Jamie, The Romeo Conman.
Jamie stayed out the whole night on his birthday bash. Isabella waited for him to take her camping as he had promised. But that day never came. Isabella was afraid to ask in case Jamie blew his top again.
Many nights after, Isabella wondered if Jamie was with her just for her money and a roof over his head. When he came back, he always came back really late and he crashed his head on the pillow and slept straight away. Ever since the beached whale incident, it had been icy between them.
He was always saying, “I am tired.”
Isabella looked at him lying on her bed, such a young handsome face and gorgeous body. There was not an ounce of fat anywhere. It’s all that surfing even in winter. His blonde hair was getting lighter and lighter, and his chest was covered with fine blonde curls. She shivered: Filipino men don’t have chest hair. Yes, she was no chaste woman even in Philippines, she had many men. Then she looked down at his crotch, barely covered by sexy G string thongs she bought for him on another occasion. The hairs there matched those on his head and chest. The Gods had made him a perfect specimen of what Adolf Hitler wanted, tall, blonde and blue eyes. Here he was lying on her bed, right in front of her, but he was out of bounds. She was afraid to touch him, because if she did, he might wake and throw a stinking tantrum as he had done many times before and go away for many nights until his pockets were empty.
Isabella lay in bed, wide awake feeling depressed, she was hearing voices of the three dead men in her life. She was hearing the loud snoring from Jamie. She didn’t even dare to move for fear of waking Jamie if she did. Isabella wondered what brought on this hot and cold treatment and wondered how long this frosty treatment would last before she lost her mind.
Imelda suggested, “Perhaps the house is haunted, sell it and buy another one.”
Isabella suggested to Jamie that she wanted to sell the house, he was very pleased.
Jamie quickly got his mate to make a “For Sale” sign on her property. When Christina saw the “For Sale” sign on her property, she threw a tantrum, took down the sign and warned Isabella that she wouldn’t move if Isabella went ahead and sold daddy’s house.
“You are Rose Hancock, you married my Daddy for his money, you mail order bride, you adulteress, you killed my dad.”
Isabella gave Christine two sharp slaps, left and right across her face, “Don’t you ever call me that. Let me tell you, I was no mail order bride and Gilbert was not your father, you were adopted. Gilbert was no Lang Hancock with a mansion and a big fortune, he was as poor as a church mouse.”
Isabella’s second slap landed hard against the side of Christine’s face. Her diamond solitaire ring cut a thin gash on her cheek. Christine touched her swollen and bleeding cheek.
She screamed at the top of her voice and over turned a chair and lashed out at Isabella saying, “You slut, you whore, you shameless cow, I know all about you. Jericho told me everything. Gilbert was the best father a girl can have, even if he was my adopted father.”
Jericho came knocking on the door, “What’s the commotion about, are you OK Christine?”
“You bitch, I will kill you if I get a scar and have a blemish on my pretty face,” Christine held her bloody hands.
Jericho took Christine to the A & E at Auckland hospital. They waited a long time before they were attended to. The registrar sewed ten stitches to close up her wound.
“This is just a temporary measure to stop the bleeding. You may have to go to a plastic surgeon later. I am no specialist and this is a public hospital,” advised the registrar.
Christine sobbed inconsolably.
“Don’t worry too much, the bad woman will get her just desserts,” and Jericho drove her to the nearest police station.
“You are in big trouble, the police will put you to prison because you are a child abuser,” Christine taunted when Jericho brought her home.
The next day, two policemen and a member of staff of the CYF came to investigate. Isabella apologized and explained that she had slapped Christine because she was provoked and in the heat of the moment and promised it would not happen again.
“I disciplined her for back-chatting and swearing and getting smart with me when I tried to correct her. She is a very unruly girl. She was a street kid in Manila and lies all the time.”
The Police gave Isabella a warning that if it happened again, Christine would be taken away by the CFY and she, Isabella would have to undergo courses in parenting and counseling.
Isabella mentioned this to Jamie and Jamie could not understand why Isabella did not make use of this opportunity to send Christine away.
“You choose, the brat or me.” Jamie sulked and refused to talk to Isabella for three days.
Christine overheard this conversation, slammed the door and went out. Isabella crouched in the corner waiting. The clock chimed eleven times, twelve times. Christine still hadn’t returned. Then there was a knock on the door. A male policeman and a policewoman were standing at the door with Christine. Isabella wanted to shout at Christine but controlled herself.
The policewoman said, “We found your little girl loitering at the cinema car park at St Lukes Square. Did she run away from home?”
“I am sorry,” said Isabella, “We had a small misunderstanding.”
Jamie pestered Isabella to get a real estate agent to sell the house. Isabella went to Barfoot and Thomsom realty.
Two days later, the Barfoot and Thomson agent rang Isabella, “You wasted my time.”
Isabella found out from the agent that Gilbert did not own the house. He had rented the house from the Government, and he had arranged for his bank to pay the rent directly to the Government so Isabella did not have to worry about such matters.
Jamie was angry when he found out that the house was not Isabella’s to sell. “You lied to me! You led me to believe that the house is yours.” He stormed out and stayed out for a week.
Isabella requested Imelda to come over urgently.
“I fear I have lost him, he issued this ultimatum that it is either him or Christine.”
“Isabella, you must stop going on an eating and drinking binge. Look at you, you have bloated to a size 16. You are beginning to look like an obese Polynesian.”
“I am so depressed and unhappy. I can’t help myself, I drink and eat when I am sad.”
“Have you looked at the mirror? I cringe when I look at you, your facial features are starting to look aged and puffy. If you continue this self-destructive path, it is you who is chasing Jamie away, and it is not Jamie’s fault that he stays away.” said Imelda.
Isabella decided to renovate the house to make Jamie happy. She got a painter to paint the lounge a warm tangerine color, in stack contrast to the icy blue that Gilbert had painted a zillion years ago.
When Christine came home, there was another shouting match. She took a black marker pen and scribbled “mail order bride” all over the new paint. She insisted Isabella paint the lounge the same color as it was the way Gilbert had painted it.
The next morning Isabella rang the painter. She pleaded with him, “Can you come?”
The painter sounded reluctant, “No can do, I have lots of jobs lined up.”
Isabella pleaded, “Please, this is really very urgent.”
The painter arrived and joked, “Somebody didn’t like the color, eh! No worries, it happens all the time. You have trouble, you can talk to me, I don’t charge you an arm and a leg like the shrink does.”
Isabella made the painter cups of coffee and the two of them talked. Yes, talking was good therapy. The job took double the time but also double the charge.
The painter said, “Give me a tinkle if you want the outside of the house done.”
The painter was as old as Norman and Gilbert, Isabella didn’t want to fall into the same trap as before. She’d got money from Gilbert’s insurance and savings, and from the New Zealand Government in the form of the domestic purposes benefit and she’d got Jamie. She’s got her independence. She didn’t want no old painter, or plumber, or electrician. All they wanted was to make her their Asian woman to cook and wash for them. She was too smart to be conned to a life of servitude and slavery. She wanted to the architect of her life from now on. As for the old painter, she just wanted someone to talk to.
Jamie persuaded Isabella that the car was an old bomb and due for retirement. If Isabella bought a new car, they could go places.
“The rust bucket is an embarrassment, with a new car, I will take you to all the beautiful places in New Zealand, where you have never been,” said Jamie.
They went to Turners Auctions and registered themselves. They left their old car for Turners to auction off on their behalf. Jamie test drove all the big cars, Jamie was very keen in a fiery red BMW 323.
“I always wanted a “beemer”, you will love sitting beside me, won’t you?” said Jamie.
Isabella did some mental calculation, there wouldn’t be much left of Gilbert’s money.
Christine threw a fuss again about Isabella selling Gilbert’s car, though she secretly loved the “beemer”. She raved on again about Isabella tarnishing Gilbert’s memory and wasting his money. She refused to get in the car with Jamie in the driver’s seat.
“You are driving me to an early grave,” said Isabella in exasperation.
“The pot calling the kettle black, I will not get into the car if the surfie junkie is driving my daddy’s car,” threatened Christine.
Jamie came home all lovey-dovey, “Isabella, you always said you have never seen snow and wished to go skiing. Now I grant you your wish. I have booked a weekend at the Chateau and the two of us will go skiing at Mt Ruepehu.”
“That’s fantastic, what about Christine?”
“The kid, no way Jose, she is not going with us.”
Isabella begged Imelda to take care of Christine while she and Jamie went skiing at Mt Ruapehu.
“You know Jamie is only fooling around with you and spending your money.”
“No, Imelda, Jamie really loves me, he is treating me to this skiing trip I have been wishing for, for a long time.”
“Treating you with your own money? Isabella, why are you so blind?”
Reluctantly Imelda agreed to baby sit Christine knowing that she was only wasting her breath when she warned Isabella about Jamie. There was no way that the stupid Isabella would change her feeble mind.
Jamie drove the BMW down Greenlane Road to the Southern Motorway with Isabella’s hand caressing up and down his thigh. This was the first real holiday she’d had in her life and with somebody she loved. Isabella imagined that they were going away for their honeymoon.
“What else does a girl ask for?” she said to herself as she leaned against Jamie.
“The “beemer” is a great car to drive, I can take you skiing often.”
With Isabella’s money, Jamie checked into The Chateau. Isabella was in awe of the neo-Georgian sophistication and refinement.
“Don’t say I don’t take you places, Isabella.”
“Wow! This is like a postcard!”
“The Chataeu is the place to be when you go skiing, if you are rich and famous. It is a Category One Heritage Building. It is a romantic place just right for you and me.”
After a luxurious dinner of Beluga caviar, venison, imported European white asparagus, rich Italian Tiramisu Cake washed down with expensive French Moet Chandon champagne they retired to the honeymoon suite. Jamie was very attentive and they made tender love. Isabella wished that this was really her honeymoon.
Isabella lay thinking. The night was perfect except that it was marred by that wretched and ugly blonde waitress. The shameless slut was very attentive to their table. No, correction, she was extra attentive to Jamie. Yes, she was openly flirting with Jamie and Isabella felt a pang of jealousy. She was shamelessly giving Jamie the hots.
The brainless bimbo had asked Jamie, “Are you here to celebrate your mum’s birthday, love?”
Isabella rolled her eyes and wanted to stab the witch with the table knife, but Jamie preempted Isabella’s action by grabbing her hand and with eyes shooting darts saying, “Don’t you dare!”
The next morning, Jamie woke her early. Isabella didn’t want to leave her bed.
“Come Jamie, let us stay in bed.”
“No, we are here to ski, not to laze in bed, Isabella.”
“But we are paying so much for this suite that it is a waste to leave it empty for the day.”
“Isabella, I have booked you to a beginners class, and I will ski in the advanced slopes,” with a peck on her face, Jamie went to the ski lift.
Isabella was excited to see the white powdery snow. Growing up in Philippines, she always wondered what snow was like. She used to sing along with Bing Crosby’s "I'm Dreaming of a white Christmas" when she was working in a bar in Manila. Isabella was among the little children learning to ski. The skis were heavy and she found it hard to follow the ski instructor’s directions. She fell more than she skied. She gave up before the lessons finished, she went back to the Chateau and waited for Jamie. Jamie was no where to be found and she grabbed a quick lunch. The weather was too cold for Isabella to linger too long in the ski fields so she went back to the hotel suite to luxuriate in the beautiful suite, enjoy the heat of the sauna and hot spa pool. She did not talk to anyone and no one paid her any attention. Jamie didn’t show until late in the evening.
“How was your lesson?”
“Terrible, I kept falling down, the weather was so cold and my nose kept running. I have never skied before in my life, and I will never ski again for the rest of my life.”
“Oh dear, I was hoping you would like your lessons and learn to ski pretty quickly. I met some of my mates up in the slopes. I told them I was coming down here to ski more often. I am sure you have plenty to do in the Chateau.”
That night Isabella dressed to the nines for dinner. The same blonde waitress was serving them and paying extra attention to their table. She kept flirting and told Isabella that she simply must learn to ski. Isabella’s eyes threw a stern warning to the waitress when she came to top up Jamie’s glass. The hussy waitress totally ignored Isabella.
Jamie’s eyes followed the waitress between the tables. Isabella watched them with incredulous eyes. They were behaving disgustingly right in front of her.
“Jamie, you are ignoring my feelings, the way you pay attention to the waitress and the way she talks to you.”
“You are out of your mind, she was just doing her job being a good waitress serving her restaurant guests. She gets good tips if she serves them well. Stop being paranoid.”
Isabella played with her fork and knife trying to avoid a scene and kept her anger at bay.
After dinner, Jamie wanted to relax in the reading room of the hotel, but Isabella wanted to retire for the night.
“What’s the rush? The night is still young.”
“It’s such a waste of money letting the expensive hotel room be empty,” said Isabella irritably.
Jamie shrugged his broad shoulders, “You go up if you want to, I still want to drink and hang around with my friends, we are talking boys’ talk and you won’t like it.”
Frustrated by Jamie’s indifference and boiling inside, in a huff, Isabella went up to their room.
Isabella suspected that Jamie was embarrassed to be seen with her among his friends. She spent sometime watching TV and waited for Jamie to come up. When it was past mid night, Jamie was still not showing up. Isabella shook her head in exasperation. She suspected that Jamie was not with his boy friends but with the waitress. Isabella crept out of bed and went looking for Jamie. Isabella saw Jamie canoodling with the hussy at the corner of the smoking room.
“She is the dopiest person I have met, she is like a beached whale, she’s bonkers,” Isabella heard Jamie’s voice.
Isabella was gutted. This was the reason why Jamie had not come up to bed. It was a betrayal as far as she was concerned. No body was going to mess with her.
Then Jamie and a woman was engaged in the most passionate French kiss totally unaware that Isabella was watching them as her jaw dropped. Isabella rushed upstairs in tears and went to bed with a valium pill to help her sleep. But the valium did not help. She kept tossing and turning in bed, and thought of Imelda’s warning. Jamie didn’t come in until 3 am and Isabella pretended to be sound asleep. Jamie flopped on the bed and went straight to sleep. Isabella could smell a waft of cheap woman’s perfume. Isabella’s fear were confirmed, it was the same perfume of the hussy who served them the previous night. When Jamie was fast asleep, she examined him, he had lipstick marks and love bites on his neck and Isabella felt like killing him.
“The hussy did this, she’s been snarling him right in front of my eyes, the shameless cow,” Isabella thought to herself.
The voices of Norman, Robert and Gilbert followed her all the way to Icy mountains of Central North Island.
“Silly girl! Silly girl! Silly girl! Now you know what is like to have a dose of your own medicine for cheating on us.”
Isabella didn’t sleep a wink and had a throbbing headache in the morning. She packed up quietly and waited for Jamie to wake up. He hollered at her for not waking him up for breakfast.
On the way back to Auckland, both Jamie and Isabella kept quiet. Without saying anything, both knew what was in their minds. Jamie would be taking the car to ski with his mates. It was inconvenient for Isabella to tag along because of Christine and because Isabella didn’t like the snow as much as she imagined she would. Isabella knew if she stopped Jamie from going, she would lose him.
One moment it was blowing cold, another it was blowing hot. It was so unpredictable that Isabella didn’t know what to expect of Jamie.
“Hey birthday girl, I have the biggest surprise for you.”
Isabella smile sadly, any birthday surprise would be paid by her wallet.
“I have booked a weekend at a private island, just you and me.”
“Where? Are there private islands in New Zealand?”
“We will go to Pakatoa Island. You don’t get many private islands in New Zealand.”
“Is it going to cost a lot?”
“Show some enthusiasm, I am treating you a special birthday present, a once in a life time gift.” Jamie gyrated in front of Isabella.
Isabella wondered what kind of private island Pakatoa Island was. She remembered the TV shows of the Love Boat and wonder if it was going to be like that.
Jamie’s mum worked for this millionaire Sir Robert Kerridge at the 246 building in Queen Street. Sir Bob bought Pakatoa Island and he developed it to a holiday resort. It had self-contained chalets, a hotel with all amenities, heated swimming pool, boats for hire and miniature golf course. He had his own ferry that took his clients to the island.
“Russell Crowe was an entertainments officer at Pakatoa Island when Mum took us there for a day trip. We used to play Bingo. Now I am taking you there for the whole weekend.”
“Thanks, Jamie. I love you.”
The fuller ferry came to a private jetty and Jamie and Isabella checked in to a private chalet at far end of the island.
“This is the lovers’ chalet.”
Jamie took Isabella swimming. But she had to take a rain check when he suggested windsurfing and playing golf at the nine-hole golf course.
“Look at this Pohutakawa trees! They are in full bloom at this time.”
“They are so beautiful with all the red flowers.”
“The trees are beautiful like you. Did anyone tell you that it is known as the New Zealand Christmas tree?”
Isabella wished this lovely dream would last forever, Jamie was unusually attentive and showering her with so much love. When Jamie windsurfed, she sat on the beach waving at him. When Jamie played golf, she lazed around in the island’s swimming pool. She felt like a woman who had won a million bucks. At dinner, the waitress brought her a tiny heart shaped cake with one candle. Jamie told the waitress it was a woman’s prerogative not to reveal her age. Isabella wished that the weekend would last forever, and they didn’t have to go back to the mainland.
On the day of the sports day at Edendale Primary school, Jericho came to drive Christine to school.
“What are you doing?” asked Isabella.
“Christine has invited me to her schools sports day as her grandfather.”
“Since when did you become her grandfather, Jericho? And why am I not told that it is her sports day.”
“Christine is ashamed of you, she doesn’t want her friends to know that you are a mail order bride.”
“You get out of my house this very moment. Christine, where are you?
“You are only my adopted mother, you are not my mum. I don’t want you to come to school. I want Jericho.”
Isabella did not dare to reveal that she was Christine’s birth mother. She kept quiet and watched the two of them get into Jericho’s Honda Civic. She was jealous that Christine gave all her love to a man who was not a blood relation.
Jamie said the weather was getting warmer and he was surfing more. They dropped Christine at school, left her at after school care and drove forty minutes to Muriwai. While Jamie surfed, Isabella sat reading a magazine over and over. She read articles written about the likes of her, mail order brides and letters criticizing them. She imagined people staring at her and whispering “mail order bride.” And sometimes even “Emma.” Soon it got quite boring sitting on the beach by herself.
Isabella sat watching the anglers lining the rocks that jutted into the surf. She eyed some Asian men who come to the treacherous rocks to fish. The waves slamming against the rocks were very huge. Isabella longed for men from her home to talk to, so she walked to the rock ledge. Most of the Asian men were Chinese, and their broken English made it hard to carry on a conversation. Isabella was just happy for their company. Sometimes, she just sat on the ledge.
One day, she stood too near the ledge, and the wave slammed against the rock and almost knocked her over. One of the men caught hold of her and she fell to his arms. Isabella wished that moment would last forever, but he was just doing anyone would do, save a person from drowning. A Muriwai Surf Life Saving Club captain came and told the fishermen and Isabella to get off the ledge. As Isabella was the only person who could speak English, he told her that it was crazy fishing in such horrendous conditions.
“Mam, it is very dangerous to be fishing in risky conditions and without any life jacket or other flotation devices.”
Isabella felt sheepish and replied quietly,” I don’t know these men, I just come here to watch.”
When Isabella got back to the grass area, Jamie was waiting for her,
“The beach is closed, let’s go home,” said Jamie.
One weekend, Jamie and his mates were going black-water rafting and abseiling at the Waitomo caves. He wanted to borrow Isabella’s car.
“Can I come along?”
“No, it’s only my mates going, we are going to do boy things, besides what are you going to do with Christine.”
“Christine! Christine! Christine! Why did I adopt her?” muttered Isabella to herself. “I can’t go any where because of her.”
Many nights in a row, Jamie didn’t come back. When he came back in the mid morning, Isabella saw how disheveled he looked. She smelt cheap women’s perfume on him.
“Where have you been all night?”
“You are not my wife, you are not my mum, you bugger off my business! And stop becoming so increasingly possessive,” and flopped on the bed and slept or pretended to sleep.
Isabella hated Jamie, she hated Christine. She wished she had never sent her over from Philippines. She couldn’t go anywhere with Jamie because of her.
It was Araw ng mga Bayani, the Philippines National Heroes' Day celebrated on the last Sunday of August. It had been a cold winter. It was a cold and blustery day. The wind was howling at the beach and the rain was pouring. Imelda organized at picnic at Pt Chevalier beach and invited five of her friends, all mail order brides, their Pakeha husbands and their kids. Imelda invited Isabella and Jamie as well. Isabella came with Christine without Jamie.
“So where is your young handsome boyfriend?” asked Teresa.
“He’s coming later and later, he is tired from surfing during the week, and playing at his gig last night,” replied Isabella.
It was two PM, Jamie still hadn’t turned up.
“Isabella, is your boyfriend coming or not, we can’t wait for him, everyone is hungry, the kids are very miserable cooped up in the tiny tents.” taunted Teresa.
“Isabella, your high and mighty boyfriend is snubbing us. He thinks our blue collar working husbands are “underclass” and they are not good enough for him.”
“Do you know, I suspect he is on the dole, a Casanova preying on unsuspecting women,” Added the normally quiet Rose.
“Given their divergent styles, it is not difficult to imagine their relationship is destined for disaster,” Rubbed in Teresa.
“Isabella, why don’t you settle down and get a good old reliable husband like us?” continued Rose.
Isabella dared not admit that her relationship with Jamie was already on the rocks. She tried her best to hold back her tears. Damn Jamie, Damn these Filipino girls. She had hoped they would understand her more than other Kiwi women.
“Jamie, where were you? You gave me the impression that you would come when I told you about the picnic,” Isabella asked Jamie when she went home.
“When did I promise you that I was going? Any way, only crazy and stupid people will go for a picnic at the beach in the middle of a stormy winter.”
“But Jamie, you…”
“You what? I have nothing in common with those plumbers, factory hands: I am an artist, Isabella. Don’t you drag me along with them again, you hear!!!!”
The weather was getting warmer and soon it would be school holidays.
“Isabella, sorry I stood you up and shouted at you the other day. Please don’t be mad.”
“Apology accepted and returned. I love you and I can never be angry with you.”
Jamie suggested, “It is very tedious driving every day to Muriwai and boring for you to sit there watching me. My mates have a bach where I can bunk during the week days and I will come home on Friday evening to play at my gig.”
Isabella knew she didn’t have a choice. Every morning she walked Christine to school. Christine was either complaining or she went on strike and refused to speak to Isabella. Some days, She asked Jericho to send her.
One day, Isabella heard that dreaded knock on the door. Imelda had been warning her many times. The woman introduced herself that she came from the Department of Social Welfare.
“Hi, I am Wendy, from the Department of Social Welfare.” She handed over her business card.
“We have had a phone call informing us that there is a man living in your house, and we have come to investigate if you broke the rules and still qualify for the Domestic Purpose Benefit.”
Isabella knew it was the busy body Jericho meddling in her affairs, “Oh no, I have a boarder, he doesn’t live here. He only comes in the weekend.”
“Mind if I looked around?”
The woman looked into Isabella’s bedroom. Luckily she had just tidied the room the day before, and the only incriminating evidence was Jamie’s guitar. Fortunately Isabella had a very tidy habit of putting away every bit of laundry.
“Who plays the guitar?”
“I do, you see, we Filipinos have got the genes from the Spanish and we like playing the guitar.”
“Two bedrooms, eh, where does you boarder sleep when he comes?”
“On the couch.”
“Thank you very much, I will be on my way. But if we hear any more complaints, we will be watching you.”
Isabella nearly had a heart attack. In a sense, Jamie wasn’t staying the whole week. He was hardly her boy friend anymore. He just came for her money.
“That idiot Jericho!!!! I am going to kill him.”
But little was she to know that the squealer was not Jericho, it was somebody living in her house. It was Christine. Christine’s friends had told her she could get rid of Jamie by reporting to the Department of Social Welfare. They told her that when Isabella was warned by the ministry that she would lose her DPB, she would kick Jamie who was sponging off her.
Jamie was hardly at home. If he was, he was sleeping because the club at Ponsonby closed very late, and at other times, he played at parties. One night, Isabella nagged Jamie to go the club with him.
“I will make myself as small as possible.”
“My manager won’t like it, the staff is not supposed to bring friends.”
Without Jamie knowing, Isabella went anyway. She left Christine alone at home. Isabella sat in the corner at the back of the club. She was very proud of how Jamie played his guitar. She was so proud of him that she told the neighboring patrons that Jamie was her boyfriend. During the long interval, Isabella decided to go backstage to look for Jamie to give him a surprise.
Horror! What did she see? It was almost obscene to look, a young pink punk was slithering her legs up Jamie’s legs. Jamie was kissing her passionately and his hands were up her skirt. They were making out standing up. Isabella froze and stared at them. It seems they were there forever.
The gig leader walked pass and said, “Break it up, kids, we got a job to do.”
Isabella quickly hid in the corner, shivering. She was shaking and a little voice called out, “Kill the slut, kill the slut.”
She went back to her table, she could hear nothing, she could see nothing except the two blurry persons making out. Before Jamie finished playing, she took a taxi home. She didn’t say a single word. She was feeling exactly like a classic case of “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.”
When they got home, they found a note left by Jericho, “It is illegal to leave a child under fourteen alone in the house. I have reported to the police and Christine is now in your friend Imelda’s house. You are in big trouble!”
Jericho drove her to Imelda’s house. Imelda gave her a piece of her mind. “How could you be so irresponsible? This is not Philippines you know!”
They woke Christine up, on the way home, she said, “You are in big trouble, you are going to prison.”
“So you deliberately went to Jericho’s house, you bitch.”
“I hate you! Jericho hates you for hurting Gilbert.’
Isabella left Christine at Imelda’s place and went alone to the local police post the next day. Jamie was sleeping and refused to go with her. He said, Christine was not his kid and responsibility. She had a long wait, the police constables seemed to be always busy. When she eventually got to see them, it was already very late. She was given a warning and the policeman reiterated that they would not be so lenient the next time. She could go to jail and Christine would be placed in a foster home. Isabella needed a drink to calm her nerves so she went to the pub. She drank and drank until it was closing time. She lost count of the number of beer she drank. She hailed a taxi and the taxi driver cursed her when she puked in his taxi.
“Lady, if you can’t drink, you shouldn’t drink.”
“Shut up! What is it to you if I drink?”
When Isabella got home, she walked quietly because she didn’t want to disturb Jamie from his sleep. She had a terrible hang over so she sat in the lounge drinking a cup of black coffee when she started to hear giggling from the bedroom. She thought she was hearing voices in her head again. The bedroom door opened, and the pink hair punk dashed out of the room wearing nothing except Isabella’s sexy lacy red-and-black negligee, and the nude Jamie chasing her. They came to a halt when they saw Isabella.
“Hello! Are you Jamie’s landlady?” the punk said with no shame.
This shameless hussy was wearing my negligee, sleeping in my bedroom with my boyfriend and calling me a landlady. Isabella flung the coffee cup at the punk, the coffee spilled on the carpet. The cup made a deep gash on the punk’s fore head and blood oozed from the deep cut.
“I am going to sue you, you old cow.”
“Stupid! I will deal with you when I get back from the doctors.” added Jamie and after he got his clothes on, grabbed the car keys.
Isabella crouched in her corner, she didn’t know what had happened.
“Jamie is not going to love me anymore, Jamie is going to punish me, then he will leave with the punk. The police are going to take Christine away.”
The Norman ghost was back again. She started shaking and shaking.
When Jamie returned, he threw the doctor’s bill and asked her to settle it as soon as possible.
“Is that it? Are you leaving?”
“I’ve had enough, we had nothing in common, I was ashamed of you hanging like a lap dog at the beach. I’ve had enough of my mates laughing at me that I am going out and shagging my mother. I’ve had to put up with your whims and fancies long enough. Today was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“You ungrateful sod, you spend my money, you drive my car, you sleep in my bed, and now you are leaving for that little punk.”
“Let’s not pussyfoot about this, and let’s come right out. I admit, it was good while it lasted. You bought me stuff. I did not point a gun at you and force you to buy them. I made you happy, we are even-stevens.”
“But you said you wanted them.”
“Remember you gave them to me, I was never in love with you. You cramp my style. Have a good look in the mirror.”
Isabella looked round for something to throw at Jamie. Jamie gave her a slap on the face.
“You hurt me, you going to prison, you hear me?”
“And don’t think I owe you, you shameless cow, don’t you think my mates and I didn’t see you hankering after those Asian men at Muriwai, doing it in broad day light in front of me, your boyfriend! You made me a cuckold! It’s over, Isabella, wake up!” shouted Jamie.
“Please Jamie, please don’t go,”
“You are too old, I can’t go bar-hopping, nightclubbing with you without people giving me ugly looks as though I am sleeping with my mother. Don’t bother looking for me, I am going for my OE, OE you hear, you illiterate cow, it means overseas experience.”
Isabella gave Jamie a bear hug from behind, clinging onto him tightly. He thrust her away violently and waved his hands about. Jamie went absolutely ballistic. Then he pointed his index finger and yelled a barrage of accusations and criticisms.
“You are so possessive! You’ve got claws of a talon of a vulture! You don’t leave me alone! You smoulder me! You cling to me like a leech! You stalk me! You won’t let me breath! You dominate what I wear! You stipulate everything I do! You want to call all the shots! I have put up with it for so long! I have enough! I am not your son! I am not your husband! You don’t own me! I want out!”
Jamie stormed into the bedroom room and slammed the door so loudly that the rest of the house rattled. He began to pack and stuffed all his clothing and the lap top in his duffel bag, intending to walk out of Isabella’s life for ever.
Isabella threw a book at the door. Her toy boy walked out of her life after he had cleaned her out of the money Gilbert had left for her, taking all the expensive gifts she had given him except for the “Beemer". Fortunately she had registered the car in her name, otherwise, Jamie would have taken that too. Isabella was so distraught that she squatted in the corner.
Her mood swung “Bastards! All of you are Bastards, I am going to kill you, you whore,” and she thrashed things about.
Then it swung real low to despair and suicide, “I am finished, I gave him everything, and he chose the punk over me, I am nothing but an old hag.”
Isabella felt like climbing up the 246 building where Jamie’s mum had worked for the movie mogul. She wondered if falling from a seven storey building will plummet her to her death. Isabella remembered when as a young short plump girl in Manila, her cousin sister had taken her to Clark base and she met this pimply faced boyish American soldier. This soldier was just a boy and a geek and didn’t do the usual soldier things with girls. Instead he talked about poetry and books. One day, he was reading “Catch 22” and he told her that if a person jumped from a tall building, all that was left was a puddle of melted strawberry ice cream. Isabella didn’t want to be a puddle of melted ice cream.
246 wasn’t tall enough, she might land on her legs first or break her neck. The worst scenario would be that she became a quadripedic. Christine would leave her to a rest home exactly the same way Isabella had abandoned Gilbert. Isabella shuddered at such thoughts and started shrieking like a banshee. When she was exhausted and spent, she went to the shower stall without undressing and took a looooong hot shower. Without drying herself, she lay in bed staring forlornly at the ceiling. She felt nauseated.
At around mid night, Imelda got a faint phone call from Isabella.
“Imelda, please come,”
For the first time in her life, Imelda went against her husband’s will to rush to Isabella.
“Isabella is in big trouble, she needs me, I can feel it in my bones.”
Jason reluctantly drove her to Isabella’s house and they found the front door unlocked. They found Isabella huddled in the living room corner in wet clothes, babbling incoherently. She was crying hysterically and shaking convulsively. She was looking a mess.
There was glass shards across the floor, three empty beer bottles were overturned by Isabella’s side. Stale alcohol, pee and puke rived through the air. Jason wanted to vomit himself.
“Imelda, Jamie’s g………..one.”
“Don’t delude yourself, girl, he never loved you, he only wanted your money.”
“Imelda, I’ve do something stupid. Jamie’s gone. I am de……..vastated. He squandered all my money, and when my cash flow had dried up, he’s gone, he is not coming back.”
“You hear me? He is not worth it. ”
It was like an epiphany when Isabella woke up and realized that Jamie didn’t give a damn about her. She had been a gullible old fool. Jamie was a wedge that was driving her deeper and deeper away from Christine. Soon it would be a chasm so deep and wide that she would lose Christine. It was better to salvage the situation before nothing could be done.
“Forget him, Isabella, he has never been sincere with you, you will be better without him, trust me,” advised Imelda.
“No……,” cried Isabella.
“Yes, Isabella, believe me, I knew right from the beginning, your relationship was doomed to fail. Be a good girl and forget him,” gently ordered Imelda.
“I loved him, I gave him everything I have.”
“Yes, love, you were blinded by his youthful attention and charm. But remember you are twice his age, you will never change his footloose and fancy free life style.”
“My whole life is shattered, I really feel as if I’m cracking up.”
“Hush!, Isabella, don’t say that, you got to pull yourself together. Otherwise they will lock you up in the nut house and take Christine away from you.”
“Now you need a long hot shower, a strong cup of black coffee and a good sleep.”
Isabella did not react.
“I will help you undress, stand up.”
Isabella obeyed like a small child, flopped her arms as Imelda stripped her. Like a lamb led to the slaughter house, Isabella went into the shower stall.
“Jason, you go home to the kids, Isabella needs me. I stay here to see she doesn’t kill herself.”