The Seven O'Clock Wife

He went out of the smoky-glass building without looking back. He was treading slowly, looking at the tips of his impeccably polished Timberland shoes. He hadn't even managed to answer the porter, who may have wished him well, smiling as in a dental-floss commercial. He was fed up with smiles and nice talking. With being polite. With being forbidden to get angry. That's what he was doing all day long."I'll stick my pen," he whistled through his teeth, mechanically. He threw himself in the car and took off his jacket and tie. This meant Friday. On the other days, he would only loosen the necktie knot.He joined the traffic instinctively, his mind devoid of any initiative. He was going with the stream.It was Friday, wasn't it.The images around him were absorbed by his brain like soap bubbles into a fan.He arrived on the outskirts of town and stopped. He didn't want to leave the town. Or maybe he did, but not badly. On some other occasion perhaps.He got out of the car and looked at the hills.Everything was very beautiful. Nothing was beautiful.And there were two hours to go till seven.How long was left till seven? He looked at his watch again. Two hours.Sometimes he happened to ask himself something and then forgot what. Some other times he happened to answer the question and forget the answer."I'll stick my pen," echoed in his head.His voice. Or the memory of his voice.His temples hurt. The weekend pain. Nothing abnormal, everything's under control. Sales are doing well. What sales? He started. The memory of his boss's voice.He entered a bar and ordered 100 ml of cognac. The first bar by the car.He eavesdropped on the people, but their words were absorbed by his brain like soap bubbles into a fan. He liked the heavy smoke. He liked the squalor. He liked the ugly, toothless, unshaven people. After all, thank God sales were doing well. What sales? What do you mean, the installments, of course! "I'll stick my pen," his voice countered the memory of his boss's voice. A good roll in the hay with Carolina, a good roll in the hay with Carolina, echoed in his head.There was an hour left till seven.It would have been nice for a rain to start from the heavy smoke. And streams of beer to pour into the toothless's mugs. Let the wretched poor be happy. Dance in the rain.As for him, Carolina will be his savior. She will suck all the headache from his head. It's Friday, after all.How long till seven?He gulped down the cognac and called her, although she knew he was coming. No answer. He didn't leave a message. Maybe she was with another client."I'll stick my pen!"Seven was his hour, nobody could take it from him. He paid for it. He was a loyal customer. He owed no debt.A roll in the hay with Carolina, a roll in the hay with Carolina.He was a good buyer, wasn't he? Nobody could take his hour. Desperately pressing the buttons of his phone, he finished the second glass of cognac. Carolina still didn't answer. He panicked. It was the first time it happened. Carolina usually waited. There, in her rented apartment. He felt wronged. On every weekend he would leave himself in Carolina's hands. She waited for him in the underwear he had bought for her. The color of sand. Seven was his hour. He didn't care about the rest.He felt cheated. It wasn't fair. He had never barged in at another hour. He didn't care who she was getting laid with except him. But at seven she was supposed to be at home, ready for him. At seven, she was like his wife.Carolina knew him. She knew all his whims.After a roll with Carolina, he was back on track.His temples hurt.Everything is under control. Nothing is under control.Carolina was cheating on him.Like an ordinary whore.Carolina was getting screwed by another guy at his hour. She didn't care a rap about his headache. About his tiredness. About the fact that on Monday he had to go to work again. And to speak nicely and smile. And not get angry. And boost sales."I'll stick my pen!"Carolina, bitch on heat, he wrote in chalk on an imaginary fence. He decided to call Renata. She was a sort of friend of hers. Well, inasmuch as two females engaged in this line of work may be friends. She would talk to him a lot about Renata, whom she had adopted. She had taught her the job. She had given him her number, at the start of their relationship. If you can't find me, I recommend Renata, she had told him then. But there had been no need for that.Renata answered.Before he had explained too much who he was, she said: aha, the seven o'clock client! She didn't know anything about Carolina's whereabouts. Absolutely no-thing. They hadn't met for several days. She was available. Yes, even at that very moment.He jumped into the car and headed for the city.A roll in the hay with Renata, a roll in the hay with Renata, echoed in his head.It was getting dark.On his way, he passed by Carolina's block. All the lights were off. As off as can be. He fumbled around the neighborhood and found the address.Renata was waiting in a satin nightie. Underneath, he could see the outline of her naked body. She was middle-sized, chubby, and had a waggish face."I'll go to the bathroom while you take your clothes off," she said.He heard her urinate at length. The one-bedroom apartment was unpretentious. Probably rented. Little, unmatched furniture. A peasant counterpane on the bed. He sat in the sunken armchair and began to undress, in a bad humor. The air of shabby improvisation poured cold water on his enthusiasm. Not a flicker of warmth, not a speck of imagination. Not even a flower. With Carolina, it was all spick-and-span. He heard Renata washing her hands and spraying herself. But he didn't hear her flushing the toilet.He saw her entering, lively and plump, with her sex shaven. She had left the nightie in the bathroom."What's wrong? Are we a little grumpy today?"He nodded. She started undressing him adroitly."We mustn't be grumpy," she mumbled.She stood him up as if on a medical consultation and got into action. She started by nibbling at his nipples, then, little by little, she went down to the pubic area. She gave out a powerful smell of cheap deodorant. But he admitted that she was proficient in using her tongue, almost as good as Carolina. In fellatio, if you don't know how to use your tongue, you don't make the grade, Carolina had explained him once. Since then, he had always paid attention to this detail. He felt his member harden up – and his exhaustion now seemed to subside. While doing her job, Renata stared at him with her big blue eyes, and tried to smile, which gave her face a rather sinister look, as of a growling dog ferociously protecting his bone."That's a good boy! Aren't we a beaut? Let's put on a little bonnet so we don't catch a cold," she talked to his sex, ignoring him altogether.She opened a little drawer of the cabinet and took a condom. She opened it with her teeth. She held its tip between her lips, went down on her knees, and before rolling it down his member, she began to chew on it, the way babies do with their pacifier, and imitate a suckling's cries: Whee! Whee! Whee! He thought it was quite a good joke. He smiled."You liked my pacifier, didn't you?" He nodded."Let's get down to business and dispel the worries!" she said, full of optimism and joy, as if she hadn't done it for a long time.He moved behind her. She had a broad, strong back. "Are you Transylvanian?" he asked, gasping gently."Yeah, but how could you tell?" she retorted, her voice muffled by the pillow."I knew by the accent," he answered, his voice quivering softly. "If you don't like it this way, we can change positions…""No, it's very good… like this we can talk…"Her sex, shaven not in the very recent past, was mildly prickling him. He thought that her skin was rough in that area, like tanned hide. Professional calluses, it crossed his mind."You're from the countryside?" he asked, without any pejorative intent."Yeah, from a village near Cluj… But how could you tell?" she queried, curious, her voice coming as if from the bottom of a well."I just thought… by the bedcover…" he muttered in a faint voice."Yeah, it's from my mom. I love it very much. I take it with me everywhere I work…"Then they both fell silent, because things were picking up speed.When he became exhausted, he lay on his back, satisfied, his eyes shut. His headache was dying down. Renata jumped to her feet trying to shake off the numbness. "What now, are we taking another ride?" she said, cheerfully.His finger answered no."Maybe next Friday," he said a moment later, his mouth feeling gummy. "I didn't want to tell you from the start, but you'll learn anyway… Carolina must have found someone, so she may retire from the job… That's what they say, at least…" she said, with a shadow of embarrassment. He remained silent. So did she.After a few moments, he heard her enter the bathroom. A few indecent splashes reached his ears. This time, they were followed by the sound of toilet flushing.He struggled up and began to get dressed.He left the money on the table and took off while he could still hear the shower running. Back home, he threw himself in bed, dressed, a glass of cognac in hand.His eyes staring at the ceiling.In his head there echoed only a long urination and some indecent splashes. Good Guys (Polirom, 2005) by Dan Lungu (b. 1969), from which the story was excerpted, is "a project to bring reality back to literature, which has famous forerunners, and instead of pondering whether we should be forewarned that this is non-fiction, we had just better enjoy these small gems, these slices of life cut with the finest scalpel from a world rich in existential picturesqueness." (Luminiţa Marcu)

by Dan Lungu