So when I first showed up here… Wow. It’s been a year.
In any case, when I first started blogging here, I had just published the first four stories in what I called Love Letters and what my publisher chose to call Four Erotic Tales: Letters to Allison. I knew that I had another two or possibly three stories in that series that were going to be Ken’s series of stories for his young lover Allison.
Funny thing. I’ve been working very hard on Allison’s side of the story (the Juliet stories), and then I started writing threesome stuff and… Well, that kind of blew up. In a good way.
So I haven’t had a chance to get back to finishing Ken’s story.
But I haven’t forgotten! Here’s the first half of his next-to-last love letter (more romance than erotic) about how he met his late wife. It’s very much a work in progress, and so I’d really love feedback:
The Mansion of a Love
Veronica and I continued to see each other for more than the summer that we’d set aside; she visited me when I was off at grad school, and I came over to her place when I came home for the holidays.
It was never exclusive — she had always been very clear that this wasn’t a long-term thing for her, which broke my heart, but which I understood.
That didn’t stop it from hurting like hell when I called her at the end of my first year to see when she’d be free when I got home and she told me,
timidly, that she was getting married to our friend Carlos, who each of us had acted with in separate productions.
Hurting like hell is an understatement. But I still went to their wedding gladly and wished them well with all of my heart. When a couple at the table where I was seated at the reception asked whether I knew the groom or the bride, I got flustered, stammering that I’d performed with them both, before Veronica swooped in and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “He’s also a former sweetie of mine.”
She was grinning, and so I smiled too. It was a kind thing for her to say — but a cruel one as well.
After the wedding, I couldn’t go home, and so I called Dana. We’d continued to write back and forth, but I hadn’t seen her in nearly a year. Even so, she didn’t even need to wait for me to tell my tale of woe; hearing my voice, she said, “Oh, Ken. Why don’t you come on over?”
When I reached her house, a man was driving away from her house: Mr. Loesser, the English teacher who taught next door to Dana, who had married a former student, and then divorced her.
Oh. Shit. Here we go again, I thought. Feeling even more sorry for myself, I slouched into Dana’s kitchen.
She was standing there, drinking coffee, wearing a silk bathrobe that I had taken off of her enough times to know wasn’t covering anything but her body.
When I couldn’t say a damned thing, she handed me her coffee and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “Rough day?”
I nodded, and tears started to push their way into my eyes. She kissed me then, but I couldn’t lose myself in it. “Mr. Loesser.”
“Uh-huh.” She began undoing my tie.
“Are you… dating?”
“Matt and I are sleeping together, if that’s what you’re asking. But we’re not married, though he’s discussed it. I love you, Ken, but I wasn’t ever going
to wait around for you. You knew that.” She began unbuttoning my shirt.
“But — ”
“But you, sweetheart, have a prior claim.” She pushed me back until I sat on her kitchen table. “And by the look and sound of you, you are a hurting
“Yeah.” I wanted to reach out and caress her, to suckle at her breasts and fuck her, slowly and gently. But —
“Ever had sloppy seconds, Ken?” Dana pulled a condom wrapper from her kimono’s pocket.
“Good.” She leaned forward and kissed my nipple, eliciting a gasp from me, slipped my suspenders off of my shoulders and pushed down my trousers without
even bothering to unbutton them. “Bother you?”
I slid my hands under her silk robe. “Nope.”
We broke the table — she said she’d wanted to replace it anyway. The next morning she kissed me and told me she probably wouldn’t be able to do that with me again — and we never did.
But I still felt a lot better than I had.
After Veronica I made a couple of promises to myself: try to date non-actresses, and try not to get too deeply involved emotionally, since I knew that, as an actor, I would be moving around a lot.
Aside from my brief stints with Kelli and Bridget, it’s the one time in my life when I’ve actually dated.
I hated it.
I dated maybe a dozen women over the next three or four years — mostly keeping to those promises. There was Kristen, the house manager at a theater in St. Louis, who said to me the first night that she brought me back to her place that she knew that I was leaving, that she wasn’t looking for love, just some reassurance after her husband left her for one of the guys in the orchestra. There was Jessie, the artist in Portland who just liked actors, because we tended to be less serious than the sculptors she usually hung with. There was Henry in San Jose (Henrietta, actually, though she hated that), who was my height, was an engineer and only liked sex one of two ways: her on top or on her hands and knees. I’m sure that she had very sound engineering reasons for that. It was fine with me until she suggested, essentially, that she could keep me: that I could live in her apartment rent-free, that she would pay for the food and my clothes and anything else that I wanted — so long as I didn’t leave. I told her it was a very sweet offer — but that the season was ending, that I had another show to go do, and that it was time to move on.
I moved around the country, in and out New York (mostly couch-surfing), had a few unmemorable one-night stands (for me and for the ladies in question, I’m pretty sure), had a few fun relationships, but never anything long-term.
Even during the year and a half that I was a resident member of a company in a Seattle suburb, I managed to avoid any relationships that lasted longer than two months. I managed to stay clear — for the most part — of actresses. And I managed not to fall in love.
You’d think I would have been happy: I had the career I wanted and enough sex and companionship to keep me more or less content.
But happy? No. Not at all. I wanted more. I wanted someone actually to share the whole thing with.
Toward the end of my run in Seattle, I got a call from Marya, who had been Bridget’s friend back in college. Whom I had almost dated. She was costuming a production of Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9 at a small Chicago company that I’d always wanted to perform with, and said they were having a really hard time casting one of the male roles — one that she thought I would be perfect for. When she had mentioned me to the director, he’d recognized my name, had
heard I was easy to work with and relatively talented. “Would you be willing to fly out here, no promises, and audition? The theater will buy the ticket.”
It’s a play I love, and he was a wonderful director — I didn’t have to be asked twice. I told Marya that I loved her, that I had always loved her, that I
would bear her children. She laughed, told me I sounded like an actor all right, and put the stage manager on the phone.
“Hi, Ken. This is Meredith Reilly.”
As soon as I heard that voice, I knew that I was in trouble. How? I can’t even tell you. The timber? The sub-surface humor or the generous hint of
sexuality? No idea. No idea how I heard all of that in just her name. But I did.
She’s probably sixty and married, I told myself as we coordinated my flight to Chicago — I’d leave after the Sunday matinee, arrive late that night, audition the next morning and fly out that afternoon.
“I’ll be happy to pick you up,” Meredith said, once we’d settled that. “There’s a hotel right next to the theater that puts up folks for us from time to time in exchange for ads in the program. Not the Four Seasons, I’m afraid.”
“A bed and a bathroom are all I need, no worries. And you don’t have to pick me up — I can catch a cab.”
“Thank you, but I’ll be happier if I know you’re safely in. We start rehearsal in two weeks, and your headshot is the first that the director hasn’t just
tossed on the floor. I’m really glad you’re going to be able to audition.”
We discussed logistics for another minute or two and then she handed the phone back to Marya, saying she needed to go back to her office and start making phone calls.
“Is that woman married?”
“Is Meredith Reilly married?”
Marya laughed. “No, as a matter of fact.”
“Is she a grandmother?”
“No, she’s thirty. And very pretty. And very single. Are you really asking me these questions?”
“Now you don’t sound like an actor, you sound like a psycho.”
“Big difference.” That got a chuckle out of her. “I’m going to marry her.”
“Hey! I thought you were going to bear my children!”
“Oh. Shoot. We can name them all after you.”
“She doesn’t want children.”
Marya sighed. “Look, Ken, I know you’re a good guy, but don’t screw with this woman, okay? The whole romance thing hasn’t worked out so well for her.”
“Me either. I wouldn’t screw with her. I promise.”
“Oh, my God. You’re serious.”
We sat there, silent for a while. “Marya? Have you heard from Bridget at all?”
She sighed again. “No. Not in a long time. Neither has Tony or anyone else from school.”
A few years later, I looked Bridget up.
She was happily married, with five children. Which was a relief: I’d envisioned her dead or as a nun. And while I’m sure she would have been a wonderful nun, I’m guessing that she probably would have had a very, very hard time keeping her vows. And also a very, very hard time breaking them.
When I arrived at O’Hare at a bit before eleven that Sunday night, I was tired and cranky, having spent the flight trying to work on the script, and
thinking about anything but the fact that I was about to meet the woman who would be my wife.
That is, until I walked out of the gate and saw her standing there, waiting for me.
She was medium height, medium build, medium brown hair.
And gorgeous. Before I had the chance to think — to introduce myself, or ask her sign — I blurted, “Why the hell aren’t you on stage?”
She laughed at that. “Because I don’t want to be. I trained as an actor before I became a stage manager, though, if that helps.”
She was wearing loose, comfortable clothing, but it didn’t hide her figure, and she’d unbuttoned the shirt to show off her cleavage.
I looked away.
“So,” she said, laughing again and leading me by the elbow, “did you really tell Marya you were going to marry me?”
“Don’t you think you should ask first?”
“You’re right,” I said. “Will you marry me?”
She stopped and turned to stare at me. “Well. We’ll have to see.”
“That’s not a no!”
“Don’t push your luck.”
As we drove into the city, Meredith and I swapped family stories. “Well, I want to know about the family I’m marrying into,” I said.
I could tell that she wasn’t sure whether I was playing or not. When she got to know me better — and it was too late — she’d have realized that I was
playing, and I was deadly serious. Both at the same time.
She told me about her parents’ divorce, about her two sisters — one older, one younger. About going to BU undergrad as an actor, but then going to Yale grad school as a stage manager.
I told her about my boring, happily married parents. My boring ski-bum sister.
I told her about the promises that I’d made to myself, and how I’d kept them, but how I didn’t think that I could keep them a whole lot longer.
She looked over at me. “Being with someone is that important to you? And you’ve given it up for this?” She twirled her finger around, indicating the inside of her car, or perhaps Chicago, but I understood what she meant: theater.
“I mean, I don’t know you, Ken — marriage proposal and all aside — but it doesn’t seem like a fair trade.”
“I’m beginning to wonder.”
When we got to the hotel, I tried to tell her not to wait, but hey — stage manager. She followed me in.
Good thing. The hotel had had a small fire on the top floor; my room had literally gone up in smoke.
Outside, Meredith crossed her arms and scowled down at the sidewalk.
“Don’t even think about it,” I said. “I’m not going back to your place. The theater’s near here, right?”
She turned to me, arms still crossed, and smiled. “The Equity cot is a lumpy loveseat. Don’t be an idiot. If my name were Matt, would you even think about sleeping on my pullout? Come on.”
“Well…” I shrugged. “You’re an awfully cute Matt.”
“Thank you.” She took me by the elbow and led me back to her car. “Consider it a test of your worthiness, Galahad.”
“Yes, my lady. My Lady Matt.”
At her small, neat apartment, I helped her with the foldout couch. We talked. She told me about John, her long-term, long-distance actor boyfriend who had fucked around on her one time too many. I told her about Cindy, and Veronica, and some of the rest. Around one in the morning, we both realized that we needed to get to sleep — that I needed to be rested for the audition in the morning.
“I want you to blow the SOB away,” said Meredith, and gave me a chaste kiss on the cheek that made my toes curl.
I took her hand. “Meredith, will you marry me?”
Her medium brown eyes widened, and then she smirked. “We’ll just have to see, won’t we, Galahad?”
She went back to the bedroom — not closing the door. A cruel temptation — but I wasn’t looking for one night. I was looking for all of them.
I slept on the pullout. It was very comfortable.
The next morning, we cooked breakfast together in her tiny kitchen, and honestly? I think that was the moment when we both realized how compatible we were. I think it terrified us both.
I did blow the SOB away. He offered me the role on the spot, which I took.
Driving me back to the airport, Meredith pointed out that the per diem that the theater could offer wouldn’t come anywhere close to covering rent
on a Chicago apartment. That I could stay with her.
“Lady Matt,” I said, “whither thou goest, I will go.”
That was the first time I ever got her to blush.
We talked on the phone almost nightly for the rest of my run in Seattle. About nothing in particular. About Chicago. About theaters we’d worked at. Plays we’d done. About favorite foods. She didn’t share my love of spicy cuisine. I told her I would forgive her.
When I flew back into town a week and a half later, Meredith picked me up again. We drove back to her place, barely talking.
At her apartment — now our apartment — I helped her with the foldout again. She excused herself to get ready for bed. This time she closed the
Disappointed, I went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth.
When I came out, Meredith was standing in her doorway, magnificently naked. “Well, Galahad? Do you want to sleep on the couch?”
And that’s all I’m going to tell you about that first night together, because what I really wanted to tell you about was our last time together,
nearly seventeen years later.
That’s where I’ll leave Ken for now.
What do you think?
I’m writing the last half of this — and also a very interesting story that follows up from Allison’s most recent entry, one that ties this series together with my Friendly Ménage tales. So don’t feel too sorry for him.