This is an edited version of a story I that first wrote back in the 1990's, I believe; or possibly it was a little later. Getting too old to remember now. It has been posted elsewhere under the by-line "The Wanderer" and "Denham Forrest", and possibly another pen name or two before that as well. As far as I am aware there are no significant additions or changes to the text as it was originally written; memory again!
My thanks go to LadyCibelle for proofreading this version for of the tale for me. I'll take this opportunity to point out that I've now discovered -- what appears to be accepted as -- the definitive spelling of the name Ottilie. I've found very many variations of the spelling in the past.
It's funny how your mind works when you see something (or someone) familiar. I had just come out of a shop on the High Street, when something caught my eye on the other side of the road. I looked, and then I had to look again.
"No that's impossible." A voice in the back of my head somewhere, assured me. "No your eyes have got to be playing tricks on you."
Standing there across the street, was Rebecca. But no, it couldn't be! This was a young woman who looked just like Becky had looked, twenty-odd years before. My mind instantly raced back to my first meeting with Becky at a party when we were both about seventeen. God, it was uncanny, that young lady was the image of her.
Suddenly, I realised I was staring at the girl -- I think at around the same time she became aware of me -- and it appeared that my attentions were making the young lady feel somewhat uncomfortable. She turned away and pretended to look into a shop window. But I could see that she was keeping a wary eye on me in the window's reflection.
I couldn't take my eyes off of her; her whole stance everything about the way she carried herself, was my Rebecca.
Then at last, I came to my senses and turned away. There was no way that child could be Becky; it was just a trick of the mind. I walked down the road glancing back occasionally. Yep, she was still there and appeared watching me recede intently. Every-time I looked back, I saw Becky.
I felt very uncomfortable myself, and somewhat melancholy. By the time I came upon the 'Stag Inn', a pint was definitely called for. I went in, got myself a pint, and then I chose a quiet corner table where I hoped I wouldn't be disturbed. Then my mind drifted back to happier times.
I had first met Rebecca at a party when I was seventeen. She caught my eye the moment she came into the place. She wasn't a raving beauty or anything like that, but there was something about her, that attracted me to her from the moment I saw her.
She had come in with one of the usual studs, well that's what he thought he was. He had mummy's car outside and thought he was God's gift. You remember the sort, always bragging about whom they had scored with. Personally I've always thought that guys who have to keep talking about how successful they'd been getting into girl's knickers, must have an inferiority complex or something and the odds were they hadn't scored as much as they would have liked to.
Me, I have always preferred to keep my own council; well there's no point in getting you the wrong kind of reputation. If the girls hear the guys discussing just whom you had laid, they knew it wasn't going to do their reputation too much good to go out with you.
It was the girls you needed to get talking about you, and if you were lucky they would say how nice and trustworthy you were. Then if you played your cards right, you got yourself a nice healthy score count; up to that point in my life, that had been my philosophy and it was working fine.
Something about Becky's body language was telling me she wasn't over enamoured with her escort. When they were dancing to the slow numbers she appeared to be trying to hold him away from herself. Well to be honest, he was trying to grind his crotch into her and she was getting into all kinds of contortions to keep him from achieving his goal.
Okay, maybe little things do please little minds. But I did find it all highly amusing, so much so in fact, that I was not on the prowl myself; if you know what I mean.
Well, maybe I had decided that I was going try and steal Becky from the guy; but I don't think that was a conscious decision at the time. But the Prick was putting it away a bit, stupid if you're intending to drive later. She didn't look stupid, so I was in with a chance.
Anyway around eleven or there-abouts Becky's date went to the little boy's room. On instinct I went for it and before he returned, Becky and me were tripping the light fantastic.
He tried to butt in, but I was having none of it. I did have a little bit of a reputation back then, that I wasn't the kind of guy you picked a fight with.
Not quite sure how I got that, could be that had I never got into a fight that I wasn't sure I was going to win ... and I'd always had the boys around as well, to back me up. Becky's date withdrew and mingled with some of his friends, whilst he looked daggers at me.
Becky explained that she was on a blind date along with her friend. She said, if she had known just whom her date was going to be she wouldn't have come to the party. She was worried about the journey home because she'd notice – as I had -- that the guy bad been putting it away a bit, and besides that he did have a reputation for not behaving himself.
That was just what I was hoping to hear.
"Okay Rebecca, if you're really that worried, we've got the van outside if you want a lift, and we'll be leaving about one. It'll be a bit crowded, but I can promise you'll get home in one piece and with your virtue intact." I grinned back at her. "Alan, our driver, doesn't drink. He's allergic to alcohol or something; one pint and the bugger's out for the count."
"Thanks, that's very kind of you; I'll probably take you up on that offer. But I had better go back to him for the time being; I think he's getting a bit antsy." She replied.
Pleased with myself, I did a quick tour of my close friends to let them know what I was up to, and ensure they were all happy with a one o'clock split. Alan, as usual, was buried under Angela, the second love of his life; the first being his old Thames Trader van. I just said "One o'clock alright?" and an arm appeared from under Angela's skirt I suspect and gave me the thumbs up sign. God forbid they ever break they're snog to actually speak to me.
One o'clock and we were all in the van waiting. Alan in the driving seat, with Angela kind of half-sat on the engine cover and half draped over Alan. How the hell, he ever drove that thing with her draped all over him like that, I was never able to understand. But he never came near having a prang whenever I was with then.
The hoards were in the back, jammed in as best they could, and I was sitting on the passenger seat. Becky came tripping out of the party with a big smile on her face and jumped into the van, landing on my lap.
Now to be honest, she wasn't as careful as I would have liked when she jumped in, and she kind-a took my breath away for a minute or two. Come on fella's, you've all been there a least once in your life. I did talk a couple of octaves higher for a few minutes.
"What did he say when you told him you were getting a lift home with us?" I asked Becky.
"I didn't tell him; he thinks I'm in the loo. I wonder how long it will take him to realise I'm not coming back?" She grinned back at me.
We all laughed as Alan pulled away.
It was a long and convoluted journey, to take everyone home. Each of the guy's girls had to be dropped off and of course there was the necessary snogging session and arrangements for their next date to be made. Then the guy would have to be taken home. So it was gone three in the morning when we finally arrived outside Rebecca's house. She was worried, because there were lights on. Becky had it figured that her parents were still up, waiting for her and they weren't going to be happy.
Now I've always found that if you are prepared to take the bull by the horns, you can achieve miracles, sometimes! So asking the two A's if they would wait for me, I took hold of Becky's hand and marched up to the front door. The door swung open before we got to it and the mountain who was obviously Becky's father was standing there to greet us.
I quickly switched from 'Randy little bugger' into 'Young gentleman' mode.
"Good evening sir, I must apologise for bringing Rebecca home at this ridiculously late hour. But the boy she went out with this evening, had far too much to drink. I thought it would be safer, that she rode home with us, because my friend, who's driving, doesn't drink. I'm sorry but we did have quite a lot of people to drop off on the way. Had I realised you were waiting up, I would have asked Rebecca to call you. You have my deepest apologies, goodnight Sir."
I think I had taken him completely by surprise; Becky told me later that other date's who had brought her home late, had usually tended to leg it when they saw the size of her father. The guy just said thank you and goodnight in reply to me. Then I politely said Goodnight to Becky, turned and walked away.
Of course there was the slight problem that I hadn't got hold of Becky's phone number, but that was easy to rectify; it was that first impression with daddy, which counted.
The following afternoon I was knocking at her door with two bouquets of flowers, one for Becky and the other for her mother, who I had seen lurking in the background the night before. Becky's mother opened the door; I presented her with her bouquet and apologised to her for bringing Becky home so late the night before. There are times when you have to crawl. Then I asked if I could speak to Rebecca.
Becky and I finished up going for a walk in the local park and later that evening we went bowling together. That was the start of a great romance, and we rapidly became an inseparable couple.
It was three months before we slept together. My family were away for the weekend and we spent a memorable Saturday in my bedroom. None of your Wham Bam malarkey! We made love to one another, after that we got into the habit of having sex two or three times a week. I was crazy about my Becky, but for some reason it did take us three years before we decided to get engaged. I don't think either of us were in a hurry to get married; we were just having a good time.
The trouble with sitting in a bar on your own, remembering the good old times, is that its leads you on into remembering the bad time's as well.
The Christmas after Becky and I got engaged, things began to go wrong between us. I suppose it was my fault really; we were at a Christmas party and there was at lot of kissing under the mistletoe going on. Some guy was kissing Becky; I got it into my head that this was the third or forth time he'd kissed her and it appeared to me they both were making too much of a meal of it. That led on to me telling Becky, I thought it was enough. We'd both been drinking a bit and she told me, not to be so silly and jealous. Well that was to lead into out first real fight.
It all blew over after a couple of days, but looking back at it now that was the beginning of the end for us. After that we seemed to have arguments every couple of weeks or so. Always about stupid things, I think we were both becoming too possessive and jealous; we would fly off the handle for no apparent reason. We were definitely in love, had we been actually married, I'm sure a lot of the arguments would never have happened.
With hindsight, I realise that we had been together for so long, and not having made that final commitment had left us both feeling a little insecure.
Then we had the big one. For the life of me I can't remember what it was about; but it finished up with Rebecca throwing her engagement ring at me and storming off. As it worked out, we were never to see each other again.
For the first week or so, I moped about my house waiting for her to call and apologise. I know from what our friends were to tell me later, that Becky had been doing exactly the same thing.
But then the hand of fate stepped in and dealt us a deathblow.
My older brother and his wife, who had emigrated to Australia some years before, were involved in a serious road accident. My sister and I immediately flew out there to look after the children and their business.
It was only later that I was to realise, I should have sorted things out with Becky before I went. But hindsight can be wonderful thing; you can always see your mistakes when you look back on them. A letter or two to Rebecca could have made all the difference to our lives.
It was eight months before I returned to England. I quickly learnt through the grapevine, that Becky had got herself pregnant by some guy; they had married and moved up north.
Her friends told me that she had been really upset when she heard I had gone down under; they all, including Becky, had thought I had emigrated out there for good and had no idea I was intending to return. I never could figure that one out, because all of my friends knew why I had gone out to Australia. Maybe someone had their eyes on Becky and spread a rumour around to murky the water a little.
Becky must have assumed I had deserted her and she had started going out with lots of other of guys. Her one time best friend Julia, told me that Becky had been looking for someone to replace me, and had turned into somewhat of a slapper in the process. She apparently developed the reputation of allowing anyone into her pants. That didn't sound like the Becky I knew; an obvious rift had developed between Julia and Becky so that story might have been spite.
But then again, Becky did finish up pregnant.
After I found that Becky was gone, I didn't really go out on dates very much; I seemed to have lost interest in chasing the girls. I spent a lot of my spare time down the snooker club or on the Bowling Green.
No it's not an old man's game. I'll give you most of the players are getting on in years, but it is a very skilful and enjoyable pastime; although I do think I'm much better on the baize with a cue in one hand and a pint in the other. A couple of pints and a snooker table, now that's heaven!
When I was twenty-five, I met a girl called Sheila at work; with whom I became quite friendly. Sheila was a year older than me and had been married and divorced once already. Looking back on it now, I suppose I should have been a little more sceptical when she started to come-on strong to me.
A year later we were married, but I don't think I ever really loved her, like I loved Becky. I was extremely fond of Sheila and we had two lovely children in quick succession. By the time I was thirty-two I was a happily married father, with a nice little semi.
My two daughters we named Anna Ottilie Garner and Carol Ottilie Garner. Why the Ottilie? Well I just happen to like the name. I had always wanted to have a daughter named Ottilie, but Sheila wasn't too keen on the idea. But then again, I did the registering of the births bit, so I quietly slipped the name in for both of them. It's funny that Sheila wasn't keen on the name Ottilie, as Rebecca had always turned her nose up at it as well. Maybe that was one of the silly things we argued about in those final few months.
For a few years, things rolled along quite nicely. Becky faded into my dream world; I would sometimes have the most vivid dreams that it was Becky who I was married to instead of Sheila. We would be walking in that park we went on that first afternoon. Or she would be pushing Anna on the swings whilst I pushed Carol.
Then that fickle hand of fate visited me once again. A good mate told me that Sheila was playing around. You'll never believe it, but it turned out she was having an affair with her first husband. Her ex, who was soon to become her husband again, generally stayed well out of my way, because I did put him in hospital for a little rest.
It all happened very quickly from my friend tipping me the wink; to me being a single man again, took just over six months.
After the divorce Sheila asked for a meeting and the pair of them came to my solicitors office to see me. They both apologised to me for what had happened and told me that they wouldn't be claiming any maintenance for the children. But said that they would put any money I gave Sheila into the children's trust accounts. Oh' and they reiterated that they'd dropped the assault charge as well. But, I was well aware of that, by then.
They informed me that they wanted me to be part of the children's lives and promised that I would have access whenever I wanted to see them, or when the children wanted to see me. That sometimes proved not to be the blessing that it sounds. When Carol had a nightmare one night, I found myself being summoned to her bedside at three in the morning.
Yes, if you're wondering, it turned out the children were mine; I had that checked. But I don't think it would've made any difference to me anyway; I loved the little tykes. I was taking them out every weekend and I'm pleased to be able to say that for a long while Sheila and I were quite friendly and civil to each other when we met.
As it turned out Sheila's ex was infertile, and that's why she had divorced him in the first place. Sheila was obviously more in love with him, than she ever had been with me. Once she had the girls, I became superfluous and she turned back to him.
You know, Sheila once actually had the gall to ask me to get her pregnant again, because she wanted to have more children. Well it take's all sorts!
I got myself a little flat over some shops. Nothing fancy, but it suited me well enough, and it was somewhere for the kids to visit me.
For the next year or so things settled into a relaxed routine. I had the children on the weekends Sheila and shitface had them during the week. The girls never did say that anything was wrong, but I noticed towards the end that Sheila wasn't coming to the door anymore when I picked the children up. I would pull up outside the house and the girls would come running out, carrying their weekend bags.
I became aware that they always appeared to be wearing clothes that I bought them on our weekend shopping trips. I'd just assumed that they wore them to please me.
Then one Wednesday I came home from work to be greeted by the dreaded social worker and a police officer. As I walked up the stairs to the flat, I saw that there were two suitcases outside my door.
"Are you Mr Garner sir," the officer asked.
"Yes." I replied curtly. I never like it when a copper calls you 'sir!' I know I'm not going to like what he has to say next.
It was a stupid question for him to ask anyway, I had heard the social worker tell him who I was as I climbed the stairs.
"I'm sorry to have to inform you sir, that your ex-wife. Mrs Sheila Sabey, has passed away. It is being classed as a suspicious death; it appears that your ex-wife may have inadvertently taken an overdose of anti-depressants. There will have to be an inquest and we would appreciate it, if you could call in at the station and make a statement for us."