I’ve known Jerry since high school and for many years admired his maturity and fine judgment. Two years after graduation he married his high school sweetheart, Lisa, who he’d been intimate with when the rest of us bumbled for first kisses. Jerry’s precociousness applied to business, as well, and starting in his early twenties he profited from real estate sales and related investments. His three children, likewise, developed without undue difficulty, and remain well-adjusted people. I’m not here suggesting that Jerry in contrast became an unstable man. I’m simply relating what happened.
I can’t say when it began but one morning he called me at work and insisted I meet his new associate for lunch at noon. As a friend of Lisa’s, too, I cut Jerry with a glance over the white tablecloth, but he ignored my warning if he even noticed. He and pretty, young Alma were so enthused I thought they wouldn’t be able to finish lunch before rushing to the motel Jerry later described as their regular place of passion.
Alma wanted Jerry to divorce Lisa, who no longer aroused him as much as three decades earlier but still provided everything else he needed. Jerry explained this to Alma, who regularly berated him for treating her like a slut. She complained she couldn’t sleep or tolerate her supervisors and had begun crying several times a day. She claimed never to have known any of these difficulties before Jerry began degrading her.
“Jerry, I lay ten to one she’s had problems all her adult life,” I said.
He didn’t respond. He looked into his drink.
“Why don’t you end it?”
“I’ve got to try to help.”
He insisted she see a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her as suffering from depression. Psychotherapy didn’t help and neither did the next phase, antidepressant therapy. Alma cried on sunny mornings and rainy afternoons and during lovemaking, and frequently said Jerry was destroying her life.
In a moment of clarity, he said, “I won’t do that anymore. Goodbye.”
A few days later Alma drove into his driveway, rear-ended his car, rang the doorbell, pounded on the door, ran around to the backyard and kicked the sliding glass door and then picked up a heavy metal patio chair, crashed it into the glass, and cut her hands as she entered the family room where Jerry and Lisa watched as Alma prosecuted her case.
“Lisa, you have my word, I don’t know this woman, at least not intimately.”
“You’re killing me.”
“Jerry, I’m calling the police,” said Lisa.
Sirens ablaze, the police arrived in about ten minutes, and pried Alma off the soiled sofa where she’d buried her head as she sobbed.
I hope Alma’s doing better but don’t know any details and hope Jerry doesn’t, either.