Det. Lieutenant Frank Ryman is telling his captain, Winthrop Pemberton, about an incident with the murdered woman that involved him. Remembering, he is angry and embarrassed.
After a few minutes had gone by and the woman’s drinks had begun to take effect, she had come over and sat close to him. Her perfume was expensive, exciting, but he was in love with Sofia.
“How about a kiss, lover?” she had whispered, her lips parted as she ran the tip of her tongue over them.
Sofia, Frank’s wife and the woman’s friend, was desirable. He was faithful, not too long married, but this woman was like all the women in the Bible and good novels, like Salome and Scarlett O’Hara. He had been forty-eight then and there wasn’t much he hadn’t been exposed to, but he hadn’t sampled all that many of the world’s women or the world’s vices, or even the world’s wares, for that matter.
He had decided to play it light. “Come on now,” he said. “I’m the husband of your friend.”
She had laughed just a little, and she seemed hurt.
He had tried to smooth it over. “Look, you’re the most beautiful woman I know, except Sofia, but I believe in fidelity in marriage.”
She had smiled mysteriously. “I see,” she said softly, and got up and left the room.
Frank had tapped his foot to the jazz playing on the stereo, nervously awaiting his wife. Even if he didn’t really want this woman, his middle-aged ego felt enriched by her aggressive hustle. He wondered how many men she came onto in any given week. Hell, men sure weren’t shy about propositioning women and crowding them. Were women equal, or weren’t they?
He was staring at the richly hued Persian rug, lost in thought, when she coughed. Looking up, he saw her standing in the arch of the living room in front of a bank of windows with the drapes open. She was silkily alabaster white — and birth-naked. Overwhelmed, his body liked what faced him even if the faithful part of his mind did not. He stood up, the difference in their heights making him feel less vulnerable.
“Cut it out now. Be nice,” he said, like the black Dutch uncle he sure as hell didn’t feel like.
“No, you be nice,” she cooed. From her lips, it was a command from master to servant. As his mouth set in a hard line, and he silently threatened to disown the clamoring lower half of himself, she snarled, “Don’t you go high and mighty on me! Why are you being so damned mean?”
They were on even ground now. He was going to have to cut her down. All his instincts said she didn’t want him for erotic gain. She meant to control him.
“Well,” he drawled, “I guess you might say that the bitch you’re acting like brings out nothing but the mean old junkyard dog in me.”
It wasn’t what she expected. She started toward hhim, undulating. He saw that she would stop at nothing to seduce him, and although he couldn’t admit it, her single-minded assault frightened him.
“Cut it out or I’m leaving,” he said sharply. “You think even if I wanted you, I’d let Sofia come in and catch us here?”
Angry beyond the attempted seduction, he started to the closet to get his coat. The cool room seemed unbearably hot through the sweat on his body.
“Go on, run!” she snarled. “I like black men, but I want the genuine article, not a sorry mongrel half-breed like you.”
Her words were a rabbit punch to his belly. Maybe she’d discussed him with Sofia, and Sofia knew his pain at Jesse’s and Jenny’s blackness and his own white skin. They loved him and he loved them, but he was stubbornly acknowledged by Max, his white father, and that made it worse.
The words he prided himself on never calling women rushed to his lips, but he stifled them; they’d never satisfy him now. He needed blood. Fighting, blindly angry, he stopped and said to her, “If being all white makes you so fucking almighty, then why are you so goddamned miserable?”
“Voila!” Her smile, her languid stance blazed into rage. He had started again for the closet when she picked up a vase and sent it toward the wall just past him, grazing the side of his head.
So, the plot thickens. I will let this segment stay up because many people don’t use the Internet on weekends. Monday, please read an alcoholic father’s strange reasoning behind his incest with one daughter, his gropings with another younger one, and his link to a murdered woman. Read, too, one detective’s pithy comment on that incest.
Wishing you a great weekend and hoping to see you Monday! Slow down and keep cool!