Dirty little deeds in lo.., p.1
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       Dirty Little Deeds In Love And Marriage, p.1
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           Paul Wolfle
Dirty Little Deeds In Love And Marriage


  Paul Wolfle

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  Dirty Little Deeds in Love and Marriage

  Copyright 2011 by Paul Wolfle

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  Several nights of unsettling dreams held me in a grip of restless monotony that I couldn’t shake. A familiar phrase came to mind, one that regularly slipped from my grandmother’s tongue when I was younger: “If you dance, sooner or later, you‘re gonna pay. Remember that.”

  It may have been her favorite saying but by no means was Nana’s homespun wisdom ever considered prophetic or noteworthy. Her insight was nothing more than a broad expression of some unimportant personal observation, or so it seemed. Then one day fate called upon me to change a flat tire for a stranded driver in the parking lot of the office building where I worked. Before long my grandmother’s adage became careful words of warning.

  I was 26, single and eager to come to the rescue of the eye-catching motorist who needed assistance with her car. She had an engaging, friendly manner so we easily struck up a pleasant conversation and before long a cup of coffee followed at the local diner. Her dark features and black hair presented a striking image. Full of talk about the world at large, she was different from any woman I’d known up to then.

  A Persian Jewish expatriate who was fluent in Farsi, Sahar fled the hostility of Iran with her husband, daughter and the dreams of a new life in America. Political developments forced the expulsion of the Shah of Iran in 1979, and with roots in the same community for many generations, Sahar’s family painfully, secretly said farewell to the violent wave of anti-Semitism that followed.

  We dated for about three months before I learned about the scheme to end her comatose marriage, a relationship that had fallen apart long before she left Iran. Though they had not lived together for the last four years, her husband refused a divorce in both Iran and stateside. They had one child together, a daughter named Farah who lived with Sahar. For his safety, Sahar agreed to accompany her husband, also Jewish, out of Iran.

  Emblematic of the complicated traditions of their homeland, Sahar’s husband typically held the legal rights to their marriage. In other words, according to custom he was the lone person who could legally end the relationship and only if he so desired. Being a woman in Iran meant Sahar’s voice was not allowed to be heard in court and her consent was not compulsory in divorce proceedings.

  A specific matrimonial document recognized for its profound cultural implications, called a “Get,” could potentially release a woman from her marriage, something Sahar desperately sought but failed to secure. Accepted as religious edict and legal in Iran, the “Get” was similar to an annulment but only Sahar’s husband had access to it. Very few women were successful in attaining one.

  Comparable traditions elsewhere occasionally allowed wives to pursue divorce requests before a religious court, but in Sahar’s case matrimonial laws did not compel her husband to cooperate, ever, no matter the circumstances. A woman in her predicament had no recourse, which led to miserable existences for many families.

  She could not petition standard American divorce proceedings for the sake of her daughter. Measures in family court or a stay at the county shelter would only expedite the first step toward a number of bitter and possibly violent confrontations, along with a custody battle over Farah. This left Sahar saddened and furious all at the same time. For her, those mainstream options were definitely out of the question.

  While seated on the living room floor of her modest Grove Point apartment one warm summer evening, we discussed some of the hurdles in her quest for a “Get.”

  “Politics and rules have nothing to do with the affairs of my heart. Some strange judge won’t know me,” she cried.

  Because her Persian rugs, family heirlooms, personal property and everything else were confiscated, Sahar worked as an unlicensed real estate agent here in the United States in order to make ends meet. The autonomy of having her own job felt joyous although she was desperate for another kind of sovereignty and would do anything that offered full independence.

  We smoked a loose joint of some exotic, bright green pot and drank sweetened mint tea from small juice glasses. Both provided for a loose and talkative atmosphere. Moments later, Sahar suddenly mentioned in a guarded manner that, “she knew some Italian men” from the neighboring town of Port Halvorsen. They offered to “break both feet” and “maybe both legs” of her husband.

  “Whaddaya think?”

  I laughed hysterically in agreement.

  “Yeah, that sounds about right to me,” I said, imagining this was a joke.

  “You think I should have him killed instead? That would serve him right for torturing me,” fell from her lips.

  She abruptly left the table and returned with a white lace covered box, retrieved from the hallway linen closet. The square container sat on the coffee table before us with the lid off, filled to the rim with individual stacks of smooth green cash, neatly arranged and held together by thin rubber bands.

  “Go ahead, count it. Ten thousand! I can get more. There’s another box inside if I need it. Count it, go ahead!”

  A stoic air rapidly developed. I never saw her like that before.

  “You mean you really do wanna’ kill your husband, you’re not kidding?”

  “Yes and why not? He flaunts it in my face, all of his girlfriends. You understand? Why can’t he give me what I want for once?”

  After a few seconds, I was emphatic.

  “No-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-there’ll be no killing anyone at any time for any reason. There’ll be no visits to any jail after you get caught either, so forget about it. Forget about the whole thing! That’s crazy, so are you!”

  She despised her husband and didn’t mind in the least if he was dead, though Sahar feared Farah would be inconsolable without him. She didn’t want to place such a hardship on her daughter. I was not convinced.

  “If you haven’t already killed him or broken his legs why do you keep so much cash around the house?”

  She reached her limit.

  “If I can’t divorce him legally, I can divorce him in other ways and that takes money.”

  She recovered a piece of paper from her pocketbook, a document with unfamiliar writing. It was her marriage license with a photograph of the couple from happier times stuck to the front. Sahar placed the certificate in a large ceramic ashtray, dousing it with a small can of lighter fluid, igniting the paper with a match.

  “Now, I’m divorced. What’s he gonna’ do about it,” she laughed.

  “The license is no more. Come, join me,” was her proclamation while she clapped.

  Before long I got the feeling anything was possible. It dawned on me that Sahar’s behavior was starting to resemble the wicked campaigns she fled in Iran; little by little she became the thing she hated.

  After a wakeful night together, morning arrived amid scrambled eggs, cold dill-flavored rice salad, sweet sesame cookies, strong Italian coffee and my first encounter with kosher beef bacon. Though a mid-morning visit to her parent’s home in Manhattan was planned, I was not invited.

  Mom and Dad weren’t ready for the culture shock of their married daughter’s new American lifestyle, being in the company of non-Jewish men. Sahar dated very few times in her life, let alone with someone of a different religion. When we were together, she relished being outside the restrictions of her long-established customs.

  Later that day at work, I mentioned Sahar’s pitch to Hank, my coworker and close friend. He became concerned for my personal saf
ety despite the fact that the two had never met Sahar. His apprehension spoke loudly and had me thinking:

  “If Sahar’s husband had been harmed or killed would the police somehow track me down as an accomplice, due to my knowledge of the crime? Under the right circumstances would she ever attempt physical harm against me the way she wanted to use it on her own husband?”

  Almost immediately our connection ended in my mind, yet it was unclear how I would tell Sahar about our impending split. I was not going to be involved with a potential murderer even if her husband was a louse. Then, miraculously fate took care of the uncomfortable task for me.

  Sahar, her friend Melinda and I went out for drinks after work that night. They frequented a local nightclub, the Espresso West, every now and then; this was my first and only visit. The place turned out to be a chic disco filled with finely dressed European men and plenty of leggy American women, both on the prowl and ready to pounce, a real meat market.

  As a rock n’ roll fan, regularly in blue jeans and concert tee-shirts, I found the slick bass filled music and glitzy dance crowd an utter turn off. At that moment and without warning my grandmother’s saying unexpectedly popped into my head:

  “If you dance, sooner or later, you’re gonna’ pay… if you dance, sooner or later, you’re gonna’ pay...if you dance…”

  Sahar found me at the bar with my third half-nursed Southern Comfort on the rocks.

  “C’mon, let’s dance.”

  I didn’t consider myself to be a good dancer by anyone’s standards. From time to time I’d get out for a slow one at someone’s wedding but not for disco music and especially not with someone who proposed murder-for-hire. I flatly refused her invitation.

  “What’s wrong with you? Let’s go!”

  I stood my ground.

  “How come you don’t wanna dance with me? What’s the matter, are you embarrassed to be with me or something? What is it?”

  All the while, Nana’s words rang out louder and louder, “If you dance, sooner or later, you’re gonna pay. Remember it”

  “No, not at all. It’s just that, well, I don’t dance to disco,” I told her.

  Unbeknownst to me, dancing was a key social activity and an ancient ritual in Sahar’s Middle East homeland, a revered practice cherished with the same fervor as the crowd in the movie, “Saturday Night Fever” with John Travolta. Though she was no longer in Iran, my refusal to dance was taken as a personal affront and a public humiliation, worthy of an angry retort.

  Following several heated exchanges, the three of us left the club and in next to no time I dropped the two women off at Sahar’s apartment. An hour later she called me at home and wasted no time.

  “Our relationship wasn’t going to work out in the long run anyway and so it was better that we ended it right away.”

  A heavy sigh of relief burst forth upon hearing those magic words. I appeared completely empathetic toward her point of view. After a few niceties we parted ways permanently, but not before a quiet chuckle overcame me; I didn’t have to dance and I didn’t have to pay.

  “Oh man, that was a close one.”

  In the weeks that followed I didn’t hear or read any reports about missing men in the area and there were no dead bodies that subsequently turned up. I assumed Sahar never went through with her dirty little deed. I never learned the name of her husband, I don’t know if she’s still married and I always avoid situations where dancing is on the agenda.

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