Excerpt from the manuscript "Breaking a Cycle". A contemporary, romanticized, glance at the Fannie Hurst Novel "Imitation of Life"
Another Saturday night wasted, sitting through a dry as dust fund raiser, surrounded by self-important, self-serving people that really could care less about the cause…such as it is. Tonight’s affair is to raise funds to buy sweaters for cold Shih Tzu’s …or is to upgrade the Espresso Service at the local Prep School? Whatever the well-heeled deem worthy of such an event, I guess.
The reality of it…these people are here to be seen, to network, to land inside information for their next business move or transaction…just like my husband.
While he works the room, rooting out new construction contracts, I’m left on my own most of the evening. I have no desire to interact what so ever. I just want to go home and crawl into bed with the TV remote.
Thad Stubener comes over and strikes up a conversation. He babbles on about a project of which my Architectural Firm has a pending proposal. I’m not at all interested in his attempt at industry chitchat. His father is always my point of contact for business. I go right to the top.
I’ve known Thad since infancy. We played together as children, but lost contact when I moved away to another life. We have since reconnected through his father's real-estate dealings.
Thad flirts mercilessly. It’s annoying as hell.
That once cocky twelve-year-old wouldn’t have given me the time of day…except to tease. He and his little gang of minions would bully and call me names. He once made the mistake of calling me “Undercover Nigger”. I punched him in the nuts and he never made that mistake again. Now he’s all seductive smiles and winks.
He’s since matured into a distinguished, handsome man — real gentleman. Right now…I don’t need this kind of attention from him. My husband is giving me the stink-eye from clear across the room.
It’s a warning.
I excuse myself from the table and make my escape into the powder room. Hopefully Thad will have moved on when I return.
I pass the time in the mirror reapplying lip-gloss and froofing my hair. It's all I can do to keep from calling for an Uber and getting the hell out of here.
My husband is standing near the ladies lounge when I exit. He reeks of gin and disappointment.
My evening just went from dull to disastrous. Nick Rossi is pissed. Not just the angry-pissed but the drunk-pissed. This is not a good combination.
He practically drags me across the hotel lobby and out to our waiting car. That's fine with me. I was ready to go as soon as I got here.
The ride home is scary. He's driving like a lunatic and runs at least one red light and we came darn close to side swiping a parked car. I can do nothing but squeeze my eyes shut and pray for safe landing.
We make it home in record time and he goes straight for the liquor cabinet. I head upstairs to our bedroom to put some much needed distance between us. His schmoozing with the heavy hitters of real-estate obviously didn't go well. I wonder how long this sulk will last.
I'm standing in the closet and removing the hideous excuse for a dress that he’d chosen for tonight. The high neck ruffles and trumpet sleeves in an unflattering shade of pea-green, makes me look twice my age. From the bedroom, I hear, "Fucking shoes all over the goddammed house," it's a muttered curse, followed by, "KAT! GET IN HERE!" this is a full out yell.
Here we go.
He's looking for a fight and my shoes in the floor are the catalyst. It's one of his biggest pet peeves. I'd taken them off next to the bed and forgotten them there.
Damn. What was I thinking?
I walk out of the closet and he's standing there fisting a drink in one hand while scowling at my phone in the other.
"The fuck is this?" he growls, and shoves the phone at me so that I can see the display. There's a text from Thad Stubener.
That office complex is coming your way.
My Dad loves your proposal.
We'll be working CLOSE on this one.
"I guess that's good news." I say calmly to detract from the innuendo buried in the text. All the while I'm wondering why is he going through my phone. I reach for it and I'm surprised when he lets me have it without resistance. "I can talk to Graham to see if there's any work for you." It's my attempt to turn the attention back to him. He's been all over me to get him a sit down with Graham Stubener. Tonight my tactic is useless.
"You're screwing him, aren't you?" he sneers at me. "That's how you got the work. You're probably doing both the old-man and his boy. A two for one."
Now that right there is my pet peeve.
That's not a strong enough word for what I'm feeling. It's so much more than that. It just pisses me right-the-fuck off. How dare he? It's been this same nonsense ever since I received a mention in a local magazine article. My small firm has been overwhelmed with work and he can't stand it. Instead of making an effort to show some semblance of happiness for me, I receive nothing from my husband but criticism and scathing accusations.
I've had enough.
"Don't take your frustration out on me, Nick. I have done nothing here but try and be supportive."
"Don't do me any goddamn favors!" his words are slurred.
I don't want to fight so I turn and head back towards the closet. "Your business is in the toilet because you're a shady sonovabitch," I mutter under my breath, perhaps louder than I intended it to be. I smell and then feel a mist of gin whoosh past my head. His glass hits the wall shattering into tiny shards and rivulets of liquor cascade down its painted surface. Before I can process what is happening, I'm yanked backwards and hurled across the room where I bounce off the mattress and tumble to the floor.
I scramble to my feet to run, but Nick catches me by my hair and flings me back onto the bed. Within seconds, he's on me, his heavy weight pressing me into the mattress. I struggle to break free, needing to get away from him but I am helpless against his strength. My underwear is ripped away chaffing my sensitive parts and then I here the ominous purr of his zipper.
"Sei mia," he growls in Italian -your mine, as he slams into me.
I lie there and blank out what is happening to me. I pray that someday I'll be able to reclaim that piece of myself that he's consumed so completely.
That piece of me that I'm not sure exists anymore.