Man is by nature, a fool to his Pride.
I thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for their patience, proof reading, editing skills and of course their encouragement. As always I must also add, that I can never leave a story alone. I will most likely add some cock-ups on my read through after they have seen it. That should keep the GPs happy at least.
It was about three in the morning when I first realised that I had a serious problem on my hands. Since my wife Sandra was away, I'd been out with the boys the previous evening and tied a good one on. Now my bladder was insisting I get out of bed and relieve some of the pressure.
Getting out of bed, still not to steady on my feet I had managed to stub my toe on the bathroom door as I opened it. I let out a few curses; I had no need to worry about waking up Sandra. She was away at the bloody seminar her firm was running.
I hobbled into the bathroom and up to the bowl where I extracted my faithful friend from my trousers. Fuck, that was a good evening I'd had with boys, I hadn't even gotten undressed. Then it hit me. The burning pain as I peed. The old brain got to working and I recognised that feeling. Suddenly I wasn't pissed anymore. Oh, I was still actually pissing and feeling every damn fluid ounce as it came out. But now I was as sober as a Judge. I'd had this burning feeling before. A long time ago, but there are some things you never forget.
Years ago, it was about a month or so after I'd been to the Reading Pop Festival back in the sixties. You all know what it was like back then; there was none of this AIDS lark to worry about and the pill was around. Well, I'd picked up a dose from one of the birds I got it on with there. I stood there wondering which one it was this time, chlamydia or gonorrhea.
Now! Hang on just one bleeding minute. How the hell could I pick up an STD? I've been happily married for nearly ten years and although I must say I've had the offers and even been tempted on occasions, I've never been near another woman since I've been with Saaannndddrrraa!!!!!
I stopped pissing and started throwing up. Shit, Shit, Shit! Sandra, what the fucking hell have you done?
I met Sandra at work; well, her work really. I was giving the fire alarms in her office the once over. That's my bag; I install and service fire and burglar alarm systems. At the time I was working for some big outfit who had a lot of contracts in the City. For the City, read the "City Of London", the place where all those arsehole's earn lots of money by talking through their backside's and telling each other how clever they are.
Anyway I kinda took a shine to Sandra and she took a shine to me. I asked her out and she accepted. Things kinda snowballed from there really. Then next thing I know she's sharing my bed and six months later we were married.
Sandra sold her flat and I sold mine, then we bought ourselves a nice little semi-detached in Harrow, North West London. Not on the Hill where "Harrow School" is, but close enough to sound impressive. Look, like some of London's top bank robbers live there (when they are out of jail). Both Sandra and myself were earning good money, we figured we'd had the place paid off in a few years, so talk of children was put on the back burner for the time being.
For a couple of years, we led what was to become known as the Yuppie lifestyle and had ourselves a ball. Then some bugger - probably who worked in the City - decided to sell the company I was working for. The new owners didn't want the workers; they just wanted my employer's contracts so I was out of a job.
Sandra came up with the idea that I started up on my own. We did the maths and Sandra made a few phone calls. Christ, that girl can talk the hind legs off a bloody donkey. My garage was suddenly turned into a storeroom and I was self-employed.
Sandra would take a day off every so often and get on the phone. Before I knew it, I was employing some of my old colleagues. Then I had to rent a shop in a nearby parade and move the business in there as we had outgrown the garage. There was talk of Sandra working with me full time but that somehow never came to fruition. I was by this time, a pen pusher, and had the guys running around doing the work.
To be honest there was no need for Sandra to work anymore. She could have stayed home and had the children we had always talked about; but that didn't happen either. Sandra was climbing higher in her firm and all talk of children quietly ceased.
Now hold on, don't go getting the idea Sandra and me where drifting apart. Far from it, we were out together all the time. I was at all of the socials they had at her firm. And she was normally there at our once-a-month get together I had at my little company. Look, my guys have to work funny hours. That doesn't do much for the home life, to keep the wives sweet; once a month anyone who wasn't on-call was invited out for a meal and a bit of a knees-up with their spouses.
It was working out just fine, as I also had a policy of employing the guy's wives in the office. You know, keep it in the family. It worked out just great; we had the reputation as a company that could be relied on. Everyone was covering everyone else's arse, if you get the idea.
Now Sandra was off at this bloody seminar and I was pretty sure I had a dose of the clap. I might be a cynic. But I knew that the only place I could have got the clap was from my ever-loving wife.
The first thing I had to do was make sure I was right. Fairly easily done, in the morning I called in and told the girls I'd be late into the office, then headed for the clinic I had visited all those years ago.
A very nice West Indian nurse, after filling in some forms, took a swab and told me she would have the results for me on Tuesday. Then she asked me to make a list of all my sexual partners in the last few months. I told her there was only one, and that was my wife, she looked only slightly embarrassed as she told me she was "Sorry to hear that. But it wasn't the first time!" I thanked her and left.
At the office I tried to carry on as normal, but didn't really succeed. It was a unanimous decision by the staff that either I went home or they staged a mutiny. So I went home and got drunk; it was the best idea I could come up with at the time.
About four in the afternoon Sandra called and asked what was wrong. Apparently she had tried to call me at the office and they had told her they had sent me home. How the hell I spoke civilly to her, I don't know. But I just told her I wasn't feeling too good. She offered to come home from the seminar early. That was the last thing I wanted, so I told her I would be all right.
Tuesday I called the Clinic early but the results weren't available. My nurse called me back around twelve to tell me it was Chlamydia and that I would need a course of antibiotics. The AIDS test was going to take some time. So I went down to the clinic again to collect my pills. I was shown in to see a doctor this time and after a long chat he gave me a letter for Sandra asking her to go in for some tests.
After I left the clinic my mind was really in a state. There was only one way anyone gets Chlamydia, don't go believing all those stupid school kid stories. The only way you get it is by having sex with an infected person. So that meant Sandra had been playing away. She was cheating on me.
But why would she, and when? Did she really love me? She was always telling me she did. We had a good sex life; well, I wouldn't have the clap if we didn't.
All right forget that one. When was she cheating? Christ, she had all the opportunity in the world. Was she working all those times she came home late? I could only assume not.
Now let's look at this differently. Chlamydia has a three to four week incubation period; I was lucky, because sometimes the symptoms don't show at all. Now what happened in the last couple of months? Fuck, yes! That bloody conference in Manchester that Sandra went to. She was real uptight about it before she went. And she was upset about the changes that were going to happen in her company when she came back. She was funny with me for a couple of weeks after she came back and now I thought about it there had been something bugging her ever since. Was she upset about the firm or was something else on her mind?
That was around six weeks ago. I can only conclude that at that conference Sandra picked up Chlamydia. Sandra must have had someone there; correction, someone had her! Someone who was infected with Chlamydia!
Next problem, was my loving wife in the habit of shagging all and sundry behind my back?
I thought back. Were there times in the past when she behaved funny towards me. Yeah, there were plenty but she was in a very high powered job nowadays; I had always put her funny moods down to that. And if I'm honest, there were times when I've been just as funny with her when things had gotten heavy at the office. I think she had been a lot more patient with me than I had ever been with her when that happened.
Right, now forget all that. What the fuck was I going to do? I'm going to have to talk to her. Fuck, would I be able to do that? Look, I've got one hell of a bloody temper; would I be able to control myself? When it came down to it, I could only just control myself when we were talking on the phone. I really didn't think I dared trust myself in a confrontation with Sandra. I could really lose the plot.
Shit! My mind was really in turmoil. Sandra would be back Wednesday; what the hell was I going to do? Thinking carefully I figured I would have to get away from her, as far away as I could. I really didn't want to know whom she'd fucked or why she'd fucked him. I just wanted out; anyway I could.
It was late in the afternoon by the time I arrived at my solicitor's - Derek - office. I'd known the guy for years and he had been one of my first customers. I gave him chapter and verse and told him I was off.
He looked surprised when I told him that I was "Leaving the country. The further I got from Sandra the safer she was." I think he got the idea. I gave him the authority to act on my behalf. The company would run itself and Sandra knew enough to keep an eye on things; I'd put one of the guys in charge and leave it to Sandra to sell it or run it herself if she wanted to.
What the hell Sandra wanted to do about the divorce was up to her, but I would settle for irreconcilable differences. I couldn't see any advantage in hanging out our dirty washing. Derek tried to persuade me that I was being a bit premature. That I should wait and talk to Sandra, but the look I gave him made him drop that idea.
I went home, packed my stuff and left the letter from the clinic on the hall table where Sandra would find it when she came home on Wednesday evening. Then I drove to the office, put Roger my number two in charge and told him I was off. He was the boss and Sandra would own the company by Thursday lunchtime. I also warned everyone on pain of death not to contact Sandra until she contacted them.
I spent the night in a local hotel and in the morning made a large withdrawal from the bank. £15000 in cash surprised them but they handed it over without question. I drove to Heathrow airport and parked in the short term car park, then rang my office and told them to send a couple of the guys to collect the company car.
My next step was to confuse anyone who tried to trace me. I jumped on a bus back into London where I caught a train down to Dover. On the ferry I met up with a truck driver who kindly gave me a lift to Brugge in Belgium and from there I caught a bus to my ultimate destination, a little farm just outside Roeselare where an old friend of mine lived with his Belgian wife.
Bruce and Donna — no, that's not her real name but that's what everyone has always called her since we were at college together - listened to my story. Bruce and I always had very similar temperaments; I think that's why we always got on so well. When we were together, if either of us was losing our cool the other would calm them down. So Bruce at least understood why I had left. They settled me into their spare room and I helped Bruce on the farm for a few weeks while I decided my next move.
Derek wrote to me and said that Sandra had been to see him. She had wanted him to tell her my whereabouts but he had refused as I had instructed. She told him she didn't want a divorce but if that was what I wanted, she would agree to one. He said he didn't pry into how she had become infected. But to be honest he had to be lying, as he also said that Sandra had said, "No one would believe what had happened, if she told them."
By the time the divorce came through I had moved from Bruce and Donna's place and was living in southern Italy. Another old college friend, Todd Marsh, and his wife were rebuilding a bloody-great old farmhouse-cum-Villa down there and turning it into a holiday complex; so I got stuck in to help them. It was about a couple of months later that I met Liou.
She worked in the local bar that her family owned, where we used to go for the odd meal. Liou was one good looking girl and her mother soon decided that I was just what Liou needed in her life. Italian fathers think they run things but it's the Italian mothers who are the driving force. Anyway Liou's mother thought that a nice Englishman was a good catch for Liou; apparently we aren't so picky. So she set about matchmaking.
Now up front, I'd better put everyone straight about Liou. Liou, as far as the locals were concerned, was spoilt goods. She had become pregnant by an American sailor when she was quite young. That's a thing nice Italian girls aren't supposed to do. Of course by the time she found out she was pregnant the sailor was back on the other side of the world and Liou was in Shit Street. The Italian's aren't too forgiving of young ladies who get themselves pregnant out of wedlock. Macho Italian men like their wives to be virgins.
Liou wasn't what you might call a slapper; she was a young woman who thought she was in love with an arsehole and came unstuck. In the long term the baby was stillborn, but that didn't do Liou any favours. So there she was almost thirty years old and on the shelf as far as the local guys were concerned.
Well, how it worked out was, I was down, Liou was down, but together we both managed to climb back up. The local priest was a real pain in the arse. He appeared happy to disregard the fact that I was divorced but he insisted that I convert to the Catholic Church, something that I did with my tongue firmly imbedded in my cheek. Maybe he figured he didn't have to recognise my protestant marriage.
The wedding turned out to be an exuberant and confusing affair. And the next thing I know I'm virtually running that damn bar. Liou's folk's were getting on a bit. Her younger brothers helped a lot when they weren't at UNI.
Once I took over, suddenly the business looked up, as the locals were rapidly learning English (I'm not one for languages). The Italians are nobody's fools, English lessons cost money; in our bar you got English lessons for free. We did some good business for the next few years. Then the tourists started turning up and the whole bloody village was doing well.
I heard very little about Sandra. Every year I got a payout on the company profits so I knew things were going well with that and obviously Sandra hadn't sold it. Derek came down for the odd holiday every year or so. But he soon learnt that Sandra was a taboo subject. He did tell me that the firm was expanding and doing well.
About three years later Derek sent me a cheque for half the value of the house, Sandra had apparently sold it, so I gathered that she was most likely remarrying. Sandra was one good-looking woman and still quite young, I didn't really expect she wouldn't find another husband. But I did wonder if it was the guy she was cheating on me with. The profit cheques kept arriving from the company every year.
I was forty years old and had been married to Liou for eight years when the bomb dropped on my life for the second time. Liou was pregnant and one morning she woke up with pains in her stomach. I was quite worried but she told me it was nothing to worry about. Around siesta time she went up to bed for a while. We were busy in the bar that day. Looking back now, I know I should have gone and checked on her when she didn't come down for the evening rush.
By the time I closed up that night it was too late. Liou's pregnancy had been ectopic. It had apparently ruptured and that was to prove fatal. She had gone into shock and passed away the following afternoon.
When I married Liou, I don't think I was in love with her. But she was a beautiful young woman and I had grown to love her very much. Her death almost destroyed me. God, my life was shit; I'd lost two loves within ten years.
For a time I was distraught. Liou's family took over the bar and I had the sympathy of the village. That damn priest drove me bloody crazy. He was with me nearly every minute of the day. I know he meant well. But I only have a smattering of Italian and to make things worse he was spouting off in Latin all the bleeding time.
I received sympathy cards from all over the place; one I found upsetting, it was simply signed "S & A." I was damn sure it came from Sandra and her new husband. That card really irked me.
After the funeral I knew that I could no longer stay in Italy. So I returned to Bruce and Donna's place in Belgium. Bruce and I got back into our old drinking habits for a while until Donna put her foot down. Donna is a great girl and Bruce was lucky to have her. She stood it for so long, then she put me straight. She told me to pull myself together, that I had to get myself sorted and get on with my life.
Bruce fixed me up with a job. Now I've told you I'm not into languages so that did prove to be a slight problem. But most of the guys I was working with spoke a little English and after a couple of months they all spoke English quite well really. I get the feeling that's why they put up with me. I wasn't the happiest person to work with.
I spent my free time helping Bruce on the little farm and playing with their children. I think that hurt a lot. I was never going to play with children of my own. Six months of Belgium was enough. I had to move on again.
As I drove my little Fiat off the ferry at Dover, I really didn't know what I was going to do. I think it was auto-pilot that took me back to London, to that little - only not so little now - hotel in Harrow that I had stayed in the night I walked out of the home I had shared with Sandra. The following morning after a sleepless night I drove up towards North Harrow where the shop was that had once been my company office.
Damn, they had taken over three shop-fronts now. I don't know what made me do it; I parked out front and walked in. For a moment there wasn't a face I recognised in sight, then just as the receptionist was asking how she could help me, a voice shouted, "Blimey, it's the fucking boss!"
Pandemonium broke out as faces that I did remember appeared out of offices left, right and centre. I was dragged into Roger's now quite grand office and pushed into the seat behind the desk.
Then without my asking what I was doing there he began to give me a rundown on exactly what he had been doing with company since I had left. No questions about where I'd been and no questions about why I had suddenly reappeared. But I brought it all to a halt when he called a young lady in and introduce me to her as her boss.
"Hang on a minute Rog. I don't run this place anymore, you do!"
"Oh, no, boss, you ain't pulling that one on me again. You asked me to look after the place for a few weeks and that turned into nearly ten bleeding years. You can have the worry back now and don't think you're slipping away again. I don't mind doing the day-to-day stuff but this is your firm, not mine."
"No, its Sandra's company. I signed it all over to her when I left."
"I think you had better talk to Sandra about that one, Boss."
At that moment the door burst open and Derek charged into the room.
"For Christ's sake, Mike, when the hell did you get back?" was his greeting to me.
"Yesterday! Why? Am I banned from the country or something?" I was angry with Derek; his question was like a challenge to me.
"I didn't mean it like that, Mike. It's just I thought you would let me know you were coming, that's all. I would have liked to have had time to get things prepared."
"Well, you know I'm here now. So you don't have to worr--y..." Derek had left the door open and my attention had been taken by a young girl of about ten years old who was standing in the doorway staring at me. The receptionist appeared and tried to pull the child away.
"No, leave me alone!" the girl said angrily. Wrenching herself from the woman's grasp she boldly walked into the room. Slowly she made her way towards me and I suddenly felt very uncomfortable.
"I want to see my father!" she said. Both her eyes and mine filled with tears. I knew the young girl was my daughter; she looked just like my little sister had as a child.
Nothing further was said for the next few minutes as I went down on my knees and the child came into my arms and embraced me. I looked up at Derek with questioning and tearing eyes.
"I'm sorry, Mike, but every time I tried to tell you, you cut me off," Derek blurted out. Then with an exasperated look on his face. "What the hell was I supposed to do?"
"Would you kindly leave us alone, gentlemen?" a very familiar woman's voice said.
I hadn't noticed that Sandra had entered the room whilst I was concentrating on my daughter. Derek and Roger couldn't get out of the room fast enough and they closed the door behind them.
"Hello, Mike, I see you have met Alana. I would like to have introduced you properly."
"Hi, Sandra. She gave me a bit of a shock there. Why did no one tell me about her?"