Being a Man for Himself

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Author’s note: This is a long story that has nearly nothing to do with sex until the very end. There is more to the story and the later chapters have more sex in them but I haven’t finished them yet. If you just want to read the sex scene then skip to the end.


We’re all going to die, thought Henry. I’m… I’m going to die.

This was hardly breaking news but as his mother’s casket was put into the ground next to his father who had passed away years earlier this realization hit Henry hard. Henry stood there feeling small and vulnerable as the funeral service ended and one by one those in attendance gave him and his younger brother and sister their condolences.

After everyone else had left the three of them were standing there silent. They didn’t have anything to say to each other. Henry wondered if either of his siblings even cared about their mother. His brother Ron looked annoyed more than anything. His sister Amy just seemed unemotional and detached.

On the ride home Henry reflected on his life and realized just how unhappy he was. He had a good job but he hadn’t seen a raise or promotion in years. He had a nice house which his wife absolutely had to have a certain way which meant that Henry couldn’t touch anything. They even had a nice car, which Henry wouldn’t drive lest his wife get very upset with him.

Everyday Henry woke up at six but had to be quiet as he went about the house getting ready for work because he didn’t want to wake his wife up. He usually had just a slice of gluten free, non sugar, blah blah blah bread with either no taste or the taste of particle board for breakfast and rode a bicycle to the train station and then took the slow train downtown. He worked all day and even though on some days he really thought he’d go mad if he had to fill in the exact same information again on another form that no one would ever look at since it would get put into a binder and filed away to oblivion; he usually stayed to work some overtime just because he couldn’t stand the thought of going home.

On the way home Henry felt the pinch of hunger that he’d ignored for most of the day. If he was lucky his wife might have made him a sandwich. If not then it was usually the case that Henry didn’t have the pocket money to buy anything. On some days, even though Henry liked to think of himself as completely honest, his pride would fail him and he’d go up to the 13th floor and get a bagel or two even though he couldn’t pay for them. He’d later feel ashamed of it and put some money in the payment box when he had some.

The bicycle ride home from the station was almost always the worst part of the day. In the winter it was cold, in the summer it rained almost every night. Henry would be tired and barely able to keep his eyes open. He passed house after house where everyone had two or three cars but his one car was for the exclusive use of his wife even though she didn’t have a job.

Well,… she did have a job, sort of. She’d been working as a consultant for the last six years. Of course saying that means extending the meaning of the word work since his wife didn’t actually do anything. Henry could get a minimum wage, part time job at a fast food place and bring home more than his wife did. But she got to drive their luxury car because it was very important to her to keep up her status in the neighborhood.

Upon arriving home he tried to make as little noise as possible. He really didn’t want to wake his wife up. There were the rare occasions when she would still be awake and she might put on a pretend happy face as if she actually wanted to see her husband. Even rarer still were the days when she would be in the mood and sex might actually be a possibility.

As bad as the weekdays were, the weekends were worse. All Henry really wanted to do was catch up on his sleep but she could never tolerate just seeing him there not doing anything. She had to drag him all over the place, from shopping with her friends to dinner parties where Henry had to wait in the car for his wife to finish because she insisted he wasn’t upper class enough for her friends and she didn’t want him to embarrass her.

Henry looked through his memory trying to figure out when the last time he’d had sex was. It seemed like a really long time ago. His wife had said she never wanted children. It was coming back to Him. His mother had mentioned wanting grandkids and Henry had made the mistake of letting his wife know that. They hadn’t had sex since then. How long ago was that? Four years at least because that was before his mother had even gotten sick.


Henry looked in his bag and saw that this day, like the Friday before, his wife had made him a sandwich. He really hoped it was better than the one she made last time. That one was so bad he couldn’t finish the whole thing no matter how hungry he was.

For some reason he thought about the kinds of things that his mother used to make for his lunch when he was in school. She’d always been so mersin escort creative with everything. She used to make him carrots that had faces on them or little hot dog wieners that were cut to resemble an octopus.

Henry opened the container to see what his wife had made him and… she hadn’t made him anything. She simply put the rest of the disgusting sandwich in a new container and she expected him to eat it. He tried to take a bite but got a very strong feeling that this foul food might make him sick so he just put it away.

He didn’t feel like working through his lunch hour and he didn’t feel like going to the lounge where he could watch everyone else eating something. His mind went to the credit card in his wallet. It was for emergencies only. If he used it, then his wife would find out and there would be an argument.

Then again, she’d never expect him to lie. He’d always been so honest. He never kept any secrets or told any falsehoods. He could for once go get something to eat and when his wife saw it on the bill he could make up some story. She might not be happy about it but she’d never expect him to lie.

But no. He couldn’t lie. It wasn’t in him. His parents had raised him better than that.

He went up to the 13th floor to see if there were any bagels left. They would usually be all gone by now but every now and then there might be one or two left and Henry would feel less bad about taking it if it was the last one.

The first thing that Henry saw when he stepped out of the elevator was her shoulder. She was wearing one of those sweaters with a wide neck that let her put on such a display. Henry couldn’t think that he’d ever seen her before. Maybe she was new. Or she was from the company that rented offices down the hall. Or maybe she was there to collect the bagel money.

While Henry’s rational brain was trying to figure out who she was another part of Henry had already decided that it didn’t care. There were plenty of times that he saw beautiful women on the train, or in a shop, or coming through the office and he could always keep his cool. But this woman, well, something about her hit Henry like a splash of hot beach surf.

It was like his eyes were wider, his heart was stronger, his breath was deeper.

Before Henry even knew what he was thinking he had moved up behind her, reached around and grabbed a bagel from the table. She turned around and looked at him. Henry didn’t say anything. He just took in the sight of her face jeweled with her amazing green eyes which didn’t match the rest of her Mediterranean features.

“Sorry. I’m in your way.” she said and then smiled.

“Excuse me.”

“I’m new in the building.”

“Oh, well then welcome. How do you like it?”

“Everyone’s really friendly. I get a good vibe here, you know.”

Henry did not know but he nodded in agreement.

“I’m Merissa by the way.” she said.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Henry.”

“Henry. I’ve always liked that name.”

“Me too.”

“Look, I got to go but hey… Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah. See you.”

The next thing Henry remembered, he was sitting back at his desk with his numbers and his forms and thinking about her. He looked down at his pants and felt very embarrassed by the bulge that was growing.

There were a lot more people on the train at this hour than there were when Henry normally went home. He’d been so shaken up by his encounter with Merissa that when he could go home he decided to leave his work for another day. He rationalized it to himself by saying that he didn’t have to work overtime everyday.

The bicycle ride home was extra difficult. The sun was still up but only barely and drivers hadn’t begun turning their headlights on. To top that off, more than one car decided to try to pass Henry by squeezing between him and an oncoming car nearly pushing Henry off the road completely.

“Oh, my god. Don’t tell me you got fired.” accused Henry’s wife as he came into the house. For just a split second it almost sounded like there was concern in her voice.

“What? No.”

Without even acknowledging his response his wife went right back to her phone conversation with her sister.

It was so different to be home at this hour. He wanted to see what was on TV but as soon as he turned the TV on his wife turned the volume almost all the way down to zero. For Henry, it might as well have been zero since he couldn’t hear it. She could have gone to another part of the house for her phone call but instead she stayed right there, pacing back and forth across the view of the TV. For added measure, she fussed at Henry for messing up the arrangement of her throw pillows.

It was odd but even though he couldn’t actually watch his TV he didn’t want to move. That TV was really the only thing in the house that he might be able to argue was his. But of course he never really got to watch it. Doubtless his wife used it when he wasn’t there but as for Henry it was escort mersin just a decoration that reminded him that he potentially could watch TV… you know, if his wife were dead.

He thought about calling his sister since she’d left a message the week before asking Henry to call but he wouldn’t be able to do that as long as his wife was on the phone. Besides, his sister lived out of state and that meant he’d have to put in that special code his wife set up to prevent long distance calling. He had the code once but his wife kept changing it to prevent hackers or something. It was funny but Henry had thought they had unlimited calling for the entire US.

Then a thought came to his mind that really depressed him. He didn’t have any pictures of his mother in the house. He didn’t have any pictures at all in the house. Everything was either of his wife with her friends or her family or ridiculously ugly art that she insisted was somehow bold or progressive.

The day she wanted to throw out all his family photos they had gotten into a bitter argument over it. In the end she absolutely insisted that his photo albums took up too much room but Henry was not going to let her throw them away. Instead he let his mother hold on to them in the hopes of getting them back at some point. Now she was gone and those albums went to his brother.

When his wife’s phone call had ended, she made a big deal out of him being home so early. She complained about it the entire time she was in the kitchen making dinner for him. She served him some vegan dish as she was prone to do. While Henry ate and struggled to swallow whatever that crap was, she told him he needed to clean the kitchen because she was already done with her cleaning and he never helped her with it. If he was going to be home so soon then he needed to pitch in and pull his weight around there.

When Henry actually did start to clean up, she got on his case that he wasn’t doing it right and she made him stand there and listen to her complain as she did the cleaning. Even as she was making a big show of cleaning the right way Henry couldn’t help but think that his mother was much better at keeping house than Keiko ever was.

Later that night Henry, feeling energized by actually getting some dinner for once, little as it was, tried to initiate sex with his wife. She shut him down and insisted that if he was going to act that way that he should go sleep on the sofa.

Henry countered that they had so many extra bedrooms but his wife told him that it had to be the sofa since she had the guest rooms just how she wanted them and she didn’t want him messing up all her hard work.

Before leaving he tried to be nice and smooth things over but Keiko was hearing none of it. Henry asked when they were ever going to have sex and Keiko told him he was lucky she was even married to him. If not for her he would have been alone his whole life.

“No woman would ever want you. Remember that and learn to be more appreciative for all I do for you.”


Tuesday morning, Henry got to the office at the usual time, which was before everyone else. That day had started out feeling odd because he’d woken up earlier than usual. Sleeping on the sofa did that to him. His boss, Mrs. Kingston, arrived later and as soon as she did she called him into her office.

“Is everything ok?” she asked.

“Yeah. Why?”

“You went home early yesterday. I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t a problem.”

“My contract says I get off at 5:30.” Henry did not understand why this was a problem. Why would she need to address this with him? Why couldn’t she just leave him alone and let him get his work done?

Wait. Henry knew what this was about. They hadn’t wanted him to take all those days off when his mother was ill. They rejected his request twice to go to her wake. However, Henry had worked there for eleven years and he knew the system. He knew every loophole that the company had. He found a way to ask such that it could not be refused.

But this being a company run by angry, bitter witches who were always having hissy fits about every little thing, it was now a black mark on Henry. If it had been something they had gifted to him from on high and he graciously accepted it then it would all be fine but because it was something that Henry had asked for, they had to fight him on it.

“Oh, I know that. I didn’t mean to say early in that way. I meant, I didn’t expect you to do that and I was just wondering if everything was ok.”

“Oh. Yeah. I just wanted to get some quality time in with my wife.”

“Well, fair enough. I will say this, we did miss you yesterday. Myself and some of the other staff suddenly realized how much we depend on you around here.”

Mentally Henry was changing her words to say how much they abused and took advantage of him around there. She was trying to give him a guilt trip.

“Oh, thank you. Is that all?” Henry said.

“Yes. And tell Keiko hi for me.”

“Sure mersin escort bayan thing.”

Henry made a note to himself never to tell Keiko that his boss had ever mentioned her. The few times he had, his wife took that as permission to insist that she was the only reason he even had a job and without her pulling strings he would have been unemployed by then. Henry used to argue the point, since he’d had his job well before he’d even met her but her endurance for arguing outmatched his and so he just let her believe that.

Henry’s job wasn’t a very exciting job. He looked at numbers all day and tried to predict what resources would be needed where. He’d been doing this for a long time now and he could usually guess that road construction on a certain highway would cause the price of candles to increase. If a steel mill had an accident and had to shut down for a day then that would affect everything from the price of boots to how many pencils would be donated to schools with low income children. The numbers told Henry all kinds of different stories and on the one hand it was very interesting to see how so many things were interconnected.

One of the hardest things Henry had to do was convince people that those numbers weren’t just meaningless statistics. All those numbers represented real things. They represented pounds of steel that were on a truck or sitting in a warehouse. They represented jobs that were held by real people and they had an address. They woke up in the morning and went to work to provide for their families. Each number had a human identity and a story all of its own.

But then there was the boring part of his job. Henry usually reported to seven different departments and they each had their own form and they almost all wanted those forms filled out manually. Not by computer or printed out, but by a pencil held in Henry’s hand. It was tedious and it was boring. And if Henry sent the wrong form to the wrong department some manager would come down and waste an hour of Henry’s time trying to explain to him how to do his job when Henry knew perfectly well what his job was.

A few years ago Henry had gotten help from one of the IT guys to write a small computer program that would automatically compile the numbers and render the form for him. Before telling anyone about it he’d tested the waters by seeing if a printed form would actually be accepted. It wasn’t.

A little while after this had happened another guy in the office had sold a novel he had written himself to a publisher for something like $10,000. He was very proud of it and started showing copies of the book to his coworkers. Then the managers came in and got the guy in trouble for it. They told him that since he’d written the book at work, then the company owned it and they were entitled to the money he’d sold it for. The guy protested that he’d written the book completely in his free time at home and there wasn’t even a copy of the book on the company’s computers. Legally, the company had no way of getting at the guy’s money but they then took away his access to the company’s computer system. So the guy brought his own laptop to work but they told him he couldn’t do that. He ended up with no way to do his work but they insisted he had to stay in the office instead of working from home. Then after a week of not being able to do anything, they fired him for not doing his job.

Henry and everyone else in the office knew full well that all of that was not about a book. It was about the company flexing its muscles and keeping the workers in their place. Henry usually wanted to stay and do overtime almost everyday but now that he felt trapped here he wanted nothing more than to get out.

The part that really made Henry angry was that after all his work even when he did this job perfectly and all the right reports went to the right departments; the managers in those departments would look at his numbers for about two seconds and then a secretary would just take the report and file it away, never to be seen again.

Henry worked as usual and during his lunch time he went to the room with the bagels to see if that girl was there. She wasn’t and Henry felt foolish for even trying to seek her out. What would she see in him anyway? Besides, he was married. Even if she was interested, he couldn’t do anything about it.

Instead of getting a bagel Henry was dumping two extra sticks of sugar into his coffee to help get him through the day. While he was standing there stirring it one of the guys walked up to Henry.

“Hey, have you met the new girl yet?”


“That’s her. Foxy, am I right?”


“I don’t want to brag or anything but I totally hit that last night.”

“Is that so?”

“Oh, yeah. As soon as she saw my car she was all over me. Couldn’t keep her hands to herself, if you know what I mean.”

Henry didn’t and wasn’t interested in hearing the description of all the sexual things the guy was claiming to have done with her. Henry just nodded, told himself that if those two get into a relationship then it was none of his business. Good for them and all that. Henry walked away to go look at his numbers and see what the story was outside this fucking office.

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