For some reason, Martina realized that she wasn’t offended, or even surprised by Randall’s invitation. She found herself blurting out, “okay. What time?”
He said, “I’ll come around for you at eight.”
That afternoon, trying to study her lines, she was having difficulty concentrating. She was thinking about Callie and her sudden absence.
She decided to distract herself with a warm bubble bath. As she lay in the relaxing, warm blanket of water, it suddenly occurred to her…”I have a date.” She had never been on a date. Curiously, she discovered that she wasn’t apprehensive. She was excited.
The excitement was quickly replaced with panic. What would she wear? Surely, she couldn’t wear faded blue jeans and a wrinkled t-shirt. A quick call to Macy’s, and she sighed with relief. A courier brought a stunning outfit, just in time.
As she looked at herself in the mirror, she was looking at the “before” Martina. It was both nostalgic and liberating. Wearing the “costume” for tonight only, was her choice and not a requirement.
The doorbell rang and when she opened it, her loud guffaw could probably be heard in the next apartment. There Randall stood, grinning broadly, dressed in blue jeans and a Polo shirt.
She wasn’t sure what to say, but finally gathered her senses and said, “should I change?”
He smiled and said, “it doesn’t matter to me. I thought you might enjoy going somewhere casual…you know, more suited to the new you, but you certainly look fine.” She said, “come in. I’m going to change.”
After donning her jeans and a blouse, off they went. Randall took her to a little cafe style restaurant, with blue-checkered table cloths, large plastic glasses of iced tea, and food-stained apron-wearing waitresses.
“This is a side of dining that neither one of us has ever experienced”, he said. Martina smiled and said, “this is a little ‘across the railroad tracks’ for you, isn’t it?” He smiled and said, “you could say that.”
She looked around and said, “I rather enjoy the ambiance. It reminds me of the coffee shop, but it’s a little noisier and you can hear people chattering. Doors are swinging open and shut, and it’s not like home. There’s not the dull hum-drum of listening to which stock someone owns or just sold. I like peeking into other worlds. I find it somewhat charming. Where did you find this place, anyway?”
“Well,” Randall said. “I’ll tell you, but only if you swear not to tell anyone.” Martina was intrigued, and said “okay, you have my word.” He leaned over and whispered, “this is where my father brings his mistress.”
Martina was dumbfounded. She stumbled as she asked, “what do you mean? Your father has a mistress?” Randall ran his finger around the top of his plastic glass and said, “yes. For about five years now.”
“How did you find out?” she asked. He said, “my father used to leave the house every Tuesday night. I was curious, or maybe I was being nosy, so one night I followed him. He came here. I parked so that he couldn’t see me and just waited. A few minutes later, a beat-up Volkswagen, with no bumper and one fender missing, came squealing into the parking lot. This trashy red-head got out and ran over to my father’s car. Her breasts were bulging out of her blouse, her skirt was so short it left nothing to the imagination and her spiked-heel shoes were so high, she sank into the gravel every time she took a step.”
“Does he know you know?” Martina asked. “I don’t know if he knows that I know, but everyone knows,” he said. “Everyone except mother, of course. It’s one of the best kept open secrets in town.”
He leaned over and once again whispered, “I had her checked out. She doesn’t have a job, other than the obvious, and lives in a trailer outside of town.”
Martina angrily said, “if I were you, I would tell your mother.”
He looked at her and said, “why would I do that? Why would I ruin a happy fifty-year marriage? And why would I hurt my mother by telling her?”
Martina said, “she deserves to know the truth.” Randall said, “your truth, maybe, but not her truth. I’m not going to destroy her life at seventy years old, because my father has some harlot on the side.”
“What I can and will do for mother, is not be that kind of man,” he said.
He smiled and said, “when father had ‘the talk’ with me, he said, ‘play the field and have a good time…be careful…don’t let some floozy trap you’…so on and so forth. Then he said ‘after you’ve had your fun, find a good woman, get married, have a heir and settle down’. Then he winked and said, ‘but just because you’re married, doesn’t mean you can’t…shall we say…still taste the wares of another’.”
Martina thought for a minute and said, “you’ll forgive me if I tell you that I really dislike your father.” Randall smiled and said, “I understand…and I do forgive you. I don’t always like him either, nor do I necessarily agree with his methods, but he’s still my father. I believe he was faithful to mother for most of their marriage, but now he’s seeing the end of his life, I guess, and wants to go out in a blaze of glory. He’s tasted the class and now he wants to taste the trash.”
Martina looked at him and said, “do you really believe that?” Randall looked at her and said, “probably not, but he makes me want to be a better man, if that makes any sense.”
Martina said, “wow. You sure are singing a different song than when we first met.” Randall smiled and said, “we all sing whatever song is necessary to get us through our day…or our life.” You’ve been lucky. You have actually tasted a bit of the world that people like us rarely get to taste, and you’ve been able to sing a different song.”
“Speaking of,” he said. “Are you ready for your big debut this weekend?” Martina said, “I’m not sure. I hope so.” Then she looked at him with appealing eyes and said, “would you take me by Callie’s apartment again?”
He said, “if you want me to, yes. But if she’s not there, or if she is there and doesn’t want to talk, you can’t let it push you off the deep end, okay? I think you know what I mean.”
To be continued______________