This is a true story – well, I think it’s true. I
on a radio phone in. I have just created the characters and their day-
to-day lives. The plot, including the end, is as the anonymous caller
told it, so thanks to Galaxy FM and their listener – whoever
It started off like any other weekend. But when it was over, everything
had changed. For Kathy, the future that had seemed so clear, so
optimistic, so perfect on Friday night was a complete train wreck by
It was almost five years ago, when their marriage was only a few weeks
old, that Kathy and James had agreed that Friday night would always be
their night. Their night to just … be together. They had
in those early days that for as long as they were married, they would
make every effort to spend Friday night alone with each other. And that
weekend the Friday was typical of the pattern that had emerged over the
years. In fact, it turned out to be a special Friday for them.
They had got in from work at pretty much the same time, and got out of
their work clothes into their “slobbing around the
gear. James had opened a bottle of red and poured two large glasses
while Kathy had started to prepare dinner. Whilst they each talked
about their day at work, they busied themselves chopping, cutting and
cooking. Then at the moment their plates were on the table and the wine
glasses refilled, by mutual, habitual consent, discussion about their
nine to five lives stopped. They ceased to be James Bowman, Technical
Support Manager, and Kathy Simpson (maiden name), HR Recruitment
Specialist, and became James and Kathy – husband and wife,
friends, soul mates … lovers.
An hour later they were cuddled up on the sofa and well into their
second bottle of wine. The TV was on but neither of them was watching
it. Their conversation was the focus of their attention. James squeezed
Kathy’s shoulder, and brushed a lock of her shoulder length
blonde hair off her cheek:
“So you’re absolutely sure about this?”
Kathy made a long slow nod, then turned her head up to look into
James’s eyes and confirmed it with a very definite
“Okay, so after your next period you’ll stop taking
“Yep! I’m sure. Are you?”
James’s reply was to turn around slightly so he faced her.
could feel her head resting against the toned muscles of his biceps. He
gently stroked her cheek – it never ceased to amaze her that
someone so strong was also so gentle. James stared into the lagoon blue
eyes and then kissed her. It was a long, soft, tender kiss. Then he
moved away from her and smiled:
“Come on, let’s go and practice baby-making, so we
sure we’ll get it right next month.”
One of James and Kathy’s other habits that had emerged over
years was that Friday night was “making love
matter how tired, or how pissed off with each other they were, they had
agreed they would always make love. Friday nights were for closeness
and tenderness. Saturday mornings on the other hand weren’t
making love. Saturday mornings were for sex! With a capital
It was well, past mid-morning the next day when James joined his wife
downstairs. She was wearing one of his T shirts (why do women look so
sexy in men’s T shirts?). He came up behind her, hugged round
slender waist and pulled her into him. He took a deep breath and
absorbed the mixture of her gorgeous aroma with the after-smell of the
vigorous sex they had just shared. He started to lift the T shirt and
“God, haven’t you had enough?”
She pulled the shirt down and turned round in his arms:
“… and besides, after all that exercise you need a
“Now that is a good idea.” And with that he easily
her up into his arms and carried her giggling up the stairs.
An hour later she was drying her hair while James, a damp towel round
his waist, lay on the bed watching her. She turned from the mirror and
“I’d forgotten how much fun shower sex
James grinned back:
“Yeah! I think I could get to like this practice
“Well, I’m sure you won’t want to do it
I’m the size of a small whale and expecting twins or
His response was to climb off the bed and hold her again:
“I can’t think of any time when I won’t
want to do it
“We’ll see…anyway, what are you going to
I’m off shopping?”
“Just a few odd jobs. I need to fix the garage light and
I’ve got to find some stuff for Gerry, from a course I did. I
think it’s in the loft somewhere.”
Kathy turned off the hairdryer:
“Wow, fix light – five minutes. Find notes in loft
ten minutes. Watch Chelsea v United game – ninety minutes.
“Oh?” said James in mock surprise, “is
football game on TV?”
Kathy shook her head and went back to making herself gorgeous for the
love of her life.
An hour and a half later she was wandering around the town, looking at
the mums with pushchairs, imagining herself with her and
child. She pictured James and smiled – fiddling with the
light that had never worked. Climbing the ladder into the loft. Looking
in the lo … Oh My God! You
idiot, you absolute fucking idiot.
Katy spun on her heels dashing to the car park. With any luck
she’d find him in the chair with a beer watching footie. Please let him be
watching the football.
She jumped in the car, frantically pulling on her seatbelt as she made
for the exit. Don’t be in the
loft. Please don’t be in the loft.
believe how slow people were getting out of the car park. She willed
the traffic to go faster. She drove so you could just about get a razor
blade between her car and the bumper of the car in front, wanting to
give it a helpful push. Why
didn’t you destroy them? You idiot! At
last she pulled up
outside the house. She glanced in the window, Oh thank God! There
sitting in the chair watching the TV.
Her hands were shaking as she took out her key. She opened the front
door, took a deep breath and steadied herself. She walked into the
living room as casually as she could with a cheery:
“Hi, I knew I’d find you here watching foo
Kathy stared at the TV screen. She knew the scene well, though it had
been … what? Eight? Ten years since she’d seen it?
about twelve years since it had been made.
“Yeah, fuck’s about right!”
James couldn’t look at her. He just dropped the VHS tape case
the floor and headed for the door.
“James! James …I can explain
…” She reached
out for him but he just shrugged her off and walked past her, not
meeting her eyes.
With tears blurring her vision she looked down at the tape box, and saw
he’d also found the two others. She knew the titles without
reading them: “Gangbang Girls #3”,
Lickers” and the piece de resistance, “Three Holes
One”. Although much younger, there was no mistaking whose
pictures were on the front. The blonde was her, and the brunette with
the big boobs was her best friend Natalie. Oh Christ! What a bloody
She took a deep breath and turned to go and talk to James, though she
had no idea what she was going to say. Well, the truth of course
– after all, they had no secrets. She heard the front door
That’s what they’d promised each other –
Of course, a secret is only a secret when someone else knows
there’s a secret.
She watched through the window as his figure got smaller and smaller
until he turned the corner and was gone.
“I’m so, so sorry James”, she whispered.
hoped that “gone” wasn’t completely gone.
That Saturday felt like the longest day of Kathy’s life. As
hours went by, joined by bouts of tears, she kept looking out of the
window, hoping to see the figure return. But the road was as empty as
she was. She called his mobile but after leaving him three messages
pleading with him to come back and talk, saying she’d explain
everything, she started just hanging up when it flipped to voicemail.
By 6pm she started to get worried. Should she go out looking for him?
If she did, what would he think if he came home and she
there? Emotionally drained, she eventually dozed off on the sofa.
Shortly after nine she woke up. With alarming clarity she realized
where James would be. Her heart sank. Why
there? It had been less than
a year ago that they’d
introduced James’s friend Gerry to Natalie. They had started
seeing each other soon afterwards and were still “an
– of sorts.
Natalie had been a free spirit when she had persuaded Kathy to join her
in the porn industry. Whilst Kathy had left all that behind, Natalie
was still pretty wild. But she and Gerry had obviously worked each
other out and, either by mutual consent or by just ignoring it, had
learned to live with each other’s extra curricular
So, taking a deep breath first, Kathy rang Natalie’s number.
After a few rings, a bright and breezy Natalie answered the phone.
Kathy gabbled out the usual pleasantries and asked if she’d
“Sorry babe, I’ve been at work til late, only got
hour ago. Gerry left a note saying he’d gone out with James,
he’d be back later.”
“You sound dreadful hon … big row?”
“Wanna come round and crack a bottle and tell me about
In some ways Natalie was person she most wanted to see –
James of course. Nat had this knack of making things seem not so bad.
But seeing her would just remind her of what caused the misery.
“No, I think I’ll stay here so I’m here
when he comes
back. If he comes back with Gerry send him home, yeah?”
“I’ll probably send Gerry with him.”
“Why? Surely things are okay with you two. You seem to be so
“What you mean? I don’t mind if he plays around as
he lets me.”
Kathy let her silence be her answer. Natalie sighed and continued:
“Yeah, well. Frankly, between you and me I think
enough. Give and take is one thing, but he’s starting to take
piss. Don’t get me wrong, when we’re together
bloody brilliant. He’s great in bed. But, well …
have taken me ten years longer than it took you, but I think
growing up. I think I want something more. … you know,
like you and James have got.”
“Well, I hope we still have it …”
“You’ll be okay – you’ll
“Christ, I hope so.”
The conversation drifted on and it ended with Kathy reiterating the
request to send James home if he turned up. Kathy turned on the TV,
more for company than anything else. She sat through half a movie with
no idea what was going on. All she could think about was James, what
he’d seen her and Natalie doing, what must be going through
head. She started to feel sick again at the thought of losing him.
At 11:30 her mobile cheeped with a text message. It was from Nat:
“James crashed on sofa. Will send him home tomoz.
worry – will be ok. Hugs N”
Maybe that wasn’t a bad thing – she was tired and
obviously smashed. Maybe tomorrow would be okay. Maybe they’d
talk and he’d hug her and they could get back to planning the
In the end it was mid-afternoon when James walked in. As soon as she
heard the front door she threw herself out of the chair and ran to him
and flung her arms round him, babbling about how glad she was to see
him and about how worried she was. It was like hugging a stone. She
sheepishly pulled away from him. He looked terrible. She stroked his
“I’ll put some coffee on.”
“Don’t bother, I won’t be here long.
I’ve had enough coffee already. I probably won’t
Wednesday as it is.”
When she heard the “won’t be here long”,
Kathy’s heart sank and the tears welled up again.
“Look, I know I messed up. I am so, so sorry …
“But what? It slipped your mind? You didn’t think
“I wanted to tell you, but the opportunity never happened.
the longer it went on the harder it got. James, I love you.”
“Yeah, yeah. But not enough to share your past with me. Not
enough to be honest with me. Not enough to trust me that I’d
you no matter what …”
“I didn’t want to risk losing you.”
voice was soft, pleading. James’s response was hard, bitter.
“Well, let me tell you, you have!”
“Don’t say that, please. I’ll do anything
James’s laugh was laced with sarcasm:
“Oh yeah, I can see that!”
“James, it was so long ago. It happened years before we met.
you know how I struggled financially at Uni. And … and Nat
it was an easy way to make some quick money.”
“Don’t drag Natalie into this. Don’t
– at least she was honest with her boyfriend. She told Gerry
about it once it became obvious they were more than just casual lovers.
She realized how important it was to be honest.”
“I know I should have told you …”
“Yeah, yeah you should. You see, it’s not that you
short of money and decided to be a porn star. It’s not that
got paid to be gangbanged or have three blokes at once.
not the issue here. The issue is trust. You didn’t trust me
love you despite all that – and now … hmph, now I
don’t think I can ever trust you again.”
“Please don’t say that. Please …
talk about it. About us, about .. a baby.”
James stared at her:
“What? Look, I’m going to get some of my stuff
need some time. But honestly … how could I possibly ever
The tears became uncontrollable as they rolled down Kathy’s
cheek. She turned away from him – unable to bear the sight of
what she knew she’d thrown away.
Even under the shade of a large umbrella, at 11am the humidity made it
almost too hot. Kathy put her book down and sipped her drink. She
thought about a brief dip. The bikini showed off her suntanned body to
great effect, and she actually felt okay about herself - although that
had taken some time. She instinctively knew that being away on holiday
this week was the right thing – she didn’t want to
there, and being in the Caribbean was the perfect excuse.
It was now over a year since the worst weekend of her life. She had
realized quite quickly that her marriage was over – the
had been fair, but frosty. But harder to take than the pain of sitting
with James and splitting up their CD and DVD collection, was the news
that James had a new girlfriend. A new girlfriend that meant she had
not only lost her husband, but also lost her best friend.
Kathy glanced at her watch, 11:15 and the UK is four hours ahead.
Natalie and James will be exchanging vows now. Well, like he said, it
wasn’t what we did – it was the lack of trust.
Ken Orford, 2010