GOODBYE GOOD GUY
Richard walked away from the hospital totally stunned. ‘Three months to live;’ the words echoed repeatedly in his head. On impulse he drove to the marina and spent a few hours on his precious boat, knowing he would never sail again. He then headed for home in a daze and stumbled into the bathroom.
Lizzie’s afternoon of passion with her lover was rudely interrupted by her mobile phone demanding to be answered.
“Leave it,” he whispered, nuzzling her neck.
“I can’t, it might be important.”
“Kerry. Hello darling. How are you?” Lizzie recognised her daughter’s voice but noted the lack of usual enthusiasm. “What’s the matter?”
As Lizzie drove to the hospital she felt surprisingly calm. Although married to Richard for twenty five years the news of his death had barely shaken her. Not that she didn’t care; just not in the way she should about a good man; hardworking, loyal, trustworthy and reliable. That was the problem really; he was just too bloody boring. Lizzie craved excitement, adventure, not the predictability of a mild-mannered saint. But this was totally out of character; Richard just not the sort to top himself. Why should he? They had everything; a luxurious house, cars, a boat, a holiday home abroad and a pleasant, if somewhat bland, relationship.
Her five year affair with Ed had been kept a secret from everyone, so it was not a problem. Richard spent a lot of time at work and Lizzie made sure nothing had altered in her attitude towards him ever since the affair began.
It had been easy really; Richard trusted her implicitly, never questioning her motives or activities. She’d had no intention of leaving him; life was far too comfortable to warrant any such drastic action. Living with an amenable, if predictable, gentle man like Richard became tolerable; she’d intended to plod along as she was, enjoying the comfortable lifestyle she had with Richard and supplementing her other needs with Ed, who she loved passionately but who could never keep her in the manner to which she’d become accustomed. Well, maybe now the situation had resolved itself; fate could be very kind.
Lizzie managed to squeeze a few tears as she entered the morgue. She couldn’t help thinking Richard looked about as interesting in death as he had in life when identifying his body.
“Yes, that’s him. But why would he commit suicide?” she asked the doctor. “There were no problems; he had everything to live for.”
“Well, Mrs Goodman, it appears your husband was suffering from a rare form of cancer. The prognosis was not encouraging.”
Lizzie was shocked, a little sorry even, but relieved that he had his own personal reasons for ending his life. She had no reason to feel guilty.
“That’s so typically Richard.” Lizzie wiped her eyes with a tissue. “Unselfish, right to the end. But why didn’t he tell me? How long had he known?”
“He was only told this morning. Maybe he couldn’t face the thought of a lingering, painful death.”
“No, it would be me he was thinking about. I know Richard. He wouldn’t want to be a burden. He was always so considerate and kind and never a man to cause trouble. I shall miss him.”
Well, it was the truth to some extent. She would miss him; just as she had missed her pet rabbit when it died just after her seventh birthday. She’d soon recovered from that and it was replaced by another almost immediately. Lizzie already had a replacement in mind for Richard but there would have to be a respectable time lapse before she introduced Ed into her life and home. This had to be handled more delicately than just introducing another rabbit to the old hutch after it had been disinfected. She must be particularly careful around Kerry; her daughter had been devoted to her father. Lizzie knew she’d been a far from perfect mother; it would be a challenge to persuade Kerry to accept another man around the place.
Lizzie managed to manifest the required emotions throughout the funeral and in the weeks that followed, inwardly raring to start her new life. Ed, though not the placid type that Richard had been, maintained patience and sympathy. He did love Lizzie; even more so now she’d inherited everything. After a respectable interval Lizzie introduced Ed to her daughter.
“Kerry, this is Ed. We met at bereavement classes.” Lying came easily to Lizzie. “It’s comforting to have a friend in the same boat, so to speak. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Why should I mind? Hi Ed, nice to meet you.” Kerry shook hands, beaming radiantly at her mother. Maybe this was going to be easier than anticipated. After a pleasant evening and once Kerry had retired to bed, Lizzie made a decision.
“Ed, I think we should go away for a while; enjoy a long holiday somewhere, then arrange a suitable courtship when we return. Maybe we can take the boat somewhere.”
“But what about Kerry? I thought you were worried about how she’d react?”
“She seems fine about it doesn’t she? We forget how resilient the young are. She can look after herself and Richard’s sister Joan only lives a few miles away if she needs anything. Kerry gets on really well with Joan’s family. Leave it to me.”
“Of course I don’t mind,” smiled Kerry when her mother casually mentioned taking a holiday with Ed. “You go and enjoy yourselves, I’ll be fine.”
“Well, if you need anything, you can contact Aunty Joan.”
“Mum, there’s no need. I’m a big girl now you know. I can look after myself.”
“You’re a darling,” Lizzie gave her daughter an awkward hug.
But Kerry was nobody’s darling but her fathers. She may have inherited his good looks but her devious, opportunist disposition was even stronger than her mothers. She’d known of her mother’s sordid affair with Ed for several years but had kept quiet as she loved her gentle father and did not want to see him hurt or create a situation where the family might break up. Resentment had eaten away at her like a malignant tumour but now an opportunity to avenge her feelings had presented itself. Kerry had spent enough holidays on the boat to ensure it exploded the minute her deceitful mother and her lover started the engine. It was no more than they deserved. Then she’d move in with her Aunty Joan’s family until she was old enough to inherit everything. There was more love there than she’d ever received from her mother. Lizzie was too enamoured with Ed to notice her daughter slip out the house in the dark, to make her way to the marina.
The day of the departure arrived. Lizzie and Ed parked their suitcases in the hall before saying their goodbyes to Kerry.
“We’ll be off then darling. This is the address we’ll be staying at if you need anything.”
Kerry stared in confusion at the piece of paper her mother handed over.
“But, I thought you were taking the boat?”
“Well, Ed isn’t too fond of water apparently. And to be perfectly honest darling, I found all those sailing holidays rather boring. I only did it for your father.”
“Then is it okay if I use it?” Kerry managed to stammer.
“I didn’t realise you enjoyed sailing so much. Sorry darling but I’ve handed the keys over to your Aunty Joan. They set off this morning for a short trip but they’ll be back by Friday if you need anything. Bye darling, be good. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”