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Worldwide Ace » Foreign Exchange – Part IV

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Foreign Exchange – Part IV

8 February, 2009 (06:27) | Unlucky 13, Women

For context, read
Foreign Exchange – Part I,
Foreign Exchange – Part II,
and Foreign Exchange – Part III.

Image by John Osgood.

“I had become, with the approach of night,
once more aware of loneliness and time –
those two companions without whom
no journey can yield us anything.”
– Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990)

It’s quite embarrassing to find you’ve chosen someone only to realize that they weren’t at all who you thought they were. When I chose the quote by Durrell for my yearbook, I thought he was a tortured musician capable of putting into words what Neanderthals like Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith could only hint at in obscure lyrics. As it turns out, Durrell is a rather prolific poet and travel writer from the UK. For the last eight years, I was ignorant of who he really was. I was happy seeing what I wanted to when I looked at his name in my yearbook. Now that I know the truth, it changes things a little; not a ton, but a little. And things can never go back to the way they were in the safety of my own mind.

They came out of the theatre hand in hand, raising my ire once more.

“How was the movie?” I asked.

“It was good,” Anika told me.

“We did not watch much of it,” said Swiss Frank with a grin.

I watched most of it.” She rolled her eyes as she said it, but her smile betrayed the lie. “Were you cool hanging out?”

“Sure.” I had hated every moment of it.

Swiss Frank hung on her like a rag doll velcroed to a dog the entire way to the car. They talked in German the entire ride back to his host family’s house. I clenched my fists, desiring nothing more than to pummel the two of them. I took deep breaths and thought happy thoughts: New England fall, thanksgiving stuffing, the Red Sox winning the world series. I breathed a sigh of relief as we pulled up by his temporary home.

“Goodnight, Ben. It was nice to meet you,” Swiss Frank said, leaning back into the car.

“You too.”

He turned a said something in German to Anika. “I’ll be right back. I’m just going to walk him to the door,” she told me. I tried not to glare angrily as they walked hand in hand to the doorway.

SIDE NOTE: I consider it absolutely absurd that I thought things might be ok at this point. Hell, it’s absurd that I thought things might be ok at several previous points. Given the nature of what was going on around me, how fucking naive did I have to be? Sure, I didn’t logically expect a relationship or anything, but the way I was treated and the way I reacted was at a complete logical disconnect. I’m ashamed of the entire situation. I’d be ashamed if this were the end of it. But it’s not. It gets worse. And it’s simply unthinkable to me that any of this actually happened.

I was staring off into space, waiting as patiently as I could, when Anika poked her head back in the door.

“Good news! Swiss Frank is going to stay with us tonight too!” I must’ve been stunned stupid. This was suddenly a nightmare. “You two seemed to be getting along, so I figured you wouldn’t mind. You’ll have to share a bed, but that’s ok, right? Good.”

Her door was closed and she was gone, skipping back to get him before I could respond. I started slamming my head against the seat in front of me hoping that the pain would wake me up. I couldn’t believe it. It was unreal.

“I saw the car, um, how do you say, swinging? Are you ok?” asked Swiss Frank as he slipped back into the car.

“I was just so excited I was bouncing up and down!” I sarcastically exclaimed.

Swiss Frank smiled. “I am glad you are happy. I was afraid I was cause trouble.” He broken English was getting more annoying by the moment.

“We’ll have to be quiet. My parents are already asleep,” Anika told us as we pulled up.

The house was a suburban cookie cutter building. It had a basketball hoop in the driveway and the cul de sac had cars parked all around it. Anika held up a finger as we slipped in the front door.

“Listen,” I whispered. “I’m really tired. I think I’m going to just go to bed.”

“Ok. Let me show you where you’re sleeping.”

The loveseat in the basement folded out into a little bed. Swiss Frank and I would be on top of each other squeezing into that bed. Maybe, if I was lucky, I could take up the entire thing and he’d have to sleep somewhere else.

“Here’s a pillow. I’ll see you in the morning.” I forced a smile as she disappeared back upstairs with Swiss Frank.

At first, I couldn’t sleep. The bed wasn’t comfortable and my adrenaline was pumping from being completely unable to work out my anger issues. I tossed and turned, trying different positions. I attempted to concentrate on music until sleep came. I even tried running through conjugations and declensions from my three years of Latin (it had always put me to sleep in class). Eventually, it was just time that whisked me off to dreamland.

A foot landed firmly in my back, striking me awake.

“Move,” I heard Swiss Frank breathily whisper. “You have the whole bed.” He was standing on the far side of the converted loveseat in tight underwear and T-shirt, his pants coiled like snakeskin around his ankles.

I was just about to grasp his throat and throttle the life out of him when it dawned on me that he wasn’t sleeping with Anika. He didn’t look happy about it. I scooted over, a little more pleased.

Sharing a Bed“She is quite a woman,” Swiss Frank said, slipping beneath the blanket beside me. “But she is difficult.”

“Uh,” I moaned in agreement, pretending to be still half asleep.

“You are lucky to have her,” he continued quietly.




Within five minutes, he was snoring and I was wide awake again. Even sound asleep, he threw punches and kicks in my direction. He tried to spoon me twice, shoving me to the edge of the bed and eventually to lie shivering on the floor, my jacket the only warmth as I clutched my pillow.

I woke up well before Swiss Frank or Anika and found myself sitting at the kitchen table with her brother (who was in high school, yet older than Swiss Frank by a year or two) and her parents. They fed me waffles and chatted pleasantly, almost erasing the horror of the night before.

“We’re going to a little get together this afternoon with some friends. There will be kids about your age there and you’re welcome to come if you’d like,” said her father.

“I’m not sure what Anika has planned for today,” I replied, “But we’ll see.”

“I’m sure you kids have better things to do,” said her mom, smiling.

Her brother disappeared outside to shoot some hoops and her parents turned around to play with coffee maker. For a few brief moments of silence, it was just me and my waffles.

Anika traipsed down the stairs from her room with a sublime smile on her face. Swiss Frank still hadn’t appeared.

“Good morning,” she said. A chorus of replies came, including a mouth-full mumble of “morning” from me.

She slipped me a folded 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper as she sat down. I glanced from the paper to her, and suddenly, it was plain as day. A hickey the size of Alaska stamped on her neck.

The pain of the previous evening rushed back in full glory as I stared at the newly minted love-bite glowering at me. I held back just long enough to motion at my neck and see her realize the problem.

“Oh, it’s chilly today,” she said as she darted back up the stairs.

Why? I asked myself. Why did I tell her? I should’ve let her get in trouble with her parents. But I hadn’t and I wouldn’t. For some unknown reason, I still had hope. I still had that folded piece of paper tucked in my hand.

“A woman’s best love letters are always
written to the man she is betraying.”
– Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990)

To Be Concluded in
Foreign Exchange – Part V.