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An Unholy Three
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Adina looked it up on Google:
“Collusion: a secret or illegal co-operation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.”

“Surely,” Adina thought, “that’s not what we are doing!”

Adina was alone in her messy home office, contemplating the talk she had just had – in strictest confidence , of course – with Sheldon. The pitiful guy was partner to her best friend Phillip, and she had had the distinct good honor (or now was it a curse?) of actually introducing the two men years ago when both were lonely and looking for the “right guy”. They were now in the second decade of their long relationship, and she wondered now if they had ever really had any good times in all that time! There was always some drama going on between them,

This morning, Sheldon had used up practically half a box of tissues moaning and weeping about the state of his relationship with Phillip, and, as usual, Adina sat in her worn desk chair and listened.

“I really should set up office hours,” she thought, again in the silence of her empty office. And , in an unofficial way, dictated only by proximity and years of friendship, she had set up those expected hours, for now she knew that in about another half hour, she would hear Phillip’s sad footsteps on the back porch and he would soon be sitting in the office easy chair using up the other half of that box of tissues.

“He’s just sooooo mean,” Phillip wailed, ” and he never listens to what i have to say. It’s always a fight, a struggle with him.”

Adina had just heard almost the exact words coming out of Sheldon’s mouth half an hour ago.

Again, she just sat , listened and tossed the box of tissues onto Philip’s lap. She wondered if she had another box in her hall closet.

Both men knew that Adina was their sort of next-door-neighbor therapist (even though she was a teacher of second graders, many of whom reminded her of Sheldon and Phillip in their tantrums. But more than anything she had become their substitute mother, and she shouldered that sorrowful burden with as much empathy as she could.

Neither man admitted to each other that they had gone to Adina to get things off their chest, but of course they had to know.

Sometimes, Adina sat, listened and put the two grown men into the bodies of second graders, and that lifted the load of sadness she felt at ever having introduced the two men to each other.

Was she collusion with both men? And if both men knew about the “secret” costs, the sessions of unburdening, was it a collusion?

And if the point of collusion was to cheat a third party, who was being cheated?

“A question for the ages”, Adina thought, was she went to look for another box of tissues.

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