Thanks to LadyCibelle and my friend SH for sorting my foul-ups and editing for me. This story contains what is effectively a rape; the Author doesn't not condone such actions.
The reminder tone from my computer roused me from my book. Well I think it did, the book wasn't very good so I could well have been dozing.
That tone told me that it was twenty past four and very shortly Betty my secretary would be in with yet another cup of coffee; the last cup she'd bring me that day before she went home. Anyway I liked it to look like I was actually working whenever she popped into my office; it gave me my excuse for staying at the office until well after six every evening.
To be truthful there wasn't really much for me to do, the guys did almost everything; I just read a few reports and tried to look like I was busy when anyone looked in on me. Well it kept me occupied and out of the golf club until it was time for me to have dinner at seven thirty.
On cue a few seconds later there was a gentle tap on the door and then Betty came in carrying my coffee.
"You off now Betty?"
"Not quite Mr Wilbury, I'm afraid that Mrs Wilbury is outside and she wish's to see you. Shall I show her in?"
"Shit!" I replied.
Betty didn't flinch at the comment; I suspect it was what she expected to hear me say or something like it anyway.
"Yes please Betty, and you'd better bring her a coffee or something as well. Then you scoot off home, I don't want Bill or the children blaming me because their tea is late."
"Thanks John, I'll see you in the morning."
"If I'm still alive, that woman makes me want to commit hara-kiri."
"Oh, she's not that bad. She just seems to have a problem with you."
"You don't know the bitch like I do, Betty." I told her.
Betty smiled back at me, and then opening the door waved Mrs Helena Fordyce-Wilbury into my office asking her what she'd like as a beverage as she did so.
In the usual dismissive tone that she used to anyone she didn't consider her equal, Helena snapped. "Tea please, Earl Grey if you have it?"
With a smile, Betty was gone.
Helena stepped over to my desk and took a seat opposite me. Immediately I realised that something was troubling her; Helena was avoiding eye contact with me.
Now just because her name is Wilbury, I don't want anyone to go getting the idea that we were related. Well we were related but we aren't blood relatives or anything like that. Although, I suppose some folks might consider that we were, because Helena was my deceased brother's widow. Anyway I'm sure you understand what I'm getting at.
Where was I, I lost myself for a minute. Which isn't very surprising where Helena Fordyce-Wilbury is concerned, she's enough to send any levelheaded man into the nut house.
Christ, I had never been able to stand the sight of the woman. Eh ... all right, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, because Helena had a figure to die for and a very attractive face. But she was just about the biggest bitch it had ever been my misfortune to encounter.
The trouble was she had my brother mesmerised from the moment he clapped eyes on her. I can't say I could blame him, if she could keep that trap of hers shut for long enough at one time I'm sure I'd have been tempted as well. Not that the likes of me would ever get the chance to get into Helena's knickers.
I really suppose that I'd better go back to when I first ran into Helena Fordyce. I was in college back then and by the look of how I dressed and behaved I suppose most people would have considered me to have been a bit of a tearaway. Personally, at the time I figured that I was the local incarnation of Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, the Fonz to most people. Like Fonzie I sported a tight pair of denims and a leather jacket. And I'm not blowing my own trumpet here when I say that I had no shortage of females volunteering to ride pillion on my Moto Guzzi. Yeah well, I was god's gift to the girls at my college and didn't I — and everyone else around town - just know it.
Okay so where does Helena Fordyce come into the equation, you ask. Well every street has two ends. I stood at one end, a down to earth handsome young man, and Helena stood at the other end. What's the nearest parallel I can draw? Oh yeah, you remember those flash moneyed birds in the film Clueless? Yeah well, take your pick Helena was a dead ringer for one of them, with one slight exception. Helena was a real looker; she dressed impeccably and very sexily, care of Daddy's credit card. But she was also exceedingly intelligent.
So bright in fact that she was the star turn at any student prize giving that she ever attended. Yeah well, I never did get invited to many of those kinds of do's. Except maybe for where - another part of the equation stepped in - my brother Brian was concerned. Brian had always been bright; nerdy type bright if you know what I mean.
Whereas I kind-a scraped by, by the seat of my pants; Brian waltzed through his education without having to work-up a sweat.
No one, and I mean absolutely no one, could ever have mistaken Brian for me. We didn't look like each other, he couldn't ride a motorbike to save his own life, and he was about as good with the females as your average brick. I'll get back to Brian later; let's get back to Helena and my history.
Well, I'd taken one look at Helena and figured that she'd look real good on the rear seat of my Guzzi. The problem was Helena had taken one look at my bike and realised that it wasn't a sports car. What's more, she considered that the guy sitting astride the thing was a complete moron. A conclusion that - with hindsight - I think she was most probably correct in coming to, at the time.
Yeah, I tried giving her all the old bull, but she wasn't about to fall for any of it, and extremely eloquently told me to sling my hook. I'd given it my best shot without success so I moved on to pastures new and more fertile.
Would I? Yeah any guy would have been a fool not to; man that girl had just about everything a randy little shit like me could want at the time. But there were other fish to fry that didn't call for me to suck up to a stuck-up bitch like Helena Fordyce.
As time passed I saw Helena around college and the town quite a bit. We never spoke, more like looked daggers at each other. You know what really pissed me off? If ever I looked her way the bitch would be staring back at me with a hateful expression in her eyes; I knew the bitch was making sarcastic remarks about me to her mates. Things went on like that right up until the day she vanished.
At the time I had no idea where she went and I didn't much care. Not for one second did I draw any comparison with the fact that my little brother Brian had gone off to University at about the same time.
On leaving college I'd found myself a job with what I thought was a property maintenance company. Not quite humping bricks around, but near enough. I was a kind of office boy come general dogsbody. But the old boy who owned the place kind-a took a shine to me.
It wasn't until I had actually got the job that I discovered we did maintenance of particular types of property, i.e. Banks and medium to high security installations. It was a pretty big surprise to me that I'd ever passed the vetting procedure. But then again, a bit of a Jack the lad with the ladies, I might have been; but besides a couple of traffic violations, I'd never been in trouble with the law.
Anyway I settled in and over the following few years became part of the organisation, not a big part, but a pretty important part because nearly all the paperwork — contracts, quotes, bills and the like eventually passed across my desk. But that was in the future; to start with I was everybody's dogsbody, but that had the advantage that I got to know all the grunts. You know, the guys that actually did carry the brick and got their hands dirty.
My brother Brian was away at university for three years. He did come home for the holidays and the like, not that I ever saw much of him. We'd always moved in different circles, it seemed even more so since he'd gone away to Uni. I did hear that he was dating a girl at Uni, but Brian was always pretty tight lipped about his love life. I don't know why, but I kind-a got the feeling he was scared that I'd steal his girlfriends from him.
I've no idea why I got that feeling, maybe I'd chatted up girls Brian had had his eye on when we were younger. But if I had it was never intentional. As I tried to explain earlier, I had the gift of the gab and most — but not all — eligible females seemed to fall at my feet. My little brother was a complete nerd.
But things had changed once I was in full time work. Just a few weeks after getting my job I'd met Catherine. They say that there's a woman for every man and as far as I was concerned Catherine was the one intended for me. Shortly after we started dating my beloved Motor Guzzi was consigned to the back of the garage to be replaced as my means of transport by a rather flash if very ancient Mercedes.
Damn thing cost an arm and a leg in service bills and drank the juice like it was going out of style, but it did have a very comfortable rear seat and plenty of room to party. Catherine loved that car and so did I.
Around the same time I had to do something drastic about my nickname as well. Being named after a TV character is all very well when you're young, but it didn't go down too well in the office, or with Catherine's folks either. Trying to get rid of a nickname that just about everyone — including your brother and sister — calls you by, isn't as easy as it sounds. What really surprised me was the amount of people who thought my name really was Fonzarelli; I'd been known as Fonzi for so long.
It took a year or so and even now, what some fifteen something odd years later, some folks still refer to me as Fonzi on occasions. Anyway eventually I got the idea over to most folks that I was John Wilbury.
Catherine and I got engaged after we'd been together about a year and we were soon talking about the big day, although that was to be another year away.
Brian got into the habit - when he came home from Uni for the holidays - of borrowing my Merc to take his secret girlfriend out in. Catherine and me settling for the Moto Guzzi for a change; I still kept the beast legal, she was like an old friend.
I never pushed Brian on the identity of this secret love of his; I'm not sure why, perhaps for the reason I mentioned earlier. But my sister Gwen gave the poor bugger some real stick for not letting on who he was dating. Gwen even inferring to me on occasion, that she was worried that Brian might be gay. That was one fear I felt I was pretty safe on allaying; I'd seen the way Brian's tongue hung out when he met some of my girlfriends when we were younger.
It was about a week before my wedding when Gwen met Brian's girlfriend for the first time, and boy did she get a shock. She was shocked enough to burst into my bedroom at three in the morning and wake me to tell me about it.
"John, John wake up! You'll never believe this, Brian's girlfriend is that Fordyce bitch!"
Now I suppose I'd better explain here that Gwen is my little sister and in her eyes her big brother could do no wrong. My enemy was Gwen's enemy and there was no discussion to it. What comments Helena Fordyce had made about me within Gwen's hearing I never found out, or maybe Gwen had just picked up on the animosity somehow. Anyway as far as Gwen was concerned, Helena Fordyce was — or had been - a non-person.
I had to work quite hard on Gwen to persuade her that if Helena was Brian's girlfriend she should treat her as she would mine i.e. Catherine. Not that I ever think there was any love lost between Gwen and Helena.
I was to gather that it had been quite a shock to Helena when she learnt that Brian and I were brothers. Like most people in our peer group Helena had only known me as Fonzi. To learn that my real name was John Wilbury must have been quite a surprise for her. Oh, somehow she knew that Gwen was my sister — she must have heard it somewhere around town, although they had never really known each other — so when Brian introduced the two of them, it must have been a real shock for Helena.
Probably almost as big a shock as Gwen had got, when she realised what a good-looking girl her brother had managed to net. Brian hadn't been short-changed in the old looks department, but he definitely never had a way with words. Poor bugger was usually pretty tongue tied, around pretty women when he was younger.
I first clapped eyes on Helena again at the reception. Although I do think, with all those people sitting in the church it must have been Helena's eyes that nearly burnt a hole on the back of my neck. Come on, you know the sensation; everyone was watching Catherine and I during the service; but since I'd first met her years before, I'd always got that particular sensation when Helena was around somewhere.
Brian introduced us at the receiving line. Helena was polite and even gave me a kiss on the cheek, but her eyes said something different. Never could put my finger on exactly what, eventually I decided it had to be hate. What I'd ever done to the girl, except ask her out on a date I never had been able to figure out.
As far as Helena and Catherine's relationship went. Well, it never could have been considered anything other than undeclared war. They would be polite to each other but that atmosphere was always there, like something about to explode just under the surface. The odd thing was, I could remember the two of them hanging around together quite a lot when they were younger.
But they must have had a serious bust-up about something somewhere along the line. About the only time I ever heard my Catherine use profane language was when the subject of Helena came up. I asked her several times what the war was all about, but I never did get a straight answer.
Life went on and eventually Brian and Helena graduated and got married themselves. Unfortunately I couldn't attend their wedding, because I was involved in a road accident three days before. Yeah, my beloved Motor Guzzi went to that great scrap yard in the sky. I spent several months in hospital with a compound fracture of my lower left leg and an assortment of other somewhat more minor fractures.
Quite nasty really, but eventually it did net me nearly thirty-five thousand in compensation from the drunk bastard who ploughed into me's insurance company. That cash was to turn out to be very useful less than two years later.
It took me — and all the staff - at my firm by complete surprise when the old guy who owned the place had his heart attack and trotted off to ride my Moto Guzzi. I really think the guy was a frustrated biker, because he always would natter on to me about motorbikes; often digging out his pictures of himself as a young man on his old ex army Norton.
Anyway, if the shock of the old boy's death wasn't big enough, the news that his heirs had sold the company to our main rival, really did kick us all in the teeth.
A large group of us — my fellow employees and I - were sitting in the pub after we got the news that the company had been bought for its contracts and every last one of us was going be made redundant. When I realised that tucked away in my head somewhere were the details of every contract the company had and more importantly, their value and renewal dates.
Off the top of my head I suggested that we could start our own company and set up in opposition. I can't say the idea was greeted with the enthusiasm that I'd expected, but on reflection most everyone else only had their redundancy money to fall back on; I also had my thirty five thousand compensation sitting there in the bank drawing interest. Although some of the guys said they'd chip in and nearly everyone else told me they'd be only too pleased to work for me; if I ever got it doing more than talking about the idea.
I'm not quite sure they were too happy about the news that if I got the company off the ground, I probably wouldn't be able to match their previous salaries, for a while at least. But hey it weren't the best time for anyone to be looking for a job, the buggers would have to take it or leave it, and I had to get the bleeding contracts first.
Much to my surprise, Catherine was all for my hare brained scheme. She even talked her father into promising to invest in our company. It took me a week or two to get the paperwork sorted, and one hell of a phone bill calling around the clients to find out which of them were liable to put work my way. Then I paid the dreaded call on the bank.
They sat and listened, looked at my projections of possible incomes and at the list of clients who promised the possibility of contracts — the bank we were sitting in, amongst them — and then to my utter astonishment asked me when I wanted the money. I can't really be sure what I replied, the whole hare brained idea had been like a child's Christmas wish; I never for a moment really thought the bank would go for it.
As I went to leave the bank one of the three guys pulled me to one side.
"You're Brian's brother, aren't you?" He said to me.
"Yeah Brian Wilbury is my brother." I replied.
"I'm Peter Fordyce, Helena's father. You were in hospital and couldn't make it to the wedding so we never met. It's funny how we haven't met since."
"Oh how do you do, sir. And well, I don't think my wife and I are very high on Helena's favourite people list." I replied, wondering if I'd said the right thing.
"Oh my god who is. You married Catherine Snow didn't you. Funny that Helena and Catherine were always in each other pockets until Helena went off to university. The next thing the wife and I know Catherine is persona non-gratis with Helena, god knows what came between them. Still that daughter of mine always has been a little air headed and head strong, a little like her mother really. I think we spoilt her when she was little, I should have put her over my knee and given her a bloody good spanking when I had the chance; now I think it's much to late."
"Anyway good luck with your venture young man and be assured that any fight you and your wife has with Helena isn't with me or my wife."
I was to meet Helena's father quite a lot over the next few years, generally on business but a few times we had dinner together with our wives at the golf club. I was quite sorry when the old boy eventually went off to meet his maker.