She walked out into the harsh light of noon, donning scratched and dirty sunglasses in a feeble attempt to obfuscate the affects of last evening. Her afternoon walk of shame and the long, wide run in her stockings made it obvious to even the most casual observer that this was not her first time at the rodeo or her first rodeo clown. She slumped into the driver's seat of her rusted out, blue Honda Civic and put both hands on the wheel. As she hung her head in sad reflection of the prior night's activities, she noticed traces of chocolate pudding smeared across her left forearm. Amazing what passes for sexy to some people. Though she had a minor interest in bedroom games, she never really saw an obvious connection between sex and food.
The pudding was just another reminder of how difficult it had been adjusting to her new lifestyle. She often discovered in he most embarrassing ways that there were things that she had to be concerned with which had barely ever crossed her mind before. For instance, personal grooming. What had at one time been a casual, semi-regular trip to Anusha, her waxer, was now something that she had to address more often. Much to her dismay, her personal areas were on display, and it seemed that a particular style of grooming was in demand or even expected. Given her financial situation, her only option was to purchase a home waxing kit. As with most things that she found herself involved with lately, her experiment into home grooming was met with an equal measure of failure and shame. Fortunately, they DO sell a merkin in the kit WITH the DIY Brazilian wax. And although this was not exactly comforting to her, it reminded her, in some small way, that all was not lost.
It had been a very rough two years for her. She could not believe that such crushing financial ruin was possible. To go from socialite wife of a successful hedge fund manager to part time truck stop waitress/"working girl" in such a short period of time seemed more surreal than the Dali painting that used to hang in the marble front entrance of her Park Avenue penthouse apartment. She should have seen the signs a year before the bottom fell out, when her soon to be ex-husband started to shop the Dali painting around to local investors.
She recalled the last person that he showed the painting to. A creepy and flatulent dentist by the name of Sheldon Myers. He was one of those people that stared into your eyes a little too long and stood much too close when doing it. She recalled seeing him standing there in her hallway in his odd, short sleeved dentist's smock, the words DOCTOR TOOTH embroidered across the pocket in red thread. He had a shock of grey, frizzy hair that was receding at the front and worn far too long, making him look like an aging Larry Fine.
She walked into the hallway to the area where he was standing with her husband, studying the Dali. There was a faint smell of rotten eggs in the air as she moved toward them. Hearing her heels click across the marble tiles, both men turned to her. A cold shudder went down her spine as the dentist made eye contact and was introduced by her husband. He extended a cold and fishy handshake, which he did not break immediately. Instead he held her hand and her gaze for what seemed to be an eternity. As his eyes bored holes straight through her, she heard a noise coming from his stomach. She tensed at the borborygmus emitted by the ever too close and hovering dentist. Then she quickly yanked her hand away, offered an insincere "Nice to meet you." and quickly left the room.
The creepy dentist was like a messenger of doom as things went rapidly downhill from that point. Shortly after her encounter with the dentist, they traveled to abroad to meet with a wealthy client that had a large portfolio with her husband. They had hoped to meet in Paris for a fabulous meal on the Champs -Elysees, but at the last minute he insisted that they meet in Romania due to "a deportation issue". The thought of travelling to Romania made her stomach turn. When last in Romania, she had dined with a Count and drank copious amounts of Slivovitz. It did not sit well and memories of the after effects of that meal were still vivid in her memory. When they arrived to meet with the client, they found out that his "deportation problem" was actually more of a Roman Polanski type problem and he was on the road to being penniless and rotting in a Romanian jail. One by one, her husband's largest clients fell prey to financial ruin, by way of the economy, their own nefarious actions or, in many cases, bad investments on her husband's part. It was around this time that her own financial crisis began to come into focus.
On the plane ride home from Romania, her husband sheepishly confessed to having a gambling problem and to skimming "a few dollars" from some of his higher end clients. Her mouth began to dry as she pressed her nervous looking husband for a definition of "a few dollars". He was silent for a while and seemed to be figuring the amount in his head. She pulled a box of Tic Tacs our of her purse and shook two little white mints into the palm of her hand, never taking her gaze off her husband. As she moved her hand toward her mouth, her husband blurted out "About seven million." which caused her to gasp as she took the mints in, inhaling the candy deep into the back of her throat and kicking off a coughing fit that had every eye in First Class fixed on her. She could feel the mint lodged at the back of her throat, but coughing would not expel it. She had no other option but to try to pull it out. She reached all the way to her uvula and pulled out the tic-tac. She then regained her breath and her composure and asked her husband to give her the entire story.
What followed was a tale of a double life and a desperate man who needed to support not only a serious gambling habit, but a second family out west in Reno. One with the children that she could not have. She felt a pain deep in her stomach as the tale unfolded in front of her. All the West Coast travel he had done under the guise of business was in support of his other family in Reno and his spiraling descent into gambling debt. There would be no opportunity to sue for divorce, considering that he was almost broke and likely bound for jail. When the plane touched down at JFK, she knew that the only thing to do was to claim her suitcase and leave him there and then.
She turned the key to the car and the engine started with a stutter. Exhaling deeply, she put the car into reverse and pulled out of the parking lot. The outskirts of Chicago weren't New York, but she embraced the anonymity that she had here. She had survived a difficult personal tragedy and had done it on her own. In that sense, she never minded all of her husband's business travel, she liked to be alone. And she knew that she would rebuild her life, one brick at a time. One trick at a time.