Dave the Devil needs a hand, he wants to bring back the dark ages.
“Michael, what’s this?”
Lisa held a virgin credit card bill out in front of her, her face fixed with the kind of look that Michael knew meant trouble. But this was trouble trouble, not the kind where she’d get the hump for a few days, and he’d eventually win her round with a bunch of flowers and a curry. No, he knew this was bad, how the hell had she got hold of that? Michael wondered.
“WELL…Kids, go to your room” Lisa touched her sons’ shoulder; he looked up at her, “Go on Alfie, and you Chloe.”
“Mum, I’m not a kid; I’ve seen you and dad argue before”
“CHLOE, just go to your room!” All the while, Lisa’s hard stare remained fixed on her husband.
Alfie pushed back on his chair and stood up, he grabbed his cheese sandwich and walked out into the hall. As he passed his dad, he looked up and raised his eyebrows, Michael tightened his mouth to a fake smile and shrugged his shoulders.
Alfie shook his head; he’d seen it all before.
Chloe stood up in a huff; she grabbed her phone and stormed out; her shoulder crashed into Michael’s arm as she went signifying her disgust.
Lisa watched the kids round the bottom of the stairs and listened as the thump of the fed-up teenager's heavy steps faded, she waited, knowing what was coming ‘SLAM’ went the bedroom door.
Lisa was too angry to react, that was the least of her worries.
“Michael, what the fuck’s this?” She never normally said the ‘F’ word, but this called for it.
“Lisa…I meant to tell you”
“When exactly? Michael it's five grand, all web sites, Long Island, Betfred, William Hill…”
“I know Hun; I didn’t want you to see it…”
“I BET YOU DIDN’T WANT ME TO SEE IT…FIVE FUCKIN’ GRAND”
Michael knew there’d be no easy way out of this, whenever she dropped her ‘Gs, she meant business. Her cockney roots betrayed her posh exterior when her emotions ran too high, and she struggled to keep up the farced.
“Hun, don’t worry, I’ve got this tip for today; it's a sure fire win; It'll net us six k. I promise”
“Unbelievable...” She turned, put the bill down and lent on the side with both hands. Her head drooped, and she stared at the floor. Michael stood watching his wife, for now she looked calm, but he knew she wasn’t.
“We’ve been married for twenty years, does that not mean anything to you?” She paused, but Michael didn’t think he could answer. “You promised, you bloody promised. It took us two years to get straight last time.” She picked up the bill again; I can see the gambling sites but what are these payments to Long Island? I don’t even know where that is” Michael lowered his head. “It’s porn isn’t it?” He tried not to look at her, his eyes would tell all. She threw her arms in the air as if to shout, but paused. “Michael there’s one payment for three hundred quid, THREE HUNDRED FUCKIN’ QUID” Michael winced as another dropped ‘G’ seamed to slap him in the face. “You know what? I can’t be bothered; that's it. I've had enough this time.” Michael buckled and stared at his wife; a tear trickled down her pretty face, His friends always said he was batting above his average. He’d not seen it until now. Michael had never seen such sorrow in her before. He preferred the dropped ‘Gs'; he could deal with that.
“What do you mean?”
“That’s it; you're on your own. I’ve been thinking about if for a while.”
“Thinking about what?”
Lisa shook her head, “You don’t even know do you,” She looked out at the back garden. The grass hadn’t been cut all summer and now winter was around the corner, the likelihood of it being done was slim. The old mattress which Michael said he would move six months ago, sat rusting on the patio. “Just because it’s not in front of your face, just because the arguments have stopped doesn’t mean it’s gone away… it means…” She wiped the tear from her eye, trying not to smudge her mascara. “It means I’ve given up…had enough. The broken promises, the lies…You know what, I’m not even surprised about the money. I knew you couldn’t stop, I’m pissed off with the porn though. That’s why you come to bed two hours after me isn’t it, you stay up wanking to some shit on the net, you haven’t touched me for months, not that I wanted you to, six months isn’t it, and that was crap for all I remember, a quick in an out”
Michael smiled; he didn’t know why; but a scene from A clockwork orange appeared in his mind, the lad with the bowler hat and the stick beating the tramp, the girl running away from the gang with her tits wobbling. He couldn’t stop it, his smile spread. Lisa caught it in the corner of her eye.
Oh no, the ‘Gs’ back, is that good? no it's bad?
Lisa ran past him.
“No, I was thinking of A Clockwork Orange. What you doing?”
She stopped half-way up to the stairs, “Leaving; I'm taking the kids to my mothers"
“No you can’t?”
“Why not Michael? Why the bloody hell would I want to stay here with you? And If you think I’m paying that credit card bill, oh, I forgot; that horse is gonna win isn’t it; you'll be fine…good luck with that”
Lisa ran up the stairs. “Kids, pack a bag, we’re off to nannies”
Michael listened the whys and what not; the kids asked questions to which Lisa didn’t give answers to. “JUST DO IT, UNLESS YOU WANT TO STAY HERE WITH YOUR FATHER”
The questions ceased, that did it; he thought.
This was happening…They were leaving; he couldn’t believe his luck, why hadn’t she kicked him out?
He leaned against the cupboard under the stairs. He smiled again. What the hell? He didn’t feel sad. He should be in pieces; his world was breaking apart but instead of pain, there was a kind of relief, like the elephant had left the room and trumped off through the front door and down the street never to be seen again.
She was right, for the past six months he didn’t want to come home. School finished at three thirty, but he’d always find extra marking to do, or sit in the detention room watching the naughty kids as they pretended to do homework. His masturbation habit has spilled into school; he'd go to the toilet during class for a ‘crafty wank’ as he called it.
He blamed it on the girls in the sixth form. Their skirts were getting shorter and shirts tighter. He knew he shouldn’t look, but they were more and more like the porn stars he spent hours staring at. He found himself clicking on the school girl links where barely legal teens dressed in skimpy school uniform were taught a lesson by older teachers in detention, the fantasy being a bit close to home.
He went and sat in the lounge, and listened to the dull thumping’s from upstairs as his wife packed her bag with tears still flowing. The drinks' cabinet called to him, and he pushed himself back out of the chair. The first whisky always tasted bad, but the second and third were ok. Within minutes, they were tasting ok.
“That’s it; you know where to go don’t you, things get tough, and out comes the drink…” Lisa said as she stood in the door with one hand on her hip. Michael heard the front door open as his children went to the car without thinking about saying good bye.
Actually, he felt ok, kind of calm in fact.
“What’s his name?”
“The fella you’re leaving me for? There must be one”
“I knew you’d think that, No Michael, I’m leaving because of you, because of your drinking, gambling and your lying. Typical, deflecting the blame from yourself, you can’t even begin to think it’s your fault can you?” Michael downed another whiskey. “Don’t call me, I won’t answer”
He turned to the drinks' cabinet and poured another as the front door slammed shut, maybe he’d gone too far this time.