Thinking about cunnilingus in the elevator is hardly a cause for concern. That was what Dr. Wendy Savannah told Vega while they were having lunch this afternoon. It’s every time I ride the one at work though, replied Vega. I think it’s because my husband won’t do it right. Dr. Savannah looked out the window and said, perhaps a therapist would be more appropriate for this matter. Will you do it right? asked Vega. Now she’ll be seeking a new physician, too.
Vega wants to tell her husband about the woman in the elevator. There’s a young attorney you should know about, Perry. I want to rip her blouse open and shove her face up my skirt right there and not stop, even when the bell chimes to let other people on. Let them watch. And she thinks, maybe that image will get him to do it right. It’s higher, she told him once. His face reddened deeply and they stopped right there. It’s not a Gin Gin, she said another time. Perry left right then and came back soaked in blended whisky. Just explain to him why that sort of satisfaction is important to you, suggested Dr. Savannah. Then maybe he’ll be willing to learn. She is a good doctor, thought Vega, now on the metro home. She is sound. I shouldn’t have said what I said. I should have said Perry does many, many, things right and I should have said it defensively, to let her know I love him—to reassure myself that I probably won’t leave him.
At home, Perry is doing one of those things he does right. He isn’t watching TV or looking at his mobile phone. He isn’t masturbating or looking at his mobile phone while masturbating. He is reading a novel in the dim, late afternoon light coming in through the street side window. Ray Bradbury, it looks like. He does that right too, thinks Vega, as she greets her husband. Tell me something good, says Perry. He throws the book on the couch and Vega swings her leg over to straddle him. That works, he says. And then he kisses his wife.
It’s all okay if you don’t cheat, said Barry, back at the bar. It’s all allowed. Perry wasn’t as sure as his friend was. He felt guilt for lusting all the time. I would never cheat on Vega, he said to Barry, maybe more to reassure himself than to state a static truth. That’s what I mean, answered Barry. Everyone knows that. Vega knows that. So what if your eyes linger a second longer at the way the bartender fills her blouse—my god how she fills that blouse. So what, Perry? You take inches where you can to keep the balance. Marriage is a long time, he said, and sipped his beer. It’s better to think of these moral strictures like rubber bands, not wrought iron fences. Trick is not to let them snap and send you running.
I guess it’s pretty characteristic of a married man, thought Perry. On the one hand, he agreed with Barry and didn’t think that telling Vega—telling her how there isn’t a room, restaurant or bar that he’s been to in Chicago where his eyes haven’t caught a pleasant stretch of jean here, or a black stocking creeping up a thigh there—would be much of a blow. So what, she might say. Are you fucking them or are you fucking me? Only ever you, Perry would say. But the fact that you’re just like other men, he thought—the fact that your eyes wander like the rest of these assholes—wouldn’t that wilt some flower inside Vega’s heart, some fragile thing worth holding on to?
Oh Jesus. Perry looks down at the page and realizes he hasn’t processed a word in some while. The light is growing dim off the street, and Perry squints to find the last sentence that registered in his brain before he started thinking about all the things he sometimes thinks about. Now Vega is coming in, bundled up for the cold the way he likes, wearing her scarf and jacket and leather boots. God, he thinks, watching her mouth a hello and a how-are-you-doing. He throws Bradbury to the couch and watches how she takes off her coat, the way her shoulder blades glide as she unwraps her scarf. She steps out of her boots and walks over to him, her hips swinging like they’ve always swung. You are the book, he wants to say to her, but she is on him now. You are the book and nothing will ever keep me from returning to the page. That’s good, Vega will say. That’s fine, Perry. Now shut up and put me in your mouth.
Anthony Martin (@pen_tight) is a mutt whose favorite word is subtext. His work appears, or is forthcoming, in WhiskeyPaper, Mojave River Review, Cheap Pop, and pacificREVIEW.