Games the Wealthy Play By Walt Giersbach

Lorraine was a game that Nathan played with great relish.  Not a childish game, but a sport called life.  

First, there were odds.  Odds that her husband, Dexter, wouldn’t discover their affair.  The husband was a tedious vice president at some import company, but he had been a Marine.  Nathan had visions of Dexter walking in at the height of their ecstasy and maiming him in some strange military way.

That only made the prize more desirable.  

His other challenge was bridling Lorraine’s uncharitable thoughts. She’d say things like, “This sales lady at Bergdorf’s was so pissy in her hatred of the One Percenters.  I take great comfort knowing that moral stick shoved up her butt made her happy.”  Or when an Amtrak train derailed in Jersey, killing a dozen people, she said, “Look, I’m sorry they’re dead, but maybe someone will make a movie out of them.”   

She was tall and fit and blustery, flipping her long golden hair at the world.  Nathan told her several times, “In my world, a man’s worth is measured by material well-being, a woman’s by her beauty.  That’s simply the way things work.  Forget those magazine stories about equality and sharing, darling.”

This arrangement worked well for almost two years.  The allowance he handed over allowed her to splurge, and she was always ready for sex.  He was comfortable that her husband loved her as Nathan did.  Then she threw the ultimatum in his face.  “What are you doing for me, Nathan?  Stringing me along because the sex is good?  If you love me so much, why haven’t you asked to marry me?”

“Because you’re already married.  You husband has a million dollar apartment on Central Park West.  You enjoy a pocket full of credit cards.”  

“That’s not funny!  You know Dexter won’t divorce me because there’s no pre-nup.  You’ll just have to kill him.”

“Lorraine!”  He cringed.  “I work at a hedge fund, not a slaughterhouse.”

“Then find someone.  Try Craigslist or Angie’s List.  Use your head!”

“Listen to what you’re saying!” he said in shock.

“Man up and demand Dexter grant me a divorce so we can get married.  In a church would be nice.  Or I’ll do something myself.”  

She pulled a silver pistol out of her handbag, the little .22 caliber he’d given her as a love gift.  She waved it in his face.  “Because before too long I’m going to put a bullet in somebody.”

They were having drinks at the 21 Club.  “Lorraine, this is absolutely the wrong place to flash a pistol.”  Then she poured her wine spritzer in his lap.

He worked to regain his composure while the maître d’ wrestled her to the door.

*

The next two weeks were not good.  She refused his calls and didn’t answer his texts.  Her doorman said, “I’m sorry, but I was told not to accept your flowers and gifts.”

Those  two weeks were the worst of Nathan’s life as his productivity, morale and spirits sank.  It became worse when one of her friends called at the office to ask what he’d done to her.  “She’s so depressed that I think she’s going suicidal.”

“Bitsy,” he told her, “I’m not against marriage, but she’s already got a husband.  I’d make a lousy husband.  I sulk and work twelve hours a day and shout at my staff.”  But he truly was worried about her.  Enough so that he asked the guy who handled security at the firm to check her out.

A few days later, the rent-a-cop said, “Mr. Nelson, this woman doesn’t seem terribly depressed.  She’s been seeing a body builder in Tribeca.  He’s a model who poses for the covers of romance books.”  

Body builder?  Lorraine never lifted anything heavier than her pocketbook.  Nathan had the security guy write down Mr. Atlas’s address at a loft on Mercer Street.  That afternoon he visited the superintendent of the building across the alley.  There was an empty studio that was going on the market for an outrageous sum.  He explained he was a Hollywood agent and arranged to option the space for a week or two so he could shoot a movie as soon as he heard back from the studio.   Five hundred bucks in the super’s hand clinched the deal.

He positively knew then he could make Lorraine see the light.  She’d simply been impulsive in throwing him over.  Nathan was the Samaritan ready to heal her wounds if she should ever have any that needed healing.  Then he called Bitsy.  

“Bad news, my dear.”  Bitsy was all eyes underneath a hundred dollars worth of makeup when she met him at the bar in the Carlyle.  “Lorraine’s new boyfriend isn’t being” (here a little choke, not too dramatic) “being true to her.  He’s got someone else on the line.”

“Oh, nooo,” and she made a sound like a cat that had been stepped on.

“He’s two-timing her.  Tell her to come back to me.  Beg her for me.”

“I don’t believe it,” Bitsy whispered.  “Lorraine said this fellow was the real thing.  He’s an actor with a terrific part coming up.”  A sudden thought made her eyes squint.  “How’d you know about her…friend?”

“He called to sneer, at having two lovers and that I had none.”

With a little tear forming in his eye, he told her to go down to Mercer Street, to his rented studio.  “Let yourselves in.  It’s a place my firm is considering as an artists’ gallery.  She’ll get a great view out the back window at this gigolo.”

He was filled with elation.  He’d show Lorraine the truth so she’d scramble back into his arms.  Didn’t one of those people in the Bible say, “Know the truth and it will set you free”?

From his car that night, Nathan could see Lorraine take the key he’d given Bitsy and go upstairs to the short-term rental.  Nathan had gotten to know Mr. No-Neck.  For the past few nights he’d watched Nathan entertaining a male lover.

Half an hour went by.  Then he heard a shot echo down the alley.  “Damn!  Not what I expected.”

Both ladies ran out the front door and down to hail a cab on Broadway.  Then lights went on everywhere and someone shouted, “Call the cops.”  

The incident was in the New York Post next morning.  “Male Prostitute Shot by Angry Lover.”  Nathan read that Lorraine had actually missed the fellow with no neck, but exploded a Hertz Rental Boy’s brain.  

He was surprised at the knock on his door, more shocked to see two New York cops, and absolutely stunned when they put handcuffs on his wrists.

“Nathan Nelson?  You’re under arrest for murder,” the chunky-looking cop said.  His partner smiled broadly.  “You guys got it good.  Arresting a wealthy hot shot like you just made my day.”

The overweight guy looked smug.  “Shooting a homo with a lady’s gun, your .22 calibre, and then dropping it.  What a jerk.”

*

BIO: Walt bounces between writing genres, from mystery to humor, speculative fiction to romance.  His work has appeared in print and online in over a score of publications, including Pulp Metal.  He’s also bounced from Fortune 500 firms to university posts, and from homes in eight states and to a couple of Asian countries.  He now lives in New Jersey, a nice place to visit, but he doesn’t want to die there.

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