I thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for their patience, proof reading, editing skills.
Quite often in the UK, when someone refers to their local pub, they aren't necessarily talking about a public house that is nearest to where they live or work. The pub they mean is the one they feel at home in; they usually drink there and are well known by the staff and regulars. It can be some way away from where actually they live or work.
Oppo = A Colleague or friend.
CSA = Child Support Agency, in theory a government agency who were charged with getting child support payments from absent biological parents. They've made a complete cock-up of most of it and as I haven't heard them mentioned by the media lately, I have to wonder whether they are still operational. Maybe they've just got their act together at last. But as they are civil servants, I somehow doubt they have done that. Any organisation in which its members are shielded by the 'Official Secrets Act' just doesn't need to worry about what gets fucked up. If no bugger can discover just who made the bloody cock-up in the first place, why should any of them care?
I was enjoying a quiet pint in what had become my local pub. I'd found the Fisherman's Arms - that was tucked away, some way off the beaten track - by chance just after I'd moved into the village, about three years previous. In the height of the summer season some holidaymakers found the pub, but not very many; so the place tended to cater more to the regular locals. On this evening, there couldn't have been ten people in the place, so it was nice and quiet, just how I liked things.
It was so quiet in fact that I was almost dozing, as I stared into the flames of the fire burning in the big grate. I was so lost in the way the flames flickered and curled that I didn't notice the two rather large strangers enter the bar and buy their drinks.
The first I was aware of their presence was when one of them slid into the seat opposite me, blocking my view of the fire.
"Mo Clarke?" the guy asked, his accent telling me he came from back home, or that general area anyway.
"Who's asking and why do you want to know?" I replied. Whoever this guy was, I didn't want to speak to him. But I was just a little curious as to why he'd come looking for me. Look, the Fisherman's Arms ain't the kind of place strangers find by chance.
"My name's John Caldwell, and I'd like to have a word with you about Sarah, if I may," the man replied.
The name Caldwell, let alone Sarah, was enough for me to begin to rise from my seat. I could remember that Sarah had mentioned a cousin called John Caldwell a few times. I think I recalled that he was supposed to be a military policeman or something.
I began to slide along the bench I was sitting on so that I could get out from behind the table. But the other large man - whose presence I was still not aware of at the time - sat himself on the end of the bench, blocking any further progress on my behalf.
"Hold on a minute please, Maurice; we just want a little chat, that's all," John Caldwell said.
"I've got nothing I wish to talk to any Caldwell about. Especially if Sarah's concerned."
"Aren't you just a little curious about the baby, at least?" John Caldwell asked.
"No. Why should I be? It's got fuck all to do with me."
"That's not what Sarah says, Mo!"
"Look, this has all been settled by the courts. No matter how much she claims otherwise, I ain't the father of Sarah's kid; so it holds no interest for me whatsoever."
"Sarah claims that there was no one else who possibly could be the father, Mo."
"Look, John or whatever your name is, we went through all this at the time. The DNA tests proved that there was no chance in hell that I was the kid's biological parent. If I had been, I would have gone through with the wedding as we had it planned. But I ain't! And there was no way I was going to marry a bitch who'd been shagging other guys behind my back. And I definitely ain't bringing up some other guy's brat as my own. So you see we've got nothing to talk about."
"Hold on a minute please, Mo. Young Maureen is very ill with leukaemia and she needs a bone marrow transplant pronto."
"So, what the fuck has that got to do with me? I can't help the kid; we're not related in the slightest," I blustered. I was sorry to hear about the child's illness, but there was fuck all I could do about it.
"Mo, Listen to me for a few minutes, will you? I know that all those tests you had done apparently proved that you aren't the father of Maureen. Oh notice the name Sarah gave her; it was the closest to Maurice that she could come up with. But leaving that aside, don't it seem just a little strange to you that with her child's life at stake, Sarah would still insist that you were the only possible man who could be Maureen's father."
"Look, the woman's probably nuts or something. We went all through this at the time, the tears, the swearing on the bible. You say it and Sarah tried to pull it on me. But those DNA tests don't lie, not once but twice the tests were done and they proved that I was not the father of that baby."
"So it would seem at first sight, Mo; but would you do me a little favour. You know I'm a policeman?"
"Yeah, MP or something."
"Yes, I was, I'm out of the service now. I work for the Home Office," John explained.
"Well, I wasn't around when all this happened, so I never did hear your side of the story. Would you mind telling me all about it? Why you suspected that something was wrong in the first place. Christ, you and Sarah had been an item and shacked up together for years. Suddenly Sarah gets pregnant and you get suspicious. What made you postpone the wedding until after the baby was born and have those DNA tests done in the first place?"
"Look, mate, this was all over and done with three years ago. It hurt me emotionally a lot at the time and I really don't think I want to go through it all again."
"Please, Maurice. Look, there's a very sick little girl whose life might depend on this. Just tell me the story from your side."
I could see that the guy was pretty concerned about the kid by the expression on his face. Whatever Sarah's motivation was in still insisting that I was the child's father, I couldn't understand. But I assumed that John Caldwell had set himself the task of finding a bone marrow donor and he was trying to track down the kid's biological father first.
Well, if I helped him put me completely out of the frame, then maybe he could talk Sarah into telling the truth. Although with the way Sarah had acted at the time, I was pretty well convinced that Sarah was one of those people with multiple personalities. Maybe the personality that I fell in love with was someone completely different to the slut who went out and got herself knocked up. In Sarah's mind, that is.
I picked up my pint and emptied the glass. "George, let's have another HSD?" I called to the barman.
I'd first laid eyes on Sarah Caldwell at college. Well, to be honest it wasn't me who spotted her first; it was my buddy and prowling partner, Ralph Bilger. At the time Ralph and I were what you might call a couple of 'Jack the Lads' when it came to the girls, that is. When we were together we were good at chatting them up. I don't know, we complemented each other I suppose when we were spouting all that bullshit to the women that would often lead to us scoring.
Anyway one day Ralph told me that there was a new girl in one of his classes, and she was something special. I'm pretty sure that Ralph tried to chat her up on his own but — reading between the lines — he got no further than sharing her table in the cafeteria.
That's where I found them together one day and quickly realised that Sarah wasn't someone I just wanted to shag a couple of times.
I'll be honest, I hadn't spoken more than a couple of words to Sarah before I knew that she was that special person my mother had told me that I'd find one day.
It took me the best part of six months to talk Sarah into going out on a date with me. Even then it was a double date with Ralph and some tart that he'd found who'd let him bang her at the drop of a hat.
I'd didn't even get as far as a kiss on that first date. Sarah let me hold her hand for a while and that was about it.
On the second date a week later - with just the two of us — I got a kiss goodnight. Hey, yeah, music, bells and a very light headed feeling. You know all the metaphors. Anyway that kiss led to another and if Sarah's father hadn't put the outside light on, I think we would have been there all night.
On our third date we went to the cinema, but didn't see the film. You know the idea.
That was it. From then on, Ralph and chasing other birds went off the curriculum. Every spare moment I had, I spent with Sarah.
We even went to the same university together. Sarah studied philosophy and I read marine engineering. We talked about marriage a lot, but for some reason, we didn't get around to naming the actual day. I think we were both too busy with our studies to plan that far ahead.
Sarah was of course wearing my engagement ring by then and we were sharing a flat — and bed - together all through UNI.
We graduated at the same time and moved into a flat in town. Sarah had been offered a good job working in the office of one of her university professor's relatives. Kind of the old boy network sort of thing; but far too lucrative for either Sarah or I to even contemplate her turning it down.
.... There is more of this story ...