It took John one hour and two very strong coffees to recover from his showdown with Ange.
“At least she’s talking to me again,” he mused. “Even if it’s only to shoot me down in flames.”
Despite the underhanded way Ange had gone about the whole caper, he realised that in a funny way she had a point. She’d always been meticulously and expensively groomed, it was something he’d been rather proud of, even though it cost him an absolute fortune. He knew the harpies who were part of Ange’s social circle would instantly pick up on change on that front and take great delight in telling their husbands that the Dennisons were on the downward slide.
“ It’s not the business that’s going to kill me,” he thought. “It’s all this keeping up appearances crap.”
He went to look at the time then realised that his watch was still missing in action. He ground his teeth a little. That was one item he was definitely going to reclaim from Ange. He could live without pens and paperweights but he was damned if he was going to use his cellphone to tell the time.
The kitchen clock revealed he had slightly less than an hour to get himself ready and get down to the Vantage Villas’ sales office. After weeks of emailing, phoning and faxing, late last night he had finally received confirmation that the Big Fish he’d been trying to reel in had taken the bait at last and was prepared to meet.
John squared his shoulders and pushed all thoughts of the morning’s run-in with Ange from his mind.
Things were going swimmingly with the Big Fish.
He was the sort of man John liked. A straight shooter, a fair dealer and more important completely loaded.
The Big Fish was giving John the verdict. “You’ve done a great job, John. This is a first class development. I think we need to talk further.”
And so they did. When the Big Fish said talk, he really meant it. He interrogated John exhaustively about every single little detail of the Vantage Villas build from the resource consent process right down to the laying of the carpet.
They talked more over dinner and by about 9 o’clock, John was exhausted. He may have had the Big Fish on the line but he knew he was the one who was being played.
Finally he heard the magic words.
“Well John, I think we have a deal.”
The next few minutes were a blur. There were handshakes, chat about deeds and documents and arrangements for other meetings.
The Big Fish left the restaurant. He also left John with the tab.
John was past anxiety now. He almost didn’t mind spending what little remained on his credit card, even though he knew it would be a while before the money came through.
He walked back to his vehicle like a man in a dream. It was only when he sat down that the reality hit him.
He had done it. He’d clawed his way back from the brink.
He let out one almighty roar of triumph then started his car and drove home.
The house was dark when he arrived. After the excitement of the last few hours, the house seemed very still and quiet.
He walked along the darkened hallway and into the living room. Flipping on the light switch, he planned a quiet sit in front of the telly for an hour or so then bed.
“What the hell?”
The flat screen TV was gone from the wall as was every last piece of furniture. In their place was the small portable TV from Clemmie’s room and a deckchair.
He ran to the kitchen. Same story…all the furniture was gone. He opened a cupboard. Even the plates were missing. There was just one cereal bowl and a side plate remaining.
Every room told a similar story. Either cleared out completely or with just the bare minimum.
He discovered the note she’d left for him in the master bedroom. Beside it lay his Rolex watch, smashed to bits. He read the note, scrawled in Ange’s unmistakeable handwriting.
What time is it John? It’s divorce time.