A Major Midlife Crisis

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

A man does not appreciate being blessed with a loving wife.

“On our honeymoon? You dance like that with some bimbo on our honeymoon?”

“Sweetheart, don’t be like that. I was just waiting for you to come back from the restroom.”

“I was gone ten minutes. In ten minutes, you get yourself into a groping match with this Miss 36 Double D’s?” The blond continued smiling at her.

“Rachel, we’re on a cruise ship. Everyone is friendly on a cruise ship. She asked me if I wanted to dance. Everyone here just wants to have a good time.”

“And it never occurred to you to say, ‘I’m waiting for my wife, we’re on our honeymoon.’?”

“I can see you are all steamed up. It’s a beautiful night. Why don’t we go outside and get some fresh air. Maybe the moon’s out.”

He tried to take her hand. She was having none of that, but began marching toward the exit. Stopping at the nearest railing, she noticed there was no moon and looked far down to the dark water rushing by. The water seemed much farther below than she remembered. The dance floor being near the rear of the ship she could see the spreading wake trailing the vessel.

Her new husband came up beside her and said, “There’s nothing more beautiful than the ocean at night.”

“What are you talking about? It’s all black.”

She discovered the blond had suddenly appeared beside her. Her husband was on her left and the grinning blond was on her right. The blond said, “I think it’s really beautiful, so inviting.”

Her husband reached around her waist, lifting her off the deck. The blond grabbed her ankles. Rachel began pummeling her husband until he pinned her arms. The blond had her legs secured. The two of them lifted her higher and higher.

Screaming for help was her only weapon, but no sound came out. Panicking, the thirty-year-old tried harder and harder to scream, but could not get her voice to work.

With most of her torso over the railing, her husband released her arms and wrapped his around her thighs. The two of them moved her farther until she was completely upside down. And then they let go. Down and down she went. Head first, she could see the black water still below her. In her terror, she continued trying to scream, but could not make a sound.

“Uhhh . . damn, what the hell was that?” Rachel shook her head and turned on the lamp by her bed. The memory of her nightmare was still fresh and she shook her head trying to dispel it. Her clock said 1:05. She swung her legs around and turning on lights as she went, she shuffled her way to the kitchen and splashed her face with cold water. 

 Filling a glass with milk and grabbing a bag of chips, she went to the sofa and found Grant and Kerr in An Affair to Remember. No. There would be no shipboard movies for her tonight. Scrolling, she debated between Some Like It Hot and Roman Holiday. She figured you can never go wrong with Hepburn and clicked on the channel. Thank goodness, she thought, tomorrow is Saturday. Then for accuracy, she corrected herself, actually, today is Saturday.

Soon and fortunately without any annoying commercials, the effervescent Audrey erased from Rachel’s memory the distressing nightmare. After sharing a good time with Audrey and Gregory Peck, she was able to sleep once more and this time she was unaware of any more dreams before or after she awoke.

Two Years Later

Rachel was waiting for her cue. She took a deep breath and thought how lucky she was. Here she was in the perfect dress, perfect hairdo, and even perfect shoes. Carol, the wedding planner, tapped her on the shoulder and opened the door as the organist began playing, “Here Comes the Bride.”

There, waiting for her at the front of the church was her handsome, perfect fiancé, Daniel. From her silver heels to her Italian lace veil, she was filled with thoughts of I love him so much, so much. I am going to do everything I ever can to make him happy, as happy as I am now and for as long as I live.

Eleven Years Later

Daniel began brushing his hair while Rachel was applying her eyeshadow. He said, “What do you think, Hon? Getting old, aren’t I?”

She laughed, “Sweetheart, be careful. I’m the same age as you.”

“But look at all this gray hair I’ve got.”

“What I see are some silver strands blending only at your temples. All it does is make you more handsome, more distinguished.”

“I don’t think so.”

“George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan, Richard Gere. Jeez, shall I go on?”

“First, they’re probably twenty years older than me. And second, they’re like fifty percent gray.”

“Exactly. Stop fussing. They were top box office when it began at their temples just like you. And they are still at the top.”

A year later

Daniel’s income at the firm had risen to where he was comfortable in upgrading his car. When he suggested it to Rachel at breakfast, she said, “I assume you’re talking about the Accord because I’m very happy with my Honda. Are you having problems with it?”

“No, but it’s two years old.”

"And my Honda is three years old. What did you have in mind?”

“Well, I stopped over at Prestige Auto and—”

“What! Those are all Jaguars and Mercedes.”

“Right. So let’s go down and I’ll show you what I like.”

“You already have one picked out?”

“Well, I took it for a ride. I think you’re really going to like it.”

She sighed. “I see you’re all fired up about it. I’ll go, I’ll look. It doesn’t cost to look.”

“Sure, that’s all I ask.”

That evening, Daniel was greeted like an old friend as salesmen will do when a commission is a possibility. “Daniel, I knew you were a man who appreciates the finer things in life.”

“Earl, this is my wife, Rachel.”

Looking at her, a big smile was followed by, “Rachel, your husband certainly is a lucky man.” When he saw her eyebrows go up, he said, “I mean when he left yesterday, I told some others, there goes a man with good taste.”

“I’d like to show Rachel the car.”

“Of course, let me get the key and I’ll meet you where we left it last night on the side lot.”

When they rounded the corner, Daniel stopped, took a deep breath, and let it out as a long and low, creamy yellow and black convertible came into view. Then he said, “Damn, it looks like it’s going over the speed limit just sitting there.”

“That’s not a new car.”

“Of course not. It’s a classic, a restored ’69 Jaguar XK-E. Gorgeous, isn’t it?”

Earl caught up with them and said, “Here, take the keys and show your wife what a real car can do.” He helped Daniel secure the top and then opened the passenger side for her.

Daniel turned the key, and with his innards responding to the growl, sighed and said, “Oooh, just listen to that.” With a wide grin and a wave to Earl, he drove off the lot. 

“You know, it’s really a great find, less than six thousand produced. Plus, whoever restored this one, really did it right. Love this mahogany wheel. And just look at that row of dials and flip switches. A four-speed manual, I totally control the shifting. That engine is a 4.2 Liter, that means zero to sixty in seven seconds.”

“Daniel, stop. You’re sounding like a salesman.”

“But doesn’t that sound make your heart beat faster?”

“It’s starting to beat faster, all right, but only because of your driving. Slow down.”

In reply, he zipped across to an onramp for the freeway. He had to pause briefly before entering the flow. As a small gap in the traffic appeared, she could feel being pressed back against the leather. Moving to the left lane and then switching back and forth, he became even more exhilarated by the car’s acceleration and maneuverability.

Parking back at the car’s lot, he turned and asked, “So, what do you think?”

“I’m thinking I could become a widow.”

“I just wanted to show you what this car is capable of. I won’t be driving like that all the time. You know, one of your favorite movies,  How to Steal A Million, had Peter O’Toole driving Audrey Hepburn around London in one that looked exactly like this one. Oh, yeah, and Prince Harry drove Meghan in one as they left the palace for their honeymoon.”

“And you will always be my prince.” She loved him. She wanted him to be happy. She signed the papers.

It didn’t take long before he was aware not only his friends were impressed, but girls in their twenties would give him an appreciative smile while he waited at traffic lights. He drove with the top down as often as possible and was glad he had splurged on the Gucci shades.

A few weeks later he began making regular visits to Styling Chic Salon and his graying hair was no more. Rachel didn’t complain since she enjoyed having highlights added to her own brown hair.

Three Years Later

With his promotion to Senior Marketing Officer, Daniel reminded himself more than once the term senior referred to his ranking in the corporation and had nothing to do with his age. 

Rachel was proud of his promotions in the company, she just wished it didn’t require him to sometimes work so late. Not often, but occasionally he had to make overnight trips to New York. She also had advanced in the small insurance agency and was now the head administrative assistant.

When one of the other officers mentioned how much fun he and his wife had skiing from their boat, Daniel decided he would like it, too. He had gotten an increase in salary and the Jag was paid for. Why not?

He soon found a previously owned inboard in excellent condition. When he took Rachel to show her what a bargain it was, he said, “And look, its name on the stern, Dreamboat. That’s perfect. With those sleek lines, it certainly is a dream of a boat.”

Several cells in Rachel’s brain twitched at hearing the term, but it was not enough to form a thought or recall a bad memory. She had to admit it was a beautiful boat, it would be fun, and most importantly, her husband was excited about it.

They soon made new friends in the boating community. A conversation she had with Eleanor, one of the wives, involved her concern about her husband’s recent admiration for Harley motorcycles.

Her confidante said, “Well, you know what they say, the difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys.”

“But I worry this could also be a very dangerous toy.”

Another couple, the Camerons, Allison and Quentin, sometimes went with them on the Dreamboat and sometimes the foursome took their Happy Days.  Rachel didn’t care that much for skiing, but Daniel worked it more like a man in his twenties.

While her husband did boat maneuvers so Daniel could jump the wake, Allison said, “Let the boys have their fun. What I really like is when Quentin and I go skindiving. It’s such another world, so calm, so beautiful. It’s simply magnificent. Next weekend let’s get you two fixed up with some equipment.”

“You mean like rubber suits?”

“Heavens, no. That’s for cold water. It’s a bikini for me and Quentin wears a suit like today. We do use tanks, though, so we can stay under for longer stretches. It’s great.”

The next Saturday Rachel and Daniel rented tanks and under Allison’s tutelage she became fascinated by the beauty beneath the water. Daniel was more impressed with the freedom and feeling in control of a new environment.

Several months later when they arrived at the docks, Rachel said, “Where’s Quentin and Allison?”

“Quent called me and said they couldn’t make it. Something about his dad being sick.”

When he pushed the throttle more and more, she asked, “Where are you going?”

“Some guys told me there’s a great spot farther north. If it’s all they say, you’re going to love it.”

It took a while before he finally turned off the engine. He helped her adjust her tank. “Enjoy.  I’ll be right behind you.” 

When she disappeared below the surface, Daniel lifted the cushion and then the lid of the storage bin. He picked up the large bucket of chum and poured it over the side. It was only moments until he saw three triangular fins approaching.

Submitted: October 11, 2022

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