American Daddy-O

I like too many things and get all confused and hung up running from one falling star to another till I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” —Jack Kerouac

He was a good guy really. As all-American as they come. California classic with the requisite apparel: caps, kayak, and a big white truck. Except something bad had happened. Right in the middle of his life his wife had walked out with his best friend. There went 22 years of marriage, just shattered, just like that.

Tommy. What a tragedy. How can you explain something like that? Three kids, almost out of adolescence, almost gone. And he had done a good job with them too. The middle one was hurt the hardest by it. The boy in the center. When his family collapsed he turned to drugs, started getting in trouble like 18 year-olds do. The girl, 15, was okay. She had her mom and a new replacement for her dad. The eldest boy was in college, already gone, slouching towards 21.

Poaching, I think that’s what you call it. How could some guy’s best friend just take his wife and family like that? And what about his wife? How could she do something like that? So, their house got sold, the kids went with their mom and the new replacement dad, and Tommy found himself all alone in a groovy bachelor apartment overlooking the city. He was 55, and scared. Really scared. It was Christmas. For the first time in his life he was going to be alone.

Dana knew him ten years ago, from the harbor. They were both sailors then, just friends. His kids were little and he ferried them around in a Zodiac inflatable. His wife made him sell his boat because he had a family to raise. So, he gave boating up and worked two jobs instead. He must never have been home, with all that work. Maybe that’s how the drift starts in a marriage. Who knows?

Anyway, Dana met him by accident in a restaurant right before Christmas years later and the two of them sat down and filled each other in on what had happened to themselves over the past decade. She just couldn’t believe what had happened to him. He was an American dad and the last of the good guys. How could something like this happen to somebody like him? It just didn’t seem possible. It was too horrible. His best friend? Do men do things like this to each other? Do they?

Dana was married but it was another long rough patch for her too. Tommy started calling and e-mailing her. He was the kind of guy that needed to communicate a lot, he just had to be in touch all the time. She liked it at first. All that attention. It’s different than the kind of attention you get in a marriage. That has a different solidity and weight. This was sexy. This was brand new.

She decided to spend Christmas Eve with him. Dana felt sorry for both of them actually. Sometimes marriage can be misery, you know? Islands of loneliness. Islands of familiarity and history. Sexless and romanceless.

He had a pretty little tree all decked out with brand new bachelor Christmas ornaments. Tommy had an apartment full of overstuffed white furniture and reproduction Stickley accessories. The deck overlooked all the twinkling lights of the city. His taste was sparse and clean like the sea, and he had the most wonderful scented candles. He played the guitar and he loved flamenco music. She did too, and so this was a match, musically, at least at first.

They didn’t sleep together that night. They just talked about what had happened to them in their marriages. He told her he’d been having an on-line relationship for a year with a married woman, and they had tried to sleep together but he couldn’t perform sexually. He was shattered as a man, you know? I guess that happens if your wife leaves you like that. For your best friend.

Tommy gave her a candle for Christmas, so she’d have a present to open that night. It was a big fat pomegranate-scented candle. And just like Persephone that candle was going to take her down to Hades with him, but she didn’t know it yet.

So, they ate something like gourmet take-out on Christmas Eve together and talked, and he kept moving closer. He kept moving closer and closer until the heat radiated off of him in waves against her bare arm. He wanted to show her pictures of his kids and what he did for a living and all she could think was I really want to sleep with you but if I do it will be a disaster for both of us. His pull was pretty strong though. He was like a rip tide, actually. She was caught in his undertow.

So she tried to explain to him that having an affair with a married woman never works. She told him that’s what happened with the on-line romance woman, too. But his particular mythology was the need to steal a wife. Because it had just happened to him, and so if he did it too, he would be a winner somehow. I guess it’s still pretty tribal like that really. We aren’t that far removed from caves are we? Anyway that heat just radiated off of him and he smelled so fantastic. He was incredibly sexy in that way. God, just the scent rolling off of him was enough to make her spellbound.

So back at home, with that fragrant deep ruby pomegranate candle burning, Dana waited on his e-mails. They had these crazy conversations, and they liked each other, a lot. They both had Scorpio rising too, and that doesn’t help things, really. It takes the sex just elsewhere into subterranean depths. So you know, around Valentine’s Day something just flared up between them. And then there was no longer a question, it was just going to happen. She had dinner at his place that night. He was so nervous he was practically shaking in front of her, trying to fix the dinner. Black bean soup and currant scones and salad. He was making the whole thing from scratch and it was pretty impressive, she had to admit.

He had this pretty Leo Kottke 12-string guitar music going in the background and it was so silvery and soft. She’d never heard it before. He was dancing around that kitchen on his tiptoes. She walked up to him and said, I’m so lonely, and then she unzipped her jeans and drew his hand right inside them. She had never seen a man so nervous in her entire life. His arms moved around her like twin snakes and he hugged her so fiercely she thought she’d burst.

Dana decided to loan her body to him that night. It was mutual, actually. He looked a little like a buddha because he was bald, and all the hair on his mustache and tiny beard was silver. That’s how she thought of him anyway. Silvery. He was reading Kerouac for the first time. So he made the perfect beatnik. Real, real gone. He became her incense buddha, all silvery and scented. You’re a real gone girl, my real gone girl, he said.

After dinner, which she could have cared less about really—after that hot tingling ripple of beat energy had seared through the two of them, somehow he was right next to her again with all that heat streaming off him and his cologne surrounding her—and his lips took hers and she couldn’t take her eyes off the berry redness of his mouth and she just melded right into him. Kissing, kissing, kissing and his kiss swept her over a wave inside herself and the two of them landed somehow on the carpet in the living room with all the city lights twinkling underneath them and she had taken a puff of his pot and they had had some wine and it all fell together as if from some grand pre-planned design that was written someplace in the stars glimmering overhead.

She was wearing this pendant made of rainbow moonstones that flashed from white to blue and back again like magic between her breasts and he kissed that and said, You are like Cleopatra, you are so beautiful, and he stripped all her clothes off until she was naked underneath him and he was kissing her and holding her and all his sweet-scented warmth went straight into her, into all the places that her husband had ignored for years.

Dana said, I told you everything would work just fine and suddenly he had this immense hard on and he was going down on her and the two of them were rolling all over and over each other on that floor and gradually he had to get all his clothes off too but he might have left his socks on in all the tumbling and they were swirling into one being making love on that floor and doing everything to each other but the kisses were the best thing because he really knew what he was doing in that direction and her lips took up that red berry bottom lip and she just wanted to suck it straight into her soul.

He got up on his knees above her and she wrapped her legs around his hips and watched his face from this great distance as he pushed inside her like a freight train and drove and drove himself into her and he fit her perfectly and the two of them pounded away at each other fiercely and it was all that need and fear and stored up sadness and her hands scratched at him and maybe it scared him a little because it was so passionate but she had gone something like two years without any sex because her last lover died and so his body was something that she could take out all her sadness on, and quite possibly her rage as well.

And maybe, because Tommy had gone so long himself without sex; maybe over a year or more, and his best friend had stolen his wife and his manhood was shattered that way, he had to fuck her in this kind of a way to prove something to himself about being a man. He’d only been with his wife so Dana was like an unexplored continent, after 22 years of fidelity.

She knew all this about him anyway and she knew that it would never turn into anything except the desperate clutch of two people in the night pressing into each other like animals or beasts merging into one entity together like a temporary fool’s paradise.

Tommy took her into his bedroom and laid her out on his great big new queen-sized bed that stood high on a great faux Stickley platform and he said, You will be the first of many, here.

And she had known that all along because this is what a man would need to do after being left like that by a wife but still it was a strange thing to say because new lovers expect something else I think.

At least Tommy did of her later, when he kept saying I love you, I love you and she had to keep him at arm’s length always after that first comment and when her heart felt like it was starting to attach she had to begin to break away so that he could go on and do what he had to do because she wasn’t really ever going to leave her husband after a comment like that was she?

That night, that first night when the affair began they made love to each other all over that bed for hours until her head was hanging off the side and her hair swept the floor and she had to hold the wooden slats because he was like a satyr and she kept waiting for him to come but he said he couldn’t.

She had never met a man who had that kind of a problem before but it all had something to do with intimacy and emotional release and she couldn’t either and so they just kept pounding into each other in 1,001 positions and finally they just exhausted themselves. The sex was always like that and after a while he learned to make her come trembling and then he could too, eventually.

But, there was always something she held back from him. Maybe it was because of that comment. They had so much chemistry between them it was magnetic. Once their bodies moved inside each other’s orbits they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. The immediacy of his hard ons always amused her no end. He’d just look at her and get one.

She had warned him about married women and so when she began to push him away naturally after about a year or so — because she wasn’t going to leave for him and she didn’t want to hurt him and he was putting so much pressure on her to do just that—leave for him—he started an affair with another married woman because he was still living out that mythology of needing to steal a wife from another man in order to heal the wound that had been inflicted on him.

He kept on calling Dana though as if he could come right back and be with her again too. Two women at once. I can’t stop thinking about you, he said. Scorpios are a jealous breed and he was sure she was seeing someone else, he was just positive, but she wasn’t. I need to use Viagra with her he said. It isn’t the same as with you.

Funny, but he told her that the new woman had had a breast taken by cancer and a big ugly scar was left in its place and that her husband couldn’t bring himself to touch her anymore sexually after she lost that breast. Tommy said he just had to help her out in that way because he was a humanitarian. Couldn’t Dana understand this? Couldn’t she?

The whole thing really hurt her at first, that he could cheat on her like that but after awhile she grew to understand that he had really helped someone. He had really helped that woman who had lost a breast like that, and probably felt really bad about herself as a woman in that way. And in some crazy way the circle was completed, like, that she had helped him and then he had gone on and helped someone else and maybe that’s what it is all about really in the end. Just being human. Or trying to be a humanitarian, somehow.

He was a good guy really. As all-American as they come. California classic with the requisite apparel: caps, kayak, and a big white truck. Except something bad had happened. Right in the middle of his life his wife had walked out with his best friend. He was real, real gone. What he didn’t know about Dana was that she had fallen in love with him and the thought of really leaving for him had crossed her mind more than once. She was real, real gone too.

Things like that happen sometimes, don’t they?

© 2004 Adrianna de la Rosa. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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