Copyright ©2007 Shawn Forbes. All Rights Reserved.

Their marriage was over.  It was as simple - and as complicated - as that.    He wouldn’t beat around      
the bush this time. No more excuses.  No more lies.  
Stephen paused deliberately in turning the key that would open the imposing oak paneled front door.  He took a deep, steadying breath.  I must tell Evelyn tonight.  It’s now or never.  
He had rehearsed it a thousand times in his head; and a thousand times he had come so close to telling her.
Nothing could have prepared him for the pandemonium that greeted him as he walked through the front door.  His wife Evelyn sat at the bottom of the staircase, a bundle of his suits and shirts               

scattered messily in front of her. A large pair of scissors in hand she cut into one expensive garment after another, adding each slashed piece to the steadily growing pile that had accumulated near a large potted plant at the foot of the stairs.  She sobbed uncontrollably and mumbled to herself. Stephen was frozen momentarily, his hand paralyzed on the doorknob; he could barely make out his wife’s incoherent ramblings.  Spoken with feeling, the words "unfaithful" and "liar" were wrung from her as she wept, her sharp scissors ravaging his clothes.  He startled her when he finally managed to forcibly slam the front door.  Evelyn scowled at him and launched into a savage verbal assault, the likes of which he had not heard before from her lips.  Her usually bright, glowing eyes were cold shards of steel, and her body shook uncontrollably from the strain of keeping it under tight command.

"You fucking son of a bitch, how dare you?” she hissed. “I cleaned your sorry ass up after you fell apart.  Me, not her! How could you? How could you?"  The torrent of words flooded out of her, and she shuddered under the weight of their intensity. Reaching out to steady herself, she grasped the carved oak of the staircase balustrade.  

"How could I what, Evelyn?" Stephen asked in a hollow voice as he cautiously walked toward her.

"Don't give me that I don’t know what you’re talking about, Evelyn look, you liar. You filthy piece of shit.  You’ve been seeing her all along. Sleeping with her all this time! How could you do this to me with that…that tramp, Leslie Banks? God, to think Freda of all people saw you two together.” Her voice trailed off into an almost imperceptible, whimpering sound. Her ordinarily beautiful face was streaked with angry tears.

Hesitating, Stephen approached her just as she regained her breath and started lamenting loudly.

“Don’t you dare come near me!” she shrieked.  “You trashed our marriage like yesterday’s nasty leftovers.   And you say you love me. You never loved me.”  Her honest words tore through Stephen.

“Don’t say that, Evelyn,” he pleaded as he walked toward her, right hand outstretched in supplication.  “I’ve... loved you from the beginning...  After all that you’ve done for me…  But... I... I…” he stammered through the lie.  He could not bring himself to tell her the truth: that he had never been head over heels in love with her.

“You liar!  You bold-ass liar!  You suck at it, to boot! What the hell were you trying to do?  All I wanted was to love you.  All I wanted from you was your love. You’ve ruined my life, you bastard.  I hate you Stephen Taylor, I hate you!”  The poisonous words flew from her mouth hitting their target like a cobra’s lethal venom.

His hands outstretched as he approached her. Her maniacal dart toward him maliciously swept aside his ready, soothing words. Evelyn was a wild, rabid animal and he was her prey.  The blades of the scissors cut through the air as her arms flailed about mimicking a dislodged propeller in dangerous flight.  She tightened her grip on them as she rushed him, mouthing another string of foul obscenities.  Stephen was horrified; his only thought disarming her.  He tried to shift out of her path, hoping that his movement would disturb her menacing attack; but she would not be deterred.  The scissors were aimed directly at his chest.  He bent his knees slightly and stretched out his arms, hoping to immobilize her when she tackled him.  He was not prepared for the strength with which she collided into him and for a moment, he perilously lost his balance. Evelyn lunged, the tips of the sharp blades of the scissors piercing into his right shoulder tearing into his flesh.  He felt a sharp, stinging pain as she withdrew the scissors intending to stab him again.  Stephen grappled with her, wrestled her to the ground and grabbed the weapon from her hand.  He collapsed on the floor next to her with a mortified look on his face.

"I did so much for you.... I gave up so much for you,” she moaned.  I loved you, God damn it!  Why Stephen, why?"

Stephen winced as the pain sliced through his shoulder, and caught his breath as a wave of nausea overtook him.  When the pain subsided for the moment, he forced himself to think fast on his feet. Then, adrenaline shot through him. He had to get to a hospital, but first he owed Evelyn an explanation. He realized now that Freda must have seen him with Leslie at Villa D’Este and erroneously guessed at the intimacy of their dinner.   Many times in the previous several months he had lied about working late, taking part in business meetings that lasted well into the long and, for her, lonely night.   He remembered his cold and detached manner in bed, and knew she had never forgotten or forgiven him it. Stephen winced as another slice of pain assailed his wounded shoulder. It was time to tell his wife the truth, that there was nothing going on between him and Leslie.  They were only friends, after all.

"If only you knew,” he answered wearily, his voice barely audible above the whisper he used. “You’re so far off base this time, Evelyn, that you’ll wish that you believed your first suspicion when I tell you the truth.  Evelyn, I’m so sorry...I’m - ” The telephone rang, its long distance ring interrupting him.  He lunged at it with his good hand, if only to use the reprieve to collect his thoughts before the onslaught of his coming confession. "Collect call for Mr. Stephen Taylor.  Mrs. Tanya Rouse calling from London. Will you accept, sir?"

"Mr. Taylor speaking. Yes, I'll accept."  His heart raced and his shoulder hurt as he heard the operator telling Tanya that she was clear to start speaking.  “Hello, Tanya? Are you there?"  Stephen heard a sniffle at the other end of the telephone line. His next words were gentle. “Is everything all right?”

“No.” Her voice trembled, her anxiety patently obvious. “It’s Suresh, he’s in the hospital, Stephen,” she replied quietly, a note in her voice compelling his next words.

      “Is he…?” He could not finish the question.

“No, Stephen.  He’s still alive, thankfully, he’s still alive, but he’s barely hanging on by a thread.”  Tanya swallowed convulsively and caught her breath on a pitiful sob before continuing.  “Michael and I brought him to the hospital.   We were with him when it happened.  God, Stephen, he started convulsing…” Her next words were consumed by the sobs that overtook her body.

“Tanya, we’ll fight this, too,” he consoled her. Then, “How bad is it?”

She caught an unruly snuffle before managing to speak.  “Very bad.  I’ve never seen him this bad. The doctors said… They said they’ve done all they can do, the fight is up to him now.”

“Just say the word and I'll be on the next flight.”

“We need you, Stephen.  Please come.”

“I'll be there,” he promised. He had never heard strong, resilient Tanya so downcast before.  Without another word, he put the telephone back into its cradle.

He had not forgotten the pain in his shoulder it was only that adrenaline was pumping through his blood stream. Wincing when he leaned down to see what was left of the clothes that had been strewn across the floor of the foyer he noticed the stream of dark blood trickling down his arm.  He was not thinking clearly, otherwise, he would have already been at the hospital, stitching his wound. His only thoughts though were for Suresh and Tanya.  His talk with Evelyn would have to wait.


He quickly picked up the telephone and dialed directory assistance. "British Airways Reservations, please," he demanded once the operator answered.

Evelyn was still crying softly on the floor when Stephen finished making his impromptu reservations.  He turned to her and calmly intoned, "It's Suresh.  I have to go."  

Her silence spoke volumes.

He hastily shoved several pieces of clothes into a travel bag they kept in the hall closet and drove to the nearest hospital in record time.  He parked his car clumsily outside the main entrance and ran inside.  The reception area was deserted except for a security guard standing patrol, the young receptionist at her desk and several nurses standing and talking behind a cubicle.  Stephen was escorted to see the resident doctor immediately.

“G'night," the doctor said as he breezed into the cubicle.  "What have we got here?"

"Domestic accident, doctor."

There was an awkward silence; as if the doctor had been waiting for a better and more plausible explanation.  When Stephen offered none, the doctor proceeded to examine the shallow but painful wound.  He informed Stephen that it was not serious, but would require several stitches.  The doctor wrote a prescription down on a pad of paper told him he could collect his medication at the pharmacy on the first floor, and informed him that a nurse would be in within a few minutes to wash and dress his wound.  

Soon, he was on his way to the airport, and back to Tanya and Suresh.


Normally, Stephen collapsed like a sack of potatoes almost as soon as he took his seat on a plane - awakening only when the flight attendants began bustling through the tight packed cabin to serve the requisite in-flight meal.  Tonight was different.  The events of the last few days tumbled through his mind into a restless sea of confusion.  By the time he had boarded the British Airways flight from Nassau to London, he had not slept more than two hours in five days’ time.  He spent the entire flight to London shifting uneasily in his seat as he tried to put his worry for Suresh aside until he knew more about his health, and began instead on the puzzle of putting the pieces of his life back together.  

The still mounting problems between him and Evelyn had reached the boiling point.  They had argued constantly for most of the previous long, grueling year.   Their marriage had reached the unacceptable stage where they were communicating with each other only through Elsie, their housekeeper.  Their final confrontation had followed on the heels of Evelyn receiving that brisk and informative telephone call Stephen could just imagine was filled with enlightening but misinforming information as to that Stephen had been seen intimately dining with Leslie Banks, an associate attorney at the law firm where he worked.  "They were looking rather chummy,” her friend must have confided.   Stephen had not wanted Evelyn to find out this way. He wanted her to know the truth, for he owed her that much in the least.  He had had every intention of breaking the news to Evelyn once and for all that he could no longer go on in a marriage that had disintegrated to the point where it could no longer even be called a sham.  It had taken him a long time and a great deal of soul-searching to come to the realization that he had never really been in love with her - although he had tried to convince himself that he could - and he was finally ready to ask her for a divorce.  

He had spent weeks agonizing over the least painful way through which to break the unpleasant news to his wife. Waiting for the right time to tell the woman who had helped him deal with the grief of losing his mother to illness and who had stood by his side throughout the ordeal of his breakdown, that he no longer wished to share his life with her.  He had told her – untruthfully – five days hence that an important client of his law firm had asked him to fly to New York where a series of intense meetings with the directors of a company that was interested in forming a partnership with Stephen's client would follow. It was not the first time that he had lied to Evelyn.  Their whole relationship had been based on falsehood.  In reality, he had checked into the Atlantis Hotel on the popular Paradise Island where he had hoped that he would be able to spend some time alone and find some direction for his life.  Ironically, his colleague Leslie Banks’ visit to the hotel had been perfectly innocent. She had been sent to have important documents signed by Stephen, and it was only when she saw what torment he was in that she insisted that Stephen accompany her to the popular Villa D’Este Restaurant for a companionable meal together. They had been spending a great deal of time together outside the office and had been seen at their local health club and at meals together on numerous occasions; since then, rumors had been rife that they were having an illicit affair.

In the time they had worked together Stephen had become quite fond of Leslie, a beautiful and self-assured woman who had made no secret of her attraction to him.    What had first drawn Stephen to Leslie were her frankness and the fact that she lived life on her own terms.  She had become branded as a woman constantly on the prowl soon after she joined the firm, but Stephen saw her as a sensitive and caring woman who knew what she wanted and pursued it until she got it.  She did not flaunt her lifestyle or impose it on anyone; but she was fiercely proud of who she was.  She often expressed her outrage at society’s double standard - at how men who were forthright with their feelings for women were admired and how women who did the same were branded as sluts.  She had built no few walls around herself and thus had a way of drawing people to her.  

Stephen, on the other hand, had perfected the art of building impenetrable fortresses around himself.  Few people were let in.  He often retreated to a world where his only companion was his collection of Jazz CDs, a place where only Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday or Sarah Vaughan were admitted and where they could soulfully sing the words that touched that core of him he had ignored for far too long.   In Leslie, Stephen saw the kind of person he longed to be, happy, secure and free.  In the few months that they had worked together, Stephen found himself slowly opening up to Leslie in a way that he had done only with his dearest friends Tanya and Suresh.  In the beginning, it had not actually been by choice.  He had been taken so off guard by Leslie’s directness that he found himself opening up without actually realizing it.  He was still tormented about the path he had taken since his return from law school and realized that the feelings that he thought he had put away long ago were beginning to rise again.  To compound matters, Leslie’s sexual overtures were becoming more pronounced and even more frequent.

The situation reached a head when on one occasion, Leslie brushed her hands against Stephen's face to remove a speck of dust.  It lingered slightly longer than it should have.  Without thinking, he had reached up to touch her hand.  Their eyes met for a fleeting moment and Stephen had turned away, embarrassed.  It was then that Leslie drew Stephen to her and kissed him lightly on the lips.  Stephen had offered no protest but quickly withdrew when it dawned on him what was happening between them.

"I can't handle this, Leslie," Stephen had said, turning away.

"But I...I...think I'm falling in love with you, Stephen," Leslie stammered.

That was how it had started.  But Stephen was more confused now than before.  He was, after all, already in a sham marriage.  He had never been in love with his wife.  Although he owed her a lot, he had married her only to reconcile with his mother.  Trying to extricate from that situation would be difficult enough.  It had already gone too far because he had been too weak to face that part of him that he had known for years existed in him - the part that he had put to rest when he returned home from law school. When he had realized that he lived in a society where such behavior between men - particularly black men - was not tolerated.  He would never be able to fall in love and lead a productive, enjoyed life with a male partner – not as a man could do so with a woman. Certainly not in a small country like the Bahamas where traditions were steeped in religious worship and dated back to the days where all that the slaves, who had been brought to the West Indies from Africa, had to sustain them was a faith in some higher being. A Deity who would free them from the perils of their acquired, new lives. Homosexuality was seen as an abomination against the natural laws of God. Stephen had heard the prophecies countless times.  

But he could not deny that there was a part of him that longed for more than Evelyn - or any woman - could offer him.  He had had those feelings for as long as he could remember and the time had come to deal with his demons once and for all.  His relationship with Tanya and Suresh had taught him that there were people who would love him unconditionally and who would not judge him because of how he looked or the sex of person with whom he chose to share his life.  His destiny was in his own hands.  It was up to him to decide whether he wanted his life to be dictated by a society which said that one should live a certain way or look a certain way or whether he wanted to pursue his own happiness.  How could he have hidden away that part of himself that had been liberated through his friendship with Tanya and Suresh?  It took almost every ounce of courage within him for Stephen to make the decision to end his marriage to Evelyn and start a new life. He wanted to be certain that he was prepared to face the raging storm that would result afterwards.  He had not been fully prepared when the situation flared up with his mother and was overcome with guilt when she died.  Although he had told Leslie that he was not ready to pursue another relationship because of his problems with his wife, he could not bring himself to tell her what lay at the root of those problems.  He had simply told Leslie that he wanted to sort through his emotions before causing himself - and others - as much misery as he had caused himself, his family and Evelyn.  Just before a restless sleep claimed him, Stephen realized that this time things would have to be different; this time he would have to take control – whatever the consequences.