We were in our middle to late twenties. I was the office manager, she was the receptionist. We formed an unlikely friendship. She was a shopaholic and just about every day, at noon, there was a delivery of items of clothing to her reception desk from a local store. Her blonde hair was maintained weekly - roots touched up, manicures and pedicures were de rigeur. I marvelled at the high level of her self-maintenance. She was most appealing in a roundish kind of way, hard to explain. She had a lot of dimples, in her cheeks, on her elbows, in her knees. These were the days of micro-mini skirts. Her face had an attractive smattering of golden freckles. I’ll call her Frieda.
We both had toddler daughters. She had a convertible. We would cruise Bloor Street, a high end shopper’s paradise in Toronto. The radio would be blaring, the girls would be in the back, pre-carseat days. The children would wave like royalty to the passing parade. We would have songs like “Brandy” and “Down on the Corner” blaring for the whole street to enjoy. The four of us would giggle uncontrollably. The world was ours. Husbands? They dwelled somewhere on the back burners of our lives. Truth.
Her husband, Len, was Italian. He was her brother’s best friend. He played hockey on Friday nights even though he was extremely heavy and completely out of shape for such a strenuous sport. He paid the price and had a severe heart attack on the ice at the age of 28 and was hospitalized and in therapy for 6 weeks.
I took pity on Frieda. At this stage she was a grass widow and she confessed she had never really loved Len. He had been kind enough to take her on as a ‘favour’ to her brother. You see Frieda had a child at sixteen, given up for adoption. She was considered ‘damaged’ goods and the family were grateful to Len for marrying her.
My husband played a lot of rugby and there was an active and fun social life associated with this. I invited Frieda to one of the Saturday night dances to cheer her up as she was so melancholy and had told me the weekends, after visiting Len, were very lonely and boring. The dances were a hoot - they always had a live rock band and manly chug-a-lug competitions. What can I tell you. We were young.
Halfway through the night, I noticed my husband was missing. I asked around. Someone mentioned he was on the long balcony off the second floor dance hall. I went out. And there he was. With Frieda. In an unmistakeable and passionate clinch.
I was sickened. I had to go to the washroom and throw up, literally. Afterwards, when I came out of the washroom and spotted him I tackled him on what had happened. He denied it. Said I had to be imagining things. It was someone else.
I had to see Frieda every workday, of course. Walk right by the reception desk. She reported to me. The relationship got very chilly and strictly business. Someone said she was having an affair with a guy in the office downstairs. He was married. I would see them together having lunch in the restaurant downstairs. Holding hands across the table.
Len came home from rehabilitation. He phoned me to tell me Frieda had left him. He was distraught. He really loved her. She had left him for this Adam guy who was married and thinking about leaving his wife. It was a total soap opera.
Adam was wealthy and rented a deluxe apartment around the corner from the offices. Here Frieda was installed. She had left the children with Len and her mother.
I was getting caught up with paperwork on a Friday night in September of 1971 when Len called. He was very depressed. He asked me could I meet him on the Roof Garden of the Park Plaza around the corner. Just for one quick drink and then we would both head home to our children. I agreed. In the way that we do when we are heart sick, he let it all hang out. He was going to live in the hope that Frieda would get over her Adam madness and come back to him, no questions asked. Way down below were the sounds of the busy city, the traffic and then sirens, so close by we remarked on them. Some trouble in the block we were in, obviously.
Later that night, Len called us. Sobbing. It seems that Frieda had gone to the apartment that Adam had rented and confronted Adam about leaving his wife. He said he had changed his mind. She straddled the twelfth floor balcony railing and either fell, threw, or was thrown to her death below. Those were the sirens Len and I had heard as we talked in the Park Plaza roof garden.
A couple of years later, we were at Len’s wedding to a nurse he had casually met on public transit. The wedding was held in Frieda’s brother’s garden. Frieda's parents didn’t attend. They were in the process of suing Len for custody of his children. They lost.
I'm curious as to feedback on this type of post. I have more stories of the truth stranger than fiction genre. All of which happened to me. Should I continue? Please be honest!