The Saigon Five (A Short Story)

30 Aug

When Ingrid Ballflower celebrated her forty-third birthday in her usual fashion, dinner at “Saigon” accompanied by those who thought themselves to be close to her, she already knew about her husband’s philandering. If interrogated about the evening, Ingrid’s guests would say they knew something was behind her green eyes the entire duration of the dinner, but in truth they neither suspected her of harboring doubts about her marriage, nor did they anticipate the unique way she viewed the situation she found herself in.

Among the invited guests was Ingrid’s closest friend and colleague, Anna Sapstein, who carried herself in a manner akin to a grey hound suffering from hemorrhoids and occasionally shot looks of guilty desire towards Damian Ballflower, Ingrid’s husband. Ingrid had found out about Anna and Damian’s affair a week earlier when she happened across a series of e-mails on the Ballflower home computer. Damian had forgotten to log off of his “Gmail” account and when Ingrid opened the browser the first e-mail she saw had the subject line, “My holes ache for you.” Attached to the correspondence was a photo of Anna bent over faux-bamboo two-seater couch, spread legged with chipped fingernails resting on her perineum (to leave unobstructed the holes that ache, one would presume.) Ingrid said nothing of this to Damian or Anna, and instead dedicated the slow hours of her week to finding out more about her husband’s secret sexual indiscretions.

Damian had never been much of a lover. In fact it was Ingrid who suggested perverse adventures in the bedroom. Damian would occasionally be tipsy enough to follow her commands, but the alcohol would wear off and he’d end up spending himself with two grunts while engaging in a missionary position hump. She’d pat his back, wipe his drool from her collar bone and open her book in preparation of a late-night read. He’d sweat in the night, get up to pee once or twice and always, in the darkest hours of the early morning find her awake, reading books he neither understood nor wanted to understand. Theirs was not an unhappy marriage, but not much more than a facsimile of a happy one. In the week before Ingrid’s birthday party, Damian did not sense a change in his wife. He could not see her studying him as if he were brand new; not quite shiny or interesting, but the way one would investigate the motives and nature of a lizard perching on a branch, dead-still, seemingly without the concern for time passing. Damian also didn’t realize that Ingrid had, by some miracle act of private investigation, managed to track down the bevy of women he’d been seeking and receiving sexual congress from.

The first woman she found was an administrator for an amateur theatrical company. Her name was Frannie and she had the thinnest hair Ingrid had ever seen on a woman. The auburn color made it seem fuller at first look, but upon closer inspection one could see her scalp and the little fluffy tufts that endeavored to conceal the patches of naked, barrenness. Frannie tried to hide it by pulling her hair back in a tight bun, which gave her the look of a frightened child, which in essence she was. Not in terms of age, but in composure. When Ingrid introduced herself and explained who she was, Frannie didn’t cry but grinned with such terror that Ingrid would’ve preferred it if the tiny, slightly round woman had broken down in tears. They spoke about Damian and the length of the affair (two years) and they shared a laugh when the subject of Damian’s habit of complaining about the malfunctioning printers at his office had come up. Ingrid asked Frannie whether she knew Damian was married, and with a sheepish nod and a subdued whisper she admitted that she did, but found out only recently. Her loneliness had prevented her from objecting to seeing the only man who wanted to spend a significant amount of time with her. Ingrid and Frannie parted ways without agreeing on a course of action and it would later occur to Frannie how strange it was that Ingrid sought only information for the sake of knowing it.

The third and fourth of Damian’s lovers used to work with him and the affairs only started after they had left his employ. The two women, Alice and Shandra, knew about each other, but never saw Damian at the same time. Ingrid had to admit disappointment when she realized that she had not uncovered a salacious threesome and confessed this to Alice when the subject came up. Alice fessed up that she had suggested the idea to Damian, as she had doubled up with Shandra on men before, but Damian appeared uninterested. They spoke it about it only once it was never brought up again, Damian apparently being happy in the way he and Alice fucked, which by all accounts mirrored the way he and Ingrid bedded each other: moments of adventure and spice, but closed down as quickly as it had arisen. It was only with Shandra that Damian appeared to let himself explore the boundaries of his sexuality. Shandra told Ingrid that Damian requested every so often that she insult his manhood by shoving her thumb up his rear and call him names like “Faggot Boy” and “Mommy’s Little Bitch”. This made Ingrid giggle and when Shandra joined her, the two women ended up laughing hysterically for what seemed to be the whole afternoon.

The fifth and final woman on Ingrid’s list was a widow living a half-hour outside the city. She had no idea that Damian was married and began to cry when Ingrid told her who she was. When she’d calmed down and had a cup of sweet, milky tea Ingrid made for her, she informed Ingrid about the nature of her relationship with Damian. They made love, but only on special occasions like birthdays and promotions, but what they did most of the time was watch television and eat meals that Damian would prepare for them. Ingrid shared her surprise about Damian going anywhere near a kitchen with the widow and was even more surprised to learn that the widow considered Damian to be a great cook, if not quite a chef. Damian had never cooked for Ingrid, and the thought of him doing so for someone else caused her an unusual amount of pain. The widow swore she would never see Damian again, and Ingrid left her by saying she didn’t care much either way. Ingrid had treated the widow with more cruelty than she did the other women, but she knew she did this only because it was easy to do so.

Ingrid had found and interrogated all of Damian’s lovers within a week and by the time she arrived, on Damian’s arm, at “Saigon” and greeted her friends with either a hug or a peck on the cheek, she felt at ease with the new knowledge about her husband, her marriage, her sexual proclivities, and her plan for the future. Upon first viewing there was nothing strange about either her arrival or her decision on where to sit and where to place her friends. She positioned herself far from Damian, but made sure that he and Anna were close enough to feel uncomfortable but apart enough as to not give the game away. She placed her family on the other side of the long table so as to not have to deal with them and she surrounded herself with the people she enjoyed the most. She seemed to pick a random place among the intimate group, but it is in this narrator’s opinion that she had a plan all along.

When the second bottle of wine arrived along with the sweet duck wrapped in thyme pancakes, Ingrid Ballflower placed her hand on my thigh and smiled at me over a raised glass of sauvignon-blanc. As the evening progressed and my hand found her exposed thighs, she parted her legs and allowed me to finger her under the table. Our affair didn’t last long and we never really spoke about it afterwards, but one moment we shared gave me an indication as to her motives. We were making love in the back of my blue-grey 2001 model Honda Civic and when Ingrid reached climax, she said with a shudder of pleasure, “One down, four to go.”

The End

6 Responses to “The Saigon Five (A Short Story)”

  1. Johan August 30, 2011 at 17:11 #

    My Friend Louis.

    Great stuff. You are good and funny.

    You will always be a wealthy guy. Very wealthy.

    When are you going to write me a longer story and we experiment on Kindle? Have bags of fun.

  2. Anonymous September 6, 2011 at 00:28 #

    More please.

  3. Caroline Sheldon September 7, 2011 at 00:03 #

    Can’t wait! Looking forward to more fiction, the other writings, forgive me, I find somewhat… Disconnected? Yeats said that all empty souls tend toward extreme opinions. Again, my apologies, I do not mean to offend, but I feel you are a gifted writer and you are wasting your time (and your energy) writing reviews / criticisms / memoirs. I doubt that your soul is empty, maybe just misguided? I am transfixed when I read your fiction. Honestly, it reminds of Dahl and Thompson, vividly creative and succulently decadent. So, I repeat, more please.

    • Uncle Loo September 7, 2011 at 11:19 #

      Dear Caroline,

      Thank you for the kind words.
      And I take no offence to the other comments. I do feel, on occasion, that I’m wasting my energy by ranting about the theater world, but I care about it deeply and struggle to keep my mouth shut about the goings-on.

      Having said that, another short story is forthcoming.


  4. Caroline Sheldon September 9, 2011 at 22:38 #

    Haha! Uncle Loo, you are fun!

    My words are not kind, they are simply the truth. A good rant is always healthy in any profession. And who knows, maybe it actually accomplishes something, somewhere. I fear there is a song in that, and I suppose that is what puts me off. But from where I’m standing, the proof is in the pudding or fiction, so to speak.

    But don’t let me keep you, get on with it.

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