Things get worse for Jane.
All went well in Sheffield at first. Jane was happy with the arrangement, but she soon realised that visiting people and living with them were vastly different situations.
She began to sense the resentment of his mother at the intrusion into her kitchen. While Bob went to work at his father's haulage company, Jane was made to feel surplus as if his mother felt she knew which food was best for her son, and knew better than Jane how to prepare and cook it.
Jane began to get bored in the house and she thought she saw an opportunity for change. They had just finished their evening meal and she looked across to Bob's father. "Have the new lorries arrived yet?"
"Two came today, the other two probably early next week." His father spoke without looking at her, but cast a stern disapproving look towards Bob.
"I've got a Heavy Goods Licence," Jane said. "I've driven a lot of the RAF Bedfords and I even drove a big six-wheeled Leyland in Cyprus."
"We don't talk business at the dinner table," Bob said
"I'm not interested in business. What I'm saying is, I could do with a job to help out with our finances, so we can get a place of our own."
"Our house not good enough for you now," his mother said.
"It's not that. The depot has the work, I have a HGV licence and the experience, why can't I drive one of the new lorries?"
Bob started to laugh, but his father just stared at her. "Preposterous," his mother said. “Girls don't drive trucks."
"I'm not a girl, I'm a married woman. And lots of women drive lorries, and buses, nowadays."
"Not in my bloody firm they don't. If you want work then go to the dairy. They're taking on girls there. Oh, I'm so very sorry, taking on women."
The father stood up. "No more, the matter is closed. I want to hear no more of your ridiculous idea. I'm going to the lounge for a brandy. I bloody well need one after this." The man stormed off. Bob looked over at Jane and shook his head.
His mother was the next to stand up. "Come on Jane, let's get this table cleared. Rachel will be waiting to do the washing up so she can get off home."
It was not long before they were offered a flat on the ninth floor of a new tower block. Jane was over the moon at first, pleased they were on their own, but the novelty soon wore off and she began to feel isolated. It was a lonely place; she hardly ever saw her neighbours and knew no one except for Bob's family and friends. She decided to take a job at the local supermarket to relieve her boredom. She began to make friends with some of the local women, but the happy marriage was crumbling. Bob was becoming hostile towards her due to their failure to produce any children, especially the grandson that Bob's parents were expecting. She was also worried about their failure, but they had only been married a year. Plenty of time yet, she thought.
Another year past and Jane stood alone on the balcony of the flat looking out into the night. She put a hand to her trim waist thinking on how she was almost twenty-eight years old and still I had no children with Bob. They had tried every method, every plan, but nothing seemed to work. It made her wonder if some damage had been done when she had given birth in Margate. She went to the doctor and he sent her for a check-up, but there were no problems with her fertility and she thought perhaps it might be a problem with Bob. She only brought it up once and suggested he go for a check-up, but he went into a rage and started calling her terrible names. It was the first time he had hit her, but he has hit her many times since.
She thought of Terry, wondering, as she so often did, how he was and what he was doing. She was thinking he must be about twenty-five now, another five years and you can get married, Terry. She walked back inside and looked at the clock. Midnight, he's bloody late again. There were voices outside the flat, people laughing, the key turned in the Yale lock, and Bob walked in. Colin, who was Bob's drinking partner, and a woman, followed him in. The woman smiled at Jane and she smiled back out of politeness, but she thought the woman looked common and tarty. Jane looked back at Bob clearly showing her disapproval at him bringing folk back at such a late hour, but it was a wasted effort.
"Hello, darling," he said. "Get some lagers." Jane walked off to the kitchen and brought three cans back. "Where's yours?" he said.
"I don't want one."
"Oh yes, you do. You can join the party." He walked to the kitchen and brought Jane a drink back. She sat in an armchair wishing that his friends would leave, the lager can still held in her right hand, unopened. Bob put a record on the hi-fi and closed the curtains. "Jane," he said loudly, almost shouting. "Get up and dance."
"I don't want to dance thanks."
"Fiona will dance, won't you, love?" Fiona giggled but got up and began to cavort around the living room.
"Get em down, you Zulu warrior," the men began to sing, drowning out the song from the record. "Come on, Fiona, get your gear off."
"Bob, it's late, I think you should pack this in, don't you?" Jane had raised her voice but avoided eye contact with the woman.
"Shut up, Jane, it's only a bit of fun," Bob said. "Come on, Fiona."
The woman started to unbutton her blouse. Jane could tell by the way she moved it was not the first time she had given such a performance. "Bob, what the hell, please tell her to stop."
"Don't be such a prude. You don't have to look do you."
The woman threw her blouse onto a chair. She unzipped the side of her skirt and slipped it down to the floor, kicking it over to the corner of the room."
Jane yelled at the woman. "You don't have to do this. Just take no notice of them."
Fiona laughed. "I don't mind, like Bobby said, it's only a bit of fun."
"Well I bloody mind, and who the hell do you think you're calling Bobby?"
Fiona deliberately ignored her and after removing her bra, she flicked it over onto Bob's lap as if to taunt her further, while causing the two men to yell with delight.
Jane put the can of lager on the floor and got up from her chair. "I'm going to bed, this is gross."
"No you're not," Bob said. "Sit down."
"Bob, I don't want to watch this, I'm tired, and I want to go to bed."
"Control yourself, woman, we'll all be in the bed soon enough." Bob and the two unwelcome visitors laughed at his innuendo.
"You're not funny. Can I go to bed now?"
"Sit down." Jane stood looking at him, but then he suddenly shouted at her, "I said sit down." Jane was nervous and she sat back down knowing drink could make Bob violent towards her. He had even beaten her up once while Colin was there, and she remembered Colin sitting there looking on and making no attempt to stop him. She turned her head away from the company and looked towards the curtains.
Fiona was soon dancing naked and provocatively in front of the men, seeming as if she were deliberately trying to aggravate Jane. "Come on, Jane, your turn," she said, speaking as if she were her friend although the two of them had never met before.
"Yeah, get your clothes off and dance with her," Bob said.
"Piss off," Jane said. This had gone too far for her, it was time to fight or run, but she didn't intend to have a catfight with the naked woman, knowing that would be just the sort of thing that would delight the men.
"See what I have to put up with, Colin, the miserable fucking bitch."
She stood up. "I'm going to bed, you do what you like."
"Yes, you go to bed. Better still why don't you go and sleep in the refrigerator, you frigid bloody cow." Jane felt humiliated as the three of them laughed at Bob's remark. She went to the bedroom and slammed the door behind her.
She was lying in bed when the music was turned down low and she could just hear them talking in the living room. She thought perhaps Bob realised he had pushed her too far and the guests were leaving. She would give them ten minutes or so, and if Bob didn't come to bed she would go back in the room and see what was going on. She closed her eyes and relaxed into her pillow.
Jane woke at eight o'clock the next morning realising she would be late for work. Bob had not slept in the bed and she thought he had probably slept on the sofa. She was feeling angry because he hadn't woken her before going off to work. She put on her dressing gown and walked into the living room. It was a terrible shock to see the three of them asleep, naked, Colin and Fiona huddled together on the settee, and Bob lying sprawled on the carpet. A long-playing record was spinning quietly at the end of its last track. She realised what had been going on. She had heard the rumours of the sex parties in Colin's flat, but nothing like this had ever happened in their home before. She was aware that Bob went to the parties, although he always denied it, and she knew he had at least two affairs in the short time they had been married. She stood looking at him, wondering how many times she must forgive him, and frightened that if she didn't, he might leave her, leaving her alone and abandoned again. She returned to the bedroom. Bob would be late for work and his father would be livid. Punctuality was very important to his father and he sacked many drivers for being late for work. He expected his son to give a good example. She didn't intend to wake Bob just yet; the later he was the better she would feel.
She hurriedly got herself ready for her job at the supermarket, but before she left, she went to the record player, turned the volume up and clicked the start lever. She opened the front door and smiled to herself as the first track began to blast out, knowing Bob would look at the time and immediately be filled with panic.
Jane returned from work at six o'clock and was busily tidying up the mess from Bob's private party when Bob arrived back from the haulage yard.
"Hello, love," he said. "Do you want me to get some Chinese, save you cooking?" She ignored him. "Come on, Jane, I'm sorry, we just had too much to drink that's all."
Jane stared at him. "You had sex with her, didn't you?"
"No, of course, I didn't. We just danced and had a bit of fun."
"A bit of fun. I found you all lying naked and you tell me it was just a bit of fun. Have you any idea how I feel? You and that friend of yours screwing some bloody whore, that you've brought in from the street, in my flat, while I'm asleep in the next room. How could you do that?"
"She's not a whore, she's a nice girl, which you could have found out if only you'd taken the time to get to know her."
"Nice girls don't dance naked in front of strangers and screw other women's husbands."
"Look if anything happened I'm sorry, but I don't remember, and anyway, she was with Colin not me."
"Oh, that's all right then, is it? I suppose Colin lets you shag all his women, does he? And is that what last night was about? Did you think I'd return the favour for you?"
"Of course not. Come on, Jane, let's not fall out again." He put his coat back on. "I'll go and get some Chinese."
* * * * *
Thursday night, girl's night out, and the highlight of Jane’s week. She left the flat at eight o'clock and called for her friend on the third floor. It was over twenty-five's night at the club across from the flats, though there were many people there who were regulars and were nowhere near that age. They met the rest of their friends inside. There was usually quite a crowd and they would drink, mess around, dance and as the night progressed, do a bit of flirting, but it was all harmless fun. They never had any trouble and always had a good time.
Jane spotted a young lad she knew. Every week he would chat with her and they would always have a dance at some time during the night. She liked the lad and felt flattered by the attention he gave her. She had a dance with him and he walked her back to the girls' table. Her friends were still up dancing and she sat down looking around to make sure she was not being watched by any of the staff. The young lad sat next to her as she took the quarter bottle from her bag and began to top up her Bacardi and Coke.
The lad grinned as she put the bottle back in her bag. "My parents are throwing a party for me tomorrow night," he said. Would you like to come? It won't start till late, but it will probably go on all night."
"What's the party for?"
"My twenty-first. It's my birthday tomorrow."
"Why didn't you tell us last week? We could have got you a card."
"You can give me the card tomorrow. What do you think, will you be able to come?"
"It's nice of you to ask and I'm really flattered, but I'm married and I've a husband to go home to. I can't go anywhere with you, love, so please don't ask me again."
"You're not angry with me, are you? I didn't think you'd go, but I had to ask, I had to."
"Angry, of course I'm not angry. In fact, you've made me feel good. Tell you what, as it's your twenty-first tomorrow and I won't see you, I'll give you your birthday kiss now."
The lad's face was filled with delight as she stood up and then sat on his lap. She put her arms around him and started to kiss him with a simulated passion. It amused her when she felt his aroused state moving against her thigh. She was beginning to get excited herself and she thought it was time to break away, but as she was about to she heard a voice behind her.
"Hello, Jane, enjoying yourself?"