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Bored young man meets neglected trophy wife.
"Why don't you get off your ass and go to her," Dad told me. "Jesus, you walk around hangdog all goddamned day. Just go to her. Find out what's the matter."
I looked at him, then at Mom, who nodded in agreement. So I listened to them.
I sat on the stoop outside Marisa's apartment for three hours before one of her neighbors came home and saw me there.
"She's not here," the heavyset woman said. "Took off early yesterday mornin'. Suitcase in hand. Caught a taxi."
"Did she say where she was going?"
"Sorry," she said, and her face told me she meant it.
* * * * *
I was on the interstate back home, cell phone to ear, when she picked up.
"Susan? It's Tyler."
She paused, then spoke slowly. "How are you?"
"Susan, have you heard from Marisa? She's canceled out on going to New York, won't take my calls, and now I've been to her apartment and-- "
"She's with me," Susan said, sadness in her voice.
"What's wrong? Did I do something?"
"It's not you, Tyler."
"Then what is it?"
Susan sighed. "I can't really talk about it."
"Well can I speak with her? Talk to her? At least say hello?"
"That's probably not a good idea right now."
"She doesn't want to talk to you. I don't think it would be a good idea to force her, okay?"
"Can you tell me anything?"
"Not now." She paused. "Tyler, I'm really sorry. I was afraid you felt this way. I will tell you she's not sure how you feel, but I warned her you probably cared for her. I'll tell her that now, okay? Maybe it will make a difference."
"Goddamnit, Susan," I said, "let me tell her myself. Please."
"Good bye, Tyler. I'll call you when I can tell you more. I promise."
That's when I got pulled over for doing eighty in a sixty-five. He was an older cop, though, one who'd so obviously been there before and recognized the look on my face.
I just nodded, staring straight ahead in a daze.
"Well getting your ass killed--and probably killing someone else--sure as hell ain't gonna solve 'em now, is it?"
I shook my head.
"Don't be sorry. Slow the hell down."
He walked back to his car muttering.
Then a thought struck me, and I spent the rest of the drive home hoping Kristin would be there.
* * * * *
"What did you guys talk about with Marisa?" I asked when we were in my room.
Kristin smiled, then grinned broadly.
"This isn't funny," I said, trying to keep my anger in check. "She's taken off. Won't speak to me."
By the look of horror on Kristin's face, I knew with a sinking feeling that it wasn't anything she'd intentionally done.
"We didn't . . . everybody was . . . just stories, Tyler. Really. You saw us. She was laughing."
I nodded. "What kind of stories?"
Kristin dropped her eyes, fidgeting.
"What kind of stories, Kristin?" I insisted.
"You know. Maybe some racy stuff. And some funny stories. From when we were together and when you were growing up and stuff."
"I know about the racy stuff," I said. "What about the growing up stuff."
"Just, like, some of the things we all used to do. You know. The first time you smoked dope and spraypainted a mural in your Dad's workshop. Stuff like that."
I nodded. "Nothing about . . . well-- "
"We were nice to her, Tyler," she said, sadness in her face. "You saw us. I wouldn't do that to you. I could see how you watched her."
"And how was that?"
"Like you cared for her."
"So it was in your own best interest to get something in to maybe put up a little roadblock, right?"
"I didn't. Swear to God I didn't. I wouldn't do that." Her face was frantic, her tone pleading with me to believe her.
I just stared at her. Hard.
"You have to believe me. Sure, I want you to give us another chance. But do you really think I'm going to go around sabotaging every relationship you have for that chance?"
"Why wouldn't you?"
"Because then you'll never give me another chance," she said. "I know you. You'd hate me even more."
"I don't hate you," I said.
"But you don't love me. At least not enough to give us another chance."
"We've been over