Sunday, July 24, 2011

Better Than Fine

For weeks, Zach followed Vida Korbett at a careful distance through the Younger Institute’s elegant curving hallways. Long before they were introduced, he sought an impression of her in his rare still moments. Every time he worked in Washington, D.C., he took surreptitious pleasure in the way her long legs propelled her rhythmically forward, the action of her hem grazing the backs of her knees, and the streaming of her shiny, reddish-blonde hair, which swung when she turned and settled in loose waves around her shoulders when she paused. Zach’s senses grew keen whenever she passed the open door of a committee session he was attending. Yet he listened in vain for her voice, deciding on his own that it must be low, almost throaty, and so steeped in knowledge she deliberately added a vaguely sweet silence between sentences.

(Click here for the first episode; here for the previous one.)

Finally, she attended a seminar on public policy. At either end of a middle row, they waited until the last speaker finished before passing the people separating them, saying, “Excuse me,” and “Awkward, I know, but I must get by,” until they faced each other in the narrow confines. When they shook hands, “How do you do? I’ve been meaning to meet you,” both on full wattage, their similar style at the same game, made them laugh. They had heard quite good things about each other, and laughed at that too—and at how obviously and avidly they were about to pursue each other.

Zach gleaned Vida’s attitude and humor as quickly as he had put together the details he had watched during the weeks before they met. She regarded her voluptuous beauty, in which she seemed entirely secure, like a perk, as trivial yet prestigious as a preferred parking place. Zach, however, found her soft, shapely mouth and big, many-hued eyes (her pale brown irises took on the colors of her surroundings) extraordinary. Her plump chin looked as smooth and rich as a scoop of ice cream. Her luscious appearance was as strong and commanding as his.

As Director of Development, Vida headed the Institute’s entire fund-raising operation; she oversaw twenty to thirty employees and interns, training and inspiring them to gather capital, meaning she would have impressed Zach even if her dimpled cheeks and ample figure didn’t fascinate him.

After their first meeting, Vida took Zach to dinner. Three times in three weeks they ate at a discreet and private club to which Vida had belonged since graduate school. The dining staff kept her favorites in stock. She liked single malt scotch, Veuve Cliquot, Chateauneuf du Pape, Sancerre, soft-shelled crabs, lamb chops, filet mignon, tamarind sorbet, and many kinds of bitter dark chocolate. She also liked, and the club also provided, micro-brewed beer, Kosher hot dogs, and super skinny French fries. The fourth week, Zach took her to the Capital Grille, after which she invited him to her townhouse in Georgetown.

Her wholesome, prolonged sexual pleasure spurred Zach’s endurance and prompted him to employ his cache of erotic tricks. That was their first time. Past that, he abandoned all calculations—no conscious maneuverings. He succumbed to Vida and they experienced high-flying coupling, after which, they lay drenched in each other. Zach felt as if he and Vida could reconfigure time. Her innate power made Zach’s double life simple. In fact, he didn’t think of it as a double life at all. Vida had triggered something magical in Zach, so that he lived as two separate men at once.

Although, perhaps the first Zach’s life wasn’t quite so simple. In New York, sleeping with his wife, another dream unreeled, and his nights with Beth began to feel like a rodeo. He dreamed repeatedly of straddling two galloping horses, one foot squarely on each animal’s back. The wild horses ran faster and faster until they veered in opposite directions. He often woke with a cry that woke Beth, who assumed it was she who had screamed and woken him. For, of course, Zach never screamed—never had and never would, Beth believed. She apologized for waking him and grew teary, confessing that a nameless but terrible fear seized her whenever she closed her eyes.

“Something is wrong,” she said. Her every intuition hovered over an as-yet undetected fault that was already ruining them.

And Zach told her, “No, sweetheart. Nothing’s wrong. Everything’s fine. Better than fine. All our wishes are coming true.”

(click here for the next episode)


Dan Leo said...

This is excellent -- getting even better as it goes along.

Unknown said...

Guess who wins, Dan.