Sunday, August 21, 2011

Excerpt from The Lion and the Sun

Conte called Chrissy about 2330 Vienna time. Still early evening US Eastern Standard Time. She answered on the first ring -- a simple, “Hello.”
Conte pictured her in the kitchen, standing at the counter, a bottle of water in her hand, looking like a professional model wearing the latest in yuppie hiking togs. She had outdoor looks, and ballroom grace and beauty.
“Hi, Chrissy, it’s Dan.”
At least a couple of beats before she responded. “Hello, Dan. Sarah told me you called. How are you?”
“I’m okay, honey. Listen, I’m really sorry about the way things went down. As soon as I get back--”
“I know you’re sorry, Dan. You don’t mean for things to happen the way they do, but they happen anyway.” The tone of her voice ate away at Conte. She sounded so… defeated.
“Honey, we’ll work things out. This was just something I couldn’t get around.”
“Dan, face it, you’ve always had things come up that you can’t get around. This isn’t any different than a hundred other times.”
“Chrissy, I--”
“I don’t blame you, Dan, really. But I can’t deal with it anymore. I’m angry and bitter all the time. I don’t want to be that way.”
Conte squeezed his eyes shut. He couldn’t muster the energy to respond. He didn’t know what to tell her. ‘I love you,’ would sound hollow. But he did love her. He just knew that she was right.
There was a long silence. Then she said, “I’ve filed for divorce, Dan.”
“And I’m seeing someone.” The last statement blurted out. She needed to get it off her chest. Her conscience was bothering her. Conte wondered if Sarah knew. Sure she knew.
“It doesn’t matter who. That’s not the point.”
“Well, what is the point?”
“The point is, it’s over. That’s the point.”
Conte took a deep breath. Chrissy was being emotional. He wanted to reason things out. He was good at reasoning. Relationships? That was a different matter.
“Listen Chrissy, we can still work this out. Let’s give it a shot. I’ll be back in a few weeks. Can’t we wait that long?”
“Dan, you’re not listening. I’ve filed for divorce. You’ll find the papers when you get back. Find yourself a lawyer. I have one.”
A lawyer, for Christ sake! Just what he needed. Conte clenched his teeth.
“So who is it, Chrissy?
“It’s someone that’s here, Dan. Someone that’s been here. Unlike you.”
“God damn it, Chrissy. You think I wanna be gone all the frigging time. You’re punishing me because of my job, for crying out loud!”
There was a long silence. Conte wasn’t sure that Chrissy was still on the line. Then he heard her voice come across the line low and slow, “Dan, there’s no point in us having this conversation. It’s not getting us anywhere. What’s done is done.”
“Are you sleeping with this guy?
“Dan --”
Conte yelled into the phone, “Who is it?”
“Jim, if you have to know. And yes, I’m sleeping with him.”
James O. ‘Jim’ Buchanan, her boss, congressman for the eighth district. A guy whose only qualification for office was unbridled ambition. The type of person that gives the term ‘politician’ a pejorative connotation.
“Jesus, Chrissy, can’t you do better than that? He’s a superficial son of a bitch…a real cipher. He’s just the fucking image you made up for him. He must be good in bed.” Conte heard the catch in his voice. His cheeks were wet. He hated that he was crying. He hated what he was saying.
Chrissy’s voice was filled with anger and contempt. “The point is, he’s in my bed. You’re not!”
“Well, not only yours,” Conte spit out.
The line went dead. Conte took the phone away from his ear and looked at it. Chrissy isn’t the type who needs to get in the last word, especially when dealing with an asshole like me.

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