The Unintended Payback
by Angela D. Connor
The minute Felicia heard the word herpes come out of the chubby woman's mouth, her stomach fell to her feet. She hadn't experienced a feeling like that since the first time she rode a roller coaster. She remembered that day well.
It was two days before Labor Day and school was going to start shortly after. She'd be going to junior high school, and she wanted to prove to her sister that she could do anything she could do. The days of Nicole's younger sister following after her were over. She convinced herself that she was not afraid and was about to take the plunge. When they got to the end of the line and were about to sit down in the cars, Felicia insisted on riding alone, and in the very first seat. Nicole tried to get her to ride sitting next to her since it was her first time ever riding a roller coaster but she wouldn't hear of it. This was the day she would show Nicole that she had guts and could take chances too. She jumped in, strapped on her seatbelt and felt very proud of herself. She didn't think she'd ever get the courage to ride one of those things.
As the car traveled slowly up the tracks she sat in anticipation, wondering what it was that she had been so scared of all of those years. The car got to the top, came to a complete stop and then descended what seemed to be 500 feet in a matter of 3 seconds. Her question was answered. This is what she had been scared of all of those years. Before she knew it, she was screaming at the top of her lungs and silently telling God that she'd never miss a day of homework if he would only come down from heaven and get her off of that thing right then and there.
Realizing that it was very unlikely that would happen, she just closed her eyes and hoped that it would be over soon. When the ride was finally over she saw Nicole heading over to check on her. Felicia straightened herself up and told her sister that the ride had been a piece of cake. Nicole couldn't believe that Felicia wasn't crying like a baby, or throwing up all over the place. She had never had the guts to ride in the very first car herself, and she'd been riding for years. It was at that very moment that Felicia gained her big sister's respect, and before she knew it, Nicole had grabbed her by the hand and began pulling her towards another roller coaster.
"Let's go ride the Blue Monster," she said.
"Okay, but I have to go to the bathroom first, I think I've had too much pop."
"Alright, but hurry up," she told her.
Once she was directly out of Nicole's sight, she made a mad dash for the bathroom, pushing past every woman in line. She ran into the first stall she saw, but never made it to the toilet. Everything she had eaten for the last week seemed to come up. That had been the worst experience of her life she thought. She gained her sister's respect but now she had to ride every roller coaster in the damn park to keep it. She wondered what she had gotten herself into. Not knowing what else to do Felicia cleaned up the mess, wiped her face, and went back out to look for her sister.
"There you are," Nicole said as she ran toward her while licking an ice cream cone.
"I'm so glad you're not scared to ride anymore. Let's go. The Blue Monster is right over there and the line is short."
That "day of horror" as Felicia called it seemed to last forever, but it was only a few hours. The day ended, the park closed and they went home.
But this day that she was sitting in right now, listening to a fat woman with bright red-hair that looked like it was on fire telling her that she had contracted an incurable disease, would last forever. The park would never close, and she would never make it home.
Felicia stared directly into the woman's eyes and didn't even realize it when her own eyes filled with water and tears began running down her cheek like a drippy faucet. It seemed like she had put the woman's voice on mute earlier and had taken it off all of a sudden because she could hear her again.
"I know you're upset Ms. Barrett, but there are over 330 million Americans carrying the herpes virus and approximately 200-500 thousand cases are reported each year," she said as if that bit of information was supposed to make her feel better.
Felicia thought she heard her say something about notifying all of her sexual partners immediately so they could be checked out, but she wasn't quite sure. The only thing she was sure of was that her life was over.
"I know you've experienced lots of discomfort Ms. Barrett but the first outbreak is usually the most severe. Your subsequent outbreaks won't be as severe, and I'll subscribe an anti-viral medication called acyclovir to help reduce the length and severity of the outbreaks okay?" Felicia didn't say a word.
"Ms.Barrett, are you okay?" she asked. Felicia still said nothing. "I know this is hard for you, but you need to listen to me so that you will understand what you're dealing with."
"Go on" Felicia said, "I'm listening."
"Okay that's better. Now, when herpes sores are active, be sure to wear loose fitting cotton underwear so as not to aggravate them..," the nurse said quickly as if she had memorized every word.
As if stimulated by electric shock, Felicia grabbed her purse and jacket and headed to the door.
"Ms. Barrett, Wait!" the nurse called out to Felicia.
"For what? so you can continue to look at me as if I'm a Dirty whore and you're the virgin Mary or something?"
"Ms. Barrett. I'm not here to judge you."
"Well, you sure fooled me," Felicia said as she walked out of the office. "And if I need anymore information, I'll get it elsewhere."
It wasn't until she was looking for a meter to park her car that she realized where she was. She was outside of his downtown office where he said he'd be in meetings all day.
"Fuck his meetings," she said out loud as she searched her purse for a quarter for the meter. He's going to explain this here and now, she thought. Felicia walked into the building and took the elevator to the fifth floor.
"May I help you?" asked a young secretary wearing a top that was a little too snug for the workplace. He probably caught it from this whore, she thought. She knew that James was a breast man and this woman had hers prominently displayed. She visualized her taking James a cup of coffee and bending down just enough to give him a generous view of her cleavage.
"Yes, I'm here to see James Avery.
"I'm sorry he's in a meeting right now, would you like to make an appointment?
"No, I wouldn't," she said curtly and marched right past Miss Chesty and into his office where he was clearly in the middle of animportant meeting.
"I need to talk to you," Felicia said trying to remain calm.
He excused himself and met Felicia at the door. "Can't it wait?" James asked her through clenched teeth trying to keep his voice down. "I'm in the middle of a meeting."
"No it can't and I suggest that you clear this room in 30 seconds or I am going to make a scene," Felicia said through teeth clenched even tighter than his.
Realizing that whatever Felicia wanted to discuss with him was probably a serious matter, James asked the five individuals in his office to excuse the two of them for a few minutes and told them that they would reconvene in fifteen minutes.
Once the room was cleared he gave her a piercing look and walked towards her. "Don't you ever in your life embarrass me like that again Felicia or Iswear I'll..."
"You'll what?" Felicia asked cutting him off. "Give me herpes? It's too late for that James you've already done it?"
"What the hell did you just say?" James asked in disbelief.
"You heard me you bastard, you gave me herpes."
"I don't know what you're talking about, but you'd better lower your voice."
"You want me to lower my goddamn voice when you're screwing God only knows who and bringing diseases home to me?"
"Look, I don't have any diseases, and I should've known that you were out there messing around. My momma always said once a whore, always a whore."
"Oh no....you will not put this off on me James. You are the only man I've been with for the past two years and you know that. How could you do this to me?" Felicia asked, unable to hold back the tears any longer.
"I haven't done anything to you Felicia and you'd better get out of here with that nonsense." he answered.
"I thought you loved me James," Felicia said as she grabbed his chin with her hand and made him look directly into her eyes.
"I'm telling you Felicia, if you infected me," James threatened, "I'll kill you."
"You know what? I was a fool to think that you and I had something special. You are not even man enough to tell me that you've been messing around when I've got proof."
"The only proof you have is that you've been messing around and it's finally caught up with you. Felicia, I'm going to tell you one more time, get out of my office or I will have you removed. And you'd better pray that you didn't pass that shit on to me, because if you did you will pay dearly."
Felicia couldn't believe her ears. The man that she had been committed to for the last three years of her life was accusing her of sleeping around. She knew that he wouldn't take the news well, and suspected that he would tell her that it was a one time thing with an anonymous woman. She even thought he might act like he didn't have herpes and offer to stand by her to make himself look clean, but she never thought he would stoop this low. Wasn't he the same man who begged her to give love a chance when she told him that she didn't trust men? Wasn't this the same James that bought her books by her favorite authors and gave her a gift on the 10th of every month because that was the day of the month that she told him she loved him for the very first time? It couldn't be. The James that went out and bought a real Christmas tree and decorated it himself while she was at work because she had never had a real Christmas tree would not do this to her would he? No. This had to be a dream, it just had to be.
It was almost midnight before Felicia realized that she had been pouring her heart out to Jonas for over 3 hours. He had always been a good listener and she knew that whenever she and James got married and had children, he would undoubtedly be their favorite uncle. She didn't tell him everything, just that his brother was a lying, selfish asshole who has single-handedly managed to ruin her life. Jonas didn't ask questions. He knew that Felicia would tell him what she wanted him to know and not a bit more. That's the kind of friendship they had developed over the past year.
But there was something strange about her tonight. Jonas had never seen her this upset and he knew that he had to talk to his brother before he lost the best thing that ever happened to him. He'd call him as soon as Felicia left and tell him to get his act together. Or would he? After all, James had always been the lucky one. He got all the cute girls when they were in high school, made straight A's, got a football scholarship to Rutgers and was now practicing law at a prestigious law firm. What had he gotten? Other than the right to live in his big brother's shadow knowing that no one thought that he would ever measure up.
The more Felicia cried, the madder he got. "I don't know who my brother thinks he is to be doing shit that makes you cry all night," he said to her. "You deserve better Felicia."
She reached over and grabbed his hand. "I shouldn't be running over here crying on your shoulder like this. I made my own bed and now I've got to lie in it. Thanks for listening Jonas."
She knew she had to leave because even though he had always been a friend to her, he was James' brother first, and families stick together. James loved his little brother, and with a little coaxing, Jonas would tell him how she cried like a baby and everything that she had said tonight.
"Are you okay to drive? he asked.
"I'll be alright she said wiping her eyes and heading for the door. Jonas got up and extended both arms offering her a hug. She needed one badly. And before she knew it, they were kissing each other passionately. Jonas knew he was taking advantage of the situation but just once, he wanted to experience a piece of his brother's life. he wanted to know what being James Avery felt like, and if sleeping with his woman was as close as he could ever get, so be it.
He started unbuttoning her shirt and kissing her neck. She reached for his zipper. They had sex right in the middle of his living room floor like two old lovers reuniting after an intense, unwanted breakup. Jonas held her tight. She had been everything that he thought she would be, but best of all, she belonged to his brother..Mr. Wonderful. He was genuinely impressed with himself. What would his big brother say when he told him that he had slept with his precious Felicia? He couldn't wait to see the look on his face when he broke the news to him.
Felicia was deeply satisfied and it showed as she lay in his arms, rubbing his chest as if they had done nothing wrong. This had been her revenge. She couldn't have planned it better if she'd spent an entire day plotting and scheming. This had been a quick plan. She wasn't sureit would work but it had. It went off without a hitch. She'd thought about slashing his tires or setting his condo on fire, but that would be too easy. He could buy new tires or move into a new house. But he couldn't cure his beloved little brother of herpes. He had always told her that blood was thicker than water, so why not keep it in the family right?