On his first day home Fritz asked Pauline, “Was it as long for you as it was for me?” His fear had been heightened by his feelings of vulnerability during the war, and he seized on everything that he could…memories, possessions, and relationships…to recoup what he lost on the battlefield. He also tried to reject all the changes that had occurred, everything that was new to him…like all the changes Pauline made to their home while he was gone. She had picked out new furniture and had rearranged everything. Thus he felt like a stranger in his own home.
But somehow he survived without people knowing what he was going through. The battle scars were real enough; yet he did everything in his power to keep them from showing. Soon he found himself waiting all the time for her to come home. He didn’t know what was going on. And then he was confronted with Pauline’s infidelity. It threw him for a loop. He hadn’t anticipated it. It broke his heart, and he vented by cursing her. He intended to move out, but he didn’t know where he’d go. He didn’t have the stomach to do anything else. It would’ve helped had he been a drunk. There was no way that he could ease his way out, so he ended up staying.
He felt like a stranger, a stranger in a flat with only a few things that belonged to him, and he couldn’t sleep at night. The only comfort he found came from Eva, his boys’ nanny. And just as he began to notice her, he began to depend on her, and just as he was beginning to depend on her, she agreed to live in. He couldn’t believe his luck. It meant that he didn’t have to roam the streets any longer, but he knew that he had to be careful. Unlike his wife, he couldn’t afford a scandal. Unlike her, he didn’t run around with radicals. And there was no use arguing with her. He’d been through that. He knew that he couldn’t change her, and he wasn’t about to tell her why he’d given up trying. He still loved her and he couldn’t believe it when he started to love Eva too. He’d eventually love two women at the same time. And since he knew that Pauline had her own strange ideas about love he knew that he didn’t need to explain to her how he could love her and Eva at the same time. Pauline was important to him because she was the mother of his children and Eva was important because she anticipated his needs. So he loved both women.
How did it begin with Eva? One morning in his study she startled him when she came in there. Up until then he hadn’t really noticed her. She was very slim, tall for a woman, and wore a light, cotton dress. She said, as if she had known him all of her life, “So you’ve finally come home.” She then confidently sat on the arm of the sofa next to him and began to flirt. She said, “We’re glad you’re home, sir.”
“I’m glad to be home.”
“Frau Pauline has missed you, sir.”
“I missed her too.”
“I’m sure you did, sir.”
“You don’t have to call me ‘sir.’ He enjoyed the chatter and didn’t give a shit about depth in women.
“For some time now I’ve been studying you,” she said out of the blue.
“Oh, you have?”
“And I kind of know what you like in women.” And as they talked, Pauline came to mind. Having had a chance to see how women had changed while he was away, he wondered, “Why couldn’t Pauline be little like Eva?” He had been accessing women since he returned and to him the “ugliness of their nakedness” subverted his ideal. Now here was a woman who hadn’t cropped her hair. This made him admire her. Eva suddenly became serious, got up from the arm of the sofa and left the room. He said, “I hope I haven’t gotten off to a bad start.”
Around the same time he’d met his vamp. She was a woman of mixed race, and he went out with her for the purpose of killing all desire. He literally thought about consuming her and tried not to be frightened by the urge. “All men have urges, just as all men drink and all men smoke.” He however wasn’t a rapist. He had seen too many women raped during the war and had seen what happened to men if they didn’t keep their urges in check. This went on for more than a year. Then he made his move on Eva, and all of his urges calmed down. Pauline’s absences and Eva accessibility would further altered the aspect of the situation. It didn’t become a crisis as long as they made love in the dark. But there would continue be uneasiness that only passion could cure.