Sitting at my desk in the morning I studied the computer keyboard. Traces of dried blood were visible on several of the character keys; particularly the “Z” and the “C”. I had been hurt. My bandaged fingers still ached and throbbed from the accident. Of course I'm referring to my fistfight with the electric fan the night before. Yeah, I got banged up a bit, but hey, you should’ve seen the other guy! The fan, that bladed brute, was busted up beyond repair and now left for dead in the garbage dumpster that sat outside the building.
Here’s what had happened. I hate air-conditioning and seldom used it except during heat waves. Earlier in the week, I’d placed a double folded checkered table cloth made from thick cotton fabric on the table behind the head of my bed. That’s where the fan would sit as it softly whirled in front of an open window all night long on hot summer nights to make a good night’s sleep possible. Turning it off each morning I’d put the fan on the floor against the wall next to my bed. This afforded a better view of what the weather was like outside to determine how to dress for the day in order to stay as cool as I could during warmer temperatures. At night it’d be returned to the table to blow at full blast as I drifted off to dreamland. It’d fallen from that table several times in the past. The plastic grill used to guard against inadvertent injuries while in use had now become flimsy with cracks and sizeable gaps. The plastic runners on the bottom prevented it from tipping forward or backward while in operation had also been damaged and become wobbly and unstable.
Preparing for bed the night before, it was returned atop the table now covered by the somewhat lumpy cloth, and the blades began spinning at top speed. Lifting my right hand from the setting controls the fan started to tilt backward. As it began to fall from the table, reflexively, my left hand shot out in the direction of the damaged protective plastic grill at the rear of the motored device. Instead of catching it so it wouldn’t fall to the floor my hand broke through what remained of the weakened safeguard and into the blades turning at a million miles a minute. Pain shot through my fingertips and all the way up my arm as the ventilation device slipped away from me and onto the floor. For several seconds I watched in silence as blood dripped from my lacerated extremity.
Howling in horror and hurt as I left a trail of red drops en route to my bathroom I stuck my hand beneath running water and surveyed the extent of the damage. Sanguine fluid gushed from gashes on three of my fingers, two of which had already begun to turn a bluish-black from bruising. Using the hot water with sink-side liquid soap to clean the wounds, after almost a minute, it looked like the hemorrhaging had halted. But as soon as I shut off the faucet scarlet rivulets again stained the bone-white porcelain.
Finding a bottle of peroxide in the medicine cabinet, a bottle that had probably been opened ten years ago, I thought it best to disinfect the cuts. The container was empty. Thinking on my feet I doused my diced digits with mouthwash prior to reading the words “Zero Alcohol” on the label. Leaving the bathroom to follow a trail of my blood on the floor, and before reaching the still running electric fan lying on its back, I veered left into the kitchen. There, I used vodka as a makeshift antiseptic to sanitize my still bloody mangled mitt.
After several more failed attempts to stem the bleeding I simply gave up and wrapped my left hand in a clean towel. The towel worked well in slowing the blood loss. Finding a box of band-aids I continued patching myself up. Using every sterile adhesive strip in the box I thought that outside of getting stitched up in a hospital ER it was the best I could do for the night. But before returning to turn off the fan then hopefully to fall asleep on that disastrous night I sucked several slugs of vodka straight from the 1.75-liter bottle. Taking the bottle with me into the room I used as an office I sat down to compose an email.
Earlier that evening the two other members of the three-way affair I’d been involved in since the end of spring had announced they’d received an offer that they couldn’t refuse, and they’d hoped I’d understand. I did understand. During the months since we’d become a “throuple”, I’d shared with them the primary reason for the end of all my three failed marriages. That reason was I always placed the needs of my career in the entertainment business above the needs of those wives. Working long, endless hours away from the former spouses, and doing whatever was needed to climb the next rung of that never-ending ladder to success; I’d always placed my ex-wives’ needs second in the order of importance in my life. Numerous times I’d often impressed upon my current lovers how the only way to make it in this business which we shared a mutual desire to succeed in, was to put their professional life ahead of all else in their personal lives.
The two women I’d now “throupled” with primarily earned their livings by waiting tables. Their dreams were to be professional dancers. The night of my accident, and since they were still out of town, the three of us had spoken together by telephone. For the previous ten days, they’d been hired to dance in a music video being shot in Los Angeles. In fact, using some of my connections in the music business I’d helped them get this gig. The director on that shoot just landed a job directing an on-stage musical on the West Coast. He’d been so impressed he’d offered both a year-long contract to dance in one of his productions along with with an option to renew. My girlfriends were in seventh heaven. Me? Well, not so much.
A few days prior to heading to L.A. for the video we’d discussed taking a huge leap; moving in together. We’d need to find a place larger than any of us were currently and separately residing at. Someplace large enough where we could each have our own bedrooms for whenever we felt the need to escape and be alone, as well as another room to be used as my office. I also said I wanted a wood-burning fireplace if possible, and if not, at least a gas-burning blaze. We discussed the pros and cons of this scenario and hashed out all the details. After we agreed it was doable, we laid out plans to begin looking for our new place once they’d return to the East Coast. Yet, as some of my Irish barstool buddies were fond of saying, many’s the slip betwixt the cup and the lip. Those alcohol-infused lads and lasses from the Emerald Isle certainly do have a way with words, don’t they?
Instead of congratulating and telling both how happy I felt for them to be able to pursue their dreams, something which I had done for myself nearly all my life, I shut down and went silent as they jabbered away about what this opportunity could do for their careers in the entertainment industry. Even though they were all the way over on the other side of the continent and we were temporarily only able to connect with each other via phone or email, I could feel the fire of their euphoric excitement. Here on the opposite side of the country, I also felt anger and a sense of abandonment seething and boiling deep inside. Sure, it was only a year, unless the production run was extended, or other job offers followed that one. Then there were other unforeseen possibilities that could arise while they’re gone that would keep us apart longer, or even forever. Yeah, I understood.
For the first time I also truly understood how each ex must’ve felt when I’d blown off previously made plans with them. When I’d forget all about birthdays, anniversaries, family gatherings, or just about anything else that wasn’t as important as following and achieving my own dreams. All the times I’d leave them behind, alone, while I seized every opportunity to do what I deemed was more important for me. I now, indeed, did understand their feelings of emptiness and betrayal they’d lived with during each one’s marriage to me; as I selfishly went about the business of ruthlessly going for the gold, and blindly clawing my way to the top.
I lied to my better two-thirds and told them I had stuff that needed to get done in the morning and, in the midst of their exhilaration, abruptly ended the call mid-sentence. Afterward, I took a long walk and stopped at several bars for a few extra dry and dirty Grey Goose martinis with olives to numb and anesthetize the ache inside. The ache with which I finally stumbled back home to get into a fistfight with an electric fan. An ache, throbbing as badly as my injured fingers would throb later on at the end of that night when I composed an email to send to “Z” and “C”.
Once more lying, but this time through email, I wrote that I was happy for them and how much I wanted them to seize this opportunity out West. That they should stay there as long as they needed to reach the stars. An amount of time I did not know the extent, because when you’re reaching for the stars you’ll always see another one you’ll want to reach for behind the one you’ve managed to grab. Then there’ll be another, and another, and another, for light-years yet to come. I know, I’ve been there and done that to three women I loved in my past.
I didn’t bother with another lie and tell my tiny dancers how I didn’t want to be the one standing in their way of going after what they wanted. That would just have been one more lie added to this little litany of what would likely be a farewell missive. No, I kept it concise, short, and sweet, signing off using three words I’d never, ever said to them before: I love you. It was brief, to the point and except for the last three words, it was all lies. Anyway, by this time one of my fingers had begun bleeding again, dripping droplets of blood that came straight from my heart as I finished typing, so I just went to bed.
That next morning after reading over my unsent email, I studied the flecks of dried blood on the “Z” and the “C” keys of my computer’s keyboard as the bandaged fingers ached and throbbed again after that electric fan TKO. The “Z” and the “C” who comprised the major portion of the simple fraction parts of our “throuple” had been rolling with each other long before I’d come into the picture. They’d been driving through life together when they saw me, slowed down, opened the door, and they gave me a ride like a hitchhiker picked up on some lonesome road. I use to always be the one who had places to go and people to see. Now, like the aforementioned hitchhiker, I was again alone on another nameless highway watching the vehicle in which we once rode together, gradually disappear in the distance. I moved my cursor and clicked on the email’s send button.
Outside my window, rain began to fall as an old song started playing in the back of my mind. It was a tune written and recorded by Harry Chapin I’d first heard in 1974, decades before either of the current loves of my life who were about to leave me had even been born. “Cat’s in the Cradle” was Chapin’s only #1 record before his untimely death in an automobile accident while en route on the Long Island Expressway to play a free benefit concert at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, NY. I read that now sent email over and over again as I sang Chapin’s tune in my head, changing only two words from the original version each time I sang it to myself; “My girls were just like me.” Yes, just like me…