Oh woe is me. I have just recently returned from the conference in Glasgow. I arrived at the institute to be greeted by Ravel (my faithful if flawed research assistant) and Dolores (my fragrant if hormonal wife). They both wore sombre faces. Ravel took my bags with barely a word of greeting. Dolores looked pale, as if she had recently received a fright.
‘You won’t believe what happened when you were away…..’ she began.
‘Hello dear, nice to be home….’
‘Joseph, this is no time for niceties. Do you have any idea what’s going on?’
At this point I had to confess that my wife had a point. Prior to leaving for the conference I’d been unfortunate to receive calls from a number of police force representatives, all wishing to interrogate me on various matters. As if this wasn’t enough, poor Dolores had, in line with my intuition, been the victim of a most unsettling situation. You can read her dramatic encounter with the tartan-collared tortoiseshell pussycat here
‘Joseph, I want us to leave Scotland.’
It was during a muted dinner of lamb-chops and sweet-potato mash that she dropped her bombshell.
‘I can’t stay here any longer. The people in the village are starting to whisper. I’m scared to death and you’re about to be hauled off to jail…..’
‘They haven’t charged me with anything…..!’
‘Let’s face it Joseph. You do have a habit of bringing trouble on us with alarming regularity.’
‘What are you saying my love….Do you want….?’
‘No you stupid loon. I just don’t want to be here any more. It’s giving me the creeps. Don’t you feel it too?’
The only things I felt at this point were 1) aching eyeballs and 2) slightly irritated that I had been away a full eight days, fourteen hours and thirty seven minutes and the chances of exercising my conjugal rights were rapidly evaporating. I’d spent the entire journey back to the institute dreaming of bedroom antics, but my fantasies were by now almost completely deflated.
Ravel popped his head round the door a few moments later and asked if he could get us anything. I, rather sarcastically, told him we needed a lawyer, an estate agent, a removal company and a marriage guidance counsellor. He didn’t seem to get it. My wife did, and promptly left the table in what I guessed was a bit of a huff. Serves her right, I thought, then immediately regretted the sentiment. Dismissing Ravel for the evening I followed my wife into the lounge and attempted reconciliation.
Waking up on the couch next morning I was struck immediately by the notion that perhaps sarcasm is best reserved for ones enemies, rather than ones rather volatile spouse. Dolores had gone for an early morning swim at the local municipal swimming pool leaving me to fix breakfast. I had, whilst away, prepared statements for each of the police forces and resolved to post them immediately after I finished my porridge. The statements, I thought, were rather cleverly written. I was honest and to the point in each of them, and employed a succinct, formal style that I trusted would come across as the wise words of a learned scientist, rather than those of a semi-illiterate broker of crime.
I was just in the act of leaving the institute when the phone rang. I let it ring through to the answerphone rather than picking up the receiver. The voice that spoke the obscenity laced message was distorted by a poor line and background noise (a pub maybe?). But the message itself was loud and clear. For the record, and certainly not because I get a kick from writing like this, here is a transcript of what was said (important: please note that the asterisks and exclamation marks are my own additions. The use of capitals throughout is designed to convey the idea that the person leaving the message was speaking in an unrelenting loud voice).
‘CRUMBLE! CRUMBLE YOU F****G C**T. I’M F****G AFTER YOU. YOU F*****G BETTER KILL YOURSELF BEFORE I GET YOU CRUMBLE. YOU THINK YOU CAN PICK ON ME YOU S**T? YOU JUST SERVED YOUR OWN DEATH SENTENCE YOU FAT BEARDED T**T. I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE CRUMBLE. I KNOW WHERE YOUR KIDS GO TO SCHOOL. I KNOW WHERE PRICKS LIKE YOU GET YOUR HEADS RIPPED FROM YOUR F****G SCRAWNY NECKS AND FED TO THE F*****G PIGEONS WHILE YOUR F*****G WIFE GETS ASSF***KED BY ME AND THE WHOLE F*****G….....WHAT THE….FUCK OFF COPPER…PICK UP THE PHONE CRUMBLE…..I SAID GET THE FUCK OFF. I’M AFTER….. AAAAGH….MY ARM, GET OFF MY ARM!!!!!
That was the end of the message, at least the spoken part. A few seconds of random shouting and grunting followed before I heard a dull thud indicating the phone had been dropped on the floor. Slowly approaching the answer-phone, I began to tremble, my throat dried up and I felt my legs weaken. I could now hear the sound of the pub(?) crowd and nothing else. I stood in front of the machine, unsure of what to do, scared to pick up the receiver. The pub noise continued for another minute or so, with the occasional thumping sound where, I guessed, the phone was being kicked around the floor. When the maximum time for a message expired the machine cut the line with a cheerful ‘Thanks for your message!’ A click, then silence, punctuated only by the sound of a lone bleating sheep in the field outside the institute.
I must have stood there for about 5 minutes, trying to work out what to do next. Part of me was tempted to erase the message and pretend I had heard nothing. Another part of me wanted to phone the police and a third part of me wanted to lock all the doors and hide under the duvet. I had no idea who had just called me. In case you were wondering, it certainly wasn’t Toby, my one-legged former childhood nemesis currently residing in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. I knew this because the caller had a distinct Welsh accent, and Toby hailed from Cumbria (a hilly area separated from Wales by several hundred miles of motorway and the county of Lancashire for my foreign readers). But it was someone who knew where I lived, that I am married, have a beard, and have recently put on a few pounds in weight.
To call me fat though – well, that was taking a f**king liberty……
******** TO BE CONTINUED! *********