Sorry about posting the same piece twice: I thought the gnomes at N24 had neglected to publish it.
Anyway, here's a little foretaste of what to expect from my book, which should soona be available on Amazon.
Monica slammed down the phone and swore in aggravation. Bloody people! Why did they assume that, just because she worked in client services, she was expected to take all their crap with equanimity? This was not a good day for her. Her periods had started, she had broken a nail and she was being besieged on the phone by every idiot in the entire city. Bloody job! She sighed heavily, shaking her head. No, that was wrong, it wasn’t the job, it was her.
Monica sat back and looked around her. She was really stuck in a rut here, maybe it was time to get out, maybe even get out of the city and move down to the coast. She’d speak to George when she got home, perhaps they would be able to arrange something. After all, he was a partner in a large, national accounting firm, it wouldn’t be difficult for him. She sat up straight, feeling better for having made a decision. Right, that was what she would do.
Settling back down to work, she fielded the calls as they came in, people still just as irritated and irritating, but not affecting her to the same degree. She slogged away for the rest of the afternoon and, when five-o-clock finally came, she embraced it as she would a long lost lover.
She walked out of the building and nearly reeled back with the force of the heat coming at her from the pavement and buildings. Working in an air-conditioned building was pleasant, but it meant you were never prepared for the full impact of mid-summer. The perspiration was pouring off her before she even got to the car park and her irritation returned and grew with every step.
Arriving at the car park, she looked at the glinting mass of cars and her heart sank. Her car was going to be like a furnace. Even if she’d had an air-conditioner in her car, it wouldn’t have made a huge difference. The car was still like a furnace. She gingerly opened the door and experienced a preview of hell. She took down her little sunscreen covering the dash and steering wheel and got into the car, laying a towel across the seat. At least it protected her bare legs.
She leaned across and opened the passenger window slightly and then wound down hers almost completely. That should at least ensure airflow. She eased into the traffic and laughed humourlessly to herself. Airflow? What airflow? The traffic was crawling along at fifteen kilometres an hour; not much chance of airflow.
Finally, half an hour later, eight kilometres in half an hour, she finally pulled into the driveway of the townhouse she shared with George. Damn! He wasn’t home! Well, she thought philosophically, at least it would give her a chance to freshen up before he came home. It would give her a better chance of convincing him. She opened the garage and pulled her car in, then locked up and tiredly walked up the driveway.
As she opened the door and went inside and saw the pot plant lying on the tile floor, smashed, her irritation grew. The cats had obviously been playing and knocked the plant onto the floor. She sighed heavily; she was not in the mood for cleaning up the cats’ mess before she even had a chance to put on the kettle. And the cats still had the gall to rub against her legs and demand food!
She took an opened can of cat food out of the fridge and fed them, before putting on the kettle and preparing the coffee. Monica stood with her back against the kitchen cabinet, lost in thought, planning ahead of the time what she was going to say to George and imagining his response. She poured the coffee and stood there, slowly sipping it and, when she’d finished, she washed the cup and put it in the drying rack.
Now for her bath.
With a supreme effort of will, she trudged upstairs and put her stuff away before going through to the bathroom and running her bath. Strangely enough, no matter what the outside temperature, she liked her bath hot. She closed the taps and got undressed, then slowly and luxuriously slid down into the bath, revelling in the feel of the hot water on her skin.
She put her head back against the back of the bath and the phone rang. Damn, damn, damn!
Quickly standing up, feeling her head spin and, grabbing a towel, she sprinted through to the bedroom and picked up the phone. ‘Hello?’
‘Monica? Hi, love…listen, you haven’t cooked yet, have you?’ It was George.
She smothered her rising irritation at being hauled out of the bath to be asked such a stupid question. ‘No, George, I haven’t. Why?’
‘I thought maybe you could meet me at that restaurant in Village Walk; you know, the one we went to with Geoff and his wife.’ He paused, ‘You remember, don’t you?’
‘Yes, I remember,’ she said. ‘What time?’
‘About seven thirty?’
‘Okay, George, I’ll see you there.’ She hung up the phone and looked absently at the wet patch that was forming, and growing, at her feet. She would clean that up later. Time to finish her bath.
Monica got back into the bath and lay back again, but couldn’t relax. The call had energised her; now she felt she was in with a far better chance. She couldn’t wait to get out of this rat hole.
All her life she’d lived in Joburg, but lately had started to hate it. Granted the city had become more violent, but that was not the cause of her dissatisfaction. Her dissatisfaction couldn’t be quantified; couldn’t be verbalised. No, she was just miserable in Joburg. It was definitely time for a change.
She got out of the bath and slipped on a light housecoat, then went downstairs and started cleaning up. There was no way she’d have domestics come in and work to what she considered was way below standard and then be held to ransom by unions. No, no, no...she’d rather do the work herself. At least this way, if it wasn’t done properly, she’d know who to blame.
When she’d finished tidying up, she looked at her watch: six -thirty. Right, time to put on the Polyfilla! Once upstairs, she thoroughly washed her face, before going through to the bedroom to start the beautifying process. She’d never been a pretty woman, but with the right make-up, she knew she looked better than just okay. What she did know, was that she’d never had any problem attracting men; quite the reverse, in fact.
She and George had been together for eight years now and they had become as comfortable as an old married couple, but whenever she broached the subject of marriage, he balked and just as quickly changed the subject. What possible benefit could there be in a piece of paper, he would argue, their relationship was stable enough that they didn’t need all that sort of crap to make it work. And that was where it was at the moment.
She finished doing her make-up and studied herself critically in the mirror. Not bad for thirty six, not bad at all. Slipping off her housecoat, she looked at her body, never her best feature, and grimaced. Her upper thighs were starting to show increasing cellulite and her tummy was starting to sag, as was her bum. Oh, damn it to hell! If he didn’t like her the way she was, he could find someone younger and more to his liking!
She did a little pirouette and flounced over to the wardrobe to start dressing. What to wear, what to wear? It had to be seductive, but not too obviously so. She was desperate to get out of Joburg and, unless she could convince him, they were not going to be going.
Finally, she decided on a light, summery dress that had a deep décolletage and slipped it on. Her breasts had always been a particularly good selling feature and, even after eight years, George was still rather smitten with them. On went the perfume, first behind her ears, then on her wrists and, finally, rather generously on her breasts.
Studying herself in the full-length mirror, she pirouetted slowly and half-smiled to herself. Not bad, not bad at all. In fact, bloody marvellous! Now for the coup-de-grace.
She went through to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and took out two of the little white tablets that had been created especially for situations like this. Taking the two little tablets with a glass of water, she grimaced; no matter how quickly you swallowed these tablets, they were terribly bitter. That, however, was unimportant. What was important, was that it would dry up her periods for twelve hours.
Monica went downstairs and out to the car and found, quite to her surprise, that she was singing! Wonderful what an impending change of scene could do for your mood. She opened the garage and reversed the car out, then got out and closed the garage door. Tonight even this didn’t irritate her, her mood was just too good.
Tonight she drove through to Sandton in good time, Tuesday not being a busy night. On occasions when they’d come through on a Friday or Saturday night, it had been almost like rush hour! But not tonight. And even if it had been, it wouldn’t have affected her mood.
She turned into the underground parking and looked at the dashboard clock; seven-thirty exactly. Good, he hated to be kept waiting. She locked and armed her car and walked over to the lifts, then, on impulse, decided to take the stairs instead. She realised, halfway up the stairs, that it had been a stupid idea. There could be muggers and rapists waiting on the stairs; they were badly lit and not exactly the safest place in the world for a woman alone. She cursed her impatience and hurried up the stairs, getting to the second shopping level without incident.
She stood there, getting her bearings, before setting off towards the restaurant. She arrived at the restaurant and spoke to the headwaiter, who led her over to a vacant table. Where was George? She ordered her drink and sat back, looking around. Her entrance was rather spoiled by the fact that George was late; she would have looked so much better walking to the table than already seated. Damn!
Where the hell was he? She drummed her fingers on the table in irritation. It was nearly eight-o-clock when George came rushing over to the table, looking agitated and dishevelled. He brushed her cheek with his lips before sitting down. He didn’t even seem to have noticed the way she was dressed!
‘Sorry I’m late, love,’ he said, ‘have you ordered yet?’
‘No, I was waiting for you. What happened? You look terrible!’
‘Ah, nothing, just pressures of work. Bloody clients!’ he said in disgust. ‘Right, what do you feel like?’
She looked down at the menu. What the hell was going on here? He’d hardly noticed her! She would have to do something special if she was going to really grab his attention. But what? He was completely wrapped up in his own problems, she had to somehow get his mind off his problems and onto her.
She leaned forward and put her hand on his arm, concern on her features, making sure that a lot of cleavage was showing. ‘Would you like to tell me about it?’
He looked puzzled, not even looking at her obvious charms. ‘Tell you about what?’
‘Your problems, silly!’
‘Oh, God!’ He massaged his temples with his fingers.
‘George, what’s wrong?’ Now she was concerned, all thoughts of seduction out of her mind.
He looked at her from under lowered brows and gave a heavy, shuddering sigh. ‘Monica, I want you to know that I’ve always respected you….’
She pulled her hand back as if burnt, ‘What?! What are you telling me, George?’
‘Oh, God, I wish there was a way around this, Monica, I really do, but there isn’t.’ He sighed again and shook his head.
‘George, is there another woman?’
‘No, it’s not that,’ he said, hurriedly, ‘I mean…you know…I don’t know what I mean!’
‘Okay, George, then tell me what you mean,’ she said coldly.
‘Okay, here goes.’ He took a deep breath, ‘Monica, it’s over between us. I’ve given it a lot of thought and there’s no way around it: I just don’t feel there’s a future for us. It’s not your fault, I know you’ve tried, but I don’t feel as if I’m important to you anymore. You’re moody, you snap at me for no reason I can see and I just don’t feel as if I’m a part of your long-term plans!’
‘I’m flying out to Europe tomorrow for three weeks. When I get back, I’d like you to be out of the place. You can take half of everything and my office will help you find other accommodation, but I want to sell the place and find myself something else. I’ll give you half the proceeds from the sale of the townhouse, you’ve earned it, but I’ve already found a buyer, so you’ll have to move out.’
She looked at him in disbelief, shaking her head. ‘You bastard!’ she said softly, ‘You selfish, lily-livered, self-seeking bastard!’ She threw her napkin down onto the table, ‘I’ve always respected you!’ she mimicked, ‘You’ve always respected shit! There isn’t another woman; who do you think you’re kidding?!’
He looked at her as if she’d hit him. ‘Okay, there is another woman, but you know why? I’ll tell you.’ He leaned forward aggressively, ‘You’ve been so bloody moody lately that I don’t want to spend a minute at home anymore. There’s never any affection, sex is non-existent and conversation centres around your problems at work!’
‘So when somebody actually shows an interest in me it becomes increasingly difficult to refuse,’ he continued. ‘In fact, it’s so rare to be offered affection that I took advantage of it. And that’s who I’m going to Europe with!’
‘You selfish, insignificant little shit!’ She exploded, ‘You’re not selling the place, are you?! You and your little slut are going to move in there!’ She stood up and threw her drink at him, ‘You bastard, I’ll take half of everything, alright; you’ll see!’ She stormed out of the restaurant before he could see her tears. Move down to the coast? Fat chance. Bastard!
She took the stairs down to the car park thinking, let any bloody mugger or rapist try his luck now! She got into her car and sped off, just narrowly missing the lowered boom at the pay point. The guard at the checkpoint looked at her in horror. These white people were crazy!
She drove home at high speed, not caring about whether or not she was caught speeding. She was determined not to cry, she was determined not to cry, she would not cry, bastaaaard!!! She turned into the driveway at speed and nearly crashed into the garage door. She sat behind the wheel, absolutely motionless for about five minutes, thinking of nothing, absolutely numb.
Eventually, she got out of the car and opened the garage door and put the car away, then stood next to the car, wondering what to do next. She armed the car and closed the door, then laboriously made her way up the driveway to the front door.
She went inside and made her way upstairs to the bedroom and started undressing. She passed the mirror and looked at herself, all her previous self-confidence suddenly evaporated. She looked at her image in disbelief, she looked like a bloody clown! Suddenly, in spite of her resolve, she started crying and the more she tried to stop, the worse it became, until she could hardly breathe with the force of the sobbing.
She bent double and hugged her knees, misery overwhelming her. Oh, God, what was she going to do? She didn’t want revenge, she wanted him back, that was what she wanted. She sobbed, huge, gulping sobs that wracked her entire body and made any rational thought or action unthinkable.
She rolled over onto the bed and gave vent to her grief, until eventually her crying subsided enough for her to get up and go to the bathroom. She blew her nose vigorously and thought she was going to vomit. She retched dryly once or twice, then went through to the bedroom and got undressed. Finally, she got into bed and fell into immediate, troubled sleep.
George sat in the restaurant, the residue of Monica’s drink running down his face, feeling the stares of the other diners and the waiters. ‘Well,’ he said brightly, ‘that went better than I expected!’ One of the waiters unobtrusively brought him a towel with which to wipe his face.
‘Thank you,’ said George, handing back the towel. ‘Can you bring me the bill, please?’
‘Yes, sir,’ said the waiter, hurrying off to get the bill. Outwardly, George was calm, inwardly, he was seething. What the hell did the bitch think she was playing at, throwing a tantrum like that in public? Then he smiled wryly to himself; at least she hadn’t broken anything, his head included.
George paid the bill, giving the waiter a fairly substantial tip and walked outside. He took a seat on a bench placed outside the restaurant area and pulled out his cell phone and keyed in a number. He waited while it rang.
‘Hello, Grace? George. I told Monica and she’s taken it very badly, so I need a favour. Do you mind if I spend the night?’
‘Of course, George, just buy yourself a toothbrush on the way, okay, I don’t have a spare.’
‘Thanks. Love you,’ he said.
‘Love you, too,’ she said and broke the connection. He put his phone back in his pocket and stood up. What a difference! Night and day, chalk and cheese! Just no comparison whatever.
He took a slow stroll back to his car and thought about what had gone wrong with him and Monica. It hadn’t always been like this, they had been in love once, they had been friends once. He shook his head, he just didn’t know where to begin looking. Still, it was better all round now that it was over. He knew that Monica hadn’t been happy for a while, either.
He stopped off at a Seven Eleven and bought himself a toothbrush. Then onto La Grace!
For the first time in years he was excited about life again, had something to look forward to. He fully concurred with John Cleese, when he said it was better to have five good marriages that lasted seven years each, than one miserable thirty-five year marriage. And, of course, he wasn’t even married. Just as well too!
Grace lived in a little cluster village, a walled enclosure with twenty-four hour security, shops, cycling paths, crèche, playgrounds, community centre, etc. The main attraction, for George, was Grace.
The total antithesis of Monica. Where Monica was dark, Grace was fair, where Monica was moody, Grace was constantly cheerful, where Monica was slightly heavy-set with, admittedly, magnificent breasts, Grace was tall and willowy, with super-model poise. All in all, an unfair contest. Extremely unfair.
Grace had been working for him now for just under three years and they had been having the affair for the best part of four months now. And it had changed his life. Being his personal secretary had meant spending a lot of time together after normal working hours, having a snatched dinner and, occasionally, a full dinner as reward. And that was when he had fallen in love with her.
He smiled fondly to himself as he turned into the drive of her complex and up to the security gates. He gave his name to the guard, who phoned Grace to confirm before letting him through. He drove through the maze of little matchbox houses, all with tiny gardens and dreary efforts to add a little individuality to their little bit of heaven on earth.
He got to Grace’s house and parked on her lawn; her car was parked in the driveway. He got out and locked the door as she came outside. She waited for him in the doorway, the light behind her silhouetting her beautifully. He felt a sudden rush of affection for her: what a woman!
She leaned forward to kiss him as he got to the door, ‘Oooeeh! You stink! What happened to you?’
He laughed, ‘Monica threw her drink on me!’
‘I don’t know how you can laugh about something like that, I think it’s disgusting!’ She stood back, ‘Come on inside and get cleaned up.’
He went inside and took off his clothes, dropping them on the bathroom floor and got into the shower, first running it hot and then finally running it cold. He nearly screamed with the shock of it, but didn’t. Instead, he got out of the shower, dried himself and pulled on his trousers. His shirt was stinking of alcohol.
He went through to the kitchen, where Grace was busy cooking supper. She looked up as he came in. ‘That’s better.’ She switched off the stove and came over to him, rubbing her hands over his chest, ‘Much, much better!’
He was immediately aroused and leaned down and kissed her; and she responded with an animal passion. He felt giddy with desire, taking her hand and leading her through to the bedroom, where they took each other with near savagery.
Monica awoke and the awful events of the previous night came flooding back and she lay back with a groan of despair. She determined that she was going to take the day off and start planning her move to Cape Town, or even Durban. Anything to get out of Joburg!
She smiled grimly to herself; at least she wouldn’t have to convince George to move to the coast. And she started crying again, not convulsively this time, but quietly and, if possible, even more painfully.
As miserable as she was, she’d rather be miserable with him, than happy without him. She got up and went through to the bathroom to wash her face and stared, aghast, at her reflection. She looked terrible, her eyes all puffy and her face haggard. She shook her head, what the hell did she expect?
She brushed her teeth and washed her face thoroughly, removing last night’s smudged make-up, then she went through to the bedroom and dressed and brushed her hair. There, that felt better. Now to feed the cats.
She went downstairs and put on the kettle before taking out the cat food. The cats, meanwhile, were twining around her legs and nearly tripping her up. The routine brought with it a semblance of normality and pushed her immediate problem to the back of her mind for the time being.
She put the food bowls down and, as usual, the cats put their heads in the way of the bowls as she was putting them down. She smiled fondly at them; they, at least, gave affection for nothing more or less than their food and shelter.
She went to wash her hands and went back to the kitchen to switch off the kettle and make her breakfast. She unconsciously put out two cups and two bowls for breakfast, then, as she realised what she was doing, she felt the strength drain out of her and tears start to her eyes.
She put away the extra cup and bowl and made her own breakfast and coffee, then went through to the dining room. She put on the TV and watched the mindless crap being churned out, but it was either that or news and, right now anyway, she was not in the mood for more bad news.
She washed the dishes and put them away, then looked around. There was nothing left to do, she was at a loose end without George to wait on and tend to and, most importantly, talk to. She sighed and threw up her hands in frustration. What was she going to do?
The phone rang and she half-ran through to the dining room to grab it. ‘Hello?’
‘George?’ What was he up to? ‘Yes, George, what do you want?’
‘Monica, please don’t be angry, I need to see you.’ Her heart leaped.
‘Okay, George, I’ll be at home for the next hour or so.’ She put down the phone, her heart pounding. Oh, God. What was going on?
She rushed upstairs to change into something virginal, yet seductive and get made-up again. Please God, she thought, let him be coming to make up! What other reason could there be? She carefully applied her make-up and then, equally carefully, dressed, then went downstairs to wait.
She paced up and down, not able to sit or rest for even a moment. It was with a supreme effort of will that she avoided biting her nails, instead wringing her hands in an agony of impatience. She heard a car pull into the driveway and hurriedly looked out through a gap in the curtains. It was him!
She stood in the middle of the lounge, waiting for the doorbell to ring, shifting from foot to foot like someone with an over-full bladder. The bell rang and she jumped with fright. She turned and looked at the door, rooted to the spot. What was wrong with her?
As she went to the door and opened it, she felt the strength drain out of her legs at the sight of him.
‘Monica,’ he murmured.
‘George,’ she stood back from the door. ‘Would you like to come in?’
‘Thanks,’ he moved inside and she closed the door. ‘You look nice,’ he said.
She smiled tremulously. ‘Thanks,’ she said, eyes downcast. ‘Would you like some coffee?’
He shook his head, ‘No, thanks.’ He looked around, ‘Do you mind if I sit down?’
‘No, not at all!’ He sat down and she sat perched on the edge of her chair on the other side of the room. ‘So, what can I do for you?’
‘Look, I know I behaved like a pig last night, and I apologise. I don’t know what came over me, but I’m sorry I said what I did.’ He leaned forward, ‘Forgive me?’
She felt her stomach do a flip-flop. ‘That depends on what you want me to forgive, George.’
‘The whole of last night, what I said, my treatment of you, everything!’
She sighed then, a sad, forlorn sigh. ‘George, what do you really want?’
‘I told you!’ he said. ‘I feel terrible about last night! I was completely insensitive and I apologise; I was really out of line.’
She leaned forward, ‘George, let’s cut the bullshit! WHAT-DO-YOU-WANT?’
He gave her the hurt look, which was one of the things that had originally stolen her heart. ‘You know, Monica, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can still be friends, you know; we don’t have to make this ugly.’
‘No, we don’t have to,’ she said wearily. ‘You’ve come for your clothes, haven’t you? You haven’t really come to apologise.’
He looked sheepish, ‘Well, yes, I did come for my clothes, but I really did want to apologise as well!’
She waved him away wearily, ‘You know where your clothes are. Just take them and leave; I’ll be out of here by the end of the week, so you’ll have your precious place all to yourself and your little whore.’ She held up her hand to stall him. ‘Don’t say anything, just take your clothes and leave.’
He looked at her for a moment, then nodded and went upstairs to the bedroom to get his clothes. He felt uncomfortable in the bedroom, thinking of it as ‘her’ bedroom already. He got his clothes out as quickly as he could, not wanting to spend too much time in the room.
Or the house, for that matter.
He had to make two trips to get all his clothes out to the car and, when he had finally loaded all the clothing into the car, he came back inside. ‘Thanks, Monica,’ he said, ‘and listen, there really is no rush to leave.’
She looked at him in contempt. ‘You really are full of shit, you know. I don’t know how I didn’t see through you before. I told you I’ll be gone be the end of the week, but just you get one little fact into that tiny little head of yours. Half of everything in here is mine and I’m going to make sure I take exactly half of everything. Exactly half.’ She took the door and got ready to close it. ‘Goodbye, George.’
She closed the door behind him and fought back the tears; he really wasn’t worth it. She walked back inside, suddenly exhausted. Now she no longer wanted him back, so in a sense, it had been a boon that he had come around this morning.
Like a lost spirit she wandered around the place, not knowing what to do with herself, her mind in a turmoil. No matter what she told herself, if he’d been there to make up, she would have had him. She suddenly doubled up in pain as a cramp struck her. Oh, God, not period pains as well!
She hobbled upstairs to the bathroom, the cramp making it impossible to walk normally. Damn him, damn him, damn him! She put herself through all of this, and for what? She went to see to herself and then lay down on the bed, waiting for the cramps to pass, cursing him all the while.
After the cramps passed, she went downstairs again and got the Yellow Pages online. Machinery hire, machinery hire… ah, here it was! She was amazed by how many places there were that actually specialised in machinery hire. She chose the one nearest to her and dialled the number.
‘Hello? Is that Springbok Plant Hire? I was wondering, do you hire out chainsaws? You do? And how much is it?’ She listened while the salesman gave her different models and prices. ‘Okay, I’ll take your cheapest one; my boyfriend needs cut down a tree. Can you give me your physical address?’ She wrote down the address and put down the phone. Half of everything? She’d show the bastard!
She got her credit card and put it in her purse, then went out and pulled the car out of the garage. Strange, just a few hours ago, revenge was the furthest thing from her mind; now it was uppermost.
George drove back out to Grace’s home, pondering over the ugly little scene he had just been party to. God, he thought, I don’t know how I was with her so long and didn’t see through her. What a bitch!
He had Grace’s pass card to get into her complex, so that saved him a lot of aggravation. He drove up to her place and pulled into her driveway this time; she’d put her car away in the garage.
She came outside to greet him, ‘So, how did it go?’
He got out of the car and kissed her, ‘Bloody terrible! I didn’t realise what a bitch she was. My God, you should have seen her! I apologised to her and she got all snotty!’ They went inside and he continued. ‘I wish we could delay this flight for a day or so, I’m sure she’s going to do something drastic.’
Grace smoothed his hair back from his forehead. ‘What can she do? I mean, really do?’
‘She can cut up everything and, believe me, she will! You weren’t there, you don’t know what she’s capable of. The way she said that she was going to take half of everything!’ He shook his head, ‘The bitch! At this rate, she’s going to ruin my holiday with you.’
‘Then don’t let her!’ Grace said, soothingly. ‘Look, you’ve given half of everything to her already, haven’t you?’ He nodded. ‘Well, if she destroys everything, you just take it from her share of the sale of the townhouse!’
‘You’re right!’ he said, hugging her. ‘Right, from this moment on, we’re on holiday and I’m not going to let that selfish bitch spoil it for me. For us!’ he corrected himself, ‘Let’s start packing; and to hell with her!’
Monica drove into her driveway and, leaving the car parked in the driveway, took the chainsaw out of the boot and went inside. She stood just inside the doorway and surveyed the lounge furniture. ‘Right, you bastard, half of everything? We’ll see about that!’
She pulled the rip cord and the machine stuttered, then died. She pulled again, with the same results. And again and again, and again. She threw the chainsaw down and swore. The dirty, dirty, rotten bastard! Everything went his way, not even the chainsaw would work.
What was wrong with the bloody machine? She picked it up and carefully studied it, looking for some clue as to how it would work. Then she discovered a choke. She pushed the little toggle switch over and pulled the ripcord and the machine roared into life with such a banshee howl that she nearly dropped it!
Looking around the lounge, taking in all the furniture, with the chainsaw emitting a constant buzzing howl, she walked over to the dining table and lowered the saw, but as it approached the table top, she pulled it away and switched it off. This was really childish!
With a heavy sigh she took the saw back out to the car and loaded it in the boot. She sighed again and sat down on the sill of the open boot. She had come so close to destroying things she loved, just to spite him! She would definitely get out of Joburg, and away from all this; make a new start. Cape Town or Durban, which one would it be?
She got up and closed the boot and went around to the front of the car. Right, she thought, let’s take this contraption back and get packing; I’ve only got three weeks! She drove off, feeling lighter than she had in years, the decision made, a new start not only possible, but imperative!
With a bit of a spring in her step, she walked into Springbok Plant Hire after parking the car and the attendant came over to her, a condescending smile on his face. ‘Problem getting it started?’
I’ll show you, she thought. ‘Oh, no! I’ve finished already. I just didn’t want it lying around where someone could hurt themselves on it.’ Put that in your pipe and smoke it, you smarmy bastard!
‘Okay!’ He took the machine from her and examined it. ‘Seems okay. Thanks, ma’am.’
There, that was not so difficult. She walked out of the shop feeling really pleased with herself. Now to find out about jobs in Durban or Cape Town. And she knew exactly who to ask as well!
She drove home slowly and thoughtfully, mulling over what she was going to say, although she was sure he had sorted it out already. As she pulled into her driveway, she looked at her watch. Was he out of the country yet, she wondered. Ah, it didn’t matter, he’d find out soon enough anyway.
As soon as she got inside, she dialled his number. The phone rang twice before it was picked up. ‘Edwards, Mulley and Dawson, good morning!’
‘Petrina, it’s Monica here, how are you?’
‘Oh, Monica! I’m fine, how are you?’ She didn’t wait for a reply, ‘I’m sorry, George isn’t here.’
‘Yes, I know, Petrina. Is Mike there?’
‘Yes, he is, I’ll put you through.’ Monica waited while the most godawful hold music played. Where did they find this stuff?
‘Monica? How are you?’ Mike.
‘Hi, Mike, I’m fine, thanks. You?’
‘Fine, fine, fine! To what do I owe the honour of this call?’ As if he didn’t know.
‘George and I are splitting up…’
‘Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that!’ Liar!
‘…and I’ve decided to move down to the coast, either Cape Town or Durban, and I need your help.’
‘Of course, of course, ask away!’ Mr Geniality himself.
‘I was wondering if you had any vacancies down there and perhaps some flats or townhouses that I could rent?’
‘I’m sure we have, Monica. Where can I contact you?’
‘I’m at home,’ she said. ‘You know the number.’
‘Yes, of course! I’ll get back to you by this afternoon. Okay?’
‘Okay, Mike. And Mike?’
‘Thanks.’ She put down the phone and stared at the wall. Well, she had set the wheels in motion. She started looking for furniture removal companies and finding out prices for removal to either Cape Town or Durban. She got the best price and made an arrangement for two weeks hence. She would give a week’s notice at work; that would be fine. Now to start choosing what she wanted to keep.
She went from room to room, putting tags on everything she wanted, from the smallest ornaments, to the largest furniture, to carpets and paintings. Everything.
The phone rang and she almost leaped over the bed to answer it. ‘Hello, Monica speaking?’
‘Monica, it’s Mike. Listen, I’ve been making enquiries and we’ve got a vacancy in our Durban office in Client Liaison. Is that alright?’
‘That’s fine, Mike. Salary?’
‘What are you getting now?’ he asked.
‘I clear eighteen thousand. No matter what the package, that’s what I must clear.’
‘Okay, that should be fine. Secondly, we’ve got a flat in The Berea. Six thousand six hundred, excluding lights and water. It’s only a one bedroomed flat , but it’s an old block with huge rooms and good security. You can get the keys from our Durban office.’ There was an expectant pause, as if he were waiting for her to comment.
When she said nothing, he continued, ‘There’s no need for a deposit, because it’s a company property.’ He paused expectantly, then continued. ‘When would you want to move in?’
‘Two weeks time, is that alright?’
‘That’s fine, Monica. Just call me before you leave, okay?’
‘Fine, Mike, thanks.’ She replaced the phone and gazed at the wall, lost in thought. This was a king-size guilt trip George was on if he was going to all this trouble to help her. Swine.
She lay back on the bed and without meaning to, fell asleep, curling up into a foetus-like ball. She slept without dreaming and, when she awoke, she was briefly disorientated. Suddenly, the events of the last two days came flooding back and she felt light-headed, all her previous excitement evaporating. Oooh, he was such a bastard! She wished she could think of a way, any way, to make him pay.
She tried to go back to sleep, but it was useless; she would never sleep now.
Eventually, she got up and went downstairs to make a cup of coffee and a bite to eat. It suddenly struck her that she was hungry, she hadn’t eaten since breakfast. She made a sandwich while the kettle boiled, then went through to the lounge to eat it.
She sat in a near catatonic state, not seeing anything, not taking notice of anything, her coffee getting cold. After a while, she shook herself awake and sipped her coffee. Ugh! Cold.
She put it in the microwave to heat up and drifted off again, only the incessant beeping of the microwave bringing her back. She had to snap out of this, and quickly. She was stunned by how much the break-up had affected her. It was not just grief, but total emotional turmoil! She took her coffee out of the microwave and slowly sipped it, blowing over the top of the cup to cool it down. Two more weeks, how was she going to make it?
It turned out that the two weeks were so full that she had no time to think, no time to cry, no time to miss George, no time for anything but work!
It was packing, wrapping, selecting, notifying everyone of her new address. Working her notice while trying to organise the move. Two weeks seemed to be not nearly enough, instead of being sooooo long!
Finally, the day arrived and she sat in the townhouse, on the steps, while removal men walked in and out, carrying boxes and furniture out to the truck. When they had finished, she went back inside to clean up, all thoughts of revenge gone from her mind. Let him have his place and his girlfriend and good luck to them!
She swept and vacuumed, then washed down the walls where the paintings had been. He would never be able to accuse her of being dirty! The foreman of the moving team came in and said, ‘Ma’am? We’re leaving now. Are you going to meet us there or are we going to store it?’
‘No, I’ll meet you there. I’ll be leaving shortly after you.’ She fished in her bag and gave him the address. ‘This is the place; do you know where it is?’
‘Ya, this is fine, I know this part of Durban.’ He turned to go, ‘Okay, ma’am, I’ll see you there.’ And went out to the truck.
She stood and listened to the truck pulling out of the driveway and driving off down the street. Well, she was finished cleaning, just one more thing left to do and then she would go and have supper before she set off for Durban herself.
The cats were being sent down separately, and she would pick them up in a few days.
Finally she finished what had to be done and took one last look around before locking up for the very last time. She put the keys through the letterbox in the door and walked out to her car, taking one last look at the place she had called home for the last five years. She very deliberately turned her back and got into her car, driving off without a backward glance.
She drove out to a local steakhouse and went inside. Good, it was quiet, too early for the supper trade and too late for the lunch trade. And it was cool inside!
The waiter came over with a menu and asked her what she would like to drink so long. And gave her the eye. Hmmm! Definitely not too old, was she.
George pulled into the driveway of the townhouse and was confronted by a silence that was almost ghostly.