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Fiction #291
(published August 17, 2006)
Finished Too Late
by Errid Farland
Well, I finally killed Harvey, and now that he's gone, I wish I hadn't. But I didn't do it on purpose, so there's that.

Harvey was a wall banger. Aptly named.

He told me my career was okay with him, and of course, as with so many things in life, what he said was partly true. It was the untrue part that caused the wall banging.

I'm a prostitute. A lady of the evening, a streetwalker . . . a whore. I'm not crazy about being called that last one, unless my bottom is being spanked at the time.

So Harvey married me forty-five years ago. Yes, that makes me old. Shit. He promised to love, honor and cherish me, and he promised that my choice of career would be okay. He thought it would be okay because back then, when he was starry eyed in love with me (I was hot, no brag, there, just fact), he thought it would pass. Prostitutes typically have a shorter shelf life than dancers or even actors, and he was counting on that when he assured me (himself, more like) that he could handle my career. Plus, I wouldn't have agreed to marry him if he'd said he had a problem with it. He was willing to handle it in order to marry me, and God love him, he did that. He hated it, it sent him into fits, but he always wanted me to be his wife. There was never a time, not once, when he hinted at divorce. Plus, he thought if he made enough money, I wouldn't have to work.

He made enough money - boatloads of money. We had money we didn't know what to do with. The attorney just settled the estate. In our forty-five years together, Harvey socked away five and a half million in cash. That doesn't count the houses, the cars, the boats, and all the rest.

Our marriage had some dips and valleys, and just about every one was around my job. I can't tell you how much it disappointed him to discover that his money wasn't going to make me stop. It would come up with each milestone, and each time, he'd get so mad he'd punch holes in our walls. He hit studs every now and then, and broke his hand more than once, so you'd think he'd have learned, but he didn't. When he got the job as the restaurant manager, he expected that I'd quit, and when I didn't - holes in the walls. When he paid off our first mortgage, same thing. When he built up our savings to notable levels, a quarter of a million, a half a million, a million, and I was still working - holes in the walls. Finally he understood that it wasn't about money.

So then he called me a nymphomaniac. I'm not a nymphomaniac, I just like to have sex. And I don't like to work. And I like to know I can make my own way in the world if I ever had to. Well, you can see how the arguments always went. He didn't understand all that. Also, he worked impossibly long hours as a restaurant manager at one of the big casinos in Las Vegas. What was I to do?

As I got older and older, I got fewer and fewer takers at the ranch, and they finally had to let me go. I was fifty-three when it happened, and it sent me into a major mid-life crisis. Harvey tried to sympathize, but after all those years of busted walls and knuckles, I knew he was happy about it, which only added to my depression. There were a few years, there, when I quit loving Harvey. Not that I quit loving him, but I resented it. God, I resented it. I resented getting old, and I resented that my getting old got Harvey what he always wanted, and I resented the hell out of Harvey's happiness.

I didn't snap out of it until I went independent. I got some glamour shots taken, not exactly glamour, more like smut. I showed the shriveling skin, the softened nipples (thank God my breasts weren't huge - they've stayed pretty upright) and the gray but prettily trimmed and groomed pussy hair; I didn't hide a thing. I picked out a tastefully sexy picture, wrote up a little blurb about how maturity and experience matters, got a separate phone line, and put my little ad in a few of the escort magazines around town. And I got calls. And Harvey started banging walls again. He worked out and stayed fit, and even at sixty, he could put holes in walls. And I was okay with that, because at sixty, I'd gotten used to it.

Then he fell into a depression, and every time I'd get a call, he'd fall a little deeper into his darkness. He even quit banging walls. He told me, "You're killing me, Maggie." I didn't know he meant it, but he did. I got home from a particularly fun date with a handsome young man who had some kind of grandmother fetish and couldn't get enough of me, and God it made me feel thirty years younger, and Harvey was sitting up in bed, just like I'd left him, TV on, and I knew right away when I saw him. He'd been gone awhile because his skin looked different, it looked bloodless, dead.

I put him in the ground a year ago, haven't had sex since, and haven't missed it. It makes me wonder if Harvey's jealousy was what I craved, more than the sex itself. It's hard to think I spent a lifetime feeding off of the misery of the only human being I ever loved. It's hard to know about myself that I'm a parasite. For all that I swear if I had it to do over again I'd give it up for him, at night, when I lie there awake and pretend Harvey's still alive, it makes me wish I'd get a call.

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