The Way of a Man with a Neighbor (Excerpt)
September 2, 2013
I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. I’m sure you’re surprised to hear from me after all this time (eight years; my god, time has wings!) since you likely didn’t expect to ever hear from me again. Well, my circumstances have changed, and are continuing to change. More on that in a few lines…
I’m handwriting this letter because to be perfectly honest, due to my current circumstances I don’t have faith in my privacy. I fear anything I might send to you via phone or email or electronic message would be traced or intercepted, to my detriment. And anyway, you always said that handwriting is becoming a lost art; yet another elegance changing times are erasing from our culture. So, my explanation…
We had a housekeeper. Her name is Florencia. I didn’t know her well because He hired and managed all our help. Florencia took care of our house in Vernon Hills and the apartment in the city. The way He scheduled her workdays were typically so that she cleaned whichever residence we weren’t in the day after we left for the other residence or to leave town. Well, we’d been out at the house for a couple of days, and as usual Florencia had cleaned the apartment the day after we left there. She had no reason to go back to the apartment on the second day, except on this occasion she’d left her phone in the apartment. So she went back the day after she’d cleaned the apartment to retrieve it. What I’m about to tell you Susan, I know because Florencia called to inform me. That’s why my circumstances have changed. It’s why after all this time I’m able to contact you again, though for the time being it must be by letter, until all legal matters are settled. That’s right, legal matters. I’ve filed for divorce.
So what did Florencia tell me?
First let me say that on the evening of the second day after Florencia cleaned the apartment He told me that He’d fired her because He caught her in the apartment going through my jewelry box. I had no reason to doubt Him. After all, I hardly knew the woman. But the week after He fired her she called me. She told me quite a different version of the story behind His reason for letting her go.
Florencia told me that on the day she took care of the apartment, which was a Monday, she was cleaning the master bath when she received a call from her daughter. She told me she’d always had terrible luck with her cell phones, that if she had one anywhere near water she was bound to drop it in and ruin it. So when her daughter called she placed her phone on the nightstand in the bedroom on speaker and talked while she cleaned the bathroom. After the call she forgot her phone, and didn’t realize she’d left it in our bedroom until later that night when she was home. She decided to go back the next day to retrieve it. She told me she didn’t think it would be a problem since He would be at work and I’d be at the house in Vernon Hills. Well, when she entered the apartment all was not as she’d expected.
Florencia told me as soon as she entered the apartment she heard a noise coming from the kitchen. She said it sounded like someone putting ice cubes in a glass. She thought it must be me or Him, so she went to the kitchen to let us know she was there and why. But as she was approaching the kitchen someone walked out, heading for the bedroom. It was a woman, carrying one of my glass bowls, filled with ice cubes. Florencia was startled, not only because it was some strange woman, but because this woman was dressed in what she described as what looked like a black leather or rubber costume, like Catwoman. When the woman saw her she was surprised, but then smiled. Florencia told me this woman said something to her like, “Let me guess; you’re not the wife, and you’re not here to play with us.” Then Florencia heard a noise come from our bedroom. A loud thump, she said, followed by a moan. Thinking something was amiss she ran to the bedroom.
He was in the bedroom, Susan. Florencia said He must have been on the bed, heard the woman talking to someone, and tried to get off the bed, maybe to hide. He fell off the bed because His wrists and ankles were buckled to what Florencia described as a barbell bar. I think she was trying to describe to me a spreader bar (I think you know what that is). And He was naked, Susan, and had a ball gag in his mouth. Florencia told me there were things on the bed—sex toys. To quote Florencia, the were the kinds of toys lonely women use. Even writing those words fill my thoughts and emotions with the putrid bile of disappointment and disgust.
Do you see the picture I’ve painted, Susan? For me the image is much clearer, because I’ve had ten years of experience being married to Him. I’ve had clues right under my nose, but I needed this revelation to make the way things really are crystallize. He is a fraud, in perhaps the worse sense. Thus, my filing for divorce.
In addition to being a fraud He is also a bastard, so I have a tough legal battle ahead. He has money and power, and will use all His resources in His attempt to punish me for having the courage (audacity in His mind) to leave Him. But I don’t care. He could have had everything from me any man could want. I did give Him everything He requested or demanded, without question. But after ten years I’ve learned that He was never truly a man. I don’t care about His anger but I must be careful, because His attorneys are bastards, too. That’s why I’m contacting you by letter.
I was relieved to learn that you’re still at the university so I was able to obtain your office mailing address. I’ve set up a post office box (I’ve included the address in the postscript). If you still care for me at all and wish to reply, please do so by letter to that address. If you don’t I’ll understand. Though our parting was His mandate, I know I hurt you. And I know it’s been eight years. I do hope and pray you’ll write me back.
COMING SUMMER 2015