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VERA PACED, stomped and cried around the entire downstairs waiting for Sam’s car to pull into the drive way. She looked out the window over and over and then stomped, cried and paced again. God only knew what she would say when Sam came home. Last night had seemed a forever without him. He had never stayed out all night before.
Finally, Sam opened the front door.
“Where the hell were you last night? I was worried sick and haven’t slept a bit,” Vera blurted.
“I thought we agreed that we would have an open relationship now like the ones on Dr. Phil and that the new rules did not include interrogation about the other’s whereabouts.”
“It’s just so hard not to worry — you’ve always come home before. Forty years is a long time to just up and make this change.”
“Well, if you need to know that bad I’ll tell ya this one time and then don’t be asking again. I was passed out in Frank’s back yard all night sleeping with the dog and that dog was no big turn on licking my face at crack of dawn.”
“You are not funny, Sam.”
“What did you do all night?”
“Surfed the net — found a few new sites.”
“Anything interesting you might want to share?”
“Well, Plenty of Fish was one but it was just like it said, fishy guys — lots of carp. Some had no teeth. Some had tattoos and one had a pack of cigarettes in his sleeve.” Vera laughed when she told him this bit. Sam was stone faced.
“Try, ‘It’s never too late’ if you want an eye full of treasures. Cellulite, saggy bits and wigs was all I could find there. Then there’s Date a Mate. There’s some beauties way past their prime on that one.”
Sam followed Vera into the kitchen and sat down. Neither knew what to say next.
Vera spoke first: “Do you remember how you found me?”
“Sure do. We were in grade nine and the homeroom teacher put your locker next to mine and that was set for the next five years. They used the alphabet back then and no new locker till you was done and graduated.”
“Well, I think it was karma we were side by side all them years not the alphabet.”
“I tried to switch with Jimmy Falcon but I was stuck beside you like it or not.”
“You liked it enough when you borrowed my homework everyday.”
“Guess I got used to seeing your face in the morning way back then.”
“So, you still thinking of this open marriage thing?”
“To tell you the truth I just got real loaded last night thinking about you being with someone else. It made me nuts to imagine you doing it with another guy, so I drank myself stupid.”
“I cried all night thinking you had a new playmate to take your clothes off with. You have been my one and only and I didn’t want anyone else doing anything with you.”
“Forty years with the same person is a long time but not so long if you ‘love the one you’re with’ as that song goes but it’s got boring Vera.”
“Remember, we said till death not boredom do us part. Do you still love me Frank, or are you looking for something new and better?”
“I am not sure. Things have just got so routine — you know once a week Saturday night is how it’s been for us since the kids left. We used to sneak in a time or even two in one day when the kids lived here and they weren’t looking. I really liked the laundry room.”
“I liked the tool shed when they were in the pool. It kinda’ felt like the first time — made me real horny.”
“That Dr. Phil show about open marriage made me think that a hot time now and then with someone else would be the ticket and maybe help us too . . . rev it up a bit.”
“We’ve got through some really tough stuff before, Sam. We could change to Wednesday or maybe Friday?”
Sam rolled his eyes.
Vera continued. “We waited so long to get married and save ourselves. Remember, it almost killed us to get through the wedding and reception to get to the motel. Why can’t we get that feeling back?”
“We came pretty close to going all the way the last year we dated as I recall. That night parking along the canal, the month before the wedding, we would have done it except for that passing freighter that turned its deck lights on us. Your Mother didn’t like the wrinkles in your skirts when I dropped you off. Why in hell did we wait till after we were married anyway?”
“Waiting was supposed to make love stronger and longer lasting and God wanted us to be virgins. I think it was just so we wouldn’t get knocked up. Remember those girls sent out west to visit their aunts? Everybody knew they had babies out there cause they didn’t wait.”
“So now what?” Frank asked.
Frank looked toward the front door where a suitcase stood. It hadn’t been there when he had left the night before.
“If we’re done, let’s do it and not drag it out,” Vera said.
“What about what’s on our rings ‘one plus one equals one forever?’”
“The writings worn away just like us Frank.”
“OK. Let’s flip a coin. Heads we stay put and tails we don’t?”
Vera nodded. The first flip was tails, the second heads. On the third flip the coin dropped on the floor and rolled down the register clanking as it went. Vera walked to the door and took the suitcase. She did not look back at Sam.
A few minutes later she came back to get the car keys she had forgot. Sam was hunched over the kitchen table. His shoulders shook as he sobbed, loud and hard.
“Let’s settle this,” Vera said.
She took off her blouse, her skirt and her undies.
“Right here on the table Sam. We never did it here before. It’ll be like the first time.”
Sam got up and lifted Vera onto the table and obliged.
That was the beginning of many firsts, including a night on the canal bank outside under the stars. No freighter came by that night.
They never watched Dr. Phil again.