Jaret held Bernadette as she sobbed in his arms the morning Kendra was born. He tried to console her as best a bewildered husband can. “Honey, we have only tried for a few years, we just have to give it more time.” he said, as he rocked her and patted, sneaking a look at the time on the microwave. He tilted her chin up towards him and kissed her nose, “Trying is the fun part, now calm down, go to the hospital to visit, I’ll pick up some Shiraz and tonight we will try some more………k baby?”
Bernadette steeled herself, sat up, suddenly, and walked over to the front door, she picked up Jaret’s briefcase and said, “Don’t forget this”, she handed it to him and went into the hall bathroom and closed the door.
Jaret felt the heat rise in his face. He had been running late and was being sympathetic and yet his wife seemed angry with him. He realized she was just out of sorts and spoke gently through the bathroom door. “I’ll be home around 8, I promise, honey, see you then, ok?”
Not expecting a response, he left through the garage, turned over his Lexus and pulled away. Another emotional morning at the Tierny residence was behind him. He decided to keep the cell phone off until he got closer to work. He needed the time to think about his situation. Bernie had been increasingly more unreasonable of late. He was tired of the weepy tirades and the failed attempts at consoling her. He was worried about her sudden abrupt lapses of memory and how she often stopped dead in mid- sentence and stared off in space. The hormone injections, and monthly basil body temperature taking, along with obligatory intercourse was taking a toll on them both. Most of all it was the disappointment she suffered with the onset of her cycle, like clockwork, every month despite their efforts. He frankly was starting to worry for her sanity. He was not opposed to medical intervention and was willing to donate sample after sample. He held her while she cried each month, and now was finding the intense distress at home was just not what he signed up for.
Bernie had been so much fun and so interesting when they first met. Her research and writing for The Post attracted him and he found her both gorgeous and intellectually stimulating. Not in his wildest dreams did he imagine a woman with such hot curves and political insights. She had such a vast area of expertise and was so clever; he had fallen for her hard and fast. She made other women seem like novelties, she was the real deal. He admired her and adored her.
They took a vacation from their long hours, shortly after they met and escaped to a boutique hotel on the east shore of Cuba, made love for two solid weeks, ate lobster, scuba dove, and drove around in a jeep with the wind in their hair. They learned to salsa and talked long into the night about the planet, politics, and their dreams. Each of them wanted careers, love, money, travelling and both wanted children but not right now. One thing was certain when they got back to Canada, they wanted each other. They were married in a small civil ceremony, Julianne and Brent of course were there and a small handful of friends. They moved into his penthouse condo in the downtown core, as he had more room and Jaret was only too happy to let Bernadette take over the decorating.
Jaret remembered her delight when she called him to tell him that their first dinner guests were to be Brent and Julianne. “Don’t you think they would make a great pair honey?” she asked. He thought she was trying to set them up, but she protested, “They have been seeing each other off and on since our wedding.”
He recalled telling her he thought it was meant to be. Now it certainly was, Brent and Jules had a stunning split-level home, 2 BMWs in the driveway and to ice the cake, sweet baby Kendra. Julianne ran a local public health unit with 600 employees and would go back to school when Kendra was a year old. She was cherishing her time at home with Kendra and knew they could afford the best of care when it was time to go back to work. For now, she did not feel stripped of her exciting and stimulating work -life, but felt exceptionally fortunate to have the means and the time to nurture her baby girl, and enjoyed each mundane task. Brent would have to beg for time with Kendra, even after a full day of childcare, when most mothers would be exhausted, she wanted more time with her firstborn. Jules glowed in her new role.
While Julianne and Brent had a charmed existence, Jaret’s was becoming unhappy. His wife, the sexy precious fun-loving woman he married, seemed unstable and a different person. She was caught up in one obsessive goal with a narrow focus and no levity.
Deep in thought, he pulled into the garage and noted the new intern gingerly stepping out of her car, as he headed towards the elevator.
“Hello there Jaret” she purred. She wore a red pencil tight skirt and blazer that hugged her curves. Her briefcase was a designer bag, a Louis Vuitton and she was dripping in a scent that knocked the brains out of his skull. Gorgeous women still had the effect of turning him into a stammering child. He did not know where to look or what to say.
“Good morning, Nadia”, he murmured, looking down, slamming his car door, and marching off in the opposite direction. He caught his face in the north elevator mirror and was embarrassed to see it flushed. “Damn women”, he thought, pulse racing.
Yanarra collapsed into the rocking chair on the front porch in the shade and felt the cool tiles against her aching feet. Her back tooth ached, and she sighed, knowing she could not afford the dentist. Perhaps her sister Kiki would be able to help.
Kiki was younger, single, and worked at the only Hotel in the village. Tourists came from Germany, Italy, the UK and Canada and Kiki was a very popular dancer in the shows that were repeated each night on a two-week cycle. She had one day off in the cycle and spent it flat on her back for 24 hours exhausted. During her work, a constant smile was expected, bronze skin, bare bottomed dancing and entertaining the tourists her top priority. They responded with tips, and small gifts lipstick, tampons, and would often give her leftover food from their all-inclusive meals. Some regular folks who came back year after year were observant enough to see what the locals needed. One year a gentleman she had become acquainted with loaned her a bicycle he brought, which saved her so much time, walking from the village to the hotel. He ended up leaving it with her before he flew home, and she was the envy of the town. Several regulars would bring zip lock bags and put boiled eggs, chunks of fish, and occasionally the hotel staff would make suggestions about what to take at the end of the day. One night Kiki cycled home with a huge vanilla cake on a piece of wood and the entire village came over to enjoy it. Kiki was charming and pretty and a lot of fun. She had many affairs with tourists, and some sent her money. It was a juggle for her to know when Tomas from France was coming and occasionally if Eric from Canada had booked into the hotel and his time overlapped with Tomas’s time, or Franko’s from Italy, Kiki would have to call in sick and go and stay with her mother in Cayo Ramona, the village two towns over to hide from the competing men. They did not know about each other, each one in love with her, each one thinking they could save her, and had no idea Kiki was involved with anyone else.
Kiki had no intention of leaving her family and island, or Luis.
She played them all carefully, and while felt affection for them, her true love lived in the village and was completely aware of her necessary interactions with the tourists. She learned the tricks of the tourist trade from him. Luis was a dark eyed beauty and he danced along with her and flirted with all the tourist women and survived as a prostitute / dance instructor. They did not live together but spent as much time as they could in each other’s arms, laughing and dreaming. They taught each other the ways of love making and passed on tips on how to spot vulnerable tourists. It was easy, many of the tourists came looking for love and passion. The best part is that tourists had to go home. It was all temporary, and there were long breaks between working the tourists and having time for each other.
“My economy is good right now.” Kiki would say to Yanarra which meant one of her men was in town. Each man was generous, and therefore, Kiki was generous and over the years had suppled shoes and toys for Yanarra’s children, food, seeds, shampoo, toilet paper, sewing thread and needles and toothpaste.
Between Kiki’s contacts and Fernando’s resourcefulness, the family survived. Fernando fished, hunted, gardened, and made wooden furniture. He was well respected in the community, and they were significantly less poor than many of the village folks. Sharing was part of the culture and often a tee shirt coming from one of Kiki’s fellas would end up on Fernando’s back and then wind its way through the neighborhood until , after years of wear, it became someone else’s dishrag or menstrual cloth.
Such was village life. The Cubans close to the ocean were so much more fortunate than the inland natives who worked the fields of sugar cane or tobacco and had no interaction with tourists or the bounty of fish from the ocean. Gardening, bootlegging rum, trading spices, goats, pigs and chickens as well as prostitution, and depending on the generosity of tourists were all common practices in the village as well as bartering and sharing. There was a pride among them and a code. No begging, or stealing from tourists. . Children who asked for chicklets or candy from a tourist would be punished. The people had dignity despite their hunger.
Please see this bloggers previous posts for installment one and two.