My Friends' Wives And Me

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Chapter 15

On Monday, Debbie walked towards me in the playground with her head down. I didn’t speak to her as normal and carried on slowly to the gates. I waited for a few minutes and she didn’t come out, so I walked over to my car and sat waiting. After about five minutes, I could see her walking towards the gates still with her head down, so I jumped out of the car and walked up behind her. “Debbie,” I shouted but she carried on walking. I shouted again. “Debbie, it’s me, hold on!” By this time I had caught her up and I grabbed her arm. “What’s wrong? I was calling you.” She turned round. Her head was still down and I could hear her sobbing. I lifted her head. I couldn’t believe my eyes: she was black and blue and, just above her right eye, was a cut about an inch long, still bleeding. “Has John done this to you?” Debbie burst out crying and nodded. If he were standing next to me, I probably would have killed him with my bare hands. I wanted to hold her tight but there were other parents about. I started to shake with anger; I had to think quickly. “Can you drive down the road?” Debbie nodded again. “Follow me.” I helped her into her car and then ran back to mine and pulled away with Debbie behind me. I turned into the park entrance, stopped, and she pulled up next to me. My body was still shaking. My teeth were locked together as I flexed the muscles in my jaw. I ran over to her car. Debbie stood up and again burst into tears. I held her close as she wept on my shoulder. “Can you tell me what happened?”

She lifted her head, wiping her nose with a tissue and sniffing, trying to catch her breath. Then she said in a broken voice, “It ... was ... last night...”

I pushed her hair behind her ear with my finger, as she pulled another tissue from her sleeve, gasping for air in short bursts. “Calm down and try to tell me what happened.”

“It was ... last night, about 8.30, when he came ... home from work. As soon as the front door slammed shut, I knew ... he had been drinking. I’ve been through it a thousand times before. I was preparing ... the dinner, then the kitchen door crashed open. I was scared and too frightened to turn around. Luckily, I’d put Dawn to bed. ‘Where the fuck’s my dinner?’ is all he said.” The tears were building up in my eyes by this time and I was still shaking all over. “I put his dinner down on the table in front of him and he grabbed my wrist, then he pulled me down onto his lap, trying to kiss me on the neck. I managed to struggle free and get out of the way. Then he started shouting ‘I want you, bitch!’ trying to unfasten his trousers, then I ran up the stairs.” Debbie’s voice started to break again so I pulled her into my shoulder as she burst into tears.

“Don’t worry, he can’t get you now.” I stroked her hair until she stopped crying, wiped her nose on a tiny bit of crinkled tissue and carried on.

“When I opened the door to go upstairs he picked his dinner plate up and threw it at me and went wild - ‘You fuckin’ bitch, come here now!’ I ran as fast as I could up the stairs into Dawn’s room, more scared than I’ve ever been in my life. Dawn was crying and screaming as I tried to wedge a chair against the door. Then he started banging on the door until it cracked at the top. The crack got bigger and bigger until his clenched fist appeared through a hole, covered in blood. I grabbed Dawn and we hid in the wardrobe but I couldn’t stop her screaming. Then we heard the door smash in. First, I thought he went into the en-suite, so I pushed the door open and we tried to run out, but he was standing in the room. He grabbed Dawn off me and threw her on the bed, then he took a swipe at me and punched me on my chin. I fell to the floor and hit my head on the cupboard next to the bed. Then he kicked me in the leg and ran down the stairs.” Debbie’s eyes started to fill up again.

“The bastard!” I was so angry. “Where is he now?”

“I don’t know. He left the house and I haven’t seen him since. I locked all the doors and got into bed with Dawn. She stopped crying and fell asleep eventually.”

“Is she all right this morning?”

“She’s tired but I had to put her in school so I could find somewhere to stay for a couple of days.”

“Have you told anyone?”

“No, I’m too embarrassed. I made Dawn promise not to say a word to anybody at school either.”

I kissed her forehead and said, “Don’t be silly, it’s not your fault.” Then she dropped her head again. “I will find you a place to stay tonight. Go back home and collect some things for you and Dawn from the house; not a word to anyone, OK?” Debbie nodded while she wiped her nose. “Don’t put your clothes in a suitcase, find a carrier bag or something like that, in case the neighbours are watching, collect Dawn at dinner-time and meet me at the Plough in Stratford at two o’clock in the car park. Don’t say anything to the teachers, just take her out.”

“What shall I do if he’s at home?”

I pulled the phone out of my pocket and phoned his workshop. “Hello, is John there?” I asked.

“Yes, I’ll just get him for you,” a girl answered.

“No, it’s OK, I’ll pop in and surprise him. Don’t worry, but thanks.” Debbie looked at me with a black, half-closed eye. “He’s at work, so I will go first to your house and park at the end of the drive while you go in and I’ll wait till you have finished in case he comes home.”

Debbie kissed me on the cheek and got back into her car. I drove off first with her close behind. She parked her car and ran into the house quickly, while I waited.

After about five minutes, she threw three bags in the boot, jumped back into her car and pulled away. I followed her to the end of the road and then made my way to work.

As I drove back I calmed down a bit and was trying to think what I could do to the bastard that might help Debbie. Beating him senseless was all I could come up with at first but common sense told me he would only do it again later.

I pulled on to the forecourt and went straight up to my office, still deep in thought. Then I remembered my cousin in London and his parting words every time I leave him - “If you want anything or anyone done, just let me know”. I opened my phone book and stared at his name on the page, undecided what to do, then I phoned him.

“Hello, Don, its Nick here.

“Hello,” he said. “How are you?”

“All right, thanks, yourself?”

“Yes, how’s the family?”

“Everyone is OK.”

Then he said, “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“I need some advice but I don’t think it’s a good idea to talk about it on the phone. Can I come down this afternoon?”

“Yes, by all means.” He paused. “Oh, hang on a minute, I’ve got to meet someone in Milton Keynes at four o’clock, do you want to meet me there? It’s on your way.”

“Great,” I said, then he gave me the address and explained to me roughly where it was.

I messed about in the garage for a while with very little interest; Debbie was all I could think about and how she must have felt when all this was going on. I started to get angry again.

It was about 1.15 when I left and made my way over to Stratford to meet Debbie. I arrived a little ahead of her and waited. At 2.30 I started to worry, in case something had happened.

Her BMW pulled into the car park and I watched her go past behind me in my door mirror. She stopped about six cars further down the line. I waited for a few seconds to make sure no one was following her, opened the door and stood up. Then she got out of her car and ran over to me. We kissed, holding each other in between the cars, and she sobbed again on my shoulder. “I hate that bastard and all he’s put us through.” I held her tighter and asked her if Dawn was in the car. She nodded and wiped her nose with a pink hanky.

“Get your things out of the car and I’ll get you both booked in.”

Debbie walked back to the car and I went into the hotel. I registered us in the book as Mr and Mrs Smith - it was the first name that came into my head - and waited by the entrance. As they came through the door, I told Debbie to cover her bruised eye with her hand. I walked them over to the lift and we got in. We didn’t speak for a while and I noticed Dawn, the little girl, looking up at me as she held her mum’s hand. “Hello,” I said, trying to be friendly. “I’m your uncle Nick.” I held my hand out to shake her’s and she hid behind Debbie. The door opened and we found the room almost opposite the lift. I unlocked it and stood by the door. Debbie pushed Dawn in first, so I tapped her on the back and as she turned I whispered, “I won’t come in, I will see you later. It’s not good for Dawn to see us together.” She stepped back pulling the door to and I kissed her again, and left.

It was a little after three o’clock when I left the car park and I arrived at Milton Keynes just before four. I found the house almost straight away. Don’s Ferrari was parked on the drive, so I stopped on the road and waited, watching the front door until it opened. Don shook the hand of an elderly man and, as he walked to his car, he waved to me while unlocking his door. Getting in with his black briefcase, he reversed off the drive and pulled level with me, opened his window and shouted, “Follow me.” So I did. We drove out into the countryside for a few miles and stopped at a pub called the Golden Lion. I parked next to him in the car park and he came and sat in my car. “What’s wrong?” were his first words.

“I need some advice. I didn’t like to say on the phone, you never know if anyone is listening in. When I left you last time, again you said if you need anything or anyone done, to contact you. What did you mean?”

“Exactly that. Why, what have you got yourself into?”

“Well, I have a friend who has been badly beaten by her husband.” Don screwed his face up and said, “What’s he like?”

“He was a friend of mine, a good friend some years ago. I hadn’t seen him for a long time and we met up last New Year’s Eve. Debbie, that’s his wife, told me then that he drank too much. The more he drinks, the nastier he gets. The other night he broke the bedroom door down and punched and kicked her badly and she had to grab their little girl and run away from him and hide until he went out. I’ve got them in a hotel at the moment.”

Don shook his head from side to side and said, “I have a friend up your way who hates blokes like him. He owes me a few favours; I’ll speak to him tomorrow and let you know. Are you involved with this girl?”

“I won’t lie, I’ve been out with her once and, yes, she is a very attractive girl that shouldn’t be treated like a punch-bag every time he drinks too much. She hates him. They live in separate parts of the house. It’s been going on for a long time, apparently. She hasn’t told anyone this time; she’s too afraid to.”

“Where does he work?”

“He’s a mechanic, in a garage not far from me, and he obviously doesn’t know we’ve been out together.”

“Have you told anyone about her?”

“No, only you.”

“Are you positive?”

“Yes, I have not told a soul.”

“Good, make sure she is OK. Firstly, do you need any money?”

“No. I’ve got some, thanks.”

“Wait until you hear from me. I will see you tomorrow. Write down on a piece of paper his address, at work and at home, and if he has a hobby, where he goes and drinks, things that will help us to decide what to do with him. I’ll ring you as soon as I have spoken with my friend, and we’ll meet you somewhere. When we talk on the phone, choose your words carefully.”

With that, Don got back into his car and drove off. I drove back to see if Debbie was all right.

I parked the car and made my way up to her room and knocked on the door. There was no answer, so I knocked again a little louder this time. Still no answer, so I went down to the reception and said to the man behind the desk, “I came in earlier with my wife and daughter. I’ve just tried the door and there’s no answer. Can you tell me if they went out?” He turned and looked behind on the wall and said, “There’s no key so they should still be in their room. Would you like me to ring the room for you, sir?”

“Yes, please, if you could,” I said, afraid in case something had happened.

He picked up the phone and dialled the room number. “Hello, your husband is here and wants to come up.” It suddenly struck me she might be thinking it was John.

“Tell her I forgot to tell her about the log cabin up north.”

He repeated me word for word and then he put the phone down and said, “If you go up now, she will be waiting for you by the lift, sir.”

I thanked him and made my way up. As the lift door opened, Debbie was standing there. “I had to say that in case you thought it was John.”

“I did to start with,” she said grinning.

“How are you?” I asked as I put my arms around her.

“I’m all right. Dawn is fast asleep; she is probably worn out from last night.”

“Have you eaten anything today?”

“No, I’m not really hungry,” she said quietly. “Dawn will be when she wakes, I’m sure.”

“Well, take her down to the restaurant, then both of you get some sleep and I’ll be back in the morning. Don’t worry about John, he won’t find you. I’m the only one that knows you’re here. Don’t ring anyone tonight and I will ring you before I come up in the morning.”

Debbie looked up at me and said, “OK.” She looked a bit more relaxed. Her eye was a deep purple and the cut on her head was drying up. We kissed quickly and I told her I had to go. Debbie asked me to stop a bit longer but I didn’t think it would be a good idea. I didn’t want Dawn to see us together.

On my way out, I stopped at the reception desk and gave the manager £200 and asked him to let them have what they wanted in the restaurant when they came down later. Then I left and made my way home.

I drove past Debbie’s house. John’s Land Rover was on the drive in front of his boat and so I carried on.

As I pulled onto my drive, I half expected to see Andrew’s car there and was shocked when it wasn’t.

I made myself a drink as Liz served the dinner and, after it was eaten, we sat and talked for a while. Mick showed me the certificate he had got at school for swimming. I told him how proud of him I was and promised to get him another frame so he could hang it on the bedroom wall with his other three.

At nine o’clock they went to bed as usual. I sat up and while I was watching the television I put together a list for Don, as he had asked.

While I was driving to work the next morning, Don phoned. “Can you meet me in Warwick about midday at the Queen’s Arms and bring me the paperwork I asked you for?”

“Yes,” I answered, a little startled. “Is everything OK?”

“Fine,” he said and went on to give me vague directions.

When I got to the garage, I phoned Debbie at the hotel. She told me she felt a lot better and I briefly explained I was going to talk to someone and that I would call in later on my way back.

I left for Warwick about eleven o’clock and eventually found the Queen’s Arms just before twelve. As I pulled into the car park, I could see Don’s car and next to it was a big red Bentley with the roof down. I parked up, found the lounge and went in. Don was at the bar and next to him was a black man, who looked bigger and meaner than Mike Tyson - he was huge. As I approached them, Don turned and introduced him. “This is my friend, Savage.” I looked at him and as I shook his massive hand, I thought to myself, I wouldn’t like to be on the wrong side of him. Then Don said, “Shall we sit over here? It’s a bit more private.” I followed them and we all sat down in the corner.

Don spoke first, almost whispering. “I’ve explained the situation as best as I could. There are two options open: it can be arranged for this person to get a good hiding but, to be honest, it only works for a while and then it will probably happen again later.”

“What’s the other option?” I asked.

Then, even quieter, Don leaned forward and said, “An accident.”

“What kind of an accident?” I asked innocently, then Savage leaned forward and with a very serious look on his face, his teeth clasped together and a very deep voice he whispered, “A fatal accident. Bastards like that don’t deserve to be alive.”

I froze. All I could do was stare at him. He meant every word; I could tell by his expression. I smiled. “I couldn’t do that,” Don asked me if I had jotted a few things down. I stood up and pulled out the folded sheet of paper from my back pocket and dropped it on the table in front of him. I suddenly realised what I was getting myself into. Savage was a professional killer and he wasn’t here to be messed about. Don unfolded the paper and they looked at it together.

“Where’s he keep his speedboat?” Savage asked.

“On the drive in front of his house.”

They looked at each other and then Don said, “1978, Isle of Man.”

Savage almost smiled, I think. His cheeks moved up slightly and then he said, “Yes, that would do it.”

Wondering what they were talking about, I stood up. “Can I get either of you a drink?”

They lifted their heads together and Savage said, “Not for me.”

Don shook his head. “You get yourself one - you look as if you need it.”

I walked over to the empty bar. “A large whiskey, please.” While I was waiting, I thought about what they’d said. My hand was trembling as I paid the girl for the drink. I knocked it back in one then, placing the glass back on the bar, I asked for another.

Again I paid and, with my drink, sat back down. “What’s the chance of him using his boat soon?” Don asked.

“He often takes it down to the Cotswolds. Why do you ask?”

“We were just trying to work something out.” I took a sip of whiskey while they whispered to each other. Then Don said, “In the next couple of days, his boat will disappear off his drive and, two or three days after, it will be left somewhere close to his house, so he will find it again. Now, I need you to convince his wife to go back to him for a couple of days. We will frighten him enough to leave her alone. She must act normal to her neighbours and friends.” I took another gulp from my glass. “Then,” he said, “you must drop hints to him about going out with him the next time he takes the boat out and try to get a few friends together, make it a day out. The rest you can leave to us, OK?” I nodded, still in a daze about what I was doing, and finished my drink.

They whispered some more and then Savage stood up and said, “I must go, I’ve got some money to collect before five o’clock.” I stood up and held my hand out to shake his enormous hand. Then he left, pulling his jacket together and fastening the middle button.

Don folded the sheet of paper I’d given him and slid it in his top pocket. “Don’t worry, it will be sorted,” he said with a smile on his face. He could probably tell I was terrified.

“Am I right in thinking he does this sort of thing regularly?” I asked foolishly.

Don lifted his eyebrows once and stood up. “I must go, too. Will you be all right? You look a little pale.”

“Yes,” I said standing up “It’s a bit hard to swallow, all this.” We walked out together.

As we approached the cars, Don turned to me. “It will be all right, just get them back together and don’t say anything to err...”


“Yes, Debbie - about the boat. I’ll be in touch tomorrow.”

I sat in my car as Don’s Ferrari disappeared off down the road, so I made my way back to Stratford trying to work out how I was going to get them back together.

I walked into the hotel reception; the same man was at the desk. “Could you tell Debbie in room 103 I’m coming up?”

“They’re in the restaurant, sir,” he said pointing to the door, so I made my way in.

I sat with them for a short while and asked Debbie if she was OK. She told me she was a lot better and a bit more relaxed. We chatted a little longer then I left, telling her I would see her in the morning.

The following day, I drove back to the hotel, worried about telling her to go back to John. I made my way up to her room after telling the receptionist to let Debbie know I was on my way up. As the lift door opened she was standing in the corridor. “How are you?”

“I’m all right,” she said as we walked towards the room. Debbie put her hand on the handle to open the door.

“Debbie, I need to speak to you without Dawn listening.”

She looked at me, then she pushed the door open. “Stay in bed a little while longer, Mummy’s just outside the door if you want me.” She pulled the door closed again. “What’s the matter?” she said, looking at me with a big grin and that lovely smile I hadn’t seen for ages.

“I’ve spoken to a friend of mine about John.” The smile disappeared. “He is going to get a good hiding.”

“Good,” she said clenching her fist and with a hateful look on her face.

“I need you to go back to him for a short while.”

“No way,” she said shaking her head. “I don’t care if I never see that bastard again as long as I live.”

I put my hands gently on her cheeks and looked into her eyes. “Now, listen to me first, I know it is going to be hard for you both and I wouldn’t let any more harm come to either of you. No one knows what’s gone on in the last few days and if anything was to happen to him, people would be suspicious if you weren’t at home.”

Debbie turned, looking out of the window, leaning on the frame. “How long, is a few days?” I heard her say into the glass.

“Seven, ten tops.” Her head dropped and then she turned back.

“I couldn’t. What about Dawn?”

“Most of the time she will be at school and he’ll be at work. It’s only the nights and, as I said before, he will be frightened off.”

“What happens in seven to ten days, then?”

“I can’t tell you at the moment, but it will be better for you and Dawn.” Debbie walked towards me with tears trickling down her cheeks; I put my arm around her waist and lifted her chin with my finger. “I wouldn’t ask you to do anything like this if it wasn’t necessary.” I kissed her tears and then she sobbed on my shoulder. “Listen, I’ll see if I can arrange something else,” I said quietly in her ear.

Then Debbie lifted her head and said, “Ten days, not a day longer.”

I held her tight and said, “It will be all over soon.”

I quickly stepped back as the door opened. “Mum, are you coming in yet?”

“Yes,” Debbie said wiping her eyes. “I’ll be with you in a couple of minutes, darling.” As the door clicked shut, Debbie said, “Will you come in with me and tell Dawn?” Nodding, I followed her into the room.

Dawn was sitting on her hands on the edge of the bed, watching cartoons on the telly; Debbie sat next to her, and softly placed her arm around her shoulders. “Mummy’s going to take you home today, would you like that?”

Dawn waved her head vigorously from side to side. “No, I want to stay here with you.”

Debbie carried on. “We can’t stay here forever, we’ve got to go home sometime.”

“But Daddy’s there, I don’t like Daddy,” she cried. Debbie pulled Dawn’s head onto her cheek. I felt so sorry for them as they sat on the bed together.

I knelt down in front of Dawn and said, “I’ve talked to your daddy and he is so sorry for hurting you and your mum. He said he will go to the hospital to see the doctors because he hasn’t been very well lately and he wants the doctors to make him better, and he asked me to ask you to come home because he misses you both so much.”

The tears rolled down Dawn’s face as she looked up at Debbie and said, “Daddy won’t shout at me again?”

Debbie shook her head, wiping the tears from Dawn’s cheeks. “No, darling, he won’t shout at us anymore.”

With that promise, Dawn said, “Shall we go home, then?”

That huge lump was in my throat again and I couldn’t say another word. I walked into the bathroom and got myself a glass of water. Then I heard Debbie say, “Shall we put all our things back in the bags?”

Before I went back into the room, I looked through the opening in the door. I could see in the mirror on the wall that Debbie was cuddling Dawn and I heard her say, “It will be all right.”

As I walked through, I said to Debbie, “I will go down and tell the reception you’re leaving and meet you both downstairs.” Debbie nodded and carried on packing their clothes into bags.

After I had settled the bill, I waited. Eventually, the lift door opened and they stood there like two refugees. We shouted goodbye as we walked across the reception area and left.

While Debbie was loading her car, I told her I would follow her back so far and then go on ahead to make sure John wasn’t at home. We didn’t kiss, in case Dawn saw us.

I’d just pulled out onto the road when my phone rang. It was Don. “How're things?” he asked.

I had to think carefully. “All right, on her way home as we speak.”

“Good, apparently your mate will be seen after dinner today, so I’ll ring later.”

I had to speak quickly, but be careful how I said it. “Is there a slim chance he could be laid up for a couple of days after seeing the doctor? They didn’t want to go back.” It went quiet for a second.

“I’ll ring you back later,” and then he hung up.

I followed Debbie part of the way, carried on to make sure John wasn’t home, and waited. Her BMW pulled up behind me and as I pulled away she flashed her lights. Then I made my way to work.

About four o’clock, while I was upstairs in my office wading through some paperwork, the phone rang.

“There was no need for your mate to go and see the doctor. Unfortunately for him, a car fell on him earlier at work and they took him straight to the hospital for X-rays on his chest. He might have to stay in for a while. Anyway, I’ve got to go, speak with you later.”

As I put the phone down, I couldn’t stop myself smiling and, of course, I was relieved that Debbie didn’t have to stay with John, so I phoned her. “Hello, it’s only me. John’s going to be in a hospital for a few days. He’s had an accident at work. His boss will probably ring to tell you what happened, so go and visit him and I’ll see you in the morning.”

It went quiet for a second and then the only words she could say were, “Thank you...” and, “I love you so much.”

I carried on for a while with the paperwork, trying hard not to think of Debbie and those words “I love you”. It was almost impossible. I collected all the cheques together, filled in the bankbooks and looked at my watch. It was too late to bank them, so I added up a few figures to see how the garage was doing. I was surprised: it wasn’t as bad as I thought and there was plenty in the bank.

I left for home at about seven o’clock, with my bankbooks so I could go in the morning on the way to work.

I dropped Mick off at school the next day and bumped into Debbie in the playground and whispered as we passed each other, “Meet me in the entrance to the park.” I thought it best if no one saw us together at all and I carried on in my car.

After a few minutes, Debbie pulled up behind me and got out, running towards me with her arms full stretch. “How are things?” I asked as we embraced each other.

“Much better. I couldn’t believe it when you told me he was in a hospital, I was so relieved.”

“Did you see him?”

“Yes, I went to see the bastard last night. He was trying to be nice but I just felt sick. I stayed with him for a few minutes and I had to leave. The doctors X-rayed him but nothing was broken, unfortunately. They did say they would keep him in for a few days, thank God.”

“Now you can tell Dawn her dad’s in the hospital seeing the doctors. I’m going to see his boss today and I’m sure he will tell me what happened so I will go and see him this afternoon, you go tonight and I will see you here tomorrow morning after school. I don’t want anyone to think there is something going on between us.” Debbie nodded once sharply, looking into my eyes, and then I heard my phone ring in the car. I lent through the window to answer.

“Don here, is everything all right?”

“Yes, fine, thank you.”

“They tell me at the hospital John’s in for the week. His wife will be pleased, I would think.”

I smiled and looked at Debbie. I was amazed how he did everything. “I’m going to see him this afternoon,” I said, choosing my words carefully. “I think when he gets out of the hospital, I might try and convince him to take the boat down to the lake.”

“ Good idea, I would come with you, but the boat is going away tonight and won’t be back till Wednesday, so I’ll have to see. I’ll speak to you soon, bye.”

After replacing the phone, I walked over to Debbie. “That was my friend. John will be in the hospital for a week at least. Can you still visit him at night and try - I know it’s hard - to be nice?”

“I despise him,” she said with a look of hate on her face.

“It will be all over soon. Try, please.” We kissed once and left.

I drove to the bank on my way back to the garage and deposited the cheques, then carried on to work. Everything seemed to be OK, so I drove to the garage where John worked and, sure enough, his boss told me what had happened briefly, then I made my way over to the hospital. As I walked towards his bed, I could see him lying on the top of it, watching the television at the end of the ward, bound in bandages around his chest. The anger started to well up inside of me as I got closer and closer. I didn’t relish the thought of speaking to him but I had to pretend I knew nothing.

“What happened to you? I just popped in to see you at work and they told me about your accident.” He looked up and painfully smiled at me as he pulled himself up in the bed with the chrome bar that hung above his head.

“I don’t know, I jacked a car up, put the stands underneath the chassis as I always do and climbed under to work on the exhaust. I was only under there a couple of minutes when the car came straight down on me, pinning me to the floor and crushing my chest. I couldn’t breathe for ages; the pain was dreadful. As luck would have it, the jack was still underneath otherwise I’d be dead. There was a big black guy standing close. He pumped it back up again and dragged me out by my feet.”

I stood listening to him go on about the stands being next to the car and how sure he was that he had put them under. “Never mind, as long as you are OK now, that’s the main thing,” I said sarcastically. “When do you think you’ll be out?”

“They haven’t told me yet. In fact, I don’t know why they’re keeping me in. I wanted to take the boat out this weekend down to the lake; it’s going to be nice apparently.”

Great, I thought. “Well, you can go the weekend after.”

“I can’t, it’s my birthday then.”

“Even better,” I said. “I will get a few people together and we can have a party. I will take a barbie and some drinks, it will be a good day. You can take the boat.”

“Good idea,” he said. “I’ll be 40. I will look forward to that, mate.”

I left shortly after that, clenching my fists and walking as fast as I could to get out. The word ‘mate’ kept ringing in my ears; it made me feel sick.

I’d done everything that Don had asked me to do. Now it was down to him and Savage.

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