(Last week: Gina tells Chartan she is done with the mystic.)
They returned to the motel room to find Brazil sitting on the bed,
“Check out time?” asked Brazil.
“Have any ideas? asked Chartan
“You two are the love birds—I’m ready to spend the night in my bed in Sacramento.”
“And I’d love a change of scenery,” added Gina.
Six months later Chartan and Gina had settled into a comfortable routine in Sacramento. They lived in Chartan’s small apartment where they started each morning off with strong coffee and discussions about where they would move to and what they’d do in this yet to be identified destination. Wouldn’t be in Sacramento, promised Gina, who had little nice to say about California’s capital city. Chartan made it clear he wasn’t opposed to leaving. They saw little of Brazil who busied himself trailing unfaithful spouses for a fee.
During the week Gina would leave around 10:30 a.m. for a waitressing job at a nearby lunch and dinner restaurant. Chartan still taught his “life restoration” class, although enrollment was down to 20 people, mostly woman in their 50s. He also went back to work as a limo driver, only this time he drove a steady four days per week rather than the last two or three days of the month. The couple agreed they should save as much money as possible from what they earned. The cookie jar on the kitchen table had $345 in it.
They also neglected to get married.
One day Chartan was walking home from the Adult Education Center when his mind drifted to thoughts of Elisa. They had been intimate once during the evening she had stayed in his apartment. He remembered the moments vividly. At first he marveled at her body, but after a time he sensed her aura of evil—it was as if she wanted to take control of him. He wanted her to leave and was thoroughly relived when she did. Gina, on the other hand, was comfortable to be with–their sex had become predictably nice, efficient. He assumed they eventually would move to another level of passion—it would come naturally.
These were the thoughts that filled Chartan as he walked up the stairs to the second floor apartment where Elisa was waiting by the door. Had she listened to his thoughts? She wore tight blue jeans and a white dress shirt that Chartan noticed was missing a button, accentuating her cleavage.
“I’m on probation—the least you could do is act pleased to see me,” she said.
“I’m surprised to see you—there have been changes,” he replied.
Chartan reached out with a key in his hand, certain that Elisa had pushed her bosom into his arm when he turned the lock.
“You want to come in?”
“For a minute. You can tell me about these changes.”
They stood facing each other in the kitchen. Chartan knew she wanted to have sex with him.
Why haven’t I thrown her out yet?
Chartan had studied the phenomena of super performances by athletes who, after their feat, said their moment of glory occurred in slow-motion, as if time had stopped to allow them to achieve perfection. He recognized that time had stopped for him in his kitchen as he faced Elisa. She was a foot away just as she was in another room cast in the gray hue of a dream. She was removing her clothes. She was laughing at him. She was begging him with tears.
“Leave, now.” he said firmly, pointing to the door. “
He watched himself send Elisa away. He swore that is what happened. But she was no ordinary soul. Even though he was alone in the kitchen, she was still present, watching his every move. Temptation never leaves.
(To be continued next Sunday)