Back to Bristol Ch. 08byGaryAPB©
I sat in the car wash on my way home on that Thursday, and it's funny how little things spark a response. As I watched the swirling brushes coming up the front of my car and onward over the windscreen, I thought the chaos of brush strokes and bubbles that they brought with them were so like my own thoughts about Molly and Peter, and that conversation with Piers McBaine.
For the ten thousandth time in the last four years I went over the events of the fateful weeks of the death of my marriage. And for the ten thousandth time I came to the conclusion that Molly hadn't given me a single scrap of evidence that she loved me. She was obsessed by Peter.
So, the only possible explanation of Peter's reported view that she was in love with me must be a simple mistake on his part, or paranoia as I had suggested. For a moment I did wonder if in some domestic argument, or even the argument and discussions that must have followed him discovering me in his bed, whether Molly had hurled a little gem that she still loved me. Not because it was true, but because she wanted to hurt her opponent in an argument. But Molly never argued like that with me, she was always gentle and persuasive rather than angry and hurtful. And if it was an emotional argument, then she would be tearful and accept more blame for the problem than was really fair, and would normally just plead for it to put behind us.
I could only assume that Peter was just saying she loved me, so as to excuse himself from the blame of a failing marriage.
These thoughts and ideas went around and around in my head, but I was at Susan and Ralph's house at ten o'clock Good Friday morning to pick up the boys. It was Molly who opened the door. She looked strained and tired, but she smiled and called the boys.
As they passed us on the way to the car, she asked what I planned for the day, "I thought we'd drive down to Taunton and pick up the steam railway to Minehead. We can easily find lunch there, or buy a picnic and sit on the beach to eat it."
She looked wistful, "That sounds nice. They'll enjoy that."
We paused, looking at each other. I was conscious that the boys were sitting in the car waiting, and there was no time to say some of the things I thought I ought to say. I was just choosing my words to say something brief when Molly spoke, "I think Jamie and Ben have been looking forward to a break, they need it."
I smiled, "I think that's all I can do is give them a break. But I am sorry to hear about you and Peter. You had such great hopes...."
She shrugged and smiled weakly, "Not really. But it is a bit of a mess..."
We were about to drift into a conversation that I was very uncertain about. But I was certain that this was not the time for it. "The boys are waiting for me." And I turned and left.
On the drive down to Taunton, which I'd estimated was going to take about three quarters of an hour, and looked like it was going to be quicker than that, the boys started arguing in the back seats. I wondered if they were showing signs of stress from the situation they lived amongst. But I told them off, gently.
"It's your fault, Dad."
"Well, these back seats are too tight. Why couldn't you have a decent car, with big seats?"
"A Jaguar XK isn't a decent car?"
"Well it's alright if you want to impress your friends, or girls..." There were giggles in the back seat.
".... But not so good for long journeys if you have to sit in the back?" I finished it for them. "Well, don't tell your Mother, or Grandpa Ralph or Nanny Susan, but I think Jamie, you are big enough to sit in the front coming home. And that'll give you all the back seats to yourself, Ben. How's that?"
That led to Jamie goading Ben that he was big enough to sit in the front and Ben was still relegated to the back. I realised this was very unusual, they normally worked as a team. They were so close, far closer than I had ever been to my brother Brian. I guess that closeness was a result of what they'd been through. And I guess the current argument was the result of the stress they were currently going through.
Later we were admiring the steam trains as we waited for the next one for Minehead, and the argument in the car seemed long forgotten. Jamie turned to Ben, "Do you remember when Nanny Davies took us on the steam train, Ben?" and I realised that my sons had had four years of life of which I knew very little about.
So I asked, "Did you see a lot of Nanny Davies? Was she a nice lady?"
Jamie looked at me quizzically, "She was alright. She always bought us sweets. And she made jolly good cakes. They were even better than Nanny Susan's, but Mummy said we must never tell her that."
"No you shouldn't. Susan is very proud of her cakes."
"And she died and left Mummy and Peter lots of money."
"Ben, when people die you don't worry about how much money they leave you in their wills."
"But it's why we have the house we live in. Are we going to have to move in with you, Daddy? You haven't got a bedroom for us."
"I don't know, Ben. But I do promise that you and Mummy will always have a home. But maybe Mummy and Peter will sell the house you live in at the moment."
"Peter lives in the gym ..... and our room." Ben didn't look pleased that Peter had commandeered their playroom.
I smiled, "Well, I hope you cleaned the blackboard before he moved in."
Ben looked at me, obviously seeing no reason for my observation, so I added, "Elsie?"
Suddenly Ben looked worried and looked at his brother. Jamie smiled, "It's alright. I cleaned it before he saw it."
But then Jamie looked at me with a very questioning look. Before I could explain a train steamed into our platform and the boys watched, fascinated.
As we boarded the train I did think that maybe I could use the fact that I knew about their Elsie jibe as a way to restart some conversation about the state of Molly and Peter's marriage. But Jamie seemed to forget the incident, and they quickly relaxed into simply enjoying themselves. In fact the whole day became a happy break from the stress of our other lives for all three of us.
The train ride to Minehead takes over an hour, and my biggest problem was stopping Jamie and Ben sticking their heads out of the windows, or making a general nuisance of themselves with other passengers. But once we got to Minehead, I let them lose some of their energy down on the beach, throwing pebbles into the water. And I am very pleased to say that I could beat both of them with skimming pebbles on the water.
Then we went into town, and chose a great place for lunch. Afterwards I worked off some of their new found energy by insisting we walk right along the seafront to the little harbour, but there wasn't a lot going on there as the tide was out.
After walking back to the town, and refreshing ourselves with ice cream, we caught the train back one stop up the line to the pretty village of Dunster. There I seemed to spend my time trying to get some sense of history into them as we toured the castle. I failed. So, to cheer myself up, I took them into a truly old-fashioned teashop and bought us all a traditional cream tea.
Eventually we took the train homeward, and I delivered them to Susan and Ralph's house at about seven o'clock.
It was Molly that met us at the door. I thought she looked better than she had that morning, "Hello, you look better. Feeling more relaxed?"
"Yes, I've been helping Ralph in the garden all afternoon. Susan's been out. But it was fresh air and relaxing."
"Good. You looked as if you needed it."
She just smiled, and then asked, "How have they been? Did you have a good day?"
"I'm sure they can tell you all about it. But, yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it."
"Would you like to come in for a cup of tea? I can't believe you don't need one." she asked, something that caught me totally unprepared.
I panicked. "No. I best be getting back."
"OK." She looked disappointed, "Do you want to see the boys again this weekend?"
"I'd love to. But, I want to do some shopping tomorrow, and I'm out in the evening. I promised Ralph I'd come to tea on Monday, and I know you are taking them to Church on Sunday...."
"They're already campaigning to be let off that...."
"Well, I'll take them all day Sunday if you want....."
"No. It'll do them good to go to Church on Easter Sunday. How about in the afternoon?"
"That sounds fine. I'll think up something for them to do. How about I collect them at about two thirty, say?"
"OK. Do you think I might come along?" It was almost as if she said it without thinking, and then she suddenly looked scared, "No! No! Forget that. It's meant to be your time with them."
"Well, let's see what I think up to do for the afternoon." I said, but I thought: No way. Monday tea will be quite enough!
As I drove off, I'd hardly gone a couple of hundred yards down the road, when I passed a silver BMW coming towards me. What I noticed was that it was Susan in the passenger seat, I didn't see who was driving. It fitted with Susan being out for the afternoon, and there was no surprise that she would get back for the boys return. I smiled wryly to myself.
On the Saturday I had a lazy day. I did go shopping, I treated myself to quite a spending spree on new clothes, a disgustingly expensive pair of designer sunglasses and some new cologne. I knew I was kitting myself out for the coming summer, wanting to catch some lucky lady's eye. I thoroughly enjoyed myself in the process, and best of all, I hardly thought of Molly or Monday at all.
Walking back to my flat, I passed an estate agent, and I suddenly realised that my three month tenure was going to be up soon. That didn't worry me particularly. It added to my daydreams, as I was sure there was some immaculate bachelor penthouse pad just waiting for me to rent it. It would probably have a roof garden with a fabulous view, where I could seduce a beautiful and sophisticated lady in the balmy warmth of a summer evening.
By seven o'clock I was knocking on the front door of Myra's flat in Bath. She was dressed and waiting for me. She even had a chilled bottle of white wine open and ready. We sat and drank a glass, and chatted companionably. I think both of us found it a bit of a strain to make sure everything was platonic, trying to make sure that we stayed within conversation that could not be misinterpreted.
Eventually, it all got too much for me, "This is ridiculous! I'm going to the theatre with a fabulously sexy girl. OK, I know we are just friends, and I genuinely want that. But we won't be that by the end of the evening if we continue to treat each other as fragile object d'art."
She let out a huge sigh, and beamed from ear to ear, "Thank God! I thought it was just me. Anyway, if we're lucky, and we spot Mr and Miss Right, we won't be together at the end of the evening."
"I bet I can spot a Miss Right, or at least a Miss She'll-Do before you spot a Mr Right." I said, and poked my tongue out.
"Well, if you're going for a Miss She'll-Do, then I'll find a Mr As-Long-As-I'm-Drunk." And our conversation happily deteriorated to a level we could handle.
We walked round to the theatre in perfect time, finding our seats with about three minutes to go before curtain up.
At the interval I was just squeezing my way through the crush with our drinks in the bar, when I bumped into Sharon Booth. I stopped to say hello, and Myra noticed and obviously recognised Sharon and came over. We hadn't been chatting long when a guy joined us, bringing a drink for Sharon and one for himself. Sharon introduced her husband, Duncan, and the four of us made happy small talk until the warning bell.
As we returned to our seats, Myra observed: "That'll be round the whole of Marston Abbey by ten o'clock on Tuesday morning."
I shrugged my shoulders, "So what? You are an HQ employee, not a member of my staff. And anyway, we are both adults, free to go to the theatre with whoever we like." But I did wonder what Peter Davies would think when the news got to his ear.
After the theatre we went and had something to eat, in a rather nice little bistro. Then we strolled back towards her flat. When we got close, she rather tentatively asked "Would you like to come in for coffee."
I wasn't sure I could trust my willpower if I went into her flat. I looked at my watch, it was nearly midnight, "No. I think I'd better be getting back." I put my arm around her shoulders, gave her a friendly squeeze and a kiss on her cheek, "But thank you, Myra, for a great evening. I really mean it, and I'd love to do it again."
She laughed and flashed her eyes, "Do what again?"
I laughed, "That depends how drunk you are." And we broke apart at her front door, still friends. I suspect we were both pleased with that, I know I was. But on the drive home, I did think about that beautiful shaven pussy. I'd seen plenty of bald pussies before, especially on some of the professionals I'd used, but you don't go down on a whore's pussy, or I don't, but I definitely wanted to try eating out a totally bare pussy again.
I'd just parked my car, and was walking through the lobby when my phone rang, it was Myra.
I answered the phone with, "You can't live without me?"
"I wouldn't mind seeing a little more of you ... in the flesh, so to speak. You don't feel like turning round and coming back, do you?"
"Myra, my darling, we both know that would be a mistake. A very enjoyable mistake, but a mistake."
"Yes, you're probably right. But...Oh, I'm so lonely."
"We are both lonely people. That's what happens at the end of a long affair. I miss Helene, I want a woman in my life, and you want a man. But we don't really want each other."
"My pussy wants parts of you right now."
I smiled to myself, "And parts of me would rise to the occasion. Promise you..."
After that the conversation just drifted on, small talk of two lonely people. I'd got back to my apartment, and had poured myself a whisky, and we were still chatting. It must have been the best part of an hour before we finally closed.
There was a wistfulness in the conversation, but by the time we were finished I was relaxed, tired and ready for bed.
Sunday morning was a late start and fairly lazy. But, I was becoming more and more nervous about meeting and talking with Molly. I couldn't see it as anything but painful, embarrassing, and with no benefit to me whatsoever. I was also a big enough coward that I wanted to put it off until tomorrow if I could. I wanted to avoid her joining myself and the boys this afternoon, but I didn't want to make avoiding her so obvious that it would be hurtful to her. She must have enough hurt and turmoil in her life, she didn't need me making it worse. I knew that some of my thoughts were contradictory, I didn't want to talk to her, but I didn't want to hurt her by not talking to her, but that's what ex-wives do to you I guess.
In the end, I decided that I could only play it straight. I decided that if it wasn't for her wanting to come along, I would probably take the boys out on their bikes for the afternoon. So, I decided that that is what I would do. If she had a bike at Ralph and Susan's then she could join us, if she wanted. If she couldn't cycle, but got upset with not being able to join us, then I would change plans and take the boys to a museum, she could join us doing that - if she must.
At two thirty I knocked on Ralph and Susan's front door. Ralph opened it, "Hi, Chris."
"Are Jamie and Ben ready? And is Molly there? She said she wanted to come along."
"Ah..... She's gone out with her mother. Susan was very determined that she wanted to go to a special service at Wells Cathedral, and wouldn't take No for an answer. Molly did say she wanted to go out with you and the boys, but...." He shrugged his shoulders.
I smiled, "Church this morning and Wells Cathedral this afternoon. She was never that religious when she was with me."
"And Susan isn't either. But there you are..." He shrugged.
"Well, it does mean that I can take the boys out on their bikes. If Molly really had wanted to come with us, then the best I could think of was to go to a museum."
"Oh! They'll be so disappointed! We dragged them to Church this morning. To have been dragged around a museum this afternoon would have been icing on the cake!" He laughed. "I'll get them and their bikes."
I took them off to Marston Abbey. I'd plotted a simple route that allowed me to park at the Abbey, and then it was really little more than cycling around the grounds, and out onto a couple of quiet country lanes, with a village half way along where I hoped we could find some refreshment.
As I drove along I became more and more annoyed with Molly. I'd geared myself up to having her with us, I'd even accepted that I might have to have some strange conversation with her, but she'd decided to go out with Susan. Actually, I knew Susan could be very determined about some things, and Molly tended to concede to her rather than have a row. If Susan had demanded that Molly go with her then Molly wouldn't have had much choice. But I was still annoyed.
As I pulled into the Abbey, Jamie exclaimed: "There's Peter's car." There was a silver BMW parked in one of the bays.
"Don't worry, we're not here to see him. I'll go and just tell Security that I'm parking here." I guessed in his loneliness Peter was doing some extra hours, that wasn't surprising. I, of all people, should leave him alone to do it.
I helped them get their bikes off the rack, and then went into Reception. There was one security guard sitting at the desk. I flashed him my pass and explained who I was and what I was doing. Of course, he didn't object, well not if he wanted to keep his job!
I was still feeling annoyed with Molly, and increasingly nervous about the inevitable conversation that was to come.
Jamie seemed to notice, "You're as ratty as Mummy."
"I'm sorry, Jamie. I think seeing your Mother go through another divorce is upsetting me. Is she short-tempered with you?"
"It's been worse this morning. I think she was upset with Nanny Susan for wanting to take her to the Cathedral this afternoon."
"Well, why did she go?"
He smiled at me, in a junior version of a man-to-man sort of way, "You know what Nanny Susan's like."
"Yes, I do." I laughed. "She does like things her own way. But she's been a very good grandmother to you and Ben, so you be careful what you say." We were approaching a village, "Look, that looks like an ice-cream sign outside that shop."
All three of us were sitting on a wall opposite the village pond eating our ice-creams and watching the ducks when Jamie started again, "Dad, if Peter and Mum are really going to get a divorce, why don't you say sorry to her and marry her again?"
Ben looked round and interjected before I'd framed a reply, "She would forgive you Dad. She forgave me when I broke her vase, and she was ever so upset about that, she cried and everything."
"Which vase did you break?"
"That blue one with two handles, do you remember it?"
"Yes, I remember it." It was a good vase, but not an heirloom. In fact it was the last present I ever gave Molly, on our seventh wedding anniversary. "But she loves you a lot, Ben. And people who love each other do forgive silly mistakes. I'm sure you didn't mean to break it, did you?"
"No. I was trying to see if it had a mark underneath, like the man said on the television. It might have been worth millions, but I dropped it."
"It wasn't worth millions, I promise you."
"That's what Mummy said. But she said it was very special to her, but she forgave me because she loves me. She loves you Dad. She'd forgive you."
Now that did catch me, "Whatever makes you say that? She loves Peter. You both know she does, or at least she did."