Life, Love & the Big D

An Excerpt

Ten short stories about how things work out

The Radio Show

“You bitch.”
The couple, in the middle of coupling and half-covered by the sheets, froze.
Paul looked down at Bethany. “That’s my wife, isn’t it?”
She turned her head toward the figure standing in the door. She looked back at him and nodded.
Paul sighed. “Oh, God.” He disengaged himself and lay down beside her, then rolled onto his back. “Listen, sweetie. I—”
“Sweetie? Sweetie? You’ve got to be kidding me.” Mary strode up to the bed and stared at her friend. “Bethany, how could you?”
“It happened...” Bethany glanced at Mary then lowered her gaze.
“It happened?” Mary’s cheeks reddened as her voice cracked. “Did Paul trip and fall, and by some odd stroke of luck his penis ended up in your vagina?”
She reached into her coat pocket and pulled out her cellphone. She fiddled with the interface and pointed it at the bed. The device made a noise mimicking the sound of a camera shutter as the flash lit up the area.
“What are you doing?” Paul asked. His voice crackled with annoyance.
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” She seized the edge of the sheets and swept them down, leaving the couple exposed. She snapped another picture, the flash lighting up the two of them lying side by side, nude.
Bethany cried out and attempted to cover herself with her hands.
Startled, Paul exclaimed, “What the hell are you doing?” He glared at his wife while reaching down to pull the sheets back up over Bethany and himself.
Mary stopped looking at the phone and regarded her husband. “What am I doing? Paul, you’re having sex with another woman in our bed. Our bed. Shouldn’t the question be directed to you? What the hell are you doing? What the hell were you thinking?” She put her phone back in her coat pocket.
Paul knitted his brow. “Why are you here? Is there a problem? Did you have an accident?”
Mary smirked. “No accident, Paul. No problem at all other than your own stupidity. You yourself told me to come home, so I did.” She walked out of the bedroom. Bethany sobbed as Paul stared after his wife.


Paul glanced at the clock. “You’d better get going. You never know if there will be a traffic jam or not.”
Mary drank the last of her coffee and stood up. She paused, looking at the dishes left on the table.
Paul smiled. “I’ll take care of everything. You get out of here.” He stood up and cleared the table, piling their plates beside the sink.
She opened her briefcase and checked her materials. “This is a slog in the evening, but two more courses and I get my MBA. All right! Better position, more money. This is so going to be worth it.”
She kissed her husband. He put his arm around her waist and kissed her back. Then he smiled and said, “Go get ‘em, tiger.”
“I won’t be home until eleven.”
“I’ll be here.”
It took ten minutes to get on the parkway, and then Mary had twenty-five minutes to her exit to the university. In the middle lane, she set the car on cruise control. After daydreaming for a few minutes, she switched on the radio and tuned in to a local radio station. The dinner-hour show discussed the issues of the day through interviews with various experts. She adjusted the volume.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. In a moment we’ll be talking with Dr. Clive Martin, professor of economics at Hopewell University, about how the financial crisis in Europe affects our situation and how the cost of consumer goods will rise as a result over the next year. But first, let’s turn our attention to the next possible winner of our weekly jackpot.”
Mary perked up. The radio station ran a contest in which listeners filled out a form online, and the station chose one entrant at random to phone at home and ask a skill-testing question. Mary listened to the show because of her commute, so she had entered herself and Paul in the contest. The jackpot was only a couple hundred bucks, but it was better than a kick in the pants, as her father used to say.
“So, let’s see. Who’ll a lucky participant tonight?” There was a drum roll followed by the crash of a cymbal. “Paul and Mary Douglas of Depew!” Mary cried out and turned up the volume.
“Let’s give these folks a call and see if they can answer tonight’s question.” Mary heard the ringing of a phone and imagined her husband running to answer. There was an audible click of a receiver being picked up.
“Hello?” It was the voice of a woman. Had the station dialed the wrong number?
“I’d like to speak to Mary Douglas,” the announcer said.
“Ah, she’s not here.”
There was the distinct sound of somebody fumbling the phone. Although not as loud as the woman’s, a man’s voice spoke. Paul’s voice. “Bethany, come back to bed.” There was more fumbling, and then somebody hung up the phone.
The announcer chuckled. “It seems our caller has a much more pressing engagement to consider. In fact, our couple may have already hit the jackpot. Let’s take a commercial break, and when we return, we’ll talk with Professor Martin of Hopewell University.”
Mary gazed at the road. What the heck? Did that just happen? This couldn’t be true. Bethany? Her Bethany? Her neighborhood friend who lived two doors down?
Mary drove on, mulling over her options. When she saw the sign showing the next exit, she made up her mind. She would go home and see what was going on in her absence. It was time for Paul to answer a skill-testing question.

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