Thanks to LadyCibelle and my friend SH for sorting my foul-ups and editing for me.
"Something really weird happened today Kevin." Trudy my wife of eighteen years said to me as we were eating dinner one evening.
"What was it mum?" Cassie, our thirteen-year-old daughter asked, before I had time to react myself.
I'd stopped eating and was sitting there looking at Trudy with an expression of concerned interest on my face.
"Some young man took my picture as we came out of the restaurant at lunch time today!" Trudy informed us.
"Did he? I suppose you can't blame the bugger, you're a very good looking woman and you dress very ... er." I had to think of the correct word because Cassie was sitting there with us. "Smartly when you go to the office; even more so in the last few months." I replied nonchalantly and went back to eating my meal.
"Well I like to look my best at the office. But don't you think it odd that he would just take my picture in the street like that?"
"Not especially Trudy. Think about it, the guy was probably a paparazzi or something and he thought that a woman as good looking as you, strolling around during the day dressed up like you always are ... Well then, you must be a celebrity or something." I suggested.
"Oh don't be silly."
"Trudy, you've got an almost perfect figure for a woman your age, your dress and make-up are immaculate; of course people are going to think you're someone special. We do, don't we Cass?"
"Sure do mum, you're the best looking mum at our school. All my friends are jealous of me for having such a beautiful mother." Cassie chimed in.
"Oh now, you're both flattering me." Trudy said turning a little pink in the face with embarrassment.
"Nonsense Trudy, you're one very desirable looking lady. I'll bet all the guys in your office drool over you all day. Especially that John Ryan geezer."
"John Ryan, why should you single him out all of a sudden?" Trudy asked, having turned - what I considered - beetroot red at the sound of Ryan's name; but probably only slightly pinker that she had been.
"Oh come on Trudy, every one in town knows about that bugger." I took a quick glance in Cassie's direction, I hadn't meant to call him a bugger in her presence; but sometimes emotion gets the better of you. "Crikey the guys reputation goes before him."
"Trudy, he's a ladies man! You know, the b ... guy's got more notches on his belt than any other guy in town."
"He has; how would you know? You've never even met the man."
"Don't have to have met the ... guy personally to know of his reputation. He's had a whole string of conquests and he ain't too shy about bragging about them in the pub either. You know, if I didn't trust you so implicitly I'd be worried about you working in the same office as him."
Trudy suddenly went unaccustomedly quite. I really believe that if Cassie hadn't left the TV on in the lounge we would have been able to hear the cogs churning around in her brain.
In a way I'd know about John Ryan's reputation for years, and to be perfectly frank with you I had had some reservations when Trudy went to work for the same company as he worked in five years previous. But as they supposedly worked in completely different departments, I'd relaxed a little after a while.
Besides Trudy was my wife and she loved me, didn't she, she was telling me so all the time; so what the hell did I have to worry about?
But then again when your wife is as attractive as Trudy, there's always the chance that some handsome bugger might turn her head. And to be totally honest I was pushing forty and although I keep myself fit, I was showing that I was well past my sell-by date no matter what tricks I tried to pull to turn back time.
I thought I'd played a pretty good game actually. I anonymously and unexpectedly sent Trudy flowers at her office, on a random but regular basis. Sent her suggestive joke emails and cards — supposedly — anonymously arranging clandestine meetings for dinner — mind I believe she always knew they were from me, because I'd have to have already booked the babysitter. But you get the general idea; I played silly bugger loving husband like a teenage kid, so that Trudy — or anyone else for that matter - would think that I was getting as old as I really felt.
I wont go into our sex life here but take it from me it was as regular and energetic as it had ever been.
But a few weeks before this particular evening an old school friend of mine - who I hadn't heard from in donkeys years - but I was to discover also worked for the same company as Trudy, called me at my office out of the blue. I never have discovered how he knew where I worked, hearsay I suppose.
"How you going Kevin, Its Mark, Mark Willoughby, long time no see!"
"Jesus Mark, where the hell did you spring from? I haven't seen you in..."
"More years that we both care to remember Kevin. But I've seen you a few times when you pick Trudy up from the office."
"What, you work at Sangster's with Trudy?"
"Not exactly Kevin, I'm in a different department completely, personnel; but I've seen you down in the car park from my office window."
"Ah, nothing much to do but ogle to women I suppose?"
"You could say that we've got some real lookers on the payroll. The thing is Kevin ... your wife's one of them."
"I'm not sure that I like the way you say that!"
"Calm down Kevin, don't go getting excited, it might be nothing. But you being an old mate and all, I just thought I should tip you the wink. Can you meet me at lunchtime in the Feathers?"
"What's yours?" Mark asked as I joined him at the bar.
"Best please. Now what's this all about, Mark?" I demanded, probably a little harshly.
"Calm down Kevin, it might be nothing at all. It's just that ... Shit look, if I don't say something and ... Well, I'd bloody well never forgive myself. Look lets find a quiet spot out in the garden where no one can hear us." Mark said looking around as if he was expecting someone to be watching us.
Out in the sun, I followed Mark to a table well clear of any other that were in use.
"Look Kevin for all I know she could well tell the bugger where to go, but I've watched the prick for years and I know his MO. What's more he's very good at what he does."
"Mark who the fuck are you talking about and what in fucking hell does he do?"
"John Ryan, have you ever come across the bugger?"
"Yeah Randy Ryan from school."
"Yeah that's the bugger. Well he's married now and works in our sales division."
"Yeah I know, so what's he got to do with Trudy?"
"Hold up Kev, maybe nothing; I'm working on a hunch here. Look Ryan's always fancied himself as a bit of a stud, you must remember that."
"More than remember Mark, I was a little reticent with the idea of Trudy working for the same company as he did. But I found out that he was in sales and Trudy works in the buying office. From what I heard, nether the twain shall meet."
"Dead right there mate, different divisions entirely and rather a lot of animosity between the two of them as well. But in personnel, I see and hear things.
"I've kept an eye on Ryan because the little shit nicked my girl once, back when we were in college; never liked the bugger since. Anyway once he got married he calmed down for a few years, as far as I know he towed the line, if you know what I mean. He was always full of it with the girls around the place, but I don't think he stepped out of line with any of them."
"Then about four or five years ago, I noticed that he was spending a lot of time in the advertising department. The next thing you know he's joining the girl's from there at lunch times. You know how it is with the girls'; they team up together to go out shopping, to the café or the pub. Well, suddenly John Ryan's tagging along.
"Took me a long time to work out that when ever Ryan went with them, one particular woman was with the group. Didn't matter where they went, half the time I have no idea where they went anyway, I only saw them leave and return. But one thing I could be sure of was that Ryan would be with the crowd that this particular woman was with. Not that I ever saw anything untoward happening."
"So what does that prove?"
"Absolutely nothing and that's my problem, or as personnel manager I could do something about it; I'd love to be able to fire Ryan just for the kick of it.
"But then some months later when I'm looking through the staff attendance records, just by chance of course! By an extremely unlikely coincidence Ryan and this particular woman both have the same afternoons off for dental and doctors appointments etc."
"A bit circumstantial isn't it; who was this woman?"
"No one you know Kevin and she doesn't work for the company anymore; she moved away after she got divorced. And what's more those coincidental appointments happened once or twice month right up until she left the company."
"So you reckon... ?"
"I don't reckon anything Kevin, because I can't prove anything. The woman's old man never sued the company or anything, didn't even lodge a complaint. I'm just working on the balance of probabilities.
"The point is about six months after that woman leaves, I noticed that John Ryan was suddenly paying calls on the service department. You know, the office where the girls' who take the phone calls are. And yeah, it's not very long before he's going out to lunch with some of those girls. It took me a little longer to work out which one the second time, because they are a tight nit bunch in there."
.... There is more of this story ...