A Girl Called Len
Chapter 5: A question resolved
Copyright© 2010 by Texrep
Five months later Jennifer delivered a baby girl. There were no problems with the birth. Jenny was of country stock, wide-hipped and healthy. It was a matter of routine in those days to determine the blood group of the child immediately on birth, just in case any problems required a transfusion, and of course the mother's group was already on record.
Jennifer's blood was A, and the child's was AB, my blood is type O, so according to Doc. Jones, it was impossible for me to be the father! Now I am not the type who will jump in immediately and reject both wife and child. I wanted to wait until they were both recovered and settled back at home. However my opportunity came when Jenny, having unilaterally decided that the girl would be called Rebecca, after her mother, asked me if I would like her second name to be Anne, remembering my mother. I shocked her when I said.
"No. I don't think so, Jenny. After all the child is no relation to my mum." Jenny's eyes opened wide with shock for a moment, but she recovered quickly.
"Of course she is. She would have been her granddaughter." Jenny was sitting in her favourite chair, having just put the child down after feeding. I sat down opposite her.
"Come on Jenny. You and I know that isn't the case. She can only be granddaughter to my mum, if I'm the father. And you know I am not!" I'll give her full marks for courage. She fought to the bitter end. It was only after I had shown her the blood test result and a letter from Doc. Jones confirming that I could not be the father that she gave in, breaking down in tears. Why I didn't tell her of the results of my sperm test I don't know. Maybe pride, or maybe because I didn't want it broadcast all round the village, as it most certainly would be, village life being what it was in those days.
When Jenny recovered her composure she asked me what I was going to do now. My answer was simple.
"Divorce you." It was a no-brainer really. Our small village was very close knit. I was certain that Jenny's dalliance was already known in the village, although no one would mention it to me, I was an outsider, I would have to have lived there for twenty years before I was viewed differently. Nor had it been mentioned to her family, as shortly after I set the wheels in motion I had a visit from her very angry father and her two brothers. I was under no illusions that the visit was intended to do serious physical damage to me, for treating his daughter so badly. However as I had kept a copy of the blood tests, and the Doctors certificate saying that I could not be the father I was able to divert their anger. I was surprised when a light turned on in her older brother's eye. He caught his brother's arm.
"Come on Billy. We have to go and see someone." Then having apologised to me, they left me with my father in law. He sat down as if he had a great weight on his shoulders.
"Danny lad, I was not too happy when Jenny married you. I thought you wouldn't treat her right. I was completely wrong and it was Jenny didn't treat you right. I am very sorry." He looked around the room as if something there could answer the question why? Then he continued.
"You have to divorce her of course. No man would put up with what she did. But she is my daughter, so I'll stand by her. Mind, she will feel my belt when I get home. If you will make the reason for the divorce irreconcilable differences, rather than adultery, I'll make sure she doesn't ask for anything." That worked for me, I didn't really want to make the grounds adultery. I was sure that the whole village knew I was a cuckold, but I didn't want it to be official as well. I held out my hand to him to shake.
"Thanks Tom. That's fine with me." We shook hands.
The divorce went through quite quickly, although we had to wait three months for the Decree Absolute, as the divorce was uncontested. Tom was as good as his word, well we had shaken hands, and to farmers that was as good as a legal agreement. So no demands were made on me for spousal support, and obviously no child support. Tom came to see me relatively often during this time. Eventually he revealed that his son's had been right, about the man they had to see, as Jenny under severe pressure from her mother had revealed the man's name. He was married too. Tom never told me who it was, not that it mattered as retribution had already happened, courtesy of Jenny's brothers. But when a certain badly bruised bloke was kicked out by his wife and left the village, the coincidence was too obvious to doubt.
My phone calls to Len, had kept her up to date on the situation, and I appreciated her support. She kept telling me how sorry she was that this was happening to me. That was the attitude of a good friend rather than a woman who hoped to benefit from the marriage break-up. Neither of us mentioned the fact that once I was divorced, Len would get her wish. Nor was there any suggestion that we would become an 'item'. Len had her life to get on with, which meant travelling around Europe with her act. She had been to Paris to audition for the theatre she had worked before. They had been encouraging and suggested some minor changes to the routine which she incorporated. They had offered her a six month contract starting in the September. She was now a featured act, albeit low down in the billing. The contract meant a lot more money than she received as a Showgirl. My divorce would be absolute in July, so we arranged that I would come up to London, when she could demonstrate to me the finalised routine, and we could spend another couple of days together.
At last the decree absolute came through. I had already put the cottage up for sale; I had no wish to live in that village any longer; and I bought a flat on the outskirts of Exmouth, overlooking the River Exe and with views downriver towards the estuary and Starcross. I phoned Len and told her I would be in London the coming Friday.
"Have you booked that Hotel again?"
"Yes Len I have."
"Well it's a waste of your money. You know we have an arrangement for something special."
"Len if you think I have forgotten that you don't know me very well."
"I didn't really think you would forget. I just wanted to know that it was as important to you as it is to me."
"Don't worry, Len. It is very important to me."
I had taken the same train as before, but arrived at Len's flat a little later. British Rail could be relied upon to manage some delay in the timetable. Len wanted to know all about my divorce as if I hadn't told her anything over the phone.
"Were you sad at the end?" She asked.
"A bit I suppose, but I didn't feel a failure, which is what a lot of people feel. I actually feel quite sorry for Jenny."
"Why? She cheated on you." Len was quite vehement.
"Yes she did. But look at her life now. She's back home with her mum and dad, and they aren't happy with her. She's got an illegitimate child by a man who has run off. And everybody in the village knows all about it. Not likely that she will find someone else now." Len had this lovely calm smile on her face.
"Danny. You know you are a really nice guy. You have been treated badly, but you can still feel sorry for the person who did that. It's no wonder I have always felt that you were my best friend. That's why I wanted you to be the first to have me. You will probably be the only one to have me as well."
My head felt like it had doubled in size after hearing that, as I walked back to the hotel later that evening. But I was troubled. This relationship was strange to say the least. Friends since we were five and six years old, still friends despite the gap of ten years, and planning on sleeping together. Yet I could not say with certainty that I was in love with Len, and she certainly was not in love with me. We liked each other, and had achieved an intimacy in our relationship that many married couples would never have. My marriage was proof of that. Another question to add to the mix was what of the future? Len would be going off to Paris for six months, and then perhaps to other venues in Europe for God knows how long. I would be back in the West Country sorting out the problems of these computers we were selling. Not really the right circumstances to make a go of whatever we had together.
On the Saturday, we took the District Line underground train to the town we had grown up in. It was quite a shock. Whereas when I had left, there were still the remains of bombed houses, now these had all been cleared and new housing and flats had been built. Although we lived to the East of London, where the majority of bomb damage had been we were close to Hornchurch aerodrome, which was a fighter station. The Germans, obviously, would want to destroy that facility, and as bomb aiming was not that accurate a science until the Yanks developed the Norden Sight, bombing was carried out by releasing bombs well before the target and carrying on dropping them until after over-flying the target. As a result our town got hit quite a lot. Can't blame the Germans really, as they were fighting for their country, whatever they thought of their leader. I mean many people in this country could not stand Churchill, but still fought. Later in the war we had the V 1's, also known as doodlebugs. With enough fuel to reach London, they would often fall short if they encountered a head-wind. People in this area used to call it 'Doodlebug Alley'. I can remember those quite clearly. The peculiar thrum thrum thrum of the motor, which would cut out when the fuel was exhausted. In that sudden silence everyone dived for cover. I also remembered that I was standing in the high street when one crashed and exploded just three hundred yards away. From my earliest days I had grown up with the bombing. It was a normal part of life for me. When it stopped that was strange!
My old house, the house in which I was actually born was still there, perhaps looking a little better than my memory of it would suggest. We walked down the Avenue to Len's old house. She surprised me by opening the gate and walking up to the front door. She turned round to see why I hadn't followed her.
"It's all right." She called to me. "Mum and Dad still live here." She took a key from her purse, and opened the door. I followed slowly. I don't know why, but I was unsure of a welcome. Stupid really as her mum and dad greeted me warmly, even though her mum had to remind me of that incident with Leanne's knickers (As I said, I was the only one who called her Len). Tea was produced of course, and we all sat down to chat about old times and what we were doing now. Mr. Sargeant was quite impressed with my programming computers. He thought it was a good job to be in. In his view I was obviously someone who had a good future. Nothing was said about Len's vocation until her mother asked me if I had seen Len dance. Len answered the question for me.
"Oh yes, mum. He has. And he has been of great help with the new routine. Actually it was Danny's idea." My face was flushed with embarrassment. Mrs. Sargeant carried on as if there was nothing unusual in her daughter taking off her clothes for a living.
"So you thought of the wind machine and the chiffon flying off? That was clever." What do you say? Was this family odd or what? Len carried on chatting.
"We are going to the rehearsal room later, and I am going to show Danny the final routine. I hope he's going to like it." Her mum chimed in.
"Oh I hope you do. Leanne has told us how important your opinion is."
On the train back I said to Len that I was astounded that her parents knew about what she did for a living. She was quite unconcerned. "They have known what I was doing from the start. I suppose they had their concerns, but when I explained that I was in no danger of being shipped off to the white slave trade, they were happy enough. At least it hadn't wasted all the money they spent on the Ballet lessons. They were even happier when I told them that I had got to know you again." I was surprised.
"Why? After all we were kids when my family moved away." Len smiled.
"Mum always thought you were a nice boy, mainly because you remained friends with me when everyone else didn't." Len got serious then. "Mum knows about my problem, and her medicine is a nice guy who will understand and still care about me. She thinks that's you in a nutshell. That's why she has no worries about our going off for me to do the dance. She knows I'm safe with you." She grinned. "What she doesn't know is that you're the one who isn't safe!"
I was hauling the fan into place when the thought struck me.
"Len." I called. She was getting wrapped up in her chiffon stage costume.
"What is it, Danny?" Her voice slightly muffled by the privacy curtain.
"What are you doing about a fan in Paris?" The curtain pulled aside and she came out ready to dance.
"The theatre has a fan. It also has a nozzle attachment so that it can be directed exactly where it is needed."
"That's a stroke of luck." She was shaking her head.
"Most Revue theatres have something like that. They need it for when they use Dry Ice."
Len gave me the cassette and I set it up ready to play. With the fan up to speed she took up position. I started the music and she danced. If I had thought it good before, now that she had rehearsed so many times it was superlative. The chiffon unwound from her body as she pirouetted. Bending gracefully brushing the ground with her hand, then lifting elegantly to the skies, now another pirouette and yet another layer of chiffon floated gently away from her body. Her hands were always part of the movement of her arms, finishing the movement by coming to rest just after her arms had come into position. Now I noticed a difference in the routine. She became completely nude much earlier, I was taken aback as I saw that she had shaved her pubes and she danced without covering for at least two minutes before the finale, then she sank into the half-curtsey with her arms gently settling back just like a swan's wings. It was strangely mystical and beautiful.
She remained in her position until I went over and lifted her. Her eyes glittered with tears as she searched my face for my reaction.
"Len the dance was so beautiful. You were so beautiful." She smiled.
"Thank you, Danny. I wanted to be beautiful for you." She raised her face to me and we kissed. This time her mouth opened and her tongue reached tentatively out to find mine. I knew immediately that she had rarely if ever kissed like this before. We held each other close, I finding it incongruous that I was completely clothed, and she was completely naked. I asked why she had let slip the chiffon earlier. She explained that was one of the revisions the theatre had asked her to make.