C U C K OL D E D
Jimmy and I are lying in bed, in the dark on the verge of sleep – he might already be asleep. I say, ‘I read a story today about this guy, and his wife is late home.’
He says, ‘Mmm,’ to show he’s listening. I can’t stand it when he isn’t listening. Sometimes I say, ‘Are you listening?’ and he says, ‘I’m listening,’ and I say, ‘You’re not doing anything that would give me any clue you’re listening. How am I supposed to know you’re listening?’
Jimmy says, ‘Mmm,’ again and he could already be asleep and doing it in his sleep for all I know. I say, ‘And he gets upset because she’s not home and he starts to think she’s having an affair. He starts to imagine his wife in the bed of another man – in the arms of another man, in his bed. So he calls his best friend for some support. His best friend answers and says, “It’s late,” and is short with him and tells him not be stupid, she’ll be home soon. “Pull yourself together,” that sort of thing,’
Jimmy moves his shoulders like he’s trying to get out of something, or into a small hole.
‘What the guy doesn’t know, the first guy, is that his wife is in his best friend’s bed. As he’s talking to his friend on the phone, his wife is in the bed. The best friend is talking to him from the bed his wife is in – having her affair.’
Jimmy says, ‘Mmm,’ like he wants me to think he can’t believe a best friend could do that to his best friend, to show he’s listening.
‘When he gets off the phone – the husband, not the best friend – he thinks for a minute and then he rings his best friend back and says, “Oh, you were right, she’s home now, sorry for ringing so late”.’
There’s quiet for a minute. Dark quiet and some people go past outside our window, saying, ‘Oh yeah, you did it,’ and ‘Oh, no I didn’t,’ and laughing. Then Jimmy says, ‘That showed him.’
Half his face is in the pillow so it sounds like someone is pulling his cheek back while he’s speaking. I say, ‘What?’ Jimmy says, ‘That showed the best friend.’ I say, ‘What?’ again and get up on an elbow to see if he’s really listening.
‘That showed the best friend that the guy knew he was sleeping with his best friend.’
‘His wife,’ I say.
‘His wife,’ says Jimmy.
‘No it doesn’t,’ I say.
Jimmy rubs his face in the pillow like he’s burrowing – like a star-nosed mole.
‘It doesn’t do anything of the sort,’ I say. ‘It’s humiliating. The husband is humiliated and that’s what’s sad about it. Don’t you think it’s sad?’
Jimmy pulls the blanket over his shoulder like he’s going somewhere. ‘Mmm,’ he says, ‘It’s sad, that man’s wife was sleeping with his best friend and that man didn’t know. That poor man.’
‘Cuckolded,’ I say.
‘Mmm,’ says Jimmy. ‘Like a cuckoo.’
Read our interview with Pip here