I don't think anyone could ever call me vain or arrogant, but then no-one would ever call me humble either. I'm just lucky enough to know both my strengths and my weaknesses and play to my strengths. I also know exactly where I'm going and what I want out of life and if that makes me arrogant, then I'm arrogant.
Fortunately for me, I don't concern myself with what other people think of me, so I could also say that I'm pretty much self-reliant and reproach free, if that's a real word. Now I know it may seem to you that I'm dwelling too much on how wonderful I am, but there is a purpose in what I'm doing.
As this story unfolds, you're going to see me doing things that will give you a really poor impression of me, unless I can first show you that I'm not that unpleasant or nasty. In fact, if I don't first convince you, you're going to think I'm a bit of a shit, instead of cunning and resourceful, which is what I really am.
Now you may think that's arrogance, but it's merely fact. Now, to the nub of the story.
My wife is a bitch.
Now, by this I don't mean that she's unpleasant or nagging or even dominant. No, she is simply a twenty four carat, dyed in the wool, first class bitch. Which is why I spend as much time down at my local hostelry as I do.
And which is why Lynn made such an impact on me.
Now, my wife would say I spend so much time at the local because I'm an alcoholic and nothing could be further from the truth. I spend so much time at the local to get away from her and her ceaseless whining and bitching and endless recriminations. And also because if I don't, I'll end up hitting the cow.
I enjoy a social drink, like most people, but I'm definitely not an alcoholic! She should see some of the misfits down here; then she'd see what an alcoholic looks like. And I definitely don't look like them!
Anyway, let me tell you about Lynn. She walked in through the doors like she owned the place. Cocky, self-assured and totally confident. And with looks like hers, every reason to be. Now, some people would call her brazen, but those would have to be people who didn't know her. She was surprisingly gentle under that cocky exterior, once you got to know her. And I had every intention of getting to know her.
I was up at the bar, regaling the regulars with my stories, when I noticed that she was also laughing. Now, although I've never tried it, I reckon I could do stand-up comedy. I tell a joke better than anyone I know and a hell of a lot better than some of these so-called stand-up comedians.
After a while she sort of sidled up to me and said, ‘You tell a joke really well, you know that?’
I, of course, was seriously flattered by this. ‘Thanks,’ I said.
‘Are you professional?’ she asked. Wow! I mean, W-O-W!
‘Nah,’ I said, ‘but I reckon I could do it. I've watched some of these berks and I wonder where they get the balls to go up on stage and embarrass themselves that way.’
‘Yeah, I know what you mean,’ she said. ‘I could tell a better joke than a lot of them and I'm definitely not professional!’
‘Can I get you something to drink?’ I asked. ‘Sorry, I don't even know your name.’
‘It's Lynn. Yes, get me a rum and Coke, please. And your name?’ This with a cocked eyebrow.
‘It's Matthew, like from the Bible. But I'm not like from the Bible, except in the way I know women!’ and I gave her my dirty old man leer. And she threw back her head and laughed; I mean really laughed!
You know, for a guy pushing backwards at forty, it's seriously flattering for a gorgeous young thing to be laughing at your jokes the way she was laughing at mine. Jokes, that is.
Only, you know what? I think she was serious; she wasn't just laughing to flatter me, she really liked my jokes! And I really liked her.
So I bought her a drink and we chatted and really got to know each other and almost got to know each other Biblically as well, but it was that time of month and I lucked out. But, hey, I can tell you, when I drove home that night, I was feeling anything but forty something. Who was it who said life begins at forty? Whoever it was, he knew what he was talking about.
Funny thing is, Lynn is twenty two and I'm forty something and we have so much in common. I really do believe that age doesn't make that much of a difference, I mean it's not like I'm eighty or something!
It reminds me of the joke about the old man of eighty who marries a girl of nineteen and the doctor says to him, ‘You realise this could be fatal?’
The old man says, ‘If she dies, she dies!’
I know it's old, but it's still a great joke. Now to face the music.
I squared my shoulders and opened the door as softly as I could, which was a bit of a waste, really, because there she was, waiting for me. Thunder thighs, thunder face. Stop clocks and frighten children with that face. I know she frightened me! But tonight I just couldn't care; except now.
She was pulling the dirtiest trick in the book; she was crying. See what I have to put up with? Shit, now you can see why I spend so much time at the local, can't you?
I know they say attack before you're attacked, but what can you do against tears? I stood there for the longest time, just looking down at her, not even moving or saying anything, but my evening was ruined. After a while she got up, gave me an accusing look and went off down the passage to the bedroom, softly closing the door behind her.
I stood there, not moving for a while, before I went down the passage to the bathroom and then to make up the bed in the spare room. I couldn't keep my mind off Lynn and could see her clearly in my mind’s eye. Young, pretty, shoulder-length blonde hair that didn't look as if it came out of a bottle; little butterfly tattoo on her right shoulder and a beautiful, dirty laugh.
I found myself smiling as I made up the bed, replaying moments of the evening. Aah, she was adorable and she had gorgeous legs. She was only about five two, but her legs were about four six. That was more my style.
You might think me callous, thinking these thoughts while, just down the passage, my wife was locked away in her bedroom, crying softly, but persistently, low, keening noises coming from behind the closed door. But really speaking, she brought it on herself. I mean it's not my fault we can't have kids; I've been tested and I'm alright. She's the one who’s barren, but she seems to blame the whole thing on me.
Not only that, she hates the fact that I have a social life and she doesn't. Her idea of socialising is to visit her mother. My idea of socialising is not to visit her mother. I have no family and her family have never made any great effort to make me one of the family, so why should I want to spend time with them?
My friends like me for who I am, not for anything they can get out of me. I actually think she's more than a little selfish. She has her family, I have no-one except my friends, but if I go out to see them, she complains. Aside from which, I need my space.
I switched off the lights and closed my eyes and was immediately asleep. The sleep of the innocent: fitting, isn't it?
At about two in the morning, I woke up, heart pounding, body covered in sweat, hands shaking. Shit! This was happening more and more lately. My wife will tell you it's my blood sugar dropping because of excess drinking, but that's a crock. I'm a social drinker, not a bloody alcoholic.
I got up and went to the bathroom to take a leak. That was the problem! Not blood sugar, but swollen bladder. I stood there, gently swaying while aiming a jet of pee right into the water and bugger the noise. If it wakes the bitch up; good!
There was a problem with waking up in the small hours of the morning; I was staggering down the passage. This was because I was tired and disorientated from just waking up. She'd say it's because I'm a drunkard. You think I'm exaggerating? You don't know the bitch!
I could do nothing right in her eyes. When we first met, she thought I was funny. In the first few years of our marriage, she still thought I was funny: she laughed at my jokes and liked my sense of humour.
Then, as time went by and she couldn't fall pregnant, who was to blame? You guessed it. Give the man a banana.
I'm not the one who's sterile; I'm not the one who can't have a baby, but do I blame her? Am I angry at her? No, she's angry at me! Like it's my fault. I shook my head and sighed; I didn't know why I was still here. Habit, that's all, just habit.
Well, habits are made to be broken.
Now, if you follow this story carefully, you'll see just how cunningly I broke the habit.
I left for work early the next morning; I had no desire to face Tracy. I also wanted to call Lynn and talk to her again and maybe ask her out. I really liked her and was prepared to wait until her time was past, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
I got up to work and went straight up to my office. People at work think I'm very dedicated, they don't know the half of it. Miserable home life makes for a very dedicated worker; or dedicated anything else. Anything to get out of the home.
I looked at my watch; quarter to seven. That was early. Even for me. Could I call her now, I wondered? It was very early, but maybe she'd enjoy hearing from me. Maybe I could even go around there now. I squirmed in my chair, thinking of the delights that waited there.
I picked up the phone and dialled her number. The phone rang and rang and I was just about to hang up when her sleepy voice came on the phone, ‘Hello?’ Instant hard-on.
‘Lynn, it's Matthew.’
‘Matthew?’ a pause, ‘Oh yes, from last night. Do you know what time it is?’ Oops.
‘Seven fifteen,’ I said. ‘Is that why you phoned me? To find out the time?!’ And she laughed, that beautiful, throaty, sexy, sleepy laugh.
‘Oh, Matthew…..I forgot how funny you are!’ she paused, ‘Where are you now?’
‘I'm at the office, why?’
She sounded disappointed, ‘Oh, nothing. I was just hoping you could come over.’ She paused, ‘But don't worry, there's always another time.’
‘Do you want me to?’ I asked, ‘Come, I mean.’ And that delicious laugh came rolling down the wires. See what I mean about instant hard-on?
‘Yes to the first and yes to the second,’ she laughed. ‘Are you coming?’ and realised what she'd said and laughed again. ‘I mean, are you getting in your car and driving over to see me?’
What could Tracy possibly offer me, compared to this? Nothing, nada, nebbitsch, nix, zilch, zero. Not exactly impressive, was it? ‘Yes, I'll see you in about fifteen minutes,’ I said, ‘but don't go back to sleep, okay?’
‘No,’ she said. ‘Not till you get here.’
I put down the phone and opened my office door. ‘Bill,’ I shouted and an overalled man came into my office, carrying a steaming mug of coffee.
‘Bill, I have to go out for a while. Just keep an eye on things and take messages until Audrey comes in, okay?’ Bill nodded. ‘Good lad,’ I said, clapping him on the shoulder, ‘I won't be long.’ I went out to the car feeling really pleased with myself and with life in general and why not?
On the way over, I played out different scenarios in my mind, each one more pleasing than the last. I pulled into the parking lot and looked up at her flat. It was one of those depressing blocks with wrought iron railings edging the long, endless landings and six floors of stultifying sameness.
But inside one of those flats was the reason that made the whole effort worthwhile and added a sheen to the ghastly building. It was, to me, the Taj Mahal, the very reason for my existence; the abode of my love.
I got out of the car and legged it up the stairs to the third floor and then half-way along the landing to her door, to Aladdin's cave, the cavern of delights; my own harem. Or was it Ali Baba's cave? Well, whatever, I was here now. I knocked on her door and waited impatiently for her to open the door.
The door opened just a crack and she looked out through the opening, before taking it off the chain and opening it fully. Did I tell you how beautiful she was? That doesn't begin to describe it. Her hair was tousled and she had obviously just woken up. Her night-shirt just covered the bare essentials and I could feel myself hardening as I looked at her. ‘Come on in,’ she said, turning her back and walking back inside. I eagerly followed her. ‘In here, love,’ she said, going through to what was obviously the bedroom.
LOVE?! L-O-V-E? Wow, oh wow! Music to my ears, I can tell you. ‘I'm going back to bed, you want to join me?’ she asked, looking at me through her tousled hair. She lifted up her legs to swing them into the bed and gave me the briefest glimpse of those hidden delights.
I quickly undressed and wondered, do I leave my underpants on? Did I leave anything on? It was, you know, that time and we wouldn't be able to do anything, so I decided to leave them on and got into the bed and snuggled up behind her. She reached behind her to hold me and said, ‘Why are you wearing underpants?’
‘Well…I thought.. well…. we can't do anything,’ I finished lamely.
She turned to face me and put her hand in my underpants. ‘I dried up during the night,’ she murmured, ‘but if you want to keep them on, we'll just go back to sleep…’
‘No!’ I said, desperately, ‘I'll take them off right now!’
I spent the rest of the day in a bit of a daze. I knew exactly what I was going to do, I just hadn't worked out how. Time to put on the old thinking cap; an idea would present itself soon enough if I worked at it. The problem was, it was definitely time for a divorce, but I didn't want the bitch getting half of everything I'd worked so long and hard for. This was where my cunning would be needed. I'm not naturally devious, you understand, but this was self-preservation.
I got through the day somehow and made my way home, with great reluctance, I might add. I couldn't divorce her immediately, or she'd nail me, so I had to try and pretend that things were alright. Tough call.
Still, I mentally steeled myself as I opened the door. Tracy was nowhere to be seen. This was great! Maybe I could clean up and get out of there before she got home. I walked down the passage to the bathroom when I heard the key in the door. Damn! Too late!
I turned to face her as the door opened and affected to hang my head in shame. ‘I'm sorry about last night, love,’ I said.
She looked at me for a long time, hand still on the doorknob. ‘Are you.’ She slowly closed the door and turned to face me. ‘That word slips off your tongue so easily, doesn't it?’ She shook her head, ‘Sorry? No, I don't think so.’ She brushed past me and walked off down the passage to the bedroom to take off her coat and put away her handbag.
I walked down the passage after her, feeling a real fool; like a naughty boy. Why did she make me feel this way? ‘Tracy!’ I said, plaintively, ‘don't make this harder for me than it already is.’
She stopped so suddenly that I nearly walked into her, then turned and faced me. ‘This is all about you, isn't it? “Don't make it harder for me”. What about me, you bastard?!’ And started crying again. Shit! I really don't know why I put up with this, I really don't.
I turned on my heel and stormed out. ‘Fuck you!’ I shouted over my shoulder as I slammed the door behind me. Bitch! I pulled away, tyres smoking and drove straight down to the pub. This is the sort of shit I have to put up with all the time.
I was in a really black mood when I walked into the pub and Andrew, the barman, picked up on my mood immediately. After he came back with my drink, he asked, ‘Problems, Matthew?’
The barman was more sensitive than my wife. ‘No,’ I said, ‘nothing that I can't sort out.’ I really didn't want to talk about it. I had a lot of thinking to do and I wasn't really in the mood to talk to anyone about my problems. I had to find a way out of this mess and I couldn't quite see how.
Tracy and I hadn't had a civil conversation in months, maybe even years, so there was absolutely no hope of saving the marriage. And right at this moment, I had no desire to save it. Lynn had appeared like a summer storm and, as corny as that sounds, that was exactly how she affected me. Sudden, sharp, refreshing and lots of noise and flashing lights.
But, how do I get rid of the bitch and keep my stuff? My brain was working overtime trying to sort this one out and, before I knew it, my mood had lifted. My black mood was replaced by anger, which was, in turn, replaced by resolve.
I was still sitting there, working through my problem, when she walked in and my heart skipped a beat. Corny, but that was how it felt. God, she was beautiful! She stopped for a moment, looking around and she saw me and, I swear it, her face brightened! ‘Matthew!’ she said and came skipping over to where I sat. She kissed me hard on the lips and said, ‘Hmm! Good to see you!’
Good to see me? Good to see me!? So much better to see her! I sat back and looked at her, my hands on her waist. ‘What can I get you to drink?’ I asked her.
‘Rum and Coke?’ she said.
I caught Andrew's attention. ‘Andrew, rum and Coke, please.’ He nodded and went off to prepare the drink for her. Her drink arrived and I said, ‘Let's go sit at a table, I need to talk to you.’
‘Ooh, serious, aren't we?’ she said, big eyes, mock-serious expression. She was totally irrepressible. We made our way over to a table and sat down.
‘Look, I have to tell you something,’ I said. ‘I'm married.’
‘I sort of suspected it,’ she said.
‘You did?’ I was utterly amazed. ‘Doesn't it bother you?’
‘No, it doesn't. If you'd been happily married, you wouldn't have been here alone and you wouldn't have been at my place this morning,’ she reasoned. ‘So, why should it bother me?’ She looked at me calculatingly and said, ‘When I see something I want, I go for it. The fact that you're married means nothing at all to me.’ And smiled, that maddeningly sexy smile. Life can be sooo good.
‘You just made my day,’ I said, reaching out and taking her hand. I turned her hand over and kissed her palms, then licked the base of her thumbs. She groaned with pleasure and I felt myself hardening; man, she was something!
We had a couple of drinks and chatted for a while, then got up to go. We went out to our separate cars and I followed her home. When we got to her place, she got out of her car and came over to where I was getting out of my car and, before I was properly out of my car, latched on to me and was hungrily kissing me and pushing against me, grinding her groin against mine. It was all we could do to make it upstairs to her place, I can tell you!
We got upstairs and went at each other like animals, tearing each other's clothes off and making wild, savage love. Afterwards, we lay there panting, looking at each other and not even talking, before starting to fondle each other and slowly get aroused again and make slow, languorous love. We fell asleep in each other's arms.
When I awoke, it was very late and, as gently as I could, I disengaged myself from Lynn and got up and, as quietly as possible, got dressed. She looked so beautiful and innocent as she slept that I felt as if my heart would break with love for her. I finished dressing and slipped out of the door and went downstairs to my car.
I sat in the car for a while, not driving off immediately, but thinking deeply about my options. Divorce was no longer an option, it was a compulsory. How, was the only question. How do I divorce the bitch and keep my stuff? Damn! Work, brain, work! I started the car and drove off slowly; I was in no hurry to get home.
I got home and saw that the bedroom lights were still on and cursed; I didn't want to have a fight now, I was feeling too good. I didn't want my good mood spoiled. I put the car away and went softly into the house, not bothering to go into the bedroom to see if Tracy was awake.
I made up the bed in the spare room again and got into bed, mind awhirl with thoughts. How to get out of this relationship intact. How serious was Lynn. I lay awake half the night, before finally falling into a fitful sleep.
I somehow managed to make it through the day at work, don't ask me how. All I could think about was Lynn and those little secret delights. Luckily, I'm so expert at my job, that I can do it on automatic pilot, so no-one noticed.
I was totally besotted, of course and not really surprising; she was a lot younger than me, beautiful and sexy and she seemed to want me too. How was I going to get through this day? I really didn't know, but the day managed to crawl along on broken legs and finally ended.
I went straight home and washed as quickly as I could, I didn't want to face the dragon. I changed and went out to get myself something to eat, looked in the rear-view mirror and saw her car turn the corner towards our home. Thank God I'd missed her.
I made my way up to one of a dozen steak houses that had blossomed along this particular stretch of road in the last year or so. I don't quite know how such a small area can support so many steak houses, but apparently it did
I ordered my food and sat there, sipping at my beer and feeling strangely contented, waiting for my food to come. My food eventually came and I got stuck in; I was really hungry and the food was pretty good.
I was still pretty hungry when I'd finished, so I ordered dessert and coffee, really enjoying a bit of solitude. I finished my meal and, while I was paying for my meal, looked at my watch. Damn! I wished I'd found out Lynn’s cell number, so I could call her and ask her to join me for a movie or something. Preferably something.
I strolled around the mall for a while, looking at the wares in the various shops and decided to take in a movie to kill the time.
If you were to ask me what the movie was about or even what it was called, I wouldn't be able to tell you. I have not the vaguest recollection of any part of that movie. I got up and left before the movie finished and decided that I'd rather go and wait for Lynn at her place; maybe she'd be home early.
No such luck. Her car wasn't there, so I settled down to wait and, without meaning to, fell asleep. I had the weirdest dream while I was sleeping and suddenly my whole world was swaying and rocking and I was trying to hold on to things and I was falling and rolling and I woke up to see Lynn laughing at me. I shook myself awake and got out of the car.
‘I just had the weirdest dream,’ I said, ‘the whole world was rocking and swaying and I couldn't hang onto anything, I felt like I was going to fall off!’
She started laughing again. ‘I know!’ she said, ‘I was rocking your car!’ and dissolved into paroxysms of laughter. I stared at her in amazement and then, seeing the funny side of it, started laughing too.
After we calmed down, she said, ‘Would you like to come upstairs?’
‘Is a duck’s ass watertight?!’ I said. ‘I'd love to come! Upstairs or here, it doesn't really matter!’ And that started her off again. We made our way upstairs, hanging onto each other and giggling like schoolgirls. What we did when we got inside was definitely not like schoolgirls, but it was pretty special, I can tell you.
Afterwards, while we lay in the afterglow, she said, ‘Matthew?’
‘Tell me something,’ she said.
‘Is this serious or is it just a one night stand?’ she asked. ‘I have to know. If it's a one night stand, that's okay, we'll call it quits now.’ She drew a deep breath, inflating that delightful chest. ‘But if it's serious, I need to know. I want commitment from you.’
I suddenly felt dizzy with joy and took her in my arms. ‘Lynn,’ I said, ‘you don't know how happy you've just made me!’ I started laughing, ‘I feel like a young boy I'm so head over heels in love with you!’ I kissed her hard and she responded with the same urgency and before we knew it, we were making wildly passionate love again.
We lay there for a while, not talking, just looking up at the ceiling and then at each other, before I finally broke the silence. ‘I really want to make a go of this relationship, but I have to divorce my wife and that is giving me a huge headache.’
She sat up at this. ‘But why? Why should this give you such a problem?’
I sighed heavily, ‘If I divorce her, she gets half of everything I've worked for. She's done absolutely nothing to contribute. Everything we have I've bought and she'll get half of it all of it!’ I shook my head. ‘I'm trying to find a way around this, but I can't think of anything and if I tell her I want a divorce, I'll alert her. No, I have to find a way out first.’
‘No!’ she said, ‘That's terribly unfair! How can she get half of your stuff?’
‘I'm afraid that's the law, love. We got married ANC accrual, don't ask me why, and now everything I've worked for, she's entitled to; fairly or unfairly.’ I hugged her to me and she responded by kissing me and then biting my shoulder.
‘You know what I can't understand?’ she said.
‘If the stuff belongs to you, you have the right to do with it as you please, not so?’ she asked.
‘While we're married, yes. Why?’ I suddenly got all excited and kissed her. ‘Oh, you beauty!’ I said, ‘you've given me the answer!’
‘What do you mean?’ she said excitably.
‘I'll tell you later,’ I said, ‘but first I want to show you my gratitude!’
‘My God!’ she said, ‘you never get enough, do you?’ She slid down in the bed. ‘Come on, big boy.’
Lynn didn't know it, but she'd given me the answer to my problem.
The next day at work was agony again. I knew this problem would be sorted out once Tracy and I were divorced, but meanwhile, I was on pins and needles all the time I was at work. All I could think about all day was how I was going to tell Tracy and her reaction.
At last the day ended and I made my way home, playing the whole scenario through in my mind. My words and her reaction, but I had no real idea what was to happen.
I got home a while before her, strangely enough. The one day when I didn't want to avoid her, she was late. I walked around the house agitatedly, wanting to get this over with. My bladder was playing havoc; I was sure it was stress. I went to the toilet and, while I was leaking, I heard the door open and Tracy come in.
‘Matthew?’ she called out, not seeing me, but knowing I was there.
‘In here!’ I called out, giving the old Dickie bird a good shake before putting it away and zipping up. I washed my hands and came out into the passage.
‘You're home early,’ she said. ‘Pub closed?’ See what I have to put up with? Did I say anything nasty?
I shook my head. ‘I wanted to talk to you.’ I said. Suddenly, she became quiet, seeming to shrink, expecting the worst.
‘What about?’ she said. She sounded like a little girl.
I drew a deep breath and slowly exhaled it. ‘I want a divorce.’
‘What?’ She looked at me in amazement, eyes searching my face.
‘It's something I've been thinking about more and more lately and, realistically speaking, I can't see another way out.’ She just looked at me, saying nothing. Eventually, she turned and walked down the passage, taking off her coat as she walked and putting her handbag away in the bedroom.
She returned after a few minutes. ‘It's another woman, isn't it?’
I rolled my eyes theatrically. ‘Why is it always another woman?’ I said, exasperatedly, ‘we never talk, except to insult each other, we don't have sex anymore and we're definitely not friends!’ I shook my head. ‘Nothing about this relationship is working, nothing has worked for years.’
‘My jokes irritate you,’ I continued. ‘My happy go lucky attitude irritates you, in fact, everything I do irritates you.’ She didn't answer, so I pressed on. ‘There is another woman, but that's not why I'm asking for a divorce. I would have asked for a divorce anyway; we both deserve another shot at happiness.’
She looked at me in disbelief, shaking her head. ‘I cannot believe how full of shit you are!’ Her mouth opened and closed as she grappled for words. ‘I can't believe that I was married to you for so long and couldn't see through you.’ Suddenly she screamed at me, ‘You can have your divorce, you bastard, but half of everything is mine! And I'll see it'll cost you an arm and a leg to get rid of me!’
I just shook my head and walked away. I wasn't prepared to get into a mud-slinging contest. If she was going to behave like this, I was just going to walk away. I had better things to do, better places to be.
I went out to the car and sat there, calming down and gathering my thoughts before starting the car and driving off. I drove around aimlessly for a while, deep in thought. I reviewed my marriage to Tracy and when things had started going wrong. I'd loved her in the beginning, of course and had wanted my marriage to work, had wanted children, had wanted a family, but of course, that was never going to happen.
Tracy had started changing towards me in little ways after we'd discovered that we couldn't have children. First complaining every time I went down to the pub for a pint, every time I went out without her, every time I didn't go shopping with her. I was in a high pressure job, I needed my space, I had to have a relief from the pressure, but don't ask her to understand that.
I found myself at the pub and wondered how I'd got there. I sat in the car, looking blankly at the wall in front of me, no conscious thought going through my head. I did want to divorce Tracy, but still hadn't enjoyed the fight we'd just had, even though she was a bitch.
Eventually, I stirred myself and got out of my car, locking the door and walking slowly into the pub.
The barman looked up. ‘Matthew,’ he said, inclining his head.
‘Andrew.’ I sat down on the bar stool.
‘You're a bit early,’ he said. ‘The usual?’
‘Yes, please.’ He pushed a Castle Lager and a glass across the counter to me.
‘You got problems?’ he asked. ‘You're not your usual, chirpy self.’
I looked at him and thought to myself, I'd known Andrew for years, but he was only my barman and he was showing more interest in my problems than my own wife. I shook my head. ‘Thanks, Andrew, but it'll keep.’ He nodded and shrugged, then went off to serve another customer, leaving me to my drink.
I finished the beer and got up; I really wasn't enjoying the beer. This was drinking for the sake of it. I got back into my car and slowly drove out to Lynn's place. Her car was in the driveway! I couldn't believe my luck!
I ran, literally ran, up the stairs to the third floor and then along the landing to her place. I knocked on the door and she opened it a crack and then, on seeing me, opened it all the way.
‘Matthew!’ she said, concern in her voice. ‘What's wrong?’
I grabbed her and held her to me, feeling as if I never ever wanted to let go. ‘Nothing. I'm with you now; nothing is wrong’
‘But what's happened to upset you so?’ she said, pulling back from me and looking searchingly at my face.
‘I told my wife I want a divorce and she blew up. She got really nasty. I tried to make it as easy as I could, but she's such a bitch that there's no way she's going to let me off easily, even though the marriage has been over for years now.’ I gave her a haunted look. ‘I've found a way to get away with all my stuff, but I can't go back home again.’
She laughed then. ‘You can stay here, silly!’ she said, ‘I've got enough room for both of us!’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but have you got room for me and my stuff?’
She frowned. ‘Explain?’
So I did.
I left work early the next day and went straight home. It was only two in the afternoon, but I had a good reason to be there. I'd gone through the day on autopilot again, not paying attention to my work at all and, just after one, telling my secretary I was ill and I was going home.
I'd phoned Lynn at least three times that day, as much to hear her voice as to discuss our plan of action. So, here I was, waiting for her to arrive, so we could get on with it and get shot of Tracy. I heard a car pull up outside and saw that it was Lynn. I went outside to greet her. She got out of the car and kissed me.
‘This is a beautiful place you've got here. Are you sure you'll be comfortable living in a flat?’
‘You know, Lynn,’ I said, ‘somewhere in the Bible it says that it's better to live in the corner of a roof than in a mansion with a nagging wife. Now, before you say anything, I haven't gone all religious and your place is a lot better than the corner of a roof; mainly because you're in it.’
She laughed at that. ‘Okay, if you're sure!’
‘I'm sure,’ I said, ‘really, really sure!’
‘Okay,’ she said, standing on tiptoe and kissing me. Just then, I heard a truck roll up outside. I opened the door and looked out. It was one of the company trucks. Good. I walked outside to greet them.
Thdrivere swung down out of the truck. ‘Are you Matthew?’ he asked. I nodded yes and he called his black labourers out of the back of the truck. As they got out and gathered around, he stuck out his hand. ‘I'm James,’ he said, ‘show me the stuff that has to go.’
We went inside and I pointed out all the stuff that had to go and, with much cursing and cajoling and ribald laughter, they eventually got all the stuff loaded onto the truck.
Lynn suddenly clutched my arm. ‘Matthew, are you sure about this? Are you sure it's legal? I don't want to go to jail or get into trouble with the law!’
‘Relax!’ I said. ‘I won't let you become involved in anything illegal, believe me!’ I hugged her tight and kissed her. ‘All this stuff belongs to me and I've got receipts to prove it. Okay?’ She nodded and gave a worried little smile. ‘Really,’ I said,’ it's going to be alright.’
James came in then, ‘Are you ready to go?’ he asked.
‘Ready,’ I said, looking round one last time, then closing and locking the door. I wished I could have been there to see Tracy's face when she walked in and saw the house. I got into the car and drove off slowly, with the truck following.
We eventually got to Lynn's place and James looked up at the flats. ‘Oh, shit! Don't tell me we're going to be carrying this stuff up those stairs!’
‘I'm afraid so,’ I said. ‘Third floor, halfway up along the landing.’
‘Shit,’ he said again. He turned to me, ‘You owe me a big favour and I'm going to collect. Okay
‘Sure,’ I said, ‘shall we go?’
They battled and struggled up to her flat with all my stuff until, eventually, everything had been moved in. The place looked like a furniture warehouse. ‘Okay,’ James said, as they carried the last of the stuff in. ‘If that's all, I'm going to be off.’
‘Fine,’ I said and pulled out five hundred Rand. ‘Give this to your guys.’
He took it from me, ‘Thanks,’ he said. ‘See you.’
I closed the door behind him and turned to Lynn. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘it's done.’ And took her in my arms and kissed her hungrily. She started to respond and then pulled back.
‘Matthew, are you sure this is legal? Absolutely sure?’ she looked at me pleadingly and looked scared.
‘Absolutely,’ I said, ‘and just to make sure, I'm going to make it legal. Give me a hundred Rand.’
‘What?!’ she looked at me as if I were crazy. ‘What did you just say?’
I pulled out a receipt book. ‘I'm going to sell you all my goods for a hundred Rand, then, when Tracy sues me, she's entitled to fifty percent of the proceeds.’
‘What!?’ She looked flabbergasted. ‘Are you sure that's legal?’
‘Quite sure,’ I said, ‘in fact, it was you who gave me the idea’
‘If you're sure…’ she said and went to get her purse. She came back with the money in her hand. ‘Here you are,’ she said.
I wrote out a receipt, detailing all the goods, including the car; I didn't want the bitch getting her hands on any of my stuff. When I'd finished, I tore out the receipt and handed it to her. ‘The money please?’ I said. She handed it to me and read the receipt carefully.
‘Are you sure it's legal to sell me all this stuff for a hundred Rand?’ she asked. I'd never seen her so uncertain about anything.
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I told you, I'd never do anything to get you into trouble.’
‘Do you mind if I get someone to witness this?’ she asked. She really was making a big fuss about this.
‘No, of course not,’ I said. ‘Go ahead.’
She made her way through the furniture canyon and to the bathroom and opened the door. There was a murmured conversation and Tracy came into the room. That's right, Tracy, my wife; Tracy, the bitch.
I looked at Lynn in confusion, ‘Lynn, what's going on here?’
‘Oh, didn't Lynn tell you?’ Tracy asked sweetly, ‘Lynn's my lover. I helped her to set up this deal.’
I turned to Lynn, ‘But what about the times we had together? You can't tell me you were faking!’
Tracy answered for her. ‘Of course Lynn wasn't faking, dear. She's a nymphomaniac. She loved every minute of it.’