Nothing I Can Do About It Now
Copyright© 2016 by Denham Forrest
When I arrived at Jennifer Rose’s office, Jean was there already and as I suspected he might be, Bernie was with her. Jennifer Rose grabbed me before I’d even had time to properly say hello to them and explained that when she’d called Cartwright’s solicitor back to confirm the meeting, he’d mentioned that Delia Cartwright would be attending with her solicitor. Jenny had thought that they were playing the numbers game, so she’d decided that we’d have a larger legal team than them.
“I think Mr Cartwright’s solicitor is getting cold feet, he knows there’s little point in you denying anything if the DNA test will stand up in court,” Jenny grinned at me, “so I believe he’s beginning to get a little worried about any possible repercussions if they have made a cock-up. He’s well aware that he’s relying on a test supplied to him by Cartwright’s American legal team, and I’ve been laying-on your own confidence that those tests are not going to stand-up to the scrutiny of a British Court.”
“I hope that Cartwright’s people aren’t going to object to Jean and Bernie sitting in on this little shindig.” I asked.
“No, they can’t and besides I’ve lined up a couple more of my colleagues to sit in as well; with any luck it’ll scare the shit out of Cartwright’s people. Bernie called me this morning because there have been some unfortunate developments at your office, and they could lead to yet another lawsuit against Cartwright, by your employers as well as yourself. But Bernie will explain all that to you later. He was curious about what was going to happen here today anyway, so I’d invited him to sit in today as well. I didn’t think you’d object.” Jenny replied.
For a moment I did wonder what grounds my employer could possibly have for suing Cartwright. But my mind was distracted because then, Jenny then took me off into a private office to discuss what had happened between Katie and me over the weekend. I went through everything with her once again, only in detail this time. Jenny informed me that she had been in verbal contact with Kate’s solicitor earlier in the day and that she was waiting to hear back from her.
I suppose I should point out here that Jenny had informed me that Katie’s solicitor worked out of the same practice as the Cartwright’s English legal team did, and at that moment Jenny seemed to be more concerned about Katie and my pending divorce than she was about the Cartwright debacle itself.
Jenny and I had been in the office for some time. I’d told her about the video I had and that I’d get a copy to her as soon as I received one back from Greg. Then a secretary came in and informed us that the Cartwright’s and their legal people had arrived, and were waiting in the conference room.
I thought that it must have looked quite impressive when we all trooped into that conference room. There were seven of us altogether; a secretary, Bernie, Jennifer Rose, Jean, two of Jenny’s colleagues and me. We sat down at the conference table in that order, except for the fact that one of Jenny’s colleagues sat between her and the secretary.
Opposite us were sat five people, three women and two men. The guys were obviously Cartwright and his brief. Two of the women had to be Delia Cartwright and her brief. By the notepad she’d placed on the table and the pencil in her hand, I figure the third woman was a secretary they’d brought with them to take notes. I assumed - correctly as it turned out - that the two solicitors were sitting between the Cartwright’s.
I’ll add that all three females on the other side of the table were lookers. Mind, looking back now and if I’m being truthful, the three women on my own side of the table weren’t to be sneezed at either. The fact was I had little er ... interest in the female gender at that time. Well not in that sense anyway.
I can’t very well say I had little trust in any females, because I was trusting Jenny Rose to look after my interests. And Jean? Well, I would have trusted her with my life.
Although I had to take into account that just a few days before, I would have trusted Katie with my life as well. I kind-of had it figured that I’d be keeping all females at arms length for a while at least, and maybe questioning their motives in the future a little more than I’d done in the past as well.
I think Jenny’s colleague was just about to make the introductions, but all he managed to get out was “Good afternoon,” when Delia Cartwright lent towards her brief and whispered something to her.
“We thought Owen Thomas was going to be present today!” Delia’s solicitor said, rather contemptuously I thought.
I looked at Jenny, who I found was already smiling back at me. Most likely the question was in my eyes; Jenny nodded.
“I am here actually!” I informed the five poker faces sitting opposite us.
That was it! Complete and utter consternation came over four of the faces on the other side of the table. The secretary tried to keep poker faced, but I’m pretty sure I saw the edge of her lip curl up a little.
“Is this some kind of trick?” Cartwright demanded, almost rising from his seat.
But Cartwright’s brief put a hand on his arm to quiet him. Then the man started frantically looking through a file he had on the table before him.
“My client and I believe that you are trying some kind of deception upon us here. We have here photographs of Owen Thomas!” The solicitor finally said, still-frantically-hunting through the file before him.
“Then it would appear you’ve not only made a serious error in identification, but then compounded that mistake in making false and unfounded allegations against the wrong Owen Thomas. It is a pretty common name over here, especially with people of Welsh decent.” Bernie commented. I’d never heard the bugger sound so authoritative before.
“And I’ll point out that you’ve behaved extremely recklessly. Your unwarranted accusations have had quite catastrophic repercussions, for Mr. Thomas and his family life.” Jenny added.
“No, we have Owen Thomas’s English address here, as lodged with the California court.” The guy said, still trying to hunt out the pictures he appeared to believe he had in his file.
I noticed that by that time, Delia’s Cartwright’s brief was also hunting through her file. It was she who found a picture first, she showed it to Delia who nodded and said, “Yes that’s Owen!” Then the woman passed the picture to Mr Cartwright’s Brief. Cartwright scrutinised it for a second and grunted, then the solicitor pushed the picture across the table towards us.
“This is the Mr Thomas who lives at 29 Marlborough Way. We’ve checked it with the New Zealand High Commission in London and the American Embassy who issued his visas.” Cartwright’s brief added, a little triumph sounding in his voice. “I suggest that you are trying to fob us off with an impostor.”
“And why would they know where Mr Thomas lives?” Jenny asked. I think the poor girl was a little confused, but she sounded confident enough.
“Because although resident in the UK, Owen Thomas is a New Zealand citizen, that’s why.” Cartwright’s brief replied.
The bugger was sounding confident again.
I found Jenny looking at me; the question was in her eyes.
“I do have dual nationality actually!” I informed the gathering. “I was born down there when my father was stationed in the country with the diplomatic corps. But I’ve lived in the UK since the age of three and consider myself a British subject. Although at one time, I did hold a New Zealand passport, it made travel between the two countries simpler at the time. Consequently it is highly likely that the commission would have my address on file. Although it’s been some years now since I bothered keeping my New Zealand passport up to date.
“Oh, you might like to know, that I did visit the USA once; some years ago just after I joined my current employers. I spent a total of three days in New York on company business and I have never been back to the country since!”
I think it was at this moment, that I glanced down at the photograph that Jenny was now holding and instantly recognised the face on it.
I have no idea how my facial expression changed, but the word, “Shit!” Jumped into my mind. I’m not sure, but I might have unintentionally said it out loud as well. Whatever Jennifer Rose quickly put her hand on my arm to silence me. When I looked at her, her eyes were imploring me to “shut up!”
“It’s obvious to everyone on this side of the table, if not to yourselves, that you have made a serious error in identification here.” Jenny said, “and that someone has been bandying around slanderous accusations about my client’s character, in an indiscriminate and reckless manner. Those unfounded ... slurs have, to say the least, as I have already informed you, had even more serious consequences on my client and his wife’s relationship. And we have only just been informed, that further unfounded accusations have apparently been made to other people, including Mr. Thomas’s employers. Consequently we are as yet to discover what repercussions are going to ensue from them and how much damage has been done to Mr. Thomas’s good reputation.”
I’m not sure why, but whilst Jenny was speaking I happened to glance at Delia Cartwright’s solicitor’s face and found her staring back at me. To this day I can’t say what I read in her eyes but she’d lost her poker face expression and I thought she was looking very uneasy about something. I was to discover later that her discomfort didn’t directly concern her client who was sat beside her.
“Here are copies of Mr Thomas’s British passport, his birth certificate, British driving licence and his marriage certificate. By the looks of it, from the trouble that you’ve caused in his home life, we will probably be able to supply a copy of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas’s divorce decree before very much longer as well. We’ll leave you to discuss those repercussions amongst yourselves for a few minutes, whilst we consult with our client about what action he’s contemplating taking against both of your clients.” Jenny said rising from the table.
Then we all trooped out of the conference room behind her.
“You recognised the man in that photograph, didn’t you?” Jenny asked once we were out of earshot.
“Bugger that picture Jenny, what accusations have they made to my employer.” I said to Jenny, but I was looking at Bernie.
“Bernie will get to all that with you later, Owen. This meeting is about stopping Cartwright making any further allegations about you to anyone else. But if you know who the man impersonating you is ... well, that could put an unexpected light on everything. Now who the hell is he?” Jenny insisted
“He’s disguised himself to look something like me, but I’m pretty sure that it’s Kate’s brother, Mark Smith.” I replied.
“Oh shit!” Jenny cursed this time.
“Well, so what, it isn’t me and that’s all that’s important isn’t it?” I asked.
“You’re definitely not lawyer material Owen.” Jean commented. “I suspect that there’s going to be a lot of questions on the subject of how Mark Smith came by sufficient information about you, to get his hands a New Zealand passport in your name. Probably there might be accusations of collusion!”
“I assume you were a legal secretary at one time Jean.” Jenny said to her, then to me, “Jean’s correct Owen, Cartwright’s solicitor is bound to suggest some sort of collusion between you and Kate’s brother.”
“Well there never has been.” I replied. “I’d have to be insane to let that bugger use my name. To me it looks like the little twerp has bloody stolen my identity. Well, in the US at least. I wonder where else the little shit’s been using my name?”
“Maybe your wife... ?” Jenny began to suggest.
“I very much doubt that!” Jean cut in. “Kate’s not that daft, and she would have put two and two together like a shot and realised that it was Mark who the Cartwright’s thought was Owen. No, she lost her cool far too quickly for her to have done that; she went completely off the deep end!
“A little too quickly, maybe?” Jenny suggested.
“No never, Kate got way too emotional over the whole thing.” Jean replied, “She’d have to be a very good actress to have pulled that one off. We had one hell of a ding-dong on the telephone the other morning. I suggested that it must be someone else with the same name as Owen, but Kate pooh-poohed the idea out of hand.” Jean then turned to me. “Didn’t you say that Kate said something about you travelling on your New Zealand passport, Owen?”
“Yeah she mentioned it, when I showed her that my British one didn’t have any US entry stamps or visas. If Kate knew that Mark had a New Zealand passport in my name, then she wouldn’t have brought the subject up, now would she?” I suggested.
“Or got so far out of her pram, about the whole thing either.” Jean added, and then she suggested, “Surely Katie would have most likely have played angry for a little while, and then tried to play it cool and let the whole thing quietly drop.”
“Unless she’s playing a double bluff!” Jenny pointed out. “Didn’t you say that she was pretty adamant about you getting out of the house, very quickly Owen? You know, stealing someone’s identity is illegal; perhaps your wife was hoping to move her brother into the house so that he could continue to fool Cartwright and his team for a while. It might have given him a few weeks grace to sort out another identity for himself and disappear again.”
That was an angle that I hadn’t thought of, but then something else struck me. “That sounds a little too far fetched to me Jenny; surely a little too risky even for Mark Smith.” I replied. “No, hold on a minute, Katie did want me out of the house; but I’m not too convinced that she is the driving force behind that idea. Her sister was the mouthy one the other night. She even suggested that they put in a false report to the police that I threatened Kate with bodily harm, so that they would remove me from the premises.”
“We are talking about Christine here?” Jean asked for affirmation.
“Yeah, the bitc ... She was with Kate all day on Saturday and they went out together Saturday evening as well; when Kate picked-up her fancy man!”
“I suppose one has to wonder, what with your history with Christine.” Jean commented.
“What history is that?” Jenny asked, looking confused again. “Is there something I should know about you and this sister of your wife’s, Owen?”
When Jean and I didn’t answer Jenny straight away, Bernie did for us. “It was a long time ago Jenny, but Owen was engaged to be married to Katie’s sister Christine once. By pure chance Owen encountered her ... Well, in flagrante delicto, on the evening of her hen party and, not surprisingly, Owen called everything off.”
“And you took-up with her sister?” Jenny asked, a surprised tone to her voice.
“Well no, not exactly,” I replied, “I didn’t know that they were related when I met Kate and I never met any of her family until after we were engaged. I hadn’t met Kate whilst I was going with Christine because she was away at college. Look Jenny, I told you it’s a very dysfunctional and somewhat disjointed family, and some of them have a very lax moral outlook on life. That never has been Kate ... well never was. I think that Kate had distanced herself from almost all of her family well before I came along. Even Christine kept me away from her family as much as she could get away with, when we were together.”
“That’s what I can’t understand about Saturday night,” Jean said “If anything, Katie’s a bit of a prude; her character’s nothing like Christine’s or her mother’s. I just can’t see Kate going out, picking up some guy and allowing him to have sex with her; it’s so completely out of character, for her. Come on Owen, you’ve got to admit that, haven’t you?”
“Surely it’s out of character for any wife to have a sexual encounter with someone other than her husband.” Jenny suggested.
“That depends on how much they love their husband, and their morals. All the time I’ve known Kate she’s had the highest moral standards. You should see the way she reacts to the flirting at parties and the company do’s. She can be a real killjoy sometimes, can’t she Owen?” Jean commented.
“Yeah, it’s always looked that way to me in the past Jean! But from what I saw on Saturday evening, maybe I was mistaken and Kate is a bit of a hypocrite on the quiet. You know, like those preachers who shout about how low everyone else’s moral standards are and then you read in the Sunday papers that they’ve caught with their trousers down in a brothel or they been screwing half their congregation.”
“You don’t really mean that, Owen!” Jean admonished me.
“What else can I think Jean, I was there on Saturday night, remember? And besides, you saw that film.” I relied.
“What film?” Jenny asked.
“I’ve got some video of Kate coming home Sat ... Sunday morning; I told you she had her underwear in her hand.”
“Sorry I forgot about that for a second. I’ll have to take a good look at that later. But now we’ve got to think how we are going to handle the Cartwright’s in there. We can’t keep them hanging around all day.” Jenny pointed out.
“We just tell them who Mark Smith is and let them sort their own problems out. But before you do that I want to know if Cartwright spoke to Kate himself, how much he said to her and when. If what he said to her is the reason that Katie did what she did on Saturday night, then I want the bugger’s shirt.” I said to Jenny.
We all trooped back in and sat down again.
Cartwright’s solicitor immediately said that they had reason to believe that I had recognised the man in the photograph. Jenny informed them that I thought I might know who it could be. But, that I had no intention of telling them, unless they were open and honest about what they or any of their representatives had said to Kate and when they’d been in contact with her.
Then it was time for the Cartwright team to go outside and have a conference in the corridor. They obviously knew that I had every intention of suing someone for being the cause of what had happened between Kate and myself, not that, at that time, they knew the details of what had happened. Five minutes later they were back.
“Mr Thomas, we understand that your wife’s reaction to hearing about all this has caused some dissention within your household; for that we profusely apologise. We were acting in good faith and Mr. Cartwright’s representative will contact your wife as soon as practicable to inform her that it has all been a mistake. I’m sure that she’ll understand under the circumstances.”
“She might well do that! But I’m afraid that it is all a little too late,” Jenny informed them, “as a result of Mrs. Thomas hearing those allegations. Things have happened and Mrs. Thomas has taken actions that could well have caused irrevocable damage to the Thomas’s relationship. I’m afraid I have to tell you that the Thomas’s will be following Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright into the divorce court in the very near future. And I fear, that there is nothing that you, or anyone else can do or say that will change that outcome.” Jenny stopped for breath. Then looking closely at Cartwright. “However Mr. Thomas does need to know the reason his wife took the actions she did. Knowing when and where your representative informed her of your slanderous accusations against my client, and exactly what was said to her, might give us some insight into to her actions.”
“I spoke to her myself...” Cartwright stopped speaking for a moment and turned his attention to his brief, who had put his hand on Bill Cartwright’s arm, most likely to shut the idiot up before he said too much. “No you fool, one destroyed relationship is enough.” Then to me again. “I’m sorry Mr. Thomas, I was angry and I never for a moment contemplated ... my wife’s infidelity had upset me greatly and I was looking for revenge on someone. I was wrong. I approached your wife myself early last week whilst you were away.”
“And you told her that there was no doubt that it was me who had had an illicit affair with your wife the resulted in her becoming pregnant.” I replied angrily. “Well Mr Cartwright, you cocked-things-up big time for me and my wife, didn’t you mate? My wife went out and had her own little illicit liaison in retaliation. And I sir, intend to get my pound of flesh in retaliation for your cavalier and reckless behaviour. Had you had the common decency to wait until I returned to the country, then all this could have been straightened-out before my wife even knew about it. Oh, and I would expect that her solicitor will be after your tail as well, if she’s got any sense left, that is!”
Once again Delia Cartwright’s solicitor caught my eye as she appeared to squirm in her seat a little, and I noted that slight hint of a smile appearing on the secretary’s face again. It kind of gave me the notion that the young woman didn’t like her employer.