Unless working on special operations, Matt’s hours of duty were Monday to Friday — usually 8am to 4pm. By the time the weekend rolled around, it was a time for him to relax; a time to forget about work and enjoy the many benefits on offer from his seaside lifestyle.
As a shift worker, Alicia was not so fortunate. Occasional weekend work was a necessary evil for a health care worker. Saturday was Alicia’s turn. She was rostered to start at 3pm, which still gave her time for her morning exercise routine before breakfast.
Matt sat on the outdoor balcony enjoying a coffee and reading his on-line daily newspaper subscription on his iPad while Alicia exercised.
He was deep in concentration when Alicia appeared in view, having ascended the rear balcony stairs from the back yard after her run.
Matt smiled in admiration as he regarded his wife. Her hair was wet and brushed back. She wore her very sexy white thong bikini that only just satisfied common decency laws – just. Her towel was draped over her shoulder and she carried her runners. She puffed heavily from her run.
‘Perfect timing,’ Matt said. He gestured to the tray on the table in front of him. ‘I made some breakfast. It’s still hot.’
Alicia smiled when she noticed the tray of crispy bacon, scrambled eggs and toast. ‘Thanks Hun. That looks great. I’m actually famished,’ she said. She slid her towel from her shoulder, unwrapped it and removed her running shorts and training top from the towel and dropped them to the floor.
She then shook open the towel and hung it over the hand rail before sliding into the seat opposite Matt. Matt poured her a hot coffee to go with her glass of fresh orange juice.
‘How was the workout?’ Matt said. ‘What did you do this morning?’ Matt sat back and sipped on his coffee.
‘It was beautiful. So peaceful. I went for a five mile run along the coast – you know…2½ out and 2½ back…’ she said. ‘Then when I came back I went for a swim around the swimming club’s buoy circuit in the ocean. I think I did about… five laps. I feel so invigorated...so alive,’ she said hugging herself.
Matt smiled in admiration at how much she loved to exercise. ‘You start at three today…?’ Matt said as a question.
Alicia screwed up her face. ‘Unfortunately…yes,’ she said. ‘I hate working afternoon shifts on beautiful days like this…especially weekends. What about you…?’ She served up a plate full of breakfast and offered it to Matt. ‘What are your plans for today?’ she said.
Matt looked over his shoulder towards the surf. ‘I was actually thinking of taking the jet ski out for a run later.’ He accepted the plate of food.
‘Nice,’ Alicia nodded. ‘I’m so jealous.’ She served up a small plate for herself. ‘I would love to do that today instead of work…The water was sooo inviting…so flat out the back.’ She glanced past Matt to the vast expanse of ocean beyond.
Matt and Alicia sat together and enjoyed their freshly cooked breakfast and casual conversation, refreshed by a gentle sea breeze and serenaded by the distant peaceful sounds of breaking surf.
Matt was finally starting to relax. He allowed himself to once again enjoy his time spent with his beautiful wife.
After beaching his beloved jet ski on the wet sand directly down from his back yard, Matt jumped off and removed his life jacket then draped it over the handle bars.
Having seen Alicia off for her afternoon shift, Matt spent the last two hours enjoying the sensation of salt spray in his face and the exhilaration of pushing his powerful jet ski to its limits.
Circuits, wave jumping, speed riding, trick riding – he experienced them all, over and over. He was like a child with a toy.
His restored trust in his wife gave him a new lease on life. He felt good to be alive again and not having to worry about what she was doing, or who she was doing it with.
Matt’s time out on the water had been the most relaxed he had felt for some time. The negativity and suspicions that had plagued and pre-occupied his conscious thoughts were now all but gone.
Matt trudged his way up the beach through the loose sand, through his back yard to the under house storage room, behind his garage. After retrieving his quad bike with jet ski trailer attached, he rode it back to the water to load up his jet ski and return it to his storage room.
Once his jet ski was securely stowed away, Matt made his way inside via the external balcony stairs. The physical activity and continual salt water in his face made him parched, so the refrigerator was his first port of call for something - anything cold.
As he strolled across the kitchen Matt noticed the glowing red number “1” flashing at him from his answer machine. Unfazed, he opened the fridge and retrieved a soda and cracked it open. Such was his thirst, his first drink almost emptied the contents of the can.
Belching loudly, Matt’s focus shifted back to the flashing answering machine. Well…it won’t be Leece… and it won’t be work – they both call me on my mobile. Probably a marketing call.
He tapped the PLAY button.
Matt drained the rest of his can and discarded it into the trash while the machine went through the standard pre-message lead in.
The voice of the female caller began.
“Hi Alicia…It’s Lucy from work…”
When he realized the call was for Alicia he stopped listening and let the message play out as he moved to exit out onto the rear balcony.
“…look, I’m really sorry to bother you at home when you are not well but I am in a bit of a fix…”
Matt froze on the spot. He frowned. The message continued.
“I need to swap my shift for tomorrow night and you were my last hope. I was intending to chat to you about it when you came in today… but when you called in sick this afternoon I didn’t know what to do…”
Matt’s face tightened. He spun around and glared at the answering machine. What the…? Sick…? His brow furrowed. She isn’t sick today…I saw her leave for work.
The message continued.
“I sent you a text but you’re probably sleeping. I hate to call you at home, you poor thing, so I thought I would leave you a message because…well…it’s just that I need an answer today if I am going to swap my shift. If you get this message in time please call me back so we can discuss it. That is…if you are well enough to work tomorrow of course. Anyway darling, take care of yourself, rest up and maybe we will chat later…Bye.”
Matt’s mouth fell open. He glared at the answering machine while the message played out. He remained glaring at it long after the message finished.
He pressed the PLAY button and replayed the message, this time paying particular attention to the date and time information.
Matt’s eyes flicked to the wall clock in the kitchen as the call details were communicated. The message was received at 3.28pm – almost two hours ago.
He ignored the rest of the rambling monotone message and made his way upstairs in case Alicia was feeling ill and went back to bed. After all, he had spent the last two hours out on the ocean, so she wouldn’t have been able to reach him.
Matt’s stare was blank when he stood in the open door way looking at an empty bedroom. He could feel his stomach tightening. The bed was still neatly made from this morning. He rubbed a hand across his head. What's going on?
All those feelings of mistrust, all that hatred and jealousy he thought was gone, suddenly came flooding back.
Matt returned back downstairs and located his mobile phone on the kitchen bench. He stared at the phone’s blank display while he considered his next move. He decided to send her a text.
Matt thumbed out a message to see what came back.
“Hi Hun. Just thought I would text to say I enjoyed our time together this morning. BTW Just to make you jealous I had a great jet ski session. Hope work is going well. Looking forward to seeing you tonight. ILU.”
Matt stared at his completed message. His lip curled in a sneer of contempt while his thumb hovered over the SEND button. His thumb hit the button. The message was gone.
He expected the message to be responded to in her usual prompt manner, but that wasn’t the case. Matt paced anxiously for twenty-five minutes before he finally received her belated response.
“Hi Hun. Just saw ur text sorry been busy. Nice re your jet ski. I had fun too this morning. Work sux. Really busy today. Look forward to seeing u when I get home. XXX”
‘FUCK,’ Matt screamed. His whole body tensed. The veins bulged from his temple and forehead. A dull puce hue flooded his face. His focus zoomed in on the words “Work Sux. Really busy today.” He was infuriated.
Matt cocked his arm to throw his phone in disgust, but something stopped him. His arm fall limp to his side. His shoulders slumped. Matt looked defeated.
‘Are you kidding me?’ He said to no-one, with a disbelieving shake of his head. He collapsed his outstretched arms on the kitchen bench.
Matt didn’t consider himself gullible, but that’s exactly how she made him feel. He felt humiliated. She had taken him for a fool. She had played him. She made him think she was working today at 3pm so she could be with her trainer.
‘Fucking bitch,’ he blurted through gritted teeth. The rage pulsed from him in waves. How could she do this? She was his life.
‘If she’s with that trainer of hers…‘ he gritted his teeth. He couldn’t bring himself to even think of Jason’s name. ‘Then we’re through…’ he waved the back of his hand in the air. ‘We’re done,’he said to no-one.
Matt realized that even if he wanted to check up on her, he couldn't remember the address where the trainer lived.
Desperate times called for desperate measures. He raced upstairs and quickly changed into a t-shirt and slipped on a pair of jeans.
Back in the kitchen he scooped up his car keys on his way down the internal stairs to the garage. He was a man on a mission.
The drive to his office appeared quicker than usual. In reality however, he was so focused on what he had to do, running it all through his head, he didn’t realize he was travelling about twenty miles per hour over the speed limit.
After arriving at his office parking lot, he quickly parked his car and made his way to the Comms Room. He stood in the darkened hub scanning the room looking for a vacant console.
The room’s Shift Supervisor noticed Matt standing near the entry door and approached him.
‘Hey Duncan. What brings you in here on a weekend? We don’t have any ops on today…do we?’
Matt shook his head. ‘Nah…’ he said apathetically while scanning the room without making eye contact. He noticed a vacant console on his right and moved towards it. The supervisor followed him. ‘I’ve just received some information in the Sanchez matter,’ Matt said. ‘My CI just gave me the number to a second cell phone Sanchez supposedly uses… so I want to get a roving bug onto it straight away, to confirm if it is his.’
‘What…so your confidential informant even rings you on weekends?’ the Supervisor asked.
‘Weekends…’ Matt scoffed. He frowned. ‘Are you kidding me…Every day’s a weekend to these losers. They wouldn’t know what it was like to work for a living.’
Matt slid into the console chair and logged onto the network. ’What does that matter anyway…?' Matt said as he glared up to the standing Supervisor. ‘He calls me whenever he has something...that’s how it works out in the field.’ Matt tone was condescending to the office-based Supervising Agent.
The Supervisor quickly got the message. ‘I’ll ah…leave you to it then,’ the Supervisor said as he edged away.
Good. He didn’t acknowledge or respond to the Supervisor’s parting comment. He was so focused on what he had to do.
Within minutes Matt had added Alicia’s mobile phone number to a current case file where a roving bug had been approved for installation on the phone of a person of interest he was pursuing.
He diverted the roving bug he placed on Alicia’s cell to his mobile, to prevent anyone monitoring Sanchez from receiving Alicia’s text messages.
Further down the track, once he had obtained the conformation he needed in relation to his wife, he would erase any existence of the additional phone number from the case.
This was what he had stooped to. This was who he had become. All activity from Alicia’s phone was now diverted to his mobile phone for in-field monitoring. He was set to monitor her calls, text messages and pinpoint her exact whereabouts at any time.