Marie happily popped a black beauty. She swallowed it with a good swig of bourbon and then put on her coat which she had carried with her into the meat room. Both she and Bill were dressed and ready to cut out. Neither one of them spoke about what happened. Bill had not wanted it but Marie was pushing for it. If only the walls of the meat room could talk!

Tommy stopped them on their way out the front door. He asked what they’d been doing and if the kitchen was fully shut down. Marie kept quiet, let Bill do the answering. He was partially honest saying they were talking downstairs and yes, the kitchen was put to sleep.

Tommy locked the front door behind them. There were still customers at the bar and Bebe was cleaning up as Bill saw when they passed by. Tommy would personally open the front door to let out the remaining people.

Bill did follow Marie home, or almost all the way home as it worked out. About two blocks from her house he blinked his lights and pulled over. Marie pulled over too and backed up to where he was. She got out of her car and came into his.

“I’m gonna leave you here.”

“I’m good to go.”

“Sure you’re gonna be safe?”

“I told you. He ain’t coming home till the morning. Maybe not even till just before I go to work.”

“Well, here you go.” Bill handed Marie a joint and two Quaaludes. “Pop the ludes with some wine or beer. Smoke the joint. Take a hot shower or bath and relax. They’ll help you sleep.”

Marie kissed Bill on the cheek. “Thanks,” she said. “Thanks for everything.”

“Let’s just keep it between us.”

“Fine with me.”

“See you tomorrow.”

“Night white boy,” Marie said.

Bill waited until Marie was back in her car and heading off before he made the next turn and drove home. In the scope of things, he was not all that late. Still, he entered the foyer quietly and climbed the stairs trying not to wake his fiancé. First thing he wanted to do after checking in on her was take a long shower. He wanted to wash off the kitchen funk, especially the greasy feeling and kitchen odors he invariably came home with. He also wanted to wash off any scent of Marie. He wanted to wash off the memory too, but that would never happen. Ever. In fact, this memory would get etched into his being, not because of anything other than how it had all ended up, with them in a deep embrace and something intimate rather than expressly sexual occurring.

“Nothing eases the sense of loneliness,” Marie had said.

“Think you’re the only one that feels it?” Bill had asked. “Just cause you got a spouse doesn’t mean that you’re not lonely. That’s why I held you. That’s why this happened.”

“You sorry?”

“I don’t know what I am.”

That was true. Bill didn’t quite know what had happened or how he felt about it. Well, he knew what happened but he didn’t know how it ended up being the way it was or why. He melted when she started crying and he certainly related to her loneliness. Then they were locked into this thing that was much more than anything either of them had anticipated.

But that was not the only surprise of the night for Bill. It was just the first one. When he got up the stairs to the rooms of his apartment, he threw his coat on the sofa then quietly went into the kitchen and got himself a beer. He was sipping the beer as he walked through the hall into the bedroom. He used the light in the hall so he did not to have to light up the bedroom so he did not risk waking his fiancé. What he discovered was the second surprise.

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