Sunday morning, I was laying in bed with my formerly estranged girlfriend, Faith, when her currently estranged husband, Dagwood, showed up at my door, all the way from Oakland, California. I knew this would not end well.
"What should I do?" I asked Faith. "Do you think if we wait, he'll just go away?"
Faith shook her head, "No, he won't." Her beautiful face was hard and her eyes were dark and calculating. "Let's just get dressed and let him in."
"Do you think that's wise?"
"It’s the only thing to do. It would be much worse to have him lurking around downstairs. God, I hate that smarmy, slimy man. He is like a cockroach. When you think you’re finally rid of him, here he comes again."
As if to emphasize the point, the door buzzer began to ring nonstop. Faith pushed "Talk" on the intercom and shouted into it, "Wait a goddamn minute, will you, Dagwood?" Then she grinned at me. "He hates it when I take the Lord's name in vain, which is exactly why I do it."
How she could grin at a time like that, I had no idea, but where I felt stressed, like there was a noose about to be tied around my neck, she seemed as untroubled as if we were going for a lakeside picnic. "Listen Sissy," she said to me, fully serious, "I know I've given you plenty of reasons not to trust me in the past."
Talk about your understatements. As recently as two days before, she'd admitted to having secretly read my journal.
"I really need you trust me right now when I tell you that I love you, and only you," she went on. "You are the only person I have ever cared about, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Can you please believe me?"
"Yes," I said, and I wish I could have sung it. We kissed, long, hard and deep. As though Dagwood could guess what we are up to, he rang the buzzer again, but only once.
"OK, let him in," Faith said.
"Should I have a weapon of some kind handy, just in case?”
She laughed at this. “No, Dagwood is way too cowardly to try anything physically abusive. That is not his strong suit. He lives through mental intimidation, and he’s a master at it.”
Encouraged by her sincere seeming profession of love and armed with new confidence, I buzzed Dagwood in.
When I opened the door, I expected to find some cowardly, skittering human cockroach outside. Instead, I was faced with the most gorgeous man I had ever seen outside of a GQ magazine. He looked sort of like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, only with his good looks marred by a sneering swagger, that masqueraded as strength.
“You’re Sissy, huh” he said in greeting, looking me up and down – mostly down, since he was over six feet tall.
Without waiting for my reply, he strode past me to face Faith, who was sitting impassively on the couch.
“Well, I hope you’ve finally got this lesbian thing out of your system.” I had no doubt that I was the lesbian thing to which he was referring.
“Now, wait a minute…” I began
He glared at me. “No, you wait. Can’t you see this is between a man and his wife? Oh wait, this is Illinois. You people don't have the right to get married. Well I have the right, so just keep quiet?”
He turned back to Faith. “You know, if you weren’t so stupid, you’d be dangerous,” he said, picking up her cell phone from the table and showing it to her. "Didn’t you realize how easy it would be for me to crosstrack any number you dialed, not to mention the built-in GPS? Sure you did, because sinners like, you always secretly want to get caught."
"Listen, I don't care who you are. You are not going to speak to her like that. Not in my place," I warned him, with a glare that I hoped was a menacing as my mood.
Dagwood looked around, visibly unimpressed by his surroundings. "You're right, Miss Van Dyke. This is your place. So you just stay in it. I'm going to take my wife home."
"She's not going anywhere with you."
"Oh you think she's going to stay here, with you?" Dagwood laughed. "You obviously know nothing about me if you think I would let you and her raise my child."
Here, I saw Faith visibly start. Dagwood smirked. "Did you really think that your girl, Shirley, was your friend? She has been up on my jock since we got married. Of course, as a Christian man, I wouldn't give her that chance. But, she could not wait to come to me with your little secret as soon as she heard that you'd run off."
"What if I have an abortion?" Faith asked, simply.
Dagwood dismissed the notion with a wave. "Sister, please! You and I both know you want a child too badly to do any such thing just to spite me. And you know me. You would never get to keep it."
Faith broke down at this, hiding her face in her hands. I went and stood beside her on the couch, resting my hand on her shoulder, and I could feel her body trembling with sobs that almost sounded like hysterical laughter.
Dagwood checked his watch. "OK, let's get out of here. I've got a cab waiting in the alley, and we're booked on a two o'clock flight to Oakland."
Faith didn't say anything, just nodded her head slowly, her face streaked with tears. She picked up her coat and overnight bag, that had been sitting unused at the end of the couch since she'd arrived Friday evening.
Dagwood smirked at me, and took Faith's arm. Since he had set out to fetch her, he obviously had not considered for a moment that he would return home empty handed.
I stood stunned, swept up in the wave of déjà vu. The only difference being that the last time she'd walked away from me, it had been on her father's arm. Unlike the previous time, however, Faith turned in the doorway and looked at me. Instead of grief, I saw that her face was lit up with an enormous grin. "I'll be back," she mouthed silently and winked. Then, she was gone.