Robert was walking on the boardwalk which connected Brighton Beach with Coney Island. He was trying to avoid the loose wooden slats that would jump if stepped on. His friend had broken his ankle a year before on one of those. Poor Dan, he tried to sue the city but lost on a couple of technicalities, something to do with him walking barefoot and piss drunk.
Robert walked and saw a girl crying surrounded by three other girls. The face was striking; dark skinned, high cheek boned, but tears were falling down from blue or green eyes that seemed to glow. All topped with dusty brown hair tied up in a pony tail. Her face was in pain and a lot of it. It hurt to even look at her. He kept walking but that face, the agony that she was feeling was all too familiar to him. He kept walking but the memory of that girl’s face would not fade.
Of course its probably because he saw a bit of himself in that look of sadness brought on by some sort of act of deceit. Can anything be as painful as someone who declares their devotion, gains trust only to commit adulterous acts without any remorse?
Just six months earlier Robert had walked into his apartment to find his wife in bed with the exterminator.
In their bed! Lenny, the exterminator!
“I am sorry Bobby, he caught me showering and one thing led to another…I just have felt so sad…”
He hated when she called him “Bobby” and this further incited him.
“So you fuck the exterminator? Well its kind of ironic since our marriage has been obliterated by you; he may be the exterminator but your the obliterater. You get out and get out now; I am not leaving this apartment. Lenny, you stay here and help her pack her shit. I hope you sprayed her, Lenny, because if I see her in this apartment again I will come and get you. I want her exterminated.”
Needless to say he lost his cool. It wasn’t the first time that she had cheated on him – they had gone to a therapist to try and make the marriage work and he thought it was going better; then he happened upon Lenny and Linda. He immediately ordered a new bed and had the old one removed. He threw the bed coverings into the incinerator, said a quick prayer and let the door slam behind him.
Sara had signed the divorce papers and was now finished with Dave.
“I am sorry.” Dave said as he counter-signed the decree; it was the first time they had agreed on anything since they last signed a piece of paper the night of their wedding when they agreed to marry. Marriage was an instant disaster for them. From the moment the glass was stepped upon under the canopy until the day she changed the locks on the door for their apartment; Sara had no reason to smile. Dave was immediately incapable of being faithful to Sara. On the honeymoon itself he had struck up a friendship with another couple and ended up sleeping with the wife.
It was the worst kept secret that Dave was running around with women right and left. A secret that was never revealed to Sara until the shit hit the fan when Dave hit on Sara’s sister at a family function. Sara’s sister, Florence, promptly smacked him and kicked him in the groin. Sara threw him out of their apartment that night, changing the locks using a 24 hour locksmith and put all his stuff in three garbage bags and throwing them down the incinerator.
It was that same Saturday that she went walking on the boardwalk only to have that public meltdown when she saw her once best friend and one of her ex-husbands lovers bending over and stretching her legs. Sara kicked her in the butt and she went falling head first onto the sand. She stood up and her face, which had been sweating, was full of sand which made it look as if she was wearing a “Sand Mask.” Instead of laughing she walked away and began to sob uncontrollably. It was her breaking point and her lowest point – that is when Robert walked by.
It was over a year later when Robert briefly met Sara at a party his friend threw for Memorial Day; he got her number and called her a week later. They spoke on the phone for a short time and set a date to go out.
Robert picked her up from her apartment and then they had went to have dinner “Isabella’s” on the upper West side. After dinner they walked East towards Central Park where they sat down and drank coffee and people watched. They spoke for hours that night, touching each and every subject – there was a lot of laughter and two or three tears – but there was also a comfort level that was a first for both of them. Having both been betrayed they were able to express themselves and be understood without a fear of being judged. With others it was an embarrassing topic to bring up or express. With others there was always a sense that the other person felt as if there was more to the story; as if somehow the victims in these situations were guilty of some shortcoming, some defect that would cause their partners to seek sexual pleasure elsewhere. Such liberal thinking with others situations were based on ignorance and a way to confirm to themselves that it could never happen to them. Robert and Sara knew better.
After that night they spoke a lot on the phone and went out almost every night – either for walks, movies or dinner. They enjoyed each other’s company and had fallen teenager in love in a summer they had no reason to expect dreams to come true until that night at Isabella’s.
Four months later, Robert proposed to Sara.
It was on March 1 that the wedding was to take place in a synagogue in Brooklyn. A week before that Robert was in his apartment when there was a knock on his door. It was Linda and she was in tears. Apparently she was out of work and out of cash – she had no one to turn to but him. When he told her that he was getting married the next week she began to cry harder. He put his arm around her and she went to put her lips on his – taken by surprise it took him a second or two to push her away. But it was within those 2 seconds that the door opened and Sara witnessed the stolen kiss. She dropped her bags, turned around and disappeared.
“Was that?” Linda asked.
“Yes, get out of here now! I don’t want to ever see you again.” He screamed.
“Oh come on you know I am much prettier and sexier than slick over there.” She said, accentuating her cleavage by stretching back.
“Get out or I will pick you up myself and throw you. You are nothing to me but an insect that should have been exterminated but that exterminator obviously didn’t know how to kill roaches like you. Get out now!”
She stood up, laughing and said. “Well your in a pickle now. She thinks we were fooling around. I guess I will just have to go and tell her that we have been all this time. Unless of course you can spare five grand right now.”
“Tell her what you want she wont believe you; she knows what kind of whore you are and what kind of man I am.”
“OK we’ll see.” She walked out of the apartment grinning. He closed the door behind her. Picked up his phone and called Sara.
Voice mail; of course.
“Sara where are you? Come back to the apartment or call me at least so I can tell you what happened. I promise you nothing did.” Pushed the “End” button and fell on a chair.
As he thought back to Sara walking in the apartment he kept seeing her face and it brought back some memory. A memory from another time but was it another face? Another person? The pain on Sara’s face was so familiar to him. He needed to find her, needed to tell her the truth.
The door opened and it was Sara.
“My heart was torn apart once before I will not allow it to happen again.” She said to him without a trace of pain or anger on her face. She seemed relieved.
“I promise you I did not kiss or want to touch her. She is-“
“I know. I was outside and I heard it all. I told her that if she ever came within a hundred feet of me or you that I would kick her ass.” She laughed and then began to cry.
“I am sorry I even let her in. I really didn’t know what to do – she was crying and for a split second I thought she was human…”
“For a split second I felt that feeling of betrayal; its like a kick in the stomach; you know how it feels. Then I thought to myself that you are not Dave and you would not hurt me like that. That’s when I stood outside the apartment and I heard the bitch threaten you. I am sorry I walked out I saw her kiss you and I just felt…”
“I know – imagine how I felt being kissed by her. I need to check if I have rabies now that I have been touched by that bitch. I am sorry…I saw the look on your face and it caused a pain inside of me that I cannot describe…it brought back a memory of pain that I don’t want to feel anymore.”
They embraced, made love and then a week later married. The honeymoon never ended even when the children came and they needed to sneak out once in a while just to have some time together.
Linda never made contact again; Robert heard she had moved to Puerto Rico or Miami Beach and had married some Spanish drug dealer; he didn’t really care and she faded away. Dave ended up repenting and became “Ultra-Orthodox” whatever that means. He moved to Lakewood, New Jersey where apparently he was caught in bed with two of his “friends” wives who were part of the “Ultra Orthodox” crowd. He took off and no one knows where is he is today – no one really cares either.
Sara and Robert still find their way to Isabella’s, although money is tight and its not as easy to pay for the meal. They make it their business to never forget their love for each other. Sometimes when she sleeps he stares at her face and smiles and whispers, “that face.”