Trick or Treat
by Jerry Guarino
Joseph liked to use his
lunch hour to exercise on the basketball court.
On a windy, late October day, the sky was dark
and threatening to rain. Colored leaves were
strewn over the court and his usual group of
friends had not shown up. Must be the
weather. Wimps. As he went up for a jump
shot, a buzz in his pocket disrupted his
concentration; the ball hit the front rim and
rolled off the court. What now? He
punched a button and saw a text message.
5pm at the Barclay Restaurant of
the Ritz Carlton. Tell no one and dont
Hmmm. He had
been courting some clients away from his former
firm. Maybe this was the payoff. Joseph headed
back into the showers, and then returned to his
Karen was in the middle of a divorce settlement
negotiation when her phone vibrated in her purse.
Excuse me a minute please. She
flipped open the earpiece and saw a text message.
Meet me at the Ritz
Carlton at 4:30pm. Dress for dinner. Keep
confidential. A friend.
Joseph and Karen had been
married for six years. Their careers in finance
and law had taken a toll on their plans for
children as well as their love life. Professional
obligations had often disrupted dinner plans.
Both turning 30, they were entering another phase
of life, one filled with stress and a review of
their once ideal romance.
Joseph dotted off an email to Karen before
heading to the hotel. Honey, I have a
business dinner. I probably wont be home
Karen paused a moment, then replied. No
worries. Ill have dinner with a friend and
see you at home.
Karen left work early to shower. She put on her
black dress, pearl necklace and earrings, then
got into her BMW and left for the Ritz. When she
arrived at the lobby, a concierge greeted her.
Karen Johnson? Karen nodded. Follow
me please. The man led her behind the
restaurant to the spa area, and then handed an
envelope to the woman at the desk. Ms.
Johnson will be having a treatment before dinner.
Karen was startled but excited. I dont
have anything to change into.
The woman brought out a complimentary bundle of
clothing, towels and toiletries. Weve
been expecting you. Change into this Danskin and
robe and go into the massage area at the back of
the locker room.
Meanwhile Joseph pulled out his standby suit and
shirt, all pressed for unexpected meetings. He
thought the meeting must be with one of his
college buddies he had been trying to get to
invest so a professional appearance was necessary.
An athletic girl, no more than 20, greeted Karen
at the massage table. Ms. Johnson?
Karen smiled. Ill take your robe.
Please lie on the table here. New age music
and scented candles accented the low lighting in
the spa. The masseuse gave Karen a relaxing 20 -minute
massage. Please take 10 minutes in our
Eucalyptus steam bath, then dress for dinner.
Your reservation is waiting under your name at
the Barclay at 5:30pm. Karen was too
relaxed to question the directions and happily
glided into the steam room to continue her
Joseph walked up to the host at the restaurant.
Do you have a reservation for Joseph
The host was expecting him. Certainly, Mr.
Charles, right over here leading him to a
secluded table in the corner by the piano. As he
sat down, he noticed the table was set for two.
Joseph took the menu and looked over the entrees.
Joseph, is that you? said a tall
brunette in a business suit. It was a woman from
Karens law firm.
Susan, so nice to see you. What brings you
Susan gave him a kiss on the cheek. Just
finished a business meeting. I was going to have
dinner. May I join you?
Joseph saw how this was going. Love to
and he held out a chair for her. Joseph had
flirted with Susan at the Christmas party so this
was a most pleasant surprise. If she had planned
this, he knew his night would be exciting.
Knowing that her husband was busy, Karen arrived
at the restaurant with anticipation. I
believe there is a reservation for Karen Johnson
she told the host.
Yes, Ms. Johnson, youre table is over
here leading her to a booth out of sight
from Joseph and Susan.
Noticing that the booth was set up for two, Karen
continued. My guest hasnt arrived yet?
The host reassured her. He will be right
here. He said he had to pick up something.
Then Karen saw Rick, an old boyfriend from
college, holding flowers. Karen, so nice of
you to come.
Karen stood up and kissed Rick on the cheek,
noticing he was not wearing a ring. Whats
Rick sat down. Oh, theres no harm in
old friends getting together for dinner. I
figured youre working too hard in that law
firm and needed a night out.
Karen stroked her wedding ring but didnt
object. Dinner would be lovely, thank you
and the spa was especially just what I needed.
Rick didnt know anything about a spa
treatment, figuring Karen came early and got a
massage. Yes, their spa is quite nice.
Joseph assumed that Susan had arranged this all
along, especially when she rubbed her foot
against his leg and held his hand. Joseph hadnt
felt this kind of excitement for quite some time
with Karen and he welcomed the attention. But he
knew this indiscretion would have to be their
secret since Susan worked with Karen. So
Susan, are you seeing anyone?
Susan made eye contact. Not presently. Does
it matter? she said with a wicked
Joseph stroked the inside of her arm. Just
curious, he replied. Joseph and Susan had a
most flirtatious dinner, each letting down their
inhibitions, helped by champagne and body
language. When it was time for dessert, Susan
excused herself. She leaned over to Joseph and
whispered in his ear. Ill be right
back lover. Bring us something chocolate with
whipped cream and she blew slowly into his
Waiter Joseph called and he ordered
something decadent from the dessert menu. The
romantic jazz playing on the piano only
heightened his anticipation.
Karen was similarly letting go. She needed a
night of romance with an attentive man. Rick,
didnt you ever get married?
Rick sighed. Yes, but it didnt work
out. My wife was married to her work and we
drifted apart. I wont make that mistake
Karen was relieved by his attitude. Maybe this
could be an affair without the complications.
I know what you mean as she held his
hand. Would you excuse me a minute?
Before she could enter the ladies room, (and
possibly run into Susan), a buzz came from her
Go to the lobby and
get a key for room 742. Ill be waiting.
She freshened up, went to
the lobby and picked up the key. When she got to
the room, she saw candles and rose petals around
the bed and heard Diana Krall music coming from
speakers. It was dark, just the flickering of
candles to see by. Karen gently undressed and got
into bed, then closed her eyes.
After a few minutes, Joseph got a text from his
phone. Thinking his wife was looking for him, his
smile turned to concern.
Im in room
742. Bring the dessert with you in ten
minutes. Our little secret ;)
Josephs tension was
reignited. He asked the waiter for the check and
to have the dessert bagged to go.
Joseph picked up the dessert and a room key, and
then got into the elevator. Loosening his tie, he
decided that he deserved this fling. Karen had
been paying more attention to work than to him
and what she didnt know wouldnt hurt
her. He silently entered the room, put down the
dessert, undressed and got into bed. Then, like
an earthquake, the two devoured each other for
thirty minutes before either of them realized it
was their spouse. What happened? Deciding that
this was some delightful mistake, each pretended
that the other had arranged for this meeting,
less the dinner companion and made the best of it.
Why lover, how long have you been planning
this she said to her husband.
Also, ignoring the obvious, Joseph replied.
You scamp. Its a good thing my wife
After more champagne, conveniently laid out on
the table, and dessert, Joseph and Karen
continued their illicit lovemaking with each
other, still pretending to have an affair, when
suddenly a loud knock on the door interrupted
This is the police. Open up or well
break the door down, which they did. (Cops
never wait, do they?). Ok boys, take them
The couple was shocked and confused. What
is this about?
The policeman took out his pad. So you dont
know anything about the murder of one Rick
Johnson and Susan Wilson? We have witnesses that
put them with you earlier tonight at the
restaurant. Thought you could make this a murder
scene with sex chaser, did you? Then the
police took them away in handcuffs.