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He stood a long while, or what seemed like a long while, in the bedroom doorway. He had planned to gently kiss his fiancé hello/goodnight before he undressed and went in for his shower and then to join her in the bed laying up against her all naked and cozy, but standing there, seeing what he was seeing, that idea quickly got scrubbed. He blinked several times, took in the whole scene, did an about face and went back down the hall to the living room where he sat down on the sofa and leaned back. He put his feet up on the trunk they used as a coffee table—it had been his trunk/coffee table (from his apartment) before he had moved in here with her—and leaned back into the sofa. Sitting in the dark, he finished his beer then got up for another one. On his way out of the kitchen, he grabbed the bottle of bourbon on the kitchen table.

The bottle of bourbon in hand, he stopped for a moment back at the bedroom and took in the scene for a second time. He did this simply to make sure what he was seeing was what he was seeing. Assured that his eyes were not deceiving him, he went back into the living room. On his way back, he shut the hall light so the apartment was totally dark.

Back on the sofa, he kicked off his shoes and resumed his leaning-back position, feet up on the trunk. He drank some bourbon, sipped his beer, lit a cigarette.

It was a bit after two in the morning. He saw this when he’d checked the clock in the kitchen. He would have to be leaving in a couple of hours. He still needed a shower but he wasn’t so inclined to do it now. For now, he decided, he could sleep in his clothes where he was. All he really had to do was get the alarm clock from his bedside. Or he could keep drinking and pop some black beauties, which, he knew, no matter how much he went over it in his mind, was what he was going to end up doing.

He wasn’t angry. It wasn’t as if his fiancé were cheating on him, like he was doing to her over and over with different women. The notion that, as one of those women had told him, it made him a better lover for her, well that didn’t cut it. It was pretty good as far as rationalizations went, but that’s all it was, a rationalization.

He took a long drink of the bourbon then a good portion of the beer, then, leaning deep into the cushions of the sofa, he closed his eyes. The first thing he saw was the scene he’d seen in the bed. She was in the middle. Jack, in just his underwear, was next to her on one side. Tim, in men’s pajamas, was next to her on the other side. Snug as a bug in a rug! Next to the bed, on the night table, was an ash tray in which sat a hash pipe.

The second thing he saw was Marie. He saw her face as she approached him. He felt those teardrops falling on his cheek against hers. He heard the sigh. Then he felt her against him, him pressed into her, and then they were locked together in something that was sex but not sex, something that was almost like a remedy for the sadness they both felt. She was sad for her life, for the way her life turned out, and he was sad because she was sad, or because her sadness reminded him of his loneliness and surely he empathized with her.

There in the dark, Marie in his eyes even though he didn’t want that, he sipped the bourbon, smoked a joint, looked at the tiny micro dots in his closed eyes until it was time to pop the black beauties and go back to work.

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