Uniform

That afternoon in Wanda’s bed, Colin asked if she needed him to mow her lawn.

“I usually do it,” she said.

“I know. I’m supposed to get a job.”

“That’s not a job.”

“It’s good enough for now.”

“How much do you charge?”

“How much am I worth?” He stood and flexed his muscles for her, and she laughed. He didn’t know how to act around her, especially naked. Often he went for the easy laugh, a nervous habit.

“Twenty bucks, plus fringe benefits,” she said.

“What kind of benefits?”

“Never mind.”

He lay down beside her and kissed her belly ring. He wanted to ask her about the other men. He wanted to know if there were other men now. He must’ve crinkled his face because she asked him what was on his mind.

“Nothing,” he said.

“Come on. I see those gears turning.”

“I was thinking,” he said, “about you. And other guys.”

“What about them?”

“I was trying to picture them. Who they are. What they look like.”

“And?”

“I can’t do it.”

“You want to know about the competition,” she said. “Such an athlete.”

“I guess so. Besides Gary.”

“Gary,” she said, snorting. “He lives in his world, and I live in mine.”

“Then why would he be mad if he found out about us?”

“I’m sure he’s had other women. Secretaries. Paralegals. But I’m the wife on his arm at the firm’s parties. He’s supposed to get angry. We never talk about what we do. But we understand.”

“He’s a lawyer?”

“Country club lunches, golf outings, all of it. He almost always settles out of court.”

“What about other men?”

She looked up at the ceiling. “Yes. There are other men.”

“Now?”

She nodded. “Sometimes.”

He turned away from her. Wanda said, “I’m sorry if it upsets you. I told you how it is.”

“I know.” He reached for his shorts on the floor.

“We can stop this any time, Colin.”

“I don’t want that. It’s okay.”

“Are you sure?”

“It’s fine.” He pulled his tank top over his head.

“I like you,” she said. “You’re fun. You’re young. You’re here. You remind me that I’m not old.”

Those were good qualities. If he made her feel young, why should she need anyone but him? He couldn’t wait to see her each day, to make her smile and whisper in his ear. And she’d started calling out his name lately, unlike that first day. His heart thumped stupidly in his chest.

“When’s your next home game?”

He tugged on his shoes. “Tomorrow night.”

“I might go.”

He looked at the clock. Gary would be home soon. “I should get out of here.”

“So I’ll see you at the game,” she said.

“Before, probably.”

“Tomorrow afternoon?”

“I’m your new lawn-boy, remember?” The talk bothered him, but he accepted his role in her life. She could have it her way. He said, “Twenty bucks plus French benefits.”