A London Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A random encounter on a London Tube Journey sets off a series of events that expose how people can manipulate and destroy without good reason or proof of fact!

Submitted: November 29, 2011

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Submitted: November 29, 2011

A A A

A A A


 

A London Story
 
 
 
 
A chance meeting resulting in a series of events that completely reshape the lives of all involved & not to everyone’s advantage!
 
 
The unfolding story of a chance encounter, destructive friends & the damage assumption can cause!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter 1
 
 
3.30pm only two hours to go, the daylight had all but disappeared leaving behind a cold dark world outside, I cant wait to get home I am so tired. It's something about the winter, short days and long nights that makes you tired far quicker than in summer. Anyhow, I just can't wait to get home to a nice warm house and dinner.
 
5.30pm on the dot I was swiping my security pass in the lobby and bidding Jack, our security guard, a good evening. As usual the Northern Line platform was packed to capacity, I hate this part of the day everybody pushing and shoving to get on the train, oh well, best join in if I am to get home in good time...
 
I managed to squeeze in and work my way to the area where the rows of seats face each other, you know, where you hang onto the bar and try not to catch the eye of those sitting down whom you are leaning over, willing them to get off at the next stop so you can sit down, we all do it don't we?
 
Anyhow, the train slowly left the station as if it were a snake only just able to move with its belly full to bursting. As the train gathered speed I tightened my grip on the bar and feigned interest in the various adverts in between the tube network maps on the headers above the seats so as not to catch anybody’s eye.
 
All of a sudden the train came to a screeching halt people and belongings flying all over the place. I had a good grip on the bar but a young woman standing next to me crashed into me her head hitting my chin. I managed to hang on stopping us both from falling over; her handbag and my briefcase however had fallen to the ground spilling contents.
 
"I am so sorry" she exclaimed "don't worry" I said, "happens all the time, lets get your bag and stuff off the floor before the train starts to move again" I scratched around on the floor, in between peoples legs gathering both mine and the young woman's bags and belongings. "Here you are, I think everything is safely back inside"
 
She thanked me and smiled, "I get off at the next stop so best try to get closer to the exit, thanks again" and with that she pushed her way through the masses toward the exit doors. My stop was last on the line so I was going nowhere. After a few stops more people got off than on so I got a seat with about half an hour or so of my journey still to go. I picked up an Evening Standard that someone had left on the seat and began to read. Before I knew it we were pulling into Morden Station, I had nodded off whilst reading the paper. "MORDEN ALL CHANGE" "MORDEN ALL CHANGE" came the cry from the public address system.
 
 
I sprinted up the stairs once the tube doors had slid open swiped my ticket then sprinted across the road to the bus stop, my bus was just pulling up, great, I will be home in another twenty minutes or so.
 
"Hi darling it's me, what a journey packed train, packed bus. What's for dinner, smells good I will just nip up and have a quick shower see you in five" I took my clothes off hanging up my suit, putting my shoes into the cupboard, with shoe trees in of course, and my shirt and socks etc. into the laundry basket. A hot shower in my nice warm bathroom, plenty of shower gel and the dirt and grime of the day was gone.
 
I came downstairs just as Alice, my wife, was putting the dinner on the table. Shepherds Pie one of my favourites, Alice is a very good cook, and before we married she was a stylist for a cookery magazine although a trained chef she found herself working at a magazine rather than a restaurant. She had been made redundant several months ago and now kept our home in pristine condition whilst looking for work. I suspect that she liked being at home hence she had not even been for an interview since her redundancy, that, coupled with the fact that many of her friends had become mothers so were around during the day for coffee and lunch, etc.
 
"How was your day" Alice enquired, I was just about to give my account when she cut across me. "I went out with Sarah, we had lunch at that brasserie in Esher and then walked around the shops before Sarah had to go and get Poppy from her mothers. Poppy was Sarah's daughter, you guessed that I suppose?
 
"I like Esher, can't we sell and move there?" Wow, I thought. I had only eaten one or two mouthfuls of the unfortunate shepherd and we were moving to Esher.
 
"I think we had best wait until you are back at work and we have a bit more money coming in darling" Alice looked at me, sighed and nodded in agreement. I finished my dinner and then sat watching television with Alice for a couple of hours, nothing much being said between the two of us.
 
As usual I left early in the morning for work leaving Alice fast asleep.
 
I got to the office only to find that I had forgotten my security pass, strange, I don't remember taking it out of my bag. Shit, I bet I lost it on the train when my bag spilled its contents last evening on the way home. Too busy being gallant worrying about the young person's welfare to pay attention to my own. "Sorry Jack, I have lost my pass can you let me through" "You will have to go to personnel and get a new one Mr Peters" "I know Jack, I will go straight there and get another one organised, promise"
 
I got into the lift and went straight to my desk, personnel would be closed now they don't start until 9am on the dot and it was 07.40 now. I wrote an email to warn personnel that I had lost my pass and would be coming for a new one, thought it best to forewarn them.
 
About 08.15 I was startled by my telephone ringing, "That you Mr Peters, Jack from security here, I have a young lady downstairs say's she has some property of yours she would like to return" "Really Jack, who is she, I don't have any property that needs returning" "hang on a minute...said she met you on the tube last night" "Oh right, I will come down"
 
I arrived in reception to see Jack smiling and looking at me in a most unusual manner. "Here's Mr Peters now miss" he said beckoning to a very attractive 
 
young woman.
 
"Hi, I think you must have put this into my bag by mistake" She handed me my security pass "thank you, I thought I had lost it for good so kind of you to bring it here, not too much out of your way I hope?" "I only work down the road so no trouble at all, the least I could do after you were so kind to me saving me from a tumble and all that" as she left she shot me a look and a smile that sent a tingle through my body.
 
"Won't be needing a new one now will you Mr Peters" Jack said with that silly grin and twinkle in his eye that he had greeted me with moments earlier. "No, guess not" I said and retreated back to my office.
 
Another email to personnel, ignore my last etc., etc.
 
"Alice, Alice, ALICE whatever is the matter"
 
"I found lipstick, fucking lipstick on his shirt, that bastard"
 
"Calm down Alice, I can't understand you with all that crying whose lipstick and who's a bastard"
 
"Oh Sarah, Bill, it's Bill I took the washing out of the basket today and found lipstick all over his shirt collar"
 
"No! Bill, no way, I mean he's Mr Straight he adores you, he wouldn't no, no way, come on are you sure it's not your lipstick? I'm coming over after dropping Poppy at mummies"
 
By 9.30am Alice and Sarah had decided that I had not only been acting strangely for several months now, but had started to work later and pay her less and less attention. All signs confirming that I had obviously been having an affair and had become so confident in my duplicity that I felt I could pass the lipstick off as hers if questioned!
 
They spent the whole morning going through my suit pockets and drawers looking for evidence.
 
"God he's good, not a single shred of evidence too tidy, much too bloody tidy a definite sign of a philanderer" Exclaimed Sarah who by now had morphed into Miss Marple.
 
Alice, encouraged by Sarah then decided that they were going to catch me out, catch me red handed and she would divorce me, take me for everything, I was a bastard a philandering bastard.
 
That evening I returned home to a dark house and a note on the kitchen worktop, gone out with Sarah, see you when I see you, don't wait up. Unusual, Alice would normally call me and let me know if she was going out, ah well fish, & chips it is then.
 
I didn't hear Alice come in I awoke to find her sleeping in the guest room, I thought how considerate she was to do that, not wishing to wake me, she's such a good sort I am so lucky. I left her a note thanking her for not waking me and sleeping in the guest room signing it with a big kiss.
 
Over the next several days Alice's behaviour became somewhat unusual to say the least. At first I thought I was imagining things but as the days wore on I was certain. I was being followed, some days by Alice others by Sarah. I kept seeing them ducking in the shadows or hiding behind trees and shop doorways each time I waved and moved toward them they would scarper pulling scarves up over their faces and hats down as they scurried off, it was like something out of an old Ealing comedy. I asked Alice several times if she had been up to the city as I thought that I had seen her each time she laughed and said she had no reason to go to the city, I was imagining it, perhaps out of guilt? Guilt, what did I have to be guilty about? Perhaps she meant because I was working and she wasn't, who knows. Either way I thought it best not to challenge her, as she really did seem rather odd, perhaps on the verge of some sort of breakdown.
 
"Morning Bill"
 
"Oh, Good Morning Adrian, how are you? Long time no see"
 
"Yeah, don't usually get the Northern Line but Sarah was meeting Alice so I got a lift with her as I am working in Waterloo today"
 
"They seem pretty much inseparable these days"
 
"Yeah, not sure what they get up to but Sarah spends hours on the computer downloading digital pictures that she has taken with Alice during the day"
 
"Really, what are they pictures of?"
 
"Don't know and don't get involved Bill, last thing I want to get drawn into is another one of Sarah's home business ideas, last one cost me a fortune. Personalised clothes pegs or some such nonsense"
 
"I see, I need a Bank branch train so I best jump on this one Adrian, maybe we can get together for Sunday lunch some time, bye"
 
I jumped on the train as the doors shut, Adrian was a smug boring haven't I done well kind of chap, not someone you wanted to spend 40 minutes on the tube with listening to how well he was doing, the house in Nice the new car etc., etc.
 
"Morning Mr Peters, that young woman was here last night just after you left"
 
"What young lady Jack"
 
"You know, the pretty one that brought your pass back a couple of months ago"
 
"Was she, what did she want"
 
"You"
 
"Me"
 
"Yes,"
 
"Me"
 
"Yes, Mr Peters, YOU"
 
"Oh, well I wasn't here"
 
"No sir you were not, so I gave her your direct number and told her to call you"
 
He stood with a cheesy grin on his face arms behind his back. "May be your lucky day today Mr Peters"
 
I shot him a disapproving stare and walked toward the lifts.
 
I spent the morning expecting a call, bit like a teenager waiting for the girl of his dreams to call because her best friend said she would, remember that feeling?
 
Nothing happened and by the afternoon I was knee deep in work so completely lost track of all else but the work in hand.
 
It came back to me on the train going home, there I was, hanging on the bar as usual in a packed carriage, and Jacks words came thundering back into my head. I began to wonder what she wanted, perhaps I had put something else into her bag or worse still, had put something of hers in mine, I rarely go through my bag there could be things inside that have not seen the light of day for several years; I must go through it tonight.
 
"I bumped into Adrian at Morden Station this morning"
 
"Really"
 
"Yes, he tells me that you and Sarah take many photographs during the day, thinks you may have an idea about some sort of home business. If I can help in any way just let me know"
 
"Don't know where he got that idea, they must be pictures of Poppy, you know what Sarah is like, every five minutes she is taking a picture documenting each moment of Poppy's journey through childhood"
 
"Is she, must be that then? I did sort of ask him for Sunday lunch no specific Sunday but I did ask"
 
"I will sort it out with Sarah, hurry and get changed your dinner will be on the table in ten minutes"
 
"A rather good steak this Alice, where did you get it from"
 
"Borough Market"
 
"Oh, so you were in the City today"
 
"Err um, no, I mean I got it from Kingston Market, don't know why I said Borough where's my head these days silly me, more wine?"
 
I knew that meat as good as this could not have come from Kingston Market, what was she up to?
 
Alice was unusually chatty asking about my day, what was happening at work anybody new in the office since she had last been in to see me, what I did for lunch these days since the canteen was closed and so on. I wasn't used to such interest but found myself telling her every detail of my humdrum existence pleased, in an odd sort of way that Alice was interested in what I did.
 
I felt good that night, happy, happy with my life you know. I had a good wife, home and an OK job hat paid well, I really felt good.
 
It dawned on me that Alice and I had not been err, shall I say intimate, for some time, several months in fact. I had made no effort as I was always tired and nor had she. I will put that right tonight, early night!
 
I could not have timed it any worse, Alice not only had a headache but also said that my snoring had worsened over the last few months so she was finding it difficult to get a good nights sleep. She was going to move into the guest room for a while, until she felt better.
 
I arranged for us to go away for the weekend, Alice could do with a change as could I and besides, if we were away perhaps she would rediscover the pleasures of the marital bed?
 
"I can't go away, sorry. I am feeling terrible I did tell you, terrible absolutely terrible"
 
"But I have booked and paid for it, come on, the change will do you good. Country air and good food you used to love weekends away like this"
 
"You go, I am far too ill, you go, I could do with some me time anyway, go on go, it will be good for us to be apart for a few days"
 
I was now, very confused, what on earth had got into Alice she seemed to loathe the very thought of being close to me let alone intimacy. What could I have done to make her feel this way?
 
I decided to go away on my own; I had paid for it and, quite frankly, now felt that I deserved it!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter 2
 
 
I arrived at the hotel on Friday evening about 8pm a warm welcome from the reception followed by an enquiry when Mrs Peters would arrive. I made up some cock & bull about her mother being taken ill you know, the usual stuff we make up knowing that nobody believes nevertheless we persist.
 
I lay on the bed in my room, should I order food or go down to the restaurant and eat or should I just have a warm bath and go to sleep. I opted to go downstairs to the restaurant, as a resident I had some guarantee of a table.
 
I was seated at a table in the corner of the restaurant I could see everybody and them me.
 
I began with foie gras and a half bottle of Montrachet followed by the most delicious lamb cutlets with a half bottle of Chianti. I was going for it, on my own I could snore the night away no fear of prodding in the ribs of tutting or any other such protestations.
 
"Mr Peters"
 
I looked up; a young woman was standing over me smiling.
 
"Mr Peters, don't you remember me? The tube, you saved me from a tumble"
 
"Oh, my goodness, please, please excuse me" I stood as I slowly fumbled my way through an apology for the lack of recall.
 
"I, I mean people, err, look so different once out of uniform. You look err, so different, beautiful in-fact"
 
"What brings you here Mr Peters and why are you alone"
 
"A long story, I wasn't supposed to be alone but my wife's mother was taken ill at the last minute and so on"
 
"Well, if you are alone you must have lunch with me tomorrow, I am staying with my parents just down the road. I know a great little pub, amazing sea food, pick you up at 12.30?"
 
"Err, well err"
 
"Emily by the way, my name is Emily"
 
"Bill, Bill Peters'
 
"I know, I had your ID card after all"
 
And with that she turned and walked out of the restaurant with several others all of whom seemed to stare at me with a puzzled look.
 
I lay in bed that night staring at the ceiling my mind blank, numb.
 
I could not face breakfast so I went for a walk instead. I walked for several miles before remembering that I had a lunch appointment with Emily. I must get back and change.
 
As I arrived back at the hotel I felt a twinge in my stomach, I was thinking about Alice. What would she say if I told her I was having lunch with a woman I had only met as a result of a chance meet on the tube? Would she feel betrayed? My twinge turned to a feeling of gnarling guilt.
 
I waited in reception for Emily to arrive and sure enough bang on 12.30 their she was.
 
"Hi, I am right outside so we best go before they call out the tow truck"
 
Before I knew it I was sitting next to Emily in a rather lovely Range Rover.
 
"My parents, he lets me use it when I am down for the weekend"
 
Emily took me to a small pub in the middle of West Sussex we sat at a table by a roaring fire. We ate chowder followed by baked trout and then pear tart & custard. It seemed that we could not stop talking, family, childhood, university and work we covered the lot.
 
"Heavens its 4.30"
 
"Do you have somewhere you need to be Bill”?
 
"No, err I just thought that perhaps you should return to your family"
 
"You're right I should, come with me"
 
"Oh no, I don't want to intrude you have already given me so much of your time"
 
"I insist, they won’t bite"
 
And so I was whisked off to Emily’s family home in Wisborough Green. The house was a rather splendid 18th Century Pile set in some 30 acres of countryside with all that a country house should have such as stables, pool house and tennis courts.
 
I also noticed a rather lovely Bentley Continental together with a couple of Aston Martins, a DB5, and a more modern DBS, in the garage as we swung past screeching to a halt just outside the front door of this grand pile.
 
"Old Chap, welcome, welcome, Emily has told us all about you, yes, all about you now come in and tell us the real story, ha, ha, ha"
 
Emily’s father had pounced on me when the front door was opened and was now pulling me along by my elbow toward a room from which the sound of laughter and chattering was emanating.
 
 
"This is Bill everyone, friend of Emily’s from London, met on the tube, had lunch today, good friends now what, ha, ha, ha, ha,"
 
My thoughts immediately turned to coming up with a plausible excuse to leave.
 
"Oh no you don't"
 
"What"
 
"I can tell you are thinking of a plan by which to escape"
 
Emily had caught me out, I laughed, and she introduced me to all in the room none of whom I can remember now.
 
We walked out onto the terrace with Gin & Tonics in hand, it was like something out of an old black and white, the upper middle class family at play in the country quaffing fine wines, eating all manner of delicacies and generally acting without an apparent worry in the world, lucky so and so's.
 
She told me that her father, get this, Montague, yes really, Montague! Had been in banking before setting up his own investment company, which he sold several years ago taking early retirement. Looking around me I could see that old Montague, I have to say it again, Montague, had done rather well. Emily and her sister had been sent to school here in Sussex with a short spell in Switzerland just to finish off, as one does!
 
As we talked I could feel my mobile phone buzzing in my pocket, I knew who it was so ignored it.
 
Emily dropped me off at the hotel around 8.30pm I felt exhausted so went straight up to my room. I took of my clothes and then ran a bath, as the water gurgled and the bath filled I could hear my phone vibrating on the bedside table, Alice...
 
"Hi darling, how are you feeling?"
 
"Do you care, do you really care! I have been calling you all afternoon why didn't you answer"
 
"I was being childish, still hurt by your refusal to come away this weekend, sorry. Hang on, I just need to turn the bath tap off"
 
"You have your bath then call me back Bill, go on, speak to you later"
 
And with that she was gone...
 
I slowly lowered myself into the hot soapy bath, bliss...
 
I thought about my day, surreal in some ways I thought, I contemplated telling Alice about Emily but for some reason persuaded myself not to. I think if I am honest I felt rather flattered by the interest so wanted to keep it to myself.
 
I sat looking at my phone for about ten minutes...
 
"Hi darling, how are you?"
 
"I am fine Bill, just fine, what have you been doing today besides ignoring my phone calls?"
 
"Oh, I went for a long walk and then lunch in a little Pub that I found, we must go next time we are down here"
 
"So you didn't think that perhaps you should call or even come home to see how I am, you just walked and then had a good lunch and got drunk no doubt?"
 
"Listen to me, you insisted that I go, you said we needed time apart, and it was you that said it would be good for us!"
"So you just accepted that, you think that women say what they really mean when they are reaching out for a sign, a sign of devotion, love and commitment"
 
By this time my head was hurting, the wine, the conversation or a combination of both...
 
"Look darling, I will leave here early tomorrow morning I can't leave tonight, I am not drunk but have had a drink so best not drive okay"
 
"You will need to get some groceries on your way home"
 
And with that she hung up!
 
I slid into bed, pointed the remote, fired, and then watched mind numbing television until my eyes were so heavy that I surrendered to sleep.
 
As I drove home through the beautiful countryside I thought about all sorts, the strange behaviour of Alice, the chance meeting with Emily, her insistence on my having lunch and then meeting her family and, of course, I speculated on her reasons (fragile male ego thing)
 
Walking around the supermarket first thing on a Sunday morning was quite an experience. I quickly gathered what I thought was needed, including a chicken for lunch, whilst trying to avoid the plethora of staff hurriedly re-stacking the shelves for the expectant rush.
 
"Good morning darling, I have made you some tea"
 
Alice opened her eyes and then just stared at me, a look that suggested she did not recognise me!
 
"Thank you, what time is it, when did you get home?"
 
"I stopped off at the supermarket like you asked and have been home for about 20 minutes it's now just about 10.45"
 
I made toast and more tea while Alice had a shower, we sat reading the papers for an hour or so before Alice announced that she needed to get some fresh air. I suggested that I put the chicken in the oven on a low heat so that it would slowly cook whilst we were out walking.
 
We walked across the park to the woods, a favourite place of ours on a Sunday morning, nothing much was said although Alice did seem to be happy just walking through the woods coat and hat on with scarf and gloves.
 
We arrived home, greeted by the mouth-watering smell of roast chicken.
 
"I will do the veg"
 
"OK darling, I will make us a drink, G&T?"
 
"Are we friends again?" I asked in a rather sheepish tone.
 
"You really don’t know me at all do you Bill. Why did you go away, why didn't you insist on staying to look after me, why didn't you call me, why didn't you just come home?"
 
The questions went on and on, why, why, why...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter 3
 
 
 
Monday morning:
 
I can hear Alice downstairs in the kitchen; after our set-to yesterday I thought it best to keep a low profile, so I shaved, showered & dressed before creeping down the stairs to exit quickly for my commute to work.
 
“Is that you, I’ve made you a cup of tea, would you like some toast”
 
Alice had heard me coming down the stairs my quiet exit plan foiled!
 
“Oh thank you darling, yes toast would be nice maybe with a bit of that little scarlet jam”
 
Alice seemed in a better mood than yesterday, we chatted about the weather warming up and the fact that we would soon be able to put our coats and hats away, etc. I ate my toast and drank my tea.
 
I think I hate this journey, bus then tube both packed & dirty oh for a miracle…
 
“Morning Jack, good weekend?” 
 
“Yes, thank you Mr Peters, went fishing with my grandson out in West Mersea”
 
And with that I was through the barrier and into the lift. 
 
Monday is always a strange day in the office; the morning is fairly quiet as people slowly get over the mourning of the weekend passing. I just put my head down and got on with it, monthly sales report with commentary to include an updated pipeline to be pulled together for the upcoming board meeting, I refer to it as the bored stiff meeting. Why is it that grown men seem to become caricatures’ of company executives whenever they are amongst their peers, I’ve never understood this phenomenon come to think of it I don’t really understand how I ended up as Sales & Marketing Director in the first place? I’m still trying to decide what I want to do 20 or so years after finishing my education!
 
By lunchtime I had pretty much finished my report, the sun had come out and a beautiful early spring day had emerged out of the dull grey morning. I decided to go for a walk and treat myself to a salt beef sandwich for lunch.
This meant a walk to Brick Lane, which, on a day like today, was rather pleasant. As I walked I started to think about the weekend and all that had happened, surreal!
Brick Lane was busy; really busy, the sunshine had brought the masses out onto the streets. I had to squeeze my way along to the Bagel Bakery hoping with each step that they would still have plenty of salt beef left by the time I got there.
As I walked back to the office, belly full of salt beef my thoughts were of Emily I should really send her an email and thank her for such a beautiful day on Saturday.
“How was he when he got back yesterday then, any lipstick or perfume?”
Sarah was in full Marple mode as she walked through the door not even saying hello to Alice.
“He cooked lunch, roast chicken. I asked him several times why he had gone without me he just kept saying that I told him to”
Sarah and Alice then spent the entire morning discussing my infidelity and what Alice should be doing to protect herself. By lunchtime Alice had an appointment with a solicitor and her parents had been informed of our impending divorce due to my finding another woman!
By the time I returned to my office my email inbox had some thirty or so email messages in, I took my jacket off, rolled up me sleeves and got stuck in…
“Mr Peters, it’s nearly 8 o’clock” I looked up to find one of the junior office staff standing in my doorway. “ I’m going home now, should I turn out the lights?” “I’m coming now, just two-seconds and we can leave together” I logged off my computer, gathered my stuff together and we left.
I arrived home to a less than welcome reception, in-laws and a frosty spouse sitting at the dining table drinking tea.
“Hello” “This is a nice surprise, I didn’t know you were coming over Helen & Ted, how are you both”
“If I were a younger man I would be taking you outside you little shit!”
Her father stood up his face contorting and fists clenched…
“What on earth; what are you saying, why do you want me to go outside with you, why the insult how am I a shit all of a sudden?”
“Sit down, both of you, let’s be civilised and talk this awful situation through like adults” Helen, the voice of reason had spoken. With that I sat down as did Ted although his nostrils were flared and his face a fine shade of red!
I asked them all what this was all about although the only person that I looked at was Alice who simply sat staring at her cup of tea?
“You’ve betrayed our daughter, shamed yourself and ruined what was a very happy union. Who is she, what sort of cheap filthy slut lies down with a married man? Some floozy from the typing pool eh, come-on man get it out we are all waiting to hear!”
“I don’t have any idea what you’re all talking about, what betrayal, floozy, ruined a happy union. What is all this; Alice, help me here I’m completely lost!”
Alice stood up and calmly walked out of the room returning in a few seconds with one of my shirts. “THIS” She threw the shirt in my face. “LOOK AT IT” I examined the shirt and saw that the collar had a greasy orangey red stain on it, lipstick!
“I can see it has your lipstick on it Alice but what else am I supposed to be looking for?”
“MY LIPSTICK, MY FUCKING LIPSTICK!” I was shocked; Alice rarely used an expletive and winced if I or anyone else for that matter did within earshot. 
“It is not hers Bill,” said Helen in a calm constant tone, “not hers!”
“I’m baffled, I don’t know how it got onto my shirt collar then. Is this what this is all about, you’ve found lipstick on my collar and now I’m some sort of gigolo?”
“So you deny it then?” “You cant even be a man and tell the truth, come on Alice, you’re not staying in this house with this prick any longer, get your bag we’re going” said Ted, and within minutes they were gone!
An eerie silence then descended.
I sat, motionless, in an armchair for the next few hours my head spinning. That’s it, I thought, maybe when Emily did her air kissing goodbye thing on each cheek she left lipstick on my collar, of course! How stupid am I, I should have realised!
I telephoned Alice at her parents home, “she does not care to speak with you” “but I realise how the lipstick happened to be on my collar, it was on Saturday err” the phone went dead.
I immediately called back, Helen answered. “The lipstick was found several weeks ago and you’ve just admitted that you’ve been at it again this weekend, goodbye”
I sat back in my chair, several weeks ago, several weeks ago? Impossible, I go to work and then come home the same routine day after day, when would I have got lipstick on my shirt collar, when?
 
 
 
 
Chapter 4
 
I called in sick the following morning, first time in almost ten years, I just couldn’t face anyone I needed to think, think, how this terrible nightmare situation has come about and from where.
I paced around the house wracking my brain, how, when, who?
Call Sarah, she must know something…
I found Sarah’s mobile phone number in the address book; “Sarah, it’s Bill, Alice’s husband” 
“I know who you are”
“So you know what’s going on then Sarah?”
“Yes, she’s caught you out. You’re such a shit what has Alice ever done to you?”
“Sarah, I have no idea where this has all come from. I am not seeing anyone else nor do I want to, I love Alice this is all a terrible misunderstanding.”
“Then how do you explain the lipstick and the fact that you admit to being with someone on Saturday?”
“I can’t explain the lipstick and Saturday was a chance meet with a woman that I met on the tube. Wait, that’s it, it’s her lipstick, Sarah, and I know how it got onto my collar…”
I told Sarah the story of the tube incident, my ID Pass etc. and how, just by chance, Emily was in Sussex this weekend having dinner in the very hotel that I was staying in. I told her about the lunch on Saturday, everything in fact, absolutely everything.
“You really do think you’re clever don’t you Bill. I’ve never trusted you, all that devoted husband looking after the little woman routine, bollocks, total bollocks. Do you honestly think I or Alice is going to believe such a fantastic story, you’re mad Bill, absolutely mad”?
“Okay, I will get Emily to call Alice, explain the whole thing”
“Yeah, of course, once you’ve primed her. You’re a twat Bill and Alice is going to take you to the cleaners, now fuck off and leave me alone otherwise I’m sending Adrian round to see you”
Adrian! Adrian! What the hell has Adrian got to do with this? Round to see me, what could he do? I doubt he could knock skittles over let alone me!
I sat back in my chair; numb...
This is like a really bad “b” movie, this shit just doesn’t happen in real life to real people?
Maybe I can ask Emily to speak to Alice, perhaps she can convince her that I am not the philanderer that Sarah has convinced her that I am!
“Err, hi Emily, Bill here listen, thanks for Saturday I really enjoyed it”
“You sound a bit shaky Bill, is everything okay?”
“Ah, well err no actually Emily I have a problem that I hope you can help resolve”
“Right, well you’d best tell me and I will do my best Bill”
I explained the whole sorry mess to Emily; she listened without interruption for what must have seemed like an eternity to her.
“Bill, I am happy to speak with Alice if you think it would help but I think from the sounds of it that she has made her mind up. Are you sure you have never been unfaithful or given her cause to suspect that you could be?”
“What, me! Absolutely not, never not ever no way!”
We talked for an hour or so more, I explained how Emily had become since being made redundant together with the Sarah factor, according to Emily most women have a Sarah in their friendship group, the perfect one who has such a great life that she insists on sorting out everyone else so that they can be as happy as her, apparently these women normally end up being the most twisted, unhappy individuals when the truth is known!
We agreed that the best course of action was to give it a few days to settle down. If nothing had changed then Emily would speak with Alice.
The week dragged slowly by. I called Alice a few times but she didn’t pick up or respond to my answer-phone messages, I tried email but that was ignored too.
At last, Friday evening had arrived. “Bye Bill, have a good weekend” came the chant from the office as I sped toward the lifts.
Train was packed as usual; I had managed to get a seat when the train reached Stockwell where a lot of people change. I sat reading the Standard free newspaper...
“Bill” “Hey Bill”
I looked up to see Adrian standing over me with a silly grin on his face.
“Hi Adrian, how are you”
“Not as good as you from the sound of things, you lucky bastard. Sarah tells me you’ve got some young bit of totty from your office”
“What, that’s not true Adrian, listen, lets have a beer when we get off at Morden if you’ve got time. Sarah has been mixing it with Alice and now my whole life is falling apart”
We found a grotty pub just down from Morden Tube Station. I explained what had happened to Adrian who, in between sniggering and stupid comments, seemed to relate to what I was saying. He then went on to tell me that he had had several affairs and that as long as he kept throwing the money and toys at Sarah she turned a blind eye to it!
I asked him if he would speak with Sarah to see if she would talk to Alice and explain that it has all been a big misunderstanding. He said that he would and then finished off by saying that I should have a bit of fun whilst I had the chance, since I had been convicted of the offence anyway! 
I felt a bit drunk after the few drinks that I had with Adrian, he drinks very quickly and in large quantity so keeping up was not easy for me.
Arriving home to an empty quiet house was not something I was enjoying. I turned on the television and slumped into the sofa clutching a takeaway menu and the telephone.
“Sarah, Sarah, you’ll never guess who I’ve just had a drink with”
Adrian had arrived home full of beans or rather Gin & Tonics, desperate to tell Sarah all about the encounter with Bill.
Adrian went on to describe in detail how Bill had told him about Emily, the train and the weekend in Sussex and all else. Sarah then asked him if he believed what he had been told by Bill.
‘Not a fucking word” he laughed out “not a fucking word” “he must think I’m some sort of idiot who would believe any old tosh”
Sarah and Adrian went on to further assassinate Bills character whilst drinking yet more Gin & Tonic’s. Sarah had decided that she now had proof absolute that Bill was a scoundrel and could not wait until Saturday morning at which point she would call Alice and give her the good news!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter 5
 
I was awoken by a shaft of bright sunlight streaming through the gap in the window shutters. I had fallen asleep in the chair where I remained until this very moment, takeaway menu stuck to my forearm.
What a state I had become, in few short days of forced self-sufficiency I had lost all self-respect and motivation, serious black dog stuff! 
I sauntered upstairs got undressed and stood in the bathroom looking at my lily-white fleshy body in the mirror, what a mess! Why on earth would anyone think that I am some sort of babe magnate?
I shaved, brushed my teeth & had a long hot shower...
After a cup of tea I was beginning to feel a little better, maybe I was hung-over hence the melancholy feeling anyhow, I was beginning to feel a little brighter now.
I put my laundry into the washing machine before opening the French doors to let some air and sunshine in. I spent the morning cutting the grass and generally tidying the garden, keeping busy to take my mind off things.
At about 2pm I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket, Alice. Alice’s name was there on the screen she’s calling me! Adrian must have persuaded Sarah to explain things to her, thank goodness, she’s calling to apologise and come home, brilliant!
“You bastard, bastard, BASTARD!!!”
“Alice, what, what on earth”
“Sarah told me about how you laughed and joked with Adrian about what you have done, your little fling. So you think if you buy me some trinkets and allow me to stay at home I will just let you get on with it do you? You’re sick Bill, sick, sick, SICK!”
With that she was gone.
I could barely believe what had just happened, all that Adrian had told me about himself I was now being accused of. What on earth had he said to Sarah?
I called Adrian, Sarah answered. “Hi Sarah, its...”
“I know who you are, what do you want?”
“Well, I wanted to speak with Adrian about what he had said to you last night, Alice has been on the phone hysterical, she’s got completely confused”
“Has she, what about?”
“Me, about me and this misunderstanding; I explained all this to Adrian, didn’t he tell you?”
“He told me all right, all about how you protested your innocence whilst laughing and drinking and when Adrian suggested that you should do it anyway as you were being blamed for it you just smiled a knowing smile. You really must think that we are all stupid Bill, did you think that my husband would support you in this disgusting charade, he’s not your mate you know, he’s my husband who happens to be a decent and loyal HUSBAND unlike you!”
“But, but ... err”
“Piss off Bill, just piss off!”
The phone went dead-she had hung up. I sat on the grass with my head in my hands, thinking!
Adrian, what a shit never liked him and now I hate him. He probably thinks this is all some big joke, decent husband indeed, cunt!
I spent the rest of the day pacing around, thinking. I tried watching television as a diversion, it didn’t work, my mind drifting back to Alice every other minute and then the demons in my mind suggesting that Adrian & Sarah had done all sorts to destroy my marriage, jealous of how happy Alice and I were. I’m going mad I thought, going stark raving mad!
I had best get out of the house, go for a walk, get some fish & chips for dinner, anything, just get out for a while.
I walked to the fish & chip shop calling in at Waitrose on the way for some bread & a bottle of wine to wash down the cod & chips.
As I sat eating and sipping my wine I felt my emotions just well up inside me, I burst into tears, sobbed like a child. What was happening to me, I was caught up in some surreal vortex best not drink any more, I’m depressed enough without the help of this stuff!
I tipped the wine down the sink and threw away what was left of my cod & chips, funnily enough as the last chip slid into the dustbin I felt incredibly hungry!
As usual I couldn’t find anything worth watching on the television, 100 digital channels and not a thing worth watching. When we had only five channels you could usually find something to watch, funny that!
Lying in bed I could not sleep, my mind all over the place. How could I rectify this situation, Emily didn’t really seem that keen to get involved and now after this episode with Adrian and Sarah I’m not sure that anything could bring a satisfactory resolution!
Sunday morning eventually arrived, another beautiful sunny day. I went for a walk through the park & on through the woods. The air was clean and fresh, I began to think about what to do. I had no choice really; I needed to ask Emily for help...
I called Emily who seemed pleased to hear from me, I told her what had happened with Adrian, the call from Alice and all the other stuff. Emily suggested that we meet after work on Monday; we could have a drink steady our nerves and then call Alice.
“Alice, Alice; it’s me Bill; yes I did withhold my number, I didn’t think that you would answer if you saw my number. Listen, I have someone here who needs to talk with you, here...”
“Alice, my name is Emily. I’m the woman you think is involved with Bill, I’m not, what he has told you is true, all true”
“So how come you’ve waited so long to call me then?”
“Bill did ask me but I didn’t really want to get involved, I thought that you would have it all sorted in a couple of days”
“Do you find him attractive?” ‘Bill I mean, do you find him attractive?”
“Err, not something I’ve really thought about to be honest, I suppose he’s okay, he’s very polite”
Emily gestured to me, she put her hand over the phone and mouthed to me that Alice was asking her if she found me attractive?
“Alice, it’s me Bill. Listen, I assure you that nothing is going on, it’s as we have said I swear!”
“You two sound like you’re made for each other, well it wont be long before she gets tired of you and moves on to wreck another marriage, good luck, you’re going to need it. Oh, and my solicitor will be in touch, goodbye!”
Emily and I sat staring at our drinks for what seemed like an eternity. “FUCK” the word just slipped out totally unaided.
“My goodness, sorry Emily it just came out!”
“Don’t worry Bill, I think most would forgive you under such circumstances” She then chuckled and suggested that we have another drink.
“So what will you do now Bill?”
“I don’t know, I really don’t know Emily. Do I really want to start all over again at my age (I was feeling very sorry for myself now) I mean, bloody hell!”
“ You should take some time out Bill, go away or something, and stay with friends”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter 6
 
Several weeks went past, I hadn’t heard from any solicitors or anything like that nor had I heard from Alice or anyone connected with her. I went to work, came home, ate, read or watched the television then went to bed the same routine day after day. At weekends I either drove down to see my parents or sat writing letters to Alice none of which I had posted, 60 or so to date!
 
 
Chapter 7
 
Another packed train journey home, no seats, same old same old, what a fucking boring life I live.
“Hey stranger”
I felt a tugging at my elbow; I turned around to see Emily, tanned and looking rather healthy.
“Hi, how are you, you’re very brown, where have you been?”
“We all went to Florence for my parents anniversary, I love Florence, the culture, food, people & fashion, you ever been?”
“Yes; I have been a few times in-fact I have been to many parts of Italy, I like it very much too, beautiful place and you’re right, the food is just superb!”
“Did you visit the Villa Antinori, I love the Chianti Classico with a Florentine Steak”
“So is everything okay with you now Bill?”
“To be honest nothings changed, I don’t hear from anyone nor have I had the threatened solicitors letter so far”
“I’m sorry to hear that Bill, I thought that as I had not heard from you that maybe things had sorted themselves out”
“No, not so far anyway”
“My stop, I will call you Bill, bye”
I called in at Waitrose on the way home; I had a taste for steak all-of-a-sudden. A T-bone, some flageolet beans, rocket & Parmesan oh, and a bottle of Antinori Toscana to wash it down...
I’d eaten far too much it was delicious. This was the first proper meal that I had enjoyed for several weeks. I’d been living on takeaway & microwave meals, a swollen stomach and drooping breasts the result. I really must get my act together.
My phone was dancing across the table, buzzing like a giant bee. It was Emily. 
“Hi Emily”
“Hi Bill, I was thinking. If you’re not busy this weekend why don’t you join me at my parents house, you can stay in the cottage, quite private”
“Oh I don’t know, I’m not the best company at the moment Emily”
“Nonsense, if you don’t reengage with society then before you know it life will have past you by. I will meet you at Victoria station on Friday evening, 6pm, we can get the 6.30 to Pulborough and get a taxi up to the house from there”
So here I am, standing of the concourse at Victoria station, weekend bag and suit carrier, flowers and a bottle of Antinori Tignanello for Emily’s parents as a gesture of thanks for opening their house to me.
“Hi Bill, my you do look smart, it’s only the country you know, nothing special”
“I didn’t want your parents to think that you were associating with the wrong type!”
We laughed and headed toward the platform.
A couple of sharpeners on the train and I was ready to meet up with old Montague again.
“Dear boy, welcome, welcome. How the devil are you?”
“You remember Phiippa my wife, Emily’s mother. This is Bill, you remember Bill”
Emily whisked me off to the cottage.
“I think my father likes you, he’s excited and that’s a good sign”
We sat down to an incredible dinner of roast lamb with garlic potatoes rosemary carrots and all manner of green things, superb. The conversation was free and relaxed, Phiippa & Montague were natural hosts they read people very well and had an incredible ability to put you at ease.
“Wonderful wine that Tignanello Bill, thank you we will have that with our dinner tomorrow if you like”
“You keep it and enjoy it with Philippa Montague, I know that you both like Tuscany and have a fondness of Italian wine so please, keep it for the two of you”
“Most kind old chap, most kind”
We talked about all sorts, bankers, travel, world markets, Emily’s boyfriends and horses, you name it we discussed it, all that is apart from me. I suspect that Emily had tipped them off about my estranged wife and so they avoided the subject altogether.
 
I lay in bed that night wondering how I have ended up here and what was happening with Alice, who thinks I’m some sort of philandering monster, surreal really.
Before I knew it morning had arrived, I awoke to the smell of fresh coffee & bacon.
“Bill, are you up?”
It was Emily shouting from the kitchen downstairs.
“Breakfast ready in five!”
Shit, I’m not even awake, I look like shit, and I need a shave & shower...
“I need to shave and shower Emily”
“Have breakfast first, I will leave it on the table for you, don’t worry I wont be staying as I need to run some errands with mum”
I heard the front door open then shut.
Gingerly I crept down the stairs, all clear...
Breakfast eaten and plates etc. all washed up I had my shave & shower.
I sat downstairs wondering what to do, should I go to the house and see Montague or will I be intruding, perhaps a walk but then what if Emily comes back and I’m not here?
I noticed that Emily had left a copy of the Times by the kitchen table so I took it and sat outside on the front doorstep reading it.
“Morning dear boy, morning!”
Montague was bouncing across the courtyard toward me a broad smile on his face.
“Emily has some running around to do this morning so I wondered if you would like to go for a spin in my old banger?”
The old banger turned out to be his Aston Martin DB5. He explained the history of it to me, produced between 1963 - 65 with a 3995cc straight six engine, the finest of all the original Astons in his opinion. This was an early 1963 model in the most amazing original condition, which, it turned out, belonged to an old uncle of his from whom he inherited it.
We drove up to Goodwood past the racecourse and then back at breakneck speed along the Chichester Road. As we drove Montague asked what I did etc. and how I was getting on with looking after myself whilst my wife was away. He knew more-or-less all about me and what was happening in my life.
I told him all about the misunderstanding and the influence that Sarah had over Alice and how she, without any good reason, has just accepted that I am a philanderer and so she must distance herself from me due to my betrayal of my vow of loyalty etc.
Montague offered the following observation...
It seems to me that Sarah is possibly the one with the problem and so seeks to transfer her frustrations onto others, Alice being particularly vulnerable to suggestion?
An interesting thought; possibly some truth in it...
 
 
That evening we sat down to yet another fabulous meal courtesy of Philippa’s amazing culinary skill.
We made small talk about nothing in particular, the family drifted into conversation about family and friends that meant nothing to me so I sat and listened whilst watching how totally connected the three of them were, clearly a very strong family bond.
After dinner Emily and I had a short stroll around the grounds chatting about nothing in particular. As we approached the cottage Emily pulled me by my elbow to stop me in my stride; “Bill, do you think you will sort it all out with Alice, you really should you know”
“Err, I’ve tried and tried again as you know. She’s not interested as far as she is concerned I have betrayed her, with you as it happens, and now we are heading for divorce on the grounds of my infidelity”
“I see; well maybe in time she will realise that you’re not what she thinks, after all, you spend most of your time either at work or alone at home, she must realise this”
Emily gave me a hug and wished me a good night...
Again I lay awake in bed for several hours thinking about this whole situation. It’s just not right, like a bad movie, shit like this just doesn’t happen in real life so why is it happening to me.
I drifted into a spiral of self-pity, everything was wrong with my life, marriage, job, lack of drive and ambition etc. I’m an amazingly successful failure, for the first time in my miserable life I am truly successful, a SUCCESSFUL FUCKIN FAILURE!
On Sunday morning I awoke to the sound of heavy rain falling against the windowpane, it was 07.30. I decided to get up and get ready in case Emily surprised me again. It was a good call; by 08.30 Emily was downstairs cooking sausages.
“Good morning, sleep well?”
“Good morning Emily, yes, thank you, thank you very much; & you?”
“I thought about you, our conversation & how sad you seem now, I wish I could help!”
We ate our breakfast, o


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