Chapter 33

Myrah and her husband set upon one another in the entryway.  They kissed and pulled at one another’s hair.  This was a general celebration of the sign and the Japanese investors.  It had been exactly four months and six days since they’d last made love.  That time had come after the Taj Mahal and its grand opening. 

He chased her up the stairs.  In the bedroom he pulled at her skirt, still moist and darkened from the champagne.  They fell onto the bed and groped clumsily.  They copulated hastily as people sometimes do when they have kids in the other room and a team of archeologist out in their front yard. 

When it was over they turned on the news.  Another meteor had struck.  This time it was Cairo and minor.  A woman complained as she showed a bleary eyed news crew where it had shattered her roof.  No one had been hurt.

“I wonder what I should wear tonight?”  The builder said.

“Wear what you’re wearing now.”  She answered.  She lay naked next to him.

He made a comical gesture of examining himself under the sheets. 

She slapped his arm.  “I meant, wear what you wore to my christening today.”  She grinned.  “There was nothing wrong with that shirt.”

“Maybe I should wear my suit.”  He said.  He watched as a fireman ushered the press noisily from the woman’s house. 

Myrah pulled her knees up and straightened the covers over them so she could see the screen. “Why would you wear a suit?”

“They’re going to be broadcasting the meeting on cable tonight.”  He sighed.  “I’m the builder of the building where it’s going to be held.  Maybe I should look responsible or something.”

He still had no idea how the Japanese had found him or why there had been a foreign article in one of their magazines about his buildings.  He couldn’t read the text and they’d never elaborated.  Whatever the reason, people were paying attention to what he was doing.  His shopping centers had become known on an international scale.  He figured that he should at least look like a man of power and substance.

She thought about the matter for a moment and shook her head.  “I don’t think you should wear you suit.”

“Why not?”

“You haven’t bought a new suit since we were first married.”  She answered.

Markoff looked over at her frowning.  “So?”

“Well, you’re fatter now.”

Unconsciously he put a hand over the covers where the rise of his belly was.  “I am not.”  He defended.  “I haven’t had to change pants size or shirts.”

“You wear jeans and polo’s.”  She said rubbing his shoulder.  “Those things have room to hide it.”

“Hide what?”

“Your gut.”

“But my suit still fits.”

She shook her head.  “Not like it did when we were first married.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“You have a part.”  His wife answered.  She drew her hand in the shape of an ‘X’ above herself to demonstrate.

“A part?”

“Yes.”  She said nodding.  “A part where you button the front of it.  You can see your shirt poking through at the bottom.”

Markoff tried to remember the last time that he had put on his suit.  It had been for the opening of the theater and the dance where the man had worn that ridiculous pair of antlers.  He didn’t remember it fitting tight or even seeing a part in the mirror when he’d checked to see if it was straight.  What he remembered was her laughing into his shoulder and the margarita’s afterwards.  It was warmer then and they’d kissed out by the freeway.

“Well I won’t button it.”  He said after a moment.

“Don’t wear your suit.”  She sighed.  She pulled away from him and grabbed her glasses off the night stand. She got up and walked naked into the bathroom.  She closed the door.  He could hear her peeing.

“You know who’s fat?”  He called out to her through the door.  “Jose’s fat.  He needs to be in sports.”

It had been a little more than a month since she’d pulled her son out of soccer and put him into the computer programming classes at the University of Houston.  The builder had, had to pay for a new high-powered computer, books, tuition and gas money so she could drive him to and from the campus.  Markoff didn’t like any of it.

“You’re just pissed off because it’s expensive.” She called back to him.

The money wasn’t a problem.  Sure, he’d have rather not had to fork over the thousands of dollars that it cost just to get the boy started learning the art of coding games but the Japanese were here now and they were giving him more than enough financing.  What he didn’t like was the idea of having a son, even if it wasn’t his own biological spawn living in the same house with him and not engaging in sports. 

“No.”  He called back to her.  “I don’t like him not doing anything active.  He’s turning into a pudgy little dork.  If I would have known him in high school or even junior high I’d have kicked his ass.”

The toilet flushed.

Myrah came out.  “That’s a terrible thing to say.”  She said pulling a robe from a hook on the wall and covering herself.

“It’s true.”  Markoff quipped.  “He’s always been a little chunky but now that he’s not doing anything active, he’s just getting worse.  He’s like, the worst kind of fat nerd.”

There was something unnatural in the way that the boy relentlessly pecked at the keyboard while his own daughter strapped on cleats and jerseys and shin pads.  It didn't seem right that she was the jock and he was the dough faced nerd.  The builder wanted more for the boy.

“His weight hasn’t changed.”

“He does nothing but sit in his room and eat junk food.”

Jose had never shown much of an aptitude for sports but Markoff was sure that, that could change.  It would be better for him if he were a brawny football star or even one of those severely toned boys who played on the schools soccer team.  As things were now, he consumed pastries and never saw the sunlight.  The boy was turning into a pansy.

Myrah walked over to the sink and grabbed a comb.  “Just because you’re getting fat is no reason to start taking it out on my kid.”  She said as she raked the knots out of her hair.  “You’re getting bald too.  At you going to call Jose bald now?”

Markoff moved his hand from his stomach to his head.  “I’m not going bald.”

“You’re turning into a fat old man.”  She nodded. 

“Look,”  He said, pushing himself up to a sitting position and pulling the covers up over his waist.  “All I’m saying is that Jose should do both.  There’s no reason why he can’t be in sports and in the computer classes.”

“Why is this so important to you?”

“Because he’s a boy!”  The builder spat.  “Boys need to channel themselves into some kind of competitive sport.  It’s the only way that they’ll develop properly.”

“That has nothing to do with it.”  She quipped.  “You honestly wouldn’t even care about this if I hadn’t told you that you were getting fat and bald.”

“I would care about it!”  He shot back.  “I’ve been his father longer than anyone else.”

Standing in the doorway between their bedroom and the master bath she let out a long sigh.  “Wear your suit.”  She said flippantly.  “I don’t care.”

On the television, scenes of Egypt at night.  Dimly lit apartment buildings, fire trucks, people milling about on the street in chaotic little groups.  A shaky camera panned to the roof of the woman’s house.  A commercial break.

The End

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