The Womaniser's Wife

     Tommy Frink, that was his given name. His father, Edward Frink, an alcoholic, inveterate gambler and swindler, with the capacity to psychologically maim all around him, particularly those close to him. Tommy’s mother for instance. The sweetest creature ever to walk along Poplar High Street in the East End of London, that area historically perceived as notorious and synonymous with violent crime. With a graceful, elegant entrance she could captivate the entire audience of the local pub. Margaret Wlison, known as Maisie, loved by all and envied by many. He ruined her. Wooed her with flowery words and promises of endless riches. That was his way, a silver tongue and ability to deceive, his natural charm and good looks seducing many a victim. Maisie fell under his spell at eighteen, was pregnant by nineteen and married out of duty. That was the word, although all who knew Maisie’s father, Billy, a tall, strong, well respected enforcer, thought differently.

     At first all was well, Billy saw to that. One foot out of line and Billy had the necessary words with Eddie. Taught him some manners. Then one day Billy was caught. He was demanding money with menaces and one menace too many put his victim in a terminal coma. Murder and a twenty five year minimum sentence. Freed of his watcher, Eddie resumed his natural inclinations, womanising, gambling and drinking. And of course “persuading” unfortunates to part with cash by one means or another. One thing though, he doted on Tommy, thought the world of him and Tommy idolised him.

     Tommy, awash with impressions of a deluded world, grew up with a tarnished character. When Eddie finally cracked and in a drunken rage beat Maisie one last time, Tommy, at twenty, was cast adrift to make his own way. With Billy’s stature and Eddie's propensities he was well set to make a dubious mark. Eddie, in his incarceration, was reunited with Billy who naturally reaped a vicious vengeance.

     Fast forward twenty five years and we find Dexter Cunningham sitting on the terrace of his penthouse apartment overlooking the Thames on London’s south bank. The air cooling as the evening approaches, the brief shower accelerating the process and creating that aftermath smell he enjoyed, that damp earth aroma. The river was busy, the tourist boats returning from their informative trips, cutting through the water, adding to its already choppy nature. The scene was alive, vibrant and full of the meaning of life. Watching, he felt he had a poetic streak but if that was the case it belied the fact that he was a ruthless opportunist that spent his life abusing and destroying people.

     He clicked his fingers and a voice almost immediately said, “yes sir.” James, his man, gliding on air, moving with a silent casualness, impeccably dressed and always available. He lived in the shadows, was reliable and trusted. The epitome of efficiency.

    “James, I am expecting a lady at eight can you please arrange something for dinner. Maybe some seafood. She likes delicate tasting foods. And champagne on ice. Nice and cool and something very smooth.”

    “Certainly sir. Something now perhaps?”

    “A strong G&T but with a good shot of lime would go down very well, thank you. And a small bowl of Jalapenos.”

     Dexter Cunningham is rich, in fact he is extremely rich, the result of years of watching his father operate, learning, then honing a natural talent that allowed him to bribe, fleece, blackmail and deal in corruption with far, far better results than Eddie could ever achieve. He had amassed a fortune on the backs of many unfortunate victims having perfected all his father’s talents and improprieties but resisted the drinking as a way of life, preferring to indulge only in the finest and in moderation to achieve full enjoyment. Dexter always got his way. He clicked his fingers and things happened, they simply fell into place.

     His wife, Hilary, lived mostly in the country house with the twins. Dexter mostly in London on “business” which involved liaisons with the numerous women he was associated with, the sort of women that thrived on being pampered and adorned with the trappings of wealth. In his circle there was no shortage.

     Hilary, depending on denial, lived extremely unhappily. Sure she had all the luxuries and the lovely twins to indulge but she felt cheated, deprived of the sort of life that had been promised. She was glamorous, tall, slim and elegant. Dexter had instantly struck a chord when she first encountered him, after all he was debonair, handsome and rich. Had everything and could promise the world. And she was mesmerised, immediately smitten. In short he swept her off her feet. With ease. He of course just wanted a trophy, a wife who could enhance his activities and add a homely impression to his portfolio of attributes. He had no intention of being “the perfect husband” and did not even want children, they were merely something to keep Hilary involved. Dexter was kind to her, did indulge her but at the same time did nothing to disguise the habitual philandering that she found so disgusting, so demeaning.

     Picking up the phone she dialled the London number. “Hello James, is he there?”

    “Yes Madam, I will pass you over.”

    She heard in the background, “it’s your wife Sir.” and a rustling of movement.

    “Hilary, what do you want? I’m busy, I have loads to do this evening.”

    “I bet you do, anyway we need to talk about the children and their next stage of schooling.”

    “That’s your domain, I have told you before, I don’t want to be bothered with this sort of trivia. Especially when I’m so involved.”

    “It’s not trivial, it’s important to ensure their future. We at least need to discuss it. After all you will have to pay the fees and I don’t want another argument about you not knowing the cost.”

    “Well I’m not coming down there, you will have to come to London if you must have this conversation.”

    She heard some mumbling and the rustling again, then James, “Sir is available in two days and you should come to dinner. Eight o’clock would be appropriate.”

    “Thank you James, tell him I will be there.”

     That evening Dexter entertained. James served dinner, then was dismissed for the evening leaving Dexter to enjoy what was the latest of his conquests. The penthouse was very high tech, all he had to do was click his fingers and things happened. The blinds closed, lights dimmed, music played. It was all so easy. It impressed and he seduced. He would see the lady a few more times, lavishing her with expensive gifts, then when he lost interest he would move on.

     It was not his place to judge but James was uncomfortable with the way Dexter treated women and his wife in particular. He retreated to his domain and stayed in the background as he always did. An extremely capable and likeable person but felt increasingly out of place as Dexter’s man. His life was becoming complicated, leading him to question his employment.

     Hilary arrived at exactly eight o’clock and Dexter was waiting. He was his usual charming self, welcoming her with the passion of a husband returning from a long enforced absence.

    “Hilary, darling, you look as wonderful as ever. I am pleased to see you. I have been so busy and realise I have been neglecting you. I will endeavour to come to the house more often, to see the children, so we can have a good time as a family. How about a family holiday, somewhere hot and relaxing. I’m sure we all need a break.”

    “Don’t give me that same old crap Dexter. You don’t mean it. Listen to yourself, you are deluded if you think just coming now and again will make things right. I’m sick of all your nonsense. I’ve asked that you make more effort many times but it all just falls on deaf ears.”

    “Darling let’s not row, it’s a lovely evening and we should be enjoying it. Dinner is ready. Let’s at least enjoy some good food and wine.”

     Sitting on the terrace after dinner, “so what do you want to say about the children.”

    “Their schooling Dexter, we need to decide where to send them. It’s that time.”

    “But as I said, this is your domain. I don’t want to get involved. Just sort something and I will be happy with it. I trust you to do the best for them. I’m simply too busy to get involved. I’ll come down in a few weeks and you can tell me the arrangements and we can make sure they are both happy.”

    “The cost though, last time with this sort of thing you sniped at the cost. I’m tired of the arguments. You do not know how much your behaviour upsets me. You said you would stop but if anything it’s getting worse.”

    “So that’s what this is really all about is it? Well I can tell you, you will be disappointed and you will remain disappointed.”

    “Oh Dexter, I am at a total loss with you,” and she walks into the sitting room.

     “Come on Hilary, we can be friends can’t we?” Said Dexter following her.

    “No Dexter, I’ve had enough. I want a divorce.”

     “That, my dear, will never happen. You are mine. I own you. You will do as I say, when I say and what I say. Like now. I want you now.”

    He clicks his fingers and James appears. “Pour us champagne please James, and then you can go. Thank you.”

    James pours and leaves.

    Dexter clicks his fingers and the blinds shut and the lights dim. Then he clicks his fingers and the soft music comes on. He then clicks his fingers and she dutifully comes next to him.

    The next click he hears is the safety coming off. 

     James enters in response to the loud report. He takes Hilary in his arms, “Ok?” he asks. Then says, “everything is organised. He will be found in the river in a few days time. It will be no surprise he has been shot, everybody knows hes a right bastard living on the wrong side of the law with any number of people wishing him dead. The apartment will be cleaned, I will see to that. It has been prepared, there will be no traces. You were here waiting for him to return, when he did not you assumed he was with one of his fancy girls. That will be believed. Return to the country house and just wait. I will come when it all blows over. To be with you. Can you do this?”

     “Sure James it’s no problem and thank you. We have waited a long time for this.” She strokes his face, kisses him on the cheek, hands him the gun and quietly leaves to start what is sure to be a new and exciting life.     










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