Chapter 31 ~ Gloria Tells of Her Betrayal
Gloria pointed her forefinger toward Sam. She said, “I knew Sam would be the tough one to convince when you walked in. You get a sense of these things after a while. You learn to pay attention to the different cues potential customers signal without knowing it.”
“How did you know we were searching for someone?” asked Joe thinking Gloria’s fingers were the longest he’d ever seen on a woman. If only she’d lose the purple nail polish.
“Isn’t everyone searching for someone or something?” she said.
“I guess,” said Joe. “Do you mind telling me about Joe Ritchie?”
Gloria tensed. Her purple fingernails disappeared inside of fists. She released her right fist and grasped hold of her left wrist squeezing it as if it were a pump and she were choke it. She waited, her mouth clenched tight. When she spoke, at first she offered her words grudgingly, then they flowed like honey on hot summer’s day, “I loved him. I really loved him. I’m not sure what it was about him I loved, but I loved him. Maybe it was his eyes.”
She stared at Joe, “You have the same dark and deep brown eyes Joe has. He’d look at me with his eyes, they had an impish sparkle and shined almost like a diamond. He’d touch my arm or face in a certain way and I’d forget why I was mad at him. I’d say we were together more or less ten years, but that wouldn’t be right. I was faithful to him most of the ten years. What was I supposed to do when he took off for weeks without saying anything. But, the fool I was, let him back. I doubt he was faithful to me for ten days. It didn’t bother me. I said to my girlfriends, ‘Joe is Joe and he’ll always end up with me.’ I believed it. You know what it’s like to realize you wasted ten years you can never get back?”
Joe shook his head.
Sam scratched the tip of his nose with his thumb. He said, “It didn’t bother you? Why? I don’t know any woman who’d let it go.”
Gloria laughed, “We played small places. Sometimes we’d connect with a name performer coming through and be the warmup. It didn’t matter where we played, the women who came, age didn’t matter, fell in love with him. I was naive. When he got tossed in county in Hannibal, I decided to take off with Danny. That’s my life story going from one loser to another. I’m a smart woman, why am I stupid when it comes to guys?”
“Tell me about it,” said Sam. “I’m the male version of you.” He laughed at his humor.
Gloria gave a half hearted smile. She said, “I wouldn’t call Danny and me lovers, but we were together if you know what I mean. We made our way to Denver and into Boulder. Joe called me and told me about Max’s songs. He gave me a song and dance it was really his stuff and we’d take it over the top. Two days later he showed up. I left Danny and went back with Joe. That’s when everything changed.”
“What happened?” asked Joe.
“Joe and I were together for month. We’re playing clubs in Lyons, Estes Park, and Louisville, and here in Boulder. We’re making enough to get by. Joe wanted to go to Vegas. That’s all he talked about. We agreed we’d go after the tourist season. It was August 14, a Tuesday. My period was late. I went to the drugstore and got a pregnancy tester kit. An hour later, the kit confirms what I suspect. I was really happy. I decided to wait until the morning to tell him, let him get a good night’s sleep. I made him his favorite breakfast, steak and eggs and hash browns. You’d think he’d be happy. When I told him. He screamed at me. He blamed me for getting pregnant. He told me to have an abortion. He said he had a couple of kids and he didn’t need anymore in his life.”
“What did he do?” asked Sam.
“The son of a bitch told me he’d leave me if I had the child. He had a violent temper. You never knew what might set him off. Most of the time he kept it under control. I saw him nearly kill a drunk who was hitting on me at a club where we were playing. He was fortunate he wasn’t arrested on that one. I told him I was going to have the child. I thought it would bring us together. He threw his coffee cup against the wall, splattering coffee and glass everyplace, He took his arm and swept all the breakfast dishes and food off of the table onto the floor. Then he walked out the door. I sat at the table staring at the door, then the floor with the steak and eggs and hash browns all over the kitchen. I was unable to move. I don’t know if I was frightened or numb, or in a state of disbelief of what happened.”
A silence so deep enveloped the room. The room became a deep cavern where no life or light exists. Even the traffic sounds of the highway disappeared. Joe and Sam had no idea what to say. Gloria’s face and eyes recoiled with vivid images becoming as real to her as the day it happened.
The silence lingered until Gloria spread her long fingers out on the table, palms down, and said, “Two hours later, he came back with Starbucks coffee and bagels from a bagel shop we liked. He strolled in as if nothing happened. It was his way. He found me in the bedroom lying on the bed. I remember being curled in fetal position. He laid down next to me and put his arm around me. I stiffened. He started singing this little song of his in my ear and I felt the tension slowly leave my muscles. I promised myself when he left it was over. My promise lasted two hours. What a fool. I don’t know a bigger fool than me ever lived.”
Sam interrupted, “I’ve been around, you’ve got a long way to go before you make the top ten big fool list. There’s a waiting list.”
Gloria smiled, “Thank you, Sam. I have bottles of water in the closet over there, do you mind getting us three?”
“No problemo,” said Sam. He pushed out of his chair and walked to the closest. A case of water sat on top of a large tub of kitty litter. The shelves in the closest were filled with candles, incense sticks, herbs, rocks, and metals. He picked up three bottles of water and carried them to the table. He handed on to Joe. He set one down in front of him and he opened the third bottle and handed it to Gloria.”
Gloria smiled and took a sip. She said, “Next thing that happened, we were making love like nothing happened. You all know about makeup sex. Afterward, I thought it was all okay. Joe even took me out to dinner. Don’t trust him. Don’t ever trust him. Just when you think he’s doing something nice, all he’s doing is gaming you. He whispers to me, and he pulls a ring out of his pocket. It looked like a real diamond. It turned out to be as fake as him. Of course I said yes. I started crying I was so happy. He said, ‘I want to start right. After our gig next week we’ll go to Vegas and get married. Please have the abortion so we can start right. I know a legal abortionist who will help us out.’ I reluctantly agreed. Two days later I had the abortion. Some abortionist. I can’t have any more children. I carry a load of guilt I can’t let go and sometimes at night I talk to the child we never had. I call her Amy. That’s what I wanted to name the baby if it was a girl.”
Gloria’s eyes filled, she brushed her cheek and nose with her sleeve. She took another sip of water. She spoke softly yet with an angry edge to it, “Joe was truthful about one thing. He left for Vegas after the gig. Only he didn’t take me. He said he was going to get things set up. I didn’t hear from him for three months. I got involved with a guy at a club where I sang. He was the piano player. Joe showed up one night and beat the living hell out of him. The cops came and he was sent to prison. That’s when I took off with Harry Lamont. I heard Joe moved to Vegas after he got out of prison. He could move to the end of the earth for all I cared.”