Everything Old is New Again
by Lawrence Christopher
Story Prologue: Adversity causes some people to breakdown and it causes others to break out and go for what God says they can have! So break out today, don't break down or break up! ~ Unknown
The temperature was in the low 70s, with an occasional mild breeze comforting the crowd gathered at the outdoors Chastain Park Amphitheater. Performing on the stage one of the most musically accomplished funk bands of the '70s, the almighty elements of Earth, Wind & Fire. "Can't Hide Love."
It was a night of celebration. Earl bought tickets for table seats right in front of the stage. He brought a picnic basket with a bottle of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and Multigrain pasta with asparagus in basil Alfredo sauce to nosh. It was his gift to Deanna who was celebrating a "Fabulous Forties Night." She had reached a milestone fortieth birthday and she lost forty pounds. With the plus and minus, she still was a full-figured fashionista turning the heads of plenty of on looking men.
"Earl, this night is fantastic. Thank you so much, honey." Deanna gave her tall, swarthy and handsome chaperone a champagne moisten lipped kiss. "I love you, babe."
After the concert the couple was sitting in bumper to bumper traffic to leave what was a sold out concert. In his Urbane luxury sedan, Earl opened his sun roof to let in the moonlight and balmy night air. His mobile phone began ringing with his Anita Baker "Talk to Me," ringtone; "what's wrong, wrong with you? Why don't you tell me what you're going through darlin'?" That was his ringtone for certain women locked in his phone. The caller was Cynthia Sinclair. It was her forth missed call, f ollowed by four left messages.
"Aren't you going to answer that?" Deanna asked.
"No. Tonight I'm with you and this is your special night."
"Oh, aren't you so sweet. Why hasn't some woman swept you up? Never mind, I know . . ."
"You sweep up trash, not the person you marry." They said in unison followed by a chuckle out loud.
It's the next day.
"I'm returning your call."Earl announced to Cynthia.
"Why didn't you answer your phone?"
"I was busy."
"Doing what and with whom?"
"I took someone to a concert."
"I thought you weren't dating anyone."
"I'm not. Not exactly; to how you're implying."
"What the hell does that mean?"
"I occasionally go to the movies, dinner, etcetera. I ‘date' socially, not romantically."
"Well whoopty doo. Mister Earl Grey has all the answers and a perfect life, don't you?"
"No I don't. What's wrong Cynthia?"
There was an awkwardly long pause.
"You might be getting a call from my husband." She replied with evident trepidation in her voice.
"He was looking at our credit card bill and wanted to know why I spent close to four-hundred dollars at Tiffany's; ‘for a damn pen and cufflinks.'"
"Oh, so now it's a damn pen?"
"I'm sorry. Those were his words."
"Is the real issue that you bought the gifts for me?" Silence returned between the callers.
Cynthia broke down and began to tell of their family financial troubles. Their difficulties were initially brought on by her husband helping his repeat offender drug dealing brother. They disagreed about the support of the grown man. When she reluctantly agreed to allow the brother-in-law to stay in their home, police raided the house in an attempt to arrest him. That was the last straw for Cynthia, but not for her husband. He began acting independently and took out a twenty-five thousand dollars second mortgage on their home in order to bail his brother out of jail and to cover his attorney fees.
"Now he's left me paying for most of our household bills, the kids private school. He says it's embarrassing for him being a city attorney to have his brother in jail and going to court."
"I can see his point."
What?! You're taking his side?"
"No. I said I understand his point of view."
"Well, that started our problems. Now we don't talk unless we have to. And when we do, it's about something that involves the children. He is still a good father. Other than that, it's like I'm a single mother."
"No you don't see. We aren't sleeping in the same bed. We haven't had sex in months."
"Yes, and when you wouldn't have sex with me, I had a slight breakdown when I got back."
"Yes. When I was with you, I was trying to get my groove back on, if you know what I mean. "
"All of the sudden I feel so cheap." Earl followed with a chuckle.
"Well, I wouldn't have asked anyone but you. Wait a minute; excuse me. Who got a three-hundred and fifty dollar gift package; and who got sent home high and dry? Again, if you know what I mean?"
With that being said they both had a good laugh. From there the two dear friends carried on a more general and familiarly comfortable conversation. Earl shared with Cynthia a recent commentary he had read titled, Don't Give Until it Hurts. He paralleled her husband's support of his brother as a case of giving until it was obviously hurting their marriage. Not sparing Cynthia's feelings, he stated that her impromptu gifts to him did not help matters.
"You know Earl, I love you."
"I think you're really missing the point I'm trying to make here." He chuckled out loud
"No, no; I don't mean it like that, exactly. You're such a good friend for being so honest with me."
"That's what friends are for?"
Long after they had ended their call and Earl convinced Cynthia to engage her husband in a much needed dialogue about their finances and relationship; intimate thoughts of Cynthia lingered in his mind. Reality had set in. "You can't pretend there's nothing there." Earl knew that he couldn't deny the fact that he was in love with a married woman. Knowing this, he made a very difficult decision. He wanted a loved based on truth not just dare; so he had to end their friendship.
With the very brushed sterling silver pen meant to celebrate their 25th anniversary, Earl penned a note requesting that she no longer contact him. "I want to respect the sanctity of your marriage and our friendship." He made no mention of his true feelings for her. Accompanying the note, he enclosed a small token of his appreciation and love. He wrote a check for $400 and in the memo section, Happy Anniversary.