It was one of those late March days when the wind slaps at trees with menacing gusts and rattles the windows while black clouds struggle to hold back the rain that fills their bellies to bursting.
Swept clean by the wind, the parking lot of the Good Night Motel held only a few parked vehicles that gave the lot a dismal abandoned appearance.
Inside Room 110 of the Good Night Motel, Sherri Dunlap stood looking sadly at the bland anonymous room. She shook her head faintly as she cast her eyes about the room regarding the mess they had made. The room hadn't been much to start with, but now...she shook her head, feeling shabby, stupid.
The bed looked as if a couple of rowdy kids had thrown a pillow fight. The mattress slanted slightly a-kilter. A half empty bottle of Pinot Grigio stood on the night table beside a plastic bucket of melting ice, knocked over glasses and spilt wine. A faint dribble of wine traced from one glass to the edge of the table where a trickle threatened to go over the edge. Sherri stood the glass up and matted the spill with a tissue.
Bill Madigan's tailored suit and his other clothing lay about in heaps, some on an armchair, some on the carpet where it had fallen in the heat of passion.
The penetrating downpour of the shower pulled Sherri's guileless blue eyes to the open door of the bathroom. A cloud of steam rolled out, and the shower roared like Niagara Falls in the closed room, penetrating...and somehow irritating.
Sherri kicked one of Madigan's Ferragamo shoes out of the way and moved toward the window.
Sherri Nadine Dunlap knew she was a very attractive woman, and at forty, she still turned heads with the best of them, but today her face only expressed sadness as she looked through the window at the dismal parking lot.
The feeling of shabbiness disintegrated into a feeling of self-loathing that crept over her, painful, almost sickening.
What was she doing here with this man? Oh, she could think of reasons to justify her acts: Dan cheated on her, Bill Madigan was very attractive, irresistible even. Sherri was still a lovely and desirable woman, damn it. She had passion and she needed affection; attention, things she never got at home. Not any more...but none of these feelings did anything to assuage her unhappiness. Today she only felt cheap and tawdry.
It isn't supposed to be this way, damn it, she thought. Something's very wrong with this picture.
Fully dressed, the shower still roaring in her ears, she remained at the window and raised her eyes to the forbidding sky.
The shower stopped with a startling suddenness leaving behind a thick palpable silence. Then Sherri's ears picked up a low humming and a few moments later Bill Madigan appeared in the room. A slick man, tanned. He was too good-looking to be trustworthy, she thought belatedly.
His well exercised muscles rippled above the towel that hung from his narrow waist. He flashed his movie star smile at her, and at that moment, his golden wedding band flashed even more brightly, as if deliberately throwing Sherri a rude reminder of their infidelities.
Sherri looked at him coolly, her passion long spent. "Hurry up, Bill. It's going to rain."
Madigan stepped lightly to the chair and tossed his towel onto the carpet, casually revealing his entire body. Sherri turned her head away as he began dressing, shaking out his clothing as he went.
"Well," he said, glancing at Sherri with a saucy smile. "How does it feel to be fucking your next state senator?"
Sherri looked at him for a moment without expression. Like she needed that kind of conversation right now. Without a word she turned back to the window where the first droplets of rain began to spatter the glass and slide silently downward.
After a moment she turned back to Madigan as he sat on the chair and pulled socks onto his feet. "You haven't been elected yet, Bill." She glanced anxiously at the window again. "I hate to drive in the rain."
Madigan stopped pulling at a sock to look up at her. His face showed less cheer now, but he managed a reassuring grin. "You go on ahead, Sherri. I'll be right behind you. I'll be out in a minute. Just take it easy."
Sherri stood for a moment, looking somewhat helpless. Then, seeing that he had nothing more to say to her, she gathered up her coat and her bag. "You know, really--I--I don't think we should keep on with this, Bill. I--"
"What? You're feeling guilt? You? You know perfectly well that Dan's doing it to you--and in spades." He stopped pulling at the sock and looked up at her in his most sincere voice, "Look Sherri, I've told you enough times. You should've let me follow through with the divorce. But it's never too late. And I can get you a hell of a settlement if you just let me."
"Yes. No--I mean, yes, I suppose I do feel guilty. I really don't feel right about this. Maybe it was all a mistake--for me anyway. I do like you, Bill, I do. But just because Dan chases around behind my back doesn't mean--"
Bill, in his stocking feet, rose abruptly and moved close to Sherri. He put his hands tenderly on her arms and looked deeply and sincerely into her blue eyes. "Hey, this isn't about Dan. Forget Dan. This about you and me, baby. You don't have anything to feel bad about. There's no reason at all you should feel bad. Dan's the one that should feel bad, running around with teen-age whores while he's got a jewel like you right at home, a jewel filled with love and passion if only he had sense enough to see it." Abruptly, his tone changed and in a brisk voice, he added: "So okay, get going. I'm going to be right behind you. As long as we stick to the old road, nobody's going to see us. Only people who use it these days are slowpokes and teenagers who want to make out. That's why I like it."
Sherri nodded, but had another thought: "But Caitlyn, she doesn't cheat on you, does she?"
"No." His heavy brows knitted as his eyes grew somber. "I don't know. I don't think so. But--oh, she's all right. We were childhood sweethearts--" He broke off and stared at the ceiling for a moment. "Sherri, people change. We're just not on the same page anymore. If it weren't for the election coming up... I don't know. When we got married I thought it was going to be--I don't know. Now all she wants to do is play homemaker. And when she's not doing the little homemaker routine, she's playing the social butterfly." He smiled ruefully. "Okay, sometimes for me that's a plus, but..."