All those Lovers

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

It's an embroglio, all these lovers, their sex life, their fights, their sadness and joy... But sometimes consequences lead to people being hurt, physically and mentally, as this short story shows...

All those Lovers


by Bruno Roggen


Of course, Ron Brundy shouldn’t have gone to the “Boarbrook Terraces” event. His friend Joe Bosnick had invited him, but he should have declined the invitation, and have stayed away from Boarbrook.
Unfortunately, Ron was still so much in love with Annie Thoulaine, and he was almost certain that she would be there too. He would have liked to see her again. Six years before, they had begun an adulterous relationship. For two years, Ron had been indescribably happy with Annie. Four years ago, she had exchanged him for another lover. She had started a relationship with someone at the same school where she was teaching. Now, for over three years, Ron hadn’t seen Annie or spoken to her anymore.


Annie actually was present at the festivity at Boarbrook that night with her husband Francis, her two teenage daughters and several relatives and friends.
Ron, Joe and two of his friends with their wives were sitting at a table under the big white marquee, far from the Thoulaine crowd. Ron knew almost all of them. Annie and her sisters Crystal and Veronica knew him too. Even if they were sitting far apart from each other, Ron was sure that Annie had recognized him, but that she pretended she hadn’t seen him.


First there was a barbecue. When the tables had been cleared, the real party began. A small band of three musicians from Daiste started playing dance music. Ron thought, but he wasn’t sure, that the band’s name was "The Bark Mellow Band”.


At one point, the small orchestra played a slow dance. Ron had already had a few drinks. He took his courage in both hands and went to ask Annie to dance with him. She refused without moving a muscle in her face, and she looked at Ron as if she didn’t even know who he was.


Before going back to his table, Ron said something to Annie, softly. What it exactly was, he didn’t remember afterwards. He was probably already too drunk. It is however likely that what he told Annie wasn’t very polite or flattering for her. Maybe it even was a gross insult.
Anyway, what he had whispered to her had immediate and devastating consequences. Francis, Annie’s husband, Christian, his brother-in-law who is a train engineer, and one of their friends, Nicolas Wicker, became angry. They jumped up from their chairs, furious, and jumped on Ron. In no time, Ron had to endure a rain of punches. Nicolas Wicker hit him the hardest, and with an uppercut made Ron hit the floor. Then Francis and the train driver started kicking him in the ribs. Finally, one of his assailants gave him a violent kick to the head with his heavy army boot, on the left side of his face.
What happened after that, Brundy didn’t know because he had passed out.

 


In the middle of the night, Ron Brundy woke up in pain. His whole body ached as if it had been spent on the wheel. He recognized a hospital room with two beds, but there was no one in the second bed.


The pain got worse, especially on the left side of his face. Cautiously, Ron puts his fingers on his sore jaw. It was seriously swollen. Perhaps it was broken, he didn’t know. Very slowly, he opened and closed his mouth a couple of times. That was no problem, though it hurt. Ron concluded that his jaw bone wasn’t broken.


He called the nurse. It certainly took a half hour before she arrived in the middle of the night. Ron asked her for a powerful painkiller. She left and returned a moment later. He had expected that she would give him a pill. She didn’t. Instead, he got an injection. Less than ten minutes later, Ron sank into a deep sleep.


In the morning, a young doctor came to see Ron Brundy. The doctor put a light on his forehead and examined Brundy’s head thoroughly. He inspected his face, his eyes, his nose and cheeks. He looked into both ears. Then he began pushing with his fingers on Ron’s chest. All this happened manually, and it hurt.


When he had completed his examination, the doctor said:


“I think you have recovered relatively well from being beaten up so ferociously, Mr. Brundy. Fortunately, nothing is broken. Tomorrow you can go home. As a precaution, we'll keep you here for one more night. Once home, the first week you will regularly feel pain, and your face will take all the colors of the rainbow. For now, you don’t really look like an Adonis, I'm sorry.”


“Thank you, doctor. No need for me to look beautiful. Anyway, there is no one who cares about me, so…”


The doctor sneered:


“There you are wrong, Ron. I hope you have nothing against my calling you by your first name? There's a woman here to see you. She's in the waiting room.”


“A woman? One of my sisters?”


“I don’t know. She could be. She's a pretty woman, tall, elegant and thin. I think she’s about forty.”


This couldn’t be any of Ron’s sisters, in any case, because they were older and not tall at all. Brundy asked the doctor:


“Can you call her? I want to know who she is.”


“I can, but we must leave her alone for a moment now. She needs to calm down because a few minutes ago, she was sobbing. To me, she looked kind of desperate. I asked a nurse to keep her company until she calms down again.”


Brundy didn’t know who that woman was, or what her problem was. Anyway, he was curious to see her.


The doctor left, saying:


“I'll go and see your visitor now. Can I tell her how and why you came here?”


“Yes, go ahead, and thank you.”


A moment later, the door opened. To Ron’s amazement, Veronica, his former mistress Annie’s sister, came in. His eyes were red and her eyelids and nose were swollen.


“Oh Ron!” she said, sounding forced and somewhat theatrical, "Why? Why are you doing this? Why make us worry so much?”


Brundy lay there in this bed, speechless, as if struck by the hand of God. He would never have expected that someone from the Thoulaine family would even deign to speak to him after what had happened. And certainly not that they would be worried about his health. More than once, he had thought that Annie was looking forward to the moment when he would kick the bucket. That would reassure her. Brundy wouldn’t meet any more people he could talk to about their love story and compromise his former lover’s reputation.


“I'm sorry, Veronica. I didn’t know that you and your kin still cared about me.”


“Saying you're sorry isn’t enough. Of course I care about you. I missed you, not as much as I missed Gerard when he had distanced himself from me, but still... My sister misses you too, I know. Well, Annie is too stubborn to admit it. I'm glad she isn’t here to see you like this. I think that she would freak out.”


Veronica was standing at the foot of the bed. Ron had never seen her like that. As she spoke, in her eyes, he read anguish and despair.


“What's bothering you, Veronica?” asked Brundy.


“That you might file a complaint against us... You know, the men jumped on you impulsively. They had no intention of... Well, you understand, I'm sure. Did the police already come to take down your statement?”


“No, nobody came. You are my very first visitor. Don’t worry. You can reassure your family members and your friend Wicker. I don’t intend to file a complaint.”


To his surprise, Ron saw that Veronica was not relieved at all. There still had to be something else that worried her.


“Is something wrong, Veronica?” he asked.


“Are you kidding? After what happened, don’t you think it's normal that I'm worried about you?”


“No, I mean, yes, of course... But isn’t there anything else? You know, when we were very close in those years, you, Gerard, Annie and I, I could read your emotions on your face. It still isn’t any different. There's something bothering you, something serious. You can tell me.”


Verina looked down and began to examine her nails.


“Please, tell me.”


She looked up.


“I didn’t want to talk to you about it today. I just wanted to come and visit you and talk about you, not me. And maybe try to mend what went wrong between us. But I'll tell you. It’s not easy though.”


Tears started dripping from her eyes.


“Veronica, is it really that bad? Has it something to do with your health? You're not going to die, are you?”


“No. I'm... I'm…”


She began to cry uncontrollably. Ron was impressed, and he even wanted to cry a little with her. Yet, he picked himself up and asked her:


“You’re what?”


“I’m pregnant.”


“Why is that a problem? You're still relatively young... If I remember correctly, you had always wanted a son after your two daughters. Maybe you’re expecting a boy?”


“I... I don’t want any more children. You know I'm forty-four now. This child can’t be part of my life. It's going to upset my whole existence, if not ruin it. Can you imagine that when he or she has got a degree, I will be an old woman? If at least I'll still be alive…”


What Veronica said was obviously true. Yet Ron knew her enough to realize that she hadn’t told him the whole truth.


“There's something else, Veronica,” he said. “You can tell me too.”


Veronica burst into tears. Or rather, she began to moan in her misery. She turned away from the bed and ran out of the hospital room.


Ron carefully turned around in his hospital bed and lay flat on his back. He tried to breathe less rapidly. His ribs hurt less then.
It seemed to have lasted an eternity before the door opened and Veronica came into the room again. Her eyes and nose were still swollen from having cried, but she managed to control herself once she was back with Brundy.


“And now, are you feeling better?” he asked.


“Not really, but for now I’ll be alright,” she answered. “I came back because I think you have a right to know the whole story. Like you said, you and Annie, Gerard and I have all four been very close for a few years. Until Annie sacked you and preferred one of her colleagues to you. I still don’t understand why she did that. Besides, she pretends that she only slept a few times with that man.”


“Yes, that’s what she told me too. Is it true? That's another question.”


“It's true, I'm pretty sure. If it wasn’t, she would have kept her mouth shut about it.”


“Maybe, Veronica. Anyway, it’s already been four years now since she kicked me out of her life. It makes no sense that I still fret about it. Why did you come back?”


“Because I felt it was necessary. I must confide in someone. I can’t talk to anyone else but you about what’s on my mind. Do you remember the time when I told you about my lovers? You're the only one who has ever heard me talk about them. I had to tell someone. You, you always have listened to me respectfully, you didn’t lecture me or condemn me. Sometimes you even gave me advice.”


“Yes, of course I remember. Maybe you too remember how you  comforted and supported me after Annie had put an end to our relationship on the night of her birthday? Without  you, it could be that I wouldn’t be here anymore... At that time, life had no longer any meaning for me. You, you somehow saved my life listening to me in my  sentimental distress after Annie had let me down. What did you want to tell me? Don’t be shy.”


“The child that I expect... Derreck is not the father.”


Derreck was her husband. He was ten years older than Veronica, already halfway in his fifties. Ron could hardly imagine that Derreck still wanted another child at his age. But of course, it could be that Veronica’s husband was proud because he was still able to make his wife pregnant.


“Who is it then?” Ron asked.


Veronica began to cry silently this time. At first, she said nothing. Then Ron could hardly understand what she said, or rather whispered:


“I don’t know, I really don’t know. Anyway, not Derreck.”


“How can you be sure of that? He still sleeps with you, doesn’t he?”


“Yes, he does. We still make love about once a week, but a year after the birth of our second daughter, Helen, Derreck has been sterilized. An irreversible vasectomy. He didn’t want me to take the pill any longer. The child that I expect is certainly not his.”


“Who then made you fall pregnant? Or do you prefer to remain discreet about it?”


“I told you I don’t know. Stay discreet? With you? You already know everything, or almost everything, about my lovemaking in the past. Since then, almost nothing has changed. Now, I have three lovers at once. You have known Gerard Gardiner for years, and you know who Christopher Jollybrook is. And there is also a photographer whom you don’t know. That man is truly wild, a sexual beast, impetuous, very selfish when it comes to make love to me, but he knows how to make me enjoy sex in an incredible way. Each of these three may be the father of the child.”


“Veronica, you must excuse me, but I don’t understand how an intelligent woman and well educated woman like you could get pregnant. When you slept with those guys, didn’t you protect yourself? Because I know you, and I can’t imagine that you were so careless.”


“You're right, Ron. Normally this wouldn’t have happened until two years ago. Until then, I made sure meticulously that I ran not the least risk of pregnancy. But a few months after my forty-second birthday, I didn’t get my period anymore. I went to see my gynaecologist. After having run some tests, she thought my menopause had arrived, and that I was no longer fertile. After that, for nearly two years, I have had unprotected sex with the men I told you about, without getting into trouble. Until two months ago… Suddenly, I felt nauseous in the morning, really sick... I knew immediately what it was, because of my experience of the previous two pregnancies. My gynaecologist ran the necessary tests, and she confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. For a little over two months now.”


“In that case, you still have got a little time.”


“Time? What for?”


"Come on, Veronica, don’t act as if you don’t understand. You have still time for an abortion. What is the exact number of weeks of pregnancy after which legal abortion is still possible, I don’t know. In any case, you could certainly still benefit.”


“I don’t want this child, but an abortion is totally excluded.”


“I don’t understand. Derreck doesn’t need to know anyway.”


“No, that's true. But I haven’t only made the mistake of letting me get knocked up by one of those three lovers. I was really panicky when the gynecologist gave me the certainty that I was pregnant. I didn’t keep my mouth shut with the three men. I said separately to each of them that I was expecting a child. I also said I wanted to have an abortion. I should never have done it. I would so much like that I had shut up.”


“Why? Explain that to me?”


“Christopher Jollybrook was proud that he had inseminated me, just as the photographer was delighted too. They both seemed to feel themselves confirmed in their masculinity, because both they thought to be the father of the child. There was however a difference between them when I told them that I wanted to have “their” child aborted. Jollybrook immediately understood, and he agreed with my decision. That was not the case with the photographer. He had objections and comments. I talked to him after he had made love to me in the ferns near a lake where he was photographing dragonflies. Eventually, he agreed, and said that it was logical that I opt for an abortion. However, with Gerard Gardiner, it was quite different.”


“He wanted the child? And perhaps he was happy to hear the news?”


“No, not really. He wasn’t as proud as the other two when he heard that I was pregnant. But his conscience is playing tricks on him all the time. He is, as you know, deacon in his parish church, and very religious. Not really doctrinaire, though. If he was, he wouldn’t be humping me in a bed every two weeks on Tuesdays when we’re supposed to be at the gym. But his position concerning abortion is rigorous. This intervention is, according to him, not only a crime, a murder of an innocent being which can’t defend itself, but also a mortal sin, unforgivable. Gerard warned me explicitly: under no circumstance will he tolerate that I have the child aborted. If I do it anyway, he will immediately cause an uproar, he threatened me. He will inform Derreck, my parents and all my family to let them know of my shameless and sinful conduct, even if it will ruin his own reputation as a deacon.”


“Not very charitable or catholic! I don’t think this is really what a lover’s attitude should be. It's amazing! You have been lovers already for a number of years…”


“I don’t understand either, Ron, I really don’t understand. Gerard and I have already been lovers for over seven years. And now this! For me it was really a very cold shower, I assure you. Note, I have to admit that Gerard also had something positive to say.”


“He will perhaps divorce his wife Elaine and remarry you?”


“No, absolutely not. He didn’t say anything about that. Besides, I wouldn’t accept it. Gerard is a handsome man and a good lover for me that I don’t want to lose. I really like him, believe me. He really knows how to spoil a woman in bed. But to live every day with him... I really don’t see how to adapt myself to that kind of life. Anyway, Gerard had thought deeply about the situation, and he made me a proposal that he considered to be the best possible under the present circumstances.”


“And what did it imply? You really make me curious, Veronica.”


"First, he would come to our home and confess to Derreck that he had made me pregnant. He was convinced he would be able to convince Derreck to accept the situation, and even that my husband forgive me for my misstep. Then he and I would go together to meet Elaine to announce that I’m expecting a child fathered by her husband. How Elaine would react to this unexpected news, Gerard had no idea. He counted on me, because it would be necessary to calm Elaine down and to make her understand that there was nothing one could do to change the situation.”


“Jesus Christ, Veronica, I must say that I find Gerard’s plan rather naive. Neither with Derreck nor with Elaine, things will go down so easily, I guess.”


“You're right, Ron. But what can we do? It's worth a try. And Gerard promised me that he would contribute financially to take care of the child and its education and studies in the future. Maybe it is just an empty promise on his part. I wonder how he ever would do what he promised me, even if his wife Elaine was to agree. Gerard is a nice man, a real teddy bear sometimes, but money, he can’t manage it. In the past he has already complained I don’t know how many times of his lack of money, so…”


Money wasn’t really at the heart of the problem in this case. The real issues were threatened relations between the people involved as husbands, wives, lovers and mistresses.
It was as if Veronica was waiting for Ron Brundy to offer her a ready-made solution to her problem. He had nothing to offer her. Ron felt that with the child growing inside her belly, Veronica was caught like a rat in a trap.


They had already talked too long. Brundy felt exhausted, and he was only waiting until Veronica Thoulaine would take leave of him.


They fell silent. Veronica was sitting next to the bed with her hands in her lap, as if to protect the fetus inside her womb. With a hopeful look, she was staring at Ron. What could he say? He had nothing more to say. His injuries had started to ache. He wanted so much that Veronica went away and left him alone. But Veronica didn’t move. She was sitting there, silent, waiting for Ron Brundy to tell her something. He realized that he couldn’t remain silent. When he opened his mouth to speak to Veronica he wasn’t sensitive or compassionate. He said quite bluntly:


“What's done is done, Veronica. For once, you must suffer the consequences. You were negligent in making love with all those men. The consequences, you hadn’t planned them, but they are there and you must live with them. My mother always said: “Whoever burns his ass should sit on the blisters”. As much as I would like to help you, I don’t see how I could do it. Maybe there is some sound advice I could give you. Is it not time to end your having promiscuous sex at your age? I mean, why not end the amorous antics with lovers? Wouldn’t it be better if you abandon the search for the pleasures of adultery for good?”


Veronica's eyes narrowed, and her lips formed a bitter trait when she said:


“Abandon this pleasure? And it’s you, of all people, who give me this advice? You, stop first, stop chasing women! You've had umpteen of them in your bed, and you're not yet satisfied! You keep harassing my sister Annie! Leave us alone! You’ve got a hell of a beating yesterday. It could become worse. One day it could save your skin if you leave us alone.”


It was clear that even now that she was expecting a child, Veronica wasn’t ready to give up her lascivious libertine lifestyle. Ron Brundy realized it was completely useless trying to convince Veronica Thoulaine. That’s why he said:


“Veronica, thank you for your visit. Now I'm tired. I would like you to leave. Maybe we'll meet again one day. If you want to do me a favor, say hello to Annie from me.”


Veronica Thoulaine got up from the chair by the bed. For a moment she remained standing and looked at Ron Brundy, impassive, with an expressionless face. Then she left, without a word, without giving Ron a friendly kiss, even without shaking hands with him.


Ron Brundy was well aware that this was Veronica Thoulaine’s final farewell. His regards to Annie, she certainly wouldn’t pass them on.


It's how it goes with lovers. They are in love, and love makes them susceptible, sometimes irritable.
Ron Brundy went to lie flat on his back in the bed again. Just to be alone with his pain, physical and emotional, that’s all he still wanted.
He knew he would live on, probably always longing for Annie, the love of his life.
But he would live on, stubbornly.


© Bruno Roggen, Anhée 2021


Submitted: November 20, 2021

© Copyright 2021 impetus. All rights reserved.

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Comments

AdamCarlton

Wryly amusing. An everyday story of the suburbs :).

Sat, November 20th, 2021 3:36pm

Author
Reply

A bitter-sweet story, that was my intention.

Sat, November 20th, 2021 7:40am

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