External Affairs — Book IV — Chapter Five

Reckoning

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I’m standing in Teddy’s late on Friday night with Kelly, the woman I have been having an affair with these last few months, and also Naomi, the woman I cheated on Kelly with in a moment of drunken stupidity one month ago. Kelly doesn’t realize this yet, but I’ve got a feeling that is about to change. I was picking out Led Zeppelin songs on the jukebox, and so Gallows Pole is floating over my head at this moment. Kelly had been in the bathroom while I was doing this, and Naomi came up to me. Kelly returned and we all kind of stared at each other.

Kelly asked me, “What’s going on?”

Naomi looked Kelly up and down and quickly surmised she was with me. In what way, I don’t know. Girlfriend? Girl I just picked up? She must have seen Kelly’s ring, so she could have thought she was my wife. It didn’t matter because after realizing this, Naomi just said,

“My bad,” and walked away, adding, “See you, Nick” as she did so.

It was then that I remembered that I hadn’t even given her my real name that night. Where I came up with Nick I have no idea, but apparently that’s who I was to her. After watching Naomi saunter out the door in her leather skirt, tank top and body covered in tattoos, Kelly turned back to me.

“Nick?”

I didn’t say anything. I wanted to, but just had nothing at that moment.

“That your middle name by any chance?” asked Kelly.

I managed to say, “No.”

“Your alias in the CIA?”

“Look, Kelly, can we just — ”

Then Kelly started laughing. Above us, in the air, Robert Plant was about to be hanged. I felt I was too.

Still laughing, Kelly said, looking back at the empty door, “What was that?” Then turning back to me, not laughing anymore, “Who was that?”

All I managed to say was, “She’s just…….uh……she’s…….,” before Kelly said,

“Did your schedule get mixed up? Were you supposed to meet that woman here and I just happened to show up?”

“No, it’s not like that. It’s just……..”

“Just what, Dan? Or should I say Nick? Nick? Is Danny even your real name?”

“Yes, that is my real name.”

“Then what?” said Kelly looking at me with eyes wide.

“It’s just something I told her when — ” I started to say, but stopped.

Kelly, eyes still wide, gave me a sideways look and said, “When what?”

She obviously knew, or thought she knew, but she was going to make me say it. In the air, Robert Plant had just met his demise, but was about to be reborn by the grace of Jimmy Page’s guitar and John Bonham’s drums, as When the Levee Breaks came roaring out of the speakers.

Resigned, I said to Kelly, “It was that night I saw you at the theater. I was upset and came here. I had too much to drink and I met Naomi.”

“Naomi,” Kelly broke in. “Interesting name. Looks like an interesting woman. Is she?”

“What?” I said.

“Is she an interesting woman?”

“Honestly Kelly, I remember very little about that night.”

“Oh well, that’s nice,” said Kelly. “I’m sure that will make Naomi feel good. Do you remember much about this night?”

“I remember everything about this night. Can we just — ”

Kelly started laughing again. “You know, I just never expected that,” she said shaking her head. “This is…..,” she paused, looked away and then said to herself, “This is……….I don’t what this is?” She looked back at me.

Again, I tried. “Can we please,” I started to say, but it did no good.

“I think it’s raining Danny. And I think the levee is going to break,” said Kelly. She looked at me for a few seconds. A hard, penetrating look, not really angry or even hurt. Just stunned by my stupidity and recklessness. It was a look that wordlessly expressed what she had said to me in the bathroom hours ago.

“Don’t fuck this up Danny. This could be a great summer.”

I did fuck it up, and her look asked me to explain why. Not so much why I did it, but why would I want to. I had no explanation though, and so Kelly turned away. When I finally said I was sorry, I said it to a swinging door.

Led Zeppelin was still blaring out of the speakers, but suddenly it seemed too loud, and the air in the bar stale and stifling. I needed to get out. I glanced around the bar first. The crowd was mostly gone. A few clusters of people remained, sitting at the bar, at a few tables, futilely grasping for one last moment of pleasure from the bottom of an empty glass. Most were thoroughly ensconced in their own world of the moment, so much of what transpired between me and Kelly went unnoticed. Then my eyes fell on Madison, who was standing at the bar with little to do at this point in the evening, and so she witnessed the whole thing.

“Rough night, Old Sport?” she said.

I managed a nod and a defeated, “Yeah,” before walking out into the night. What a mess, I thought, and it wasn’t even over yet. The best part now was that I had to go home.

To Be Continued…….

External Affairs is a serial story currently consisting of four books. If you would like to read any of the prior chapters, please click on the links below. If you enjoyed this or any of the other chapters in the story, please consider clicking on the clapping hands. Feedback is always welcome. Thanks for reading.