Unexpected Ch. 01byThe Wanderer©
As usual my thanks go to LadyC and Techsan for their assistance in bringing this tale of woe to you.
I've been somewhat delayed in posting this one because as I was writing it, I realised that I could take some of characters in this tale from "The Fall Guy". Once that idea came into my head, I also realised that there were other characters I could use from, another story of mine that is still on the drawing board. There is no need to read the three stories in any specific order, but do I think that it probably would be better if you read "The Fall Guy" first or that tale could lose some of its mystery.
But before you read any further, I'll point out that one particular character in this tale uses different aliases. Because of that, other characters in the story will refer to them by the name that they are accustomed to using. And the poor bugger of a narrator changes the name he uses for the character, depending on who he's talking to. It might not make much sense when I try to explain it here, but I thought that I'd mention it now so that you will understand what's going on, as the story progresses. My apologies to those of you who find that you get confused that the name keeps changing. I wanted to explain that the name changing is not an edit or proof reading oversight. Anna and Sarah are the same person.
Oh, and if you're one of those people who prefer to skim through a story, close this one down now! I doubt you will have any idea what's going on.
This story is dedicated to my fond memories of Marie-Lise Volpeliere-Pierrot.
Unexpected, Part One of Three
It was really something that I didn't expect. Anna had been fine, her normal self, when I'd left for work that morning. I worked much further away from the house than she did, so I left about an hour before she needed to. The day was pretty normal for me, just an average Friday; we did get to knock off an hour earlier on Fridays and I'd usually meet Anna at the local superstore to help carry the main week's shopping out to the car.
However this Friday she was nowhere in sight when I pulled into the supermarket car park. I couldn't get her on her mobile either; for some reason, it was switched off, definitely unusual for Anna. I strolled around the store hoping to spot her amongst the aisle somewhere, but to no avail. Then I asked a couple of the staff that I knew quite well if they seen Anna that day, they told me that they hadn't.
Giving up I made for home, where I got the biggest shock of my life. Entering the house I immediately knew something wasn't kosher. The house was cold so Anna hadn't turned the heating on that afternoon; Anna only worked half days on Fridays and usually switched the heating the moment she got home. Anna was a cold stick, as they say.
I called her name from the hall and received no reply. I'm not sure if it was a premonition or what that made me head straight to our bedroom. But when I got there, the sight before me was horrifying to my eyes.
I'd first met Anna Thomas, as she was then, just over two years before when she took a job as a waitress serving in one of the local cafés, which I used to drop in for breakfast because I'm a bit lazy about cooking.
It was one of those love at first sight things. Well, on my account anyway, if not necessarily on Anna's. It took me over a week to get her to so much as pass the time of day with me and nigh on a month or six weeks to persuade her to come out on a date with me.
That first date she behaved very strangely. You know, if I hadn't been head over heels in love with the woman, I doubt I would have asked her out again. The whole evening I never touched her in any way whatsoever. Hey, I know what you're thinking, but that's not what I mean. When I say I never touched her, I mean she never held my arm, and we didn't hold hands or anything. Literally we didn't get closer to each other than about two feet. And as for a kiss goodnight, forget it!
Through the whole evening, she behaved as if she was terrified of me. A very strange date, I can assure you. Anyway, since I was in love with the woman, I asked her out again. Although all my friends told me not to bother, they all appeared to be convinced that Anna was a schizo or something.
I don't think it was until the forth or fifth date that there was an actual physical contact between Anna and myself, and even then she just allowed me to hold her hand. After another three weeks she was holding my arm and I was permitted to put my arm around her, sometimes! Even then she would suddenly stiffen as I did so.
Four weeks into the courtship, we kissed for the first time. And oh, boy, was it worth waiting for! You've all heard those myths about hearing music and bells ringing. Well, bugger-me mate, they aren't myths. Well, they weren't that night for me.
After that Anna slowly seemed to relax when she was around me, although she would still appear to be a little apprehensive, when my buddies were around. Some of my female friends tried to get her to open up a bit, but they all said she appeared reticent to talk very much, unless it was about the music she liked and that kind of thing.
Marie-Lise, my best friend Barry's wife, said that she thought that Anna had issues. "Issues! What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" I thought to myself. "Why can't these ex-university types talk in English? What are all these metaphors in aid of? And what the hell was she trying to imply with this issues lark?"
Oh, I never said that to Marie-Lise. I doubt I would ever understand her description anyway. I really like Marie-Lise but she appeared to have lived her life - until she hooked up with Barry - on a completely different planet to me; or Barry come to that. I'd often seen Barry do a double take in Mare's direction when she was spouting off. I'm damned sure that Barry didn't understand what Marie-Lise was talking about half the time either.
With me, Anna sometimes alluded to her school days, and actually kind of mentioned a sister once without being very specific or going into any detail. I somehow got the feeling that her family were all-dead (at least in her mind) and that she didn't really want to talk about them. When she did mention her parents, she talked in the past tense, and was always rather vague.
As the weeks went by, Anna and I got closer emotionally, although in the back of my mind there were lots of questions that I felt I couldn't ask her. Somehow I knew that she was hiding something from me, something it was too painful for her to talk about. Probably a failed relationship I suspected or even maybe the demise of her family. I feared that if I pressed her, I might possibly lose her, so I'd kept my curiosity to myself.
It was nearly three months before we became lovers in the biblical sense. Only a month after the first time she'd joined me in bed, Anna moved into my house with me. Two months after that I bought a ring and asked her to marry me.
I'll remember that evening for the rest of my life. It should have given forewarning of what I was to find that day eighteen months later when I came home from work that Friday evening.
I got down on one knee and showed Anna the ring. Her reaction was quite surprising to me.
"Oh, Peter, I can't, I really can't!" she sobbed.
"Why not, Anna? I love you and I'm dammed sure that you love me!"
"I do, Peter, more than you will ever know. I've never loved anyone as much as I love you. But, Peter, I'm not what you think I am. I've done things, horrible disgusting things. Things that I can't ever tell you or anyone else about."
"Anna, have you ever murdered anyone?"
"Have you got a husband and children somewhere that you've deserted?"
"Then I can see no reason for you not marrying me. I'm lonely and in love with you. You're the one person I've been looking for all my life. Marry me and be my loving wife. Whatever you've done in the past is in the past. It can stay there. I'll never ask you questions about it, if you don't want me to."
Anna sat there crying and I put my arms around her and hugged her close. After a while her tears stopped. I disentangled myself from her and taking her hand placed the ring on her finger. She tentatively smiled back at me, then I lifted her up in my arms and carried her to the bedroom.
Anna was a Roman Catholic, but we didn't get married in church; we had a civil ceremony. But before she would marry me, Anna insisted that she had to go to the local Catholic Church and confess. She was nervous about doing it but, as it was something she felt she had to do, I went with her for moral support.
Actually I'm an agnostic, but I'm of the opinion that everyone has the right to believe in what they wish. I don't push my views or opinions on others and I expect everyone else to respect mine. I only wish more people had the same philosophy. The priest at that church tried to convert me; they always seem to see agnostics as a challenge and he came down heavy on Anna for not being a regular attendee.
The day that Anna chose to repent her sins in the confessional though is another occasion that will always be burnt into my memory. Priests, I always thought, were meant to be non-judgmental, but after that day I noted the looks he gave Anna (and me); there was something about them that told me they were not those of a non-judgemental person.
As I said, Anna and I were married in the registry office. I believe Anna would have preferred to have been married in the church. But my beliefs ruled that out; I'm damned sure a C of E vicar would have married us. But the local RC priest had me (and quite possibly Anna) down as being on my(/our) way to hell.
Married life was fantastic for the next year or so. Anna soon got herself a job in the office of a local insurance broker, although it was only part time to start with; from what I gathered she was bloody good at what she did and they soon increased her hours to almost full time.
I'm not sure if it was exactly unusual but whilst making love - or having sex to be more precise - Anna would say some strange things. Well, I'd never experienced a woman who said things like Anna did in the heat of passion. There was the odd "Oh yes!" and things like that; but the line she used so often and that really got me was "Love me, Pete, please love me!" I could never understand that line. It wasn't "Make love to me, Pete?" It always sounded like a request for me to love her, which I certainly did anyway.
That evening I stood there staring at the dresser draws hanging half-open. Some - but not anywhere near all - of Anna's clothes were missing. From the look of it, she'd packed in a hurry. I'm not sure how long I sat there on the bed staring at the devastation before me. Devastation it certainly was, the devastation of my life!
It was dark before I came to my senses. Slowly I left that room and went back downstairs into the kitchen. On the kitchen table I discovered a piece of paper obviously hastily torn from the notepad we leave beside the telephone. There were two conflicting lines written on it.
"I'm sorry!" and, "I love you!"
"How could she walk out and leave me, if she loved me?" I thought to myself. "If she loved me, she wouldn't have left me, so therefore she can't be sorry for what she has done. You can say sorry when you do something accidentally. You can't say sorry for something you do in cold blood."
I can't be sure how long I sat in the kitchen either, staring at that scrap of paper. Sometime later someone knocking on the door roused me from my stupor. I opened it and found myself confronted by four of my friends and their wives.
"What the hell happened to you two? We got fed-up with waiting and came to find you ... Oh, my god, Pete, what's happened? You look like shit." Barry, probably my best friend, asked.
I'd forgotten that Anna and I were supposed to meet the bunch down at the local pub hours before. It was our turn for everyone to come back to the house later for an impromptu party after having a few drinks in the bar.
"Anna's gone!" I think that was all I could manage to say.
It only took those two words to send the whole bunch of them into concerned friend mode. Within seconds I was whisked into my lounge, where I found myself sitting on the sofa with two of my friends' wives sitting either side of me. The clattering of feet on the stairs told me that the house was being checked out, to make sure that what I had said was correct.
I vaguely heard hushed discussions about the note someone had obviously discovered; I'd left it lying on the kitchen table. Weak sweet tea was poured down my throat to start with; I recall remembering that it was supposed to be good for shock. Then I remember somebody leaving the house and the sound of cars being driving away.
Personally I didn't think the weak tea did anything for me and I asked Marie-Lise to pass me the bottle of brandy out of the drinks cabinet. I didn't get the bottle but I did get a reasonably sized glass. Over the next few hours I heard several mobile phones ring at different times, their owners leaving the room to answer them.
From the snippets of conversations that I overheard, it was obvious to me that a thorough search was being made for any information as to where Anna had gone. I will say that I didn't hear one of my friends mention the question that was going around in my head. None of them speculated on why Anna had left me. I began to think they didn't ask that question because they knew the answer, and that frightened me. What could I have possibly done to drive Anna away?
I awoke the following morning to find myself in my bed alone. For a few seconds I wondered where Anna was and then the memory of the previous day came flooding back to me. I had no recollection of how I got to bed the night before; to be honest; I had little recollection of the previous evening at all.
That damned tightness and lump in the throat hit me almost as soon as I opened my eyes though; I knew that Anna was gone.
As I staggered out of bed and began to pull some clothes on, Charley - another of my friends - appeared at the bedroom door.
"You want any coffee?" he asked, almost casually as if it was a normal everyday occurrence for him to have spent the night at my house.
"Please," I replied. "Did you all stay the night?"
"No, just Jean and me. I hope you don't mind. We've got a rota worked out for the next few days. Barry and Marie-Lise didn't think you should be alone for a while."
"Why? Do they think I'll try to top myself?" I asked, somewhat sarcastically.
Charley looked slightly embarrassed for a moment. "No, don't be silly; it wasn't anything like that. We all thought that you needed someone to be with you for a few days, that's all. Barry and Marie-Lise should be here any time now. Barry reckons there's some things you need to take care of this morning."
"Dunno, mate. You know Barry, he's the brains in this outfit," Charley replied, looking embarrassed again.
I didn't believe that he didn't know. I thought that Charley just didn't want to discuss what Barry had on his mind. Barry was the level-headed member of our group; probably the only reason Marie-Lise had married him. I couldn't see her putting up with any of the rest of us.
I was sitting in the kitchen pushing the breakfast that Jean had cooked me around the plate when Barry and Marie-Lise arrived. Jean, after quickly serving the new arrivals up with coffee, grabbed Charley and they hurriedly left.
"Right, Pete, I realise you're upset, but there's some things you got to get organised today, whether you like the idea or not," Barry said as he took a seat opposite me.
"Like what?" I asked.
"Look, mate, you got to face it. Anna's walked out on you. You've got to protect your back now. You know, close any joint bank accounts and put a stop on any credit cards that she's got and that you're responsible for. You know she could run up one hell of a line of credit on you if you don't act quickly and clear the bloody bank account out."
"If she wants to clear the bank account out, she's every right. What's in the joint account is ours, her as well as mine. And her credit cards are all in her own name; we never did get around to having joint ones," I explained.
"Oh, I see. Well, we've still got to go down the Nick and report her as a missing person. They won't do much for a few days, but the sooner you make a report the better; it isn't like you were expecting her to move out on you. You haven't been arguing or anything, have you?
"Don't talk daft I told you last night. If anything in the last few months she's been more loving than ever."
"What do you mean by that?" Marie-Lise suddenly asked, with what I took as a little urgency in her tone.
"Just what I said. In the last few months Ann's been ... oh, I don't know ... happier, more relaxed. I'm not really sure, just more loving than she's ever been."
There was a very strange look on Marie-Lise's face.
"Um, I know this is an embarrassing question for me to ask, Pete, but has her, er, preferences in bed changed lately."
"I'm not with you, Marie-Lise?" I said.
"Has Anna been more prepared to experiment sexually, Pete?" Marie-Lise had turned bright red and Barry was now giving her a very strange look.
"I wouldn't say so. Why do you ask?"
"I'm sorry, Pete, but I had to ask you that. It's commonly reputed that a cheating spouse often tries to please their partner in bed more, out of guilt."
"How would you know that?" Barry asked her, with a kind of shocked look on his face.
"Don't ask but it's one of the two most common scenarios when a partner is cheating. Trust me, I know," Marie assured him.
"I don't intend to ask you how you know that, Marie. But what's the other scenario?" Barry asked, for once daring to drop the Lise part of her name. At first Marie-Lise didn't appear to react to Barry's transgression; normally she would berate anyone who didn't use her full name.
Strangely if there was just Marie-Lise and yourself present, it never appeared to worry her, but when a third person was there, she would get upset if her full Christian name wasn't used.
"Sexual neglect, and that's what you'll be getting if you don't use my proper name in company," Marie-Lise replied, with a smirk on her face.
"Okay, Princess, I'm sorry. I won't do it again," Barry replied. Princess had always been his pet name for her; she smiled back at him knowing she'd been out-manoeuvred somewhat.
"Well, you're on the wrong track there," I said to them. "If anything Anna's been more relaxed lately, better than she's ever been. And as far as sex goes, well, that's always been her favourite pastime."
"I don't like this. I don't like it at all. Damn, I wish she'd let me get to know her better," Marie-Lise said. "You know, there was always something that I felt she didn't want to talk about!"
I didn't reply as I felt the same way, but felt I couldn't discuss it even with my closest friends. Barry dragged me off to the police station, where I went through the procedure of officially reporting Anna missing. The policeman that we saw filled out his paperwork with an air of boredom; I could only assume wives leaving husbands was not uncommon.
For the next few days nothing much happened. I couldn't do much of anything and, on the Monday, called into work and organised a few days off. Shit, I told them to stick their job up their arse. It was evident later that Barry or Marie-Lise had already called my boss and he was expecting a very pissed-off-with-the-world Peter Garland to call that morning. Whatever I said to him that day, he ignored it and placed me on compassionate leave (without pay).