My thanks go to my friend SH, for proofreading this little tale of misunderstanding, or maybe it's better described as misinterpretation of motive.
Clarification:- "TWOC" British police acronym for Taking a motor vehicle Without the Owners Consent, i.e. a "twocker" is what at one-time often referred to as a joy-rider, but without the connotations of innocent fun. Youngsters -- and innocent bystanders -- get killed in/by stolen cars, and twockers' poor driving skills often result in serious damage to the vehicles involved.
That particular evening I was propping up the end of the bar, in the pub that at one time in my life had been my favourite watering hole. It had been a great place to spend an evening back then, full of people I'd grown up with and casual acquaintances. Time -- and life -- inevitably moves on though and it had been some years since I'd even thought about the joint, it certainly was a pail shadow of my once regular hangout.
That evening for some inexplicable reason, I'd been feeling just a little more melancholy than usual. And ... well, I'd stuck my nose in the "Pig and Whistle" to see if any of the old gang – those guys I'd hung around with when we were teenagers – were still frequenting the dive.
Unfortunately in the intervening years the establishment had gone down the pan some; or maybe I should say, its clientèle had. The place was pretty well crowded with the younger generation that evening; well, from my perspective they were not far off teenyboppers. But, if I were being honest with myself, I'd have to admit that most were probably of the age we had been, when my friends and I started frequenting the place.
The trouble was, there'd been a marked change in the way the younger generation thought and behaved. The pub was full of the binge drinking, lager lout set, who wouldn't recognise a decent pint of beer if it were presented to them on a golden platter.
You know the sort of crowd I'm talking about, their idea of a good time is to get blind stinking drunk as quickly as they possibly can. Then the following morning they find themselves pondering where they picked up the bruises and the odd black eye, or how come they came to have spent the night in a police cell.
Anyway, there was one face that I did recognise, Randy Ralf. And I really think I might have preferred it if he hadn't been in the lounge bar when I stuck my nose in there that evening.
Maybe I'm not being fair. Ralf was an all right bloke really, except that conversation with him was always a little one sided and somewhat repetitively boring. Ralf only ever had had one topic he liked to discuss and/or apparently one topic on his mind, sex! And, what's more, he always had been under the misapprehension that he was god's gift to the female gender of our species, even if that wasn't a universally accepted opinion.
Don't get me wrong, whether I liked to admit it or not, Ralf was a pretty good-looking bloke. Much more handsome than I ever considered myself to be, and I have to also admit, that he'd always had the gift of the gab when it came to the ladies.
When we were younger, Ralf used to drive all of the guys crazy by diving in first, and grabbing any tasty bit of talent around. Mind you, he'd always had a pocket full of cash as well, and that can sometimes have a bearing on success in the female chasing sweepstakes. Consequently Ralf -- or Randy as he was often referred to by the rest of the guys -- was generally considered an acquaintance, more than a friend.
I'd better add, that if you were inclined to believe Ralf's somewhat repetitive rhetoric, it had an air of self-congratulation about it. Personally, I always considered it should be taken with a very large portion of scepticism.
Shit yeah, Ralph was a braggart; he always claimed to have had a remarkable high score rate as well. We're talking first outing home runs here, fella's! But I'm not at all convinced, that many the ladies came back for a return fixture all that often though. Anyway, that really was none of my concern.
Whatever, Ralf being the only member of the old crowd in the pub that evening, I'd accepted his offer of a pint and fallen into conversation with him. Or rather, not wishing to appear impolite to an old acquaintance, I was trapped for a while, listening to his tales of fornication with younger women. By the look of most them in the bar, I say at least ten years his junior.
I'd been standing there leaning against that bar, getting an earful from Ralf about some little teenybopper he'd banged the previous evening for about twenty minutes. When suddenly something, or someone, behind me caught Ralf's attention. I figured that most likely a reasonable looking bit of skirt had just entered the bar, and with any luck, very shortly I'd have an opportunity to extract myself from my conversation with the bugger and get the hell out of there. Sod-it, I was well passed the age where stories of fumbling around in the back of a car with a bit of jailbait, were of any interest to me. But it was apparent that Ralf hadn't moved on in life and was still living his teenage years.
"Holy Moses, she's back. So there is a God in heaven after all!" Ralf exclaimed, still staring over my right shoulder, and with that old familiar, lecherous, smile on his face.
I didn't turn around to look at her right away. Whoever she was -- going by mean age of all the other talent in the pub that evening, and taking into account Ralf's apparent penchant for the ... Yeah well, young and naïve -- I doubted that I would find any interest in the bird.
At twenty-eight I preferred my women to be at least old enough to vote and preferably over twenty-one. I'd been caught once in my life by a spiteful little bitch and by that time in my life, I preferred my women to be old enough to understand what love, and marriage, is really all about.
"Oh my, this is the third time she's stuck her nose in here lately. I think I caught her eye the other night, but I was with that bit of stuff I was telling you about. You'll have to excuse me if I dash off mate, can't let something that looks as good as that, get away again!" Ralf babbled on.
"Jesus Ralf, don't you ever give it a bleeding rest, its just a ... Oh my Christ, Sadie the sadist! What the bleeding-'ell is she doing in here?" I found myself blurting out.
As I'd begun speaking, I'd snatched a quick glance over my shoulder to take a gander at this so-called vision of loveliness that Ralf was raving on about. And ... well, standing there, just inside the pub door, her eyes scouring the bar's patrons -- obviously hunting down some poor sob (S.O.B.) in particular -- was the devil incarnate herself; Sadie Bishop!
"Sadie Who?" Ralf asked. But my mind was not really concentrating on what he was saying anymore.
I'd known Sadie Bishop for about eight years by then; she'd been the best friend of my one time wife. To say that Sadie and I had never got on from the moment Katrina first introduced us to each other, would be putting it mildly!
I'm not sure what it was about the woman that got to me. I have to admit that Sadie always had been one fine looking piece of real estate; I had to agree with Ralf on that one. And well, thinking back to the odd occasion, I'd seen Sadie about town years before – well before I had started going with Katrina ... Well, I suppose I've got to admit, that given half the opportunity I would have chanced my arm and had a go at chatting her up! It had just down to the fact that that opportunity had never presented itself.
But then, after Katrina and I got together and she eventually introduced me to her good friend Sadie ... Jesus, was I glad that that opportunity to chat the bird up, hadn't presented itself.
When Katrina did the formal introduction bit, there was something about the look Sadie gave me that day, that I hadn't been able to get my head around for a very long time. Sadie had smiled at me graciously, and yeah, she seemed friendly enough; if not a little ... er, I don't know, maybe reticent to make my acquaintance. But there had definitely been something that I read in her eyes that that said ... Well, for a while at least, I wasn't quite sure what those eyes were saying to me really; but whatever it was, that expression put me on my guard for some inexplicable reason.
It was only a short time later that I worked out that Sadie didn't think much of the fact that Katrina and I were dating. I hadn't realised at the time, but I finally got it figured that those eyes were actually trying to say to me, "Hey arsehole, get your grubby little mitt's off of my best mate; she can do a lot better than the likes of you!"
Now I wouldn't like for anyone to get the idea that Sadie was ever openly hostile towards me. Quite the opposite actually, sometime she would be too damned friendly! Like all devious people, Sadie apparently welcomed the news that Katrina and I were dating with open arms. It was only later that I began to get some idea of what the bitch was really playing at, and even then, it took me a year or so before I was absolutely sure.
It was all the nasty little - whispered - asides that Sadie made to Katrina, in my presence - and I was always convinced, purposely loud enough to be for my ears as well – that I thought were quite definitely intended to make Katrina draw comparisons between myself and the previous – long standing and Sadie preferred – love of Katrina's life, John Fillmore.
They were just little comments like "Hey Kat," Sadie always called Katrina, Kat, "Doesn't that guy over there remind you of John?" Then Sadie would add something like, "I bet you miss lover boy after all those years you two were together, don't you?"
Katrina wouldn't usually reply. She'd maybe risk a quick glance in my direction, I assumed in an attempt to discover whether I'd overheard; not that I ever did react in any way. I got the message loud and clear; I sort-a suspected that I had it worked out by then, roughly what game Sadie the Sadist was playing.
Then as the weeks of Katrina's and my relationship, turned into months, Sadie began to take a slightly different track. We'd all be sitting in a pub or club somewhere and I'd overhear Sadie say something like "Hey Kat, that cute guy over there's giving you the eye girl!" or "Hey Kat, you've only got to give that hunk the nod and you're made for life!"
I wouldn't always hear Katrina's reply, but when I did, it usually went something like, "Shush, cut it out will you Sadie, you'll get me into trouble. You know that I'm happy with the man I've got!" The last sentence always said a little louder so that I would definitely hear it; then Katrina would glance my way as if checking that I heard her words.
Maybe I was slow to figure out what Sadie's little game was to start with, but after that strange feeling I'd got when we were introduced, I'd eventually come to the conclusion that she was subtly trying to break-up Katrina's and my relationship. I had no idea why, I thought that maybe she was a friend or even a relative of this John Fillmore guy who'd at one time been engaged to Katrina. Possibly their break-up – that Katrina never would discuss with me - had been a one sided decision on Katrina's part. I suppose I kinda made the supposition that Fillmore wanted to get back with Katrina and Sadie was doing everything she could to facilitate their reunion.
Or then again, there was always the possibility that Sadie – for some reason I'd never understand - had just taken an instant dislike to me. You know it happens sometimes, you meet someone new and there's something about their aura that you're just not comfortable with. Hey, maybe the feeling was mutual; it could well have been that Sadie picked up those same sort of unsettling vibes from me, as I'd picked up from her when we'd first been introduced.
Whatever, I kinda had Sadie taped in the first couple of months of Katrina's and my relationship, and after that I tried to ignore all those little asides and things. I had to take into consideration the fact that she was Katrina's mate, and well ... annoying I might find her, but I'm a great believer in fate. If Katrina and I were meant to be together, then there was sweet sod all Sadie could say or do that was going to change things. If Katrina and I didn't last the course, then that had always been in the master plan of things.
As time went by and we spent more time together, Katrina's friends – including Sadie – dropped into the background, as did mine. Katrina and I would hang around with each other's group of friends maybe one or two nights a week, and at a party or two every weekend. The rest of the time we spent together off on our own, so Sadie's hostility to our relationship really became completely unimportant. Although I was fully aware that Katrina and Sadie chatted on the telephone a lot, I picked that up from Katrina's conversation. It would often be Sadie who made sure that Katrina - and I - were aware of those weekend parties and insisted that we attended them.
Katrina and I had been going together for about eighteen months, when we decided to get married. I say "we" because if it was either of us, it was Katrina who was more ... impatient for us to tie the knot and have children. Um yeah children, for a long time I thought that Katrina's haste to have children and my intransigence on the point had been the cause of all my woes. No hold on, I'll get back to children later, I was telling you about Sadie wasn't I?
Anyway I've explained – I hope – how I recognised that the last thing that Sadie wanted was Katrina and I being a couple. And I hope I've adequately explained that Sadie – without actually showing hostility to me personally – let me know the fact. I believe that there was only one ... no, two occasions when Sadie "openly" showed her displeasure that Katrina and I were together. To me personally that is, I still have no idea what she said to Katrina in private.
The first time was when Katrina and I announced our engagement to the gang.
"Are you sure you are doing the right thing Kat!" Sadie had said, whilst - for some reason that I couldn't understand – staring right into my face with those big blue eyes of hers. I found myself getting the same vibes from her that I'd got the day Katrina introduced us.
"You two haven't known each other very long really Kat. You haven't been with Darryl half as long as you were with John!" Sadie continued.
I literally couldn't believe what I heard the bitch say. If that wasn't a suggestion that Sadie didn't think I compared with Katrina's previous boyfriend very well, then what else was it?
I remember that Katrina for the first time I could recall showed a little hostility towards her best friend, in her face if not in words. To be honest I didn't catch Katrina's reply because someone else came over and congratulated us, probably someone trying to insert a little diplomacy into the conversation. Anyway, I think the incident was either forgotten or ignored by everyone very quickly. I put it down to Sadie being Sadie.
The second time Sadie made her feelings openly known - to my knowledge at least - was at Katrina and my wedding. It had been planned, or so I thought, that Sadie was going to be Katrina's chief bridesmaid. I'm not sure what conversation went on between the two girls, but as the wedding date drew near, it was suddenly announced that Sadie was no longer able to attend. The tale I got was that Sadie had won a holiday abroad somewhere and our wedding date fell right in the middle of it.
Maybe, I should have enquired a little more deeply, but to be honest, I didn't give a monkey's uncle. The idea of Sadie not being present was if anything more to my liking.
The odd thing was, Sadie was there! I have no idea where the holiday story came from, but for sure Sadie wasn't in the south of France that weekend. As my bride and I turned around to proceed up the nave of the church after taking our vows, a movement up in the gallery at the far end of the church caught my eye. Those blue eyes of Sadie's bore into mine for most of that slow procession.
I have always wondered whether Katrina had seen Sadie up there, or even knew that she had come to the service. If she did Katrina never mentioned it. I didn't mention it because ... well in the ensuing weeks I was otherwise occupied. And well ... when Katrina and I returned from our honeymoon it very soon became obvious that she and Sadie were no longer friends. Well, not the bosom buddies they had been in the past. When they ran into each other they did talk, but it was pretty obvious to me that something had broken the bond they'd once shared.
Now I suppose I should mention children. After our wedding it appeared to me that Katrina was in one almighty hurry to start a family; I suppose it was our one bone of contention. I thought it more prudent to wait until we became established, i.e. saved our cash for a few years and had purchased our own house, before we took on the financial responsibilities of children.
Katrina and I did argue over the point, well, not so much argue, let's call them heated discussions. But with both our parents agreeing with me, in the end Katrina acquiesced and accepted my plan. Well, I thought she did!
Now one must understand, the period of time that we would have to wait before we started a family would not have been very long actually. Although I'm not one of the - what is generally referred to as - professional class; I had a very good and stable job that paid much more than national average wage. What's more, being a skilled worker, guys with my talents are in demand by other companies; so I had no worries in that direction either, should my employer fall on hard times.
Time went by, and only two years after our wedding Katrina and I moved into our new house. Maybe a little sooner than I would have preferred, because by the time we'd bought all the new furniture and household appliances Katrina wanted, the old bank balance was looking a little on the lean side. It was a brand new build on a small estate out in the country. We had a few minor teething problems with the place, but the way they throw houses up nowadays, I don't think that's particularly unusual.
Anyway, I thought things were going fine until Katrina lost her job again and seemed to take an absolute age before she could find another. I could cover the mortgage payments and all the finance we had on the furniture and appliances out of my wages alone, but Katrina's wages -- although not strictly essential -- helped us maintain our lifestyle.
Without Katrina's money coming in, one of the cars had to be laid up for the duration; road tax and insurance on the thing would have pushed the budget too much. This meant that unless Katrina drove me to work in the mornings, she was pretty well trapped in the house most of the time. Mind you, there was lots of gardening etc. that needed doing - to turn what had been a building site into a nice garden – to keep Katrina busy, even if I did do all the heavy stuff on weekends.
In an attempt to increase our bank balance, I began taking on all the overtime I could talk my employers into giving me. And maybe there-by hangs the problem; the more hours I worked the more hours Katrina spent in the house on her own. With-in months we were snapping at one another. Katrina would be having a go at me because she was bored, and I would be having a go at her because on the days that she did use the car to ostensibly go looking for work ... Well, Katrina seemed to have become a spendthrift.
Katrina would pick me up from work and there'd be anything from, a new lamp - or some other unnecessary home appliance - to a new outfit for her, lying on the back seat of the car. And what's more, she never did seem to be able to find a job of any kind. I'm afraid that after a few months I began to lose my patience a little.
Possibly what made things worse was the fact that whenever I did try to discuss our finances quietly with Katrina, she'd point out that once she had our first child, she wouldn't be able to work anyway. Katrina couldn't seem to grasp the fact that we needed a little more time to clear our "setting up house" debts and get a little nest egg behind us, in case of an emergency.
Oh I suppose I'd better point out at this time that both Katrina and I were both of the opinion that the latch-key kid lifestyle, was not the one our children were going to be raised in. We both believed that a mothers place was in the home until the children were old enough to branch-out on their own.
Less than a year after we moved into our nice house the crunch came. By then Katrina - when she picked me up from work at nearly midnight - was regularly stinking of booze. Where she was going in the evening before she arrived at the works I had no idea. She always insisted that she'd called in on one of her girlfriends and shared a bottle of wine with them. I'm afraid that it got to the point that I stopped believing that story.
From there, things went downhill very quickly, with Katrina and I, regularly going at it hammer and tongs. Then eventually, she didn't show to collect me after work one night. After I'd been waiting for nearly an hour for her, a work colleague was kind enough to offer me a lift home. Then, by chance during the journey, I spotted my car parked in a pub car park.
The place was closed by that time of night (gone one in the morning) and my work colleague and I, could find no sign of Katrina anywhere. After calling home to ensure Katrina hadn't drunk to much, and been given a lift there by a "friend." Not really knowing what to do, we decided we disable the car -- the pub was not in an area that sensible people leave nice cars parked in all night, to many little-shit Twockers' about around there -- then my colleague and I set out to search for Katrina.
I'm not at all sure if you could call it "by lucky chance" or not? But we didn't have to drive all that far before we found her. Two miles along the road we came across a couple of police officers who were in the process of breathalysing a car driver.
Net result = the guy was arrested for driving with excess alcohol in his blood, and I was arrested for assault.
A very drunk Katrina had been sitting in the front passenger seat of the guy's car -- her clothes in somewhat disarray -- when we'd pulled up.
At the nick, I was given a police caution and promptly released by a very sympathetic desk sergeant. He did further caution me not to do anything stupid when I got home and saw my wife again. I pointed out to him that, had I been that sort of person ... well, Katrina, on seeing me get out of my friends car had hastily got out of the guys passion wagon. I'd walked right passed without raising a hand to her to tackle a guy -- hiding by that point -- behind two rather large police officers. Drunk he might have been, but he wasn't so drunk, that he couldn't recognise me and work out what was coming his way.
There's one question that has never been answered about that evening though. Why those two officers stepped aside and let me land a few on the bugger, before they restrained me, and then claimed that they hadn't actually seen who had landed the first blow? Come to think of it, as my memory of the incident goes, I'm pretty sure that the guy didn't retaliate at all. Well, he didn't land anything that I actually felt anyway. Perhaps the bugger had laid the wife of someone those officers knew in the past?
Anyway my work colleague had followed the police van to the station and when I was released a short time later, he drove me back to my car. Which -- after reconnecting the electrics I'd unplugged to disable it -- I drove home.
Oh, with the local beat officers car not far behind me. It appeared that the desk sergeant wasn't taking the chance that I might go back on my word.
Katrina was not home when I got there; I never saw her at the house again. I assume someone, maybe even the police -- they couldn't very well leave an intoxicated woman on the streets at that time of night -- had given her a lift to her parents house; where it eventually came to my knowledge she lived for the following few weeks.
When I arrived home from work the following evening, Katrina had quite definitely made at least one visit to the house. Just about anything of real value was missing, TV set ... Ah shit, you can guess for yourself. You say it, and if it wasn't bolted down, then it was gone.
Of course both Katrina and my parents, gave me the old "Katrina made a silly mistake!" -- "She's devastated and extremely sorry for her foolish actions." -- "You really should give her another chance!" Speeches.
But from where I was standing, Katrina had made no mistake when she arranged for someone to strip the house of anything of value within hours of my getting proof that she'd been getting up to things that any wife shouldn't have been doing. There was no chance that I could see of a reconciliation working.
To get it over quickly, we did go for irreconcilable differences as grounds for our divorce. But only after my solicitor somehow forced Katrina to return most of the stuff she'd taken from the house. Not that it made much difference, because everything had to be sold-off to pay our debts anyway.
The bit that really bugged me, and I'll admit that maybe I brought it upon myself, by not being as vocal as I could have with everyone, about the reason for our divorce. But what guy wants to admit to the world that he'd suspected that his wife might have been hanging horns on him for months? Anyway, word on the street had it, that I was the villain of the piece. Somehow the story went around that I'd turned into a domineering husband, who wouldn't let her go out to work and treated Katrina like a chattel.
Unfortunately there ain't much that you can do about rumours. Of course you can tell your side of the tale, but by that time, the first rumour circulated has become fact.
So that was the state of play that day a few years later when Katrina's old mate "Sadie the sadist" appeared in the "Pig and Whistle."
"Sadie who?" Ralf asked
"The Devil incarnate Ralf. A close friend of that bitch of an ex-wife of mine, and if she spots me, then she's sure to make a bleeding scene."
I had it figured that if the bitch spotted me, innocent or not, I was in for a real public ear bashing. Sadie did have a voice on her when she wanted to be heard.
"Oh shit!" Ralf replied.
"Why d'ya say that; what's she doing?" I asked.
I didn't look her way again; all I wanted was to be out of that damn pub; anywhere in the world providing Sadie wasn't around.
"Bad news mate, I get the feeling she's spotted you and she's heading this way. Mind it might be that she's fallen for my charms; she was giving me the eye the other night. I'll try to head her off at the pass!" Ralf said and then stepped around me.
I figured that Ralf's interpretation of "giving him the eye," was most likely that Sadie had looked in his general direction. From what I knew of Sadie, I figured she'd be able to spot a letch like Ralf, miles away, and ... well, whether I liked the woman or not, she was a step above Ralf's sort.
"Hi beautiful. I was wondering when you'd come in again. Can I buy you a drink?" Ralf began ask.
But as I suspected, Ralf was throwing snowballs at the moon.
"Oh, give it a rest Ralf Parker; you always did think you were bloody Casanova, even when we were at college. Personally I always thought you were a bleeding creep. I'm here to see to Daryl." I heard Sadie's voice say from behind me.
"Mercedes Bishop, bloody hell! I knew your face was familiar from somewhere!" Ralf blurted out as I turned to find a smiling Sadie looking me right in the eye.
"Hi Daryl, long time no see; how're you been keeping?" Sadie asked.
"Fine, until a few seconds ago, when I heard your voice!" I replied.
"Oh my, that's not a nice way to greet an old friend." She said, disconcertingly still smiling.
"What do you want Sadie? In the circumstances, I can't think of anything we need to talk about?"
"Oh I can; but not here. Have you eaten tonight Daryl?" Sadie asked as casually as you like, and still bleeding-well smiling at me.
"No, not..." was as far as I got, before Sadie grabbed hold of my arm and said "Good! Romano's is just over the road, lets go eat?" Then she grabbed hold of my arm and began dragging me towards the door.
"Romano's!" I repeated.
I should add that Romano's is a somewhat up market establishment, with prices to match.
"Oh don't crap yourself, I'm paying!" Sadie grinned at me again.
"Okay Sadie, what's this all about? I asked once we'd got out into the street and could actually hear each other properly.
"Not yet Daryl, I need your stomach full. You always did get a little cranky when you were hungry!"
"How would you know that?" I asked
"Oh Christ Daryl, I knew everything about you back when ... Well, I made it my business to know as much as I could about you."
"Why?" I asked, actually stopping in the middle of the road so that Sadie swung around and faced me.
"Christ. Do I really have to tell you?"