Late on a summers evening, a middle-aged man is standing on his house rear patio alone; a glass of Scotch in one hand and a half smoked cigar in the other. Deep in thought he's apparently contemplating the stars.
He's been there some considerable time when a young woman, of about eighteen years old, appears around the side of the house and crosses the patio to join him. He doesn't look at the young woman, he senses who she is. Possibly out of embarrassment, he continues to stare up at the sky.
"Hi Becky, sorry about that; everyone gone now, have they?"
"Yeah almost everyone. Gran and granddad stayed for a while but they have gone home now. Mark's in the kitchen with Pearl, clearing up. Mum's up stairs crying her heart out, she's terribly upset."
"Is anyone with her; she shouldn't be alone right now!"
"Jill is; I couldn't stand to see her like that."
"It's to be expected, after twenty two years of marriage."
"How could you do it? Tonight of all nights; did you really have to do it like that, at the anniversary party, in front of the family and everyone."
"I had no choice really Becky. They all need to know about the baby sometime."
"Oh come on Becky, it isn't the baby's fault. These things happen in lots of families."
"I wasn't talking about the baby I was talking about him!"
"Ah yeah, well, I'll agree with you there."
"You've never really liked him have you?"
The man nodded slightly.
"I've always known that there was something odd about your apparent friendship with him, but I've never been able to put my finger on it."
"He always has been a bastard, Becky. Look what he did when I was dating your mother."
"What did he do?"
"Oh you don't know, no one has ever told you?"
"No they haven't, should I have known?"
"I don't know, perhaps the right opportunity never came up. But your gran and grandfather knew all right."
"I suppose that's why they didn't look too surprised when you dropped the bombshell on us this evening."
"Neither were a lot of other people. It's been what you might call common knowledge with some folks for some time now. Maybe they weren't sure of the details, but they knew what was going on. I chose to bring it to a head when I had lots of people around to back me up."
"But you've known for a long time."
"Becky to my shame, I knew when your mother was still carrying you in her womb."
A shocked expression came over the young woman's face. But it very soon turned into a quizzical look.
"Oh my god! But didn't you say she was only twenty-five."
"This particular one Becky. Your father's had one mistress or another most of the time he's been married to your mother."
"Never! And mother didn't know?"
"She might have suspected kiddo. But if she did, she didn't share her suspicions to me."
The young woman went quiet for a while; churning the information the man she'd always known as uncle Bill had given her, over in her mind.
"Uncle Bill, I don't understand. If you've known all along about these mistresses you claim my father's had; why say something about this particular one now?
"Well you see Becky, this one is a little different. She is the first of your father's mistresses that has ever become pregnant, that I know about anyway. And I'm pretty sure that she's not the dumb little tart, your father thought he was taking up with!"
"So what does that mean?"
"That this one, is not going to let your father get away easily. Having become with child, I do believe she's always been planning for the long haul. You, Mark and Jill are all grown up now, and about to fly the coop. Mark already has really, with young Pearl. I'm pretty sure that Frank had already decided months ago that it was about time he traded your mother in for a new younger model."
"Oh my god!"
"Frank's been spending fewer and fewer nights at home in the last year or so, hasn't he Becky; surely you've noticed that? I very much suspect that once the baby is born, his piece on the side will become his full time mate. She would have pressured him into moving in full time anyway."
"You know this for sure?"
"I have it on good authority Becky. I would not have torn your ... happy home apart had I not! What I did this evening was give your mother a heads up to what Frank was planning. Put her in the driving seat, so to speak. She now has the opportunity to keep her eyes on the family bank accounts and financial situation, before Frank's had a chance to move a lot of cash around."
"You think he'd leave her destitute?"
"No not really, the courts wouldn't let him get away with that. After all, he's always insisted that you mother hasn't had a job; better to control her I suspect. But he'd make sure that as much money as he can arrange will disappear from the calculations."
"I know you've always been our family ... mother's friend, but if you've known about my father's affairs in the past, why now did you suddenly choose to drop the bloody bomb on us? Why have you never said anything in the past?"
"Because being the bearer of bad tidings does not usually engage one with whom you pass those tidings too."
"You are talking in riddles Uncle Bill."
"Okay, how about the old adage "shoot the messenger who brings bad news!" does that mean anything to you young lady."
"Not really, am I dumb or something, Uncle Bill?"
"No I am, for letting your mother get away in the first place."
"Oh my god, you have feelings for mother and you think she'll hold it against you that you told everyone about my father's tart?"
"Get out Bill! Get out of my house; I never want to see you again! Does that ring any bells, Becky?"
"Oh but mother was upset, she'll get over it."
Bill looked at the young woman again.
"Okay I understand. You were the messenger and she shot you down."
"I probably deserved it in a way."
"Why, you just told me you were trying to give mother a heads up?"
"Maybe I should have done that, a very long time ago Becky?"
"Yeah well, why didn't you?"
"Sour grapes Becky."
"Okay. What would have happened if I'd told your mother about Frank's shenanigans? He'd have denied everything, accused me of having a bad attack of sour grapes and Marsha would have believed him. God your father can talk the hind legs off a donkey when he's got a mind too. Jesus if it weren't for the baby he'd have denied everything today. And what's more, your mother would have most likely swallowed every word. That's why I chose a time and place when there were others present who were aware of his antics.
"I'd have been consigned to the realms of the no longer friends and I doubt I'd have ever seen your mother again. Frank would definitely have chosen to move the family as far away from this street as he could anyway."
Becky stared up at Bill's face for a long while without speaking. Then she made a decision, her uncle had mentioned something else she hadn't been aware of and then glossed over it.
"Uncle Bill, you said that at one time you and my mother dated each other!"
"We did for a while?"
"So what happened?"