A Note & a LetterbyMoondrift©
Glen stared down at the note in his hand then looked at the envelope it had arrived in. It had been placed on the desk in his consulting room by one of the receptionists, along with the usual pile of mail – drug companies telling him of the wonder pills they had invented, reports from consultants he had referred patients to, news letters from medical organizations, all the usual daily paraphernalia that came across a doctor's desk.
He glanced at the envelope again; it bore no stamp and was simply addressed in crudely printed letters, "Dr. Glen Moore." It looked as if a child had written it.
The note itself was made up of letters cut out of a newspaper or magazine, and they read, "Why don't you ask what your wife does when you're not at home?"
He held it between his forefinger and thumb as if it was some unpleasant polluted object; some foul thing that might infect him.
After gazing at it for a few moments he took the envelope out to reception and asked Pat, one of the receptionists, "Any idea where this came from?"
Pat looked at it and said, "It didn't come with the regular post, it was stuffed under the door this morning when we arrived, Jenny" – she indicated one of the other receptionists – "found it. Is there anything wrong?"
He shook his head and went back to his consulting room. The first patients of the day were arriving and his colleagues were already at work with those who had come to consult them. His own first patient was there in the waiting room.
He looked again at the note and muttered dismissively; "Some malicious scandalmonger trying to cause trouble," then screwing it up threw it into the wastepaper basket, and went to greet his patient.
As any gossipmonger and propagandist knows, one has often only to inject a little poison into a situation to have the malevolence take effect and then grow and increasingly infect the victim or victims.
Throughout the morning, as Glen attended to his patients, his mind kept wandering back to the note lying in his wastepaper basket. Its influence was working even though Glen would have denied it.
Its implication was that his wife, Rosemary, was doing something he ought to know about while he wasn't around, probably something sexual. He was dismissive of this, telling himself it was ridiculous to even contemplate such a possibility. She had been his wife, lover and friend for almost ten years, and although she was attractive and therefore drew the attentions of men, he had never for a moment suspected that these attentions were anything other than that.
He had first got to know Rosemary when he had seen her at a party soon after he had qualified. She was surrounded by young men, and he could see why. She was lively and good to look at, and although he was attracted by her he was far too shy to approach her. His problem was that he had concentrated so hard and for so many years on his studies that with one exception he had found little time to get to get to know girls.
In the end it was Rosemary who later in the evening had approached him and said, "You look a bit left out, aren't you enjoying the party?"
He had tried to explain that he really didn't like large gatherings and preferred small groups, because you could engage in some intelligent conversation, instead of the loud voices and superficial chatter of parties. Rosemary had laughed and said, "In that case, let's go into the garden and have an ‘intelligent conversation'."
They had sat on a garden seat for a long time getting to know each other, and he had learned that she was an artist; one of the hopefuls who, as she laughing said, "Will be famous after we're dead."
Most of the guests had left by the time they had come back into the house. They said goodnight to their host and hostess and left together. Then Glen had managed to scrape up enough courage to ask Rosemary to have dinner with him later in the week, and much to his amazement she has said, "Yes."
After that it was Rosemary who really took the lead, inviting this shy young man into her bed, and although she never actually asked him to marry her, she seemed to lay the ground for him to ask. On the day they married he still could hardly believe he had won such a lovely girl.
In the ten years of their marriage he had found little cause for complaint. They each had their professions, but Rosemary had her studio in their house, and had made no objection to running the house as well as doing her work. Glen had often told himself and others he was an extremely fortunate man.
The one blot on the horizon of their happiness was their inability to produce a child. Why this was so was a mystery because one of Glen's colleagues, Trish, had carried out tests on them only to find there was no apparent reason why Rosemary could not get pregnant. In fact they were at the moment talking about the IVF programme, but nothing had yet been decided.
When lunch time came he took the note out of the wastepaper basket and sat looking at it. He knew quite well he should throw it away again, but the poison was working. He first of all tried to remember if he or Rosemary had offended anyone to the point where they would send such a note as an act of revenge. He could think of no one.
Then he started to review his marriage; had anything changed lately? Were there any signs of a cooling off between him and Rosemary, any hint that all was not well? Again he could think of nothing.
This time he did not throw the note away, instead he thrust it into his pocket. During the afternoon consultations he found he was not concentrating properly on what his patients were telling him which was most unusual for him.
Over the following days he tried to push thoughts of the note and its implications out of his head, nevertheless the note was still in his jacket pocket. He seemed to catch himself almost unawares looking at Rosemary, trying to detect anything that might suggest all was not well.
The contents of the note had made no direct accusation; "Why don't you ask what your wife does when you're not at home?" it read, yet it seemed to him clear that it implied Rosemary was up to something deceitful in his absence.
It was as if he had swallowed a parasite that was starting to eat away inside him and as the days passed it ate deeper and deeper. The words seemed to haunt him and several times he came near to confronting Rosemary, but he held back thinking that no matter how he put the question it would sound as if he was accusing her of something.
As lovers they had always been frequent and ardent in their coupling, but now Glen found himself holding back from Rosemary, thinking what he had always believed was the unthinkable; was there perhaps someone else? Was another man's penis making free with her vagina?
Unable to open the matter with Rosemary, Glen realised he had to talk with someone. Of all the people he knew the one he felt he could trust the most was his colleague Trish. She was the one girl in all the years of his studies that he had got to know. They had studied and qualified together, and by pure chance both had started working in the same practice.
After evening surgery he went to her room and asked if she had time for a talk. She readily agreed and he sat down with her. Without saying a word he took out the note and handed it to her.
She studied it for a few moments, and then asked, "Have you got any reason to suspect Rosemary is getting up to something behind your back?"
"Apart from the note, no."
"You haven't noticed anything…anything different about your relationship?"
"No, except that…" he hesitated."
"Except what, Glen?"
"I'm…er…I'm finding it difficult to…er…make love with Rosemary."
Trish looked at him keenly the said, "This note really has got to you."
This irritated Glen and he snapped, "Why else do you think I'm talking about it with you?"
"You're not talking to me about the note."
"Of course I am."
"No, you've shown me the note, but haven't said a word about what you think it might mean."
"It's obvious isn't it?"
"Is it? Then tell me what's obvious."
"Well, it's suggesting that Rosemary is…is…"
"Say it like you're thinking it, Glen."
"Is fucking with someone else."
"So that's how you interpret it?"
"Is there any other way?"
"On the face of it probably not."
Then Trish seemed to go off at a tangent. "You've always wanted to have children." It was not a question but a statement.
"You know we have."
"Why haven't you got any then?"
"Well because…because…I don't know."
"We both know there's no physical reason why Rosemary can't get pregnant."
"Are you suggesting there's another reason?"
"Yes, I am suggesting there might be another reason."
Trish seemed to go off on another tangent. "I don't know if you're aware of it, and if you're not I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I happen to know that Rosemary has been seeing a doctor in the Parkside group practice."
Glen was amazed by this revelation; "But that's ridiculous, you've been her doctor since we got married."
"So you didn't know?"
"Of course not."
Trish switched back to the subject of the note. "Look, Glen, this thing is eating away at you. You've got to talk to Rosemary about it; if you let it run on it's not going to get better, only worse."
"How can I go to Rosemary with that piece of filth and ask, "Is there anything I should know, darling? It will be as good as accusing her of something."
"Glen, I don't know if you're trying to fool me or yourself, but whether you admit it or not, and without any solid proof you can come up with, the suspicion is there."
"I can't front Rosemary about it."
"All right, Glen, then I can't help you any more. You either get it out in the open with Rosemary or learn to live with suspicion and hope it will go away eventually."
"I'll think about it."
"You do that Glen. You're a bloody good bloke and a bloody good doctor, and I don't want to see either of those things spoiled, which they will be if you let this matter run on."
He rose, and repeating, "I'll think about it," thanked her, kissed her on the cheek, and left.
He did think about it; he couldn't help thinking about it no matter how he tried to repress the thoughts. The note and its contents were beginning to fill his whole mental horizon.
Rosemary, noticing the fall off in his libido and how morose he had become, asked him if anything was wrong. This was an opportunity to bring the matter out with her, but he still avoided it, muttering something about a heavy workload.
The crisis came when of all times he was on his way to indulge in one of his hobbies, bird watching. He had Tuesdays off from work and as he frequently did on those days, he was driving to the hills and the birds. He had reached the beginning of a hills track and just got out of his car, when something seemed to explode in his head.
"I can't bloody well deal this any longer," he said out loud, then thought, "I've got to front her; I've got to know…to get at the truth."
He got back into his car and began the drive home. He felt sick and there was a buzzing noise in his ears. When he was just one street away from his house he noticed a car he recognised. "I wonder what Alan is doing over here at this time of day?"
Alan was one of the local bank managers; he and his wife Stephanie were friends of Rosemary and himself.
He pulled into the drive and let himself in through the front door. He expected Rosemary to be working in her studio, but as he approached it he heard a sudden scuffling and whispering from their bedroom.
Wondering if Rosemary had been taken ill and someone was there with her he entered the bedroom. That there had been someone with her was obvious at a glance. Rosemary was all but naked and was struggling to get a pair of panties on. On the floor lay a pair of men's socks and the curtains over an open window were billowing lightly in the breeze.
There was a shocked silence for nearly a minute. They stood staring at each other; Rosemary's face was white and she was trembling; Glen could smell the distinctive fishy odour of sex.
He felt a cold calm take hold of him and he said, "When you've finished dressing we'll talk," and picking up the socks he went on, "I'll give Alan back his socks when I see him."
He went into the lounge and waited his face white and tense. At that moment he seemed to have no feelings; it was as if his emotions had gone into deep freeze.
After about five minutes Rosemary came in. She had dressed and looked defensively truculent.
"I fancied him."
"You fancied him! Married yourself and him a married man and you just fancied him?"
"I know it happens and has happened, I want to know why. Are you going to go off with him?"
"Don't be so bloody stupid; we were just having a…a…a…"
"A bit on the side."
"If you must put it like that."
"Is there another way?"
"Don't be so bloody pompous."
"Did he use a condom…did you consider you might get pregnant to him?"
"Of course I thought about getting pregnant, I'm not an idiot."
"No, just a…" Glen was about to say slut but instead said, "An adulteress."
"Oh my God we are being medieval. What are you going to do, burn me at the stake?"
"So he did wear a condom?"
Rosemary made no answer.
"What did he do, run off still wearing it?"
"He didn't wear one, did he?"
"What were you going to do if you got pregnant with him, tell me the baby was mine?"
"I can't get pregnant, you know that."
"I know no such thing. As we've both been told, there's no reason why you shouldn't get pregnant."
"Well, I'm not going to get pregnant, so let's drop the subject."
It suddenly dawned on Glen what Trish had meant when she had mentioned Rosemary seeing a doctor in the Parkside practice. "You've been seeing a doctor at Parkside, haven't you?"
"So what, I don't have to stick with the doctors in your practice."
"How long have you been seeing this doctor?"
"Mind your own damned business."
"I rather think it is my business."
"Look, you caught me out having sex with Alan; it was the only time and it won't happen again, so why can't we leave it there."
Some of Rosemary's truculence had diminished and she now began to look anxious, and when Glen said, "I'm going to have a talk with Alan," what was left of her defiance collapsed.
"For God's sake Glen, don't do that. It was just once and if his wife finds out there'll be all hell let loose. It was just a casual thing…just the once, he's got children and…and Stephanie's my best friend."
"So that's how you treat your best friends. I'm still going to have a talk with him; I'll arrange to meet him somewhere away from Stephanie and the kids. I intend to tell him to stay away from you. After that he can tell his wife or not, but whatever he does I think you can be sure our friendship with them will be at an end."
"No, please Glen, let it drop…I told you it won't happen again…please darling…"
The endearment did not touch Glen and he went to the telephone and rang the bank. After a considerable wait he finally got through to a muffled voiced Alan.
"Alan, you and I have got to have a talk; I don't need to tell you what about, do I?"
"No mumbled Alan...but do we need to…"
"Yes, we do. I'll let you choose the place for our talk, but talk we will even if I have to come to your house."
"No! For God's sake don't do that; I'll meet you at your house if you like."
"I thought you might like it to be somewhere neutral, but my house is fine. What time?"
"I can get there in an hour."
"Good, your socks will be waiting for you, and anything else you left behind."
Putting the receiver on the cradle Glen poured him self a whisky and sat down to await events. Rosemary had left the room but after a while came back in.
She sat and in a submissive voice said, "We can get over this, can't we darling? We've been so good together; we can put this behind us."
"How long have you been taking the pill?"
Very carefully and distinctly Glen repeated, "How long have you been taking the pill?"
"Don't lie to me, Rosemary. If I choose to have a good search around I expect I'll find them, so how long?"
"How do you know I have?"
"You admitted that Alan wasn't wearing a condom; you said you wouldn't get pregnant with him; you've been seeing a doctor on the quiet, so I think it adds up to your being on the pill."
Rosemary made no reply.
"All this time I've thought we were trying to have a baby and you've been on the pill. It hasn't been enough to deceive me with Alan; you had to deceive me over that as well. Why?"
Rosemary's defiant mood returned. "I'm not going to be interrogated by you as if I was a spy or a criminal. What I do with my body is my affair."
"Very well, Rosemary, I can't force you to answer, but the fact that you don't answer is an answer in itself."
"You really are a self righteous bastard Glen, sitting there in judgement on me. Are you going to tell me you've never hidden anything from me…perhaps you've had your ‘bit on the side' as well."
"If it is still of any interest to you Rosemary, there was no one before you and there's been no one since."
"So I slip up once and the Puritan points the finger."
"I think we might delay this conversation until after I've talked with Alan; he'll be here shortly."
Rosemary looked startled at this announcement and said, "I'm not staying for that."
"No, I didn't think you would."
Rosemary left the room again and soon after Glen heard her car start and drive off. He sat silent, waiting for Alan.
Despite the outward calm he had managed to maintain, inside all was in turmoil. His world seemed to be falling apart around him. The trust and fidelity that he had thought existed between Rosemary and him self lay in ruins.
The plans they had made that he thought she shared with him had been a lie. Having caught her out in two deceitful actions how could he ever trust her again? She had said they could get over this, but he didn't know. Was his love for her strong enough to accept and deal with this?
Lost in the darkness and tumult of his mind he was unaware of what was around him until suddenly he was jerked back to consciousness by the ringing of the door bell.
"Alan." He half wished he'd accepted Rosemary's pleading for him not to see Alan, but it was too late now. He went to the door and admitted a hangdog Alan. They went into the lounge and Glen indicated that Alan should sit.
He threw the pair of socks over saying, "There's your socks," is there anything else you've left behind?"
"No," mumbled Alan.
"I'm sorry our friendship has to end like this, Alan, but I'd like to know how this thing got started."
"At a party a couple of years ago."
Glen shot upright in his chair; "What?"
"You were away at a conference and…well…I kissed Rosemary and….well…one thing led to another and…"
"A couple of years ago?"
"So today wasn't the first time?"
Alan looked confused and halting asked, "Is that what Rosemary said?"
"Yes. Who started it, who initiated it the first time?"
Alan struggled to reply and then said, "Stephanie and the kids were away visiting Stephanie's mother for a week, so Rosemary said, "What about coming back to my place…so…"
"So you came back again and again?"
"How did you arrange it…the times I mean?"
"Well, you're nearly always out doing your bird watching on Tuesday, so Tuesday was my day."
"Why your day?"
"Well, I had to fit in with…"
Alan stopped speaking and Glen asked, "Fit in with what?"
"Well, your times at the practice."
"Don't giver me that crap Alan. You know quite well Tuesday is my day off and you'd have been much safer when I was at work, so why Tuesdays and what did it fit in with?"