The Architecture Office
Marces & Marces Architecture Office was a contemporaneous building in the most expensive commercial area of Green Palms that spoke by itself when it came to the bold design by the leading architect Lorenzo Marces, whose fame as creative professional extended beyond the city, already reaching the metropolitan region of São Paulo where he was born, raised and started his career. He designed his own villa in Green Palms, where the Marces family spent the weekends when the kids were small. Years later, the wish to seek a calmer life led Lorenzo to move definitively to the country house, moving his architecture office to the urban area of Green Palms. It did not take long for other land buyers near Lorenzo Marces’s beautiful villa to order projects that excelled in the level of creativity, inspired by Lorenzo’s architectonic competence and devotion to Oscar Niemeyer’s style of making poetry with armed concrete. Within few years, Lorenzo Marces had become the darling architect of the elite of Green Palms, attracting the attention of wealthy land owners from cities such as Campinas and São Paulo who intended to build country homes in Green Palms and nearby cities to enjoy weekends and vacations where they could play golf or polo.
Precisely at nine, Lorenzo arrived at his office, being received by his ex-wife and partner architect, Veitena Marces, who greeted him with a kiss on his cheek.
For forty years, kisses were scarce in Lorenzo’s marriage with Veitena Marces. It was crystal clear that the kiss now that they were separated was an excuse to come close enough to notice different women’s perfumes, hairs in his impeccably ironed shirts and to exert a control that he did not consider fair. Nevertheless, for his kids’ sake, he preferred to avoid frank confrontation with their mother. They had suffered enough when Lorenzo told Veitena he wanted the divorce, months ago. The severe outbreaks of Veitena following the news forced her son and daughter to seek emergency departments with their mother, as well as counseling with Father Joseph and his recognized wisdom and good will to help all those in need. In the particular case of Veitena Marces, Father Joseph made his best to try to help one of the greatest offertory donors of his parish. Blood pressure management and religious counseling had not been enough; Veitena was referred to psychotherapy and psychiatric services in order to control the aggressive features of her bursts during those first weeks after the news. She needed drugs, and they had been prescribed. Despite considering divorce an issue to be managed by the couple, mainly when their married grown-ups had their own lives, problems and challenges to face, Lorenzo could not help feeling that those violent and threatening surges of Veitena had the underlying purpose to produce trouble sufficient to make him reconsider his wish to live his life according to his plans, dreams and projects for the first time, going back to being the sponsor of Veitena’s personal sanctity project and husband of the lay missionary woman as he had been for the last forty years.
“You look happy today morning!” Veitena said, “Was the night good?”
“Yes, it was.” Lorenzo knew that he had to speak as little as possible. Simultaneously, if he refused to answer any question, he would give Veitena concrete evidences into which to look.
“What did you do so differently yesterday to come to work with such appearance of well-being?”
“Well, do you know that ‘thing’ that you consider a sin, but people sometimes need? I prefer not to go into details, but I had a good indication of someone to help me.” Lorenzo replied, while turning his notebook on and opening the appointment book that he preferred in paper version, not even looking at her, to keep as casual as possible when referring to the night secretly spent with 'Úrsula'.
He had always been sincere with Veitena about the huge list of reasons to request divorce and one of them was the complete lack of sex in their marriage, for years long. For this reason, she was not surprised, believing that the pervert friend of Lorenzo, Fantino, with whom he was enjoying the night-clubs filled of strippers, must actually have provided the indication of some whore in Campinas, where he lived.
Veitena remembered the sacrifices she used to do, lying motionless on bed to allow Lorenzo to satisfy his needs once in a while, praying for him to finish as soon as possible so that she could run to the shower while he took the condom off. After the vasectomy she demanded if he was to ejaculate in her, she gave the excuse of undergoing recurrent urinary infections to obligate him to keep using condom. Lorenzo felt mutilated in vain, knowing that it was disapproved by the Catholic Church. However, Veitena Marces disapproved even more to have something as disgusting as sperm inside her. She arranged the procedure to be performed in São Paulo so that none in Green Palms knew about it. Back to the matter with Lorenzo, she had to make her position clear:
“I will be always praying for your soul not to be lost in pleasures of the flesh, because continence is what God wants from all of us and He, in His almighty goodness and forgiveness, will receive you back when you recognize it. I respect your decision of meeting whomever you want, except that one, Elena.” Veitena spoke with the moral authority that she always knew how to impose while they were married and from which it was extremely difficult for Lorenzo to free himself, even separated months ago.
“Yes, yes.” he said dryly and indifferently. Lorenzo organized his office table to start working on his project. It was the best strategy to not raise curiosities on who was with him.
Lorenzo looked at the appointments of the day without any focus, immersed in thoughts. Elena read me poetry lines on a couple that builds true love, committed to each other with wonderful, sacred and pleasant sex! All his tries to build more love, sex, intimacy and tenderness with Veitena costed the first thirty years of his marriage and they had been unsuccessful. Masturbation was more erotic to him than having sex with the wife that behaved like a warm dead body. During the last ten years, he lived biologically only, until being reborn after meeting Elena, feeling more and more alive after the relationship with her, violently interrupted twice. The flow of Lorenzo’s thought was interrupted by Veitena:
“By, the way, speaking about pleasures of the flesh, you just can’t imagine who my good friend missionary of the church, Celine, saw entering a luxury silver car yesterday evening around nine p.m. after church service!”
Lorenzo did not divert his gaze, now at the notebook. “Who?”
“That woman, Elena, with whom you wanted to live in sin after having destroyed our family, trying to break the indissoluble unity of marriage!”
Even prepared to hear the painful truth, it hurt to witness the mother of his son and daughter acting with such resourcefulness in the name of God to tell him a lie. She constantly accused Lorenzo to have destroyed their family, against the wish of God and the rules of the Catholic Church even if some change could be discussed in Vatican. A woman of the Church… Capable of so many lies and falsehood… Intensely pale, he looked at her, in real suffering and grief, but not for the reason that provoked the inner victory smile of Veitena, and said:
“Elena?! Yesterday?! Nine in the evening?!? How could she?!”
While Lorenzo looked at Veitena, smiling in triumphant jubilation, he kept in silence. Elena couldn’t. I was holding her hand tight at nine in the evening yesterday… Flashes of the first and second separations from Elena passed quickly through his mind in addition to the lie that he now confirmed. At fifty-nine years of age, he was a man who increasingly feared future.
Veitena considered the severe paleness in Lorenzo somewhat insulting. After a while, she gave no more importance to it. After all, she had one victory to enjoy. It is time to be the compassionate person that I’ve always been. Not an EX-wife as he insists, but a wife, Wife, WIFE! She fetches a glass of fresh water and offers it to Lorenzo, who is sitting at his desk. Then, she puts her hand on his shoulder in sign of solidarity. He’ll need me to bring him back to the ways of Our Lord… But Lorenzo takes her hand off almost violently.
She smiles, understanding, and leaves him alone in his office. One or two more weeks hating that woman and he will surely come back to the blessed family from which he should NEVER have DARED to leave…