I Just Happened to be Passing
Afterwards, she wondered why on earth her suspicions had not been aroused sooner. She knew that he was a “ladies man” by nature, and he’d had an affair a few years ago, with a woman he had met through work. Jean, her name was, and she had kept ringing Richard on some pretext or other until it became obvious what was going on. His sons had been furious, and Jamie had threatened him with a punch on the nose if he didn’t end it immediately, and promise never to betray his mum again. It all blew over after a few difficult months, and if not entirely forgotten, had been forgiven.
This had all been called to mind quite recently when the phone had gone dead a few times when she had answered it. A couple of times Richard had answered it and said there was no-one there, but shortly afterwards had decided to go to his club for a game of snooker. He seemed to be going there more and more often lately. At first she had dismissed her suspicions, because to be fair she was out a lot herself in the evenings. She often had meetings to attend or social evenings with friends.
A few months back she had been introduced to someone new, a woman who had just moved to the area to run a restaurant with her sister and brother-in-law. Judy was recently divorced, and eager to make new friends, and Alison had taken her under her wing, inviting her to social gatherings and to her home for tea or lunch at weekends. Lately however, Judy often seemed to be busy on evenings when she had previously been free. She usually blamed the restaurant, saying that she had to work because they were short-staffed, which was perfectly reasonable of course. Once Alison had rung the restaurant on an evening when Judy had to work unexpectedly, just to leave a message, and had been told that she would not be in until the following day. Still, she thought nothing of it. Judy was a free agent, and might have just had a better offer, having confessed that she was on the lookout for a new man.
This particular evening though, she and Judy had arranged to see a film together, but Judy had rung to say that she would have to cancel as she was not feeling at all well. Alison had commiserated with her and had asked Richard if he would like to accompany her as she now had a spare ticket, but he had some commitment at his club. Alison was about to ring another friend, when she experienced what felt like a tiny electric shock- a strange moment of clarity. Could it be, was it possible, that Richard was actually meeting Judy, the new friend to whom she had offered so much kindness and hospitality? No, surely he wouldn’t be so stupid right under her nose. But once the idea entered her head, Alison just had to know.
Judy lived in an area a few miles away, and that evening, when she judged that the time was right, Alison drove to her flat, which was over the restaurant where she worked. It was in a parade of shops, with a parking area in front for customers. To her relief, there was no sign of Richard’s car when Alison drew up, but she thought she would just check the rear car park before giving up and going home. And there was the grey Ford, tucked away in the furthest corner. She parked alongside, and decided that she would face the situation head on. Pure rage at the way she was being deceived drove her as she approached the front door and took a deep breath. She was a large woman, and drew herself to her full impressive height as she reached for the bell. She rang it repeatedly, until a light showed a figure coming down the stairs. The door was opened a crack by Judy, clad in a thin dressing gown.
Alison recalled later that her face was a picture, changing from red to white when she saw who was on the doorstep. “What on earth are you doing here?” she asked defensively.
“Oh I just happened to be passing and thought I would call in and see how you were” said Alison cheerfully.
Judy clutched her dressing gown around her, saying “Well it’s really not convenient at the moment, and you got me out of bed.”
“Yes, I’m quite sure I did, and now that I’m here I think I’ll just come up and say hello to Richard” said Alison, pushing past Judy and running upstairs.
“Richard’s not here! You can’t just burst in like this,” Judy shrieked, vainly, for Alison was in the sitting room now, and shouting Richard’s name repeatedly. He emerged from the bedroom in shock, clutching a towel around himself. Alison was looking round their little love nest in a fury. She hurled a couple of wine glasses at the wall, and dragged an LP of romantic music off the stereo before stamping on it.
“You can’t behave like this – I want a divorce,” blustered her husband, red faced and sweating with embarrassment.
“Oh, you’ll find I can do a lot worse, when I speak to a good solicitor tomorrow morning. I am leaving now, and you need to get your clothes on and follow me home pronto unless you want to find all your belongings out in the front garden, and your sons waiting to greet you. And as for you, you snake in the grass,” she hissed at Judy, who promptly ran into the bedroom and shut the door.
Alison drove home, quite calm on the surface, but with shaking hands, and tears very imminent. She was pretty sure that Richard would arrive home soon after her, for he would not want to be ostracised by his family and friends just for the sake of a bit on the side, and he adored his daughter and sons. What a fool the man was, when he had so much to lose!