Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Summer 2009

Songs of Betrayal

Michael Estabrook

The Good Old Days               This is a picture of flowers

“No, no, no, please no,” I begged leaning over putting my head in my hands. “I never planned it,” she said, “I never ever thought in my wildest thoughts that this would happen to me. I never wanted to find someone new, it just happened, like in the movies.” She shrugs, her hands open out in front of her as if she’s begging for alms. “Please, please don’t,” I begged again, the tears beginning now, starting out hot and thick. “I love you so much, we’ve been together for so long, how could you allow this to happen to us?” She is very sad, but resolute too, to stay with the truth to see this pathetic scene through to its end. “I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry, I don’t want to hurt you, never wanted to hurt you, I don’t know what to do.” She pauses and takes a deep breath. “I simply love him more than I love you. With him everything is so new and fresh and alive, life is brimming with sunshine.” In my head I knew I needed to stop begging and act like a man, to take my medicine, my lot in life, my punishment like a man. After all this lack of behaving like a man is probably what has gotten me into this situation in the first place. “You’re just not strong enough for me, I’m sorry, you’re just too needy, too sensitive. You’ve always been too sensitive,” she said, obviously reading my mind like in the old days, in the good old days. I hope I am strong enough, I think, to not kill myself. Some things simply aren’t worth living through.

 
 

This is a picture of a flower                       Dancing                       This is a picture of a flower


What if I came home early from work and found you in our house with another man? I came up the stairs and there the 2 of you were standing together in the living room or the kitchen, surprised looks over your faces.

”Oh,” stammers Dick, ”I was in the neighborhood so stopped by to drop off the money for the gift we’re all giving Gail this Monday.” And he’s stepping a little away from my wife, a blank, uncertain look on his face.

My wife seems paralyzed, finally manages a few words. “Honey, how come your home so early?” Her face, too, is blank, but concern and perhaps fear begins to arise. I admit, I am speechless. What could be going on here?

“Well,” declares Dick, “I’m off.” He lumbers down the stairs. “See you guys Monday night, thanks Pat.” And he’s out the door.

I still haven’t said anything. I look around and can tell they have been together for a long time. Two coffee cups and some wrinkled napkins on the kitchen table. The pillows on the sofa in the living room pushed together and flattened. I’m too frightened to make my way into the bedroom.
Finally, I sit at the kitchen table and say, “What’s going on here?”
“What do you mean?” She collects the cups and napkins.
“How long was Dick here?”
“Not long?”
“What’s not long?”
“Why are you quizzing me?”
“Because I’ve seen him stare at you in dance class. Because he horns in to dance with you whenever he can. I’m not stupid you know.”
“There’s nothing going on, stop being jealous and so silly.”

 

 

 

This is a picture of flowers

 

Wild Roses Dream          This is a picture of roses


Walking behind my wife on a narrow trail
through patches of thistle bushes and wild roses.
She's chattering about work, trying
to be happy like in earlier days when
we'd walk together hand-in-hand for hours. But
I sense a strain in her voice. I stop walking,
take her gently by the shoulders, look
into her deep brown eyes. But they're empty.
How strange. The wind begins blowing her long hair,
I can smell the fragrance of her hair.
“Tell me about it, please,” I beg.
She shakes her head. “You should talk about . . . him.”
She doesn't blink. “I can help. I’ll listen. I love you.”
She shakes her head again. I can't believe this.
I try again. “I know how you feel, I do:
a love you can't have is like a hole in your soul.”
But her eyes remain empty, empty,
and no longer can she smile for me.

EDINBURGH                 This is a picture of butterflies and flowers

I’ve returned home after twelve days of being in England and my wife is off at this huge party without me, engaged in what apparently are heated discussions with Jim. She isn’t bothering with me at all. I’m sad because I miss her and want to see her, but she’s off with Jim. Jim’s handsome and tall and classy and successful and sure of himself. And my wife’s off with him, I’m not sure where, but somewhere in this house. So I swim in the swimming pool alone for a long time, going back and forth, back and forth, diving down to the bottom, rising back up again. It’s so peaceful down there, so quiet and pretty and calm, this translucent light like sun through the clouds shining down. And I almost breathe the water in.

 

 

 

 

 

This is a picture of daisies

This is a picture of daisiesNot Looking Back


I had a bad, bad dream about my wife last night, a nightmare really. I think it stemmed from her being impatient with me lately, being insensitive to stress I’ve been having at work.

But anyway, that’s another story and not a very interesting one to boot. In the dream she and I were on a college campus. It was dark. We were walking back to our car after a meeting of some kind. We began to disagree about something, I’m not exactly sure what, but apparently there was someplace she wanted us to go, but I didn’t want to go. I was tired and wanted to go home. So after a bit of yelling I told her, hey, it’s a free country, she could go and I didn’t need to. We got to our car and I kept on walking, not looking back, leaving her standing there alone on the sidewalk. She let me go, yelling how angry she was at me. “You can keep on walking, I’m so angry at you!”

I rounded the corner, then doubled back and crouched behind a bush at the side of a building and watched her. Parked next to our car was another car and the driver was there too. I recognized him as a man about town we both knew, a Jim Something-or-Other, who has seemed, in my jealous paranoia anyway, to have always had his eye on my wife.

Jim So-and-So saw that Pat was upset and got out of his car to talk with her, to comfort her and calm her down. She was mad, madder than a wet hen! After a few minutes, him touching her arm, nodding understandingly, they both got into our car where she continued her harangue. She was very animated, gesticulating, moving her hands around, swinging her head. I could see from behind my bush, that she was getting a lot off her chest. I could almost hear her calling me names and telling Jim What’s-His-Name what a damn bastard I am. Also, I could almost see the hopeful sparkle in his eyes.

After awhile she began to calm down, but she was still upset, even crying a little. And he listened intently the whole while, being sympathetic, offering encouragement and understanding, his shiny face leaning in close to hers. He stroked the hair back off her cheeks and gently rubbed her shoulders. He reached his handkerchief over and dabbed carefully beneath her eyes, and the next thing I knew there were embracing. They were holding each other tight, then began kissing hard and heavy, like you do when you are teenagers and really into making out. There was my wife, the love of my life, holding tight onto another man, rubbing her hands over his back, her mouth locked onto his. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to die and realized I never should have left her standing alone and vulnerable by the car as I walked off aimlessly into the night. My life would never be the same again. Betrayal cuts a swath through the fiber of one’s being that can never be healed.

Purgatory

This is a picture of lilies in a basket

A Nightmare,
my wife loves another man.
Through a narrow window
in the sauna door,
all white and clear and clean,
I see her, sitting,
naked completely,
perched up on a wooden bench.
her shapely white legs bent at the knees,
spread open, a red glow
of warm contentment
matches the flushed red of her cheeks.
Her head turns and lifts
ever so delicately towards
her new partner.
Her mouth, a soft sweet smile,
the vision of fulfillment,
of pure thankful bliss, breathes
tender affection.
Both of her pearly white hands,
nails of red,
clutch the hands of another.
I have lost her. Oh how
did I ever let the passion cool
into the dust of neglect?
It’s too late for me.
She has found what I could never give,
Although God knows I tried my best.
Tenderness cannot be made,
It must blossom by itself.
Without love what am I?
Nothing. I have no rights to her.
I have no hold, no power.
Just a hollow shell remains
Where once life’s blood coursed
With ardent abandon.
Now I am a mere huddle mass
of transparent dried-out flesh
trapped in a dark corner of blind existence,
numbed for all eternity
on the edge of the abyss,
forever caught in the neutered realm
of Purgatory.

 

 

 

 

This is a picture of a basket of tulips

 

This is a picture of a flowerjealousy over my wife and an old high school friend -


Ed Meagher, I recall him from high school,
one of the popular guys, the kicker on the football team. He was also in the Chorus, a Student Council officer, a member of the Varsity Club, President of the Key Club, and voted Most Popular in the Class of ‘66. Anyway, good old Ed Meagher was in my dream last night - with my wife!

She had gone with her friend Linda
(who back then tried to convince her to find someone better than me, dear girl) out to the Midwest for a class reunion, not of everyone, only of the popular kids, so I was not invited. But my wife went anyway. Linda is her best friend, after all.

They stayed at a hotel after the reunion party
and due to a lack of rooms people had to share rooms. Linda met up with an old boyfriend, while my beautiful wife shared a room, and a bed, with good old Ed. She called to tell me so, but mainly called to say that she did not stay in bed with Ed. She began by thinking it was not such a big deal, especially in this day and age, sharing a bed with an old chum from high school, particularly someone as cool and popular as good old Ed Meagher.

But after a short while lying there in bed
with him, reminiscing about the good old days at EB High, it became more than apparent that this arrangement was not going to work out. There’s not a man in the country who could be in bed with a beautiful woman and not . . . . Well anyway, nothing happened, no harm done, she said, and left the bed and slept on a sofa across the room. She just wanted me to know she had remained faithful to me.

Dreams, man do hate dreams.
But I’m not complaining, at least she didn’t sleep with the guy. In real life when I told her about this dream she laughed out loud and said, “You got one thing really wrong, it’s not me sleeping on the sofa, but him!!!”

 

 

 

 

                    This is a picture of a rose.

Yves Saint Laurent and Patti

this is a picture of a flower

We’re in San Francisco ’s de Young Fine Arts Museum
strolling through the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition:
such elegance, such exquisite style.
Behind one of the shiny glass cases
stands a bridal gown, officially that is.
In reality it’s more of a bridal bikini,
constructed of lovely pastel flowers,
a diaphanous satiny train flowing behind.

“I’d love to see you in that little number,”
I quip at Patti. She frowns of course,
and shakes her head. She’s
the most modest of women.

“I’d clearly look ridiculous in that,
and besides,” she bends forward
to get a better look at the sign,
“It’s a bridal gown, so too late!” she declares.
“You married me already.”

She turns and walks away, more sashays
away really. And I’m watching her move thinking
how none of Yves Saint Laurent’s fancy-
schmancy gowns or any
of his stunning, sultry models who strut them
have anything, not one single thing whatsoever,
over the natural purity
and ethereal, eternal elegance of my beautiful Patti
sashaying away smooth as satin
in her tight old blue jeans.

This is a flower basket

Special thanks to la belle Rose-Marie for her invaluable assistance with this section.

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