We got married young, well young for nowadays. Which means 19 for me and 21 for Sam. I’d had big plans for my acting career and he was going to direct me in his “starring role”. This we’d decided one night sucking back a forty of Grandpa’s cough syrup.
“Just you wait Kitty,” he said. “Another 200 bucks and we can buy those bus tickets.”
“Why don’t you just sell your car?” I wondered. Every two weeks on payday he’d come up with an excuse as to why we couldn’t just leave.
“Well…” I tuned him out. Vaguely I recall agreeing to marrying him. Even vaguer was the wedding and the honeymoon.
But Sam surprised me: two tickets to Hollywood, one way. We packed everything we owned into two suitcases and spent the next 72 hrs crawling across the country on the roach coach.
We got to town with stars in our eyes so bright we were blinded and swindled by the finest.
My big acting debut: one of those gentlemen traps with where the girls wear bunny suits. Sam? By day he lugged cameras around for the bigwigs for free. But by night, Well he had to scrub tables and watch men stuff money in my suit.
Soon our loving relationship started turning sour. First the cold stares, then Sam started staying at the bar after our shifts. Then the fights. I called my mother tearful.
“I just don’t know what to do, he’s like another person!”
“Do you remember my present?” I did. A little clay drinking cup she’d dubbed “the loving cup”. It had been in our family for generations.
I looked around, hoping I hadn’t had to pawn it to make bills. “Yeah…”
“Well, try it!”
“Marriage isn’t easy honey, you have to work at it. You remember how to use it.”
I did. I hung up the phone and sat down, head in my hands. Then I picked up the nondescript cup and got some apple juice from the fridge.
Sam came staggering in and sat at the bar. I laid all the money on the counter from my shift and shoved the cup towards him.
“My money, my heart.” I hoped he hadn’t heard the waver in my voice.
Sam grunted. “I don’t want your money.”
“Do you want my heart?” Tears blurred my vision. “It’s your’s always has been. I just, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
I slid the glass closer. “Take a drink. Tell me what you want me to do to make it better. Then…if you’re willing…I’ll tell you what I’d like.”
He picked it up like he was going to throw it. I winced, but then he drained it and got up
“Everything. Everything’s wrong. It’s me, it’s you. It’s this place.” Sam paced. “It’s this place Kitty, I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I feel like I’m not man enough for you. I don’t want you to work there. Hell I don’t want you to work at all, but….”
We need the money.
He took me in his arms. “I want to make you happy, can you be happy for me?” I nodded.
Sam smiled. “Your turn.”
I poured the apple juice and drank it. “I just want you.”