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They grew in different sizes, but David seemed to prefer them larger and larger and...

"The Melon Patch"

by Martin Courtney



Vol. 2 No. 3, 1958

     IT WAS, HELEN thought, a typical Noreen trick to keep her waiting, after Noreen had called first to suggest their rendezvous in the Leopard Room for cocktails. What made it rankle the more was that she herself had arrived a careful twenty minutes after the present hour of five, with a reverse idea in mind. After all, as David's wife, Helen felt she was entitled to some prerogatives.
    She tapped a smartly shod foot silently on the soft carpet, readjusted her mutation mink stole for a third time and looked about her at the opulent lounge and its occupants. The decor was still the same as when David had courted her here--the leopard skin upholstery, the gold-framed mirrors, the cellophane palms and the pale blue sky-ceiling with its unwinding constellations, courtesy of General Electric. It was softly gay and flattering, yet viewed after so long an interval, it seemed to Helen a tiresome trap.
    The magic was rubbed away, from room and customers alike. She found herself half-studying a flamboyant, Titian-haired young creature sitting alone at a small round table three rows away. Really! she thought, regarding the exaggerated breastworks that strained against the confinement of the girl's low-cut black dress. There was no question about their being for real, but, to Helen, the girl looked positively top-heavy. From somewhere, she recalled the remark about the ill-fated Carole Landis, who had been described as resembling a chiffonier with the top drawer open. She regarded the trimness of her own firm bosom with approval...
    "My dear! I'm so sorry!" It was Noreen, at last, swathed in sables and a perfume both unfamiliar and obviously expensive. "My driver got caught in the most dreadful traffic jam just outside my apartment."
    "Have you thought of moving to the suburbs?" Helen asked, pointedly.
    Noreen laughed reproachfully as she settled across from Helen and said, "Claws sheathed ... remember? It was your idea."
    "But you suggested the meeting," Helen countered.
    "Touché!" Noreen said gaily, lighting a cigarette. A waiter approached, and they ordered their drinks, and Noreen noticed the girl sitting alone and said, "Goodness! There's a fine potential dairy mother for some misguided male."
    Helen had not intended to note the incipient Jayne Mansfield in Noreen's presence--after all, Noreen's breasts were considerably larger than her own, if not in the same league with the nameless redhead. It was a point that had caused Helen to remark bitterly, when she first learned David was dividing his off-hours between Noreen and herself. "Why don't you go out and buy a cow? At least, a cow gives milk!" A stupid show of jealousy, that had caused David to stay away from home for four frantic, hideous days.
    Now, however, Helen said, because the thought popped into her sleekly groomed blonde head, "It's odd you should call her a dairy mother, dear because food and female breasts seem to go together where David is concerned. He once told me that I had 'biscuits like a Boticelli blonde.'"
    Noreen's handsome dark eyes sparkled as she made a grimace. "You did rather better than I," she said. "David said mine were like 'rissole potatoes in a Poussin still-life.'"
    The drinks arrived then, and they sipped their martinis, and then Noreen said, "I never knew anyone could like food so well and eat so much and still stay as thin as a rail. Honestly, the way I have to watch my calories, and to sit there with David while he's devouring all the things I simply don't dare eat."
    "David" Helen said, drily, "burns up his food with energy."
    "You can say that again," said Noreen. And, to change the subject, "You know, this was the room we did our courting in."
    "Only the barest preliminaries, I'm sure," said Helen, her voice etched in acid.
    "Claws sheathed," Noreen reminded her.
    "Sorry," Helen told her, "but your drill hit a nerve, doctor. You see, David courted me here, too."
    "Apparently neither he nor the room has changed its spots," mused Noreen. Then, with a shrug, "Why should they? They both seem to be pretty successful."
    Helen drained her glass, looked idly past Noreen and started. "What is it?" Noreen asked, turning to follow Helen's gaze. Helen said, "I must be David-happy or something. I could swear I just saw him peeping in at us."
    "Where?" asked Noreen eagerly.
    "He's gone now ... whoever it was," said Helen. She laughed a deprecatory little laugh. "I'm probably just preparing myself for another series of visits to my psychiatrist. But after last Friday."
    "Friday?" said Noreen. "It's Saturday I want to discuss with you. I know it's not exactly conventional, and you're a dear sweet thing to see me at all about it...but then, our situation is hardly conventional either."
    "What did David do Friday?" Helen asked, signaling the waiter to bring two more drinks.
    "It's not what he did, as far as I'm concerned, but what he didn't do," Noreen said with a trace of sharpness. I had some rather important people in for dinner, especially to meet him. When he called to tell me you had a sick headache and were keeping him at home, it was most embarrassing. I know my position is anything but socially secure, but you've always been so fine about not interfering. I had to see you to learn what it meant."
    There was silence while the second round of martinis was deftly served. Then Helen said, "You got your revenge Saturday, taking David to Westhampton with you when we were supposed to go to Old Greenwich."
    The two women stared at one an other, and then Noreen said, "But I never saw David all weekend. He told me he was going to Connecticut with you."
    "And I had no sick headache Friday night," Helen informed her rival. "David told me he was having dinner with you and some friends, and I didn't dream of interfering. After all, you know how David gets when he's thwarted."
    "I know said Noreen with a sigh. Her dark eyes lit up with sudden alarm and the full picture got home, and she said, "Then...."
    "Exactly," said Helen.
    "I wonder who she can be?" Noreen asked.
    Involuntarily, their eyes followed a waiter, who appeared, carrying a telephone, and plugged it in after setting it on the lone redhead's table. They could not hear what she said into the instrument, but she smiled, and with her smile, she was very young and very beautiful and very much in love. Then she rose and moved swiftly, gracefully, eagerly, toward the door, her magnificent superstructure proudly thrust forward.
    "You did see David just now whispered Noreen. "That girl...this place...it has to be!"
    But Helen made no direct response. Gazing thoughtfully after the girl, she said quietly, "I wonder what artist is famous for painting cantaloupes." Then, re-focusing her attention on Noreen, "Drink up, honey. It looks like a wet evening ahead."

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