Peaceful Easy Feelin’

byThe Wanderer©

"What the hell are they doing there?" I asked absent-mindedly.

Whilst Ronny Macintosh had been talking, I had been thumbing through the photographs in the envelope. I still hadn't summoned up the courage to pull them out of the envelope and have a good look at them; I was trying to view them at an oblique angle from the end of the envelope.

"Let me see," Sonya said.

I tilted the envelope so that she could.

"Oh, my, that was last Thursday in the lounge of your house."

"I can see that!"

"Yes, well, Seymour is having sex with your wife from behind. You can't see them there, but your two children are sitting on the sofa that she's leaning over, watching the television. You can't see them in that still picture but you can on the film. Mr Moore, I don't believe that they knew what the adults were doing. They were completely engrossed in the television."

"Are you telling me that your husband was having sex with my wife when my children were in the same room?" I exploded; I was losing it again.

"Yes, I'm sorry. But from what we can make out on the video, we don't think that the girls were aware of what was going on. Jean lent over the back of the sofa to speak to them and from the looks of it, Seymour appeared to creep up behind her."

"And she let him! Jesus Christ, what is the fucker, sick or something? Shagging my wife whilst my kids were in the same room." I actually shouted that time. Everyone in Wally's place must have heard me.

"I can take it that marriage counselling is off the list of options then, can I?" Ronny Macintosh said. He had already taken some forms out of his briefcase and had been writing furiously as we talked.

"Too bloody right you can, mate, and I want custody of my kids as well!"

"No problem there, Mr Moore; that bit of film will see to that. Child endangerment, I believe the Americans call it; our family courts take a very dim view of that kind of behaviour as well. Now if you'd like to sign here, I can get the ball rolling whenever you give me the go signal."

"Go!" I replied, "I don't have to think about anything after seeing that. The sooner my girls are away from that bitch's influence the better. But god only knows what kind of an effect Jean and I divorcing will have on them."

"If that's the case, I could call a social worker friend of mine in on it tomorrow morning. She can get an emergency order from the family courts, suspending your wife's parental rights for the time being. And most probably they will require your wife to move out of the family home as well. Once that piece of film goes before the courts, she'll be hard pressed to get them back again."

"Hold your horses a little, Ronny. Mr Moore might not want to go that route. Surely it will be easier on the children if we can keep the social services people out of this. You know what those buggers can be like. Once they get involved, Mr Moore here might loose control of things completely," Sonya interrupted Ronny's flow.

"Yeah, you could be right, Sonya. They can get a little overenthusiastic at times and pretty officious as well," Ronny said and then he thought for a few seconds. "Frank - you don't mind me calling you Frank, do you?" I nodded to let him know I was fine with the idea. "Were you planning on being home tonight. You know, before we told you about..." Ronny's voice faded away.

"Yeah, I was. But how I'm going to hold my temper with Jean, I don't know."

"Yes, it might be better if you stayed away from your wife until you've had time to get used to the idea. Could you fake a delay of some kind that'll keep you away from the house for the night?" Ronny asked.

"Yeah, I can always call Jean and tell her that I've had a breakdown. But why?"

"To give us time to get our pigeons all lined up. Oh, and don't worry about your wife getting all cosy with Seymour tonight. Sonya's got that one covered. If you aren't home tonight, you can't lose it and let on to your wife that you know about her affair and are intending to apply for a divorce and custody of the children. I think I can rush this paperwork through and get in first thing in the morning. You'll have to take tomorrow off from work, and I suggest that you collect your children from their school at lunchtime. Have you got any relatives living near by that they can stay with for a day or so?"

"Yeah, my sister doesn't live all that far away. I could take them there. The girls stayed with her last year when Jean and I took a second - don't laugh - honeymoon.

"Good, if all goes to plan, I'll have the paperwork delivered to your wife at the same time as we serve Seymour. We might have to hang fire on that news conference for a couple of hours, Sonya," he said turning to her.

"I can't see any problem with that. We'll have time for the evening news programs and the dailies wouldn't have had the story until the Saturday morning anyway," Sonya replied.

"Good, I'll have someone at your house with you tomorrow afternoon, Frank. When your wife turns up she'll already have been served with the papers, so she'll know to expect trouble. It'll be best if the children aren't around if the confrontation starts to get too nasty. It's not good for the children to witness scenes like that. When they get excited it's too easy to say things that you'd rather the children didn't hear. We'll have my people run off some more stills from that video and maybe a copy of the tape itself all set up and ready to play in your home player. You can simply tell her to pack her bags and vacate the premises. If she refuses, we'll just tell her that we'll turn that tape over to the social services and that they will make sure that she never sees her two girls again."

"Can they do that?" I asked.

"You're not kidding they can! Those buggers can do just about anything that takes their fancy, if they tell the court that it's for the children's protection; they have the family courts behind them. A divorce court judge - now they're a bit more circumspect and could well throw out that video evidence of what Seymour and your wife got up in that room with the children present, because technically it was taken illegally. But the family courts, they aren't so particular on that score; to them, evidence is evidence and bugger where it came from."

I signed the papers that Ronny Macintosh put in front of me, then as he and Sonya got up to leave, I pulled the picture of my once happy little family out of my wallet and looked at it. Whatever happened I was convinced that Jean wasn't stealing my girls from me.

"They're two beautiful girls," Sonya had come around the table and was looking at the picture over my shoulder.

"Yeah, they take after their mother. Damn, they are going to be upset about all this."

"I've got three of my own, a boy and two girls. It's not going to be easy on them either. Mind I wouldn't say that Seymour was there for them very much anyway. But he is their father."

"Why do people do things like that - you know, have affairs? Don't they think about how its going to affect the children?" I asked.

"I really don't believe they think about what they are doing in advance, Frank. You don't mind me calling you Frank, do you? You must call me Sonya. I expect that we'll be seeing each other again even if it is only in the divorce court," she asked.

"Most everyone does," I replied.

"I'm sorry I had to be the one to break this to you, Frank. Ronny said he'd do it; he's a bloody good lawyer, but... Oh, you know, to him it's a job. I thought you might take it a bit easier knowing that I'm in the same boat."

"Thank you, Sonya, I expect we will meet again," I said standing to shake her hand. I shook Ronny's proffered hand as well.

They left and I went out to my truck and called my boss to explain the situation to him. I figured that I could trust him. I'd worked for him for some years by then. He even offered to make the call to Jean to tell her that I had had a breakdown and that I wouldn't be home until the next day. But I told him that I would do it. He wasn't quite so happy when I informed him that I wanted the following day and all the next week off work, but he understood my position and that I'd have to make arrangements for the children.

The call to Jean went surprisingly easy, too easy when I look back on it. It was if she didn't give a monkey whether I got home or not that night. Then I chatted with my girls for a little while. That was damned hard to do without getting emotional.

--------------------------

That Friday didn't quite go as I had expected or planned that it would. I'd collected the girls from school at lunchtime without any problem and drove them over to my sister's house, having briefed her on the situation earlier in the day. I figured that I was going to need a lot of support from my sister, where the girls were concerned. She'd been through a divorce herself so she knew the kind of effect losing one parent from the family could have on the children.

A woman called Rachel from Ronny Macintosh's office was waiting at my house when I got back there. Rachel explained that she was a solicitor who specialised in divorce and child custody cases; it appeared that Ronny Macintosh was the big cheese at the office and he had people who specialised in all the different areas of the law working for him.

Rachel was very a good looking woman and probably in her late forties or early fifties. She sounded very pleasant, but sometimes when she spoke there was a hardness about her words that made me think she could handle just about any situation. I think she was a lot less surprised as the day's events unfolded than I was.

Just after two o'clock Rachel received a phone call from Ronny, who had presented both the lovers with their copies of the divorce petitions when they had returned to the office after having lunch together. That was when we -- or rather I - discovered that things weren't going to go exactly as we'd expected.

From what Rachel relayed to me, Jean and super stud were both pretty surprised at being presented with the petitions, but they had soon recovered their composures. Jean had said something to Seymour about it "Moving the schedule up a little" and they'd both smiled, although Ronny thought Jean looked a lot more confident than Seymour did.

"He's a businessman who likes to be in control. We've wrong footed him and he doesn't like it a bit!" Rachel informed me confidently. "I'll bet he's running around now, like a tit in a trance trying to figure out how he can get back into the driving seat."

Shortly Rachel received another call and was informed that Jean and Seymour had left the company offices together and had gone to a solicitor's office.

"Might have guessed it. Harcourt's - they specialise in divorce and are very expensive," Rachel announced, with a smile on her face. "I like a good fight and we've got them by the balls on this one." The smile on her face turned into a grin. "But I think we'd better take some precautions," she added.

Then Rachel went out to her car and returned with two more brief cases. She'd brought a small one in with her when we'd entered the house. From the larger of the two new cases she took a book, which she hid amongst the others already on the bookshelf in the lounge. A small ornament she placed among the others on the mantelpiece in the dining room.

"Do you smoke?" she asked me.

I told her that I did, but that I was trying to give the habit up. Rachel then enquired which brand I smoked and asked me for my cigarette lighter. She took the lighter and placed it on top of a packet of the same brand of cigarettes that I smoke - which she'd also extracted from her briefcase - on the side worktop in the kitchen.

"There, that should cover all the likely places." She grinned. I must have been looking confused. "Microphones," she grinned at me. "It's useful to have a record of everything that's said on these occasions, especially if Harcourt's are concerned. I'm expecting one of his people to arrive here with your wife and he definitely will be wired, so hold your emotions in check please. I should imagine that they were planning on mental cruelty or accusing you of being a wife beater. You're guilty of neither, I assume?"

"Do what?" I replied. I had no idea of what Rachel was talking about.

"Frank, your wife took it much too easily. I believe she was planning on dumping you in the very near future. Didn't you hear me regarding what she said about moving the schedule up a little?"

"Oh, god, you think that Jean was planning to divorce me?"

"Yes, I very much suspect that Seymour and Jean were planning on dumping you and Sonya and setting up house together. Sonya did say that she thought someone was watching her in Paris earlier in the year. I should imagine that Seymour was trying to catch her cheating. He'd do much better out of a divorce if he some had some evidence that she'd strayed."

"Do you think that Sonya has, you know, had an affair?" I enquired. Rachel must have known this Sonya woman much better I.

"Frank I wouldn't take it on myself to speculate what Sonya gets up to. She was a real girl in the old days, led her father a real song and dance at times. Then she took up with Seymour and I think she's been the picture of virtue since. But anyone can have an affair, believe me; the circumstances just have to be right, that's all. You know, when it comes to love and fidelity, who can you trust in this world?"

"That's being a little pessimistic, isn't it?" I suggested.

"You think. Well, a few years back now, one of our client's loving wife framed her husband for the murder of her own lover's wife. When the husband eventually got out of prison she tried to kill him as well. Oh and she'd murdered her lover's wife and then killed her lover at the same time as she planned to kill her ex-husband. She was probably insane, but the husband had no idea that she'd been cheating on him all along; he thought she loved him."

"Oh, fuck, sorry! Pardon my French!" I said when I heard that story. Seemed to me like you can't trust anyone.

"Don't mind me. You'd be hard pushed to say anything that I haven't heard before," Rachel said in reply to my apology for my unintended bad language; that came from working in the real world. "There'll probably be some real colourful language flying about when your wife finally shows up here anyway. There normally is on these occasions."

Later whilst I was paying a call of nature, Rachel received yet another call and was informed that Jean and Seymour had been to the girls' school. Rachel was in the process of calling the police to arrange for a patrol car to come to the house as I came back down the stairs.

"I believe that she will have a gentleman with her by the name of Seymour Springfield. Should Mr Springfield try to enter the house with Mrs Moore, which I am pretty sure he will, then I'm convinced that it will lead to a confrontation with Mr Moore and a breach of the peace." Rachel stopped speaking while she listened to what whoever was on the other end of the line had to say.

"Yes, Mr Moore is the householder here. This is his house and his permanent place of residence. Mr Springfield is the person Mrs Moore has been having an affair with." There was a pause before she continued, "No, for various reasons, I believe that it will be Mrs Moore who moves out of the matrimonial home." There was another pause. "Yes, that's what I thought. His presence alone would most likely lead to a nasty and possibly violent confrontation with Mr Moore should he try to enter the house." She continued after another short pause, "Thank you, officer." Rachel closed the connection on her mobile phone and smiled at me.

"Seymour drove Jean to the school; apparently Jean came out again in a blind fury when she discovered that the children weren't there. Our man watching them said they telephoned someone; I suspect they called Harcourt. Anyway now they are waiting in the next street in Seymour's car. Probably for someone from Harcourt's office to arrive."

Less than half an hour later a police car pulled up at the curb outside the house and shortly after that, two BMW's drove slowly past, looking for a space to park in our crowded street. Rachel and my cars were filling the drive.

"Henry Harcourt himself. This should be fun," Rachel commented.

Maybe five minutes later Jean came walking up the road with two men dressed in business suits. One, I knew was Seymour Springfield, the other I assumed was the Harcourt guy, who Rachel couldn't wait to lock horns with.

As they got close to the house the policeman got out of his car and waylaid them. There was some animated conversation during which I could see that Jean was getting quite agitated. But the Harcourt guy was apparently trying to keep the peace. Eventually Seymour Springfield walked over to the police car with the officer and just Jean and Harcourt walked up the short path to the front door.

"Where are my girls? What have you done with them?" Jean shouted the moment she clapped eyes on me.

"The children are quite safe, Mrs Moore; I can assure you of that. We thought it better that they weren't witnesses this afternoon," Rachel replied. She had already instructed me to leave all the talking to her. "Hello, Henry. I'd better warn you that you're on a losing wicket on this one," Rachel directed to the Harcourt guy.

Jean carried on trying to go off on one at me, but Harcourt managed to persuade her to remain silent, for a while at least. Then he turned to Rachel.

"Hello, Rachel. I assume that you are representing Mr Moore?"

"We are, and I'd better warn you, Henry, that Mr Moore is in a very strong position to dictate the terms on this one."

"You think, Rachel?" Harcourt replied. "Mrs Moore has a strong case for divorce on the grounds of mental cruelty. She demands that the children be returned to her custody immediately and that Mr Moore vacate these premises forthwith and stays away until we can place all of this before the court."

Rachel smiled, "Henry, let's not beat around the bush on this one. Before you make a complete ass of yourself, I suggest that you and Mrs Moore watch the video that we've got set up for you in the lounge. Then I'll give you and Mrs Moore Mr Moore's terms for a settlement. I believe they are very reasonable considering the circumstances and I think you'll agree with me that Mrs Moore would be very foolish to reject to them. Not if she ever wants to have any personal contact with her children again in the future anyway. As it is, Mr Moore is prepared to offer her very reasonable but supervised visitation rights."

"Supervised visitation with my own children! What the hell are you talking about?" Jean screamed; she couldn't hold her silence any longer.

"Mrs Moore, you placed your children in what is usually considered to be moral danger. Whether you realised what you were doing at the time or not, that's what you and Mr Springfield did! Henry, go watch the damned tape and then we'll talk again; I should imagine that Mrs Moore knows how the video works. Oh, and you can keep that copy of the tape for your records; we'll wait in there," Rachel said, and then she walked past me into the kitchen. I followed her like a little lamb.

We hadn't been in the kitchen very long before we heard a stifled scream come from the lounge, where the TV was situated. Rachel gave me that wicked grin of hers again.

About ten minutes later Henry Harcourt came into the kitchen, followed by a rather sheepish but at the same time very angry looking Jean who had the videotape clasped tightly in her hand. I still wonder whether Jean's face was so red because she was embarrassed or because she was angry. How she managed to hold her tongue I don't know.

"Mrs Moore informs me that that recording was made in her own home without her knowledge or consent; the recording of it was a blatant invasion of her personal privacy," Harcourt said. "So if you are intending on trying to use it in the divorce proceedings, Rachel, you're out of luck. I'm sure that any judge won't allow it to be entered as evidence."

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