Two Wives was originally published on Fictionaut in September 2013. It has been significantly rewritten and is included in my collection: Considered Fiction.
Two women sat at a small outside table at a neighborhood restaurant waiting for the same man. The older woman, older by only twenty-four hours, was tall and slender, almost anorexic. She wore a newsboy cap, which covered her thinning short coif. She had large white teeth that were prominent when she laughed, which she did in a theatrical way. She was wearing a blue work shirt, Calvin Klein jeans and Brevitt boots. The combination of tight jeans and heeled boots accentuated her shapely hips and stems.
Her companion, junior to her by twenty-four hours, was a raven-haired beauty with, as they say, good bones and a wineglass figure. Her perfect complexion and classic high-cheek-boned face were framed by a crimson wide-brimmed hat decorated with a feather and a gold butterfly pin. She wore a white ruffled blouse with a straight black skirt. Her ensemble was accessorized by an Hermès scarf and black sling-back heels. Neither woman would ever see fifty again.
The man they were waiting for was the painter, Jack Mahler. Jack had been married to the older woman, his ex-wife, for three years. His current spouse of twenty-five years was the younger woman.
Rash, inspired by the classic Pygmalion myth, is a story of love, revenge, perversion, vanity, and the supernatural. Jack Mahler, a painter and sculptor, befriends Margaux Howland at the local gym. Margaux is in a loveless marriage with a powerful judge, Leland Howland. The judge commissions Jack to make a portrait statue of his wife. Margaux and Jack begin a love affair. When the Judge discovers the affair, he sends Margaux to their Santa Fe home. The gardener at the Santa Fe home, Carlos, is a well-regarded shaman. Observing the unhappy Margaux, Carlos uses his powers to bedevil the judge. He also gives the statue magical properties. The vanity of human behavior clashes with the power of the paranormal as the story unfolds in unexpected ways.
Fifteen years ago, my wife and I watched planes fly into the World Trade Center from our Park Slope, Brooklyn apartment. We spent most of the day assisting refugees from lower Manhattan trudging past our building. The image of people fleeing the collapsing North Tower remained in my head.
He deplaned Air France flight 9 from JFK to Charles de Gaulle airport at quarter past noon. He had to connect with an EasyJet flight to Nice at terminal 2E. The connection would involve a long walk and a shuttle bus ride. The signage was confusing, but he had traveled this route a dozen times and knew it well. His luggage was a backpack and a baritone saxophone in a leather gig bag. The plane from JFK was fifteen minutes late. He would have to hustle to make the connection.
He passed the train station where a Paris-bound B3 RER train was waiting in the station.
—Why is it when I need to get to Paris in a hurry, there never is a train, but when I don’t need one, it’s waiting in the station?
He continued walking briskly, confident of his route. Somehow he missed a turn and descended into a restricted part of the airport.
—Excuse me, sir. This is a forbidden zone, said the armed guard.
—I’m sorry officer, but I am lost. I need to connect to EasyJet at terminal 2E.
—Take that door and follow the signs to the transfer bus to terminal 2.
—Thank you. Merci bien.
A sign on the door said: No Luggage Trolleys. He entered the door. He found himself in an enclosed escalator stairwell. The door closed behind him. There was no landing; the first step of the escalator was flush with the doorsill. The stairs were not moving when he opened the door but activated when his foot touched the first step.