Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The other woman

The other woman

Hagai Cohen

Four of us sat chatting, drinking wine and exchanging yarns, when Bob decided to share his friend’s story with us.
Bob had no opinion about anything. He always talked on behalf of someone else –
‘My wife thinks his work is primitive;’ or, ‘My nephew told me not to buy those shares;’ and so on.
Whenever he said ‘a friend’, or ‘that friend’ we knew he was talking about himself. So, when he said, “my friend” we all jumped to attention.

“A married friend of mine” said Bob in a voice of exaggerated confidentiality,
“told me an interesting story. He has a girlfriend he sees twice a week. Now, my friend never takes his socks off when he beds her. He claims that if he dies in the middle of love-making, the woman would be able to dress him completely except, for the difficult socks.”

“Come on Bob” said Bill
“Why should the woman care to dress him? Is she married too?”
“No, no, she’s not,” said Bob.
“Tell me, Bob, does he wear nylons or woollies? Which is easier to put on?”
“Maybe you should tell your friend,” said Steve, stressing ‘your friend,’
“to ask for a haircut and manicure before jumping into bed, just to look respectable if he happens to die in her arms."
I said, “Believe me, Bob, embarrassing your friend’s family will be the last thing on her mind.”
Steve turned to me. "Why not tell Bob about Mr. Rosenzweig, your next door neighbor?” he said and then turned to Bob. "This story will put a new slant on your friend's idea."
“Yeah, I think I will. Ok, Bob. Listen."
* * *

The burglar alarm in Mr. Rosenzweig’s house went off at 9.P.M. The house was in darkness, although Mr. Rosenzweig had returned the day before from a long trip around the world.
Mr. Rosenzweig’s alarm system was a real nuisance to the neighborhood. I had an agreement with Mr. Rosenzweig’s son-in-law (the electrician who installed the system), that every time the alarm went off, I would first disconnect the wires to the alarm and then call him to come and fix it.
So as before, I fetched a ladder, an insulated pair of pliers and a set of earplugs, and was on my way to fulfill my duty.
* * *

A year earlier, Rosenzweig’s wife had contracted Hong Kong ‘flu, and died. Mr. Rosenzweig's grief was short-lived. Two weeks, after the death of his beloved wife, a woman was observed coming to the house.

“She’s the maid I hired to take care of the house,” he explained to me, although I hadn’t asked.

Apparently, there was a lot of work at Mr. Rosenzweig’s household; very soon, the 'maid' was seen working overtime. On several occasions, she even stayed the night to finish her tasks.

A week later, Rosenzweig’s daughters, who could not stand the gossips, convinced him to take a long trip,
“just to relax and to visit places you always wanted to. Take the woman along to look after you,” they said.

A few more days were needed for the travel arrangements, and for completing the installation of the burglar alarm system. Mr. Rosenzweig was bent on exploring the world accompanied by a lady half his age.
They returned a year later.
* * *
I was on the porch leading to Mr. Rosenzweig’s main entrance to stop the damned alarm as I had done many times before, when the door opened and the ‘maid’ ran out naked and screaming: “He’s not well, he’s in a coma.”

I put the ladder and the pliers aside and moved in to stop the noisy alarm. I turned the lights on and went into the bedroom.
Lying on the bed was Mr. Rosenzweig motionless in a very odd position. He was at the edge of the bed; he had his arm extended with one sleeve of his pajamas top on it. The rest of his pajamas top was under his back, the bottom part was half way up on one leg and one foot up on the other. I did not know what had happened and decided not to touch anything. I could tell he was not breathing.

Two other neighbors, who had heard the lady’s cries, came to the scene. They seemed agitated and confused. I told them not to touch anything and to stay out. I picked up the phone in the entrance room, called the police and the emergency services. I also called Mr. Rosenzweig’s daughters.

After I was done, I turned to the petrified girlfriend: “What is your name please?”
“Rita” she said, “My name is Rita”.
“Rita,” I said to her, “I think you should put on some clothes.” My words had the impact of an electric shock: she had forgotten that she was naked and the two neighbors were too shocked to notice.
“Don’t take anything from the room,” I told Rita “Get into some clothes and do not go in there.”
A few minutes later, the woman came out in a dressing gown.
* * *
At 11:00 PM I had to leave the scene to catch a flight. Upon my return three days later, a police detective came to my house to get my deposition. I told him the sequence of events. He wrote them down and made me sign the paper. After the formalities were done I offered the detective a drink, which he took. While drinking he volunteered some information.
“Well the case is unfolding nicely, No more loose ends or unanswered questions.
The man gave a small party to celebrate his birthday and his return home. He had a few drinks and a very good time.
The people present at the party attested to the fact. After the party, Mr. Rosenzweig and his girlfriend washed the dishes and went to bed. While making love, his heart stopped. She was underneath him and, as she described it, suddenly two hundred pounds of dead weight fell on her. She panicked and rolled out from under him with great difficulty. She ran to call for help. When she opened the door the alarm went off. The only thing she could think of in her panic was that people should not see him naked. Therefore, she ran back and tried to dress him in his pajamas, not with great success as you know. You met her when she opened the door the second time to call for help.
The coroner insisted on a very thorough autopsy, for two reasons. One, there were marks on the body that needed explanation. Two, something about the lady’s name sounded familiar.

The autopsy revealed that the suspicious marks were made after the man was already dead. It happened when she tried to get out from underneath him and to put on his pajamas.
This woman apparently was involved three years ago with a man who died also whilst having sex with her. I looked it up, read all the old reports, but did not find any indication of foul play. Strangely enough she tried to dress the other man too. I think Rita needs ‘on the job training’ dressing corpses,” the officer concluded.
* * *

"Now, back to you Bob, if you happen to see your friend, please tell him about Rita and her great difficulties in dressing the two dead men. Suggest to your friend to stay completely dressed while making love. To be on the safe side tell him only his organ should be exposed. Tell him it would be better to perform the act in the garden. If he happens to kick the bucket during his lovemaking, his family will be convinced he was out for a leak. To eliminate any doubt, suggest to your friend to tattoo his penis:
‘It’s not what you think.
It’s only rigor mortis’”

* * *

"Come on Jack Please" said Steve.
Are you telling us that you went into the bedroom saw a dead man, did not panic and casually called the emergency crew, the police, the daughters and also reminded the woman to get dressed? I would be petrified and become a marble statue before I could even think.
"Elementary my dear Stevie, elementary"
When we fly a plane and encounter a flight emergency, (such as an engine fire for example), the alarm goes off.
The first item on the checklist is 'cut the alarm'. It is a conditional reflex or second nature for us. After silencing the alarm we do the necessary tasks to fix the problem. We follow a checklist. And that is exactly what I did in this case.
They all became silent until Bob broke in.
"I bet you there was one more item on your checklist you did not tell us about".
"And what might that be?"
"You did get the woman's phone number didn’t you?
We will never talk to you again if you don’t share it with us."
"Listen boys" I said smiling I am not admitting I got the number and I am not denying it either.
If I have the number it will be given only to my enemies. You are my friends, I love you, and I have no desire to write obituaries.

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