Betty is a key member of my team, we work well together. I would like to share an office with her, but no, at my company because of my position I have to have an office to myself. However she is in the next room and the door between is always open.
I have said that she is really good but lately she has been useless. I am sure it is because of her husband; she looks so battered. When I asked if he hits her, she said that he is so brutal in bed. I sympathised with her, but she said that she really liked heavy sex. Something wrong there.
She told me that she had been talked into it, that is, marrying him. She didn't love him, she probably didn't even like him; but he was so good in bed. He wanted a child from her and had thrown her pills away; but she had more in the office. She did not want a child and be tied to the home and him.
She told me her secret. There was someone in the office that she really wanted, but she was too scared to show her love. So she was stuck with him.
I returned to my office after a meeting and a strange man was waiting for me. He did not look like one of my customers. “You are Betty's boss?” he asked aggressively. “Yes” I said, “and you are Betty's husband” I guessed.
This was going to be difficult, if not dangerous. I made a good move and sat at my desk, he sat down opposite me – at least I had the desk between me and him. “Betty has told me a few things about you” I lied cheerfully. That was my first mistake and he knew it. He started to shout:
“You're that woman that Betty is always talking about. Oh, you are so perfect. You're the woman Betty wants to be. You're so pretty too. You keep giving her ideas. What does she want ideas for? She needs to get pregnant, that's what she wants. We are going to have children.”
“Why should she work in a fancy office like this one. A woman's place is in the home, bringing up the kids. Oh, you are so fucking beautiful!”
“But I'm going to change all that. Right now! I going to change your face. You're going to look so ugly that you won't go out on the street without a paper bag over your head. Betty won't even recognise you. Oh, how I'll enjoy punching that face of yours – I'm going to really hurt you.”
Big problem! What was I to do? Where was Betty? I decided that if he stood up, I would quickly push my desk over and hope to smash his feet. I decided to talk my way out it:
“You have made a mistake. Betty was never in love with you. Just because your mother and Betty's mother were friends, was Betty persuaded into marrying you. You don't love her either. You just want to have violent sex and lots of children. Betty will never have a child from you.”
“Everyone makes mistakes. Drop Betty and find someone who really likes you and wants children. Tell your mother you're made a mistake and you are going to find someone better. Make life easier for yourself. Do yourself some good and start again, with someone else.”
He said nothing. I don't think he heard a word I said. He stood up, the door opened and three of my male colleagues rushed in. “Good timing, guys!” I said, “This gentleman is just leaving.” He snarled, but said nothing that I could understand. The three showed him the way out of the building. Was I grateful!
I looked in Betty's office, but she was not there. She was suddenly in my office. She said that she was there all the time, hiding in a cupboard and that she had used her mobile telephone to call for help. She said:
“I was scared of him. That's why I hid. I want to thank you. You thought that you were speaking to him. Wrong! You were talking directly to me. I heard every word. You persuaded me. You could never persuade him; he's too pig-headed. He will never change and I don't care any more. I'm not frightened of him any more.”
“Yes, I made a mistake. I should never have married him. I don't care what my mother thinks – I'm finished with him. I'm not going to leave him. Oh! No! I have left him already. That is final. I know what I want to do. And I'm going to tell you the name of the person I really desire.”
“Oh, you don't have to” I said, much surprised by Betty's words. “Yes” she said, “I must tell you.” She took a deep breath and said “You are the one I love.”
Oh, did I make mistakes! Mistake after mistake. I took one step backwards and said that I was sorry. Poor Betty! Her face changed to disaster. She sat down and started to cry. How could I think that women are not attracted to me? How could I not love a woman? How could I not see that Betty wanted me?
I loved her and I didn't know it. How stupid I was! And even worse, I was only thinking of my mistakes, only of myself. There was Betty as unhappy as a human being could be, and only because I was tied up with myself. I decided to fall to my knees and kiss her feet and ask for her forgiveness.
I bend down to her and told her that I loved her. She took my hands, stood up and hugged me. I explained all my mistakes, all my sillinesses. I asked her to forgive me. This of course just jerked more tears out of us. After a while she said “You know what we look like? Two little girls on their first day at school without their mummies.”
We washed our faces; Betty used my make-up and I used hers. Back in my office I said “Well, you can't go home tonight. He'll kick your head in!” Betty looked out the window, “Worse than that! He waiting for us down on the street. He going to shout at us or hurt us or both or worse.” I had an idea, “Grab your things! Let's go!”
Jack's office is at the back of the basement; it is full of cables, plugs, printers and the rest of the junk needed in an office these days. But more important the window sills are at ground level. I said to Jack, “We need to make a special exit.” Jack grinned, moved the cupboard away from the window and placed a wooden box there. He helped us up and out of the building.
We took a taxi to the centre of town and drank a glass of Prosecco. The restaurant next door was full but I bribed one of the waiters I know and we enjoyed a good meal. We had so much to talk about; Betty said that she had had fantasies about me:
To wake in your arms, To wear your clothes, To fall asleep in your arms And to wash your toes.
We went to my place and made the dreams come true.