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