in a hurry to get the hell away from work. It was just after five, and the rush-hour pandemonium had begun. I asked the cabdriver if he could speed it up, because I was in a hurry. He cursed under his breath at me in some foreign language but did get a bit more aggressive with his driving.
After all the years of hiding things from him, going way back to our childhood, I was anxious to clear the air. Jason was the one person I should’ve revealed everything to from jump. If I had, none of the other events would have happened in the first place. There would’ve never been an affair, rather less affairs, and my marriage would never have been in jeopardy.
I was hoping Jason would understand. I believed in my heart he would, if I could only get him alone somewhere and explain it to him in my own way. Maybe I would takehim back out to the observatory or the inn at the lake, since those were the sites of our most recent pleasant memories. No matter where I did it, it had to be done. I was prepared to face the consequences of my actions.
When we got about four blocks from Jason’s office, I noticed the flashing police lights ahead and wondered what had happened. The cab driver was stuck in heavy traffic, so I decided to pay him and trek the rest of the way on foot. I walked toward the office, slowly at first, but broke into a run when I saw Jason being handcuffed. By the time I covered the three remaining blocks, they had already put Jason in a squad car and driven off. I was out of breath and in a state of panic.
I spotted Jason’s secretary, Allison, standing on the steps and rushed up to her. “What happened? Where are they taking Jason?” She glared at me, gritting her teeth, and crossed her arms in front on her. “Why are you ignoring me? Where the hell are they taking my husband?”
“You know, you have a good man and don’t know how to treat him.” She rolled her eyes at me before continuing. “The rest of us spend our entire lives trying to find a good man. It’s women like you that ruin it for the rest of us.”
I wanted to slap the shit out of her but just got up in her face instead. “Listen, I don’t know what you’re talking about, nor do I give a shit. I asked you a question, and I would like a fuckin’ answer. Now, what the hell happened here?”
“Fine, I’ll tell you what happened. When you called earlier, and I told you Jason had someone in his office, that someone was your lover.” My mouth fell open. She sucked her teeth and added, “You’re such a tramp!”
I went ballistic, grabbed her by the shoulders, and started shaking her. “What lover? What the hell are you talking about?”
My immediate thought was that Quinton had changed his mind and broken his word to me about not telling Jason. I figured he told him out of anger or to protect him from my evil ways. It was apparent at the loft he felt more sorry for Jason than for me. I realized my mistake when Allison pointed to the other squad car that was still parked out front with the lights on. Tyson was seated in the back with handcuffs on.
I left Allison standing there along with other members of the staff, including one of Jason’s partners, who was shaking his head in disgust at me, and walked slowly over to the police car, wondering how the hell Tyson knew where to find Jason in the first place. Then I recalled the creaking exit door at the beginning of my confrontation with Quinton and realized he must’ve heard Quinton talking about Jason, including the location of his office.