07/02/2011 § Leave a comment
It was her personality that attracted him to her, he told himself. No outside observer would think it was her looks. She wasn’t ugly, by any means, just sort of plain. And he was happy with her, or so he told himself.
She was a good woman, he reminded himself. She took care of their two-year-old boy, did the laundry, cooked the meals, kept the house clean. He certainly did not deserve her. How did he get so lucky?
He didn’t know how, especially since he was going to see Henrietta. She was his father’s young negro servant, whom he first saw at his father’s Christmas party. He hosted one every year, which tended to be the talk of Charleston. He was entranced by her ebony skin, smooth and flawless and dark. He also needed to be discreet; the south was not the place to have an affair with a colored woman, especially in 1962.
He loved her, though. She was young, vibrant, and smart. It was a shame that others wanted to hold her down. He never said that out loud.
And so there he was, trudging down the dark street, collar turned up, to protect against the light drizzle that was currently falling. There was a light fog, concealing his precious identity, and giving him a sense of eerie comfort. He made it to her apartment, knocked twice sharply, and walked in.
She opened the door, smiling brightly. She was happy to see him.
And so he entered happy to see her. He didn’t need to talk or say anything. She knew why he was her. She took his coat and hung it up, then turned and walked back to him. They embraced, feeling each other’s warmth, heat, lust.
And so they went to the bedroom, obeying their white-hot lust.
He hadn’t seen her in two weeks. The spring fog had given way to rain, and Charleston was still as dreary as ever. He was on his way back, being careful as always. He couldn’t afford to get caught. What we people think? He didn’t care, he told himself. He knew it was a lie, but it was one he told himself anyway.
He entered the door, like always. She took his coat, like always. They went to the bedroom, like always.
The leaves were turning red and yellow again, falling down, drifting over the city. The dry ones crunched underneath his feet, but he paid them no mind. He was walking quickly now, throwing caution to the wind. Henrietta had called, and she had sounded scared. She even broke down crying, telling him to come at once, which he was doing.
The drive to New York City was difficult to pull off, but he had accomplished it. That was the only way Henrietta was going to see a doctor. His friends in Charleston could never know that he had fathered a bastard, and with her at that. Certainly his father could never know.
He thought his father was becoming suspicious. There was no way he could fail to see the growing belly. And he knew Henrietta wasn’t married. Indeed, that was one of the reasons he actually hired her.
As the crossed the bridge into Manhattan, Henrietta leaned over, as if to tell him something. He was a bit surprised. He never thought they had anything to talk about. Frankly, he was surprised that she was pregnant. They had always been so careful.
Anyway, she leaned over and said, “Don’t be mad, dear.” She had never called him dear before. He was wondering why. “Why would I be mad?”
She started to tear up.
The bastard! How could he be so stupid? Of course it would be has father who had gotten Henrietta pregnant. No wonder he was so suspicious! He thought mother might catch on. And no wonder he was so willing to let him go for the weekend. Well no more.
He could see her now, looking around the waiting room, trying to find him. But he would be long gone, on his way back to Charleston. Serves her right, he thought. Serves her right.