Nights for Jack Legrand were spent hiding at work, in the projection booth. He anticipated that the bank would claim ownership of his theatre any day now.
Waiting to come home until he knew his wife was gone, busy or asleep; the theatre became his haven.
This was the first time in Legrand’s life that he felt grateful for his wife’s indifference toward him. Through the years he had realized that his wife had accepted his proposal of marriage for the comforts he provided for her, not because she loved him.
He was well off when they met. She was a lovely, slender, graceful blonde who could have been an actress. Stillness came over a room when she entered it. Her good looks were ample enough to not need a sense of humor. She was a fine conversationalist and was only moderately flirtatious. Being from a small town in eastern Washington, city life was new to her. Having been new in town, she had begun socializing in the same circle as he. There was an innocence about her that some mistook for coldness. Though in retrospect, he often wondered if perhaps he had mistook her coldness for innocence. Since their marriage, she had been known to go days without initiating conversation with him. She was not unkind to him, just indifferent.
Though a bit small and wanting of a full head of hair, he was not bad looking or disagreeable in any way. He had many friends who regarded him as a fine man. When they had first met, he seemed to be at the center of all the social events; making jokes and introducing people to one another. In her small world, Legrand seemed a surprisingly powerful and important man.
He had wooed her as best he could. He was a graceful dancer and a gentleman. He lit her cigarettes, pulled out her chair and anticipated her moods. He behaved, as a gentleman should.
So he, being kind, decent, and financially stable, convinced her that there was no reason that she ought not marry him.
But alas, love and marriage are not one in the same. She never gazed at him the way he did at her. The gifts he lavished on her seemed to be received somewhat expectantly and seldom followed by the tenderness he had always longed for.
Still, she bore his three children, cooked his food and planned social events in his honor, when appropriate. But somewhere in his mind…in his heart, he knew that what they shared was just an arrangement.
Take away the comforts and formalities and what was left were two people masquerading as husband and wife. Both were guilty of deadly sins. She was the glutton, and he the vain. She had wanted his money and prestige and he, to possess her beauty. He was proud to have her. He had won, and now possessed her. She was a prize to him. .
Theirs was an arrangement that would not withstand the enormous loss that was on the horizon. Going bankrupt was something of a breach of contract in his wife’s eyes. As long as he provided her with all the comforts she desired, she would tend to him and be his wife. So long as he appeased her lust for material things, she would look the other way and deny the fact that she didn’t really love him. But to loose everything would nullify their contract in her eyes, he knew it, and so he avoided her in the hopes that somehow, he could save his business and marriage.