As I was driving my son and myself across the Brooklyn Bridge into New York City, I couldn’t help recalling the saddest time in my life. Almost two years ago, I stood vigil with my husband as the cancer he’d battled for several years took him from us. We spent the last few days discussing his triumphs and the things he’d failed to do in his lifetime.
Charles was a good man. We’d met in college and married my senior year, me already six months pregnant with our son, Chad. I had a difficult delivery and we wound up having only the one son, although we tried for more children over the years. Charles was a good looking man, light brown hair and brown eyes, a stocky wrestler’s build (he went to college on a wrestling scholarship), a winning smile and the confidence of a man who knew what he wanted and was able to get it. Mostly, it turned out, he wanted me. I fell in love with him the first time I saw him. We quickly became passionate lovers and then married with Chad on the way.
We had several wonderful years together. Chad was twelve when the cancer first appeared. Over the next four years, my Charles fought it valiantly before finally succumbing to the disease. Chad, now sixteen, stood by my side at the funeral, the spitting image of his father who would have been proud of the man his son had been forced to suddenly become. Over the two years since we buried Charles, my son and I have become very close. I doubt I could have gotten through my mourning period without my son to lean on.
I’ve become very attached to my son. One could almost call me a jealous woman. I haven’t liked any of his girl friends and am almost ashamed to admit I am happy he is currently unattached and even more pleased that he has kept a promise to his father to remain chaste until he turned eighteen.. For his part, he’s been urging me to return to the dating scene…to find a friend and possibly a husband. When I’ve scolded him about it, telling him I’m too old for such nonsense, he just laughs and tells me what a beautiful woman I am.
“Christ, Mom, you’re only forty years old. And you’re a great looking woman. I bet there are lots of guys who would give an arm and a leg to marry you!” he would tell me. I don’t know, maybe he’s right. I’d like to think I’m still kind of pretty. I’ve always been blessed with good skin and I’ve kept my figure. My boobs aren’t sagging much, despite the weight of having 36 DD breasts. At one hundred-eighteen pounds and five foot-two inches, I’ve kept my 36-24-34 figure. My legs still draw a whistle when I get brave enough to wear a short skirt or go to town in my jean shorts. And I am very vain and proud of my hair, long black tresses that fall to the middle of my back.
I love it when Chad tells me how pretty I am, even though it makes me feel kind of naughty to hear my own son talk that way. My friends have teased me about how I need to cut the apron strings and quit being possessive and jealous over Chad.
Which make today’s visit to the city even more difficult. Today, I am fulfilling one of my husband’s last wishes. Today, I’m taking my son to visit the city’s most luxurious bordello. My heart fluttered as I thought of the ornate business card in my purse that carried the words, “Fulfillment, a Tradition Since 1850,” followed by a phone number.
I had long known about the tradition in Charles’s family about the father taking his son to Fulfillment, New York City’s oldest and finest whorehouse, for his first sexual adventure. Charles had been taken there by his father who had been taken there by his father and so on. Charles said the legend was that his father’s male ancestors had been among the first patrons of Fulfillment way back before the Civil War.
I was also aware that occasionally Charles visited Fulfillment during our marriage. We both had grown up in promiscuous times and in our younger days had done some swinging with friends in the neighborhood, trading partners for an evening or even a weekend. Otherwise, I had never had an affair or even a one night stand, I knew Charles wouldn’t have minded but I was never really tempted. It never bothered me that Charles went to Fulfillment on occasion, it even excited me when he’d describe some exotic beauty he had fucked and we always had great sex afterwards.