Makup spilling out of makeup bag.

An insistent knocking on her front door drew Marley away from her dinette table and the large crispy salad she was tossing. “Coming!” Upon opening the door, Jane rushed past her, stopping only long enough for a cursory look around before dumping her beach-bag-sized purse onto Marley’s sofa.

Marley looked out the opened door and to Jane’s car parked outside. “Where’s Brandon?”

“He’s with Mom and Dad,” said Jane, as she stripped off the t-shirt and sweats she was wearing. She stood in the middle of Marley’s living room wearing a black lace-up teddy cinched so tight her double-D breasts spilled out and over the teddy’s underwire cups. 

“Oh,” said Marley, confused, but not entirely surprised, by Jane’s abrupt strip show.

“I’m running really late,” said Jane, who had pulled out a leopard print dress from her handbag. Slipping it over her head, she wriggled and jiggled as she fought to get the tight fabric to stretch over her plus-size curves. Next, she pulled out a pair of red stilettos which she slapped on her feet.

“I take it you’re not planning to stay long. Or eat the salad I made for us.”

“I just needed a place to change. Couldn’t let Mom and Dad see me dressed like this, could I?” she asked, followed by that half-laugh, half-scoff of hers.

“Ahhh,” said Marley. “You’re seeing him tonight, which is why you left Brandon with Mom and Dad.”

Jane fluffed her dark bushy hair and grabbed a make-up pouch from her purse. “Where’s your bathroom?”

“Through the bedroom, just past the closet, on your left.” Marley followed Jane as she rushed into the bathroom Marley had spent all afternoon decorating.

“Cute,” said Jane, giving a quick glance around the room. “I like your shower curtain.”

“Thanks,” said Marley, pride swelling within her. “I got it at J.C. Penney’s today, along with the carpet and counter accessories.”

“Oh,” said Jane, pulling an arsenal of cosmetics from her pouch and uncapping a tube of crimson red lipstick. “Well, it’s not bad, considering. I mean, J.C. Penney’s isn’t exactly high-end,” she added, followed by that little condescending laugh of hers. Jane proceeded to apply her lipstick, speaking into the mirror as she did: “If Mom asks you about tonight, tell her we had dinner, watched TV, and stayed up late talking.”

A deflated Marley moved from the doorway and took a seat on the toilet. She’d seen Jane go through this routine of poofing and primping for her extramarital trysts countless times. When Jane was only seventeen and still in high school, she’d met her long-term lover, Morris Swisher, while working part-time as a switchboard operator at Henderson Chevrolet, a local new-car dealership. Three months after starting her affair with Morris, Jane snared her future husband Tristan while cruising Central Avenue with friends; they married just four weeks later and eventually moved to California after Tris finished (barely) his college degree in business finance. Yet, the affair with Morris survived both the marriage and the long-distance move, as Jane would fabricate excuses to visit her parents several times each year, year after year after year, just so she could meet up with Morris at one sleazy motel or another.

“I can’t believe you’re still sleeping with him. What’s it been now, ten years?”

Jane recapped the lipstick. “Twelve.”

“He’s got to be close to fifty. And didn’t you tell me he’s bald? And fat? What was it you called him? Lard Ass?

“He’s only forty-nine and the extra pounds give his cock a lot of girth. Unlike Tris’ pencil dick,” she said, pulling open a tube of mascara.

“You could have spared me the mental picture,” Marley said; though, unbeknownst to Jane, it was a mental picture Marley didn’t actually need painting, as she’d seen Tris’ skinny dick in all its erect glory when she’d visited them in California four years ago. That was the night Tris, stark-ass naked, crept into the living room where she was sleeping on their sofa and tried his best to sweet talk Marley into letting him fuck her. Unlike her similar experience with Buck, Marley wasn’t in an alcoholic coma that night, but was fully in command of her senses. She’d told Tris exactly where to stick his wandering cock. And, yeah, she agreed with Jane’s assessment of Tris’ plumbing: ‘Pencil dick,’ indeed.

“Girth or not, you said yourself he’s a big zero in bed. I just don’t get what you see in him.”

Jane stopped applying the mascara to her glued-on eyelashes and faced Marley. “Morris is the general manager of the largest Chevy dealership in all of Arizona—”

“So? Isn’t Tris also a G.M. at a Toyota dealership in California?”

Jane rolled her eyes and turned back to the mirror to finish off her eyelashes. “—and he has a big fat bank account and a 4,000-square-foot custom house in Scottsdale that I would kill for.”

“And a wife and kids who live in that custom house.”

This time, Jane didn’t try to disguise her disdain with a half-laugh. She outright scoffed. “Some wife—you should see her. She’s hardly any competition. Morris loves that I’m so much younger and that I still enjoy having sex. He hates his wife as much as I hate Tristan.”

“What? Since when do you hate Tris?”

Swapping the mascara for a powder compact, Jane continued her make-up session without even the slightest skip in routine. “Do you remember five years ago when Tris left me and I had to get a job as a receptionist at the Arizona Department of Health?”

Marley nodded. “Vaguely. You weren’t there very long, as I recall.”

“Three months—that was long enough. The job was so stressful, I had to take Xanax just to get through the day. I couldn’t handle working there another minute, so I called Tris and told him I was going to take the whole bottle of Xanax if he didn’t come back home. How was I supposed to support a three-year-old child without his income? He tells me he’ll be right over. Right over, he said. The bastard never showed. I waited for him all night. Called him again the next day wondering where the hell he was. Oh, I forgot, was all he said. Three days later he finally showed his face. Asshole didn’t care whether I lived or died. The only thing that brought him crawling back was Brandon. Told him if he ever wanted to see his son again, he’d better get his ass back home.” Jane slapped the compact closed. “I’ve hated him ever since.”

Marley sat perched on the toilet seat, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. She’d never heard her sister unload like this before. This was better than anything she’d ever read in True Confessions.

“Honestly, I can’t even stand to be in the same room with Tris,” Jane seethed, as she added the finishing touches to her face. “I hate everything, and I mean everything, about him. Even the way he chews his food disgusts me. Oh, and he just got fired, again, from the Toyota dealership, after only a year on the job. The last dealership let him go because he was sexually harassing a girl in the parts department. This time he was caught embezzling company funds. The dealership said they won’t press charges as long as he repaid the money and resigned quietly. We have to take out a second mortgage on the house in order to pay them back, and we’re already in debt up to our eyeballs. I’m afraid to answer the damn phone anymore because of all the creditors calling. And then he goes and buys a golf membership that we can’t afford at the San Gabriel Country Club!”

Her cosmetic make-over done, Jane gave her dark bushy hair a final fluffing and smiled at herself in the mirror, licking her lips as if auditioning for a porn film. She then pushed Marley off the toilet seat and hiked up her leopard dress, unsnapped the crotch of her teddy, and squatted over the toilet bowl to pee.

Marley leaned back against the sink vanity. “But, don’t you think, if Morris really loved you, he’d have left his wife by now? I mean, c’mon, it’s been twelve years.”

“He said he’d leave the bitch when his kids are grown—he doesn’t want to disrupt their childhoods. His youngest graduates high school in a couple years. I’ve waited this long. What’s two more years?”

“That’s fourteen years of your life waiting for some fat, old, bald fart who isn’t even good in bed. And it doesn’t sound to me like you even love him. He’s just a meal ticket and a means of escaping from Tris.”

All patience lost, Jane snapped: “I’m just so tired of all the creditors calling and Tris’ job-hopping and having to constantly move from one town to another!” She squeezed closed her eyes and pushed out a last rush of urine. “I would kill for that house!”

“Which his wife will likely get in the divorce settlement.”

Jane wadded up a yard of toilet paper and swiped at the dark snatch between her thighs that was nearly as big as the bush on her head. She stood and flushed, then snapped her teddy, pushed her dress back down, and headed back into the living room.

“I could still end up with the house. Did I tell you his wife tried to kill herself just last week?” She grabbed her purse from the couch and strode to the door. “Took an overdose of sleeping pills. The old bat’s still in the hospital, recovering. Morris said they pumped her stomach just in time.”

As she opened the door to leave, Jane paused and flashed a mean smile:

“Maybe next time, she won’t be so lucky.”

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