“A Girl Named Hannah”
by Jack Bristow
I won’t lie to you, Mister—every night, after my beloved wife Ruth falls asleep I rush off into the bathroom and pleasure myself. But first, I have to haul ass into the library, and gather all the nudie books stashed neatly away underneath the dust-covered Encyclopedia Britannica. Then, I rush off into the living room and snatch a few cinnamon scented candles from off the coffee table; I carry the candles with me into the bathroom, along with the nudie book. The hand lotion I don’t even have to worry about—because it’s already underneath the kitchen sink. During the time I go to work on myself, I flip through the pages. Well, I will not go into intimate details Mister because I am, after all, a gentleman. I will say, however, that this has been the normal routine for me, the past twenty years of my marriage. No, scratch that. Not just a routine, a scared ritual of sorts. My wife is getting up there—in her mid-seventies—and so am I, for that matter. Well, after I’ve finished my little… ritual I will automatically check the bottom of the floor and carpeting for any mess. It’s a husband’s worst nightmare to have his wife walk into the bathroom late at late and step in his jolly juice, ha, ha, ha. Anyway, I’ll immediately turn the Walkman off—no more Barry White!—and hobble back into the bedroom, beside Ruth, in the bed. Sometimes, eye-protectants over her head so she can’t see, she’ll mumble, “Is that you, Arthur? Where did you go, huh? You’ve been gone a mighty long time. I was just about to take these googles off and go looking for you,” just as I slither my way into bed. “Nothing, sweetheart,” I’ll reply. “I thought I heard a prowler outside. Go back to bed.”
And off to bed I can go now too, finally! That I’m no longer backed up, and my mind is so clear. Now, things aren’t so bad. And usually, in spite of Ruth’s snoring, I am able to slip off into a nice dream-state as soon as you can say jumping Judas Iscariot. Off away into dream land now—I am in an entire different reality, an entirely different house, with much richer furnishings. A two-thousand dollar leather sofa, off in the corner of the living room, a matching couch on the other side, near the fireplace. Atop the hearth of the fireplace is a silver-platter, on which there are two glasses of sparkling champagne, a brand I have undoubtedly never had before in my life, but dreamed of having, ever since reading all those fancy Jane Austen novels. Anyway, now, I grabbed a glass of champagne from off the platter and walked leisurely back over toward the leather couch, and plopped myself down. Suddenly, romantic jazz escaped the speakers from the CD player near the kitchen. And in walked this silhouetted form, dressed in what appeared to be a fluffy pink romantic nightgown. As it neared I made out who and what it was! My lover—the only thing I had ever loved sexually, after Ruth had gotten old. My hand!
“Hello there, sailor,” the hand had said seductively. “I see you are enjoying the champagne. Mind if I join you?”
“Why not,” I said coyly, as I took another small sip from the glass. I just sat there, the stoic businessperson, the-until-tonight-monogamous husband, who had not all the way given into temptation yet but who damn well would soon, if the other party knew which right words to say. Hannah, my palm, watched as I sat there uncomfortably and then she cut to the chase.
“Arthur,” Hannah said, “I want you to leave Ruth.”
“Leave Ruth,” I damn near spit the expensive champagne out all over Hannah’s opulent gown. “Why?”
“Because,” Hannah said, “You don’t love her anymore. You know it. She is nothing to you anymore. She does nothing for you. You do nothing for her. You’d be better off away from each other.”
“Go on,” I said, finishing off the rest of the champagne.
“You have had no children together. You two don’t get along. You are always constantly bickering. And you have to sneak out every night just to make love to me. Listen to me, Arthur. You are seventy-five years old. Just how many years do you suppose you have left? You are not immortal, you know. You are an ordinary man. But I am in love with you, madly, hopelessly, desperately in love with you. You know that, don’t you? Good. So, what I want you to do is, when you wake up,” Hannah continued, “I want for you to tell your wife you want a divorce, and that you intend to spend the rest of your life with me. You understand that, Arthur?”
“Gee, Hannah,” I said, shifting uncomfortably on the couch, “I’m not so sure about that.”
Hannah grabbed me with her entire fist, and it felt so very swell, splendid. How could I say no? My best years were now over. I no longer loved Ruth, unfortunately. And Ruth, unfortunately, no longer loved me, either. What Hannah was telling me was the truth, by gum! Before I knew it, I was wide awake again but, it was not yet daytime, only night. I felt around in the bed for Ruth and would you believe it I could not find her. Darn, I thought to myself, getting up out of the bed and running toward the bathroom. What happened to Ruth? It was unlike her to get up and go to the bathroom this late at night. She never did. I ran out of the bedroom and through the corridors, hoping against hope that her blood pressure didn’t raise again and that I’d become a widow. Hell, I loved Ruth, but I loved Hannah more. I prayed and prayed that Ruth would be all right. My poor, precious Ruth! I ran through the corridors and as I neared the bathroom door I knocked. No answer, and the bugger was locked, too. So I ripped the door off its flimsy hinges and would you believe it, there was my wife Ruth inside, sitting on the closed toilet seat, in a rather indecent pose…
“Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?” I said to Ruth, aghast, horror-stricken, and incalculably traumatized.
Ruth looked up at me—ruthlessly, vindictively. And then she thrust her hand up into the air. “Arthur, I don’t believe I’ve properly introduced you to my new friend yet. Arthur, meet Scratchy. Scratchy, this is my beloved husband, Arthur.” There was uncomfortable silence for a second or two, but dear God, it had felt like a lifetime. Ruth finally broke the awkwardness by speaking again. “Arthur, Scratchy and I have been talking, and I think it’s time you and I had a serious talk.”