An Unintended Indiscretion

Submitted into Contest #163 in response to: Write a story in which someone says “You'll never be content.”... view prompt

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Fiction

An Unintended Indiscretion

          “You’ll never be content,” her mother predicted. “I know you too well. He’s all wrong for you.” In an act of unabashed rejection of parental prognostication, Tolova said. “I know what’s right for me,” and moved in with a man who was a student at Julliard, aspiring to write opera, worked nights playing piano in a neighborhood bar and sang Sundays with an oratorio group. Their single room was in a fifth-floor walk-up in Greenwich Village. “Our lives are like Mimi and Rodolfo in La Bohème," Tolova told her friends. "Mother was wrong. I am… we are,” she corrected, “poor but content bohemians...well, sort of content,” she added tentatively.

  Then one snowy evening life mimicked art and like the third act of La Bohème they stood in the snow outside a subway station near Washington Square and Tolova bid her oratorio singer Addio Sansor Rancor.

  "Goodbye and no regrets," she said as she headed down the subway steps.

  Her second attempt at obtaining content was with her French lover. Jean  Gabin was an artist who lived among his spent paint tubes and canvases in a large unheated loft in Montmartre near the Sacre Coeur. He often recited poetry as he painted Tolova in the nude against the snowy Parisian backdrop outside their window.

            "Roses za are red,

             Violet za be blue

             Your body ees hot

             I love painting you."

  "Je gèle mon cul!" she barked as the winter wind found its way unabated into their room raising a second set of goose bumps on her body.

  Translation: I'm freezing my ass off.

  Gabin laughed, "Fortunately, I am not painting zat part of your anatomy."

  The year Tolova turned twenty-six she caught pneumonia and decided she was anything but content with Gabin, had had her fill of the arts and would look for a lover whose career pursuits were less artistic and more fiscal in nature.

  "I've decided to find someone," she wrote to a friend, "with whom I will be both content …and warm. Preferably in a Sable coat."

  The transformation from her Bohemian Period to her Pragmatic Period, was both dramatic and total. She returned to New York and within less than a month began an affair with an insurance executive named Percy Bagwell who was married and living in Scarsdale.

  "Me? You're giving this to me? A Credit Card? My very own credit card? What a sweetheart," she cooed as she secured the card in her purse.

  The insurance executive responded in a voice full or prurient intent, "I expect to see frequent charges from Victoria Secret."

  It wasn't long before she discovered that the credit card not only worked at Victoria's Secret, but at Oscar De La Renta, Giorgio Armini, Chanel and Tiffanys. Talk about contentment.

  Bagwell's American Express bill jumped out at him like an IRS audit notice, "$85,467!" As he scanned the list of charges he blanched, choked and began to sweat, all the while doing his best not to say anything that would dampen the anticipated pleasure of their noontime coitus.      

  "I'm sorry, sweetie," she said doing her best to sound loving and contrite, "I really, really do my best to look for sales."

  "Sugar pie," Bagwell responded, "this is a little more than I planned for you to spend. I think maybe it's time we give the card a little rest."

  Tolova's incensed response was not at all what he expected. "Maybe it's time I give you a little rest," she spat back. "And speaking of time, don't you think it's time for you to divorce your wife?"

  Good grief! Divorce my wife? What does this little tart think this is all about?

  The insurance executive from Scarsdale counted himself truly fortunate when Tolova announced she was no longer content with their relationship. gave him back his credit card and checked out of his life.

  With the residual of the affair having left her elegantly clothed and heavily bejeweled, Tolova was ready to step into what she called her Acquisition Period.

  "No more lovers. This time a husband." Her criteria were basic. The man had to be rich. Uber rich. Age was not a factor in her search. In fact, advanced age - i.e., one foot in the grave - she considered a plus. She required that the target had to be able to move about without a walker and had not as yet found it necessary to rely on frequent changes of Depends.

  "With a body, a face and a brain like mine," she told herself, " I am convinced I can hook a really big fish."

  Her fishing expedition generated five potential candidates. Of the four on her list who took the bait, Toddinger Meriwether Brubecker, or Dinger as he was known to intimates, was adjudged best qualified to provide her with content via the lifestyle to which she expected to become accustomed.

  "I am proud to say, Tolova," he began while downing his third martini at La Cote Basque, "my perspicacity, my cunning, my intuitive understanding of the financial world has netted me a fortune of nearly 450 million dollars. Plus, or minus a few million or so. But who counts?"

  "Not me," she answered demurely.

  An initial impediment to their budding relationship was that Dinger possessed a wife of forty-six years who traveled incessantly in pursuit of her passion for things other than Mr. Brubecker. It was on a Tuesday that Dinger provided Tolova with the news she'd been waiting to hear. "I have, shall we say, remedied the inconvenience of my marriage with what I regard as a generous settlement which will permit my ex-wife to pursue her passion for archeology in the Yemen desert."

  No sooner had the justice of the peace blessed their nuptial than Dinger made it clear he had no intention of letting himself be lured into anything that even remotely resembled his former domesticated life in the suburbs. Tolova offered her assurance that she fully concurred with his vision of content and their life together. "Children? Out of the question. A dog? Never. A maid? We don't need one. A place in the county with all those mosquitoes? No thank you."

  Poor Dinger. He brought none of his business acuity to his relationship with Tolova. This tower of Wall Street intellect never fully understood how within four years they had two children, a dog, a maid, a cook and were living in Centerport, Connecticut.

II

  "Dinger dear, look at this," Tolova said handing him a formal looking letter. "Our house has been picked to be in the Decorator Magazine's Showcase issue. We'll be in print."

  When Dinger agreed to build them a house, Tolova insisted she be her own architect and then orchestrated the interior decoration after having summarily dismissed Mario Buatta. The result was hailed in the decorator magazine as a monument to eclectic bad taste. The reviewer wrote:

  In the middle of what presumably

  was intended to be an open atrium,

  I came upon a fountain featuring a

  large naked nymph holding a fish.

  It was intended, I believe, that water

  was to flow through the mouth

  of the fish into the circular pool

  the nymph was standing in.

  However, for reasons apparently

  relating to a fault in the plumbing,

  on the day of my visit, all the water

  appeared to be passing through her

  private parts. I suggest they name the

  fountain: La dame pipi dans la piscine."

  One must concede that what the Brucker’s lacked in taste, they made up for with their money. Generous donations in the right places do tend to induce a form of retrograde amnesia in towns like Centerport.

  I love this town because the name of the game here is money, Tolova thought as she parked her Maserati next to a fire plug on the town's main street. If you've got money, it means control. And when you have control you have power. I have them all. I could not be more content.

  Tolova learned to play the control game among the uber rich with virtuoso aplomb. Her money - or rather Dinger's money - earned her entree to the best county club, the most coveted community organizations and a seat on the boards of every prestigious charity. Once inside, she worked diligently to infiltrate the membership committees thus giving her the power to accept or reject whom she pleased. She dropped black balls like hail stones.

  Dinger was mostly oblivious to his wife's penchant for inflicting social punishment on those she found deserving. But he was well aware that Tolova seemed determined to dress in a provocative manner guaranteed to display her figure so as to engender the appreciative glances and approbations of other men.

  "You're not going to the club dance looking like that, are you?"

  "Of course. I love this dress. You don't like it?"

  "You're exposed on top and you look like someone poured you into the bottom."

  "I hate to admit it," Dinger told his sister who harbored a deep distrust of Tolova, "but I have begun to suspect that Tolova might be looking to have an affair."

  His sister's concurrence served only to heighten Dinger's anxiety.

  Tolova, if the truth be told, was tempted to have an affair as she did not regard Dinger as Mr. Excitement when it came to their sex life. It was during one of Dinger's critical assessments that she responded with two telling questions, "Can I help it if men find me and the way I dress attractive? Am I to just ignore them?"

  "I put up with her suggestive behavior at first," he confided again to his sister, "but I've gotten tired of her incessant flirting. So, in a manner of speaking, I'm yanking her chain, reeling her in, confiscating her checkbook and making her disappear from Centerport for a while."

  Tolova was distraught. "Dinger, I can't believe you'd do such a thing to me."

  Endure her penance she did, though the fact she served her exile at the Golden Door Spa softened the punishment considerably. Such was her predilection for the restoration of access to his checkbook, she emerged from her imposed isolation contrite, ready to dress modestly and behave per her husband's dictates.

  It wasn't long after she returned to Centerport that Dinger decided to atone for what he had begun to regard as an intemperate display of spousal abuse. "Tolova, I have decided that I've been much too hard on you. To make amends, I've rented a 200-foot yacht - with chef and crew - to sail the Greek Isles. I think it would be nice if you were to invite two other couples to cruise with us."

  "Like who? Maybe Isadora and Asher Brightendale?" she offered eagerly.

  "No, I don't care for that over-libido-driven Asher and we both know Isadora gets seasick. How about Pooh Armbruster, Bunny Stablemoore and their husbands?"

  Oh, God! Tolova thought to herself. Two more disgusting men do not exist on this planet. She was especially put off by Yogi Armbruster who got his nickname because he had a face like Yogi Berra and a body like Yogi the Bear.

  Tolova smiled appreciatively at Dinger doing her best to hide what she was thinking; I know what he's doing. He chose men who are flirtation proof. He wants to be sure I won't be tempted. Tempted? With Yogi To do what?  Realizing that her husband was not about to back off his choice of cruising partners, she feigned enthusiasm, "Dinger dear, I think they would make wonderful traveling companions."

  To understand what, on the cruise, was to become an unintended indiscretion and the seminal event in Tolova's life, one would have to appreciate the immensity of Yogi Armbruster’s derriere. To put it plainly, gravity seemed to have conspired to pull down much of his substantial girth into his behind. In truth, he exemplified the pejorative term fat ass.

  It was after a particularly excellent dinner, complete with unconscionable amounts of wine, that the indiscretion occurred. Deciding they needed a healthy dose of night air, Yogi, Tolova and Yogi’s wife Pooh started to climb up the narrow ladder that was normally restricted for use only by the crew when accessing the upper deck. Unfortunately, Yogi got stuck in the hatch, which was too narrow for his ample posterior. Finding herself well up on the ladder and staring at Yogi's prodigious behind, Tolova, having succumbed to the judgmentally dampening effects of red wine, turned to Pooh and said, "Maybe if I goose him, it will pry him loose. Should I?"

  For years afterward there remained considerable speculation as to whether Pooh actually granted Tolova permission to goose her husband or if Tolova simply misinterpreted what she took as Pooh's nod of approval.

  Unfortunately, at the very moment Tolova reached up in an attempt to dislodge Yogi's derriere via a firm goose, he managed to squirm free and turn his body to start back down the ladder. Tolova's goose missed its mark and became a full-fledged frontal assault. Yogi yelped in surprise followed by Tolova's immediate apology.

  "Hoops! Sorry 'bout that," she said choking back an embarrassed laugh.

  Tolova hoped that her apology would be enough for Yogi to dismiss her minor indiscretion as a playful goose gone-astray.

  As she backed down the ladder, she found herself thinking, the last thing I want is for Dinger to hear about this. I know he'll take it the wrong way. Even with Yogi. Later that night Yogi informed Pooh that what looked like a goose was not a goose at all.

  Pooh was aghast, "She grabbed your penis and all she had to say was 'sorry about that?'"

  Next morning, Pooh, acting as though the assault on her husband's private parts had been a personal affront, cornered Bunny Stablemoore on the poop deck and shared the details of what she described as Tolova's purposeful molestation of Yogi's genitals.

  "I must tell you," Pooh confided, "I will never speak to that wanton woman again." Realizing where she was, Pooh qualified her intent, "After we get off this boat, of course."

  It is not certain what Dinger finally believed. Had Pooh given Tolova permission to give Yogi a friendly goose to help unstick him from the hatch? Had his wife accidentally or maybe purposely fondled Yogi's private parts and disguised the act as a friendly goose? Answers were required.

III

  .

  When word leaked out in Centerport about Tolova's misdirected goose, her many detractors labeled her with the sobriquet Premier Gooser.

  "You know what they're saying about Tolova grabbing Yogi's penis?" a bald golfer on the third tee asked.

  "That it was no big thing," roared the skinny man who has just chipped out of a sand trap.

  When the foursomes' laugher died down, a short fat golfer asked," When you putt for a par and miss the hole it's called a bogie. What do you call it when you aim a goose and miss the hole?"

  "A Yogi," the other three golfer's chimed together.

  Unable to put an end to his public personification as the punchline to a joke, Yogi announced that he and Pooh had always longed to live in Idaho.

. Dinger, never convinced he had learned the truth of what really happened, decided it prudent to absent himself for a time from Centerport’s gossiping magpies. So, he booked travel to Africa to hunt big game. Tolova stayed at home, adopting a lower community profile. In time the discussion of the indiscretion ran its course and was mostly forgotten except by all but those who, over the years, had been subjected to Tolova's social wrath. Dinger unfortunately, contracted a rare parasite while shooting in Kenya and Tolova buried him a year later. Once Dinger was in the ground and his checkbook was in her hand, she enrolled her sons in prep school and began the post-Dinger phase of her life, now fully content.

  "I would like to have you route me to Cap Ferrat," she told the travel agent, "but with a stopover in Paris." The reason for the visit was that since Dinger's demise she had found herself thinking about her years in Montmartre. I wonder if by any chance Gabin might still be painting in his loft? I might like to see him.

  Scene change. Paris. Montmartre. The limo Tolova had hired pulled into the square near the Sacre Coeur. The small building housing the loft was still there, but it appeared to be vacant.

"Driver, you've got to find a way in?"

   "No problem," the driver said as he checked the entrance. "Ma oui, the door she is wide open."

  As she walked up the stairs and into what had been their single room and Gabin's studio, Tolova realized that he had probably continued to live there for a number of years after she left and that, in all likelihood, he had been its last resident. As she rummaged through the clutter left behind in the room, she came upon a half dozen partially finished canvases.

  "Nudes. Nothing but nudes,” she said to herself. "All clearly painted by Gabin." For a brief moment she expected, or at least hoped, she might find one of her. None were. She picked up the last of the nudes and held it next to the window to see it better. The woman was seated in front of their loft window. The trees outside were winter bare.

  "She looks cold." Tolova said aloud. "She's got to be freezing her ass off. Je gèle mon cul!"

  And then from somewhere though the years she thought she heard Gabin's voice, "Fortunately, I am not painting zat part of your anatomy."

  She stared at the painting for a long moment and then, as if the woman in the picture might answer, Tolova asked, "Were you content with Gabin? Or did you catch pneumonia too."

`

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September 12, 2022 14:31

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