Nothing I Can Do About It Now
Copyright© 2016 by Denham Forrest
“Hate Captain Tom. I could see the hate in your eyes when we came aboard; I just couldn’t recall where I’d seen hate as strong as that in someone’s eye’s before. But I’ve remembered now, it was in that solicitor’s office in London all those years ago.”
I didn’t reply. I just kept staring back at Delia Cartwright.
“You’re not Captain Tom, you are Captain Owen Thomas. You were just plain Owen Thomas back then, the same man whose identity was stolen by the father of my daughter Amanda over there.”
I still didn’t reply.
“I’m right, aren’t I? Come-on answer me!”
“Delia, you and that husband of yours, screwed things up for me quite nicely the last time our paths crossed; why are you really here, to screw my life up again?” I demanded.
An expression of frustration came over Delia’s face, “Okay then; if you insist. Captain Tom. We are here on vacation with the children, nothing more, and Bill suggested that we have a nice fun day out sailing, that’s all! Honestly, it is just an unfortunate coincidence that we happened to charter your boat. We had no idea that this was your sailboat ... or, that you were even in this part of the world. Everyone has been looking for you for years!”
“Yacht!” I corrected her.
“Very well yacht! Shit, why are you so pedantic about such silly things?” she demanded. “And why have you remained hidden for so long?”
I didn’t think Delia could look any more frustrated than she already was, but she managed to somehow. Boy, I think I was actually beginning to enjoy the encounter.
“Because Cassandra’s a ketch rigged yacht, not a sailboat.” I replied, ignoring the second part of her question. “Some folks try to call her a schooner. But she’s my craft, and I if say that she’s a bleeding yacht, then she’s a bloody yacht!
“I’m pedantic about it, because I want to be, and accuracy is important in my life. It’s people who get things wrong, that tend to screw things up for everybody else!”
“There’s really is no need to use strong language Owe ... Tom. I know that Bill and I did everything wrong and we are truly sorry for what happened back then. But you surely can’t still hold us responsible for what you believe Katie did?
“She didn’t, by the way. You’re the only person in the whole damned world who believes that she did!”
“How would you know what the bitch did? You weren’t even there. I know what I saw and that’s all I need to know.”
“Tom ... Bill and I felt very guilty about what happened. We stayed in touch with Katie and eventually she forgave us. You must have noticed that our youngest is named for her?”
“I don’t understand why you would do that?”
“Because after you left her Katie had nothing ... No one to talk to, no one to support her in any way, except your friend Jean and her husband Greg. Kate has nothing to do with any of that family of hers anymore. You know the poor woman was so desperate and depressed that more than once Jean was frightened that Katie would do something unthinkable, don’t you?”
“I’ve heard nothing about that through the grapevine. Anyway I should imagine that it was just a ruse to gain everyone’s sympathy. But where were does Jean fit into it?”
“No Owen! Katie was seriously depressed and I had to agree with Jean that she was all but suicidal on occasion; it was only the...”
At first Dee Cartwright had ignored my question about Jean completely. Although I suspected that was because Jean had done what I’d always suspected she had, sided with Katie. But then Dee had suddenly seemed to falter or change her mind about what she was intending to say to me. I don’t know why I knew that she had changed her mind, I just did.
“Jean spent a lot of time with Katie after you’d gone Owe ... Tom. She was worried about you as well, you know.”
I ignored that, but then I don’t think Dee Cartwright expected me to answer it, and she went on.
“Especially after ... the divorce ... and then again about a year or so later when Bill and I heard about...”
Dee Cartwright, did it more than once; she definitely checked herself, apparently changing her mind about the exact words she was going to use. Then she went on,
“After you’d disappeared and no one knew where to find you.”
There was no logical explanation for Dee Cartwright’s change of line; except maybe that she is a woman. Maybe I should have challenged her on those two points, but I was on the warpath again and only just controlling my temper. Actually I hardly noticed them at the time, probably putting those slight breaks in her diatribe down to Dee Cartwright’s own emotions being high and her not thinking ahead about what she was actually saying.
“What choice did I have?” I retaliated, “I couldn’t do my job anymore. Whenever I landed in a foreign country, I was hauled in by the passport people, because Owen Thomas was of interest to the American authorities.” I said with venom in my voice.
Dee Cartwright picked up from my tone, that I blamed her for that problem as well.
“You can’t really blame us for that Owen, Bill and I didn’t steal your name?”
“No, but your husband used his influence to have Owen Thomas tracked down though, didn’t he? That meant that whenever I stepped foot in another country, my name raised red flags up on immigration control’s computers. Shit, I was stopped and held at bleeding Heathrow three times. Eventually it was clear to everyone that I couldn’t do my job anymore, so I was all-but let go. How could my employer explain away that their representative was being held at the port of entry as a suspected terrorist every time he arrived in the country, was a mistake?”
“But you were never a suspected terrorist!”
“Well, drug smuggler then! The net result was exactly the same I can assure you! The American government has very long arms, and there are very few countries in the world that refuse to co-operate with them. It cost me my job!
“I had nothing left to stay in the UK for, so I bought Cassandra and set off to sail the seven seas alone. But of course I forgot that when you sail into a foreign port, they run Cassandra’s registration and then the crew details through the system. Net result, I’ve been arrested or detained in all the countries’ I’ve ever visited. Even the bleeding Cubans were iffy about me visiting. They seemed to know that Cassandra and I were flagged, but they apparently had no idea why. Shit, the buggers almost took Cassandra apart and then they inferred, rather forcefully, that I got out of Dodge by sundown!”
Not being a fan of Westerns, I have no idea where that reference came from, but I think it put over the point succinctly.
“So in the end, I was virtually forced to settle here. The authorities know me here and about the name cock-up; they’ve been rather co-operative actually, so I get to live here in peace. Or rather I did, until you and big mouth showed up”
“You’ve been here ever since?”
“Yeah getting on for nine years now. One day I’ll build a house on this island and live out my life here.”
“On your own?”
“Of course, I ain’t no fan of people, or authorities anymore. I shall settle here in peaceful seclusion. When he’s experienced enough, Donny will take over Cassandra and keep me supplied with all I need.”
“Oh my god!”
“You’re just as unhappy as Katie is, aren’t you?”
“When you’ve had your life ripped apart, you don’t tend to be happy Mrs Cartwright. How-come you are still with big mouth anyway?” I asked, with the intention - I believe - of moving the conversations subject away from me. Or then again, maybe I was genuinely curious.
“His names Bill, Owen!” She attempted to correct me.
“To me he’s always going to be “Big Mouth” who spoke out of turn!”
“It was a honest mistake Owen, we genuinely thought the you were Mark Smith, or rather that Mark Smith was you. You must have realised that by the surprise we had when we saw you in Jenny’s office.”
For some reason at that time, I didn’t pick up on the way that Delia Cartwright had referred to Jennifer Rose. She’d called her Jenny, in a familiar and somewhat affectionate manner, as if she knew Jennifer Rose personally. I was probably too engrossed in blustering back at Delia Cartwright for it to have sunk in.
“But neither of you had bothered to check the facts first, did you? Big mouth went around to my wife and stuffed all of his so-called evidence under her nose. But the one thing he didn’t do, was to show her a picture of the man the pair of you claimed was me!”
“But we weren’t to know that he’d stolen your identity!”
“And neither was Katie. But she believed you quick enough, too quickly for my liking; then the silly cow had to go out and get even with me, before I’d even had a opportunity to explain or prove that evidence was wrong.”
“Owen, your friends told you, that what you saw on that night was Katie setting you up, purely out of misguided anger, and whilst under that evil sister of hers influence. Everyone has assured you time and again, that Kate hadn’t been with another man that evening.” Dee said sounding somewhat frustrated again.
“That night, maybe yes, but what about the other nights Delia. What about the four days between your husband talking to Katie, and me arriving back in the country. The four days Katie used to set the divorce in motion. The four days, she sat and fumed, with that slag of her sister of hers telling her that the thing to do was to get even with me?”
“Do you really believe that Katie went out and found a man to sleep with before you returned to the UK? Is that really why you really...” yet again Dee Cartwright checked herself mid-sentence; but as before, I didn’t really notice, because she went on, “went ahead with the divorce?”
“Delia, Katie’s sister, and her bleeding mother, are two of the biggest slag’s in the whole wide world. I’m damn sure they had her really wound-up. I have no idea what Katie is capable of, or could have done in those four days. But I know that there had to be a reason behind that little pantomime she put on for me that Saturday evening. I had it figured, that evening if she hadn’t got herself laid that particular night. Katie ran a little re-enactment to make sure I knew what she’d done, most probably because I’d missed the main event while I was abroad.” At this point in the conversation I noticed that Jaz have apparently finished dishing out the food ashore and was heading our way with my lunch. I thought it the perfect opportunity to bring an end the confrontation.
“Anyway your lunch is ready Mrs Cartwright, you’d better go and eat it, or Jasmine will get upset.”
Delia Cartwright didn’t immediately react to my suggestion; for a few seconds - other than stealing a quick glance in the direction of the beach - she acted as if she hadn’t heard me.
“You’re talking in the past tense Owen. Does that mean you’ve changed your opinion about what you think Kate might have done?”
“No, it doesn’t Mrs Cartwright. It means that it all happened a very long time ago and I’ve learnt to accept the cards life has dealt me. There’s nothing that I can do now, that will change anything that happened back then! So I get on with my life here and try to forget the past; and what used to be!”
Dee didn’t reply in words, she stood up and stared at me for a few seconds after taking another quick glance at the rapidly approaching Jaz. It was obvious that Dee had more to say, but she was wondering whether she had the time to say it before Jaz arrived.
Then she sighed, stepped up onto the jetty, took another look back at me with a “This isn’t over!” expression on her face, and began to walk back to the shore; giving a pleasant “Hi!” to Jaz as the two women passed each other.
“That was some ding-dong; we could hear you from the beach; what was it about?” Jaz asked as she passed me my lunch.
“Nothing that should concern you Jasmine; I’ll ask you to remain out of it, please?” I replied.
“Okay Tom, but Donny and me worry about you, you know.”
“Well don’t! I’m old enough to be your father and if you stick your nose in where its not wanted, I’ll happily put you over my knee and spank that sexy little arse of yours for you. Something I would suggest your father never did do enough of.” I replied jokingly.
Promises, promises, that’s all I ever get from you.” Jasmine grinned back at me. “Besides I’ve never even seen my dad ... that I can remember anyway. He went to England years ago and mother’s heard nothing of him since.”
“Then I doubt you’ve ever had a good spanking like all young women deserve. Now go eat your lunch and leave me in peace, please.” I replied.
“Shame you never put Katie over your knee and taught her some manners before she did something stupid.” I thought to myself.
As I ate, I watched Delia Cartwright fall into conversation with her husband, and I noted that they moved away from the others as they spoke; but both of them kept glancing in my direction. It soon became apparent that their conversation became a little heated. Even with his tan, I could see that Bill Cartwright’s complexion took on a somewhat redder hue and there was a certain amount of arm - or rather hand - waving going on.
Then quite suddenly Bill Cartwright stood up and started to walk towards Cassandra, but Delia chased after him and called him back to where they’d been sitting and they fell into conversation again but this time with their backs to me.
I was watching them out of the corner of my eye whilst I ate my meal; but I was also thinking about what Delia Cartwright had inadvertently told me. Well, not I so many words, more in the way she’d referred to Jean and Jennifer Rose.