He Deserved Nothing Less

They sat together in a corner booth of the nicest hotel bar in town, just a few blocks from where he worked. He ran his index finger across the top of her hand and said, “I’m definitely game for a nightcap in your room, but I can’t stay too late, Elaine. I have a presentation tomorrow, and most of my paperwork is at home.”

“No problem, Chuck,” she said. “We’ll make time. The room is perfect, by the way. It has everything. I always get what I want when I travel.”

“I believe you,” said Chuck. 

A few hours later, as he adjusted his tie in front of the hotel room mirror, Chuck said, “You seem so familiar, Elaine. It’s like we’ve known each other for years.”

“Indeed,” she said as she put on a Chesapeake Bay T-shirt. “We certainly know each other even better now, don’t we?”

Chuck laughed quietly and said, “Better than before. No doubt about that.”

“Will I see you again? I’ll be back in town on business in another month.”

“Just text me and we’ll see what happens, OK? The situation’s complicated.”

“I know, but do you want to see me again or not?”

“I do.”

“Good. Then I’ll text you in a few weeks.”

The next morning as Chuck sat at the breakfast table with his wife Beth, she said, “So, are you ready for a bombshell?”

“Fire away.”

“Remember your old friend Alan Bucknell telling you our marriage would never last?”

“I sure do. I still wonder why he said that. Doesn’t matter. He was a good operations manager, but what a manipulative backstabber, and always riding me. He was obsessed with everything I did. I’m glad he left the company. I wonder where he is now.”

“Well, I’m glad you asked,” said Beth. “Jenny and I were talking about old acquaintances yesterday, and are you ready for this? Believe it or not, she told me that your old colleague Alan had a sex change operation! He’s a woman now, or she’s a woman now, or whatever, but just wild!”

Chuck’s blood ran cold. “Impossible,” he said. “No way.”

“Yes way,” said Beth. “Apparently, Alan is now Elaine, which makes sense, I guess. And from what Jenny says, Elaine is quite the Jezebel. When she takes business trips, she has a sailor in every port, so to speak. She took a job in Maryland for a change of scenery, but she still comes to town every so often. . . . Honey, you look pale. Are you OK?”

 “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Just a little nervous about the presentation. Gotta go.”

Chuck kissed Beth on the cheek and headed toward the door. Badly shaken and worried about a flood of terrifying possibilities, he stepped into the sunlight, figuring he would have to keep his new reality to himself for the rest of his life.