I thank my friends Sue, Angel and PapaGus for their assistance in preparing this tale for posting.
Boy did I look out of place in that flash establishment! I was very aware that we were rapidly becoming the centre of attention as my little entourage and I weaved our way around and between the rather upmarket clientèle seated at their dining tables.
Actually, I almost found myself hurrying, and not because the law might arrive momentarily. I knew they were going to be distracted. But I really did wish to arrive at their table before they realised that I was in the restaurant. Luckily for me, a waiter delivering another bottle of champagne had positioned himself in position to block their view of my approach.
As the waiter left the table, I deftly stepped into the spot he'd vacated and the diners, sensing the change, looked up at me with surprise on their faces. No, not surprise, more like shock, I'd say.
Actually, Jenny looked maybe more confused than anything else. Whereas her boss, Herbert Henderson's eyes were displaying a little ... fear, I After all, the husband of the woman he was planning on laying that evening was suddenly towering over him.
Maybe I should explain, before I go any further, that my entourage was not there to help me in my labour that night; they were purely there to ensure that no one would interrupt it. My quary was in a hotel restaurant, in theory surrounded by his work colleagues and so-called friends. I had no idea if any of them would be tempted to come to his aid, so I'd not taken any chances.
I reached down and took Henderson's full glass of champagne from the table, and then raised it as if making a toast.
"To an arsehole and the stupid married bitch he was planning on laying this evening!" I said as loud as I could, without shouting.
As it was, shouting wasn't necessary because the arrival in the large room of myself -- and as I've already said, my burly entourage -- had brought complete silence to the establishment. Not even the tinkling of a spoon in a teacup, or the clatter of a knife or fork against a plate could be heard. And of course, all eyes were in our, or rather my direction.
I didn't drink Henderson's champagne; I slowly poured it over his head.
His reaction was to rise to his feet. One would assume to take a swing at me, but I didn't give him the opportunity.
I'm left handed and, to be honest with you, I don't think Henderson had an inkling that it was coming when my fist slammed into his jaw.
But, by Christ, did I know the instant it had connected!
Bugger, I think I felt the bones in my hand breaking, but I was sure that the crack I heard was Henderson jaw giving way, as well.
That fact was kindly confirmed for me later by the police officer who eventually charged me. But then life always has had its up and downs, hasn't it?
"You bastard, you hit him!" Jenny said, jumping to her feet.
"Yeah, I did, didn't I?" I smiled back at her, "What did you think I was going to do, kiss the bugger? No, sweetheart, that's your job, remember?"
"Because he was planning on bedding my wife this evening, that's why? And I don't take kindly to people turning me into a bloody cuckold! Christ, I hate that bloody word."
"Are you mad? We just came in to have a meal after the training seminar, that's all! There's nothing going on between Herbert and me. We're having a celebratory meal because the day has gone so well, and then Herbert was going to run me home later!"
"Oh, so you weren't going to sleep with him tonight then?"
"No, I damn well wasn't!"
"And the text message you sent, saying that you were going to be late?"
"God, Pete! The seminar went so well that it over-ran, and then we got caught up in a discussion..."
" ... in the bar?" I interjected.
"Yes, in the bar! The manager of our northern office wants me to go up there and organise their seminar for them. Herbert needed to finalise a few things with a couple of our colleagues before he could agree to loan the northern office my services for a couple of weeks, so we continued the discussion in the bar for a little while."
A long while!"
"All right, a long while; but it was just work. Anyway, we were running later than I expected, so I sent you that text so that you wouldn't worry."
All the time we were talking, Henderson was still lying on the floor. He wasn't unconscious; I could see that; I do believe that he was playing possum on us. What struck me as very odd was that no one, not even his friends or work colleagues, seemed to be in any hurry to offer him even First Aid, let alone physical support. Everyone just sat there watching and listening to Jenny and my conversation.
Mind you, one has to remember that I had those friends of mine with me, and they hadn't been chosen because they looked harmless. Maybe folks figured it was more sensible to keep their heads down for the time being.
"So, good old Herbert here was going to drive you home after you and he had had dinner together?"
"And then what was he going to do, drive back here to sleep?"
"Don't be silly, he was going on home to his wife. Why would Herbert want to drive all the way back down here again?"
"I don't really know sweetheart! But I should imagine that he was intending to, why else would he slip out of the bar and book a room here for the night, while you were in there downing those large vodkas mixed into the those bloody cocktails you were drinking?"
"Are you saying that someone has been spiking my drinks this evening?"
"I sure am, kiddo, and not just someone, sweetheart; that bastard lying down there did!"
"How would you know this?"
"I got friends in low places, Jenny."
"The staff here, woman. If you'd bothered to take bloody good look at any of them, you'd have noticed that some of them are members of my rugby club. But then, you've always looked down on that place, haven't you? You'll only come down there with me a couple of times a year, and then only when I insist."
At that instant, the Hotel Manager finally got up the gumption to approach me. Possibly because he thought the incident had gone on long enough, or alternatively, because he had become aware that the police had been called.
"Mr. Greenway, I'm going to have to ask you to leave the hotel now, please?"
"Sure thing, Doug," I replied, "sorry about the disruption, and the mess!"
Then I turned and nodded to the guys, to tell them to start the withdrawal.
Although none of Henderson's friends had waded in, there had been a distinct possibility that someone might be feeling lucky, as I left the establishment. Therefore our coordinated withdrawal had been planned in advance.
I had only gone a couple paces when Jenny called out, "Hold on a minute?"
I turned back, just in time to see her plant the pointed toe of her stiletto into Henderson's backside.
"You can take that as my immediate resignation!" she shouted, then hobbled over and grabbed hold of my arm. "Let's get the hell out of here?"
"Are you alright? You're limping." I asked as we approach the door.
"Bloody stilettos! Damned awkward to walk in, and bloody useless for kicking arseholes with; I should have borrowed your boots before I kicked the sod.
"But they make your legs look nice!"
"I should hope so; I would hate to go through the torture of wearing the things for nothing. But what's up with your hand?"
I assume I must have flinched or something as Jenny ran her hand down my arm to take hold of my hand.
"I think I broke something!"
"Poor babe, why didn't you hit him with the champagne bottle, I'm sure that's what I would have done if he did try it on with me later."
"If you'd even known what was going on Jenny, he sneaked you a good few vodkas on the quiet, you know."
"Bugger. Large vodkas?"
"Yeah, triples as I hear it."
"Shit, another half hour or so, and I'll be right out of it. You know what vodka does to me!"
"Yeah, and by the look of it, so does Henderson."
"Last Christmas party I should imagine; there was vodka in that bloody punch they served up there. Hit me like a bloody brick!"
"Don't I know it! We were dancing when you keeled over. I had to carry you out to the car, remember, and make all bloody the excuses to those stuck up pricks you work with."
"The bugger must have worked it out. Did he hire a good room?"
"No, run of the mill, bog standard."
"The tight-fisted bastard!"
"Hey, I thought I was the bastard tonight?"
"Well, you are. But in your case it was an accident of birth that everyone knows about. Henderson has to work hard to achieve the status. I should imagine that's why no one came to his aid this evening. He's not well liked around the office, you know?"
"I've never liked the bugger, you know that. And you also know I didn't think much of the idea of you working for him."
"Well, I don't any more, and I've got a pain in my foot to prove it?" Jenny giggled, the vodka obviously beginning to kick in.
A police car was just pulling up as we exited the building. But the two officers -- who were confronted with a crowd of rowdy, apparently drunk, rugby club members and their significant others; my distraction team -- didn't find opportunity to get into the hotel and discover what had gone down before I'd loaded Jenny into our car and made our getaway.
I figured I had an hour or so, before the police arrived to arrest me, to get Jenny home and safely tucked up in bed. Hey, I'm a realist; I knew how things were going to pan out. And, in the short time I had to prepare, I'd made the required arrangements.
Jenny was still talking -- rubbish -- when she keeled over in the car. Only her seat belt held her in the sitting position that resembled upright.