Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Noose--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Tuesday, January 15

     Raymond and I had lunch at a sushi bar. We’d gone to a Seventh-day Adventist elementary school together and, roughly eighteen years ago, I’d written a newspaper story about how he was serving prison time for murdering his mother even though his sister and her boyfriend did it. Raymond had been up for appeal when my story ran and my piece helped him get out.
     Raymond, now a sales rep, looked great. His prison-pumped body, minus the tattoos, nicely filled out his dress pants and blazer. He was still married to Marcy, an average-looking woman who was six years older than him. She had begun dating Raymond while he was incarcerated.
     “How did you and Marcy start dating while you were in prison?” I asked.
     “My cellmate had a girlfriend who I’d see when she came to visit. She was friends with Marcy, and she told Marcy to start writing me.”
     “You two still happy?”
     Raymond shrugged. “We’re alright.”
     “How’s Donna?” Donna was Raymond’s youngest sister. Not the one who strangled their mother.
      “She married some guy. They moved to Florida. The guy’s a geek, but I guess he’s good to her. She and I don’t talk much. I had an affair with one of her friends and she got pretty mad about it. She told me if I didn’t tell Marcy, she was going to tell her. So I told.
     “The affair was wrong,” he continued. “But my marriage wasn’t good. Isn't good. When I got out of prison, Marcy began worrying that I was going to find someone younger than her. I gave her no reason to worry. I was faithful. But she was obsessed. She started accusing me of cheating. Accused me for years. I never cheated until Donna’s friend came along. I figured what the hell, she’s been accusing me of it for years.
     “Then Marcy began telling our friends I’d been in prison. I had created a whole new life for myself. I wanted no connection with my past. And she blew it up. It backfired on her, though. I showed our friends the story you wrote. No one dropped me as a friend.
     “She’s been threatening to tell my co-workers and clients for years, though,” Raymond said. “She says if I ever leave, she’ll do it. She’s got a noose around my neck. I keep telling myself that Marcy is a good mother. That our son needs her. It’s the only thing that gets me through.”
     “I know what that’s like,” I said. I told Raymond about my marriage.
     “Your husband’s an idiot,” Raymond shouted. “Look at you.” He shook his head. “I know a couple of guys whose marriages were ruined by porn. They were married to great women. One guy, his wife was hot, he couldn’t have sex with her anymore. He couldn’t get it up for normal sex period. I won’t look at that shit.”
     “Ever see Lisa?” That was the sister who did kill their mother. Lisa had testified against Raymond, perjuring herself to get a reduced sentence. She’d gotten out of prison on a technicality years before Raymond.
     “She lives forty-five miles away from me. She and her husband, Rocco, have three girls now. I took my son, Kelen, to meet his cousins once. Kelen was thrilled. But I don’t want her in my life. Nothing good could ever come of it.
     “She used to live in Indiana but moved back to Illinois after feuding with a neighbor. Lisa’s neighbor started digging around and dug up Lisa’s past. Lisa moved her family back here fast. Her daughters don’t know. They’re living in a crummy little apartment now. Lisa’s working as a headhunter, but she isn’t doing well.”
     A headhunter.

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