Authors: J.J. Murray
“Have you ever been married, Sheena?”
“I haven’t found the right man yet.”
“Have you ever been engaged, Sheena?”
Yes,” Sheena said. “But I became disengaged just last week.”
“Oh, you poor, dear girl,” Mr. St. John said.
Sheena’s eyes filled with tears. “It broke my heart into a million pieces.”
A-ha! And now she wants
“Did you or did he break off the engagement?” Mr. St. John asked. “I’m only asking to make sure that
didn’t break off an engagement solely to be on this show.”
“He said we weren’t compatible,” Sheena said. “He broke it off, and I was devastated.”
“So you’re here to mend your broken heart,” Mr. St. John said.
“Oh yes, Vincent.”
“How many times have you been engaged, Miss Wolfe?” Mr. St. John asked.
“Three times,” Sheena said.
“Three strikes and you’re out, right?” Sheena said. “I am so unlucky.”
Mr. St. John opened a file. “Facial recognition software is very advanced, Miss Wolfe.” He held up some newspaper clippings. “The
Clinch Valley Times
from St. Paul, Virginia. The
Jewell County Record
from Superior, Nebraska. The
Feather River Bulletin
from Quincy, California. These are engagement announcements that have appeared in small town newspapers all over the United States. According to these clippings, you’ve been engaged
different times to
different men from sea to shining sea, from Winter Harbor, Maine, to Winterhaven, California.”
Oh wow. She’s a serial, um, engagement-ist.
“I’m sorry I lied about that, Vincent,” Sheena said. She fluttered her eyes. “I’m . . . kind of embarrassed. I mean, who gets engaged and disengaged sixteen times? I’ve been so unlucky with men.”
“I hope I can change my luck with you, Vincent.”
“I would think it would be your fiancés who were unlucky, Miss Wolfe,” Mr. St. John said.
“Thank you, Vincent,” Sheena said. “That means a lot to me.”
“I wasn’t complimenting you, Miss Wolfe,” Mr. St. John said. “You see, we contacted all sixteen of your ex-fiancés.”
Are they all there? Oh, that would be
“Unfortunately, they all declined the offer for us to fly them here to see you tonight,” Mr. St. John said.
To avoid the national embarrassment for getting taken by her.
“You see, Vincent?” Sheena said. “They couldn’t bear to face me after what they did to me.”
Mr. St. John pulled out a stack of paper. “They might not be here, but your sixteen ex-fiancés did give us sworn affidavits.” He smiled. “Do you know the word these men used the most to describe you?”
“Bitch,” Trina said.
“I’ll give you a hint,” Mr. St. John said. “It begins with a
“Beautiful,” Sheena said.
Is she for real?
“Um, no, Miss Wolfe,” Mr. St. John said. “I think you know what they called you. They each also used the phrase ‘gold digger’ at least once. One man used that phrase twelve times. And according to these affidavits, these men bought you diamond rings with a collective value of over a quarter of a million dollars. Did you ever return any of the rings?”
I’ll bet she unloaded them on Cash for Gold and eBay. I would be too embarrassed to sell or melt down the pitiful ring Robert got me—that he put on
“These men also showered you with lavish gifts, money, cars, paid your bills, took you on exotic vacations, and wined and dined you to the tune of roughly two point nine million dollars,” Mr. St. John said.
these men? In
small towns? Tell me!
“And then there’s the question of your boyfriend, Freddy,” Mr. St. John said.
“I don’t have a boyfriend named Freddy,” Sheena said.
“That’s just one of his aliases, I suppose,” Mr. St. John said. “It seems ‘Freddy’ locates wealthy bachelors and stakes them out. Once he has a mark, he brings you in. Then you give the mark a sob story about your last broken engagement. You even show him the engagement announcement to make it look legit. Then you chew him up, spit him out, and move on to another small town where your former fiancés can’t find you. And here you are going for your largest take from me. Isn’t that right?”
Sheena hit her button and stormed out.
It’s too late, wench. The whole world knows about you now.
The camera zoomed in on Mr. St. John’s face. “They didn’t want me for my appearance or my health. Some ran when they thought I wasn’t wealthy. One denied having children. One was seriously bad with money. One woman . . . was not a woman. Another has a serious drug and alcohol problem. And the last woman was a pathological liar and a sociopath.”
The host appeared at his side. “I’m sorry you had no success in finding your bride tonight, Mr. St. John.”
“Don’t be.” Mr. St. John
“It’s what I expected.”
Then Mr. St. John pushed off his blanket, tore off his robe, removed his beard and a wig, and dived into the pool.
That man was hot! Whoo! Look at him swim!
Mr. St. John swam to the other end of the pool and stared into the camera with his striking green eyes. “One has to be careful, doesn’t one?”
The host handed him a towel, and Mr. St. John walked, dripping, out of the pool.
That’s what I’m talking about. Look at those cuts!
“Shall we try again next week, Mr. St. John?” the host asked.
Mr. St. John nodded. “We shall.”
“For the next twenty-four hours,” the host said, “if you want to be a contestant on
Rich Man, Lucky Lady,
go to our Web site, and apply right now.”
“And please,” Mr. St. John said, “only apply if you fit the criteria. All I ask is that you be honest, faithful, and true . . .”
r. St. John seemed a little sad, but if it was what he expected to happen, he shouldn’t have been sad at all. If you expect nothing, you’ll never be disappointed, right?
Trina tried to apply to be on
Rich Man, Lucky Lady,
but once she reached the Web site, the page never fully loaded, she could click on nothing, and the screen froze.
A couple million “honest, faithful, and true” women probably just crashed the server.
Deciding to try again in the morning, Trina returned to the
application. She stared at the last sentence:
And then he met Dr. Too White.
I can’t put that in there. That makes me look racist. She
too white for Robert, but . . .
She deleted the sentence and continued:
And then my husband met and started an affair with a surgeon at San Francisco General Hospital. “I’m going to be late again tonight,” he often told me. “I have a seminar I have to attend over the weekend.” I thought he was putting in extra time to be a more skillful surgeon. I thought he was working longer hours so he could better provide for us. I thought he loved me.
I found out about the affair when he told me, “I’ve found someone who will be better for my career. I hope you understand.” And then he filed for divorce, not me, citing irreconcilable differences. Because I couldn’t afford a decent lawyer and his mistress could, I didn’t get much in the way of alimony. It barely pays one-third of the credit-card bills he left me with.
For the last two years, I have been living in a cramped apartment near where I work because I can’t afford a car or even bus fare. I need new work shoes and a rain jacket that doesn’t leak here in “sunny” San Francisco. I need a microwave from this millennium that doesn’t dim all the lights in my apartment. I need a bigger bed.
I also need a man to keep me company, to keep me warm at night, to talk to me, to listen to me, and to love me.
I gave up ten years of my life so my ex-husband could become a surgeon. I did this by choice. I sacrificed everything for him, and I would do it again. That’s the kind of person I am. But all I have to show for our marriage are his bills and some bad memories. I don’t have children because we were putting off children until he could support us. I could have had at least two children by now to love.
I have very little. I deserve a second chance at love.
And I do,
she thought as she hit the
! button and got into her bed.
I deserve something more than I got.
In the morning she tried again to apply to
Rich Man, Lucky Lady,
but the Web site splash page told her it was “Under Construction.” She Googled “Rich Man, Lucky Lady application problems” and saw
of angry posts from frustrated women. One of her Facebook friends, who blamed all of the world’s problems on Microsoft, whined, “Damn that Bill Gates! He obviously doesn’t want anyone but him to be rich!”
I guess it’s not meant to be for me. I wish I had the chance. If Mr. St. John hooked me up to a polygraph machine, all the audience would see flashing on the screen was the word
. And when he asked about my low credit score, I would be able to tell it all and shame Robert at the same time.
During another horrible morning shift highlighted by forty minutes of sweating and grunting to help an obese male patient use the bathroom, Trina escaped to a break room and sat with Naini Mitra, another dark-skinned RN on ES’s scut list. Naini, a petite Bengali woman with a lilting British accent, read the
while Trina glumly looked at a television promo for
Rich Man, Lucky Lady
“Last night, he said good-bye to twenty-four ladies,” an announcer said, a montage of last night’s scenes playing rapidly on the TV screen. “Will twenty-four more ladies break his heart? How many will be arrested? Will they all be women? Will any of them tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Tune in to
Rich Man, Lucky Lady
“That promo should not be running,” Naini said.
“Why?” Trina asked.
“The rich man has already canceled the show,” Naini said. “It is in today’s paper.” She took apart a newspaper on the table and slid the entertainment section to her. “I will have to remain a humble Hindi now.” Naini sighed. “I tried to get on the show but was unsuccessful.”
“So did I,” Trina said. “The Web site was frozen.”
“I stayed up until three in the morning before I gave up,” Naini said. “I am such a dreamer.”
Trina read Mr. St. John’s statement:
I have suspended filming of
Rich Man, Lucky Lady
indefinitely. After last night’s parade of femme fatales around the pool and after having my investigators examine five thousand new applications from women trying to marry me, I realize that continuing this show would be an exercise in futility. All five thousand had significant flaws in their applications.
I have learned quite a bit throughout this process. While all people lie from time to time, women who seek a wealthy husband seem to lie more. While some women lie about their ages, gold-digging women seem either to do their best to cover up their ages or have completely
their true ages. While some women drink, smoke, and use illegal drugs, a higher percentage of women looking for a life of ease and sloth seem to drink, smoke, and do drugs more.
All this can also apply to men, too, Mr. St. John. Not all women are like this. If I had been able to get to your Web site, I’d be meeting you soon at your temporary mansion, and I might be the only one there.
Please do not read this as an indictment of all women. I am only indicting the collective
women who applied to meet me.
I am saddened that I have yet to find my soul mate, but it is my sincere hope that one day I will find a woman who is trustworthy, caring, honest, and levelheaded, a woman who will love me first and enjoy the fruits of my labors second. Until such a woman—or a group of such women—exists,
Rich Man, Lucky Lady
will remain off the air.
I don’t blame him at all,
I hope he does find his soul mate one day.
Too bad she can’t be me.
Naini stood and stretched her back, doing nothing to stifle a loud yawn. “I am going back to work now. I will not enjoy it.”
Trina smiled and checked the clock. “And I am going on lunch break.”
break?” Naini asked.
“The pre-lunch lunch break,” Trina said. “You should try it.”
While she was eating the last of her ham and cheese sandwich in Huntington Park, Trina’s cell phone rang.
“Hi,” an older man said. “I’m Chet Davis, executive producer for
“Am I speaking to Trina Woods?” Mr. Davis asked.
“Yes,” Trina said.
I only sent that application last night!
“Trina, we’ve reviewed your application,” Mr. Davis said, “and we have selected you to come to LA to audition for the lead role on