The Adorable Bastard
The adventurous life of a wealthy boy on a self destructive path.
Stanley Blackwood Wilder, born into an upper-scale family on Philadelphia's Main Line, experiences his first love with a TV model the week he graduates from college. During their four year relationship, Stan starts a business and when Jackie Sullivan, gives him an ultimatum that it is time for them to get married, he succumbs to fear and breaks up his affair with her.
Under his helm, the business becomes successful while his personal life starts to fail. He divorces his wife, becomes a womanizer, squanders his wealth until he loses everything he has worked for.
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Copyright © 2007 by Eric Lamet
While most who knew young Stanley Blackwood Wilder predicted a successful and glamorous future for him, none could have foreseen the twists and turns his life would ultimately take.
More intelligent than most students his age - like his father, he was already a Mensa member at the age of fifteen - Stanley had been at the top of his class from the first year he attended the prestigious Philadelphia Central High.
Stan devoted so little time to studying that he was envied for his ability to absorb his class assignments with hardly any effort. A bit taller than most of his classmates, he was endowed with better than average looks and, judging from the girls’ comments, he was downright handsome. Always a sharp dresser, tweed jackets, turtlenecks and solid slacks with a perfect crease, he exuded a certain elegance to enhance his friendly and outgoing personality. But above all else, he was admired for his dedication to worthwhile causes. When most boys his age were intent on chasing girls and having a good time, Stanley devoted much of his days to raising money and doing volunteer work for his favorite charities.
An excellent debater, many in his class loved to challenge him and didn’t mind facing a better adversary, for Stan knew how to be gracious whenever he prevailed.
The Wilder family resided on the Main Line, just outside Philadelphia’s city limits, where many affluent Pennsylvanians had chosen to live.
The city’s bustle had not yet stretched its arms this far to disrupt the tranquil rural aura. This calm, together with the uncommon beauty of the countryside, provided Lucius Wilder, Stanley’s father, with the serenity he sought after a busy day at the office.
Despite the Wilder’s affluence, Stanley was one of the few kids who didn’t own a car, rode the train to school and never made an attempt at hiding it.
Ever since being a child, Stanley had dreamed of becoming an architect. He had expressed to his mother his desire to emulate the great architectural buildings he admired in the French capital. Yet, despite his mother’s encouragements to follow his early dream, just before graduating high school, he realized that the dream would remain just that. It was more likely that he would follow his father’s influence and end up at the Wharton School of Business.
Before leaving the house, Stanley halted at the open bedroom door to glance at his wife sleeping. Nestled in the oversized down pillow, Nancy’s tiny face seemed so lovely. As often as he had looked at her, he wondered whether he truly loved her as much as he should. They had been married less than one year and should still be on their honeymoon, when most lovers’ glances still speak of their infatuation. Nancy was a wife some men may dream about. Attractive, a fair sex partner and great for the active social life they had embraced.
Stan puckered his lips and, from the distance, blew her a kiss.
His calendar was clear for the day, allowing him free time to leisurely get ready to leave for the office. Thoughts of freeing the sails of his 38-foot schooner, moored in Biscayne Bay, filled his mind. Nancy would certainly enjoy that and he loved planning surprises for his wife.
Coming through the main entrance of S.B.W. Pharmaceuticals, Inc., he greeted Lucille sitting at her desk outside his private office.
“Seeing how lovely you look makes it such a pleasure to come to work.”
“You’re such a charmer,” she said.
“Do me a favor. Find out Jennie’s last name. She’s a waitress at the deli downstairs. Her mother is doing poorly. Then, call doctor Maxwell and tell him that I had asked Jennie to call. I’ll talk to him later.”
With a few paces, Stan stepped onto the rich, plush carpet in his office. He removed his jacket, folded it and carefully laid it on one of side chairs. Then looking at his desk, neatly arranged and scotch taped to two pages of a legal pad, he found the nine phone messages Lucille had taken earlier that morning. With little interest, slowly he scanned the yellow slips while easing himself in his leather chair. When his sight focused on one name: Jackie. That is all the message said, Jackie and a phone number. He jumped from the chair and rushed out to Lucille’s desk.
“Did this Jackie give a last name, tell you what she wanted?”
“No. She just said if you remembered the name you would call her back. That’s all.”
He surely remembered that name. How could he forget? How many years had it been? Turning on his heels, he sauntered back to his office. With eyes fixed on Jackie’s name on the yellow slip, absentmindedly, with the foot of one leg, bent at the knee, he pushed shut the rich mahogany door. He got behind his oversized desk and slumped into the recliner, then forced a poor attempt at regaining his usual calm composure.
At 35, Stan’s forehead already showed the first soft wrinkles that now looked more accentuated by his confused state of mind. Why could he not regain his normal breathing? Breathing hard might help, he had read somewhere. But that did not work this time.
Oh, this small yellow paper in his hand. That name! Why had she waited so long? Couldn’t she guess how much he had yearned for her? He must call her back. He wanted to, yet that desire made him feel like a stubborn child pushed by his parents to apologize to a teacher for having misbehaved.
The intercom rang.
“It’s missus Wilder,” Lucille announced.
“I’ll call her back.”
The interruption stopped his indecisiveness and brought him back to reality. He was married now. This was not the time to look for an extramarital adventure. It would be so out of character to be unfaithful. Not the way a Wilder man was brought up. Born into an observant Protestant family, he learned right from wrong early in his life. He had never strayed and prided himself for having always been a one woman man.
Yet, now, dominated by his emotions, he stretched his arm, hesitated a moment, then pressed the hands-free-button to dial the number on the message slip. Two rings and the voice at the other end sent his blood pounding at the temples.
“Hello?. . .Hello. Who is this?” the female voice asked.
Stan failed to answer quickly and the voice acquired an annoyed tone
“Who is this?” she asked again. “I’ll hang up.”
He picked up the receiver. “Don’t, please don’t. Let me recover my breathing. This really is Jackie. I recognize the voice.”
His grunt affirmed her question.
“I was in town and had to call you.”
Oh, that voice. That vibrant, delicious, delightful voice. Just as he remembered it.
“I’m so glad you did. I’m great. How about you? How long since we spoke? How long are you staying in Miami?” Words just poured from Stan’s lips.
“A few days. Don’t really have a schedule. Just sitting with an old friend, waiting for your call.”
“Jackie, can we have lunch together?” His words surprised even him.
“Why not. For old time’s sake.”
“It’s not often that someone special from my past pops up out of nowhere.”
“I was hoping for this welcome,” Jackie said. “Okay, where do we meet?”
There was a moment of silence.
“What about The Marriott? It’s central, near the airport.”
“I know it. That’s perfect. Noon okay? I can’t wait!” Jackie whispered.
Noon was fine with Stan. Out of breath, Stan struggled to replace the receiver, then reached for a tissue to wipe the droplets of perspiration that had formed on his cold forehead. Little else had ever had such an effect on him. Hard to understand why this voice from the past was having such an impact on his nerves. Could I still be possessed by her charm? He asked himself. Once again he counted the years since their last time together: eight, no nine. He could still feel her silky flesh rub against his naked body. Why did he call her back? Oh, the thoughts that anguished him. This could only lead to trouble.
Those who worked with Stan respected his level headiness, always giving the impression of being in control of the situation.
Why did he ever pick the Marriott? What a stupid place to meet. Like placing a gasoline filled can next to a lit fireplace. All that could do was to make the temptation greater and weaken his ability to fight it off. He buzzed Lucille.
“Come here, please.”
Lucille, more than his secretary, was a trusted confidant. Tall, she was five-foot-eight, an elegant dresser, attractive, with shoulder-length auburn hair that called for the back of her hand to keep it off her face. She used only a touch of make-up to highlight her lips and steel-grey eyes, but just enough to make visitors turn to take a second look at her. All in all she completed the perfect image of an “Executive Secretary to the President.
Stan knew he could talk to Lucille about Jackie. She would understand better than anyone. Stanley felt he would explode if he couldn’t share the morning’s news with someone.
The few moments it took his secretary to enter the boss’s office, a multitude of old memories rushed through Stan’s mind. The first meeting on the beach when he found Jackie lying on the hot sand. Their first kiss. The first night of unending lovemaking.
Thinking of Jackie, suddenly made him realize what had been missing in his own marriage. He and his wife had never become friends. That’s it. That’s what was missing.
He thought of the tender moments he and Jackie had enjoyed after an evening meal, sitting on the couch, holding hands or her head resting in his lap. They would discuss ideas, the world in turmoil, challenges, politics. Jackie Sullivan was worldly, sophisticated, had moved in cultural circles and had been enriched by a good upbringing from an upscale family. They could talk about many subjects, do anything, for both had an adventurous spirit that had brought vibrancy into their lives. It had been Jackie who taught Stan most of what he knew about lovemaking. She often had been a challenge to him. His wife never was. It had been Jackie’s appearance that first charmed Stan, but it was the depth of her mind and personality that had kept Stan faithful to her.
“Come in and close the door, please,” he said, as Lucille peeked in. “Sit. I must tell you about Jackie Sullivan.”
In a voice that betrayed his apprehension, he told how he came to Miami Beach, met Jackie on the first day, became infatuated while she fell in love.
“Four years we lived together,” he confided. “My parents never knew. Can you imagine my mother, with her Philadelphia high society, finding out her son was living with an older woman?”
“How did you handle that? And how old was she?” Lucille asked.
“Jackie is four years older than I. Believe me. It wasn’t easy. I fabricated all sorts of excuses, but really never lied. Told Mother I was sharing an apartment with a friend. To Jackie, I said, that if my mother ever found out, any chances of us getting married would be doomed.”
“So you thought about marriage?”
“Perhaps. But I was frightened. At twenty-two, I had never had an affair, let alone hardly dated and here I was living with a successful television model. That was in 1953, when I formed S.B.W.. Four years later, she wanted to get married and offered to give up her career. I was too stupid and wanted to wait. But she kicked me out and a year later got married and moved away. We’re going to meet for lunch. Should never have called her back. Talking about being nervous? I feel like a kid on his first day of school.”
Stan began pacing the room, stopping to look at the gulf through the large picture window.
“How d’you feel about her now? You think you still love her?”
Stan was deep in thought.
“I don’t know,” he said, after hesitating. “I really don’t know. We haven’t seen each other in nine years, but I will admit that often, through all those years, she has been on my mind. The moment I found out she left town, I knew I had made the biggest mistake of my life. It was too late. Oh, Lucille, she was the greatest woman any man would dream of.”
“Just go and have lunch. Calm yourself. Just think of her as an old friend. That’s all. You have a wife and you don’t want to jeopardize that.”
“What do I do if my old feelings rise up? We were so madly in love with one another.”
“After so many years I would really be surprised.” Lucille said. “Emotions have a way of dying when people don’t see each other. I saw the love of my life years after we broke up. By then we were both free, yet when we met there was nothing left of the old passion. Be cautious. Don’t build anything in your head. Just get together for old time’s sake.”
Her words acted as a catharsis
“I’m scared. I’m not the kind looking for an affair. I’d hate myself, if I did.”
Lucille walked out leaving Stan alone to battle with his feelings and his inability to calm down. Why did he ever arrange to meet Jackie? He must have lost his senses. Jackie was the past and there was no reason to go back. It would be best to ask Lucille to phone Jackie and call the lunch date off.