The Widow

WARNING: Adult themes

TRIGGER WARNING: What with all the hubbub about sexual abuse, and the recent unpleasantness in certain *ahem* circles of government, this might be a controversial topic. And I know that a certain big guy with a bleached mop on his head started positioning men as victims of unfair accusations, at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons. This was written before and completely independently of President Mophead putting us through this awkwardness.

Just to be clear, I thoroughly disapprove of how this was used for awkward political purposes on that occasion. I nevertheless think it raises an important point, one that is unfortunately all too possible. And I hesitated to publish this, knowing the backlash I am likely to get. What convinced me to publish was when I heard of a real-life case of this. Indeed, a friend of mine was actually deliberately victimized in such a way, and couldn’t get out of it, for the same politically correct reasons as always.

All that being said, enjoy.

I never could have imagined, as I entered the five-star hotel that night to take up my bartending shift, the mess I was about to find myself in. The usual gigs I got were in small grubby bars in my neighborhood, and in those I only ever dealt with the kind of people that I could easily relate to, other lower-class people with little education working menial jobs. Only occasionally did I get the opportunity to work in a bar in the CBD, where the only additional luxury I ever saw were the fancy bankers in their suits and the clean premises.

My friend Rick had gotten this paticular gig at first, but as his grandmother got sick he’d had to leave for a few days, and because of that he’d decided to talk me up to the manager to get me hired instead. It sounds awful to say it that way, but it’s thanks to Rick’s granny that I was now awkwardly wearing a loaned uniform, ever so slightly too big, and helping out with this event. I wasn’t about to complain, of course. The pay was significantly higher than I was used to for a single night’s work, and I was determined to make a good impression to see if I could score more such contracts in future, and maybe even a permanent job.

The event I was working was a very opulent party at the Ritz Carlton, with a lot of fancy someones and a lot of fancier someones. It was exactly the kind of party I had obviously never been able to attend or even just witness. Yet this time, I was there. Granted, I was serving drinks, but I was there. I didn’t know anyone there personally. Some I knew from the news or because they held high positions in who-knows-what. I quickly found it interesting to observe these people. To me they felt rather exotic, like foreign tourists or dignitaries.

When I was hired for this job, I expected to feel bitter at the sight of all these pompous asses showing off their wealth and power. And I did, at first. They seemed so unrelatable, so different, so condescending and aloof. I usually got along very well with my patrons, and in many cases ended up being a kind of pay-by-the-hour confidant for drunk people with mundane problems, but this crowd seemed so distant. I didn’t expect I would ever be able to have any sort of conversation on their level, and expected to spend a pretty lonely evening stuck in my thoughts and my observations, with a twinge of jealousy and apprehension. But when I heard some of them talking as they were standing near the bar, I realized they were a lot more like me than I expected.

When I was able to strip away the snobbishness that made most of them essentially ignore me all the time, I realized they had much the same interests as us common folk. I was listening to one couple passionately discussing the upcoming World Cup, for example, debating which teams would do well based on the players’ news. A small group was still now debating the last controversial season of Game of Thrones, and their conversation was so heated I could hear half of it from the opposite end of the bar. Yet another group talked about the recent protests in Who-knows-where and the refugee crisis in Who-knows-where-else. Some even appeared to have genuine altruistic ideas and concern for those less fortunate, as I found out from the two men and one woman who were discussing their donations to the local veterans’ fund.

And I was truly shocked when one couple even started talking to me. They were just commenting on the party at first, but pretty soon they introduced themselves. Her name was Patty, Patty McPherson, and he was her husband Steve. Even with what I’d just observed about the others, I still half expected them to look down their noses at me from atop their lofty social positions, but I was again surprised. They chatted with me with apparent ease. I guessed that these two were more sensitive to people of different backgrounds than most, although by now I should have checked myself, having clearly noticed that even when looking at each other across such social divides we’re not that different.

When I told them what part of town I came from, far from turning their noses up at me, they took a real interest, with Steve asking about the recent incidents there and Patty taking an interest in how the community was putting up with the situation. They said that they were involved in a neighborhood rehabilitation project there ever since the riots had begun, and that they were very happy with the results so far. I’d heard about the project and agreed emphatically. It involved providing free lessons in business, accounting, project management and other such topics important in a neighborhood full of struggling small businesses, and some of my closest friends had greatly benefitted from it. When I told them a more specific story about how my buddy Daryl had managed to expand his store thanks to these lessons, they were very pleased and said it was particularly touching to get feedback directly from the people. They also said they were confident the neighborhood would get better very soon, and even let slip the fact that the project was planning to hire some of the beneficiaries part-time to teach yet more people the practical skills they’d learned.

Before long I’d gotten to the point where my earlier prejudice about the whole crowd had melted away. I genuinely started to believe that these weren’t condescending pompous asses lording it over everyone else, but simply human beings with a headstart in life. I started to realize that I could enjoy this experience after all, even though making contact with these people was still more difficult than with my usual patrons. We kept chatting about my hood for a while, but then they were called away into another conversation, apologized and blended back into the crowd. I couldn’t blame them. They weren’t here to talk to the lowly bartender, after all. Still, I was glad they had.

An hour later, Patty was back, asking for a drink. The cocktail she ordered was quite beyond me, I didn’t know that recipe at all. She said it was an old recipe from her grandmother’s home town, and it was her favorite by far. She instructed me on how to make it. It was quite a bit more finicky than I expected, because it required one specific type of brandy and, as she said, “it just wasn’t the same without it.” It took me a while for me to locate it, but thankfully there was one bottle around, kept in a separate location for some reason. I finished making the cocktail without any additional delays and gave it to her. She thanked me with a wide smile and turned back into the crowd, drink in hand.

That smile made quite an impression on me, and left me standing there staring after her for a few minutes. I noticed at that moment how very attractive she was, even for what I guessed to be 45 or 50 years old. She had a very nice figure, slim but not skinny, with a round face, fairly smooth skin with only a hint of budding wrinkles, all wrapped up in a beautiful, neatly cut dress that fit her perfectly and highlighted her silhouette. She was the kind of woman who was beautiful and knew it, but didn’t make an overly big deal of showing it off. Her style was visibly rich, yet at the same time rather minimalistically so. There were no fancy ornaments or frills, no fur coat or linings, no monstrous necklaces or bangles, just a neat tailor-made black satin dress, a muted watch on her wrist, her wedding band and another ring on her right hand, and simple ear studs to top it all off.

Another guest came to order a drink then, so I had to push her looks to the back of my mind and get back to work. More people had arrived then, coming from a separate event, and there was a line at the bar, which kept me quite busy for a while. The rest of the evening went by as you might expect. Toward the end, I started to prepare to close up the bar and leave.

But suddenly Patty was there again. We started talking again, and I was surprised how easy it was, how comfortable I suddenly felt. We talked about my neighborhood, and she told me that she had lived there for a few years as a child, long before I was a gleam in my old man’s eye. We shared memories of the place. I was curious about her experience there, coming from such a posh environment, and she took an interest in my own childhood. It turned out she hadn’t grown up rich and in luxury, but in a lower middle class family. Once her father lost his job in the center and only found another one in that neighborhood, so they’d had to move to save on rent. It wasn’t until she became a lawyer that she had started to rise up in the ranks. This, I reflected, must go a long way to explaining her altruistic tendencies and how much interest she shows in the neighborhood.

Then the manager indicated to me that I’d better close up right away. I excused myself but Patty stayed, still talking, while I went about my business. She started talking to me about some cases she’d taken on in court on a pro-bono basis. She particularly favored cases of domestic abuse and openly admitted to being a rather outspoken feminist. One of the cases she’d handled, in fact, was my sister’s case, from when Dalia had dated a brutal jerk who would regularly beat her. Small world. When I finished closing up the bar I ducked into the bathroom to change out of the uniform and return it to the hotel for laundering. After that I ended up standing with her in the hotel lobby, still chatting comfortably.

Then she suggested I accompany her to her room upstairs for another drink. I was shocked at that proposal. I didn’t think anyone from that world would ever take such an interest in me. I even for a moment wondered whether it was appropriate to do such a thing, in my position. They were my customers, after all, fraternization must be frowned upon. But with her, I had felt very comfortable all evening. I hesitated for a second, and she insisted, saying we’d be more comfortable there. Eventually she gave me that smile again, and even took my arm, and I couldn’t resist. I rationalized by thinking that I was off duty anyway, and that this was just a one-time gig. I wasn’t expected to return the following day after all. I gave in and went with her.

We took the elevator up to the 16th-floor suite. Once inside, she went straight to the mini-bar and took out a bottle of wine, which she handed to me along with the corkscrew. I expertly opened the bottle, served two glasses and handed her one. She sat on the bed and motioned to me to sit next to her. We toasted and started sipping our drinks, still chatting. As we chatted I noticed her leaning closer and closer to me. It was clear to me now that she wanted to get intimate. I wasn’t sure what to do, whether to just excuse myself and go or give in and let it happen. She kept smiling though, the same enchanting smile she’d already flashed at me a few times. My resolve was beginning to crack.

Several glasses of wine later, she was actually rubbing up against me, and at one point even put her hand on my leg, really close to my crotch. The reaction was swift. Slightly tipsy, and starting to really want her now, I gave in and started kissing her. We made out passionately for a few minutes. It was bliss, utter bliss. Then she started fiddling with my zipper. This shocked me briefly back into full consciousness of where I was and what I was doing.

“No, we have to stop. This isn’t right. You’re married.”

“I’m a widow.”

“What? But I just met your husband three hours ago!”

“My deceased husband. There’s been an accident.”

“I didn’t hear–“

“It hasn’t been reported yet.”

I sat there, stunned at the news.

“And… you… you…”

“He was a domineering jackass. Good riddance! I’m enjoying my freedom now. Come on!” Maybe this should have put a flea in my ear.

But whatever my misgivings, there was the smile again. And before I knew what else to do, she had undone my zipper, pulled my manhood out and started going down on me. Minutes later we were making love passionately.

The following morning, I woke up beside Patty. But she… she wasn’t herself any more. Still naked, she was bound and gagged, and she was screaming. That must have been what woke me. Not knowing what had happened, shocked at the situation, I made to untie her. She shied away from me. In her fit of hysterics, she was fighting everything away, even me, as I tried to untie her. It didn’t even occur to me to consider that whoever had tied her up might still be in the room, that I might be in danger. All I knew was that someone had did this, and the reason for it couldn’t be good. I did the only logical thing I could and tried to save her.

It took a while, because she was still squirming and screaming so much it made it hard to work the knots. When I finally managed it, she started fighting me off, scratching my face so hard I started bleeding profusely. She was clearly still in shock and terrified, and needed to calm down first. I tried to reach out and talk to her to soothe her, but she pulled all the way back to behind the desk. It didn’t look as though I’d be able to calm her down right away. Still bleeding, I figured I might as well let her calm down on her own for a few minutes, and ducked into the suite’s bathroom for some tissues to staunch the bleeding. While in the bathroom I heard her on the phone with what seemed to be 911. She reported she had been raped in her suite at the Ritz and said the guy was still here. I was stunned. What was she saying? I wanted to rush to her to stop her, but I knew it was too late. The damage was done.

When I came back out of the bathroom a couple of minutes later, I didn’t see her anywhere. Still completely shocked at this complete change in her demeanor, I just stood there. Then I heard a small whimper coming out of the closet. She must have hidden in there. Sure enough, she’d taken the lamp from the top of the desk and shut herself in the closet. I narrowly avoided being clocked on the head myself, and again decided to give up on calming her down. I went through the suite, looking for my clothes and putting them back on. My face started to bleed again as I did so, and a couple of drops fell onto my shirt. Once dressed, I returned to the bathroom to wipe the blood off again. By then I’d almost forgotten that she’d called 911 on me.

And the police came within minutes. During the next hour I was arrested, brought to the police precinct to give a statement and put in a jail cell. Apparently Patty had turned on me and accused me of raping her. I had no idea what the hell was going on or why she had done that. As I sat in my cell, I tried to make sense of it all. The closest I could come was to imagine that she’d gotten drunk and done something she didn’t want or intend to do, and now was shocked about it and blaming me for somehow inciting her. But no, that didn’t fit with the fact that I distinctly remember her coming onto me during pretty much the entire previous evening. And it didn’t explain the rope… Or did it? No, that’s not my style, I’m not into tying my partners up. And I didn’t even have access to a rope. Or did I? I suddenly realized that my memories of the evening weren’t as clear as they should have been. Aside from the fact that it was completely out of character for me, I may well have had access to this stuff, and I’m sure I’m capable of it. My mind was reeling at the possible implications. Arrested, convicted, listed as a sex offender, my life could be ruined by this. And yet… How on Earth could I have knowingly done this? I’m not a violent guy. Even faced with bar brawls, the most I usually dared to do was call the bouncers to handle the situation. Now, given the circumstances, I might as well lawyer up before answering any questions. Either way, in this society, there was nothing I could do, I was guilty by default. I might as well brace myself for the worst…

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