Word Count 500
By Sam McManus
Dr. Girard got caught cheating on his wife. Don’t ask me how I knew it. I wouldn’t sell Sheila out for any amount of money. But I have to say I took a skosh of pleasure in hearing the news, in imagining his normally smug face just after Janine confronted him. They say it happened in the unisex bathroom at their country club, right after a round of golf, him with his cronies, and she with the “stitch and bitch club.” I imagine she smacked enough crap out of him to require use of the facilities they were already standing in.
But, realistically, it was probably just the handing over of incriminating photos, a number being tossed out, and a lawyer’s card as the cherry on top. That’s how those high society types tend to do it, after all, or at least that’s how I imagine it’s done. I guess I prefer my way better, because, believe me, Dr. Stephen Girard deserved to get taken down a peg or three.
The way Sheila tells it, Stephen and I were the best of friends at Northwestern, as inseparable as Siamese twins, but her memory has a few gaps in it. Most notably, sophomore year, when he stole Jenny Hopkins from me. Oh, and junior year, when he “ended up with Melinda Prior” when I got the flu but somehow a rumor went around that I had gonorrhea. Not to forget senior year – what I lovingly call “the trifecta” – when Fae Jones wound up in his bed instead of mine after the party to end frat parties.
I forgave him all that, though, because we used to be tight. Yah. We used to be tight, yet somehow Sheila’s memory includes us reconciling, when my forgiveness never included forgetting, never involved becoming his all-time whipping boy. So when someone came to me with the news of Stephen Girard getting caught cheating on his wife, I thought it was a not so subtle hint for me to bury the hatchet, to say we were square and get him back into my life.
“Hell no,” I told her, shrugging on my jacket and turning off the lights. She stood there with the glow from the nightlight illuminating her heels, not budging a step.
“Look, you and Stephen need to get over yourselves,” Sheila said, but I looked away.
“Maybe he needs to get over himself,” I half-agreed. “Or stop pretending it’s still college and he has to jump on anything that moves.”
“What about you, Jason?” she challenged. “What about what you took from him that started all of this?”
“I didn’t take anything from him!” I said, wounded. It had never been me. It had always been him, all those times.
“What about me?” she asked, quietly, but loud enough to echo in the otherwise empty room, the dissonance of the syllables vibrating clean.
“What about you?” I said. And she slapped me across the face, leaving an imprint I would never have imagined.