My thanks got to SH.
I took a quick glance over my shoulder and saw that there must have been nigh on a thousand eyes staring back at me in disbelief. A quick calculation will tell you that almost five hundred people were waiting back there, somewhere, to watch me surrender to my nemesis.
Okay, probably a slight exaggeration, but I'm not in the business of estimating the size of crowds of people. So I should imagine, that there were probably getting on for five hundred people at least, who had been waiting to witness life finally catching up with me for a very long time.
You know, I can probably put my finger on the exact moment things started going wrong in my well planned out life. It was the instant I sat down to while the evening away playing a friendly game of cards with a small group of work colleagues, whilst on a business trip abroad.
By that time in my life, I had reached an age where I thought I had everything taped. A confirmed bachelor, I'd been around quite a bit in my thirty-eight years. I'd been putting it about quite a bit over the years actually. And even if I say so myself, most folks who knew me, would have to admit that I was a bit of a dab-hand at persuading unattached ladies into my bed.
Yeah okay, there had probably been more than a few attached females amongst them, but a gentleman keeps those kinds of encounters strictly to himself. What's the point in bragging about such encounters and possibly putting the kybosh on a return engagement?
Life had been good to me. I worked for a financial auditors practice and travelled the world with a team of colleagues turning over and analysing different company's books. The work was boring really, but the travel and side benefits -- if you know what I mean -- were definitely more to my liking. I had got myself laid in nearly every city around the world that I'd ever visited. And not necessarily with ever changing female members of our team either, most often there'd be more than the odd bit of spare kicking around the offices we visited.
Yes, I was on a good screw financially as well. I owned a nice mews cottage in a better part of London outright, and downstairs in the garage could be found my classic, much cherished and upgraded E-type Jag, parked alongside my company supplied Merc. I'd also built myself up a nice little portfolio of shares and other investments over the years; the dividends from which should take care of my retirement needs very nicely.
You see there's an advantage to not getting yourself tied down to one particular woman. No bloody expensive kids to start with, and expensive nick-nacks and the like, to fork out for. Actually I'd kinda worked it out as a young man, that the shorter you kept any romantic entanglements, the less costly they would turn out to be in the long run.
Hey, don't go getting the idea that I'm some kind of a skinflint or miser or something. That ruddy Jag down there in the garage, had cost well over a hundred thousand by the time I'd had all the work done on it to bring it up to twenty-first century spec. Mind you, it was one bloody brilliant babe magnet, that's for sure. It had paid for itself several times over in fringe benefits.
But if I'm being honest, when I was on my travels, I had got to the point where I didn't try too hard anymore; to chat up the local spare, that is. By that time in my life, I'd often give the chasing talent game a miss and spend a few nights in the hotel with the rest of the team. That is, unless there was a particularly stunning piece working in any particular office.
I suppose I'd better explain that our company was one of the larger ones in our business and our audit teams didn't always remain the same. Logical really, rotate the team of auditors and it was less likely that some of them might get together and maybe tempted to take a backhander or two. Yeah well, there are bent auditors as well as more than a few bent company directors. Shit, that should be obvious to everyone, look what happened in the States a few years ago. What was the company called Ethron or something? Anyway, our job was supposed to ensure that that kind of fiasco didn't happen with any of the companies we audited.
Anyway on the nights when I wasn't, er ... Okay fornicating or hunting. I'd often join the gang in the hotel bar and we'd have a good time. Most often on those nights, we would finish up playing cards, often poker, but also Bridge or Euchre or some other such similar game. Look, doing complicated maths and searching for anomalies in a company's books with a hangover, ain't to be recommended.
As I remember, there were five of us on that particular job. Boney and Sheila Hughes, a married couple in their forties. Actually I know that Boney's real name is Napoleon; but English kids don't go through their school life with that name. I know where the Boney nickname comes from, but I'll not bore you with the details here. Whatever, some nicknames stick and Boney seemed content to keep using his.
Stephanie Burrows a thirty-two year old on her first trip abroad since coming back off maternity leave, and who's two main subjects of conversation where limited to her new child (obviously) and her loving husband Donald.
I always did wonder if Steph harped on about Donald so much, as a kind of "Don't you dare try anything with me" message for me.
Me of course and ... Yeah well, Monica Thomas had been on the list when I accepted the job. A divorcee somewhere in her thirties, Monica was always a good laugh to be on a trip abroad with, and we'd made whoopee together on more than a few occasions in the past.
But at the last minute Monica had been forced to cry-off. I never did find out exactly why, sickness in the family I was led to believe. The vacancy in the team that had been left by Monica's departure, was filled at the last minute by one Miss Roberta (Bobbie) Weatherspoon and that particular piece of news had come as a bit of a downer to me.
Honestly, you'd think that any bird named "Bobbie" would be a bit of a laugh wouldn't you? Well, not our Miss Weatherspoon! A graduate of course, Bobbie Weatherspoon was twenty-eight years old and the coldest fish I'd ever come across in my entire life. I didn't think the woman knew what a joke was, let alone was capable of laughing at one.
Oh, she could smile all right! I'd seen her smile on more than one occasion; usually when she was being introduced to someone important, or -- more commonly -- when she'd found something not quite kosher in a company's books.
Mind you, when she did smile -- if you could mentally screen out the spectacles perched on the end of her nose all the time -- she had a really beautiful face.
Bobbie also had one hell of a figure on her, make no mistake about that. Not that I'd ever got much more than an imaginary look at it, in detail. She wore her blond hair pulled back and fixed in some kind of roll on the back of her head. And, Bobbie permanently wore dark business suits complete with a white blouse and a tie. I've kinda mentioned the spectacles perched on the end of her nose, the whole ensemble made her look somewhat like a severe old-fashioned schoolteacher most of the time. And what's more, when Bobbie Weatherspoon changed into mufti to relax in the evenings ... Well, Bobbie's idea of changing to relax was into a suit of a different shade of dark blue, grey or even black. She might have changed the clothes she was wearing, but the effect was exactly the same.
I've got to admit that those suits were well tailored though, they fitted that shapely body of Bobbie's like a bloody glove and -- frustratingly for me -- they left little to the imagination.
When Bobbie first joined the company, I'd look and imagine -- or try too -- what she'd look like in a nice cocktail dress or even a bathing suit. No, never a bikini, no one in their right mind could ever imagine Miss Weatherspoon wearing a bikini. Boy, she'd obviously heard of my reputation with the ladies, and Bobbie would glower back at me with an expression that clearly said, "Pervert" in ten foot high letters.
Anyway we'd been in town for about two, or maybe three days and I hadn't found myself anything that interested me around the office where we were working, or any spare kicking around the hotel either. I honestly couldn't be bothered to go off hunting on my own. So that night after dinner the five of us settled down to play cards together. It definitely wasn't my idea to play poker, I can promise you; I'm not a very good poker player at the best of times.
Oh, I suppose that I should mention at this time that whenever anyone in the company plays gambling games and mainly because we're often away from home for more than several days or weeks at a time. We have a golden rule in the company that one breaks on pain of dismissal. Yeah, it's written in our contracts of employment along with the clause about fraternisation with other employees of the "opposite" sex, if either party is married. Odd way to phrase it actually, I had to wonder whether anyone on the board was AC/DC.
Anyway the rule was that you may only bet, what you bring to the game with you. It's a simple rule that prevents anyone getting too greedy or, shall we say, overconfident. If you can't put the "cash" down up front, then you can't make a bet. The rule was brought in after some poor sob's wife back home in the UK, suddenly found that her husband had emptied their bank accounts whilst on a losing streak out East somewhere.
.... There is more of this story ...