John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

She stood up. “Okay, Bern. I’ll keep thinking about it.”

“Please don’t tell anyone about this little talk.”

“You know I won’t.”

After she had given Jeanie Nash the documents and data to record the sale in the master file, along with the check for escrow, she went to her bull-pen desk and went through her mail, dropping most of it into the wastebasket. She sat frowning into space, then phoned the law firm of Fetts, Kimball, Loudner and O’Rourke and asked for Mr. Hubbard Yoder. The switchboard connected her with Buddy’s secretary. “And who shall I say is calling?”

“Mrs. Yoder.”

“Just a moment, please.”

It was a long moment. Buddy always needed time to think about what he was going to say next. He had a big handsome weathered face, a long jaw, crisp wavy black hair witfa a curl that hung down on his forehead. He had smile wrinkles, and a charming white-toothed grin. He had great shoulders and a deep chest, narrow waist and short thick bowed legs. Seated at a table with other people, he looked like a big tall man. When he stood up he was so close to her height, she was careful about wearing high heels. He was a very nice man. People liked him. He was a junior partner at the firm. He made good money. He was tidy and generous and drank sparingly. He loved her dearly, and she couldn’t imagine why she had married him almost four years ago.

He had a slow methodical uncomplicated mind. He had not the slightest trace of a sense of humor. He laughed readily, but it was merely audible cheerfulness. He talkeci easily about baseball, basketball, football, fishing, golf, tennis-, swimming and sailing. His opinions were subject to immediate change when anyone disagreed with him. Of the spvorts he talked about, golf and fishing were the only ones he attempted. He was bad at both because he had very little physical coordination. He slept eight hours a night and exercised for a half hour before his shower every morning. In bed he seemed to have no limberness or flexibility. His body was board-like, his caresses predictable, his climax forever the same.

In the beginning when she had discovered the hurrnorless-ness, she began to invent pointless little jokes. She would tell him and they would laugh together and she would feel ashamed of herself.

After she had at last realized, a year or so into the marriage, that he was the most boring person she hadd ever known, she began to wonder how she could get out o f it. He was faithful and he adored her. He kept telling her he hoped she would get pregnant. That thought made her heart sink because it meant a lifetime of Buddy Yoder.

At last she decided there was no reason that boredom could not be considered a sufficient cause. He didn’t want her to work. He said he was making enough money. She knew she would go screaming crazy out of her mind if the only things in her day were the condo apartment and lunch with friends and all the rest of the time with Buddy Yoder.

Finally, two months ago, she’d told him to move out. He could not understand it. She helped him pack. He kept wanting to leave things behind. She wouldn’t let him. He went to live with his sister and her husband. They had a little guest house in the backyard. He was still confused about it. He kept asking her if there was someone else, and when she said no, he would ask her who it was. After he moved out, it was as if she had cracked a cocoon and emerged a cocoon made of seventy pounds of damp putty. Her life had come back to life.

“Well, hey Helen! How you, honey bun

“Just great, Buddy. Couldn’t be better. Did Dan Patrick get in touch with you?”

“Well, yes. Yes he did. And I told Dan we just needed a little time to work things out between us.”

“Now look. That’s just crap, Buddy. Dan is representing me and I am paying him to work out a no-fault divorce. Okay? I don’t want anything at all. I’ve got some income from Cordell’s estate and I’ve got what I make here. I just sold a house today. I’m going to sell the condo and send you the money. Or, if you want, I can find myself a place and you can move back in. What do you want?”

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