LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

Willy Armen was shocked. He never expected that at the tender age of thirty four to become a Master Of The Universe. His company had taken a huge gamble on the stock exchange and had forced LBL Mechanical to sell to them. It had been a hostile takeover and it had cost his company Armen & Green a cool twenty five million dollars to buy every single share of stock.

LBL Mechanical was in the business of manufacturing electric generators, internal combustion engines,refrigerators and air conditioning units. They had one division that focused on robotics and that’s what caught Willy’s eye. He felt there could be a stronger demand for robotic workers after the Corona virus crisis, because they would keep working and would be immune to all microbes. He could train a team of maintenance people to keep the robots going and production would never slip off. The beautiful thing was they could do it remotely.

Willy was beyond happy, he would immediately start figuring out the best ways to recoup Armen & Green’s investment. In the interim, he had to pay attention to some other pressing business. He stuck his head out of his office and looked around, and Shelby wasn’t at her desk.

He dialed her cell and asked her to come to his office. He sat back down and couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. Life was going better than he could have imagined.

About three minutes later Shelby walked into the office and shut the door. He had liked Shelby from the second his firm had hired her. She was twenty five, five foot six and had the most perfect body he had ever seen. She worked out every day at the Equinox Club, and when he had joined her once, he couldn’t keep up. She had long black hair and her makeup was always perfect. She wore elegant clothes and had the most mischievous smile he had ever seen. There was no question they had chemistry. They had gone to lunch a number of times and it felt like things were getting more intimate every time they met. Shelby had been married for three years to a Fireman and he had been married for six years to Miriam.

Shelby said her husband, Tommy was boring and the only reason she had married him was they dated for a year and she couldn’t break his heart when he proposed, but they really had nothing in common.

It wasn’t the same scenario for Willy not even close. Miriam had been one of the most amazing women he had ever met. She was extremely smart and had graduated at the top of her law class. She was decent and kind and very supportive. The thing was he didn’t find her half as sexy as Shelby. Miriam was attractive but in a different kind of way. The biggest problem was the fire was gone. When they first married Willy used to go home at lunch and meet Miriam and they’d make love and go back to work. Now things seemed different. She was always working on big cases and he was chasing big deals and they didn’t have the same kind of relationship.

Willy was just about to tell Shelby Fitzgerald that he was going to ask Miriam for a divorce, when his door was flung open and Al Green stood looking at them both. ‘’This Fuckin’ Corona Virus has screwed us. We have to send everybody home and into self isolation immediately. If we don’t there will be huge fines. Don’t know when we can come back to the office, so everything is going to have to be done remotely. Covid-19 is spreading through New York like the plague. Nobody is even sure of isolation times. I’ll talk to you over Zoom Willy, but we have to leave. Who knows when we’ll be back. Who knows what this fuckin’ virus is going to do to the market.’’

Al looked worried as he turned and walked away as quickly as he entered. Shelby looked at Willy. ‘’Well, maybe we should hold off on discussing divorces till after the home isolation. I mean how uncomfortable would that be, having to stay with someone who knows you don’t want to be with them.’’

Willy and Shelby met near the door, and as much as he wanted to, they didn’t kiss. They had never kissed or been intimate but the desire had been there. ‘’You know Willy, I regret we haven’t slept together. Who knows when we’ll get another chance. Stay strong and stay safe and I’ll see you sometime.’’

As soon as Shelby left, Willy started putting his laptop away, and grabbing files. He had worked from home before, but he always knew when he’d be coming back to the office, not this time.

When he got home, Miriam had a roast in the oven. ‘’Willy, would you believe it, we’re going to be in quarantine for who knows how long. It’s crazy scary. Congrats on the LBL Mechanical takeover. I’m really proud of you.’’

Willy didn’t really respond, he more or less grunted and went to his office. The news out of China and Italy was frightening and now it was hitting New York. He was concerned because the media was saying that New York City could be the new epicenter for the virus to spread across the United States.

Miriam and Willy lived in a beautiful home on 12 East 63rd Street on the Upper East Side. Since Covid-19 was extremely contagious, Miriam had no choice but to let all the staff go until the crisis was over.

Over the next few days the news pouring in about the virus was extreme and coinciding with it was a plunge in the stock market. LBL Mechanical which had been bought for thirty two dollars a share was now sitting at eighteen.

Al Green had called a number of times in a panic, but Willy had been able to calm him down with talk of Government bailouts. Al was still worried as Armen & Green was on the hook for over a thousand employees. They had secured the buyout financing, but they had to service their debt, and make sure the employees all got paid and their benefits were looked after. If the stock didn’t bounce back, all the money that Armen & Green had in reserve would be lost.

It was about this time that Willy started to notice Miriam more. She was still working on cases, but she would stop and make him a cup of tea and give him a piece of freshly baked chocolate cake. They also started having longer discussions which they hadn’t done in ages.

Miriam made a confession that shocked Willy. She was getting tired of the Big Law rat race. She was making very good money, two million seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year, but the demand was unrelenting. She wanted something more important. She wanted to have a baby.

Once again Willy was taken aback. He hadn’t given having a child a lot of thought, but he did now. He needed to leave a legacy. More than just money. He stood up, took Miriam’s hand and they went into the bedroom and made love all afternoon. When they were done, they jumped into the shower and then ran into the kitchen, still wet and made themselves pizza. It had been forever since they wore sweat suits and just chowed down.

Over the next few days they made love a minimum of two times a day and once at night.They found their lovemaking getting better every time. The couldn’t get enough of each other.The spark was ignited as LBL Mechanical stock continued to plummet.

They were ordering in groceries and bringing it in from the stoop at their front door. The self isolation discipline hadn’t been as difficult as they thought.

After a month, they found themselves enjoying every second of being together. The bond grew tighter and tighter. Their love for each other was real and binding.

Willy thought about his near disastrous decision with Shelby and was grateful to Gd that nothing had happened. Yes he had thought lewd, crude, and lascivious thoughts but that’s all they were. He hoped Shelby and Tommy were enjoying each other as much as he and Miriam were.

Al Green called to tell Willy that the banks were worried about the sharp stock decline, and it woke Willy up. After the call, he Zoomed with Ryku Tanaka who owned one of the largest technology companies in the world. He was based in Tokyo. Ryku was delighted to talk with Willy as he was beyond bored being in self isolation, even though he had his family around.

Willy told him about his purchase of LBL Mechanical and stressed the hidden value of the Robotics division. Ryku listened and liked what he heard. He proposed that one of his divisions of the Waichu Corporation would buy LBL from Armen & Green and take it private. He wanted the Robotic technology and liked the fact there were a lot of contracts with major manufacturers already in place for over thirty million dollars. They discussed the sales price and factored in the purchase price of the stock and the current price. The deal was that Armen & Green would receive fifteen million for the Robotic division. Waichu would pay Armen & Green a base price of ten million per division for another thirty million. In total for the company going private Willy Armen and Al Green would receive forty five million. They would have a twenty million dollar profit. Ryku thanked Willy for bringing him the deal as he was going crazy being cooped up.

Willy called Al Green and they both laughed, as they no longer would have the banks to worry about, and they made a neat profit. They could enjoy their self isolation in a more relaxed way.

The next morning, Willy was riding his exercise bike when the phone rang, he looked at the number and hesitated before answering, it was Shelby Fitzgerald. He looked around to make sure Miriam wasn’t around. He had fallen back in love with her, and didn’t want to do anything to upset her.

He cautiously answered ‘’Hi, how’s the home isolation going?’’ There was a pause and then a torrent of words. ‘’Oh, Willy. I told Tommy everything. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I am completely, totally in love with you. I told Tommy you’re my man, not him. I told him I want a divorce, and guess what he’s going to grant it. We’ve divided up the apartment, and we’re not sleeping together anymore. Once this isolation is over, we can be together forever. I love you Willy Armen, I LOVE YOU.’’

Miriam wearing a very lovely sports bra and sweats, mounted the bike beside him. Willy mouthed the word ‘’work.’’ ‘’That’s very nice, but I can’t help you. I’m here with my wife Miriam, and I’m not going anywhere, I’m never going to leave her for anything. We’re going to have a baby and I’m enjoying being isolated with her. So, thanks for the nice words, but I’m not going anywhere.’’

There was a silence at the other end. ‘’You’re just saying that cause she’s there right? You love me right? You want to be with me right? You want me forever right?’’

Willy started to pedal, he tried to build up speed. ‘’Uh No, since this home isolation has happened things have changed, and I realize you can be happy at home, you don’t need to go out. So, I’m not making any changes and it will be life with my wife. But thanks for calling. Oh and if you decide you don’t want to come back to the office, I understand and you can call Carol Fullerton, she’s working from home and she’ll send you a severance check.’’ Willy hung up before Shelby could reply.

Willy smiled, he had never felt happier. His deal had gone well and he was with a woman he truly loved, he would never think about hopping the fence again, he would never find another woman better than Miriam.

‘’I love you with my life, and I want to have a baby. I want to grow our family and I want to have more happiness than any two people are entitled to in a lifetime.’’

Miriam smiled and nodded and started to ride the bike harder. ‘’We’ll make love after this workout, gotta keep practicing for the baby till we get it right.’ When she was done, she told Willy she’d meet him in the boudoir.

She dashed up the stairs and pulled out a manila envelope she had hidden in a drawer under her sweaters. She looked at the picture of Willy having lunch with Shelby Fitgerald and she laughed. The Private Investigator had said that Willy and Shelby ate lunch together four times and one time they met at a fitness club. It was all strictly platonic. Willy had never crossed the line to adultery. Miriam decided she didn’t need the pics anymore. She ripped them up and put them back in the envelope and dropped the envelope into the garbage. She felt embarrassed for hiring a Private Investigator in the first place, but at the time her marriage felt stale and she was worried there was another woman.

Miriam had been worried over nothing, Willy hadn’t strayed. The Covid-19 virus was nasty and terrible, but it had served one important purpose, it had saved their marriage. Now it was time to try and make a baby.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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