Chinese Stories in English
Take My Husband
The thing about men is: they'll stop dead in their tracks when they see a pretty woman. Of course, some men like sex and will do anything to get it, while others like sex but are timid about going for it. Forrest Ye was one of the latter.
Most recently he'd gotten interested in his wife's friend Angelica, and the pretty young girl seemed to look kindly on him, too. Forrest couldn't help dreaming but, of course, that was all he dared to do.
But before he knew it, he got his chance. One day he and his wife, Orchid Chen, asked Angelica to go to a dance club with them to "put on the Ritz". While they were enjoying themselves, Orchid got a phone call: Something had come up at work and she would have to go, leaving Forrest and Angelica there. The two danced and sang and drank the night away. Forrest got a bit too excited and drank too much, so that he couldn't walk straight, and Angelica suggested that she should see him home. As soon as they got in the cab, the booze took over and....
When Forrest woke up the next morning, he looked around wondering where he was. How come it looked different from his place? Then when he looked beside him, he gave a loud yelp and almost jumped out of bed. Angelica was asleep beside him, completely naked! How had that happened? He immediately nudged her awake.
Angelica turned over and buried her head in Forrest's chest. "What now," she pouted. "You kept me awake half the night last night. Let a body get some sleep, huh?"
Forrest got more and more scared as he listened. "C'mon, wake up! Where is this place? What the heck's going on?"
"Jeez, what's the matter with you? This is the Jade Light Hotel."
"What are we doing here?"
"You've got some nerve asking me that. You had too much to drink last night. You lost your keys and couldn't get into your place, so I called Orchid. She said she had to work overtime and would be there all night. She told me take you to a hotel for the night. I brought you here, and you grabbed on and wouldn't let me go...."
How could that be? Forrest tried for all he was worth to recall what had happened the previous night, but nothing would come. He'd been blotto, and in his confusion he must have thought he was having sex with his wife. He was secretly attracted to Angelica, but he'd never dared do anything immoral!
Angelica was pouting. "I know you like me," she said, "and truth be told, I like you a lot, too...."
"Girl!" Forrest immediately put his hand over her mouth. "You absolutely do not want to talk that kind of trash! If Orchid finds out about this, I'm done for!"
Forrest was really worried when he left Angelica, afraid that Orchid would find out what had happened. His wife was kind and considerate, as well as understanding and reasonable, the very model of a "Chinese wife". There aren't many wives as good as her these days! It would be a disaster if he made her mad enough to leave him. But the things we're afraid of have a way of coming to pass, so of course his wife did find out.
"Did you really do that?" She asked him.
"No! No!" His first reaction was denial, but a guilty conscience will prevail when all is said and done. Before long he lowered his head and, hemming and hawing, said "Yes, I did...."
"Haven't I been good to you?"
"I.... I didn't mean to....?"
"Are you saying you had too much to drink? That seems to be the usual excuse men use in TV shows."
"I really was drunk! I like Angelica, that's true, but I'd never dare go too far with her. You've got to believe me!"
Orchid "harrumphed", then turned around and picked up a suitcase. "You have a change of clean clothes in here," she said coldly. I don't want to see you again." She pushed Forrest out the door as she spoke and slammed it shut behind him. No matter how hard Forrest knocked on the door, she wouldn't open it.
Forrest was overcome with regret. He felt deep down that his wife was in a fit of anger at the moment and wouldn't listen to anything he said. He might as well go live in his company's dorm for a few days. After she cooled off he'd apologize again, and humor her, and then moving back home again shouldn't be a problem.
But he was wrong. For several days after Orchid got over her fit of anger, she still wouldn't let him in the house. The more he thought about it the more upset he became. Could she really break up such a happy family like this?\ He started thinking that the real culprit was Angelica. He called her right away and asked her straight out, "I've got a wife I can't go home to now. Did you break us up on purpose?"
Angelica couldn't hold back a scream on the other end of the line. "What? What did you say? I was a chaste woman who got turned to garbage by you, but I didn't complain. And now you're blaming me for what you did! Are you a man, or what?"
Forrest was speechless.
But the worst was yet to come. One day Forrest was headed home again to see if he could have a heart-to-heart with his wife. He was trying to take out his key to open the door, but the door was unlatched and opened right up. Forrest was overjoyed; his wife must not be mad at him anymore! He pushed the door open for a look.
Good God! There was no one at home and everything was covered with sheets on which a thin layer of dust had settled. And his wife? Where could she be? He hurried to open the closet and found that all her clothes were gone.
Forrest rushed through the rest of the place without regard for anything else. He flew around like a headless fly, searching. But he couldn't find anything, anywhere.
Suddenly he thought of Angelica. Would his wife have gone to her place? On second thought, there was no way. After what had happened between him and Angelica, why would his wife want to go there? But then he thought it over and decided he was just beating a dead horse. He might as well go to Angelica's and ask if she knew anything.
No one would have expected it, but he'd come to the right place. As soon as he opened his mouth to ask the question, Angelica pulled out a piece of paper and said, "Here's her address." Forrest was ecstatic. He hurried to the address shown on the note and found where his wife was living. His wife opened the door but, when she saw it was him, immediately tried to close it again. He quickly squeezed in. "It was all my fault," he pleaded. "Can't you forgive me this once?"
"No Way!" she said coldly. "A husband of mine can make any mistake except cheating on me."
"I beg you!" Forrest dropped to his knees.
Just then her cell phone rang. She took the call, then said to Forrest, "There's nothing more for us to talk about. I have something to do, so leave right now or I'll call the police."
Forrest felt that his wife had no feelings left for him. He knew the marriage was irreparable and he couldn't stop a tear from falling. "All right, I'll go," he said. "Take care of yourself."
As he was leaving, he saw a BMW pull up in front of his wife's residence. What's this, he wondered. He hid in the shadows, curious to see what would happen. Soon his wife came out, dressed to the nines and heavily made up. An old man got out of the car and went up and hugged her. His wife nestled in his arms as docile as a kitten, and then got in the car with him.
Forrest couldn't believe his eyes. His wife, a gold-digger? That can't be! He immediately called Angelica's cell phone to ask her what was going on.
Angelica sighed. "You saw it yourself, didn't you?"
"But I don't believe it! Tell me what's really happening!"
Angelica thought for a moment. "Do you remember what happened that time in the hotel?" she asked. "To tell you the truth, Orchid set the whole thing up. She's wanted to leave you for a long time, but she couldn't say anything to you after all these years because of your feelings for her. So she arranged for you and I to have a one-night stand, and used it as an excuse to leave you and go off with her sugar daddy."
"What?" Forrest said stupidly. "What did you say?! I don't believe it! That's impossible!"
"You should face facts," Angelica said. After a moment she continued, softly, "Actually, I'm very much in love with you. Otherwise I wouldn't have spent that night with you!"
Forrest just stood there, dumb as a tree.
What happened next was quite straightforward. Forrest and Orchid got divorced, and soon after that he went down the aisle with Angelica. They spent their days together in wedded bliss. But then one night Angelica suddenly started to wail. Forrest was surprised and quickly asked, "What's wrong?"
"Orchid's gone. She's being cremated tomorrow. I feel terrible!"
Orchid had contracted a terminal illness and passed away. Forrest's heart ached when he heard the news. He'd lived with her for many years, after all, and had loved her, so he still had not completely forgotten about her even though she had so cruelly tossed him aside.
Early the next morning, Forrest and Angelica went to the hospital morgue. Orchid was lying there peacefully. The old man who watched over the morgue asked, "Which one of you is Forrest?"
Surprised, Forrest answered, "I am."
The old man took out a letter. "The deceased gave this to the doctor when she was on her deathbed, and the doctor gave it to me. Just before she died, the deceased said that if a man and a woman came to pay their respects, the letter should be given to the one called 'Forrest'. If he didn't come, it should be burned along with her dead body."
A letter? Forrest was shocked. He tore open the envelope and saw that the letter had been written by Orchid.
"I'm fading fast. Do you still hate me? Please don't. I love you very much. My so-called sugar daddy said that this was a game Angelica and I played together. When I found out I was suffering from a terminal illness, I didn't tell you. I wanted to find a good wife for you while I was still alive. Angelica had a crush on you, and you liked her, too. I could see that. She's a good woman, kind-hearted, and I wanted to bring the two of you together. So I arranged for you and her to spend a night together, and then took the opportunity to leave you. My pretending to have a sugar daddy, I did it to make you hate me, so you could give all your love to Angelica and make me completely disappear from your heart.
"I won't live much longer, just a few more days. You need to take good care of Angelica. I love you, Forrest. We'll be husband and wife again in our next lives, OK?
Forrest was flabbergasted. He could no longer hold back the tears, and they flowed freely. He fell to his knees and cried, "Oh, my wonderful wife...."
故事林, A Forest of Stories #275, p. 48
Translated from this site, also available here.
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