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Love May Fail
Author: Matthew Quick

PART ONE

PORTIA KANE

CHAPTER 1

I’m kneeling in one of my own bedroom closets—peering E.T.-like through the white door slats—when the following epiphany hits me harder than a lawn dart to the eye: I am a disgraceful woman.

Gloria Steinem would call me whatever’s the feminist equivalent of an Uncle Tom.

An Aunt Jemima?

Why does that sound like such an awfully racist statement? It’s a mixed metaphor of some sort, certainly. But is it racist?

I’m so depressed and angry that I can’t even figure out why it might be racist, let alone think up a politically correct metaphor for being an atrocious feminist.

I once read that Gloria Steinem had worked as a Playboy Bunny in an effort to expose the sexism of the job. Regardless of her motivation she was indeed a Playboy Bunny, letting men view her as a sexual object.

Gloria probably even got off on it, if only secretly.

I mean, politics aside, we all want to be desired—even lusted after—deep down, if we’re being honest.

And maybe if Gloria Steinem let men ogle her and pinch her ass before she rose up to be the spokesperson for an entire gender, well then, maybe, just maybe, that means I too can transcend hiding in my own closet—literally—and once again become a respectable woman who young, intelligent girls will look up to and maybe even choose to emulate.

What was that old saying?

The truth will set you free.

But first it will piss you off.

Gloria Steinem said that, I’m pretty sure.

I remember reading all about Ms. Steinem in my Gender and Prejudice college course, back when I was a good—albeit untested—feminist.

Being a feminist is so easy when you’re a college freshman with enough scholarship money and financial aid to cover tuition, room, and board. A woman with a clean slate. Compromises come with age.

Someone’s going to quote me someday, when I’m once again saying intelligent empowering things, like I used to a long, long time ago in a size-four body.

“That’s right, Portia Kane,” I say to myself in the closet, with a Louis Vuitton stiletto heel stabbing the meat of my left ass cheek. I lean my weight—135 pounds, which isn’t all that bad for a relatively tall forty-year-old woman—into the four-inch spike like a medieval priest punishing his lust-driven flesh. “Get pissed off! Because you’re about to see the truth. Ouch!”

I ease up on the Louis Vuitton heel.

I’m really not all that tough.

But I can change.

I can be the woman I always wanted to be.

Somehow.

Right now, I don’t even think the sluttiest teens in today’s most godforsaken high schools, girls giving it up for nothing more than, say, a meal at Burger King—onion rings and a Whopper, maybe a chocolate milkshake if they’re good negotiators—not even those Burger King hoochies would sympathize with my current position, let alone look up to yours truly.

I should probably declare that I’ve been drinking.

A lot.

Hennessy Paradis Imperial.

A $2,000-plus bottle.

Ken was saving it for a special occasion—like maybe when he finally hits a hole in one.

His “lifelong dream.” To put a ball in a hole with one swing of a club. What ambition! Ken is a caveman. The way he polishes his clubs with a fist full of terrycloth for hours—not one stroke short of masturbatory.

Tonight is my special occasion.

It’s a real bitch of a hole-in-one, what’s about to happen, let me tell you.

Earlier in the evening, I poured myself a pint of what Ken calls his Hen over ice, and then I poured the rest into Ken’s suitcase-size “heirloom” humidor full of illegal Cuban cigars—a well-aged collection acquired over a decade through dubious olive-skinned business contacts and worth untold thousands. Then I left the humidor lid open, which is “worse than raping the pope,” according to my husband, who is ironically a practicing and self-proclaimed devout Catholic. How can a pornographer be a devout Catholic? you might be asking yourself now. But let’s get real. Every religious person you know does something on a regular basis that goes against his or her professed religion. That’s just a fact.

Okay, I spit on the cigars several times too, but refrained from urinating on them, which was the original plan.

I also added a jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce with mushroom chunks, just to make sure the heirloom humidor was completely unsalvageable.

Oh, how I hate listening to Ken talk about the beautiful little white spots that appear when he has aged his “sticks” for the proper time and at the prescribed temperature and humidity.

“Look how they flare up when the cherry reaches them, baby,” Ken says, holding the filthy lit cancer log in front of his nose and squinting at it, mesmerized, like his stick is the Hope Diamond. “Tiny little comets,” he says, smiling with boyish wonder, and for nine years I’ve smiled back, pretty as a lipstick idiot, an aging Barbie doll.

Ah, trophy-wife me.

It always looks like he has a cock in his mouth when he smokes.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Women shouldn’t use words like cock, right? Well, bullshit on that, because I’m an adult, this isn’t a church here, and Ken really does suck salaciously on his cigars.

“No homo,” he likes to say whenever he hugs or compliments another man or expresses anything resembling affection or kindness, because Ken is an unabashed homophobe.

How the hell did I end up in this place and time?

How did I end up married to a cartoon?

How did I end up so seduced by money, living in a tropical palace of marble floors, twenty-foot ceilings, cathedral archways, palm trees, crystal chandeliers, lap pool, hand-carved furniture, and high-end stainless steel appliances—all of which make my childhood dwelling look like a mud hut that barnyard animals would refuse to enter?

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