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The Downside
by Richard Dresser

JEFF: I hate to fire Ben. We were friends a long time...we used to get together socially quite a bit, but that kind of tapered off...he started to have problems in his marriage. The last time I was at his house was last spring. My wife was still in the hospital, it was right after my daughter was born. Ben invited me over for dinner and the three of us sat out back of his house eating and drinking and Ben was drinking a whole lot that night and I remember I started getting these vibes from his wife, you know? Her knee brushes against me and maybe it's an accident, maybe not. Well, we sat there a whole long time, till it started to get dark and Ben went inside. I thought he was just getting another drink, but he didn't come back. I sit there talking to his wife and I can hardly see her, but I'm getting this feeling from her so I figure, well, what the hell, we've had a few drinks, we're all friends, what's a little kiss? But it was one of those situations that just got out of control. I mean, one minute, we're discussing the crabgrass and the next minute we're rolling around in it right next to the barbecue, and everything was in darkness and--Dave, you have to understand, I did not force myself on this was like something rose up out of the ground and pulled us together because we couldn't stop. I bet you've been in situations like that.
Afterwards, we lie on the grass and the house is dark except for a light in one window upstairs, and as I'm staring at the house the light goes out. I didn't know what to do. She starts putting on her clothes, very casually, humming to herself, then she piles up the dirty dishes and goes into the kitchen, like nothing has happened. The kitchen light goes on and I see her at the sink washing the dishes. So I get dressed and start toward the house, I figure, Ben is my friend, I'm going to look him in the eye, because this whole thing was more like a car accident than seduction, but just when I'm about to open the screen door I stop--something stops me cold--and I walk around and get in my car. And I drive to the hospital to see my wife and baby daughter.
It was fear, Dave. I didn't have the courage to face him. And he knew, I'm convinced he knew what happened. Neither one of us ever mentioned it, but he knew. I've never told anyone this. I have no one to talk to...I would like to be able to talk to someone.
I would like to have the courage to do it right.

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