I am in Covent Garden, a pub, The Lamb and Flag, one of those woody, beery old fashioned English pubs that are now rather rare, I am catching up with an old friend, we are joined by her friend, a chap I’ve not met before,lets call him Bill. Over drinks we chatter away the conversation is easy and we laugh at ourselves and at each other . When Bill goes to the bar to get a round of drinks my friend turns to me and asks in a quiet voice, what happened with your wife? Do you mind me asking? I don’t mind I reply. I have learnt over time to recount the nuts and bolts in a few sentences and I reel them off. My friend says that she is sorry, I acknowledge her. Bill returns laden with drinks and the conversation continues around divorce. I say that 43% of marriages end in Divorce, so it is nothing out of the ordinary. My friend turns to Bill, Why don’t you tell Martin what happened to you.
Bill is one of those people you wouldn’t consider anything out of the ordinary, shortish, middle aged ish, an average bloke. What he told me wasn’t ordinary.
A decade ago Bill was a happy man, a wife of five years that he loved, two young children, a good job, home, everything was working, and then a new baby was on the way, everything was rosy. Five months later one text message that he read on his wifes phone changed everything. Bill discovered his wife had been unfaithful, that she had been for some time, that the child growing inside her might not be his. Bill had to wait until the birth to establish the child paternity, he went into free fall and the remaining months of the pregnancy were very dark.
Bill couldn’t accept what had happened, he made an elaborate plan to kill the man who had screwed his wife. He booked a holiday as his cover, plane tickets to Ireland, then with a false ID slipped back into the country by ferry, got hold off a shotgun, sawed it down, bought petrol and went to the mans house late at night. His intention to blow out the guys brains and then set fire to the house to destroy the evidence. Bills plan almost worked, he got to the isolated house where the man lived,late at night and as he understood it unseen. He cocked the trigger and stood at the door, rang the bell and waited………………..
Bills quarry wasn’t in, he waited, for several hours, as he sat hidden away behind a hedge he began to think about what he was doing, as dawn came he got up and left. He disposed of the fuel and dumped the shotgun and decided to get on with his life. When the DNA results finally came the child was confirmed as Bills.
As I sit and listen to Bill ten years later I ask him how life is for him now. I am very happy he says. Everything in my life is great, I’ve moved on. I like hearing stories like his, man gets screwed, life is shit, he bounces back. My favourite sort of story, I want that sort of story.
Are you in a relationship I ask him. Oh no he replies, The trust is gone. I couldn’t go through that again, I won’t. At first I don’t quite understand, I ask him to explain. He repeats and expands, being let down like that by my wife, it broke me, I couldn’t have another relationship, not again, I wouldn’t be able to deal with being let down again. I see women, but just for fun, I don’t want a relationship, I can’t trust anymore.
That Bill contemplated murder was pretty scary, how far along the way he took it scarier still. This mild mannered everyday man that one wouldn’t give a second glance to came close to murder, how quickly people can fall to the darkest of places, but the thing that struck me most, ten years later he was closed down to any idea of a relationship, he was not able to trust. He is forty years old. As the selfish man I am I think of myself and trust, I don’t want my future to be dictated by the past, I am determined to learn from it and not close down because of it. I have been an amazingly naive man, perhaps I still am, I understand what losing your trust in somebody can feel like, how a person can loose themselves in the process,but I believe that finding faith and trust anew is also possible, that doing so is a risk, but its one that is worth taking. The important thing is to keep on working away and trying, that’s what matters. I hope Bill works it out, I hope I do to.