The Moral of the Story

They sat together in a discreet corner booth of a hotel bar just a few blocks from where he worked. He put his hand on hers and said, “Sure, I’m game for a nightcap in your room. You’re good company, Elaine. I can’t stay too late, though. I have a presentation tomorrow, and most of my paperwork is at home.”

“That’s not a problem, Chuck,” she said. “We have plenty of time. You’ll love the room, by the way. It’s beautiful. I accept nothing less when I travel.”

A few hours later, as he adjusted his tie in front of the hotel room mirror, he said, “You seem so familiar. It feels like I’ve known you forever.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” she said. “We certainly know each other pretty well now, don’t we?”

Chuck laughed quietly and said, “Better than before, that’s for sure.”

“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 is complicated.”

“It is, isn’t it? Take care.”

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, the one who told you our marriage would be a big mistake?”

“Of course I do. Talented businessman, there’s no doubt about that, but he was too manipulative for my tastes. He was obsessed with wanting to be my best friend, too. That was really weird, but whatever. What’s he up to these days?”

“Well, Jenny and I were talking about old acquaintances the other day, and believe it or not, she told me that Alan had a sex change operation. He’s now a woman, or she’s now a woman, I should say.”

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

“Yes, way, and very possible. 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. Chuck, you look pale. Are you OK?”

 “Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little nervous about the presentation. Honey, I have to run.”

Chuck kissed Beth on the cheek and headed toward the door, realizing he now lived in an unfamiliar new world he would never be able to escape or share with anyone.