4 - Terrorists
“Daddy feels you don’t visit us enough,” she said. “We’re not getting any younger you know, why can’t you come and visit us more often?” There are terrorists in this third cup of coffee, terrorists that may push me out into the street and force me to climb the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge screaming enough, enough, enough! My neighbor Mary thinks that the Arab guys that run the taxi and limousine service downstairs are terrorists. They spend half their time tinkering beneath the hoods of their cars and the rest of the time watching TV in the back of the store. They don’t speak English, they wear pointy shoes, their taxis never seem to go out on calls. I don’t care. I am too busy trying to co-exist with the terrorists that live between my ears. Once I went to bed with an Arab guy who told me could come five times in a night, he lied, he lied big time. In the morning he pulled a thick gold ring out of his pocket and put it on the fourth finger of his left hand. “Look what I have,” he said, and now the terrorists have planted a married man right in the middle of his life.
When we look at each other the air between us crackles and pops. He tells me his wife is a wonderful person but they have been together ten years and the magic is gone. He says I’m stunning and make him feel like a teenager with his first crush. I meet his wife at the health club and am surprised at how pretty and nice she is. The next time I see him at the bar I tell him an affair is out of the question, his wife seems very lovely and I’m not one to muck around in other people’s lives. He tells me we are artists, we don’t live in a world of categories. He says it is no accident he and I have met and no one belongs to anyone else. I agree with him about the no one belongs to anyone else part and then I think about how a woman who does it with a married man is considered a harlot, a house wrecker, but a man who does it with a married woman is considered to be doing her a favor. Before my married suitor leaves the bar he gives me a light kiss on the mouth and whispers, “please, please.”
I have only once knowingly gone to bed with a married man. My best friend Sheilah’s husband had been after me for three years. He dropped in once when I was very down in the dumps, he promised she would never know. He pounded away so hard on top of me I thought he would break me in two. Every thrust sent stronger waves of nausea, guilt and shame through me. I had betrayed my best friend for a lousy fuck. After they were divorced she told me he confessed he had seduced all her friends but that I was the one who had resisted the longest. I did not feel redeemed.
Could I be even more desperate now then I was then? Could I ever be content sweeping the crumbs from another woman’s table? I find myself lying in bed thinking about my married suitor. He’s stocky, has a strong back, solid haunches, a stallion. I wonder if he would let me spank him. He comes into the bar with a book of my poems he has brought. I inscribe it “Why not?” and add my phone number.
The next day I come home from work and find a letter from my landlord saying he had information saying I have built an illegal loft bed and I must tear it out immediately. The terrorist impersonating my mother calls and tells me my father’s hernia operation wasn’t successful and has to be done over again. Can I come down like I did last month for the first operation and help them through it? I go up to the video store, to get a tape, a movie to cheer me up ( name movie) but when I get back I am so despondent I don’t even have the will to put it in the VCR. I am eating a pint of double chocolate frozen yogurt when the phone rings. I pick it up and a female voice I don’t recognize says,
“I don’t like what you wrote, you ugly bitch, your breasts hang down like pancakes and I may just flatten them. You have a face like a dog.” I was horrified into silence. Could this be some lunatic who was offended by something I wrote in one of my articles for Downtown and how did the lunatic get my unlisted phone number? The disembodied voice floated like an oil
slick out into my room.
“Stay away from my man, stay away from my man, stay away from my man, you ugly slut or I’ll kick in your face,” she sang to the tune of “Happy Birthday.” Then she slammed the receiver down. I recognized the voice of the pretty woman I had met in the health club, the wife. She had gotten hold of the book I had signed for the husband. Is this woman a total nut case or had she seen Fatal Attraction one time too many? Is the husband a womanizer? Does he get off on women fighting over him? Did he set this up? I toy with going against my principles and screwing a married man and the terrorists blow me away. I tell myself I’m lucky I didn’t do it with him, but this was a warning. I got off easy, but I am badly shaken.
It is no picnic living in a world that still forces so many women to find their validity through identification with a man. At least I have my typewriter. It does not keep me warm in bed at night, but it is the only weapon I know how to use to flush out terrorists, expose them and beat them at their own game.