tagLesbian SexThe Courtship of Rachel Pt. 02

The Courtship of Rachel Pt. 02



In this next section Rachel talks about the highs and lows of her marriage even while she struggled with her desires for women. She also talks about Birgit and how they finally got together.

It's a dark title I know, I was going to call it Into the Heart of Darkness but that's not entirely true because there were some happy periods and I can honestly say that the best things to come out of that marriage were two wonderful children. I must confess though that I didn't think my revelations would have such a far reaching effect, my story has been read by Birgit, Maggie, and even Jenny. They've decided to tell their own stories of love and loss but they've also asked me to tell them more about Karen's Indecent Proposal. I did dither on that account but Birgit was the straw that broke the camel's back when she rolled over in bed as I was drifting off to sleep.

"Fuck it, I can't sleep until you promise to tell me more about Karen."

"It's over, she's a distant memory, why do you want to know more?"

"Because I do," she replied, "it's all about connecting with your past, this has changed you for the better, if that's at all possible."

So with that in mind I've agreed to write more about that encounter once I finish this story, but Maggie has also waded in with her offer to write about the woman she seduced out in Marysville, she's even got a working title for it, An Accidental Seduction.

What have I started?

Okay, marriage was one of those things I kept putting off because I wanted to focus on my career and for a few months after my encounter with Karen it seemed that my plan was on track but then I met Lewis in a restaurant out in Chinatown. I didn't recognise him because he was in a suit and had a five o'clock shadow but then he sat down at my table and held out his police ID.

"I just need to ask you a couple of questions," he took out his notepad, "starting with your name?"

I blinked at him.

"Rachel Jannetje Barrett," I replied, "why do you want to know my name?"

"Because I thought I recognised you," he smirked, "we met out in Box Hill."

"Oh," I sat back and stared at him, "oh, it's you," I looked away.

"Fuck," I continued, "and here was me about to give you my address."

"I can get that from the police database but it's probably better just to ask you in person."

"And what makes you think I'd give a married man my address, even if he is a cop?"

"Because my divorce papers came through just recently, I'm now officially able to get married again if I find someone willing to take a chance on a cast off."

As has been mentioned before, I was a sucker for Irish accents and so I invited him to join me for lunch, "but I have to be back at work so it's a quick lunch."

Lewis was fine with that idea, but his unorthodox approach had amused me and I tentatively agreed to a few drinks down at The Duke of Wellington on Flinders Street. The pub is within sight of Flinders Street Station so I reasoned it was only a short detour anyway. Those few drinks led to a dinner out in Carlton, where he charmed me with more small talk and then he surprised the hell out of me by taking me all the way back to my car at Bayswater Station. I drove back home that night wondering what had happened to the chauvinist bastard I'd encountered at the Whitehorse Inn over eighteen months ago.

To cut a long story short, we became an item to coin the vernacular of the time, and when he got down on one knee in a Carlton restaurant and proposed I said yes. It was about then that his mother stepped in with her insistence that Lewis get married in a Catholic church and what raised my ire was not my future mother in law hijacking my day, but the fact that Lewis seemed very much under her thumb. I put my foot down in no uncertain terms and drew a line in the sand, Lewis stepped over the line to join me and we got married in my old church, Bayswater Uniting. My future mother in law refused to attend the ceremony but sent her youngest daughter along to represent her in church. It was to set the scene for nearly nineteen years. We moved into a house in the northern suburb of Essendon, just moving out into the west was a culture shock!

Initially, it looked as if his refusal to bow to his mother might pay off, Eileen had seven children, including Paul, four boys and three girls. How any woman can subject herself to that kind of discomfort and pain seven times in a row is beyond me. I had two children, Paul was born on October 15th, 1990 and Tess was born on May 30th, 1993. Technically I should have had three but the first child miscarried at three months in May 1989, prompting Eileen to quip that if I'd only been married in a Catholic church this would never have happened. It was the only time Lewis ever yelled at his mother when he told her to get out of the hospital ward.

By the time Tess was born I was working at the Commonwealth, which had absorbed the now defunct State Bank. I was on maternity leave by then and it was the month I was due to start back that Lewis first voiced his objections to my return to work. In his view we had two children under the age of five and they needed looking after. He'd just been moved from Broadmeadows to the St Kilda Road complex and I was still in the city. When I patiently explained the idea of crèches and day care centres he exploded.

"The problem with you is that you want to have your cake and eat it too!"

He stormed out to his brother Joe's place and came home at one in the morning in a cab, he was pissed and falling about the place, and as was his habit he wanted a bit of nookie. I refused and he slept on the couch, it was to become a familiar cycle but I was not going to become his mattress whenever he came home drunk.

Another thing that raised its ugly head immediately after Tess was born concerned my attitude towards contraception, something that the Catholic church still can't face up to. The greatest thing to happen to women in the 20th century was not being able to vote, drive cars or own property, these were all great things but the most important advance for women was the humble pill. For the first time in history, women now had the power over their own bodies and that ultimately sparked the feminist revolution that would overturn the old paternalism. I was on the pill after Paul was born and went off it before Tess was conceived, naturally! However my decision to get my tubes tied was seen as a slap in the face to Eileen, from then on she embarked on a campaign to sideline me and the fact that Lewis merely shrugged it off nearly ended our marriage in 1994.

What ultimately saved me from pulling the pin was when my employer stepped in and transferred me to the Essendon branch. Normally it was seen as being exiled, the city branch was where the best staff were located, but it meant I could spend more time with the children. Being in the suburbs was like a breath of fresh air, I was amongst people who lived nearby and I soon found a new network of friends and one in particular springs to mind.

Dee was the same age as me. She'd been married for three years in her early twenties but walked out on the 'chauvinist bastard' when she was twenty six and since then she'd broadened her dating pool to include women. She had long brown hair and a good figure, and she gravitated towards me despite the fact that I'd never talked about my adventures with women. That changed one night in November 1995 when we were working later than normal and I let something slip when she came out with a sly comment about women.

"I'm seeing this woman at the moment but I get the feeling she's not that way inclined, she goes so far and then backs off."

"Southern and Coke works."

She raised an eyebrow and I smirked.

"Well it worked for me at least, although she did give a great head massage."

It worked for Dee's latest crush but my admission had merely reignited desires I'd long suppressed and when Dee eventually broke up with her girlfriend the temptation was out there. When I look back now I could so easily have given into my desires and had a fling but whether it was pride, a sense of loyalty or fear of the consequences, I resisted and Dee eventually moved on. She was very much a creature of the night, Dee would eventually settle down with one woman but it took a good ten years afterwards and there were countless trysts in that time.

Nevertheless, I do confess that I thought about Dee whenever I was alone and Lewis was on a night shift and you can guess what happened then!

In September, 2000 I finally said goodbye to the Commonwealth bank and went back to the city to work in an accountancy firm on Collins Street. Paul was ten years old and in Year Five at school and Tess was in Year Two. The year before that a new neighbour had moved in some two doors down and across the street and she had kids of her own who went to the same school, so Tess and Paul used to go there after school. Paula was to become a major influence in my life but now I have to stop writing and get back to my real job, doing quarterly tax returns!


Okay I'm back and Birgit has read my last piece and quite liked my trip down memory lane. We got talking about my old neighbour, Paula, a woman I referred to her as 'my wife.' It was a way of greeting each other when I lived in Essendon. Paula was straight when I first met her but she did harbour bisexual fantasies. Her husband worked for the Australian Federal Police and he was often working late, sometimes interstate. These latter assignments could see him gone for several weeks at a time and so Paula would be left with their three kids. She worked two days a week at a salon in Keilor Road and the rest of the time she cut hair in private homes. She was a wonderful hair stylist, it was a job she loved doing and she became my stylist. I never went to the salon to get my hair done though, it was always in Paula's kitchen.

We women talk all the time, it's how we establish such effective networks. It's hard wired into the female brain, our forebears probably sat around in caves doing much the same thing while their men were away hunting or raiding. Paula soon found out about my lesbian half life as I used to call it and it sparked her curiosity or perhaps she'd always been that way. Either way, Paula became even more curious to the point where if I'd said, "let's do it," she would have gone along with it, but the fact we lived so close did have a somewhat chilling effect.

In hindsight I think Paula had what is called a homoerotic crush on me that she took out on other women. She eventually became quite involved with one of her clients, Rainnie, who was quite a few years older than her, Rainnie was also married and Paula soon moved onto other women, in total she had about six lovers spread from Keilor Park to Coburg North, she never ever had any women in Essendon.

She was quite vivid in her descriptions about what went on with these women and I do confess I loved hearing her tales, she had a way of telling stories that made them come to life and slowly but surely I too began to rediscover old desires and find new crushes. I had three serious crushes on women, Nina from work, Vickie who worked behind the bar at our regular pub, and Yvette, our IT geek girl but all of these women were happily married to men. It was as if I was deliberately short circuiting myself. I had the desires and as I've mentioned, if I'd come across with Paula I would have been successful, she did have a thing for me. And what was even more tempting was the fact that she called me her wife in front of Lewis and he simply smiled and shrugged or cracked a joke about it, we could have been carrying on behind his back and he would have been none the wiser.

So why didn't I just have an affair?

To answer that question you'd have to go back to my upbringing. I was the oldest child and while my youngest sister, Sue could flit from one to the other and yes, she did have an affair that led to the breakup of her first marriage but I was different. I was the responsible one but on a deeper level, I was determined that Lewis was not going to beat me. I've always been stubborn like that. Tell me I can't do something and it's like a red rag to a bull and of course there was my mother in law lurking like some she devil in the night just waiting for me to fuck up.

Ultimately though it was my assertiveness that finally did me in. Tess has already stated that she only found about her father's cheating a few years after his death but I knew before our marriage ended that Lewis was cheating on me. You see men who cheat invariably accuse their wives of cheating, it's a way of dealing with their own guilt. The ones who don't go down that route are the real sneaky ones but Lewis was never like that.

It all blew up in January, 2005 when he went interstate to escort a witness back to Melbourne for a trial but forgot his mobile phone. He called me from Sydney airport and asked me to just turn it off, which I did but when I turned it on the following day and charged it up there were several texts from Nadine, who I'd never heard of but the nature of their relationship was pretty obvious going by the texts. Lesson number one, if you're going to cheat, get yourself a burner phone and hide it because sex texts and dirty pictures are so easily discovered.

It all clicked into place then, for the last few years he'd been accusing me of having an affair. For instance if I smiled at a waiter in a restaurant he'd want to know if I was fucking him. At first he just resorted to snide remarks but if I was working late he would want to know what I'd been doing and I'd have to give a blow by blow description. If he felt neglected because I'd been busy with the kids or doing housework, he'd accuse me of having an affair. These explosions happened every three or four months and there were plenty of times when I seriously contemplated just having an affair because if I was going to be accused of it I may as well do it. But when I read those texts from Nadine it was like stepping under a cold shower, I suddenly awoke from my dreamlike status and launched out into the unknown.

I took the phone to Paula because Lewis was still in the air and we went around to one of her friends, remember what I said about women creating networks? Her friend was a younger man who worked as an IT consultant and he managed to retrieve a treasure trove of texts from different women, including their numbers. We had Nadine of course but then we had Kylie, two Emmas, Lauren, Ciara, Marilyn and Foxy Jodie.

To say I felt stupid is a gross understatement. I was fucking humiliated. Bear in mind that I had a very responsible job, people looked up to me at work and outside of working hours it was much the same. I'd survived the constant sniping of a mother in law whose only problem with me was the fact I happened to be christened in a Protestant church, I was raising two children very often on my own because he was 'working late' and all the time he was screwing around behind my back. And it wasn't as if I hadn't been tempted, as I've already mentioned I'd been tempted several times and not just by women but men as well.

I was determined to confront him about it and here's where it all went pear shaped. You see Lewis probably thought I might find out about Nadine and he had an excuse that it was just texts, but he never thought I'd hack his phone. It was the reason he lashed out at me that first time when the kids were at Eileen's place. I yelped when he grabbed my arm so hard I had bruises afterwards.

"Do you know what you just did? You broke the law."

It was a pitiful excuse but this was the first time he'd ever lifted his hands to me and I'm like a lot of people, violence just scares me. Granted I'd be like a lioness if someone attacked my kids but when it comes to attacks against myself I'd rather run than fight. Lewis knew that and he also hinted that if push came to shove he'd do us all in and then himself. One night shortly after that first assault he was cleaning when of his shotguns when I walked into the bedroom with some clothes in a basket. I heard him working the pump but when I entered the room the shotgun was pointed at my head. He just smiled when he saw the blood draining from my face and pulled the trigger. The gun was unloaded and I dropped the clothes and staggered back against the wall.

"Remember, when you least expect it, expect it."

Looking back it should have been so simple. It amounted to attempted assault, I knew that well enough but I was afraid of the fallout. He was a detective and we had detectives coming and going all the time, he'd invite them over for barbecues or we'd go to their places. I couldn't be sure that he wouldn't beat a charge, especially when there were no other witnesses. I had the bruises on my arms but they could be attributed to banging my arms against something or falling. I know now how such evidence can be faked. These other assaults were infrequent over January through to March but when he assaulted me in front of my daughter I finally snapped and called the police.

Tess has already outlined that final assault but what she doesn't know is what happened when Maggie turned up at the door. I hadn't seen her in years, it was like she'd dropped off the face of the Earth but there she was as bold as brass standing in my living room. She'd put on a few pounds but who hasn't by our age? What hadn't changed though was her ability to take control and as she has admitted since, "I had a grudge against that prick."

It felt like old times when we went into the bedroom and she actually asked if I wanted another policewoman to look at my bruises instead but I refused.

"I'd rather it was you anyway."

She shook her head when she saw my bruises but it was when I told her about looking down the barrel of a shotgun that she made a decision.

"You need to be out of here, tonight, have you got somewhere to go?"

"My parent's joint and at a push my sisters will be there as well."

"Not ideal," she murmured.

"It's temporary," I replied.

"And if we go ahead with charges? Will you testify against him?"

"I will but I'm worried about the repercussions, he's with CID."

"And he's still subject to the law," Maggie reminded me, "he'll lose his guns for a start and if he's charged with assault he'll be suspended on full pay at first, but if he's found guilty the tribunal will discharge him."

Ultimately it was Maggie's influence that brought the full force of the law down on Lewis. He was picked up right where he said he'd be, at Joe's and he still had the knife on him. Any sensible crook would have at least disposed of the weapon. When he faced up to Inspector McArdle however I think it really hit home that his wife had finally scored the coup de grace. He looked as if he'd been diagnosed with terminal cancer when they took his guns, I remember him begging with McArdle in the bedroom. I was out in the kitchen with Maggie and she managed a sly smirk.

As I told Tess the other day, it was through Maggie that I wound up at Anderson Street and that is a thing for which I'm eternally grateful. Despite our past though Maggie was not about to rekindle an old flame, she'd been in a relationship with the same woman since 1990. Anna was at our civil ceremony at Lilydale Lake and these days we have a good relationship but you'll no doubt read more about that when Maggie pens her piece soon.

I could write more about the aftermath but time is of the essence and Birgit and I are going out for dinner tonight at a nice little restaurant near Southbank, we've booked a hotel as well. However just to sum it all up and add a little meat to the bones, my parents and sisters were totally supportive of my decision to end the marriage. Mum probably said it all when she said, "you should have left when Tess was born, it would have saved a whole lot of heartache."

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