Fiction Series: 3 of Cups - Chapter 1
Carla rests her head on top of Harrison’s chest, playing with the black wedding band on his ring finger. It was a lazy Tuesday afternoon. The couple calmly reveled in their lovemaking. Harrison sighs contentedly, then frowns. The ring pops off. “What’s wrong?” She asks.
“My tongue is sore,” Harrison says. Carla puts the band on her left ring finger. It falls to the base of her finger quickly, unimpeded.
“Sorry,” Carla says, holding her hand over Harrison’s chest. The band falls off. He lets it sit there for a moment.
“Don’t be,” Harrison says. “At least I won’t be focusing on my oral fixation for a while.” Carla chuckles warmly. According to the wall clock, for 37 minutes and 12 seconds, Harrison took in everything before him as Carla sat on or near his face. Reminiscing on it made his dick jump.
“Oh,” Carla says, noticing. “You got another round in you?”
“I have things to do,” Harrison says, laughing. “My wife gets back in town tomorrow, so I need to save up for her anyways.”
“Right,” Carla says. “You mentioned that. How’s she doing?”
“Pretty well,” Harrison says. “Work is keeping her busy. She’s traveling a lot.”
“I meant to ask you before,” Carla says. “What’s it like being in an open marriage?”
“For us?” Harrison says. “It’s like being in a closed one. Except sometimes we sleep with other people.”
“So both of you?” She asks, cutting herself off.
“I mean,” Harrison says, “If she’s gonna have her ladies, I should get to have mine too.”
“Ahh. I bet that makes for an interesting threesome.”
“I wouldn’t know. We’ve never had one.” Surprise washes over Carla’s face.
“Her ladies. Not our ladies.” He puts the wedding band back on his finger.
“So are there rules?” Harrison sits up.
“Of course. Complete transparency with everyone involved. We don’t lie to each other. We don’t want to give others the impression that we’re amenable to more than we really are.”
“That’s smart.” Carla thought back to when she met Harrison. They were at a spa in midtown, where Harrison regularly enjoyed deep massages and thorough facials. ‘Pain is pleasure,’ he would say. Little did he know, he would end up giving her an object lesson on the topic later that afternoon, wrapping one relatively giant hand around her neck while choking her through multiple orgasms. Harrison wasn’t in the greatest of moods to start that day off, though. His wife, Lila, had been whisked away for more work, leaving him to unpack the bulk of the boxes that had been carefully dumped in their new loft downtown. He bristled at the thought of moving. He bristled at the thought of a lot of new things. Change wasn’t a process he was quick to embrace.
* * *
“Getting ready for the big comeback?” The attendant asks, as Harrison places his gym bag in the locker.
“No way, man,” Harrison says, tucking an earbud in. “Those days are over.”
Harry Miller retired from playing pro football at the age of 26, citing multiple shoulder and knee injuries. He was on the fence at the end of his fifth season, dealing with consistent pains and irritations resulting from wear and tear, and compounded by his aggressive refusal to take anything stronger than some ibuprofen. Or an edible. The deal was sealed for him, when a routine MRI would show a ruptured disc in his lower back. He dropped papers immediately. In a way, he was unbothered by the end coming. In another way, it petrified him. At his peak, Harry Miller was an all-pro safety, at 6’3” and a vengeful 241 pounds. Normally, a player that big, plays linebacker. However, he ran fast and played faster, covering like a wet blanket, hitting like a truck. He took a sadistic joy in baiting quarterbacks, runners, and receivers; feigning slow feet to a play, pretending to lose his eyes in the backfield, ostensibly positioning himself just a little too far down the field or up against the line of scrimmage, only to bend everything around him to his will and make a game-changing play. Harry Miller wasn’t the hardest worker there. He wasn’t the first man in or the last man out. But he was the smartest. And he had a gift for not showing you exactly what he had until it was too late. But that was Harry Miller.
This is Harrison, and Harrison has no quarterbacks to bait. He’s 26 pounds slimmer, because he’s never been under the knife, and he doesn’t want his lower back or knees to send him there. Harrison has no film to study. No pads to slip on. No playbook to process at a sickeningly fast pace. He has his wife, and the challenge to figure out just who he is outside of football. He checks his phone as he walks up to the track. A text from his wife, an emoji from Carla. He laughs at both before turning his music up loud and taking off.
* * *
“So you do this often?” The woman asks Lila.
“Um, I’d say it fluctuates,” Lila says. “I mean, I love my husband, but I’ve always liked women.” Lila downs her mojito and orders another. The woman sips her martini delicately.
“Interesting,” she says. “I mean, I’ve played both sides myself, you know.”
“I mean, I don’t think anyone here is straight,” Lila says, “so that doesn’t surprise me too much.” They laugh.
“I don’t want you to think I’m judging or anything,” the woman says. “Just curious. I’m actually kinda seeing a guy in an open marriage.”
“I mean, it beats cheating,” Lila says. “I’m sorry, what was your name again?”
“Carla,” she says. “With a ‘C.’”