It was about a week later around 7 a.m. I had lucked into another day off and after a double workout, I was up against Joyce’s ass, her asshole, sleeping, verily sleeping, and then the doorbell rang and I got out of bed and answered the thing.

There was a small man in a necktie. He jammed some papers into my hand and ran away.

It was a summons, for divorce. There went my millions. But I wasn’t angry because I had never expected her millions anyhow.

I awakened Joyce.


“Couldn’t you have had me awakened at a more decent hour?”

I showed her the papers.

“I’m sorry, Hank.”

“That’s O.K. All you had to do was tell me. I would have agreed. We just made love twice and laughed and had fun. I don’t under– stand it. And you knew all along. God damn if I can understand a woman.”

“Look, I filed when we had an argument. I thought, if I wait until I cool off I’ll never do it.”

“O.K., babe, I admire an honest woman. Is it Purple Stickpin?”

“It’s Purple Stickpin,” she said.

I laughed. It was a rather sad laugh, I’ll admit. But it came out.

“It’s easy to second guess. But you’re going to have trouble with him. I wish you luck, babe. You know there’s a lot of you I’ve loved and it hasn’t been entirely your money.”

She began to cry into the pillow, on her stomach, shaking all over. She was just a small town girl, spoiled and mixed-up. There she shook, crying, nothing fake about it. It was terrible.

The blankets had fallen off and I stared down at her white back, the shoulder blades sticking out as if they wanted to grow into wings, poke through that skin. Little blades. She was help-less.

I got into bed, stroked her back, stroked her, stroked her, calmed her—then she’d break down again:

“Oh Hank, I love you, I love you, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry sorry so sorry!”

She was really on the rack.

After a while, I began to feel as if I were the one who was divorcing her.

Then we knocked off a good one for old time’s sake.

She got the place, the dog, the flies, the geraniums.

She even helped me pack. Folding my pants neatly into suit– cases. Packing in my shorts and razor. When I was ready to leave she started crying again. I bit her on the ear, the right one, then went down the stairway with my stuff. I got into the car and began cruising up and down the streets looking for a For Rent sign.

It didn’t seem to be an unusual thing to do.

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