14th April 2008
In work today Angus told me that he was making some headway with the live-in adulterer. He suggested that maybe I could lend a hand by calling at the love nest and posing as a market researcher. I asked him if this was strictly legal and he replied, somewhat enigmatically, that it was so long as it didn’t end up in court. So, with my boss’s approval, I faked a market research form on a notepad computer and drove to the love nest. Angus had established that the couple were having an affair, that the man was living with his wife at weekends, then travelling 120 miles to work in the city during the week where he spent his spare time with his lover. But Angus suspected that there was more and it was my task to establish the truth.
I arrived at the love nest with my notebook computer and a sincere smile and asked if I could have five minutes of the lady’s time to ask some research questions. She was about to slam the door on me when two Jehovah’s Witnesses appeared at her gate. Rather than talk with them, she decided to talk with me and I asked some general questions about grocery likes, energy company preferences, favourite television programs, etc. Her answers were fairly standard, though she did drop in the phrase ‘my husband’ from time to time. I asked where her husband worked and noted that his place of employment matched the name Angus had given me. I soon realized that we’d opened a can of worms because her husband was the businessman commuter and we’d uncovered bigamy. I thanked the lady for her time then sat in my car in the shadows. I wondered what excuse the bigamist gave this lady to be free from her at weekends. I also wondered what Angus would make of my discovery. Presumably, this matter would reach the courts and my evidence would be inadmissible. Doubtless, Angus would find a way around that. It’s an example of what Angus told me at the start – when you go digging in the dirt you do discover that there are an awful lot of worms.
31st March 2008
My first day at the Angus Read Enquiry Agency and it went in a flash. Angus spent a hour explaining the ropes – his filing system, my basic duties and, most important of all, where he stores his cups and coffee. Then he went out ‘on the trail of an errant husband’.
While Angus was out, I answered the phone in a polite manner, typed up a report from his notes and talked with a potential client about problems she was experiencing at home – it seems that Cupid had been firing his arrows, again, and our potential client suspected her husband of living with another woman. Apparently, our potential client lived 120 miles away and her husband spent the weekdays in the city, with his lover, and the weekends with his wife in the countryside. On Angus’ instructions I’d been advised to note the details of potential clients and inform them that he’d be in touch as soon as possible. At times, I felt as though I’d been thrown in at the deep end and I arrived home exhausted, but exhilarated at the same time. I think this is the opportunity I’ve been looking for and, more than ever, I’m determined to make a success of it.
I was still on a high when Tina’s husband knocked on my door. I opened the door and he launched into a tirade, basically accusing me of instigating Dan and Tina’s affair. Try as I might, I couldn’t see his logic. I made every effort to reason with him, but it was a hopeless task. He went away grumpy and I closed the door feeling slightly depressed. The situation with Dan is still unresolved and until it is I’ll never be my own person.
24th March 2008
This morning, I phoned Angus Read and told him that I’d be delighted to accept his proposal, that I needed to work a week’s notice for the secretarial agency then I would be happy to join him. He sounded as pleased as me and we agreed that I would start work at the Angus Read Enquiry Agency in a week’s time. Then I picked up the phone and spoke to Dan…
I told him my decision, though I didn’t mention my job with Angus. Before I could complete my explanation, Dan went into a rage. He hurled every abusive word you can think of at me. Upset, I put the phone down. He phoned back with another tirade of abuse. I switched off my phone. Then, half an hour later, he arrived on my doorstep. He made a hell of a racket, but I refused to let him in. He must have disturbed one of the neighbours because someone phoned the police. When the police arrived, Dan departed and everything went quiet. I sense that once Dan learns of my new job he will try to jeopardise my chances. I want this job badly and I think I’ll be good at it. I’m not frightened of hard work, have the necessary office skills and a good mind when it comes to working with people and their problems. Heaven knows, I’ve had enough practice trying to sort out my own. I need to put Dan in his place and ensure that he doesn’t disrupt my new, potential, career. But how? I need to think and come up with a strategy.
23rd March 2008
Seven days and no word from Dan. He’s given me a week to gather my thoughts and I respect him for that. As I’ve said, he is not an evil man and in the loneliness of my little flat I’ve been wondering if we could make it work, if we could reach a level of understanding and develop a sense of harmony between us. I was wavering, about to phone Dan and tell him that I’d give it one more try, when my phone rang and Angus Read, the private detective, said he’d like to see me. So, I postponed phoning Dan and called in to see Angus Read.
In Angus’ office we chatted about how I was doing, my general goals in life along with other chitchat. Then, out of the blue, he offered me a job. He asked if I’d like to become his secretary-assistant. To begin with, my duties would be office-based, but as I learned the ropes, there would be opportunities for field work. I was staggered that he considered me suitable and very flattered. Then I thought of Dan and his reaction and I knew that he wouldn’t be pleased. The job offered a challenge, a chance of personal development, and he wouldn’t like that. I asked Angus if I could have twenty-four hours to think over his proposal and he said of course I could.
I left Angus’ office with a spring in my step, in the knowledge that this was an opportunity too good to miss and that, finally, I would have to cut my ties with Dan.
13th March 2008
This afternoon Dan turned up on my doorstep. I’m not sure how he found my address, but he is well connected through his journalism and he has contacts everywhere. Needless to say, he was not happy. He told me to ‘stop playing silly buggers and return home’. I tried to explain, in a calm voice, that this was my home, that I’d left him and to please leave me alone. But he insisted on hammering away at the door. I was fearful of the neighbours’ reaction so, reluctantly, I let him in. In my living room he went into a tirade telling me how useless I was in every aspect of my life, how no one would love me, only him. How I couldn’t cope without him. I think the reverse is true – he needs me more than I need him – but I held my tongue. Then he grabbed hold of my shoulders and started to shake me. Then he hit me, hurt me and made me cry. When I started to cry he became all sympathetic and gave me a hug. Then he tried to remove my blouse and I pushed him away. This is a ritual we have been through so many times and it always ends with him screaming at me and hitting me repeatedly until I can barely breathe. But not today. He raised his fist to hit me, but I ducked out of his way. I picked up the phone and he sensed that I was about to call the police. That had a calming effect, maybe because he realized that this was more than a ‘domestic’ matter, that he was assaulting me in ‘my’ home, not ‘our’ home. After a pause to recapture his sanity, Dan left mumbling apologies while I locked the door behind him and collapsed in a chair. I’ll have to put up with more days like these, I told myself – can I do it? Then I reminded myself that I had no choice. I would have to stand up to him, prove that I was stronger than him, then maybe he would go away.
12th March 2008
I’ve signed the lease and obtained the keys to the flat. With Dan away for the day covering a football match for the local paper, I stuffed everything I could into my suitcases and made repeated journeys to the flat. The flat is partially furnished, so at least the basics are in place.
As I unpacked my things, I thought about my mother. She died before I met Dan, of alcohol poisoning. Ironically, I think she would have liked him in some bizarre way. I also thought about my father, though I have no idea who he is. My mother used to insist that he was an American soldier stationed at a nearby base. Somehow, I think this was fantasy, but I’d like to know the truth. I’d like to meet him and ask him why he never acknowledged me as his child. Was he ashamed of me? I have always assumed that I am to blame for some reason, that his absence from my life is all my fault. Maybe this is an irrational thought, but it’s a thought that undermines my entire being.
Before I left the house, I left a note for Dan. It simply stated that I had left him, that I hoped he’d be happy in his life and asked him to please leave me alone.
I was screwing the third of three deadlocks to my front door when the enormity of what I’d done hit me and a silent tear trickled down my cheek. I brushed it away, forced a smile and told myself that tomorrow would bring fresh hope, that I’d made the right decision and I should consider myself reborn.
5th March 2008
I went house hunting today and, third time lucky, I think I found somewhere suitable to live. It’s a second storey flat in an old Victorian tenement, a building that has been converted into flats. My rooms overlook the gas works, so not glamour central, but at least it’s a start. I will meet the landlord again next week with a view to signing the agreement and moving in.
Meanwhile, I think Dan’s affair with Tina has hit the buffers. He’s drinking heavily again and he’s become very moody. I don’t think he suspects that I’m on the point of leaving him or that I’ve instigated divorce proceedings. The divorce papers are due to be served soon and I’m dreading his reaction. I want to be out of our house before the papers are served because I’m frightened that he might lose his head and try to kill me. I’ve been looking into the prospect of taking self-defence lessons. There’s not much of me, five foot five and no heavier than a bag of potatoes, soaking wet, but if I can learn the techniques maybe I can defend myself. I still get migraines from when Dan fractured my skull, so whatever happens, I can’t afford to let him hit me again.
No joy with the secretarial agency, I’m still stuck with the mocking crowd. Why they are so bitchy towards me, I don’t know. Maybe they think I’m a soft target. Cassie, the only person at the office I would call a friend, reckons a lot of them are jealous of my looks. Despite all the batterings, I suppose my face is quite pretty, though I’ve never considered myself to be attractive. I must learn to look in the mirror and appreciate what I see, and not shy away as I do now.