••• The International Writers Magazine: Confessions
Resident of the Month: Interview with a Family Man
The Fosters lived in one of the largest houses in our Northern California retirement community, located on the golf course. I rang the bell and heard chimes ring. A minute later Maureen Foster opened the door. She was a large woman and it seemed to me had gotten even larger than the last time I’d seen her. “The Judge is in his study,” she said. I followed her, noticing the many family pictures on the walls as I passed through the house.
Ray Foster was known as the Judge because he’d been a lawyer in San Francisco and then had been appointed to the bench. I was interviewing him for the “Resident of the Month” feature of the retirement community’s newspaper. I’d been doing this for over two years now and was getting a little tired of it. At least my current interview should be straightforward enough. The Judge was a fairly prominent resident. He’d recently retired from our Board of Directors and had also celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with Maureen. They had four children, two sons and two daughters, and a slew of grandchildren. Ray was very proud of them and was widely known as a family man.
The Judge was seated in a large chair in a book-lined room. As befitting his title, he was a dignified-looking man. He had a nice head of white hair and a white moustache. He had a rather florid complexion and I noticed he had a glass on the table beside him. He greeted me without standing up and asked if I wanted a drink. I thanked him and said I was good. He waved a hand in a dismissive gesture and Maureen left. I sat down, took out my notebook and began the interview with my usual questions: where was he born, what about his family, where did he go to school, and so on.
We went through his college and law school, then a successful private practice in San Francisco. I asked when he’d been married. “Right after college,” he said, and I gathered Maureen had worked to help put him through law school. “Too soon,” he said. “I was too young and didn’t know any better.” I didn’t know what to say to this so we went on to his time as a judge, then I asked about his children and grandchildren. He spent a long time telling me all about them and finally I said that I thought I had enough for my article and at this point I was ready to leave.
“Can I tell you something,” he said, “off the record?”
“All right,” I said.
“As I said, I shouldn’t have married so early but I felt obligated to Maureen. Also, she wasn’t so bad-looking at the time. It was only later that she became, well, you see what she looks like. We had a lot of good-looking young women working at the law firm and I was young and, well, I succumbed. You couldn’t blame me, could you?”
I made some kind of non-committal sound. I was a little taken aback by this revelation but not completely surprised. The first thing I’d learned when I started interviewing people was that they liked to talk about themselves so I became a good listener and had heard some interesting things. Maybe it was because he’d telling me his life story or maybe it was because he’d been drinking but it seemed as if the Judge was ready to take me into his confidence.
“It was surprising how many of the girls were willing to have a little fling,” the Judge went on. “Of course, I made it clear to them it was only sex and wasn’t going anywhere. I would never leave Maureen. Then there were our children. We had our first two children, my oldest son and daughter, while I was still in law school. I had to be a good father to them.”
He paused and I said, “Did your wife ever suspect anything?”
“You know, I think she did, but she never said a word. She knew what I was doing was just for the sex. She knew I was a good family man. There was one time when I was sorely tempted though.”
Uh, oh, I thought. “You know, I think I will have that drink,” I said. I was going to hear more.
The Judge poured me a generous drink. “Her name was Margo,” he said. “She was a legal secretary. She was young and she was gorgeous. She was also sharp. I suppose I was in love with her. But by that time she wasn’t that much older than my daughters. I knew it would never work and I eventually broke it off. Margo became a lawyer, with my help, I might add. She’s now one of the top attorneys in the city.”
“Is she married?”
“No, she never married. I get into the city every now and then and we go to a hotel. For some reason she doesn’t want to do it in her apartment.”
I was on the verge of asking “Do what” but stopped myself. I understood. “So you’re still, uh …”
“Yes. I told you, I was in love with her. I guess in some way I still am.”
“And your wife.”
“She knows I have lunch in the city with Margo every now and then. Uh, all of this is off the record, right.”
“Of course. Well, I better be going. Thanks for the drink.”
I went back out through the house. Maureen was in the living room, in a chair knitting something. “It’s for our latest grandchild,” she said.
“You have quite a family.”
“Yes, I think I’ve done rather well. They’re my life. I suppose the Judge has regaled you with a lot of stories.”
“Yes, he has.”
“Ha. He doesn’t know the half of it.” Then she winked.
I didn’t know what to say to this so I said good-bye.
Back home, I made myself another drink and thought over the afternoon. I’d write up my usual profile, the good Judge, the good family man. Maybe I’d keep on doing the “Resident of the Month” for a little while longer. You never knew what you’d find out. I wondered what Maureen’s story was.
© Martin Green June 2016
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