The Lay Of The Land
By Bob Tennison
Mary and Johnny Rivers, after many years of trying and hoping, had just become the parents of a beautiful baby girl. Mary had always wanted a girl, but Johnny didn’t care as long as the baby was healthy (and preferably beautiful, which this one was). Mary just knew that if she gave the baby an exotic name she would be exactly that, and so she named her India.
Mary thought that name was very exotic, but as the child grew up India turned out to be exotic and erotic as well. By the time India was in her senior year of high school, she was called The Lay of the Land, because she had slept with all of, and only, the handsome boys from wealthy families. No other boys were even considered.
Her parents considered the things they heard to be simply ugly rumors, prompted by jealously. But by the time India was twenty-four she had been married and divorced three times, to extremely wealthy men, who collectively left her with a bank account she never imagined possible. Soon her acting career skyrocketed with awards in both Hollywood and New York, and she was usually filming one movie, while another was waiting for her.
The wives living on Diamondback Road were horrified when they learned India had bought the old Chrysler Mansion in their neighborhood. It especially upset Patricia Martin, whose husband Gregory was undoubtedly the handsomest man in the area and who had been fighting off women most of his adult life. That India was living in the Chrysler Mansion next door was exciting to Gregory but not to Patricia.
Hoping to make as favorable impression as possible on the local wives, India hired a stretch limousine, invited all of them on a studio tour, and then took them all to lunch at the one restaurant she knew they could never afford. Before leaving, she presented each with a box of expensive chocolates and a copy of her latest film yet to be released to the public.
When their phone rang at six o’clock one morning Patricia, as she always did, assumed there had been a death in the family. But it was far more upsetting than that. It was India, asking to speak to her husband. Gregory went into his office so as to let Patricia go back to sleep (impossible), and after a brief conversation he returned to tell her India’s car would not start and he was taking her to the studio for an urgent call. It wouldn’t take too long, he told her as he quickly dressed and left to rescue the damsel in distress.
To Patricia it seemed Gregory was gone for hours, but when he did finally returned he told her he had stopped for coffee and breakfast on the way home so that Patricia could sleep in. Spring break had just begun. Patricia was a professor at the University of Southern California and had spent a very busy few months. That was plausible, Patricia thought. Gregory was a newscaster for the six and ten o’clock broadcasts and had his days basically free.
Patricia was excited about going to New Mexico for the first time, as president of her Bridge Club. But it was bad timing for Patricia because India had invited Gregory and Patricia to a formal dinner honoring the new governor’s election and India. Since Patricia would be out of town, India insisted Gregory come alone. Patricia had to agree as she felt it was important for his newscasting position and he had already covered the inauguration. This would be an excellent opportunity for Gregory to spend some time with the governor personally.
When Patricia returned from New Mexico, she listened to the stories about all of the celebrities who had attended, and she was sorry she had missed the party. Putting her clothes away, she noticed Gregory’s tuxedo needed cleaning and pressing. Going through the jacket pockets, she found a three-pack of glow-in-the-dark condoms with one missing. There was no doubt in her mind where the missing one had gotten to. Rather than reveal what she had discovered, she just hung the tuxedo back in the closets.
Gregory would never forget the day Patricia came running into the house, hugging him, kissing him, dancing around and shouting, “You’ll never believe what happened. I just won the lottery. Millions and millions. Start packing.”
Equally as excited, Gregory hurried upstairs, returning to the living room less than an hour later with two huge suitcases. Patricia was sitting in front of the TV watching the news. “Have you finished already?” he asked her.
In a very cheerful voice, smiling like she was the happiest woman in the world, she answered, “Why? I’m not going anywhere.”