here’s that rainy day

Funny how love becomes
A cold rainy day…
Funny
That rainy day is here

 

I met Faith one rainy day in Chinatown.

I came in to escape a downpour, and there she was in her raincoat, sipping coffee and smiling. She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw, but more than that, I was captivated by her radiant smile.

Her eyes brightened in recognition—as if she had been waiting for me all her life.

I’ve never been suave, especially with women—I’m terribly bashful and socially inept, but with Faith, it was different.

I walked over to her table grinning as if we planned to meet, and said; “I think we’ve both been rained upon enough today. May I join you?”

She was wearing a colorful scarf to keep her hair dry and she took it off, shook out her bright copper locks and lit up the room. “Buy me lunch, and I’ll say yes.”

How could I refuse?

Now, I’m standing by our curtainless window staring at gloomy sky, white drop cloths over the furniture and wondering how the years sped by.

 

“I’m worried about our finances, Jay.”

Her brow was furrowed with worry lines. She had curled up on one end of the couch, clinging to a brown velour throw cushion as if it were a teddy bear.

‘Why worry, Babe? It always works out. You know writers—it’s a fine madness, but all it takes is one best seller and we’re back in the black again.”

“But I always feel I’m in the black, Jay—and it’s not a good place to be—under a dark cloud, uncertain what the future may bring.”

“Don’t we always get by?”

She shifted uncomfortably, her face a scowl, as she stared into the fire. “We do get by somehow, but it can’t go on forever, Jay. Whatever happened to that old adage about saving for a rainy day?”

“There’s no writers’ pension fund if that’s what you mean. But you knew that when you married me.”

I knew my words had an edge, but I also knew she had a point. I’m a natural pessimist and figure I’m only one bad decision away from losing everything. Maybe that’s why I act reckless.

“It’s okay for you, Jay, but you’re gambling with my future here too. If something happened to you, where would I be?”

“Probably married to a banker from Bay Street.”

I regretted the words the moment they were out of my mouth—it was a low blow.

Faith was a commodities investor working for a major bank. She was all futures—investments and dividends. I was free-spirited and careless.

Maybe that’s why it worked for us then—but that was then, and this was now. She had a point, and I couldn’t always go by the emotion of the moment.

“Look Babe, I’m sorry—you’re right. I’m wrong. I’ll make an appointment at the bank tomorrow. I promise.”

And that’s how my relationship began with Vanity Hall.

 

“You’re wife is right, Jay—you’ve made a ton of dough, but you’re all over the map in your investments. I don’t see any strategy here at all—and certainly nothing that would secure your future.”

Vanity folded her shapely legs, tilting them to one side, and combed her perfectly manicured talons through her silky blonde hair.

There’s something sensual about grooming rituals, subliminal or not—and something fascinating about impossibly long red nails.

Come to think of it, everything about her was fragile and brittle—stilettos and lipstick-red nails. She was a slender, porcelain ballerina pirouetting on a pin.

Now, she was staring intently at me, fixing me with her enormous dark eyes. “You’re lost aren’t you?”

I was truthfully. My feelings were on a runaway train and I was watching it leave the station.

“I call this lipstick and high heel syndrome,” she chuckled softly. “It’s similar to white coat effect, when you’re in the doctor’s office having your blood pressure checked. Financial planning can be stressful.”

She was right. I would hate to have my blood pressure checked right now. It was caused by lipstick and high heels all right, but had nothing to do with the state of Bay Street.

“Are you finding it hard to concentrate?” she asked.

I blushed, thinking she read my thoughts, but before I could make some lame excuse, she went on, “Board rooms are ‘bored’ rooms, as they say, and somehow stuffy surroundings aren’t congenial to a relaxed perspective.”

She glanced at her watch. “It’s almost noon—why don’t we get out of here and continue our conversation over lunch?”

My heart began racing and I could hear the blood pulsing in my ears. “Sure—why not?”

I said it with feigned indifference, but had to clench my hands to conceal the trembling.

“I’ll clear up a few details here and meet you at Coro’s in about fifteen minutes. How does that sound?”

“Sounds like a plan,” I said.

There was a gleam in her eye. “Order me cab sav and fettuccine alfredo.”

“No salad?” I croaked.

“Do I look like I need to eat salad?” she grinned mischievously.

“No,” I grinned back, “definitely not.”

 

There were fifteen minutes between my decision and her arrival. I felt like Prufrock—strangely empowered, yet powerless.

“Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”

I was sitting in a window booth and it had begun to rain. I thought of another restaurant on another day, and a smile so radiant, it made the clouds go away.

“I got rained on.”

It was Vanity, droplets sparkling like jewels in her hair, giggling at her little misadventure while men’s heads in the restaurant turned her way.

It was intoxicating. I was drowning in chains of seaweed while my Siren was preening and turning men to stone.

“I cleared my calendar for the afternoon.”

We clinked glasses and wordlessly toasted our freedom, and I pushed aside a mountain of guilt.

 

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

Breton slid open the panel behind the grate and the Good Father listened to a sad refrain—one he had heard many times before—just not from me.

“Have you told Faith?”

“No. I don’t think I can.”

He nodded as if understanding, but even he had to pause and stare off into space. “I thought you two had something special—I suppose no one is immune from the weakness of the flesh.”

It was my turn to nod.

“You’ve ended it, of course?”

I stared at him and blinked.

His countenance fell. “Oh Jay—you know I can’t absolve you. If you’re  bent on continuing in this sin, it would be a sacrilege—living a lie. You have a choice—either admit it, or quit it. There’s no other way.”

“I sighed. “I know it, Father—I guess I just had to hear you say it.”

I left with no absolution, no penance—other than that huge mountain of guilt I was carrying on my back. I carried it two more months because I couldn’t let her go.

I left her a dozen times over those months—tear-stained and desolate, yet I always returned. In the end I was found out, as inevitably, I knew that would be the way things would fall out for me.

“What are these charges at the Park Hotel?” She was asking, but the crumpled MasterCard statement, said she already knew.

“Is it over?”

I shook my head.

“It is now.”

 

Three months and thirty thousand dollars in lawyers’ fees brought me to where I am now.

I’m standing by our curtainless window staring at a gloomy sky, white drop cloths over the furniture and wondering how the years sped by.

What happened to that adage of saving for a rainy day? Faith is gone and Vanity is too… with a banker from Credit Suisse near King and Bay.

I have my absolution. I’m living my penance every day.

Funny how love becomes
A cold rainy day…
Funny
That rainy day is here to stay.

© 2015, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.

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a ghost of my own

Do you ever wonder about older, attractive women who have never married? I think about them all the time because that’s me—I’m one of that tribe. I’m constantly checking my temperature to see if I’m normal.

I pal around with two other like-minded souls—but wait, who am I kidding? —The truth is, I don’t know anyone like me. Who else at forty would take up with an imaginary lover only to discover he’s a ghost?

It all started when I saw an ad in the personal column of the Trib:

Former athlete with creaky knees—prone to migraine heartaches. Interested? Call Hank 212-920-3300.

All right, I thought, I’ll bite. It seemed so anti-romantic I was hooked. I dialed the number and was immediately connected to Hank.

“I did it on a lark,” he confessed, “ although my knees are creaky and I am a sentimental slob.”

I kind of liked that—I saw us sitting together watching old movies, sniffling away—a box of Kleenex between us.

“Come on over,” he said, “have a drink and catch the sunset.”

I was about to say no, until he mentioned the sunset. I’m a sucker for clouds and weather—hell, my favorite song is Stormy Weather.

I guess I’m an incurable romantic–which might explain why I never got hitched—the two just don’t seem to go together, in my humble opinion.

I reserve the right to be wrong.

I drove over to the Gramercy Park Hotel situated near Hotel 17 where Woody Allan filmed his movie, Manhattan Murder Mystery. I loved the bohemian ambiance of the hotel the moment I entered it.

I took the elevator to the Penthouse and found my way from there. He left the door ajar as he said he would, since he was in and out all day. “Just drop in, grab some champagne and make yourself comfortable,” he said.

Sounded intriguing—just the thing to liven up a slow Saturday afternoon.

I was not prepared for the plush rose-colored rug, the mahogany wood ceiling or the breathtaking Stanford White fireplace and mantle. Hank lived in the lap of luxury.

I was not prepared for him either when he walked out of the library wearing a white cable-knit sweater and holding a copy of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

“Jessica—just the way I pictured you!”

“Hank?”

“The same,” he smiled. “Did I disappoint?”

“You must be joking. You’re personal ad didn’t do you justice.”

“Oh no, it’s quite accurate, I assure you. Would you care for a glass of Dom?”

Sweep me off my feet—I dare you.

“Champagne would be nice.”

He expertly poured us both a glass and waved me to the love seat opposite the chesterfield where he sat, one leg crossed over the other, one arm resting on the sofa, back, looking for all the world like a glossy magazine ad for menswear.

“I’m afraid the sun has set, but perhaps we could enjoy the view later from the roof club and garden.”

“Sounds delightful,” I said, the bubbly instantly rushing to my head. It was delicious sensation and I didn’t want it to end.

An hour later, we were sitting enjoying the warm night air, high above Manhattan. The roof garden bar exuded the same charm as that of a gentleman’s club. It was intoxicating and made even more enjoyable by his reserved charm. He was attentive, but not over-bearing—in fact; he was one of those men who seem to delight in being with women.

I felt perfectly safe with him—sheltered even.

All too soon, however, the evening came to an end.

“We must do this again,” he said, signaling an end to our date.

“Of course, I enjoyed myself immensely, Hank—thank you, for being such a gentleman.”

“Ah, I suppose you’re referring to my failure to negotiate contact,” he chortled.

“Why, I guess I am,” I laughed.

“Yes, well that’s the unfortunate part—you see, I’m a ghost.”

I giggled nervously and took a sip of my champagne—the bubbles went up my nose—I began to sneeze. I reached out a hand to grasp his arm to steady myself, and my hand went right through his forearm.

“Oh my God,” was all I could say.

He smiled, but looked sad at the same time. “I wished I met you when I was alive.”

“This can’t be happening,” I said, more to reassure myself than argue with him.

“You sound like me—that’s what I said for the longest time—but we tend to adjust to things after a while.”

“I’ve go to go,” I got up and stumbled my way to the elevators and back to my car. I was numb. I tried to think, to reason—to logically see things in their proper perspective, but couldn’t.

Maybe I’ve been drugged. It was a possibility and I heard of the use of so-called date rape drugs, but the only problem was, it didn’t fit the situation. Hank had been a perfect gentleman.

I concluded I was in shock.

I left my car and took a cab home. I fell into bed without undressing and awoke the following morning to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Maria, my cleaning maid, must have come and seen me asleep in my clothes and thoughtfully made me coffee.

Then the fact hit me—It’s Sunday morning.

I leapt out of bed and headed for the kitchen. Hank was standing in the middle of the floor, one of my aprons tied round his waist and holding a spatula like a crossing guard holding up a stop sign.

“Oh, there you are! As Goethe says, whatever doesn’t kill us, quickens us—I knew you’d be all right. By the way, are you aware you snore?”

“I do not snore” I flared, and then realized I was standing in my kitchen talking to a ghost.

“Oh!” I cried as the kitchen tilted and the diamond-shaped black and white floor tiles rushed up to greet me.

“None of that,” Hank said, breaking my fall and standing me upright on my feet again. He was standing opposite me, still poised with his spatula.

“How did you do that?” I asked, more from curiosity than anything else, because Hank hadn’t budged an inch.

“It just happens—I’m a guardian.”

“I better sit down.”

“Good idea.” A chair conveniently slid underneath me.

“May I continue?” He pointed to the bacon in the pan, sizzling merrily on the stove.

“Please do,” I said, a trifle sarcastically, because I wasn’t sure exactly how to conduct myself with a gentleman cooking me breakfast in my own home.

He sat beside me, making small talk while I ate. “Mmm. That coffee smells delicious,” he said.

“Why don’t you have some?”

“Can’t—it’d go right through me.”

“But you sipped champagne last night,” I argued.

“Mostly bubbles—I can drink scotch though—after all, it’s spirits.”

“Ha ha,” I said glumly.

“Why so morose, Love?”

“Just my luck, I suppose. I finally meet a man I like and he turns out to be a ghost.”

“But we’re quite compatible in other ways. You like to see the world—we could travel together—I’ve been everywhere. I’m better than a tour guide.”

I began to feel sorry for myself and started to sniffle—an annoying habit, I know, but I couldn’t help myself.

I could see Hank growing anxious. His hands were twitching as if he wanted to reach out and hug me, but of course, he couldn’t.

I finally stopped on my own.

“So, where do we go from here?” I wailed.

“We carry on, I suppose, just as we are now.”

“But what’s the use, Hank—where is this heading?”

“Oh, I don’t know Love. Why don’t you just think of me as a garden gnome or a house fairy? I’m very good at protecting and I’m excellent company.”

“It’d be an improvement over what I have now, I suppose.” I eyed Poly, my lazy overfed Tabby, lolling on my sofa.

“There now, you see—that’s the attitude.”

“But couldn’t you somehow materialize—make your ectoplasm a little more dense, instead of being…” I searched for the appropriate word.

“Less rarefied?” he suggested.

“That’s right,” I sniffled. “Maybe we could sail away like Bogey and Bacall—go to Key Largo, or somewhere.”

He put on his best Bogart accent, “ But that wouldn’t work, schweetheart—you see, I’m a ghost.”

“Well, how’s it going to work?”

“As a platonic arrangement—a marriage of minds.”

“Sounds boring,” I pouted.

“No, on the contrary Love—I’ll listen to you, admire you, and laugh at your jokes. Most women have less with their husbands.”

 

Well, that’s how it started, this great love affair between Hank and me.

I know in my head, ghosts aren’t real, so Hank isn’t real. He’s my imaginary lover—but he is my lover.

He may be ectoplasmically challenged, but he’s good to me. He’s my protector and friend.

We spend nights sipping champagne and watch sunsets together. Next year, he promises to accompany me on a boat trip to Key Largo, creaky knees and all.

So, don’t worry about older, attractive women who have never married—they might have a Hank in their life.

© 2015, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.

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