Pre-emption by Denham_Forrest,Denham_Forrest

Thanks to LadyCibelle and my friend SH for sorting my foul-ups and editing for me. This tale has been slightly modified from its original 2008 posting to move the language firmly back into British English.

All Denham Forrest and The Wanderer stories are copyright and must not be posted elsewhere on the internet or distributed in printed form without the written permission of TWT and/or the author.


“Something really weird happened today Kevin.” Trudy my wife of eighteen years said to me as we were eating dinner one evening.

“What was it mum?” Cassie, our thirteen-year-old daughter asked, before I had time to react myself.

I’d stopped eating and was sitting there looking at Trudy with an expression of concerned interest on my face.

“Some young man took my picture as we came out of the restaurant at lunch time today!” Trudy informed us.

“Did he? I suppose you can’t blame the bugger, you’re a very good looking woman and you dress very… er.” I had to think of the correct word because Cassie was sitting there with us. “Smartly when you go to the office; even more so in the last few months.” I replied nonchalantly and went back to eating my meal.

“Well I like to look my best at the office. But don’t you think it odd that he would just take my picture in the street like that?”

“Not especially Trudy. Think about it, the bloke was probably a paparazzi or something and he thought that a woman as good looking as you, strolling around during the day dressed up like you always are… Well then, you must be a celebrity or something.” I suggested.

“Oh, don’t be silly.”

“Trudy, you’ve got an almost perfect figure for a woman your age, your dress and make-up are always immaculate; of course people are going to think you’re someone special. We do, don’t we Cass?”

“Sure do mum, you’re the best looking mum at our school. All my friends are jealous of me for having such a beautiful mother.” Cassie chimed in.

“Oh now, you’re both flattering me.” Trudy said turning a little pink in the face with embarrassment.

“Nonsense Trudy, you’re one very desirable looking lady. I’ll bet all the men in your office drool over you all day. Especially that John Ryan geezer.”

“John Ryan, why should you single him out all of a sudden?” Trudy asked, having turned – what I considered – beetroot red at the sound of Ryan’s name; but probably only slightly pinker that she had been.

“Oh come on Trudy, everybody in town knows about that bugger.” I took a quick glance in Cassie’s direction, I hadn’t meant to call him a bugger in her presence; but sometimes emotion gets the better of you. “Crikey the blokes reputation goes before him.”

“What reputation?”

“Trudy, Ryan’s a ladies man, a wolf! You know, the b… guy’s got more notches on his belt than any other bloke in town.”

“He has; how would you know? You’ve never even met the man.”

“Don’t have to have met the bu… man personally to know of his reputation. Besides, the little snot went to the same school as I did, different year group though. He’s had a whole string of conquests and he ain’t too shy about bragging about them down the pub either. You know, if I didn’t trust you so implicitly I’d be worried about you working in the same company as him.”

Trudy suddenly went unaccustomedly quite. I really believe that if Cassie hadn’t left the TV on in the lounge we would have been able to hear the cogs churning around in Trudy’s brain.


In a way I’d known about John Ryan’s reputation for years, and to be perfectly frank with you I had had some reservations when Trudy went to work for the same company that he worked in, five years previous. But as they supposedly worked in completely different departments, I’d relaxed a little after a while.

Besides Trudy was my wife and she loved me, didn’t she, she was telling me so all the time; so what the hell did I have to worry about?

But then again, when your wife is as attractive as Trudy there’s always the chance that some handsome bugger might turn her head. And to be totally honest I was pushing forty and although I do keep myself fit, I was showing that I was well past my sell-by date no matter what tricks I tried to pull to turn back the clock.

I thought I’d played a pretty good game actually. I anonymously and unexpectedly sent Trudy flowers at her office, on a random but regular basis. Sent her suggestive joke emails and cards — supposedly — anonymously arranging clandestine meetings for dinner — mind I believe she always knew they were from me, because I’d have to have already booked the babysitter. But you get the general idea; I played the silly-bugger loving husband like a teenage kid, so that Trudy — or anyone else for that matter – would think that I wasn’t getting as old as I really felt.

I won’t go into our sex life here but take it from me it was as regular and energetic as it had ever been; of that I can assure you.

But a few weeks before this particular evening an old school friend of mine – who I hadn’t heard from in donkey’s years – but I was to discover also worked for the same company as Trudy, called me one day out of the blue at my office. I never have discovered how Mark knew where I worked; hearsay I suppose.

“How you going Kevin mate, its Mark, Mark Willoughby, long time no see!”

“Jesus Mark, where the hell did you spring from? I haven’t seen you in…”

“More years that we both care to remember Kevin. But I’ve seen you a few times when you pick Trudy up from the office.”

“What, you work at Sangster’s with Trudy?”

“Not exactly Kevin, I’m in a different department completely, personnel; but I’ve seen you down in the car park from my office window.”

“Ah, nothing much to do but ogle to women, I suppose?”

“You could say that, we’ve got some real lookers on the payroll at present. The thing is Kevin… your wife’s one of them.”

“I’m not sure that I like the way you say that, Mark!”

“Calm down Kevin, don’t go getting excited, it might be nothing. But you being an old mate and all, I just thought I should tip you the wink. Can you meet me at lunchtime in the Feathers?”


“What’s yours?” Mark asked as I joined him at the bar.

“Best please. Now what’s this all about, Mark?” I demanded, probably a little harshly.

“Calm down Kevin, it might be nothing at all. It’s just that… Shit look, if I don’t say something and… Well, I’d bloody-well never forgive myself to start with. Look let’s go find a quiet spot out in the garden where no one can overhear us.” Mark said looking around as if he was expecting somebody to be watching us.

Out in the sun, I followed Mark to a table well clear of any other that were in use.

“Look Kevin, for all I know she could well tell the bugger where to go, but I’ve watched the prick for years and I know his M.O. What’s more he’s very good at what he does.”

“Mark who the fuck are you talking about here and what in effing hell does he do?”

“John Ryan, have you ever come across the bugger?”

“Yeah, oh of course. Randy Ryan from school.”

“Yeah, that’s the bugger. Well he’s married now and works in our sales division.”

“Yeah I know, so what’s he got to do with Trudy?” I asked suspiciously.

“Hold up Kev, maybe nothing; I’m working on a hunch here. Look Ryan’s always fancied himself as a bit of a stud, you must remember that.”

“More than remember Mark, I was a little reticent about the idea of Trudy working for the same company as he did. But I found out that he was in sales and Trudy works in the buying office. From what I’ve heard, nether the twain shall meet.”

“Dead right there mate; different divisions entirely and rather a lot of animosity between the two of them as well. But in personnel, I see and hear things.

“I’ve kept an eye on Ryan because the little shit nicked my girl once, back when we were in college; never liked the bugger since. Anyway once he got married he calmed down for a few years, as far as I know he toed the line, if you know what I mean. He was always full of it with the girls around the place, but I don’t know he’s stepped out of line with any of them, that I can prove.”

“Then about four or five years ago, I noticed that he was spending a lot of time in the advertising department. The next thing you know he’s joining the girl’s from there at lunch times. You know how it is with the girls’; they team-up together to go out shopping, to the café or the pub. Well, suddenly John Ryan’s tagging along.

“Took me a long time to work out that whenever Ryan went with them, one particular woman was always with the group. Didn’t matter where they went, half the time I have no idea where they went anyway, I only saw them leave and return. But one thing I could be sure of was that Ryan would be with the crowd that this particular woman was with. Not that I ever saw anything untoward happening.”

“So what does that prove?”

“Absolutely nothing and that’s my problem, or as personnel manager I could do something about it; I’d love to be able to fire Ryan just for the kick of it.

“But then some months later when I’m looking through the staff attendance records, just by chance of course!” Mark winked at me, “I discover that, by an extremely unlikely coincidence Ryan and this particular woman both have the same afternoons off for dental and doctors’ appointments etc.”

“A bit circumstantial isn’t it; who was this woman?”

“No one you know Kevin and she doesn’t work for the company anymore; she moved away shortly after she got divorced. And what’s more those coincidental appointments happened once or twice month right up until she left the company.”

“So you reckon…?”

“I don’t reckon anything Kevin, because I can’t prove anything. The woman’s old man never sued the company or anything, didn’t even lodge a complaint. I’m just working on the balance of probabilities.

“The point is about six months after that woman leaves, I noticed that John Ryan was suddenly paying calls on the service department. You know, the office where the girls’ who take the phone calls are. And yeah, it’s not very long before he’s going out to lunch with some of those girls. It took me a little longer to work out which one the second time, because they are a tight nit bunch in there.”

“Anyway when the woman in question started the afternoon appointment lark, I sent a memo round telling everybody that we in personnel were going to run a survey and would be requiring all staff to give full details of all medical appointments that required time off from work. I wrapped it up in a lot of shit about government statistical research etc. Anyway they apparently bought it, and both stopped the medical appointment game.

“But they must have been getting-it-on somewhere out of working hours though, because I’m pretty sure it went on for about a year, until the female in question went on maternity leave. Anyway then it was back to the Advertising department for Ryan.”

“You think he got the woman pregnant?”

“Haven’t the faintest idea Kevin. She’s still with her husband anyway. She never returned to the company though; works for a company out in the sticks somewhere now. But that don’t mean that Ryan isn’t still banging her on the quiet.

“Anyway I’m convinced he scored with some other silly tart from advertising and he was banging her for about eighteen months until she had an accident. Don’t know what happen, but she was knocked around pretty bad. Finished up leaving the company, as well and I know nothing much about her since; except for a couple of reference requests from outfits down Bristol way. Looks like she must have moved. Interesting that John Ryan was mugged around the same time as she had her accident though.”

“So you’re suggesting…”

“Nothing Kevin. But what would you do in her old man’s position?”

“Kick the bitch out!”

“Well, maybe her old man just knocked her about a bit and forgave her. Anyway that’s the background. What I needed to tell you about is, that John Ryan has been hanging around the buying department for the last few weeks. And if you don’t mind me saying, with your Trudy being the best looking woman in there, if not the whole damned company, then as an old mate I thought it was only fair to let you know the score.

“Look, I’m not saying that Trudy would do anything she shouldn’t. But John Ryan’s a very handsome bloke, he’s always had the gift of the gab and he’s a very patient man. I really think it would take a very special woman not to have him turn her head, even just the once. I don’t know exactly how he does it, but somehow he seems to get every woman he sets his sights on.”

“I’ll give you that, we all thought that Gina was really stuck on you at the time.” I said remembering the girl that John Ryan had stolen from Mark.

“Yeah goes to show, don’t it. You never can tell what’s going on in a woman’s mind even if you’ve known her for years.”

“Or you’re married to her, I assume you’re suggesting!”

“I’m suggesting nothing Kevin, I’m just giving you the background so you can take whatever pre-emptive action that you deem necessary.”

“Thanks Mark, I trust Trudy with my life. But only a fool doesn’t watch his own back.”

“If I spot anything more definite Kevin, I’ll let you know, and by the way I really hope I’m wrong. But if by any chance I’m not, do me a favour in return and make an official complaint to the company; then I can have the satisfaction of sacking the bugger and making sure his wife knows why.”


Not that I didn’t trust Trudy, but I thought it would be prudent to take some kind of pre-emptive action. After a lot of soul searching, the method I chose was the threat of publicity that nowadays bugs celebrities so much.

An old friend of mine teaches photography at a local technical college; I had a quiet word with him and he set some of his special students the task of getting a few candid shots of two particular people. Yeah well, those paparazzi buggers have to learn their trade somewhere.

They didn’t have to be suggestive pictures or anything, just candid shots of the two of them going about their normal daily lives, preferably in close proximity to each other. The sort of pictures that the paparazzi take of the rich and famous, all the time.

What’s more there was no reason for the students not to be seen taking the photographs, but they had been sworn to secrecy about why they were taking them. Well yeah, I did have to put up a good few bob in prize money for the best shots, but I figured it a small price to pay.

When I put the plan into operation I suppose I did ask myself, was it going to work? But I figured that if John Ryan were trying to get my Trudy into bed, then they’d both have to be insane to actually commit adultery when they never knew when the next little shit was going to pop up out of nowhere and snap a candid picture of them.


“You’re smiling, what do you find so funny about it. That young man just appeared out of nowhere and took a picture of me; I felt like I was being stalked.” Trudy finally said.

“Oh, don’t be so paranoid Trudy. He was probably a student from the college taking some candid pictures around town. They’re always about, haven’t you noticed them before today?” I replied.

“Yes I have, but this boy purposely took a picture of me!”

“And as I’ve said so many times, who could blame him; you are the most beautiful woman in town. What do you expect him to do?”

“You think he’d take my picture just because of my looks?”

“What other possible reason would he take it for Trudy? Unless you were doing something illicit and he was a private detective getting evidence for your boyfriend’s wife.” I laughed out loud as if it was a joke.

“But I wouldn’t…”

“Trudy that was a joke, I would never suggest you’d do anything like that!” I lied. “I’m sure the guy was a student from the college who was just struck by your natural beauty. Don’t worry about it.”

I won’t say Trudy looked convinced, but she let the subject drop after that.


“It was a girl this time!”

“Who was, what’d she do?” I replied, as if I didn’t know.

“Took my picture as I came out of the lobby of the office at lunch time! I tried to ask her why she took it, but she vanished into the crowd.”

“Coincidence Trudy.

“I don’t think so, she was waiting for me, I’m sure she was.”

“You’re getting paranoid Trudy. I’m sure they’re just students from the college I see them taking pictures around town all the time.”

“But they don’t single you out and take pictures of you!”

“Trudy I could hardly be considered anyone’s pin-up, but you always look immaculate. I’m not surprised they want to get you into their pictures. Think yourself lucky some of those youngsters will probably be taking pictures of the rich and famous in the near future. Can you really object to them practising by taking pictures of you?”


“They were in the White Hart today!”


“Those kids, taking pictures.”


“Well, there was a whole crowd of them taking pictures in the garden.”

“What of you?”

“No, not specifically. Of the pub itself; but we were sitting in the garden at the time. I know that we were in some of them.”

“Whose the we, we’re talking about here, Trudy?”

“You know, the girls from the office; we popped into the White Hart at lunch time for a drink because it was Sandra’s birthday.”

“Ah, secret boozing sessions during the day, eh?” I replied humorously

“Don’t be silly Kevin, you know we go for a little drink on our birthdays! Sometimes we all go out on the following Friday evening on to celebrate as well.”

“And are you all going for a piss-up this Friday with Sandra?”

“Well I was, but I don’t think I am now.”

“Why’s that?”

“Oh, just somebody who’s getting up my nose a little in the office. If they’re going to be there I think I’ll give it a miss.”

I didn’t bite and kept my mouth firmly closed, but to say this news was music to my ears would have been an understatement. I had to assume that ‘the somebody’ in question was John Ryan.

But then I got to thinking, cynical bugger that I am. What if you’ve just been dealt a ringer, my son. Was your loving wife getting suspicious that you were responsible for those students with cameras all over the place, and was she very carefully and cunningly covering her arse? Good question, eh?


Peter Phillips my college lecturer buddy called me at the office the following morning

“Kevin my old mate, I’d say something’s definitely cooking. Four of my students were at the White Heart yesterday lunchtime. We go there every year and take pictures of the whole place; you know, publicity stuff. The hotel manager gives us the run of the place and we supply all the pictures he’d ever need for his brochures and the like.”

“Anyway there was a crowd of women from Sangster’s out in the garden, somebody’s birthday of something; your Trudy was with them. Well a guy with them tackled one of the students. He wanted to know why she was taking pictures of him; no prizes for guessing who it was. Well, he tackled the wrong student, Sasha’s got a mouth on her and she told him he’d be bloody lucky. Why should she want to photograph an old fart like him; she’d been tasked with taking pictures of the hotel and if he happened to be in the garden that was her loss, not his.”

“What did he say to that?”

“Not much that he could say really, whilst he was talking to young Sasha one of the women from the Sangster party asked another student to take a group picture of all the girls together. Well the young lad was only too pleased to do so. Mind, Sasha did note that two of the party, a certain guy and your wife Trudy, didn’t sit in for the group picture; they seemed to be very camera shy.”

“Thanks Peter, how are the kids doing with the challenge?”

“Well we’ve got about a hundred candid shots already, how long do you want this game to go on for?”

Buggered if I know Pete, are they aware of every shot that’s been taken of them?”

“I doubt it, I told the kids that they needn’t hide, but not make it too blatantly obvious.”

“I’ll have to come by and see what you’ve got soon.”


“Those students are driving me to distraction, wherever I go there seems to be one or two of them taking pictures and I’m convinced they are singling me out.” Trudy said the moment I walked into the house that evening.

“Oh Yeah, I had a word with Peter Phillips this morning. I called him because you were getting all unnecessarily out of shape over it. It seems that they’ve got several projects going on. There’s a photographic tour of the town they are doing for the council tourist department, and another group is doing a study of local characters, I’ll bet that must be the group who’ve snapped your picture.”

“I’m not a local character!”

“Sweetheart you’re the best looking character in this town, take my word for it.”

“Am I being flattered?”

“No, it’s the truth and those youngsters have probably spotted it as well.”

“Well, I like to look nice.”

“Nice, you always look gorgeous my love. Anyway there’s another group who are doing some advertising type work, it was possibly them you saw in the White Hart yesterday.”


“You see, just coincidence. Peter said that he’ll look through them all and send you copies of any that you’re in, if you like.”

“What! No that wont’ be necessary. I was just being stupid Kevin. Please tell Peter not to bother.”

“Okay kiddo, I just thought you’d like to see them, that’s all.”

Yeah well, double bluff or what? Why should Trudy not want to see them, could it be that John Ryan would be in most of them with her and she didn’t want me to spot that. Maybe there was something in Mark’s original conclusion; perhaps I was too late.


Just after Friday lunchtime I received a call from Trudy at my office.

“Kevin, I’ve decided I am going to go to out with Sandra and the girls to celebrate her birthday this evening; do you mind?”

I did, but I couldn’t very well tell Trudy that, could I?

“No Kiddo, just don’t go overdoing the booze. Do you want me to pick you up later?”

“Well, it would be better than waiting for a cab. But Kevin, if we go on to a club later we might not want to come home until chucking-out time; you wouldn’t want to sit up until gone two in the morning.”

“What else am I supposed to do babe, go to bed and lie there worrying; it’s a dangerous world out there you know!”

“Oh don’t be silly there’s always plenty of police around outside the club and all the bouncers. There’s even a couple of security men at the taxi office at that time of night. I’ll be fine, you go to bed and I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Okay, if you insist babe, see you when you get home and don’t go doing anything your grandmother wouldn’t like you doing.”

“You never did get to meet my grandmother, did you Kevin?”

“No, but I hear your mother was quite a girl in her time, you just behave yourself.”

“As if I wouldn’t! See you later darling.”

Yeah well, I weren’t happy, but there was sod all I really could do about it. I’d have to rely on Peter’s students and their cameras to let me know what happened that night and hopefully their presence would stop things from getting out of hand.

I was sure they’d be around town, that cash prize was too much for them to miss. And in the club, well two of Peter’s students moonlighted there every Friday and Saturday night; they wandered around snapping pictures of the clubbers, which could be bought for inordinate prices.

Although that wasn’t the real reason they were there or that the club set up the printing room for them. They got far better pictures of the clubbers than the security cameras did, and anyone who got themselves banned from the club would find their picture displayed on the wall beside the doorman.


It was with some surprise that I heard the front door open at around half ten that evening and shortly Trudy came into the lounge.

“You’re early love, nothing wrong I hope?” I asked.

“No I’m fine, I just wasn’t enjoying myself, so I decided to come home to my husband and keep him from feeling lonely.”

“That’s kind of you, but I hope that doesn’t mean I have to cut my evenings short when I’m out with the lads?”

“Do I ever curtail your fun?”

“No, but I wouldn’t like to think that you cut your evening short on my behalf.”

“Well to be honest there was someone there who was getting on my nerves, so I decided to come home early.”

“Now we get to the truth of the matter. Who was it; one of the girls you’ve fell-out with at the office?”

“Oh, no one important, I can handle it. Anyway is Cassie in bed?”

“Yeah, sound asleep.”

“How about you and me having an early night then?”

“Sounds like a plan, but I wouldn’t exactly call it early.”

“Oh give over stupid, come on you know what I’m after.”

“Hmm, perhaps you should go drinking with the girls more often?”

That was one long night I can assure you. But I was curious as to what had happened, but I’m afraid Trudy was keeping very tight-lipped about the evening.


Monday morning I received a call from Mark Willoughby around eleven o’clock.

“Hey Kev, I’ve just had the satisfying task of suspending John Ryan!”

“You have, why; what’s the bugger been up to?”

“Jesus, didn’t she tell you? I would have thought Trudy would have told you by now!”

“No, she hasn’t said a word.”

“Well, would you believe sexual harassment of a fellow employee and because she hasn’t told you, I’ll only give you only one guess as to who’s the complainant.”


“Yes, she’s stitched the bugger up good and proper, got evidence, several witnesses and everything. He ain’t going to walk on this one.”

“Strange, I wonder why she never told me about it?”

“She didn’t?”

“No, Trudy went out with the girls from her office Friday but she came home early and said something about someone getting on her nerves. But she wouldn’t enlarge on who.”

“Whoa, she didn’t tell you about Friday night at the club then?”

“No, why, what happened?”

“Well according to this statement I’ve got here. Friday night John Ryan invited himself along on a girl’s night out, one of the girl’s in the office birthday or something. Anyway apparently, as I suspected, he’s been giving Trudy the old sob story for some weeks now; she tried to be nice about it but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I think he probably mistook Trudy being polite, as a kind of come on. Anyway Friday night he overstepped the mark and your Trudy laid him out in the Starlight Club.”

“You’re kidding me?”

“No, got it all on a video tape from the club’s security camera right here as well, showing how Ryan got a little too familiar with her on the dance floor.”

“What did he do?”

“I’m not too sure, the floor looked pretty crowded, but Trudy and Sandra referred to it as kissing. I think that saved Trudy from saying that the bugger tried to grope her.

“Apparently Trudy took him right out with an uppercut and then she kicked him in the short-an’-curlies. The bouncers had to pull her off the bugger or she might have done him some real permanent damage.”

“Oh my, what happens now?”

“Ryan’s suspended as of this morning and this lot goes up-stairs after lunch. I should imagine Ryan will be out of a job within the week. Them up-stairs are paranoid about sexual harassment in the work place.”

“But if this happened in the nightclub…?”

“Yeah, but Ryan’s been trying to chat Trudy up in the office, I’ve got a whole collection of explicit emails he’s sent her. And remember, he’s a supervisor in sales, that means that technically he’s Trudy’s superior; consequently he’s guaranteed to get his marching orders.”


This was an interesting turn of events, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand why Trudy had said nothing to me about the situation. Surely she should have confided in me. I resolved that sometime very soon I’d have to challenge her on the subject.

I thought that that evening was out because we were having dinner with a group of friends. Cassie came along because they all had children about the same age. It was nothing formal or anything just a meal in one of the local pubs; something we’d got into the habit of doing once every two or three weeks or so.

But well, sometimes life goes it’s own sweet way and there’s sod-all we can do about it. After eating we’d gone out to drink coffee etc. in the garden and the children went off to play on the swings and things they had out there. We hadn’t been seated in the garden for more than a couple of minutes when one of the wives said to Trudy.

“So True, how long have you had boxing as a hobby?” I think everyone turned and looked at the woman, wondering what she was talking about. “Oh, I heard in the office today that Trudy laid some bloke out in the Starlight on Friday evening; took him out with one punch so the story goes. Come-on True spill the beans, what happened?”

The question was answered by what I believe could be called a pregnant pause. Trudy’s mouth was opening and closing as if she wanted to say something, but she was looking around at everyone but me, almost begging someone to say something so that she didn’t have to reply.

“So Kevin how’d your round go yesterday; did you get as wet as we did?” One of the fellows suddenly asked me, in a clumsy attempt to change the subject. It was his wife who asked the question and she was suddenly looking as embarrassed as Trudy was.

I can’t help it if I’m a gentleman by nature, so as obviously Trudy didn’t wish to reply, I fell into conversation with the guy about the previous morning’s downpour on the golf course. He used a different course, but we tee’d off around the same time most Sunday mornings.

The short trip home in the car from the pub was made in absolute silence. Cassie soon picked up on the kind of atmosphere that you could cut with a knife that was prevailing in the car; so she remained silent as well and promptly disappeared to her room almost the instant we entered the house.

“So?” I asked, as soon as we were alone.

“So what?” Trudy replied defensively.

“Trudy, what the hell has been going on? I knew something was wrong when you came home early last Friday. First you weren’t going, then you were and then your back here before the clubs even had a chance to get going. Now Gloria says you thumped some bloke at the club. Now please explain?”

Trudy led the way into the kitchen and sat at the table. I took this as an invite to take a seat opposite her.

“Kevin, I did some things that were incredibly naive and they came back and bit me.” She finally said after staring at the table for some considerable time.

“Oh my god what’s she about to confess?” I asked myself. “Oh shit after all the shouting I’ve done in the past about cheating partners; am I now going to have to put my foot where my mouth has been so many times.” Were the thoughts racing through my brain.

You know it’s really surprising how fast the brain can work through all the different scenarios. There was I picturing Trudy and I divorced, and me picking up a very unhappy Cassie to take her out. Then just as quickly the picture was reversed, I was at home with Cassie and Trudy and some real flash looking bloke was picking my Trudy up to take her out somewhere. What’s more Cassie even looked pleased to see the guy.

To be perfectly honest even after my suspicions I was shitting myself, not really wanting to hear what Trudy was about to say. Her word could well mean that the comfortable happy life I’d got so used to living could well be on it’s way down the drain.

“About a year or so ago I started getting, very flattering emails at the office.” Suddenly I realised that Trudy was talking again. “They were nothing new, you told me yourself that I was good looking and to be honest a lot of the lads send me slightly suggestive emails and little notes. They’re just a little fun and serve to break up the monotony of the job.

“However these specific emails were slightly different to the joke ones from the lads or yourself. For a start I had no idea who they were from, the address was at hotmail so they could have come from anybody, even you. You know, for a while I did think they might have been from you because they were so… I don’t know, affectionate!”

“Anyway like a complete idiot, I replied to one of them asking who he was. But he wouldn’t say. He just sent more complimenting me on my appearance and dress on any particular day. I just briefly wrote back thanking him for the compliment, actually that’s when I thought they were from you; he used the same kind of language you use when you compliment me.”

“I’ve never sent you emails under a fictitious name Trudy, what name did he use?”

“Your greatest admirer in the world!”

“Jesus that’s a bleeding mouthful.”

“And the same phrase that you used on that great big valentines card you sent to my office last year when you were away. You remember, the one accompanied by all those roses?”

“Oh bugger yeah.”

“Well it seems my secret admirer must have seen that card in the office somewhere, but the point was nearly everybody knew about it; the girls were shocked at the extravagance. Eventually I realised that it wasn’t you messing about, but then I had this bee in my bonnet about finding out who he was. So I kept replying to his emails figuring that eventually he’d slip-up.”

“Why didn’t you tell me about these emails?”

“Oh yeah and how would I have done that? Hi darling I’ve been writing to this bloke who I thought was you messing around and it turns out that it isn’t. Especially after what was said in some of them.”

I suppose it’s only fair at this time for me to admit to the reader, that for years I had been in the habit of sending Trudy suggestive emails at work; especially when I was away on company business. And I suppose I’d better add that when I say suggestive I mean really suggestive, spelling out in detail what was going to happen when I returned, ‘nough said!

“Oh, what was that?”

“Please don’t ask, just remember that I thought it was you messing around again.”

“Oh, that bad?”

“And the rest! Until I realised that it wasn’t you that is; I can promise you I’ve been very chaste since I realised that. I just wanted to know who he was.”

“Do you know now?”

“Yeah, I practiced my left hook on him Friday night.”

“I thought they said you gave him an uppercut.”

“Is there a difference, look I just punched the bugger as hard as I could… hey hang on a minute, what the hell do you know about Friday night?”

“Mark Willoughby and I went to school together Trudy. He called me this morning.”

“Ah, so you know it all anyway.”

“No, I don’t know what the connection is between those emails and what happened on Friday night. Except that you’re getting John Ryan fired.”

“Well as I said the emails have been going on for a year. He did get pretty suggestive on occasions, but I tried to ignore those bits after I worked out that you weren’t sending them. I really wanted to know who the sender was and how he knew so much about me, and us really; it was his knowledge of our private time together etc. that made me believe that it was you in the first place. But then I did something even more stupid.”

Oh no what was Trudy going to admit to now, I thought. Well to be honest some rather suggestive emails circulated in my own office on occasions, I’d have to be a complete hypocrite not to over look the ones Trudy had admitted she sent. I also thought that I could understand her curiosity about who had sent them; I’d seen the same scenario before. But I know that it was usually the company wolves that played that little game.

“I really didn’t draw any comparison between those emails when John Ryan started to stick his nose into our office every couple of days. He gave us some bull about the infamous animosity that existed between Sales and Purchasing. And he claimed that he wanted to pour oil on troubled waters. Actually he did calm things down a hell of lot. You know, Sales were always complaining that we were buying too expensively, not that us girls could do much about that; that’s nearly always down to the negotiators.

“Anyway he started popping in almost every day and it took a long time before I realised that he spent rather a lot of time at my desk talking to me. One of the other girls noticed actually and then they all said that John…. Well they said that he had the hot’s for me.”

“I see, so what did you do about that? You never mentioned it to me.”

“Kevin, I know it was a long time ago, but do you remember what happened the last time I told you that someone was trying to chat me up?”

“Oh well come on, we were young then and we hadn’t been married all that long.”

“And we had to traipse the streets of Benidorm at eleven o’clock at night looking for another hotel.”

“Oh well, I never meant to hit him that hard!”

“But he turned out to be the hotel owner’s son, didn’t he? So we got our marching orders.”

“Yeah well Trudy, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. Damn, who said that, was it John Wayne?” I said trying to make light of the incident.

“I don’t know and I don’t care, but I had no intention of seeing my husband in court and possibly losing my job just because John Ryan fancied his chances. I knew I could handle him anyway.”

“Yeah so I gather from what happened on Friday night.”

“I’ll come to that later, the silly sod let the cat out of the bag on the dance floor and I just overreacted.”

“What did he say?”

“In a minute Kevin, let’s take this all in order, if I may. Once I realise that John was trying the old come on. Well I was polite and told him no, in no uncertain terms. But his reaction was to come-on heavier and then one of the other girls told me that she thought he’d pressured a girl in Advertising into going to bed with him.”

“Well I thought, right mate, you’re the sort to play dirty then I’ll beat you at your own game. But I needed the sod to proposition me in the office and I needed evidence that he had.”

“So what did you do?”

“Well, you remember that little voice recorder of yours that you thought you’d lost?”

“Yeah, I bought a new one.”

“Well you didn’t loose it, I borrowed it; but I couldn’t tell you what for, for obvious reasons. You left it in the desk draw, I thought it was just a toy and you hardly used it. But you spotted it was missing after just a couple of days.”

“Ah well, I like to play with my toys.”

“Yeah anyway, I’d been trying to catch the sod out and get a recording of him making me some kind of an indecent proposal for weeks, but then… Hold up a minute; you said Mark was an old friend of yours, and Peter Philips and you play golf together sometimes. Those bloody students with the cameras were all down to you, weren’t they?”

“I was just watching that some more of my property didn’t get stolen.” I was forced to admit.

“I should brain you, but it’s nice to know you cared. You realise that John Ryan thought his wife was behind them don’t you. Brought a complete halt to any chance I had of catching him out in the office, he turned almost paranoid.”

“So what happened on Friday night then?”



“Well, do you remember a certain trip a couple of years ago when you were away for a fortnight and I came up to spend the weekend with you.”


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“Er, yeah, I think so. Which one?”

Trudy sighed, as if telling me that the weekend should have been engraved on my memory.

“The certain weekend where you went out to get some strawberries and cream, but all you could find were fresh Raspberries.”

“Oh yeah, well they probably weren’t as romantic as strawberries but they were very fresh.”

“And for a long time after that you mentioned raspberries in your emails whenever you were away and I was coming up for the weekend.”

“I’m not sure I can understand where you’re going here, Trudy?”

“To Friday night, Kevin. John Ryan turned up unexpectedly and had a couple more drinks than he should have. He asked me to dance, but on the dance floor the bastard said something about having seen some raspberries in a shop somewhere and that we could nip off to have some fun later.”

“So why should you thump him over that, I thought your plan was to record him?”

“Kevin, the usual menu is strawberries and cream. The only way Ryan could have known about that night you substituted raspberries was if he’d read our private emails. When I realised that, I got really angry and thumped the bugger.”

“It turns out from what Mark told me this afternoon that John Ryan’s laptop had a list of nearly everybody in the company’s system and email passwords on it. The bugger has been reading everybody’s mail; especially mine. Oh, and Mark and the computer wallah invited me to watch whilst they deleted all the emails of ours that John Ryan had saved on his machine this afternoon.”

“Oops, some of those I wrote to you were pretty near the mark.”

“Don’t tell me I was blushing like hell all the time, I have no idea if that computer lad actually read any that I sent to you, or Ryan when I thought he was you messing around. Anyway he ran some special program and assured me that they can never be recovered again. Regretfully they’ve had to hang on to the emails Ryan sent me and my replies, in case they need them for evidence.”

I’m not sure how long I sat there, going over all the information Trudy had given me in my mind.

Well to be honest, maybe I was wondering where I could get hold of some fresh strawberries at that time of night?

Life goes on.

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