فصل 09

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فصل 09

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  • زمان مطالعه 11 دقیقه
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Chapter nine

Do not use the toilet while the train is in the station

Tom got on the train home and sat on the first free seat he came to. There were other people already sitting around the table but he did not see them. He fell into the seat, and let his case fall on the table, together with the envelope the detective had given him. The conversation with the detective was still going on in his head.

‘He was just the latest one,’ the neighbours had told the detective. Tom shook his head and said aloud, ‘the latest one?’

The woman opposite him on the train said, ‘Sorry, what did you say?’ But Tom just shook his head at her and returned to his thoughts. How long had this been going on? Was this possible? He had not noticed anything…

Well, that was not quite true. He knew that Marina was not happy, that she was finding it difficult to get used to living in the country. But it was only with this story of the Ironing Man that he had begun to worry about her. Now it was already too late, she had found someone else because he had not had any time to give her.

‘Oh God, I’ve been so stupid!’ he said aloud.

The woman opposite looked at him again.

Maybe it was not too late. He loved Marina and he was sure she still loved him. But maybe she did not love him any more, maybe this ‘latest one’ had become important to her. ‘Latest one’. ‘A flat in Boddington?’ This was not possible. How could she lead a double life like this without him knowing? Had he really been so busy in his work that he had just not seen what was going on? This was not like Marina. To do something and not tell him about it. No, this was not like Marina. Could she have done this? Did she feel so unloved?

The ticket inspector arrived and Tom had to look for his ticket. He pulled it out of his pocket together with his notebook. Actually he had two notebooks in his pocket and, after the inspector had seen his ticket, Tom began to look through the older notebook. It was for last year. He started at the back of the book and began to read through it, back to front. Marina’s name was everywhere. Sometimes under ‘Bad’: I got really angry with Marina last night, flow can she Spend so much time talking away on the phone! Talking about nothing]

But most often her name was under ‘Good’. Lots of ‘we talked late’, lots of ‘we went to that little Greek restaurant again tonight’. Lots of ‘we…’ On one day, her birthday two years ago, he had written eighteen things under ‘Good’, all about Marina. Fourteen of them were about the presents he had bought her. Like this: Marina loved the scarf Marina loved the earrings

Marina loved the dinosaur

Marina loved…

The other things were about Marina waking up to find the bedroom full of candles, a cake and a birthday card as big as the television. And about their love-making.

Tom put the notebook down on the table. What was going to happen now? Would there be another birthday for them to enjoy together? Could he still show her that he loved her? Would she take him back? He saw the envelope sitting on the table. The detective had given it to him just before Tom got on the train. Tom looked at it.

‘I don’t know if you’ll want to look at these at all,’ the detective had said.

Tom had taken the envelope from the detective who by this time looked as unhappy as Tom did.

‘I’m so sorry I had to tell you all this,’ the detective continued. ‘I just wish…’ He had not finished.

Tom now sat looking at the envelope. Photographs? Yes, it must be photographs. Tom did not want to look and yet he picked up the envelope. He held it in his hand. He looked towards the open window and for a moment thought of throwing the envelope out. But no, he had to look at them.

He opened the envelope slowly and a number of colour photographs fell on the table. He looked at them. He picked up one, then another, then another, then another. A man getting out of a car. A man kissing a young woman. A couple walking on a beach, the same man and woman. The same couple in a restaurant, the same couple in front of a house. Tom did not know the man and he certainly did not know the woman.

What was going on here? Maybe the detective had given him the wrong photographs? Tom looked again at the photograph of the couple outside the first house. It was his house. It was their house, his and Marina’s. There was no mistake. But who was this woman? Was this the woman the detective had followed? The detective had followed this woman! He had not followed Marina! He had followed this woman to the sports centre, to the restaurant, to the beach and back to the flat! He had watched this woman open the door of the flat and go in with ‘her latest’, not with Marina’s ‘latest’. He had not followed Marina to these places! He had not followed Marina anywhere!

‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ Tom said aloud between his teeth and hit the envelope with his hand. The woman opposite him looked at Tom again but before he could say ‘sorry’ and smile she decided to hide behind her newspaper. She held it up in front of her. Tom said ‘sorry’ anyway.

He was so excited now he had to talk to someone, but this woman was probably not the right person. He thought of the detective. He took out his mobile phone and rang the number but there was nothing, no sound, nothing. Of course, the detective had said his mobile phone was not working.

Tom put the phone down. It rang immediately. It was the detective.

‘Tom?’ the detective asked. They had changed to using first names in the pub. ‘Are you OK?’

‘Yes, Phil, but listen,’ Tom said. ‘This woman in the photographs. This is the woman you followed?’

‘Yes?’ The detective did not understand why Tom was asking him this.

‘Tell me. What did she look like? Tell me what she was wearing?’

The detective did not say anything at first. He did not understand what was going on.

‘Please, Phil, this is important!’ Tom said.

The detective’s description was very full and it matched the woman in the photograph.

Tom told the detective he was wonderful and that he loved him. The detective was surprised and then pleased when Tom explained. The detective was even more surprised when Tom offered to double his pay.

‘No, I don’t want any more money Tom,’ the detective said. ‘Use it to take Marina on a really nice holiday. I don’t want the money, I’m just happy this was all a mistake. But listen, look after that girl of yours. Spend more time with her, OK? I mean, I may not be a very good detective but I know something about people, and I can see how important your Marina is for you, so don’t lose her!’

‘OK,’ Tom replied.

‘Anyway, I’m giving up this detective business. I don’t like to see nice people being unhappy. I don’t want to be part of that.’

‘How long have you been doing it?’ Tom asked. He was not really surprised to hear that this had been Phil’s first job as a detective. They both promised to phone each other soon. Perhaps both of them had learnt more from this than they realised.

He put the phone down and saw that the woman was still hiding behind the newspaper. Perhaps she had heard Tom telling Phil he loved him. Tom smiled. He did not think the woman would come out from behind her newspaper. He would not see her again. He looked at the back of her newspaper and saw an advertisement.

The advertisement was for a holiday in the West Indies. It took Tom less than five minutes to ring the number and book a two-week holiday. It took him one minute to phone his boss and leave a message on the answerphone. He said that he was going on holiday and that he was leaving the job to spend more time with his wife.

It took Tom less than one minute to walk to the toilet. Surprisingly, when he got there, his mobile phone started to ring. It actually now worked in the toilet! But he didn’t want to answer it. He wanted some peace and quiet. So he let it fall into the toilet. The phone continued to ring but more quietly. Then it disappeared onto the railway lines as Tom pressed the button above the toilet. For a few seconds he could still hear it ringing and then nothing at all.

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