Things get worse for Jane.
We left the Royal Air Force and moved in with Bob's parents in Sheffield. All went well at first. I was happy with the arrangement, but I soon realised that visiting people and living with them were vastly different situations.
I 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, I was made to feel surplus as if his mother felt she knew which food was best for her son, and knew better than me how to prepare and cook it.
I began to get bored in the house and I thought I saw an opportunity for change. We had just finished our evening meal. I 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 me, but cast a stern disapproving look towards Bob.
"I've got a Heavy Goods Licence," I 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 me. "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 me 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 we were offered a flat on the ninth floor of a new tower block. I was over the moon at first, pleased we were on our own, but the novelty soon wore off and I began to feel isolated. It was a lonely place; I hardly ever saw my neighbours and knew no one except for Bob's family and friends, so I decided to take a job at the local supermarket to relieve my boredom. I began to make friends with some of the local women, but the happy marriage was crumbling. Bob was becoming hostile towards me due to our failure to produce any children, especially the grandson that Bob's parents were expecting. I was also worried about our failure, but we had only been married a year. Plenty of time yet, I thought.
I stood alone on the balcony of our flat looking out into the night. I put a hand to my trim waist thinking on how I had been married for three years, was twenty-eight years old, and still I had no children with Bob. We had tried every method, every plan, but nothing seemed to work. It made me wonder if some damage had been done when I had given birth in Margate. I went to the doctor and he sent me for a check-up, but there were no problems and I thought perhaps it might be a problem with Bob. I only brought it up once and suggested he go for a check-up, but he went into a rage and started calling me terrible names. It was the first time he hit me, but he has hit me many times since.
I thought of Terry, wondering, as I so often did, how he was and what he was doing. He will be twenty-five now, another five years and you can get married, Terry. I walked back inside and looked at the clock. Midnight, he's bloody late again. There were voices outside our 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 me and I smiled back out of politeness, but I thought the woman looked common and tarty. I looked back at Bob clearly showing my disapproval at him bringing folk back at such a late hour, but it was a wasted effort.
"Hello, darling," he said. "Get some lagers." I 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 me a drink back. I sat in an armchair wishing that his friends would leave, the lager can still held in my 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?" I had raised my 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. I 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."
I 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 me and after removing her bra, she flicked it over onto Bob's lap as if to taunt me further, while causing the two men to yell with delight.
I 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." I stood looking at him, but then he suddenly shouted at me, "I said sit down." I was nervous and I sat back down knowing drink could make Bob violent towards me. He had even beaten me up once while Colin was there, and I remembered Colin sitting there looking on and making no attempt to stop him. I turned my 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 me. "Come on, Jane, your turn," she said, speaking as if she were my friend although the two of us had never met before.
"Yeah, get your clothes off and dance with her," Bob said.
"Piss off," I said. This had gone too far for me, it was time to fight or run, but I 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."
I 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." I felt humiliated as the three of them laughed at Bob's remark. I went to the bedroom and slammed the door behind me.
I was lying in bed when the music was turned down low and I could just hear them talking in the living room. I thought perhaps Bob realised he had pushed me too far and the guests were leaving. I would give them ten minutes or so, and if Bob didn't come to bed I would go back in the room and see what was going on. I closed my eyes and relaxed into my pillow.
I woke at eight o'clock the next morning realising I would be late for work. Bob had not slept in our bed and I thought he had probably slept on the sofa. I was feeling angry because he hadn't woken me before going off to work. I put on my 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. I realised what had been going on. I had heard the rumours of the sex parties in Colin's flat, but nothing like this had ever happened in our home before. I was aware that Bob went to the parties, although he always denied it, and I knew he had at least two affairs in the short time we had been married. I stood looking at him, wondering how many times I must forgive him, and frightened that if I didn't, he might leave me, leaving me alone and abandoned again. I 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. I didn't intend to wake Bob just yet; the later he was the better I would feel.
I hurriedly got myself ready for my job at the supermarket, but before I left, I went to the record player, turned the volume up and clicked the start lever. I opened the front door and smiled to myself as the first track began to blast out, knowing Bob would look at the time and immediately be filled with panic.
I 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?" I ignored him. "Come on, Jane, I'm sorry, we just had too much to drink that's all."
I 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, the highlight of my week. I left the flat at eight o'clock and called for my 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. We met the rest of our friends inside. There was usually quite a crowd and we would drink, mess around, dance and as the night progressed, do a bit of flirting, but it was all harmless fun, we never had any trouble and always had a good time.
I spotted a young lad I knew. Every week he would chat with me and we would always have a dance at some time during the night. I liked the lad and felt flattered by the attention he gave me. I had a dance with him and he walked me back to the girls' table. My friends were still up dancing and I sat down looking around to make sure I was not being watched by any of the staff. The young lad sat next to me as I took the quarter bottle from my bag and began to top up my Bacardi and Coke.
The lad grinned as I put the bottle back in my 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 I stood up and then sat on his lap. I put my arms around him and started to kiss him with a simulated passion. It amused me when I felt his aroused state moving against my thigh. I was beginning to get excited myself and I thought it was time to break away, but as I was about to I heard a voice behind me.
"Hello, Jane, enjoying yourself?"