November 19, 2017

Fidelity where terms end by Julio Peralta-Paulino

My name is Rebecca and I’m a Girl Friday, at least that is what my
so-called partner calls me. If you ask me, I’m a slave. I work really
hard and make very little financial gains. For kicks, I call him
master. He doesn’t mind, but sometimes I can tell he gets annoyed by
my ongoing teasing.

Jake’s a writer, but he never says he’s a writer. He says “I’m just a
card that likes to play.” I don’t know what he means, but he seems to
think it’s funny or entertaining or witty or something… Men. His
books usually sell really well, well not the last one… I tried to tell
him, I specifically said, “Who wants to read about wigs?” Did he
listen? Men.

At least, he is married to a very lovely woman. Hannah. If you ask
me, I don’t know what she sees in him. Don’t get me wrong, Jake can
be wonderfully nice and terribly creative, but
some days it’s like he is somebody else… Maybe it’s just part of the
creative process.

Anyhow, Hannah is hot and it’s not like I’m into girls or anything.
She just has that thing, even when she isn’t trying. It could be that
they balance each other out in some way. His weirdness and her wild
beauty.

Personally, I don’t really want to know. It makes me edgy to
contemplate it. There are some things that might be best left
undiscovered…

Even when they make for a good story or at least a story that is
better than an entire book about wigs.

Maybe I’m not being fair, the wig book was a good idea. I don’t mean
to brag, but it was my idea. I told him we should work on the history
and evolution of the wig… He had been wanting to write a vampire story
for months and decided to combine my idea with his … Instead of a cool
novel, it turned out to be a Gothic thing about one character, a man
of course that turns into a vampire and has a thing for wigs. Three
hundred pages and a couple of centuries about this alter ego sucking
blood and wearing almost every type of wig you could imagine in the
process.

He was downcast by the critical response and I tried to distract him
by reminding him of how well he was doing otherwise. It didn’t seem to
help. I’m sure that Hannah tried to bring him cheer and show him
support and I’m just as sure that she didn’t succeed.

It was the early days of April in 2006 and I would come in and wait
around for a an hour or so only to be sent home. That’s when it
happened!

I think it was a Monday, you know, one of those days that make me
feel like it should still be the weekend but the work week has already
started.

I was waiting for Jake to say, “Sorry, Rebecca, it looks like another
unproductive day,” so I could get back home and maybe get another few
winks on the pillow.

There was a noise, like a rumbling sound, like thunder. Obviously, it
had come from outside and I walked to the window to see if something
had gone wrong or if it was just the start of a storm.

I didn’t see anything and Jake came down from his second floor
library to tell me, “Rebecca, sorry, it looks like we won’t be getting
anything done today. I’ll see you tomorrow at the same time.”

On that tomorrow, at the usual time, I was taking dictation for a
suspense thriller he wanted to try his hand at: “When you kill another
person, it’s really a part of yourself that dies. With expert
assassins, only the bad parts expire.”

It wasn’t half bad, for a beginning. It’s just that if you ever get
to meet Jake you’ll soon realize that he would be the unlikeliest
character to be cast as a killer. Anyway, I sat there trying to keep
my serious face and fasten each word into the word processor with as
much precision as I could conjure.

“Tyrone – that’s going to be the character name for this one, Rebecca
– Tyrone stepped out of his loft with the living hope that lusts for a
stranglehold over the butterflies that more often than not would
accompany him on his deadly operations. He’d been a hired killer for
some time, but his face betrayed no sign of remorse. No sign of
nervousness. In fact, he was rather dashing and appeared secure as he
went on about his business. You could argue that he was still young or
you could reason that he had murdered a sufficient enough crowd to
carry away his bad parts.”

I always tried to encourage Jake, especially at the start of a new
project. And so, I said: “I like that and that character’s name.”

“I had been thinking of an actor. Probably before your time,
Tyrone Power.”

“I think I’ve heard the name,” I lied.

“It’s a good name, it feels literary somehow.”
“Your name also feels literary,” I was still trying to stimulate his
confidence.

“I don’t know about that – Jake’s more of a boxer’s name, I always felt.”

There was a pause and a smile untied my face when I tried to picture
Jake as a fighter. I couldn’t think of anything to say and decided to
partly agree.

“Maybe.”

“Well, where was I?”

“Sufficient enough crowd to carry away-”

“Right. Give me a minute.”

“As you please.”

He rubbed a hand back and forth across his forehead, I started
daydreaming about a hot chocolate at Sprungli and shopping at the
Grieder. I liked the way the project was starting, but I didn’t like
the subject matter. It was, I thought, worse than the wig thing. Of
course, people liked to read about murder, for some reason.

“I’m thinking of setting the story in South America, somewhere exotic.”

“That sounds interesting,” I responded as the intermittent vision of
brand new clothing faded from my fantasy eyes.

“You don’t sound very thrilled today,” he was searching for a reason
to take the rest of the day off.

“Not at all, Jake. I love the start and I like the idea of the
location. I’m not overly thrilled over the murdering thing, but you
know I have to always disagree with you on some point. It seems to be
fate.”

“I’m not sure if it’s fate or simply folly. Anyway, thanks for
your honesty.”

“I feel it’s part of my job.”

“Well, I appreciate it and let me just get this first paragraph or
two in and then you can take the day for yourself.”

I tried to hide my happiness over having another easy day. After a
few in a row, I thought surely that I would enjoy getting back to
doing a substantial amount of typing. It wasn’t that way and perhaps
it was simply folly.

“The sunlight beat down through the fog clothed sky over Mexico City.
Tyrone, in his pastel taupe suit and his dashing demeanor, didn’t
stand out as much one might suspect. The music of cars, buses, and
bikes streamed down the boulevard. Pedestrians rattled back and forth
along the sidewalk where Tyrone was just starting to feel the
difference in climate. For a moment, he wished to be working in a
cooler and less crowded environment. Now, just read that back to me.”

I read back the words from the start and then he asked for an opinion
and I concluded: “It’s all right, good even. Maybe a connection
between the dead crowd and the crowded place. Maybe not use down
twice. Nothing else is coming to mind.”

“I think we can agree on the first part, but not the second. I might
even want to get a few more downs into the page.”

“I thought you didn’t want to be -what’s that word – uhm redundant?”

“Not redundant. The word’s repetitious and in this case I do. I was
watching a show about how it makes readers more at ease with the text.
You know, like a chorus inside a pop song.”

“OK. What’s redundant?”

“It’s too much and it’s also a really cool song by a group
called Barkmarket.”

“I’ll try to download it.”

“Well, you’ll have some extra hours today.”

“Does that mean that we are done?”

“Yeah. I got to see about street names in the Federal District. I
haven’t been to Mexico since the 90s.”

“I’m going to Sprungli, I could bring back something for you.”

“Don’t. I mean. Thanks, but Hannah and I – we’re going to grab lunch
later. You have a good time.”

“Same time, tomorrow, master?”
“Yes. Maybe a little later say an hour or so, just to make sure
I’m prepared.”

I said I would see him then and started thinning my things into the
backpack. As I started for the door, I heard that thunderous rumbling
sound against the otherwise serene afternoon.

I quickened my steps in order to investigate it. Out on the avenue, a
thin man was making a speech. He had a bass drum that rested in front
of him and a mallet gripped within his right hand. A few people were
gathered around him and every so often he would start banging on the
big bongo. Hence, the noise.

Of course, this is rather unusual for Zurich and since I wasn’t in
any particular hurry, I decided to give this talking drummer an ear
for a moment or two.

“Remember, I am the good prophet,” he voiced loudly. “I was once
just like you. It is that time that you took control of your own
lives, of your own destiny.” Thunder rattled from the drum as the
mallet repeatedly struck the skin.

Something about the whole scene made me hurry to the cafe. Once
there, I wondered what it was that made me flee from the
self-proclaimed good prophet.

The hot chocolate was cooling, but before I could take my first sip I
spied Hannah making her way towards me.

“Rebecca, I’m worried about Jake,” she announced.

“What’s the matter?” I asked and asked her to join me.

“I’m sorry to intrude on your free time like this, but I think
something’s wrong.”

“He seemed fine to me, today. Just not writing as much as he
usually does.”

“It’s not that. It’s – I don’t know how to say this – he’s
distracted. I haven’t had a real conversation with him in the longest
time. Well, since the reviews started coming in from the last book.”

There are moments when life speaks to you. It’s a clear sound telling
you that there has been a change. Inside my heart, it sounded like
someone was saying: Rebecca, it’s time for a change. You should be
writing your own stories and he is never going to leave her for you.

“I want you to know,” I said, “that I care deeply for him and for
you. I just don’t understand, is there something you want me to do?”

“I thought perhaps you could suggest that he confide more in me you
know the way he does with you.”

“Hannah, he doesn’t really confide in me much. It’s mostly just
literary talk.” I paused while thinking back on that preacher and then
made her a half-hearted promise, “I will try to help.”

“I really appreciate this Rebecca, I won’t forget your kindness.”

She got up as quick as that and I tried to enjoy the now not so hot
hot chocolate.

That night I decided to confront Jake and make the change that my
heart appeared to yearn for.

I hardly slept that night for the worry of what fashion would dress
the next day.

When I saw Jake, I addressed the issue at once, “We need to talk.”

“We talk everyday.”

“Don’t be sarcastic, I really need to say something.”

“Well, make it quick because I got all the Mexico information.”

“Jake, I’m not going to work for you anymore. I can’t do it. I really
do feel like a slave.”

“Rebecca, I can’t let you do that -”

“It’s not just that, it’s something else, something I can’t talk about.”

“Look, I have feelings for you too, but I’m a married man.”

He knew. He could see right through me. I tried not to give it a
second thought.

“Whatever. Look, I talked to Hannah yesterday and before I leave I
want you to let her into your mind more, talk to her.”

“All I can think of is you and I never wanted to say anything but you
are putting me in a corner.”

My name is Rebecca and I write books with Jake who likes to say that
he’s just a card that likes to play. We are going to be married soon.
I don’t have the wild beauty that his ex-wife has, but there is a
connection between us that is far more than skin deep.

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