She threw back the curtain as two men entered the house. She was sure it
was the police and they came to ask her a few questions. How was her husband
doing? What had happened to her? And so it went on like that for a while.
Only two minutes with those two men when they were ready to leave. She
hadn’t even been out of the house for a minute, and here they were just
standing there. So she let them in, invited them to be seated, and gave them
plates to put on the table. One of them sat in the recliner, his head buried
in a newspaper, and the second on the couch. “I’m sure you want to ask her
about the money orders and the papers in the wastebasket. Is that it?”
“Yes.” The man on the couch shifted in his chair, and now she realized
that he was talking to the other man.
“Yes, of course.” He turned back to her. “And what exactly is your
She sat down with them and listened to their questions. He talked about
the two checks she had deposited a while back. It was the money from the
climbing club, and he could go into details of what the club had done, but
she didn’t interrupt. He didn’t even notice her. “But you must have known
that by depositing those bills in your account you were opening the door for
them to pick up.”
She knew what he meant, that she should have known better. But she just sat
there silently, listening to him and feeling sorry for him. And maybe even
for himself. For a man in the business was not just a businessman, something
he did without thought. He was also a person, and it was very hard to know
what you were doing with life and what was important or unimportant to you.
He didn’t seem to be that person, but he could have been.
She felt like he was looking at her, because he was looking at her. And she
didn’t want to be looked at like that. Like he was wondering why she didn’t
wish to be looked at like that. For a man who was doing this, this was a lot
of pressure. And he made her angry because he made it seem like she should
be like that. “Please,” she began and then thought better of it and
said instead. “I don’t think that’s what I want to do.” She knew he
couldn’t understand what she meant. Yet at the same time she loved that he
understood. She was very grateful for that. She realized they were all doing
the best thing they could to deal with a problem that wouldn’t go away and
the best thing to do was not to waste their time trying to figure out when
things were going to turn around and when they were just going to be a
hundred times as bad. But she was very grateful to him for understanding.
He smiled that he knew just what she meant, but he went on. “But I
guess we’ll see about that. If you don’t, we had better find your
She hadn’t thought of that and she almost cried when she realized where
the tears came from. This man, this man who had done everything, made it look
like she was the one that had done something wrong. “She’s not my
husband.” The words slipped out before she realized he was laughing and
she knew it was him. He was laughing at her, and she knew that laughter only
went in one direction. It didn’t make what you were doing any better or worse
than it was, or that it was any better or worse than the things he was doing.
She hated him. Because he had done everything, all of it, and now he did
everything again. Making her look bad for no reason at all, not to him.
She felt the tears start, and she turned away from the man who was laughing
at her. He sat there in the recliner and she stared at the newspapers spread
over every inch of the table as she tried to figure out what she could do to
fix her life.
She looked up again when she sensed that he had moved and the man she
thought was the one who had been laughing at her stood by the table to
watch her. “I need to tell you something,” he said. She knew he had
never once looked her in the face before. But then she thought of how she had
always talked to her husband about how one of his first responsibilities as a
husband was to accept and respect the authority of a woman. It was his job,
his duty to accept her authority and to do his best to make her understand
that she had very little to do with determining how their marriage would
“I guess that’s my fault,” she heard herself begin. “I never talked to
you about that, and that was a mistake I made and I don’t like it.” She was
looking away from him, hoping he would understand. But what he said made her
wring her hands open and let him see them. “I didn’t say that,” she
spoke, just so he would know she was not lying to him. “I guess I was
afraid to say it because…” She was talking to him, just talking to him, and
he just looked at her.
He looked at her now, but he was not smiling. This time he was frowning a
little because he realized what his question was. “You wanted to leave the
money orders and the paper in the wastebasket?”
She almost laughed at the question. “You just need to listen to me,” she
was beginning, and then realized how ridiculous it sounded. He just needed to
listen to her. He could think about that later. “There’s some things
you need to explain to me. The truth. If you don’t you need to leave.” But
not that. Not now. Not then. Now.