I did. I went in. Unsure of whether to go, but I did. And when I got in to work, something happened that changed my life, forever. I walked in and the office was completely empty. There were usually a few dotted around by the time I arrived, but now there was no one, apart from my manager, Mr Derdrew, who appeared at the door of a meeting room to the left of my desk, with his hands leaning high on the door frame, and his eyes looking at me and then to the floor.
“Banks. Can I have a word, please?”
I followed him in, still holding my bag in my hand, and he sat me down. The room was so lifeless. Lifeless soft chairs in a lifeless room.
“Banks, that’s it. The company has filed for bankruptcy. I’m afraid it’s over, for all of us. We’re having an ending party at the end of the week, just so everyone can say goodbye, but as of now, I’m afraid we no longer employ you. You will receive the rest of this month’s pay, and that is it I’m afraid.”
I was soon standing up, shaking his hand, and leaving the office.
I left the building feeling a tremendous lightness. The street was not so grey, the cars had more colour, the sky was brighter, the clouds were alive and moving, transient and beautiful, and it was all suspended in a timeless field that was taking care of all of it. Our apartment block was alive, too. The stairs were comforting and strong, the walls had silent wisdom, the doors, the grain of the wood on the doors was so beautiful, I wasn’t sure if I was in a different apartment block. I put the key in the door of my apartment, jingling the keys as I turned it and pushed the door open, to see a man, naked, holding my naked wife up on top of him, pushing himself into her, and just before she noticed I was standing in the doorway, I saw the glimpse on her face of elation, of abandonment, of release and pleasure, just as I had seen it when we first began seeing each other. The eyes closed and the mouth slightly open, slightly smiling with a kind of euphoria. But that glimpse was wiped off her face when she quickly noticed me, jumped off the man and pushed him away, and this muscular brute of a man, just standing there, naked, aroused, almost unmoved at the site of me. He was standing there, side-on, looking at me, like I was a deer encroaching in a lion’s territory. For a moment it felt like his apartment.
“You better go, Luis,” she said, gathering her clothes and putting them on. “Just, go.”
He obeyed her, pulled on his jeans, his t-shirt, and he left the apartment, walking past me angrily, looking me dead in the eyes as he approached me, and disappearing out of the door. I put my bag down, and with my overcoat still on, went and sat on the edge of our bed.
She walked in slowly. It was a strange feeling for me. I felt so hurt, so betrayed, so wronged, but in a strange way, I was enjoying it. It was like I wanted to feel like this, because now I was superior. She was wrong, I was right, I was the victim. She owed me something now. She owed me an apology, attention, more than that. She was in debt to me. But then what ruined all of that, the sick enjoyment, was the fact that she did not appear to feel very remorseful.
“Benjamin. I’m sorry you had to see that.”
Sorry I had to see that? Not sorry you actually did that? Not sorry that the moment I leave my own apartment for work, my wife, my own fucking wife, is straight away fucking another bloke, her legs wrapped round him like a boa constrictor, her face looking like she has just been injected with some kind of wonderful drug?
“I’m sorry you had to see it but I need it for my art. I need something more, something extra in the day to keep me inspired, to keep me relaxed, to…”
“You need to leave,” I said, quietly. “You absolutely have to leave now, or else I might do something that I don’t want to.”
I was vibrating with fury. I had pictures of me getting her head and smashing it against the wall, of grabbing her legs and wrapping them around me like they just were around that bloke, and then grabbing a kitchen knife and doing all sorts of nasty things to her. I wanted her dead, for a few moments, for what she had done and how she was now acting, as if she hadn’t done anything wrong.
“Ok,” she said. As she said it she touched me on the shoulder, the same touch that yesterday would have comforted me, now made me sick inside and flinch away as if she had just put a hot coal on my shoulder. She walked out quietly, and left.
While she was gone, I painted. I painted her with the other man, I painted how I felt when I saw them, how I felt right now, how I wished I could feel instead. I went wild with it, I barely remember how so many hours seemed to pass, but soon it was dark, and she was back, alone, without any other men.
“Benjamin,” she said as she walked into the room, the room I had dedicated to her art, which I had now taken as my own, “Benjamin, you…”
She looked at the paintings and her mouth was hanging open.
“Who drew these? Did you do these?” she asked, running in and falling to her knees, her face up close to the paintings as if a child had just seen their favourite thing flash on the screen of a television.
“Benjamin, these, these are…”
What? No good? Crap? Need more colour? Fuck you, I don’t care. They are how I feel, what I have seen, what was inside me.
“They are, masterpieces,” she said. The way she was staring at them, I thought I might see some saliva trickle out of the side of her mouth.
What amazed me most was how differently I saw her now. She was like a different woman to the one I saw just this morning. Now I detested her, I was repulsed by her. I loved her in my heart, but I also hated her on top of that, I did not want to be near her.
“We must…we must sell these,” she said. “These are so wonderful, they may go for auction…I have someone I know who may want something like this, he was saying he wanted something dark and raw and destructive…I will call him. He will come.”
Another boyfriend, is it? Another fuckbuddy who’s been in my house, fucking my wife, in my bed, on the floor, everywhere…
“Yes, he will come round tonight,” she said, walking out and leaving me there, staring at these paintings that I could not remember painting.