Reflections (Two)

by Denham Forrest

Copyright© 2010 by Denham Forrest

: Looking at the world trough a mirror is bad enough. But when that mirror is behind a hotel bar it's surprising what you can see.

Tags: Romantic   Cheating  

Many thanks go to PapaGus for his assistance in preparing this story for posting.

Have you ever wondered why they usually have mirrors behind bars? I have! It's something that's bugged me for many years now and I've been offered many different explanations as to why those damned mirrors are there. I've been told that they are there:-

To make the bar room itself look larger then it really is.

To make the actually stock behind the bar, look more extensive than it actually is.

So that the barkeepers can keep an eye on what the customers are doing behind his back. (Sorry "their back"; we're in an equal rights society and a politically correct world today.)

Just to spread the light about a bit more for when the barkeeper is mixing drinks back there.

So that the customers can see that they aren't getting short measured. Surprising how many and which people came up with that one.

And finally

So that a customer at the bar can see what's going on behind him.

Regretfully it was this last one that I at least know now, is feasible and works, because I noticed something happening behind me in a hotel bar one evening that led to drastic changes in my life.

I suppose it would be best if I go back to the beginning and explain why I was in the hotel bar that evening, in the first place.

Well to be perfectly honest with you, things hadn't been what you'd call completely right between Karen and me for about two months. Oh, up to a point, she was as loving a wife as she had been all the previous eight years of our marriage. Okay, sex had never been very high on Karen's list of favourite pastimes, but once she got going ... well, I wasn't going to complain. Our trouble ... no correction! My trouble had always been that after the first couple of years of marriage, Karen's libido had dropped off a bit. Jesus I was lucky if I could get her going two nights a week. Mind once Karen had become aroused there was no stopping her. Christ, maybe I didn't try too hard to get her going half the time because I'd be knackered in the office everyday.

Anyway that had been the state of play until about two months before that fateful Friday evening. I'm not exactly sure how or why it started, but I came home from work one evening and Karen was in a frightful mood. The trouble was that she wasn't in a bad mood with her work colleagues or their clients, as was Karen's usual want. She was definitely shit faced at me.

More than that, for some inexplicable reason Karen appeared to be really antsy with Larraine, my opposite number at our Edinburgh office. Okay, following a takeover, the company was going through a quite major reorganisation and changes to our systems, that meant Larraine and I had been working quite closely together for a good few of the previous six months. Yeah we were putting in very long hours when Larraine and I did get together and those long hours were probably what Karen was upset about; but they weren't Larraine's fault it was the fact that we had a lot to get through in a very short time.

I believe that Karen's main bug bear may have been centred around Larraine - because she had her children at home - never stayed over in London; she'd catch an early flight down to London and then we'd thrash things out all day until Larraine had to catch the last flight back. Often the two of us still working and discussing things in the taxi taking her to the airport.

Now, when I went up to Edinburgh, I could never see the sense in rushing about, so I tended to stay over for the night and fly back the following day. With hindsight it was probably, because of the fact that I stayed over and Larraine didn't, that everything started to go wrong.

Seeing things now - with hindsight - is easy, but at the time I must have missed all the clues. As I said I was busy and I'd known Larraine for years. What I had forgotten — or didn't take account of was that Karen had never met the Larraine, mainly because she never did stay over in London. I'll bet that you can all see where this is going, can't you? Well maybe I should have as well, but I assumed that my explanation would be enough for Karen; apparently it wasn't.

"Explanation of what you asked? Well I'll try to tell you, without being unkind to Larraine. Larraine on the telephone had the voice of an angel; I have to wonder how many clients had a picture a sweet ripe apple, just right for picking when they spoke to her on the telephone. Well to be perfectly honest they were all in for a bleeding great shock when they actually came face to face with Larraine. All six foot — in bare feet and she always wore heels — and - I'm guessing here - about twenty-eight to thirty stone of her, maybe even more; it's considered impolite to enquire about a ladies weight where I come from.

Look, Larraine had a great personality and she was marvellous at her job — even possibly better then I am — but the company had to buy two seats on the airplane before she could fly on it. Larraine was also crazy about her five-foot-four ten-stone husband Ron. So you see, if your mind was working in that direction, then you were barking up the wrong tree completely; there was definitely no question of any hanky panky going on between Larraine and myself.

I'd described Larraine to Karen on numerous occasions and even mentioned that I was worried about what all that extra weight was doing to the woman's health, and I had assumed that Karen had accepted my descriptions of her. How wrong I was!

But of course, I was completely unaware of that the day I came home from work and found Karen in a paddy. I have no idea how the argument went or what it was about; but I do recall that Karen, did not once, accuse me of doing anything that I shouldn't have been doing. Had she done so the penny might have dropped; but she didn't. All she companied about was all the late nights I had been putting in — especially when Larraine came down - and claiming that she hardly saw me anymore. Which was a complete over exaggeration, I believe.

Anyway the net result of this ding-dong was that Karen quite literally cut me off. Try as hard as I could, I just couldn't seem to get her aroused. In all other respects Karen was as loving as she'd ever been, it was just in the bed department that suddenly I was offside all the time. You know all the excuses you've probably heard them yourself, headache, hard day at work and wrong time of the month etcetera, etcetera.

Anyway I let things slide for a few weeks and then I took me some advice. Jesus man, well, I was missing it, even if Karen wasn't!

And well that's how come we'd finished up in that hotel that night, I approached Karen's sister with the vague hope that she might know what Karen's problem was. Well my theory was that the sisters' chat to each other for hours on the telephone all the time, surely Karen would have told Monica what her - or my - problem was.

"Sorry John, Karen hasn't said anything to me; have you tried asking her what she's up-tight about?"

"Monica, this is your sister we're talking about!" I'd replied.

"Oh she hasn't changed much, even with you then? Karen always has always been that way, even when we were young, "'You've upset me, and if you don't know how, then you should know!'" That always was Karen's way of looking at things when we were little."

"Yeah well, that part of her personality hasn't changed any over the years."

"Oops I'm sorry John, kind-a puts you between a rock and hard place doesn't it. If you come right out and ask her, then she's going to be even more pissed at you, because you don't recognise your transgression. Shit, I'd ask her myself, but if I did then she'd know that you'd asked me and we'd both be in the dog house for talking about her behind her back." Monica commiserated.

"Yeah rock and a hard place- you're right there. The bit I don't really understand is ... Well Karen's almost her normal self towards me in other ways. It's just in the bedroom that things have taken a real dive. Surely she's much too young for the change to set in?"

"Oh yeah, much too young, anyway I'm sure she'd have mentioned that to me. No, I guess that Karen is just a little pissed about all the hours you've been putting in the last year. Look you haven't slipped away for any of your romantic weekends on the continent for over a year now. Perhaps that's what her problem is: she needs a little romance brought back into your relationship.

Taking Monica's advice I'd secretly planned to take Karen to Paris for a few days. My bad luck was that I couldn't get a flight out on the Friday evening, looking back now, maybe I would have done better if I'd planned on taking the train instead. But then again, maybe I wouldn't. Anyway I thought I'd be clever and hide our intended destination from Karen until the very last minute.

What Karen thought about it when I told her that we were taking a break in one of the local hotels, god only knows; but she didn't actually say anything. With hindsight I suppose she might have thought that I was being a bit of a cheapskate. I thought it would be a nice surprise for her when I showed her the plane tickets on the Saturday morning over breakfast. You know, there'd be no dashing about with last minute things, before we rushed off to the airport; we were already packed and away from the house. Well, that had been my cunning plan!

So when we arrived in our hotel room, I virtually railroaded Karen straight in and out again. There was no way I wanted her to have time to unpack and I couldn't really explain why without blowing my master plan, to surprise her in the morning.

Unfortunately I'd forgotten something else, when we got back down to the hotel restaurant we were too early for dinner by half an hour or so. All we could do was have a drink whilst we waited in the bar. So that's where I was when it happened. I saw something reflected in that bleeding mirror behind the bar that changed everything.

I'm not sure what made me notice the guy when he came into the lounge; maybe it was because I was looking at a reflection of one mirror at the end of the bar in another on the rear wall. It kind of threw the rooms perspective out, in an unsettling way, and held my attention.

Karen had taken a seat at one at the tables and I'd gone to the bar to place our order. Whilst the barman was mixing our cocktails I just happened to be idly staring into those confusing mirrors as the guy walked through the door.

I noticed that almost the instant he'd come through that door, a look of recognition came over his face and he gave someone in the room behind me a great big smile. That same idle curiosity, I suppose, caused me to move my eyes a fraction to see if I could spot whom he had recognised.

You can imagine my surprise, when I saw Karen take a quick glance in my direction as if to make sure that I wasn't watching her, before she frantically waved the guy away, at the same time as gesturing in my direction with her head.

The guy came to a sudden halt, looked over at me, then nodded back at Karen, before doing a quick one-eighty and skedaddling out of the lounge as quickly as his little legs could carry him. Well his legs weren't that little really he must have stood about five eight or nine, it's a gratuitously derogatory comment that I've added

I stood at the bar for a good half-minute or so after I'd signed for our drinks, trying to make some sense out of what I'd just witnessed. An undoubtedly handsome young man — well at least he was a couple of years my and Karen's junior -- whom I hadn't recognised -- had just entered the lounge, recognised my wife and given her a very familiar smile. And by all accounts he had been heading over to the table she'd chosen to join her.

Karen had obviously recognised him as well, not only had she recognised him but she had frantically signalled for the guy to get the hell out of there, quite obviously before I noticed him.

Now I suppose I should add, that I had often met and I knew everybody who worked in Karen's office, intimately. Christ it's only a small place and we'd partied with them every Christmas since we'd been married. And a few other times as well; you know, weddings, anniversary and birthday parties. Now, I was sure that Karen hadn't mentioned any changes in the staff, and I was also convinced that word would have got back to me somehow anyway, had a handsome new guy recent started working there, even if Karen had neglected to mention the fact. Some of Karen's work colleagues drank at my local pub and we, well I often chatted with them; Karen wasn't really the local pub type, if you know what I mean?

Anyway, so there you have it -- the big question that was -- who the fuck was the geezer and from where had my loving wife come to know him so well? And even more importantly, why in heavens name did she not want me to know that they did know each other?

These I can assure you are very serious questions for any married man to know the answers to; even more so when your wife of eight years has recently, inexplicably and very suddenly, cut you off.

I toyed with how I could broach the subject of the guy with Karen without letting on to her that I spotted their little charade. My mind went from the obvious "Who the effing hell was that?" To the subtler, "Did you see that guy?" Eventually plumping for a variation on the latter.

"That was an odd one wasn't?" I said to Karen when I returned to the table.

"What was?" she enquired, apparently unaware as to what I was alluding too.

"That guy, didn't you see him? He came in here like he was going somewhere special, and then suddenly he did a sharp about turn and legged it out again!" I looked around, as if surveying the other patrons in the lounge. "Must have been someone in here that he didn't want to see!"

"I'm afraid, that I never noticed him!" Karen lied.

That was definitely not what I had wanted to hear Karen say. I was hoping for an innocent explanation for the guy, and a reason her telling him to get lost in a hurry. Something like, she wanted the evening to be just ours. Oh, and a plausible explanation for knowing him in the first place, of course. What I got, was a complete denial that she'd even noticed the guy.

Now I've been in business long enough to know that you don't go jumping the gun. Well not too early anyway. It's far safer to wait and see what develops, if someone is painting themselves into a corner. Then at least give them enough time to get half the floor painted.

The night was still young and there was plenty of time left for Karen to reflect on what she'd said to me and even come up with a plausible and nominally believable retraction. I figured that with luck, the guy would be in the dining room when we got in there and I could point him out to Karen to jog her memory (and maybe her conscience) a little.

He was, I did! But Karen still claimed that she did not recognise him and repeated that she hadn't seen him enter the lounge. To say that that pissed me off a little, would be putting it extremely mildly.

As we ate, I found myself furtively studying the guy and the woman that he was eating with. I'd put him at about twenty-eight, I suppose. That would make him two years younger that Karen and four or so, younger then me. The woman he was with, I put as being slightly older than me and she was quite definitely wearing a wig. I have no idea why I thought that at the time, but I did.

To my mind, there was something distinctly odd about the couple, and I don't mean the difference in their respective ages. It was something to do with the way they behaved, and even how they had positioned their chairs.

Somewhat unusually I thought, they were sat side by side as against the usual couple eating together arrangement of, opposite one another. And to be honest the woman was all over the guy during their meal, maybe a little bit on the heavy side for a hotel restaurant.

At random intervals during their meal the female would put down her knife and fork, then turn further towards him in her seat and put her arms around his neck. Then they would not exactly kiss or go into a tight clinch, but sort of snuggle together for a few seconds. I got the distinct impression she was whispering in his ear rather then kissing him on the neck or anything. Then they'd go back to eating their meal again. Rather strange behaviour in a plush hotel to my way of looking at it.

Later I noticed that whenever she put down her knife, the woman's right hand would disappear into her lap, just for a second, before she put her arms around the guy's neck. And then that hand it would return to her lap once more, before she picked her knife up again after the brief clinch.

Whatever she was picking up from and putting back down in her lap, was far to small for me to be able to see what it was, at the range we were from each other. But I knew it had to be something, her movements were so regular and ... well precise! And another thing, at one time I think that the woman might have spotted me watching them, and for a long time after that, she didn't cuddle up to the guy again. But she glanced my way a few times.

After the meal Karen and I returned to the lounge for another drink before we went to bed. Now I'm going to be perfectly honest here; I'd been loading my dear wife with alcohol all evening. Originally in the hope that it would loosen her up sexually; but later with the hope that it might possibly loosen her tongue a little instead. Or as well, that kind-of depended what she did say if she did come clean with me.

My mind was playing with all kinds of unpleasant scenarios by then, where the young guy was concerned.

We hadn't been in the lounge for very long, when the handsome young guy man came in with his bit of stuff. Apparently ignoring everyone else in the lounge, they settled into a corner booth, cuddling up to each other and whispering between drinks. To my mind, there was still something very strange about their behaviour, but for the life of me I couldn't put my finger on what it was. Just maybe it was the fact that although I saw that they kept cosying up close; I can't say that I noticed them actually kiss each other.

Mind, I couldn't study them all of the time because I was with my wife of course and by that time, I was beginning to get cautious about Karen seeing me watching them.

But another peculiar thing I noted, was that when I went to the bar to refill Karen's and my drinks. Yeah well, up to a point I am a little tight, or maybe some folks might call me a cheapskate; but I refused to pay the surcharge - or tip - for the waiter to bring the drinks over our table. Anyway completely by coincidence, the waiter was making their refills as well. Yeah and if you believe that, then you've also believe the crap Karen had been spilling out all evening. And also - by chance - I happened to notice that the young guy and his bit of stuff, were drinking tonic water with lots of ice and lemon; no spirits at all!

"This gets curiouser and curiouser!" Was the thought that crossed my mind at the time.

Karen was behaving as naturally as she normally did; after she'd had a few, that is? She still showed no sign at all that she knew or recognised the young man or his female companion.

I would have thought that a good cover story for just about anything would have been something like. "Oh John this is a really old school friend of mine and her boyfriend de-da de-da de-da!" But I was forced to suppose, that Karen and/or her mystery man weren't that quick. Or, do I have a devious mind?

Anyway after about an hour or so the young guy and his bit of stuff got up and headed for the door. I couldn't see very well, because some old guy with his ... um well, lets be nice and call her his niece shall we, left at the same time, and they stood just outside the bars entrance talking, or maybe negotiating. Come on you know what I'm alluding to here.

I suppose it was curiosity that made me choose that particular moment to visit the gents. As I passed through the hotel lobby, I noticed the young man and his bit of stuff were sharing a lift and the old guy and his ... um, er, niece!

After relieving myself, I returned to the bar and refilled Karen's and my glasses yet again. I was feeling very annoyed and upset by that time, and I do believe a possible new plan for the rest of the weekend had already begun to form in my mind. For that new plan to work, I would need Karen, not so much tipsy, but bleeding plastered. Surprise and confusion, were beginning to creep into my mind as my new goal.

I've admitted that I had been trying to get Karen into a state where she would loosen up in bed later that evening. And maybe not wanting to believe that quite horrible and disgusting conclusion that my unconscious mind was coming to, I was probably trying to kid myself that that was still my main objective. But on reflection, I think that my other plan was slowly taking precedence in my mind by that time.

I think what really put the kibosh on things was when we did finally head for the lift. It had taken another hour or so, all right probably nearer two hours and Karen ... well to be honest, she was almost bloody legless; although she was quietly humming away, quite happily to herself. From previous experience I knew that two minutes in bed with my skilled administrations and Karen - drunk or sober - would have been off like the proverbial rocket. Or ... left to her own devices, she'd fall into a deep sleep.

It was as we were waiting for the lift, that the ball finally - and irrevocably, as far as I was concerned - settled in the other court. When it arrived, the woman who been all over the young man earlier in the restaurant and lounge, excited the lift that we were about to enter.

Only she wasn't a long haired blond anymore — my intuition had been right, she had been wearing a wig — she was by then a short haired blond, who had a very big smile on her face until she saw me standing there. I assume that she recognised me as the man who'd been watching her antics in the restaurant earlier. The grin instantly disappeared from her face, she lowered her head, avoiding contact with my eyes, and then with the briefest of a glance at Karen's face, she rushed past us, through the hotels lobby out into the street.

"I fucking knew it! He's a fucking gigolo! A bleeding male hooker who gives women what their husbands can't give them!" That voice said in the back of my mind somewhere.

That explained it all, to my way of thinking! The strange behaviour of the woman in the restaurant and even the pair of them not drinking too much. She wouldn't want him drunk; she'd want to make sure she got her moneys-worth out of the fucker, wouldn't she? I'm talking in the literal sense here.

But then it really hit home. There was only one way - that, I could think of anyway — that Karen would have possibly known that young man. Look, there is no possible way that Karen would have known to signal the guy not to approach her, if she hadn't actually recognised him. So that meant she actually was familiar with him, I kinda figured, too bloody familiar.

If he had inadvertently mistaken Karen for his client? Then well ... he'd surely have approached our table and then Karen would have informed him of his mistake. There certainly was no need to keep that a secret from me; Karen and I could have had a good laugh over it!

But Karen had been signalling to him from the other side of the damned lounge; not only that, I'd seen her physically pointing me out to him, telling him that I was standing at the bar.

"Jesus fucking Christ man! Am I that bad in bed, that my wife has to go out and pay to get satisfied?" My brain asked its-self. Not a very pleasant experience I can assure you, and a thought that when you have it, leads on to all sorts of other nasty — if not vindictive - thoughts and even actions!

Oh by the way, Karen actually being able to afford to pay for it, behind my back, without me knowing about it, would be no real problem for her. Karen and Monica had shared a massive inheritance from their father not a year before and well ... I, well we, still didn't know how much cash was involved. The girls' father squirreled money away in investments all over the bleeding world, more than half the bugger well hidden according to the girls. Karen had told me it would be years before they sorted it all out.

I offered my help but the girls told me they were having fun locating it all. I kind-a shrugged and let the girls get on with it, after they told me that they were enjoying the challenge. I could always go through all the papers again at some later date.

Once I got Karen to the bedroom, I quite literally had to put her to bed. I think she was expecting me to try something and I do believe she was preparing one of her put-offs. Well she mentioned that her head was beginning to ache in the lift. That was all right by me, because I wanted Karen to fall into a deep sleep, a drunken stupor as quickly as possible, I had plans.

I was lucky, when I came out of the en suite after taking the cold shower; I discovered that Karen was apparently lost to the world by the time I climbed into bed beside her. The cold shower was to sober me up and make sure that I was completely in control of my faculties for later.

After an hour, when I was fully convinced that Karen wasn't playing possum on me, for said nefarious reasons of her own; I got up and dressed again. Settling myself at the desk-come dressing table in the room, I wrote Karen a long letter on hotel notepaper and placed it - along with the air tickets and hotel reservations in Paris - beside the coffee making gear. Karen was going to need a strong cup of coffee when she woke the next morning.

After turning off Karen's mobile phone, I took my suitcase and I left the room quietly. Hanging the "Please do not disturb" notice on the door handle as I went.

I used a phone in the hotel lobby to cancel the early call I'd booked for our room on the Saturday morning, and then - after explaining to the receptionist that I'd been called away on urgent business, but that my wife would still be using the room until the at least midday on Saturday - I left the hotel.

I'd had plenty of time to think whilst lying on that bed alongside Karen, and on the way home. I'll admit that I had no real evidence of Karen's betrayal, but to my mind she'd showed quite a few of the signs of a cheating spouse that I read about over the years.

For instance, the curious and unnecessary argument that led to her suddenly cutting me off. Perhaps because her lover boy satisfied her better than I could, or maybe Karen even feared that I'd intuitively know that she'd been with someone else. Secretly, I think I prayed that it was the latter!

Not much to go on you might think and I'd have to agree with you. But for the fact that I had witnessed that little tableau or charade, reflected in the mirror behind the bar. And, the antics I'd seen the woman and the young guy get up to later in the evening at the hotel.

Literally I spent the rest of the night packing. Early in the morning, I called one of my companies van drivers and asked a favour of him. He was only too pleased to assist one of the upper echelons in the company. At my request he picked up an extremely expensive (for what it was) pay-as-you-go mobile from a local garage on the way over. By ten, I had everything that I wanted from the house, which wasn't all that much really, and - after registering the mobile - we drove away; the van driver following me in my company car. I'd left our own car for Karen.

It didn't take very long for us to arrive at the storage place. Luckily I'd noticed the establishment on my travels, but never in my life had I thought that I'd be renting a unit there one day. Actually it took a lot longer to do the damned paperwork to rent the damn unit, than it did to unload the van. I gave the driver a few bob for his trouble, and he then left me to my own devices.

Finding somewhere to stay — at least temporarily - wasn't going to be too much of a challenge for me either. My employers had contracts with several hotels to furnish accommodation for our numerous visitors who have to stay overnight; I had it figured that they were going to be only too happy to help me out.

I also had it figured that it would be better to move from one hotel to another on a nightly basis, for a few days at least. Confuse the enemy was my basic plan, i.e. keep Karen confused and guessing where I was. Mind you, if she'd taken up the suggestion I made in that letter, she wouldn't be back in the UK until the Monday evening at least.

Thinking that, reminded me to put a call through to my company's agent in Paris. He was a decent bloke and I was sure that — if Karen did show up there with you know who - he'd get the evidence that I needed.

Every so often, I switched my mobile on to check whether Karen had woken up yet. I figured even if she did bugger off to Paris, she'd want to chew my ears off a bit first!

At about three in the afternoon my phone showed two missed calls. But somewhat surprisingly, not from Karen, they were from her sister, Monica!"

"John, what the hell went wrong?" Monica had demanded on the first message she'd left. "Where the hell are you? Karen's just been on the phone to me and well ... Look Jesus Christ, John! I couldn't understand what the hell she was going on about. I'm going down to the Railway Hotel now, please meet me there A.S.A.P!"

"Interesting, but at least I know that Karen's awake and that she hasn't flown off to Paris for a dirty weekend." I said to the empty hotel room.

Oh, by the way "The Railway Hotel" is the name of the place Karen and I had spent the Friday night in. But I should imagine that most folks worked that out for themselves.

Monica's second message was a little lower key.

"John, I really need you to call me right away. Look I have no idea what you think has been going on, but I can assure that you are completely wrong. Oh, and I'd better tell you, that Karen was, as well! We are leaving for the house in a few minutes; please call me on my Mobile or your home phone soon?"

That was a confusing message, to my mind; what the hell could Karen have been wrong about? But then I figured that Monica probably had meant to say that Karen was in the wrong! But that didn't really explain why Monica had said that I had gotten everything wrong. Anyway there was no-way I was going to show up at the house or call Monica back in a hurry.

I hadn't had any sleep on the Friday night, so I laid on the bed, and well ... I was gone, until late in the Saturday evening. The hotel I'd chosen for the night, didn't do room service — well not at that time of night - and I hadn't stopped to eat earlier in the day. So I took myself off to a nearby kebab shop that I knew would be open. Then I sat in my car and switched my mobile back on again, as I fed my face.

As I'd sort of expected, there were a whole collection of voice-mails and some texts from Monica. But somewhat curiously, not one call or text message from Karen's mobile phone; but there were a whole collection of voice-mail messages from our home phone. I figured Monica had switched to using that phone when they'd got there.

The text messages all boiled down to roughly the same thing. Monica requesting that I call her ASAP!

Most of the voice mails were from Monica and said almost the same thing. A couple were from other people and have no relevance here. Quite late though - probably about the time I'd woke up — A voice-mail from Monica sounded very different in its tone.

"John! Please call me the moment you get this message. Karen has told me everything and I think I understand what has been going on and why you are so angry. Karen has done something that I think is very silly, but I can assure you that it's not what you think it is. She's only just shown me the letter you left, and I believe I can make a good guess as to what you think had been going on. Well John, I can assure you that it hasn't! On the contrary Karen had got it into her head that you have been playing around. The man at the hotel was the private detective she hired to watch you. You really need to get your arse back here and refute the evidence that he gave to Karen. John, I know even if my stupid sister doesn't, that you wouldn't do anything like that. Please come home and clear this mess up now, before it's too late!"

Wow that was unexpected! That little voice said, in the back of my head somewhere. How the hell has Karen got it into her head that I've been running around on her? And come to that, what's all this crap about evidence that I'd been doing something that I shouldn't?

I know it had been Monica's intention when she left that message and it pained me some to have relent and do it. But I was driving back to the house within seconds of hearing the complete message. Oh, by the way I got even angrier as I drove. Shit, if any bugger had got in my way on the drive, they'd have found out what road rage was all about, in a hurry.

Monica's car was in the drive along side Karen's so ... well, I parked on the front lawn. I was buggered if I was going to drive up and down the bleeding road trying to find a bloody space to park in.

I do believe that the whole house shook when I slammed the front door closed. Maybe it was a mistake for me to have even returned to the house that evening; I really wasn't in complete control of my emotions.

"John, please calm down and take a deep breath before you say anything!" Monica said, as she came racing out of the kitchen.

"Monica, what kind of a temper do you expect me to be in after I listened to your message?" I demanded, my anger obvious in my voice.

"Just take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down a little John. I'm sure this whole sorry mess came be sorted out with just a little bit of patience and understanding on both your and Karen's behalf."

"Oh yeah, well where's this sodding evidence that I've been sleeping around that you were going on about? And how come my so called loving wife has never mentioned it to me before?" I was possibly still shouting.

"Well John, I'd have thought that that was obvious even to you. Karen loves you and she doesn't want to lose you!"

"Oh yeah, and cutting off my congenital rights is supposed to prove that to me?"

"I believe you mean conjugal rights John." Monica replied with a soothing tone to her voice. "And well, no ... I can't say that it would to my mind either." Monica agreed, with a tentative smile on her face. "But from how Karen explained it, she considered that she was protecting herself!"

"From what?" I demanded.

"From sexually transmitted diseases, and Aid's and things!" Karen voice came from the kitchen doorway.

I looked at her, waiting for her to enlarge.

"Gavin told me that I should get checked for that sort of thing and it scared the hell out of me. He said that there are strains out there that can't be cured, that can make a woman infertile. So I had the tests done and they think I'm clear; but what with the way you've been putting it around. Well, I might be the mug who loves you, but I don't intend to let myself be infected with anything!"

"What the hell do you mean by putting it around, Karen? I've never been near another woman since well before we were engaged."

"Please don't lie now John, I have it all here in black and white, in Gavin's report!" Karen replied with a strange tone in her voice.

"Oh yeah, well how about you let me take a look at this so called report?" I replied,

Karen shrugged her shoulders, and then Monica and I followed her into the kitchen where she pointed to a large envelope lying on the table.

"Have you read this?" I asked Monica, as I picked up the surprisingly thick package.

"No. I was about to when you suddenly decided to park in the flower bed." She replied.

"My bleeding house and my damned lawn, I'll park where I like!" I replied as I extracted the papers.

I'm not sure if it was a conscious decision I'd made, but for some reason I was directing my conversation at Monica as much as was practical. I suppose in a way it prevented me from actually talking to Karen. Maybe a little childish, but it's the sort of thing that people do when they are annoyed with each other. I'm sure you've seen folks — especially married couples - do it before.

As reports go, at first sight it looked pretty comprehensive, if a little disorganised. But it very soon became apparent to me, that it wasn't really comprehensive a report at all! It, or rather they, were a lot of small individual reports, each referring to a different days or even parts of days. And ... well how can I explain it? The incidents described were not placed in their true context.

On the days the guy supposedly watched me, they was pretty accurate about my actual timings, where I went, and whom I met etcetera. But they were surprisingly lacking in the important details, I thought. And I'll add that they were full of unjustified — or unqualified - assumptions

And then one particular section actually jumped out at me and almost bit my bleeding nose off. In business I'd see many cooked up reports before. Often cobbled together at the last minute to prove some innocuous point, by some wanker trying to make a name for himself in the firm, by bringing down one of the high flyers, usually me! Knew that I only had to find one point that was so off the wall and unbelievably, that the whole damned report would be discredited.

"Shit Monica, you definitely didn't read this, did you?" I commented, with a mocking tone to my voice. "Here, listen to this bleeding garbage? It's the from the latest one I believe!"

Then I began to read out loud from the report.

The subject

"Which I assume is supposed to refer to me!" I threw in as an aside.

Left his office at twelve o'clock and met a female in the Case Is Altered public house. They showed great affection towards each other and talked for over an hour as they shared a meal. The subject and the female were seen to kiss each other at least twice.

I stopped reading and took a long look at Monica. Who was looking back at me with what I only describe as a gobsmacked expression in her face. Then I carried on.

When the subject and his lady friend, left the public house. He was heading for his office, so it was decided to follow the female in an attempt to discover her identity. She was followed as she walked briskly about a mile, to the town's main shopping precinct, that she entered, and where regretfully contact with her was lost in the crowds.

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