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Many Returns

Chapter 1

I suddenly became aware of someone trying to blow me up like a balloon, while my ribs where being crushed with sudden jerks.

My mouth tasted as if I had eaten fury old dog shit, as I coughed and threw up at the same time.

My arm yanked to one side with my head following at one hundred miles an hour.

I tried to open my eyes but the pain was so intense, it was like my eyelids where rough sandpaper and they were extremely sore, as was my throat and now my neck, shoulders, in fact, my whole body felt heavy and lifeless I was exhausted.

I wondered what was happening to me. Where I was and what was I doing? All I could hear were garbled voices and in the distance, sirens wailing, getting louder and louder.

I carefully tried again to open my eyes when I heard a voice.

“He’s going to make it.”

Was I dreaming or was this happening to me?

I was trembling and cold, and could only just feel my fingers moving slowly. My legs were heavy, and I couldn’t feel my feet at all.

Still puzzled at what was going on, I felt something cold splash on my face, desperately hoping it was water I opened my mouth trying to get some on my tongue. Once more with great difficulty, I decided to open my eyes, but they were very sore and still felt like they were full of grit.

Not being able to do a great deal, I decided to lay still and try to work out what was going on.

“Are you alright? Can you see me?” the same voice said.

I slowly licked my top lip and managed to say with a strained cough out of my dry, raw, and scratchy throat?

“Water I need water.”

With some help, my head was raised slightly, and my lips became wet, I coughed as I tried to swallow the water, again I fought to open my eyes, but it was as if they were stuck together.

“My eyes… don’t work!” I whispered, the water left my mouth and travelled up my face, my eyelids were forced open in turn and what felt like gallons of liquid was poured into them.

“Is that any better?” the voice said. I forced my eyebrows up as high as possible and squinting I could only just make out bright lights, but it was slightly better, so I nodded.

By this time, I was starting to feel my fingers and hands, my arms would move slightly, and I could lift them up. Again my head was lifted, a bit further this time.

“Keep trying to open your eyes,” the voice said. I tried and tried, this time it became a little more comfortable, everything is blurred, but I could make out dark shadows as I kept blinking.

“How do you feel?” I heard above all the other noises.

“Fucking awful mate,” I answered with a cough. I sat up slowly, leaning on one arm that started to tremble with my weight on it.

“You are one fortunate man,” the voice said.

“What’s happening to me?” I asked with another loud cough.

“You nearly drowned in the lake.”

I shook my head and said, “I don’t understand.”

“Do you remember swimming in the lake just after the explosion?” I managed with some more help to sit up a bit further, and closing my eyes I thought long and hard. Then it all came back to me in a flash. Liz, Mick, and John were on the boat.

An awful feeling rushed through my entire body as I remembered, and then I throw up again as a hand patted me on the back.

I became numb, and my mind went Blanc as I heard the voice again.

“It’s alright. You will be pleased to know your wife and son both got off before the boat exploded, luckily they were dropped on the island in the middle of the lake, and it’s even luckier for you he was. He’s the one that saved your life. He must be extremely good at swimming!”

Everything was going around in my head I didn’t know what to think.

Then the voice said, “He dived into the lake, swam over to you, pulled you up and held your head out of the water just long enough for someone in another boat to come and picked you up. They brought both of you back to shore.”

I still felt motionless for a second or two, and then it started to sink in.

I can’t describe how I felt. I think relief came first, and then anger. The tears trickled down my face as I lay there in disbelief at how stupid I had been. I tried hard not to cry aloud in front of everyone with my hands over my sore eyes.

Then I heard a voice say, “Your dad will be alright soon thanks to you!”

Something touched my hand, and Mick’s voice followed.

“Are you alright dad?”

I sat up and tried hard to open my eyes; I was desperate to focus. I wanted to see Mick for myself. I could only see a shadow in front of me, so I grabbed it, and he sat on my lap. Holding him as tight as possible in my arms, I pulled a cover around his shoulders, I could not find a word to say as the tears welled up in my eyes again, then I sobbed like a baby. I was so thrilled and pleased he was all right.

After a few minutes, I calmed myself down a bit and heard a different voice.

“Can you stand up and come with me over to the ambulance?” I nodded, still clinging tightly to Mick.

“Can you just give me a minute longer?” I asked as someone placed something around my shoulders.

“Thanks, mate, I hear you saved my life.” I kissed him on the cheek, and then I heard him say.

“That’s OK.”

He squeezed me tighter before he let go.

“Come on Dad the man wants to put you in the Ambulance.”

“Will you help me, I can’t see properly yet?”

Mick stood in front of me and pulled my arms, I tried to stand up, but there wasn’t much feeling there. As my legs started to wobble, two hands grabbed me under each arm and sat me back down on the ground.

“I can’t stand up!”

“Sit there and I will get you a stretcher.”

While I waited, Mick held my hand tight. Still squinting and wiggling my toes, I tried desperately to focus on something. I realised the longer I could keep my eyes open the better they seemed to be, the shadows started to get brighter.

By the time the ambulance man returned, I could see more, and the feeling in my legs and feet was getting better.

As I was lifted on to the stretcher, I tried to see what was happening all around.

I could see dark shadows moving in the distance and lights, hundreds of lights flashing, the noises I could hear was the hum of people talking, crying and shouting.

In the distance, I could hear speedboat engines speeding up and slowing down, and the trickle of the water was very close.

Looking up at the ambulance man, I asked,

“Can I try and walk now?”

“Are you sure you are up to it?”

“I think so.”

We stopped, and they lowered the stretcher a little, I swivelled around and placed one foot on the ground, it felt OK, so I tried the other. Mick stood next to me and held my wrist.

“Come on dad you can do it,” he said as he pulled me up again.

Apart from slight pins and needles here and there I was a lot better, I stood for a while, then tried a couple of steps slowly.

“I’m alright now thanks,” I said pulling the blanket around my shoulders. With Mick’s help, we made our way over towards the ambulance, and it was then I realised my sight was much better too.

The more I walked, the better I felt. As we walked through the crowds of people, everyone was patting Mick on the back and shouting “WELL DONE!!!”

I’m sure he had a smile from ear to ear and was enjoying every well-deserved moment.

As we approached the ambulance, I looked for Liz to see if she was all right, but I couldn’t make her out in the crowds.

I carefully climb up the steps into the back of the ambulance.

“Let’s just see if you’re ok,” the man said holding my other arm.

It was then I heard Liz shouting. ”He’s my husband let me go.”

As I turned and sat down on the bed, I could see her fighting off two ambulance men; she had what looked like a small plaster just above her left eye.

“What happened?” I asked.

“It’s nothing just a small cut; I think something from the boat landed on me.”

“How do you feel?” she said, sitting down.

“I’m fine,” I answered, as my head forced backwards.

“This may sting a little, and your vision will disappear again for a few moments, but it will be back soon I promise!”

He wasn’t joking!

Then Liz grabbed my hand and moved closer to me as I held my eyes closed tight, then I heard her say, “What on earth made you jump in the water? You don’t like it, and you can’t swim!”

I dropped my head forward, and rubbing my eyes then said, “When the boat exploded, someone shouted you and Mick were on the boat with John.”

I shook my head from side to side and shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know, Impulse maybe.”

“Stupidity, more like!”

Here we go I thought, I’ve only been back from the dead five minutes, and she is off on one already. Then she kissed my cheek and said, “Thanks anyway, it was very courageous of you.”

It was a good job my eyes were still sore and watered, I was shocked and didn’t know what to do.

“Talking about brave, where’s my mate the lifesaver?” “He will be with you in a moment!” someone said.

“We are just having a look at the Hero, making sure he is ok too.”

My eyes were starting to focus again, and over Liz’s shoulder I just make out Debbie by the lake. It looked like she was crying on Simons’ shoulder.

Then Liz turned towards her.

“That poor girl,” Liz said as she turned back.

“Will you be all right if I go and see her?”

“Yes, I am fine now.”

As Liz stood up and climbed out the ambulance, Mick moved and sat in her place.

“And you,” I said throwing my arm around his shoulder.

“I think I must owe you a big present.”

Mick smiled as the medic said, “A big one, no way, it must be colossal.”

Mick smiled embarrassingly and sat quietly for a while, then I heard him whisperer in my ear, “what’s colossal?”

As I went to whisper back, the medic said “massive, gigantic, enormous, gargantuan.”

Mick nodded with a huge grin.

I was in the ambulance for about ten minutes before they let me out, after checking me over.

Mick and I walked around for a while aimlessly holding hands, Liz was having her head check by another medic, and over by the main entrance. A couple of ambulances were moving out on to the road, still with the lights flashing.

Simon came over and asked if I was all right.

“YOU MUST BE PROUD OF HIM!” a policeman shouted as he walked past us. Then Denise flung her arms around my neck and started crying.

“I thought you were dead,” she blurted out.

While we were standing together, holding each other, I looked over her shoulder for Debbie; I could see most of the others over by the jetty, but not her.

It was a few minutes before I caught a glimpse of Debbie with a policewoman on the grass bank by the boats.

“Excuse me; I must see if Debbie is ok.”

As I walked towards her with Mick holding my hand firmly, I could hear the policewomen asking her questions.

“CAN THIS NOT WAIT FOR A WHILE?” I shouted as we got nearer, “You can see she is upset!”

The policewoman nodded and left, saying she would get a medic to check her over.

“How are you?” I asked as we locked together holding each other as tight as we could just for a brief second.

“I’m, so sorry about John,” I whispered in her ear. I felt Debbie squeeze me harder for a split second; I thought she was going to thank me.

Debbie walked off with the ambulance man, and as she climbed into the back, a few enormous cheers erupted behind me, as Mick was lifted in the air while the others clapped and screamed, then Simon shouted

“THREE CHEERS FOR MICK THE HERO!”

The cheers went off as Andrew placed him back on the floor carefully.

My eyes were almost back to normal, so I slowly looked around to see what was happening in the water.

I noticed a few people diving off their boats into the water where the explosion was, apparently looking for remains or something.

I looked over in the direction of the Ambulances to see what Debbie was doing. I saw her talking to the medic and then noticed another policeman heading towards her again.

“EXCUSE ME,” I shouted, rushing over to Debbie.

“Are you alright?” I asked aloud in front of them both.

“We need a statement,” the young constable said, as Debbie cried harder into her hankie.

“Can you give her some time?” I asked.

“Well, we need to get a statement from everyone that is here.”

He paused for a second. “Well we could start with the others, and come back later!” he said putting his notebook in his top pocket.

With that, he walked away and went over to question someone else.

I whispered into Debbie’s ear.

“It’s all over now he’s gone.” She lifted her head slightly and spoke quietly looking around.

“I can’t believe it; did you have anything to do with what has happened?”

I didn’t expect her to ask me that so soon, especially here with everyone around us. Debbie obviously must have known I was trying to do something to get him away from her with all the phone calls and visits I’d done.

I didn’t have an expectable answer straight away, the only thing I could say was, “don’t be silly, I couldn’t plan something like that, there must have been a fault with the boat.”

Debbie looked at me disbelievingly, with her red sore eyes.

Just to my left, I could see a policewoman coming towards us, as Debbie started crying into her hankie again.

“The police want to ask you some question; do you feel up to it yet?” I asked. Debbie nodded and turned towards her.

“I am sorry to ask these questions at a time like this, but I need some information, I need to know where you were when the boat burst into flames?”

While Debbie sobbed, she pointed, and with a broken voice said, “I was… sitting over… there on the… grass.”

After a few more simple questions and the policewoman writing the answers in her notepad, she said, “Was you and your husband experiencing any difficulties at home?”

Debbie looked up and said, “How do you mean?”

“What are you trying to say,” I added.

“I’m sorry I have to ask these questions. We need to get the full picture of the events leading up to the incident.

Debbie looked at me and then turned to the policewomen. “We argue a bit now and again, but that’s all!”

She asked a few more questions while Debbie cried a little more and then she left.

It was then I suddenly remembered the remote control cars were still lying on the grass.

“Will you be alright for a few minutes, I have to speak with Liz?” Debbie nodded.

As I walked away, two ambulance men came over and spoke with her.

I started to panic, as I got closer to the cars. Cautiously looking around, I bent down to pick them up; I froze as someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“I don’t believe we have had a statement from you Mr?” This big, red-faced policeman said with a deep voice.

“Vaughan, Nicholas Vaughan, “I replied nervously standing with the two cars behind my back.

“Where were you when the boat exploded”?

I started to walk back towards the car slowly, “Just about here, at the back of my car. I had been to the clubhouse for a pee and was walking back. I heard the loud bang, and like everyone else looked up to see the bits of the boat dropping into the water”.

“Why did you jump into the lake?”

“The first thing was to look for my son Mick. I wanted, to see if he was all right, when I couldn’t see him, I looked for Liz, that’s my wife, to see if he was with her. When I couldn’t see either of them I had this awful feeling run through my body because ten minutes before this happened; she asked me if she could go for a ride in the boat. When I couldn’t see them, well I suppose I must have panicked. Why I jumped into the lake,” I said slowly shaking my head from side to side.

“God only knows, I’m not even a good swimmer.”

“It’s a good job your son is. You must be very proud of that lad of yours.” He said lifting his eyebrows.

“Yes, I am, extremely proud.”

With that, he closed his pad. “That will do, for now. I don’t think there is anything else at the moment, I’ve spoken to your wife who incidentally is also a fortunate woman, and she gave me your address, so I can contact you there if there’s a need.”

I fumbled for the handle to open the boot; I was still worried about these cars.

“There is one other thing,” he said opening his little pad again and pulling the pencil from his top pocket.

“How well did you know…?” He flicked through the pages of his pad, “The deceased.”

“John… and I were old mates, we worked together some years ago in a garage repairing cars, he got married, and we lost contact until last New Years Eve, we bumped into each other, and I have been out with him once since then.”

“Thank you, Mr… Vaughan.”

With that, he turned and walked off towards the lake. I quickly throw the cars in the boot and slammed the lid down.

I made my way over to Liz; she seemed very preoccupied standing on her own.

“Are you alright?” I asked as I walked nearer.

“What’s wrong, is it the cut on your head?”

“You tell me!” she said harshly.

“I have just overheard two people talking to each other, saying John’s boat was stolen a couple of weeks ago, and he found it in Manor lane.”

I shook my head, “so.”

“Well if my memory is correct, that was the address on the piece of paper I found in your pocket when I washed your shirt.”

A cold shiver went through me, as Liz looked deep into my eyes waiting for an answer. I paused for a split second.

“…John phoned me last week and told me he found his boat; I obviously wrote the address down as he told me. He… said the man that serviced it had someone else deliver it back and they put it back on the wrong drive, same house number but the wrong part of the road.”

Andrew came walking towards us, so I changed the subject, but I could see by Liz’s face she was not happy with the answer I’d given her.

“Can we go home yet?” I asked Andrew.

“No the police are still taking statements, I just heard someone say the boat was sabotaged” Liz looked horrified and turned away.

“What idiot said that?” I asked, trying to make light of it.

“I don’t know his name, the bloke that was on the boat with John when we arrived; I thought then he was an arsehole.”

As we stood talking my mind veered off, and things started to catch up with me. Andrew was standing in front of us all not having a clue as to what he had just done. Indirectly he was a murderer, and he had no idea as he stood there laughing aloud.

We had to wait for another two hours before the police let us go. Andrew and Denise took Debbie home.

Liz didn’t speak to me for ages.

“What have I done know”? I asked as we weaved our way home through the country lanes.

“I’m not happy about someone trying to blow the boat up with Mick and me on it.”

“If the police suspected foul play, I don’t think they would have let us go, do you?”

As we drove home, I could see she was not happy and deep in thought.

We arrived home about 8.30; Mick had slept all the way, so I carried him straight up to his room and carefully placed him into bed fully clothed, I slid his shoes off and pulled the cover-up over him.

“Thanks again mate for saving my life” I whispered, I kissed him on the cheek, “I will never forget how brave you were today.”

He didn’t say anything, just smiled and rolled over. Quietly I shut the door.

I had a bath while Liz unpacked everything and we got into bed exhausted.

The next morning I gave Mick his breakfast as usual, and we left for school. As we drove along the road, Mick asked, “What made the boat blow up dad?”

I don’t know it must have been the petrol pipes lose or something like that I would think.

Then he said it “How sad it was for them both!”

We pulled up at the gate; I didn’t expect to see Debbie, so I carried on to work. I spent most of the day talking about my eventful weekend.

It was about 4 o’clock; Don phoned me and asked me to meet him at the White Swan Railsby, Wednesday at 2 pm.

When I got home that night, Liz told me, Mick apparently drove his mates crazy telling them over and over how he had saved his dad from drowning.

On Wednesday, I arrived at the White Swan to meet Don, a little before 2 pm. I got my self a drink and sat down. As he walked through the doors, he was talking to someone on his massive mobile phone. He waved with one hand, and a big cigar then stopped by the cigarette machine. I waited until he came over and sat down.

“Can I get you anything?” he asked.

“No I’m fine thanks” As he sat down and placed his phone on the table, he said these phones are brilliant, but they are heavy?”

I nodded, “I have had a bad back since I’ve had mine!”

Don lay his phone down, and then he whispered. “I’m sorry about last week, The Bloke that was coming up to help you at the lake, had a bad car crash on the way.”

“Is he alright?”

“No, not really, he’s in hospital, someone tried to force him off the road!”

I didn’t ask anymore.

“How are you, my spy’s told me it’s all sorted?”

I nodded and took a mouthful of my drink. “Yes, it worked out quite well, I think!”

“What happened?”

“Well, I realised something was wrong, so I worked myself up to do it. The kids had played with the cars on the grass, John had filled the boat with petrol, and went out to warm it up as he had done all day.

He told everyone, it would be the last time he could take it out on the lake, so I went for another look for cagoule man as I called him.”

Don smiled.

“I couldn’t see him anywhere and was on my way back, as I approached the back of my car, one of my friends picked up the handsets, and the rest you know.”

Don dropped and nodded his head.

“As long as it got done.” He said.

“The only problem was… Liz and Mick were on the boat.” Don’s face dropped, and he went as white as chalk with his hands over his face.

“It’s alright they got off before it exploded, Liz felt sick, so John the driver dropped them off on the island, in the middle of the lake.”

“Thank god for that, he was good for something after all.”

He said breathing a long sigh of relief.

“So is…”

“Debbie.”

“Is Debbie alright with you?”

“Well we haven’t spoken much really; I thought it best we stay away from each other for a while.”

“Good, the old bill might be watching her movements.”

We sat chatting for a while; then I had this question chewing away at me that I had to ask and I couldn’t stop myself, “When did you get involved in this, shall we say, kind of work?”

“I don’t know really… It just happened I suppose.”

We talked and reminisced about olden days. Then Don crossed his legs still puffing on his large cigar and looking into the air he said, “Do you remember a crowd of us going on holiday over to the Isle of White, Black Gang Chine I think it was or was it Sandown?”

I shrugged my head and shoulders, “Vaguely.”

“Anyway, I think you were about 12 years old.”

“I remember your red E-type with the roof off driving along the kerb soaking everyone in rainwater.

Don smirked, “I used to love doing that!”

“Was there a lorry or an Ambulance on the beach?

Don nodded

“Did it get stuck and we all had to push it off?”

“Yes that’s right, do you remember what the ambulance was for?”

“No,”

“Don’t you remember when you and I dug that hole in that beach and covered it with sticks?”

I shuck my head. “No!”

“I put opened cigarette packets and a delicate sprinkling of sand over the top.

I sat there still shaking my head.

Then that big woman stepped into it and snapped her leg in two. When she tried to stand up, it looked like she hadn’t pulled her Wellington boots on far enough, you didn’t stop laughing for days, and no one would talk to me, they all said I was stupid and irresponsible. I suppose it was! Perhaps that’s when it all started.”

We asked how each other’s family were and slowly strolled out into the car park.

I thanked Don for his help with the boat and just after his favourite saying, I left, and we went our separate ways.

I drove back to the garage and wrote a couple of Invoices before leaving and going home. I remembered to stop at the outdoor to get a bottle of Whiskey to keep me company when Mick and Liz had gone to bed.

I woke next morning with a thick head and a shock looking at my watch. I woke Mick quickly, and after his breakfast, I dropped him at school and carried on to work.

It was a good day, I mean nothing went wrong for a change, in fact, Friday was the same, and on my way home, I stopped at the Gate for a drink with the Friday night brigade. We all meet most Fridays and tell stories of the week and have a few drinks before going home.

On the Saturday morning after Mick corn flakes, I drove him into the town.

“For being a clever boy and saving me from drowning, I’m going to buy you a… something present, do you remember the word the Ambulance man used?”

Mick looked at me with a big grin and his hands on his head, “Err, classall?”

“Nearly, it was colossal.”

“What are you going to buy me then? “He asked.

“It’s a surprise!”

We parked the car and walked into the shopping area, and found the shop.

“A bike!” Mick shouted.

“Get your self a racing bike!”

We went all through the different kinds, and eventually, he found the one he wanted, and after driving it around the shop, we took it home.





































Chapter 2

A little over two weeks past bye before I saw Debbie again. It was on the Tuesday morning as she dropped Dawn her little girl off at the school. I walked towards her in the playground with that butterfly feeling in my stomach that I hadn’t had for a while. She looked amazing. Bumping her husband off had undeniably, done her some good.

As we got closer to each other, I noticed her smile at me, that almost timorous, irresistible smile, the one that gave me an enormous erection at the very start of this affair.

As we softly brushed passed each other, I court a waft of her fresh smelling perfume; I couldn’t stop myself from whispering in her ear, “Meet me in the Park sexy!”

Then I carried on to the car.

I was excited as I drove slowly to our meeting place.

I waited for about 15 minutes; the time seemed to go on and on. I was beginning to think that Debbie wouldn’t show as her car came around the corner slowly and pulled up next to mine. Through my side window, I mimed the words “Follow me.”

She nodded and then waved, and I pulled away.

We drove out into the countryside for a few miles; Debbie was close behind me all the way. I eventually came across a lay-bye on a long straight road, I pulled in and waited for a short time to make sure no one was following us, and then I jumped out of my car and went and sat in the passenger seat of Debbie’s red five series B M W.

“How are you?” I asked first.

“Fine thank you,” she replied with a nervous expression.

“I think it would be best if we don’t talk, or see each other for a while. Have the police been around much?”

“No not really, they were at my house last Wednesday I think it was”.

“Are they alright with you?”

“Yes, fine.”

“What questions are they asking?”

“The same as usual… oh and about the boat going missing for a couple of days and then turning up again.”

I just dismissed it, shook my head and said, as I looked deeply into her eyes.

“I don’t know anything about that.”

Debbie was looking at my lips and licking hers slowly.

I watched, trying to get my words out. “If they… the police that is, were… to see us alone… together.”

I said looking at her wet tongue move smoothly over her lips.

“It might look suspicious… so we should… let things cool… down for a while.”

Our heads moved closer together.

“You can… phone me if you need… anything… and I mean anything! Or we could chat in the… playground amongst each other, sorry, I meant other parents… if we are careful.”

“Ok,” she whispered moving even closer still staring at my lips.

“How long… must we do that for?”

I could feel myself under her spell, and something was getting harder down below.

I watched her mouth move as she spoke softly then she slid her index finger fully into her mouth, pushing and pulling it in and out a few times, she stopped and smiled and then slowly slid it down my nose, over my top lip and then over my bottom lip to my chin.

It was impossible. I leant forward even more and gently kissing her on the mouth licking the inside of Debbie’s moist lips.

At that instant, I was prepared to risk everything for one passionate moment, even in the back seat.

“That was nice!” she whispered in my ear as we held each other tight.

I felt my seat start to slide backwards.

“No, no we can’t do it here, much as I want to; we have to be very careful. I’ll meet you somewhere during the day, and we can spend the afternoon together in a hotel room somewhere away from here.”

“How long must I wait? I’m bored!”

“Sometime next week, I will slip you a note on the playground, it will say where and when.”

“Ok, I’ll look forward to that,” she said with one of those million dollar smiles.

We kissed some more and then I went back to my car and drove off with Debbie following me again.

I made my way back to work wondering why I didn’t give in and found a secluded spot.

It wasn’t a bad day, to be honest. I sold a car to a lovely old couple that paid cash and drove it away there and then.

Liz phoned me later in the day to tell me that Mick had received a certificate for bravery, an outstanding achievement from the school; then she went on to say how proud and pleased of it he was.

When I arrived home that night, Mick had waited up to show me his certificate with a big grin on his face. After he told me all about it, I carried him up to bed and tucked him in while Liz laid the table for dinner.

Almost Another week passed by, I didn’t see Debbie much, just once from a distance of the playground. We didn’t acknowledge each other until this morning. I slipped her a piece of paper, with Thursday midday, Hobby Horse pub Steston wrote on it.

“About time,” she muttered as we carried on walking.

It was a beautiful warm sunny day, and I was on my way to work when Andrew phoned me in the car. “Saturday … are going to …………, its Sandra’s ………thday party, can you ……?”

“Say that again you are breaking up; I only heard bits.”

“Party Satu…!”

“Err.” I thought for a moment.

“Did you say party Saturday?”

“Please say yes,” he said pleadingly, “Henry, asked… to tell you… couple of weeks… and to be honest, I completely forgot all about it.”

“Arr that’s better, these bloody phones are good, but very annoying sometimes, Yes, I can’t see why not, I’ll speak to Liz tonight.”

“We’re going on a coach somewhere. Henry’s organised it,

He wants it to be a surpri… for Sand…, so keep it…”

“Ok, I added and put the phone down.

I imagined it to be a good night and wondered who would be going, as I drove along.

I pulled up at a T-junction and eased my way into the slow-moving traffic queue. Opening the window, I turned up the music slightly. The song that was playing on the radio was, “In My Room,” one of my favourite Beach Boy tracks, so I turned it up a fraction more and sat behind the long line of cars with my fingers tapping softly on the roof to the beat.

I turned to see a couple strolling along, dragging their little dog behind them. It was trying to crap, digging its heels into the grass next to me; its eyes stared straight up at me as if to say, “What the fuck are you looking at pal?” Then it dragged its arse along the grass with its back legs and feet in the air and couple where talking and hadn’t even noticed.

As I looked up, I could see the car in front of me had pulled forward, so I slowly rolled up behind it and stopped.

Again I glanced around and noticed the dog had court me up again, still with an angry stare.

I looked at my front teeth in the rear view mirror, cleaning them with my index finger. Then I had a look to see who was behind me while I scratched my balls.

It was at this point I froze stiff and was horrified to see a big red sports car hurtling towards my rear bumper. It looked like the brakes were locked on and smoke was coming off all four tyres.

I braced my self, wedged my head on the headrest and waited for the thud, but there wasn’t one, it stopped just in time. I looked over at the dog; it looked like it had a big smile on his face.

I quickly looked in the mirror and driving the sports car was a stunning blonde girl with tanned dark skin and black sunglasses, she looked like she had just come back from a Caribbean island and it was apparently still on her mind.

Trying to act cool, I sat there tense and clammy. I watched in the mirror. The driver looked embarrassed and shocked. I could tell by the nervous smile and then came the wave with her fingers, from the hand that was gripping the steering wheel, as if to say sorry.

Breathing a sigh of relief and still trying to be calm, I waved back with the hand that was white and firmly clasped to the roof rail. Hopefully, this was the closest we were going to be.

After a while I found myself staring at her gorgeous face, as she moved her sunglasses up into her golden hair. The centres of her eyes were a deep blue; the colour of the most exotic ocean and the white was whiter than my underpants at the moment. With the colour of her skin, her eyes looked massive.

Just above them where two perfectly formed dark eyebrows, her fringe parted in the centre, gently falling by the side of them and mingling back into her layered hair which looked quite long, as it fell over her shoulders. She had a small mole just to the one side of her impeccably painted top lip, and a tiny dimple just below her lushes’ lower lip. I looked down at her brown hand that sat on the top of her steering wheel, with perfect white nails, wondering why she was throwing her fingers forward, and then I looked back up at her lips as they moved slowly and formed a beautiful smile. As I could only see her head and darkly tanned shoulders, I imagined her to be almost naked with the most faultless and perfect body, solid legs all the way up to her firm arse scantily covered by small white satin panties sitting on the black leather seat.

Then I noticed her hand move fears as she tooted the horn. It was then I drifted back into my car; I jumped as someone knocked the window and shouted, “Move up arsehole.”

It was then I realised that the car in front of me had moved away again.

Embraced and uncomfortable, I moved forward; watching her in the mirror as she followed me at a distance. As she pulled up, she checked her hair in the mirror. I wanted to get out the car and go and talk to her, and then she pushed her hair behind one ear and placed her phone on it, which gave me an idea.

I moved forward again, and this time I stopped by a keep left bollard in the middle of the road, still watching every move she made, I thought if I put a business card on top of the bollard with my mobile telephone number on it, would she phone me.

Quickly I opened the glove box, pulling the contents out on to the floor, and picked one out. Then I watched the reaction in the mirror as I held it in the air, and placed it on the top of the bollard holding it in-between my fingers. Again I moved forward, just enough so she had to stop beside it. I waited this time watching in the door mirror, slowly her window dropped, and a brown arm came out with a beautiful gold watch around her wrist, stretching for the card.

I froze holding my breath and then panicked, thinking she couldn’t reach it, then all of a sudden she lifted it off and her arm disappeared back into the car. Excitedly I watched her read it, switching from the door mirror to the rear view mirror and back again. Patiently I waited to see what she would do, then up came the finger, back went the hair, bingo; she placed the phone to her ear. I waited anxiously looking at my phone, then the mirror, then the phone again, willing it to light up and ring. Quickly I glanced in the mirror again, she was looking at her phone, and then she placed it back on her ear, I stared at my phone as it rang with a number on display, a cold shiver went through me like a whirlwind, nervously I picked it up.

“Hello?” she said in an almost squeaky soft voice.

“Hi It’s me behind you, I’m sorry I nearly drove into you just, I was miles away.”

“That’s ok, someone as stunning as you, can bump into me anytime”.

I watched her smile in my mirror, and I cringed when I realised what I said.

“Where did you get that lovely sun tan from?” I asked,

“I have just come back from a Greek island.”

“That’s my favourite part of the world, which Island did you visit?”

“Zante or Zakynthos is its real name,”

“The island of flowers, I think it’s called, There’s nowhere in the world like Zante is there!”

“Have you been? “

I answered nodding slightly “Just a few times, that’s my favourite place too; it was obviously sunny while you were there?”

“It was too hot sometimes; I was having a nice peaceful week and a great time all except the last two days.”

“Why what happened?”

“I had a big fight with my boyfriend, and we came back not talking to each other. That’s what I was thinking about when I nearly drove into you just.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said as we drove forward again.

“It wasn’t too serious was it”?

“Sleeping with the hotelier’s wife is as serious as it gets in my book.”

“I’m sorry, you are obviously upset,” I added.

“It was one of the days, I went up to our room to lie down in the shade, I walked into the room, and there they were on my bed. It’s happened to me before, about two years ago, I was just starting to trust him, but never again, we are finished for good this time.”

“You don’t work together do you?”

“No he is a Solicitor, and I am a Model.”

“I thought you must be you’re remarkably beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she said, as we moved forward again slowly.

“Excuse my manners; I haven’t asked you your name.”

“Phoebe”

“Is that short for Greek Goddess?” I watched her in the mirror as she smiled again. “It was my Nanas name.”

“That’s an unusual name?”

“Yes, it is that’s why I like it.”

“What modelling are you doing at the moment?”

“I’m on my way down to London now. I’m doing a photo shoot for some advertising agency, and the suntan was part of it, the agency sent me there free. I have to model some swimwear for a catalogue.”

I looked down the line of cars still in the queue, it was getting shorter and shorter, and I was beginning to panic, I didn’t want this conversation to end.

“Do you live local?” I asked.

“No not really, I pulled off the motorway because of an accident; I think looking at this holdup, everyone else did too.”

We moved a bit closer to the end of the traffic queue.

“Are you likely to pass this way again?”

“I’m not sure,” Phoebe said,

“I was thinking next time; I could buy you a drink and show you a quieter part of this area.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I couldn’t go for a drink, with someone if I don’t know their name and what they look like, I can only see your eyes in your rear view mirror.” Relieved at her answer, I said, “It would make it more interesting don’t you think? It would be almost like a blind date, the only difference is, that I know what you look like.”

“That’s true,” she said with a grin.

“I’ll tell you what then, how about I meet you on my way home Thursday, I will phone you on this number when I leave London, and you can direct me to you.”

I glanced down at the line of cars; there was only a few left.

“Yes I will look forward to that, I can’t wait!”

A few more cars pulled away from the junction in front of me, so I added, “Well thanks for making this the most memorable traffic jam I’ve ever been in, and I will see you on Thursday.”

I watched Phoebe smile and wave as I pulled away.

“B…ye!” she shouted.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Phoebe as I drove along the country lanes. I thought about where I could take her for that drink. I pulled up on the garage forecourt still thinking about her striking beauty.

Collecting my briefcase from the boot, I went into the workshop to see if everyone was working hard. As I walked out and started to climb the stairs to the office, a big white van pulled up on the forecourt, so I turned around and went down to see what they wanted. The van door opened as I walked towards it and two men got out.

“Mr Vaughan”?

“Yes” I replied

The driver held up a piece of paper. “This is a winding-up partition!” then he paused.

“You have up to the date on the letter to pay the amount in full.”

As he carried on talking, his voice disappeared into the background. I stood deflated, the wind had left my sails again; I was sick and tired of trying to find money from somewhere else to settle another dept. I took the letter from his hand went up to my office and sat looking at it, not reading it but just looking at it.

I was inert and disheartened again.

As I sat there thinking, I remembered someone said to me a long time ago “If you have your own business, you will be OK for life! And then there are the people that over the years have said. “It’s alright for you, you’re self-employed!”

I read the first line of the letter and felt sick, then after a while, I read the second. Eventually, I read the rest of the letter word for word, and felt worse when I got to the bit where it said, ‘The garage may be wound up under the provisions of the insolvency act.’ It was at this point I began to lose the battle. With my hands on top of my head and my elbows on the desk, I thought about when I first started all those years ago. It was going to be a massive challenge! No one was going to get in my way, and I was going to succeed no matter what. But, over the last few months, I have realised that no one especially the hard-working people of the world, deserves to be treated like this. The self-employed work, the hardest, takes all the risks, put their money and sometimes family in jeopardy with the hours that are put in, and get treated like a nonentity by almost everyone.

If you’re the employer, the employed think you are making a fortune for yourself and because they do all the work and it’s not fair. The tax people rip you off to pay for there own mistakes; the banks are a law on to themselves, and If you’re overdrawn by one pound, they will charge you 20 times or more for the pleasure.

I was beginning to realise that it wasn’t fun anymore, and it was time to do something about it.

I jumped as the door flew open; Alan came in with coffee.

“Hear you are gaffer!”

I thanked him as he placed it on the desk, then he left whistling as if he hadn’t a worry in the world.

I made my way home that night in a deep, depressed and angry mood. All the work I had put into that garage. Rebuilding it, working hard to try and make ends meet. Just for someone to comes along and tell me that they are going to close it all down if I don’t pay my Inland Revenue bill. They don’t seem to realise if I had the money I would pay the bills, what about giving small businesses help instead of aggravation.

By the time I arrived home, I was so wound up and annoyed I decided to calm down a bit before I went into the house. I sat in the car trying to leave it at work and turned the radio up a little. I tried to think about something different, but that letter was still sitting on my desktop. I calmed a bit and decided to go in the house.

As I lifted the key it into the lock, I realised I had driven all the way home from work, and I couldn’t remember one inch of the journey.

The door closed behind me, and the house was tranquil, much more quiet than usual. I placed my briefcase down in the hall and entered the kitchen, which was in darkness. After switching the light on, I found the whiskey bottle first and poured myself I large one. I took a good swig and started to walk around the house pulling faces as it hit the back of my throat. The lounge light and television were off as was the dining room light. I shouted at the bottom of the stairs, “Hello… is anyone here?”

I was just about to start walking up the steps when the front doorbell rang, I turned and went to open the door as Liz whispered from the landing, “Don’t open it!”

Not knowing what was going on, I took no notice, and as I was only 6 foot away from the door, I didn’t have a choice.

I hadn’t even got the door open, and a foot landed in the hall, and it made me jump “What the fuck!”

“Mr Vaughan I am from the debt collectors’ office, and I have been told to make sure you receive this personally.” Then he gave me a letter and said, “Have a good night.”

I shut the door and went back into the kitchen for another large drink before I opened it and placed the letter on the work surface. Liz followed me.

“Is that why all the lights are off in the house, you were hiding?”

“He was knocking on the door when I came home from collecting Mick!”

“I can’t believe this. I feel like a criminal even in my own home!” I paused for a moment.

“Why aren’t you screaming at me you usually do?”

“I think if you look at the letter you will find it is probably something to do with me.”

I grabbed the envelope from the side and ripped it open as Liz walked towards the door.

“What the fucking hell is going on, I am sick to death of all this!!” I shouted at the top of my voice. I unfolded the white piece of paper; I looked at what it said. I could only see “Happy Anniversary” then I couldn’t read it for the tears that welled up in my eyes. With that, the door flew open and in came the family and some of our friends.

“Surprise, Surprise! Happy Anniversary!” They all shouted.

I couldn’t talk, I had to try hard to console myself after the day I had.

After I smiled as best as I could, then kissed and shook hands with a few of them I realised what was going on and then Liz said “Happy Anniversary!”

I put my arms around her, “That was a bit mean and sadistic.” I whispered.

She whispered back without moving her lips “It wasn’t my idea, just keep smiling, I couldn’t stop them.”

“I don’t know what to say, apart from thanking you all for coming, sorry about my language it’s been a tough day and what a clever girl, how did you manage to do all this without me knowing?”

“It was easy, everyone helped.”

I had another big gulp of whiskey and then spoke to the others; I noticed food laid out on tables and Anniversary cards on the side, something else I had forgotten.

As the night went on people started to leave at a sensible time, so it wasn’t late when we finished the party.

When the last couple left, I helped Liz tidy up the small amount of mess, and as we cleared the glasses, I apologised for not remembering her card.

“Get me one tomorrow,” she said, “I’m of to bed.”

I poured myself a last large whiskey to help me sleep and sat on the settee to recapture the memorable and eventful day.

I woke with a stinging pain on the front off my shin and those hard words, “you’ll be late for work!”

I looked around the lounge with one hand on my stiff neck and the other holding my leg. It was obviously going to be another stimulating day.

I tentatively made my way to work, and about midday the bank manager phoned, and told me that my bank account was frozen until the partition was sorted out. I wasn’t worried about it, as there wasn’t much in the bank, fortunately what money I did have was in the safe.

I phoned my solicitor, and after a long conversation, he agreed to come with me to court.

It was a long day, and when I got home that night, Liz informed me that the cheque I sent to the gas board had bounced.

Thursday morning I dropped Mick off at school, and court a glimpse at Debbie smiling over the kid’s coat pegs in the corridor. I smiled back and carried on to my car. All I could think about was work as I drove along.

I joined the same traffic jam as I did when Phoebe nearly hit the back of my car. I rolled along, a million miles from anywhere and pulled up next to the bollard where I left my business card. I looked in the mirror to see if she was there, as the presenter on the radio said, “It’s a beautiful Thursday morning.” “Thursday, Thursday,” I kept saying to myself; then it clicked, Thursday is the day I am meeting Phoebe for a drink.

It was about 10.30 when my car phone rang. I could hear it as I said hello to the elderly couple that had bought a car from me a couple of weeks ago.

I opened the door and grabbed my phone. “Hello”

“Hi its Phoebe, I’m travelling… wards you on… motorway, is our …ink still on?”

“Yes, yes please, defiantly, how long will it take you to get here?”

“About one hour. The traff… is not too bad at the …ment”.

“Great, from the M1 Motorway, come on to the M6 and leave it at junction 4 and I will meet you at the top of the slip road on the island.”

“OK” she shouted “I have been thinking about… all week, -dering what you look like!”

“Just be careful and hurry up then!”

I smiled as I turned towards them again.

“Sorry, how are you both?”

“Not very happy!” the elderly lady said with a frown.

“Why what’s wrong?”

“We want to change the car you sold us!”

“Why?”

“Because we don’t like it!” The man said.

“I’m sorry you have lost me, is there anything wrong with the car?”

“No, we just don’t like it, it’s different to the one we had before!”

“So what did you have before, just remind me?”

“A 1965 Ford Zephyr”

“Oh, well I’m sorry you don’t like the car, but I can’t just change it because you thought it would be like the one you had previously!”

“But we paid you in cash,” her husband said with toothpaste in the corner of his lips.

“Look I’m sorry you don’t like the Mini, but surely you knew it would be different; it’s only half the size for a start!”

“We don’t want it!”

“I’m sorry there’s nothing I can do at the moment, I have to go. I’ll look out for a similar car to what you had before and give you a call.”

Forty-five minutes passed by while I tried to reason with this couple, but we couldn’t agree to differ. I asked them to run it around, and maybe it would grow on them, or come back next week when I had more time to look around.

Reluctantly for the first time, they agreed and left.

After checking everything was all right in the workshops, I left and made my way to the bridge above the motorway.

I pulled up and waited, watching all the cars that either went under the bridge or came up the slip road to the top.

About ten minutes past, and in the distance, I could see Phoebe’s sports car indicating to pull off the motorway. As she came up the slip road I moved forward slowly, and as she got to the top I flashed my headlights, and she flashed hers back. I pulled away, and she followed me into the small village called Fentham green.

We drove into the car park of the Dog Inn and parked side by side. I watched Phoebe as she jumped out the car and came running over. She had an exceptional hour-glass figure, her legs were very long and brown, and her skirt just about covered her backside. Then my car door flew open.

“Come on I’m desperate, I need to know what you look like.”

As I stood up next to the car, she looked me up and down and then she said: “Thank God you aren’t small.”

We stood face to face for the first time. We were about the same height. Phoebe was more striking than I ever imagined.

I kissed her on the cheek, “I can see why you’re a model, you… are… gorgeous. I can’t believe your ex-boyfriend, he must be insane.”

I placed my hand on the small of her back as we walked across the car park.

As we stepped into the lounge, everyone in the place turned to look at Phoebe as she sat on a stool at the bar.

“What would you like to drink”? I asked.

“A diet coke please with a slice of lemon,” she said looking around the room.

“It’s nice here!”

“How did the photo session go,” I asked while I was waiting for our drinks.


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