And so began a passionately torrid affair between Catelyn and this modern-day Tiberius on his rocky cliffs of Capri. She had pledged herself completely to this new pursuit, throwing her soul and her body into this relationship, even if that meek inner voice continued to whine with its constant dubiosity. Though he was obviously an experienced, older man who had spent his time dabbling among ladies, she exposed him to some of the fun activities that didn’t so readily come to mind for those of his generation, like voyeurism and exhibitionism in particular. He showed some reluctance at first, but it doesn’t take long before he eventually acquiesced to the infectious enthusiasm of a persistent young woman. On several dates at dinner and with a tablecloth of decent size, she had guided his hand up her skirt, letting his fingers explore their way around her as others dined only a few feet away. One night, she went down on him in the back of a late night movie theater (though it almost didn’t count since it was yet another SNL movie that left the entire room empty). She convinced him to have sex in a number of bathrooms, including those of Jersey City bars on a late night during the work week. One time, when they had been in the city, it was the public restroom within the Museum of Sex. As she explained it to him beforehand and afterwards, it was a rite of passage for the sexually adventurous. (Though she decided to be tasteful and omit the fact that it wasn’t the first or second or even third time that she had inducted another member into that society.) Even though it took an even longer amount of time, she eventually persuaded him to move their titillating trists to outdoor spaces.
On one Saturday of spectacular weather so fine that it scorches itself into one’s memory, they took a trip down to the marina adjacent to Liberty State Park, where Ciro kept a 34-foot sailboat named Rubicon and joked about how he so often crossed it. (Since Catelyn wasn’t so much of a history buff, he had to explain the meaning of such a terrible joke to her.) Even though it would have been more convenient to keep such a boat in the marina of somewhere closer to West Guttenberg (like Edgewater or Englewood Cliffs), this marina in particular was a place where older men respected the privacy of fellow owners and, as Ciro described it, “knew how to keep secrets”. With deft hands and without her aid, he maneuvered the boat into the Hudson River, where he taught her the basics of sheeting in the sails and running the helm. They jibed and tacked the whole day amongst the busy traffic of the river, and she let out a slight scream with laughter as she took both of their lives into her hands, dodging both the mammoth ocean liners and the nimble, cavalier speedboats. (Like everyone else on the river, she found herself hoping that the former would accidentally squash the latter, since the DB factor of the speedboats seemed fairly high.) When the evening began to fall and with barely enough light to see, the Rubicon found itself near the craggy Jersey coast, just past the George Washington Bridge (or the GWB, as the locals like to say) and its famous miniature lighthouse. After dropping anchor, they brought out the food for a small picnic on the bow, and since Ciro was such a history buff, he explained to Catelyn the irony of the GWB and Fort Lee, given how Washington and Lee hated each other in life but now their respective bridge and town would be linked together for posterity. (She didn’t really care about history all that much, but she wasn’t about to admit such and appear less intellectual.) They ate and drank for a while on the polished deck, waxed on philosophically like drunken college freshmen whose arguments yearned to even ascend to something considered sophomoric, and then they fucked awkwardly (since balance is required on the bow) until the moon could be seen peeking out voyeuristically from behind the skyscrapers. Afterwards, while lying on their backs and staring up at the nocturnal canvas that could offer no stars to compare with the light from NYC, he admitted that it had been a longstanding dream to have sex on a boat, ever since he had seen one video with Traci Lords. She laughed and nodded as if she recognized the name, though she didn’t have a clue.
And in time, she exposed him to more than simply how to play outside the sheets. During one conversation about travel, she confessed that she had never left the country, and the only destination vacation was a booked trip with her friends on AirBnB to Fire Island. When he inquired as to the nature of AirBnB, she explained through an analogy, stating that it was like a ZipCar for apartments owned by people. When ZipCar failed, she patiently tried to iterate through an applicable list of consumer-facing technologies, until it eventually included all of them: Etsy, GroupOn, Kickstarter, Tumblr, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook. Ciro had heard people speak of them, but he knew nearly nothing about them.
As a millennial, it was beyond her comprehension. He smiled at her: she had yet to understand the nature of the Palisades, how time had stood still here despite the accelerating hands of the clocks on the eastern side of the river. “You’ve never been on Facebook? Even once?” When he shook his head, Catelyn had to pursue the line even farther. “You mean that you used no social media in your mayoral campaign last year? At all?!?” After shrugging his shoulders, she vociferously pointed out that he was ignoring younger voters, and she begged him to let her start the social media accounts for his administration. He consented, and over the next weeks, she worked tirelessly to establish his presence online. Learning as she went, Catelyn got his accounts verified in the case of both Facebook and Twitter, and she even took a stab at creating a subreddit for the mayor’s office of West Guttenberg.
After showing him the results and the positive feedback that she had cultivated from her more benevolent posts (like the announcement of a new dog run being built), His Honor was more than impressed. He promoted her as a full aide to his administration, and he granted her the honorary title of Social Media Manager, the first in the history of West Guttenberg. So overwhelmed with the opportunity and so gratified with its bestowment, she didn’t even mind the inevitable jealousy and lost friendships that would ensue with the other aides, how they would all complain and plot behind her back in grievance for having been overslaughed by the mayor’s new tart. Again, it was destiny that had brought her here, and she wasn’t going to look back over her shoulder. She was now both his professional and romantic companion, and they were unstoppable. And so, during one of their postcoital conversations, she thought nothing of it when she asked if he remembered the night of their first meeting and the group of men who had huddled quietly around him. At first, Ciro balked and tried to change the subject, but unlike the girl from only a few months ago, this new Catelyn felt empowered and wouldn’t accept ‘no’ for an answer.
After a few minutes of her cajoling, Ciro finally said, “There’s business that I do that…you may not like. But if I tell you this…you cannot repeat it. In fact, if I tell you about it, then I expect you to help me. When I tell you, you’re in, and then, we do it together. Understand? Are you sure that you want to be included? Because afterwards, there’s no going back.”
It’s destiny…and there was never any question. There was never any going back. And with that thought, Catelyn slowly nodded before giving the answer that would be the most influential decision made in her entire life. “Absolutely. Yes. Now…tell me everything.”
Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion. For those who wish to read previous chapters of The Condo Chronicles, the Table of Contents is available.