Company Girl by Mark Ryan aka Robert Silverberg (Bedstand Book #957, 1959)
Twisted Loves (BB 807) — tragic lesbian tale. Reprinted as Loren Beachamp’s Strange Delights (Midwood, 1962).
Streets of Sin (BB 813) — tragic juvie gang tale.
Savage Love (BB 976) — tragic tale of a married man who falls in love with a prostitute.
Illicit Affair (BB 980) — story collection.
Company Girl has its tragic elements as do the others: here we have the pitfalls of the desire to move up with corporate greed, to get promotions to get more money, and the lengths a man will go to obtain these things he believes will make his life better.
In John Wallis’ case, he uses his gorgeous wife, Elaine, to move up the ladder fast at an electronics company he started at only a month ago. The book opens with the two getting ready for a company party, and he wants Elaine to look her sexy best, even having her fake dropping her lighter in front of his supervisor, so the man can get a look in her dress.
Sure enough, this supervisor, Lou Klass, is interested in Elaine and calls her at home. John encourages his wife to flirt, and meet with the man, and sleep with the man if he agrees to “promote” her husband.
Why does Elaine go through with it? She is convinced by John the evil is for the better good — they have a two-year-old child, and they want more kids, but he needs to make more than the $7500 a year he’s getting (ah, 1959 money!); the first promotion means a raise to $9000 a year.
So she does it. She feels “dirty” but she thinks it’s for the best.
Meanwhile, at the party, John slips into the bathroom with Klass wife, Roberta, and has sex with her, and maintains an affair with her until he uses her husband for all the promotions he can get.
It was not the first time in his five years of marriage to Elaine that Wallis had made love to an other woman. He was not the sort to let a mere vow stand in the way of possible pleasure. But never before had it happened to suddenly. Never before had a woman — an important woman, in his scheme of things —thrown herself at him that way. (p. 31)
The theme of a the man who allows his wife to sleep with the corporate bosses for his own gain is an oft-used one in sleaze fiction, and Silverberg touched on this in the Don Elliott Woman Chaser.
People want things from each other and create a sexual quid pro quo — I sleep with your wife, you get this deal or raise; you sleep with me, I’ll make sure my husband promotes you. The typical scenario:
On New Year’s Eve, the Wallises to Charlies Michelis’ place in New Canaan for a party. It was a hectic, drunken affair at which everybody was groping for everybody else’s wife. (p. 148)
So John Wallis keeps having Elaine sleep with one boss after another, until he is up to $11,500 a year and looking at a possible exec job with a $25,000/yr salary. But, as in all moral tales, his desire for advancement and a bigger paycheck is his downfall. And in his drunken despair, he nearly rapes his sixteen-year-old babysitter.
But there’s a “light at the end of the tunnel” ending, at last.
A good read.