This is the second part of the flash fiction #104. The first part is here.
Tiger and Tria got married and settled down. Tiger is a computer engineer and he found a research position in one of the campuses of City University Of New York in Manhattan. Tria couldn’t find a job she liked–she didn’t go to college and didn’t have marketable skills. Tria decided that she wanted to open a laundry service in the Westchester County, which is north of New York City, where the property value is not as crazy as Manhattan, but where people are still rich enough to use laundry service.
The couple could only afford one mortgage and that went to the laundry store, which Tria ran for ten years.
“For ten years, I supported her. We could have bought a townhouse in Queens back then, but we gave that up to support her business aspiration. Her business was not doing so well and we hardly had any money left each month after paying rent for our apartment and the mortgage for her store. Now I felt that she has sucked me dry for more than ten years before throwing me away.” Tiger complained to Pan.
After ten years, just when Tria was tired of running a lackluster laundry operation, she caught a break. She made a connection with John, a businessman who came to her store for dry cleaning each week. Tria told John about her uncle. Tria’s uncle Ti at the time was a clerk in an import-export company in Southeast Asia. For years he wanted to open his own business but for years he couldn’t do it due to the lack of proper funding. Tria somehow convinced John to come onboard to provide the investment for their shipment of goods. It was a stunning success. Soon Tria, Uncle Ti, and John started their own company, which has grown more and more successful each year.
Finally the long suffering Tiger and Tria could buy a house in Westchester County, which was such a life changing moment for Tiger. He had suffered for more than ten years for this day. However his sense of victory and satisfaction was short lived. Soon Tria told Tiger that she’d been having an affair with John’s brother, Jack, who was helping their company with the marketing effort. And Tiger was told to move out.
It is such a shock to Tiger and Tiger’s circle of friends. Divorce is not unheard of in the Asian community, but it usually happens due to the indiscretion of the middle-aged husband, rather than the wife.
Here living with Pan and his wife Pammy, Tiger is receiving support from his friends who rally around him, but the odds are stacking against Tiger. His wife has more money and better lawyer, also she has the kid and the judge will surely favor her.
The following morning is a Saturday. Pammy and Pan wake up to find that Tiger is nowhere to be found. He is not answering his cell phone. They think Tiger is probably going somewhere for pleasure–he talked about going to the casinos in Atlantic City and asked Pan to accompany him, which due to some scheduling conflicts was planned to happen for the following weekend. Evening comes, but Tiger is not showing up. And his cell phone has no ring tone anymore, just going to the answering machine straight away.
Sunday comes and Tiger is still absent. Pan and his other friends are so worried that they are thinking of filing a missing person report. They talk to Tiger’s estranged wife, but she has no idea of his whereabouts.
Finally, Monday evening, Tiger comes back.
“Where have you been? You can’t just leave like that. Everybody is concerned.” Pan and Pammy say to him.
“I drove to Atlantic City since I couldn’t wait for the following weekend. Well, it is a long story. I met a woman there. Her name is Monkey.” Tiger says.
“No, no, no. You met a gambler in one of the casinos? You don’t want to do that. Also Monkey and Tiger are the worst pair since the zodiac monkey is six years apart from zodiac tiger. The six-year gap is considered an evil omen for couples.” Pammy says.
“I am not going to date her. Pammy, your imagination is jumping too fast.” Tiger says, “I was walking on the boardwalk, pondering on my misfortune, when I saw this woman walking towards the ocean as if she is trying to drown herself. She was holding a bottle of alcohol obviously and she walked stiffly as if in a trance, very unlike a swimmer. Also the water is too cold for swimming anyway. So I yelled but she didn’t respond. I ended up going into the water and dragged her back. It turned out that she’s the owner of a local psychic store, and her boyfriend just ran away with all her money. I mean saving a person’s life really helped my spirit. I was so down and out and miserable before, but now I feel that I’ve recovered.”
And indeed Tiger recovers. He also hooks up with one of his former girlfriends, who is also going through a divorce right now. The two have a lot to talk about and even plan to get together to rekindle their old flame.
“I hope you are not a hardworking woman like my ex. I don’t like hardworking women.” Tiger says to her.