I must thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for their patience, proof reading, editing skills and of course encouragement. As always I must also add, that I can't leave a story alone. I could well have added some cock-ups after they have seen it and before it gets posted. The story starts circa 1966.
Look I was seventeen when my life first went down the pan. Deanna came round my house one day and announced that she was pregnant.
Deanna and I had been friends since our primary school days. You know we had just hung around together. Were we in love? I'm fucked if I know. I thought we were but as neither of us ever got serious with anyone else I just don't know. We had a few fall-outs but always finished up back together.
Anyway the shit hit the fan big time. Both Deanna's parents and mine insisted that we get married. Deanna and I were both happy with the idea so a hurried marriage was arranged.
Now I had never been flavour of the month with Dea's folks and getting her pregnant didn't do anything for they're affection towards me. The marriage was a quiet affair in the local registry office. My beautiful new wife and I moved into a flat over one of her father's shops.
I, of course, had to leave college where I had been studying engineering; I needed to start earning a living for my new family. An uncle of mine swung me an apprenticeship as a toolmaker with a local company where he worked. The money was crap but when the apprenticeship was over I would be able to earn a good salary. In the meantime I did all kinds of jobs in the evenings and at weekends to earn extra cash we needed to make ends meet. And I hoped one day to be able to put down a deposit on a house.
Dea was not too pleased that I was out either at college or doing part time jobs every night. Very soon cracks began to form in our relationship. These were made worse by my mother-in-law from hell. She managed the shop we were living over; everyday she would go up and see Dea and she would be pointing out my shortcomings.
Now look, I know I was no angel, but I was doing the best I could for the woman I loved, who was about to become the mother of my child. But whatever I did, it just didn't appear to be appreciated.
For a while, things got a little better between Dea and me when Nettie (Anita) our baby was born. Dea and I were proud of our beautiful daughter. But disturbed nights, and me out working or studying all the time soon led us back to bitching at each other again and now there was a baby in the house and the Gorgon seemed to be around more than ever.
By then it was open war far between Dea's mother and me. To be honest Dea's father was really an all right bloke. I really believe he felt sorry for me at times. I struggled on because that's what my father always told me a man should do. As he put it, "You made the bed when you laid the girl, now you have to bloody well lay in it."
Well, for the next year or two I did the best I could. But I was working and studying all the hours that god gave me. Life with Dea was just a routine and our sex life diminished to almost zero. Jesus, I was nineteen and I felt like I was fifty.
As I came home from the evening job I had, one night, I saw my father-in-laws car pulling away from outside the flat. When I got inside Dea was in Nettie's bedroom. I went in and found her putting Nettie to bed. When I enquired why Nettie was up at nearly midnight, Deanna told me her mother had been looking after her whilst she went out.
Angrily I enquired as to where she had gone and she told me that it was none of my business. She said I was out all the time, she had a right to go out and enjoy herself if she wanted too, as well. I went bloody ape shit. I was either studying or working when I was out. I never went out and had fun. Dea wouldn't have it and she still refused to tell me where she had been.
For the next week or so we hardly spoke. We went through the motions. What sex we had been having stopped completely. It was at this time that I made the most disconcerting discovery of my life. I was playing with Nettie one Sunday morning before I went off to work behind the bar at the local pub, when I noticed Nettie's hair was changing colour.
When she was born it had been a mousy blond colour just like mine. Now it appeared to have a definite ginger tinge to it. Deanna is blond, her mother is blond, and her father has black hair. All my family are blond. Where the bleeding hell had this ginger tinge come from? I studied Nettie closely. She had features that definitely came from Deanna's family, but none that I would say pointed to my family.
Now what did I make of this? You can bloody well guess what I made of it, can't you? I wondered whether I had been taken for a ride. Back then in the sixties we didn't have all this genetic testing that they've got now. But I went round to my doctor the following morning and spoke to him. He, of course, quoted patient confidentiality at me. But after a lot of pushing he checked the blood types and said that I was most likely to be Nettle's father. That was an odd thing for him to say. He didn't say I was Nettie's father just that I could be and he wouldn't elaborate.
I got details of Nettie and my blood groups from him, but he wouldn't give me Deanna's. Then I went to see the doctor at my employer's. I'd been to see him a few times as I'd been pushing the envelope a bit over the last couple of years and he was keeping an eye on my health. I asked him the same question I'd asked my family doctor. After getting him a sample of Deanna's blood so he could find out her group. (Where do you think I got it? I just had to wait a couple of weeks)
He told me there was a 60% chance that I was Nettie's father. That was all he could say. That was as close they could get those days before DNA testing. A 95% would have allayed my fears, but 60% was all he could give me. That meant there was a forty-percent chance I was not Nettie's father. I was not a happy bunny, I'll tell you.
One Saturday night a few weeks later I was pulling pints in the local pub, when a fight started. I got involved and separated the two guys who were both friends of mine, who had consumed a little too much falling down water. Unfortunately I took a rather nasty knock in the mêlée and he boss sent me home. It was around ten in the evening. In those days the pubs used to shut at 11PM, then there was the drinking up time and after that we had to get the bar ready for the following day, so normally I wasn't home until after 1AM.
When I got home Deanna's mother was baby-sitting. I was livid; Dea had gone out again without telling me. I demanded to know where Dea was and how often she had been going out on Saturday nights. The Gorgon, besides telling me that Dea had a right to go out with her friends had refused to tell me where she had gone. But from the way she spoke I gathered it was a regular thing.
The row that ensued between my mother-in-law and me was loud enough to cause the neighbours to call the police. Which turned out to be to my advantage, as they made the bitch comply with my request that she leave my home. After settling Nettie back down I sat and watched out the window for Deanna to return.
Just after twelve a car pulled up outside, I could just make out Dea sitting in the back. Dea got out and stood talking with the door open for a while. I could see a guy sitting in the back seat. They were quite loud and although I couldn't hear what they were saying I thought they were probably laughing and joking as Deanna was waving her arms about. Then Dea shut the door and started walking towards the flat. But just then her father's car pulled up. Dea looked surprised when she saw her mother was in it and went over to her.
They talked for a while and I saw Dea nervously looking up at the flat then turning back and talking again with her mother. I don't think Dea could see me watching her through the darkened window. They talked for some time then Dea's father got out of the car and came up to the flat with her. I sat in the lounge and waited.
Dea came in and just stood looking at me. Her father stayed in the background in the hall. As I said, I think he really was a good guy he was just there to see I didn't lose it and do something I would regret.
"Just what do you think you are playing at?" I demanded.
"I just went out with the girls for the evening." Deanna replied.
"Oh you decided to go out with girls and didn't bother to mention it to me. You arranged for your mother to come and baby sit and didn't bother to mention that to me either."
"I knew you'd react like this, that's why I never told you. You're jealous of me having any fun. I'm stuck here with Anita all the time. Well, I got bored and went out with the girls tonight."
"The girls, what girls and where did you go?"
"The girls from school, you know them. Angela, Shirley and that crowd; we went to the Fender Club to the dance."
"So if you went with the girls, how did you get home at this time of night? There's no buses running now."
"We got a taxi and the girls dropped me off."
"Do I look like I'm fucking dim or something. You just got out of the back of John Brag's car. That isn't a bloody taxi."
"Oh, we were waiting for a taxi and John offered us a lift. He had been in the Fender Club as well."
"So how many girls were there in this little group of yours?"
"Five of us, we all just about managed to squeeze in?"
"Blimey! seven of you, all crammed into that little Ford Cortina. That must have been crowded.
"No, six. There was just the five of us and John."
"No, Deanna. At least seven, you appear to have forgotten Ray Stevens. The guy who's lap you were sitting on. The guy who had your tits out when the car pulled up."
Deanna took a sharp intake of breath; I had taken her by surprise. She hadn't realised I'd not only seen the car arrive but that I could see into it as well. The lights in the shop windows light it up down there like daylight. I saw tears begin to form in the corner of her eyes. She was caught and she knew it.
"Why the hell are you lying to me? John Brag is banned from the Fender Club and has been for years. He was in the pub the other night complaining because they won't lift the ban on him and he always has that red headed bastard Ray Stevens with him.
"Now cut the crap. You and Stevens had a thing going at one time when we were at school. You told me it was over when we got back together. You have been a complete bitch to me since we got married and from the way you are behaving I don't think it was ever over between you.
"I think you were playing around with him behind my back and it was Ray Stevens who put you in the club. Why did you pick on me? Did you think that little slime ball wouldn't make a good father or did he refuse to make an honest woman of you?"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Anita, that's what I'm talking about. Haven't you noticed her hair is turning ginger, just like Ray Stevens's hair? I wonder whether there's a better than 60% chance that he's Anita's daddy."
"You,... you're talking rubbish. You're Anita's father."
"So you have always claimed. But the doctors have told me there's only a 60% chance I'm her father."
Deanna's face had turned bright red. Her speech was broken as if she didn't really know what to say.
"I,,, I... You are being silly. Anita's our baby. How could you think otherwise?"
"Look, Deanna, you told me that I was Anita's father and I gave up college and married you. Since we've been married you have shown less and less interest in me. And now I find you riding around in a car with an old boyfriend and your tits hanging out. I'm beginning to think I was a scapegoat. A mug! I think you were two-timing me with Ray Stevens and I think he put you in the family way. I was always so careful; I never could make out how you had got pregnant.
"But Ray Stevens isn't the type to be careful, is he? We all know he put Jennifer Hunt in the club at school and then he denied it afterwards. Did he tell you to get lost as well? Is that why you let me take the can?"
"No. No. You are Anita's father. You're my husband. I love you."
"Oh, you love me, do you? Then just tell me when was the last time you said that to me? When was the last time we made love? Better than that, when was the last time you spoke civilly to me? Well, the worm has turned. From now on you're on your own. I'm out of here."
With that I stood up picked up the bag that I had already packed from beside my chair and started for the door.
My father-in law must have decided that it was time he put his oar in. "Hold on just a minute, Reece, and please calm down. You surely can't believe that Anita is not your daughter."
"Oh, yes, I can, Jim. Your daughter has put me through nearly three years of fucking misery and I think it's because she's married to the wrong guy. Well, I've had enough. She can go and find some other mug to work his balls off for her."
With that I pushed past him and walked out of the flat. As I went down the stairs, Dea was calling after me begging me to stay. Her mother obviously heard the ruckus and got out of the car and started shouting at me. I was surprised to hear Jim shout at her, "Shut up, you silly bitch. I think this is probably all down to you anyway. You never gave the boy a chance." I rounded the corner at that point so I couldn't make out what was said after that.
What to do now? I didn't know. If I went to my sister's house, Dea would soon find me. So I went to the factory and spent the rest of the night sitting in the gatehouse with the security guard. Ted was a nice old boy who had been a friend of my grandfather before he died. I told him about my troubles and he commiserated with me and offered me the use of a spare room at his place for the time being, which I gratefully accepted.
In the morning before I went to Ted's place I called my sister Susan. She was very worried about me and told me Dea and her father had already been around to her house looking for me. I told her I was fine (which was a lie) and that I had somewhere to stay for the time being. I also told her that I was through with Dea. She knew that the last few years had been a living hell for me, Sue had apparently given Dea a piece of her mind and told her to get lost.
Lunchtime I turned up for my part time job in the pub but at the same time handed in my notice. Whilst I was on the bar serving, Dea's father came in, but the governor, knowing what had happened, came out and asked him to leave before he could speak to me. I left the pub early by the back door.
Monday morning I went to see the training manager at my job and told him I was leaving. I really don't know what I was planning to do; I just wanted to get away. Then the training manager came up with a better idea. It appears that he didn't want to waste the time and effort the company had invested in me. He suggested that I stay another month until the current college term finished (I was on day release to go to college) and then I would transfer to the company's Swindon factory where I could finish my apprenticeship. Apparently the company had a hostel there for apprentices that I could stay in for the time being. So that's what I did. I had an awkward month dodging Dea and her dad. They hung around outside the factory some evenings. But the security guys were quite good at tipping me off as to which gate they were at so I just used one of the others.
Six weeks later I was down in Swindon. The police came to see me as Dea had reported me as a missing person. I told them I was fine and they asked whether I wanted Dea to be told where I was. I told them no, but they did say that if Dea started divorce proceedings against me they would have to tell the court where I was. That was the last I heard really. She sent some letters to my sister asking about me and some that she asked Sue to forward on to me; I asked Sue to return them unopened.
I finished my apprenticeship and almost immediately I was moved into the model shop. I had never realised but the management had plans for me. Apparently I was very good at solving problems and this had been spotted a few years ago. Let me explain. A designer designs something that looks great, but some mug has to make it. Sometimes it is nigh on impossible to make, but I just happened to be good at working out how to modify things so they could be made and keep the costs down as well.
The next few years flew by. I never heard anything about Dea. No, that's a lie, my sister Sue would tell me she had returned another letter to her, three or four times a year. She told me that Dea was apparently living with her parents since that was where the letters came from. A couple of times Sue asked me to write to Dea but I refused.
You know the old saying "absence make the heart grow fonder". Well, for me it was true I couldn't get her out of my mind. But my thoughts of her were always tempered with distrust and the pain she had put me through.
I moved up through the company at an amazing pace and by the time I was thirty-four I was on the board as director in charge of product development. I had a nice (not very) little cottage and a smart company car. Women? Yeah, there were some of them around. I'm not a bad looking bloke, and with my salary I must have looked like a good catch. But once bitten twice shy, if you know what I mean. Besides that I was probably still married. I'd never seen any paperwork to say I was divorced and Dea was apparently still using my name.
Things began to change for me when I was having a meal with a colleague in one of the big hotels in Swindon one Friday evening. My friend drew my attention to that fact that a young lady, who was eating alone, was watching us. She was much too young for my associate or me and we wondered what her interest was. Once she realised we were aware of her she pretended not to look anymore.