You may recall this story I posted a week or two ago about an idea I had for a TV drama.
I left the story with Heather plotting her revenge. At that time I didn’t know what Episode Two might look like.
But since then I’ve developed the plot some more. Let me share it with you.
You’ll recall Rodney’s just kicked Heather out of the house. Meanwhile, at home, everyone hopes things will to go back to normal. The good son John is pleased as punch that his interfering mother is out of the picture. Smelly old lodger David is in the corner of the lounge with a whisky bottle, mumbling incoherently about how he’ll get back at various people who’ve done him wrong.
Meanwhile, Heather’s father Roger looks on in disapproval. In a moment of self-reflection he wonders if he has been instrumental in creating this selfish, narcissistic bunch. I was always about looking after number one, muses Roger. Can I be surprised that they followed my example?
Rodney tries to bury himself in his work. But it’s just impossible to be in the same room with any of his workmates. They all know what has happened. Some of them have been behaving coldly towards him, and even appear to be relishing the pain and humiliation he is suffering. Rodney begins to realise how well-liked Heather was by many of his workmates. It occurs to Rodney that he has made a terrible mistake, and he wonders what to do, all the while hoping the whole thing will blow over. Perhaps there will be a crisis at work, he dares to hope. One of the managers might fall into one of the machines and come out the other end nicely bottled and packaged. That would move the conversation topic in another direction.
Rodney sits at his desk, mooching. He can’t focus on all the paperwork that has been piling up on his desk. So he stares out the window, remembering better times, before they had John, and before that awful tramp David moved in to stink the place out. His boss, Joe, arrives frowning. He’s heard rumours and wants to know the truth. Rodney decides it’s easier just to say Heather’s run off with another man. There’s this guy at Heather’s work called Simon, and Rodney knows she and Simon work closely together. Rodney blames Simon for the falling out. Joe says it’s not a good look for one of his employees to kick his wife out of the house, and that it might affect sales.
Sales, Rodney sighs. It’s always about sales. He must continue to play the game if he wants to keep his senior role in the firm. So he assures Joe nobody was kicked out, and that Heather has gone away for a fortnight to clear her head. We will sort all this out when she’s had time to think, Rodney says.
The following day Rodney meets Joe in the lift. When asked whether he’s heard from Heather he says no, and then says he expects she’s thinking long and hard about whether she has any further place in the family. She’s let a lot of people down, Rodney tells Joe.
That evening Rodney goes to a work function. It is a dress-up event, and all the firm’s big clients will be there. The annual event had become one of the social highlights of the year for the now-estranged couple. Heather had even bought a special gown just for the occasion. Rodney mutters to himself how wasteful that expenditure was, because being a mean and spiteful man he hates wastage and cannot see why anyone should want to waste cash on a bit of frill and fluff.
Rodney goes reluctantly. He doesn’t want to be at the event, but if he doesn’t turn up everyone will talk, and he’ll be damned if any hussy is going to make an idiot of him. He’ll go to the function and let everyone see just how unaffected he is by the break-up with Heather.
But there she is in the doorway of the ballroom, smiling at him and winking. He almost faints. He can see everyone’s eyes are upon him. What should he do? The witch is here to make a fool of him!
Straightening his back and breathing in, Rodney advances forward, kissing her on the cheek. “Hello dear,” he says in a voice loud enough so everyone can hear him. “I’m glad you made it on time. I was worried you’d be held up in the traffic.”
“No dear,” Heather replies with a serene smile. “The traffic was just fine. Shall we go in?” She puts her hand in his and they go inside.
The evening is excruciatingly painful for both of them. They remain physically proximate, but they do so under sufferance. Finally, the night ends and they jump in a taxi together. She tells the driver to take her to her hotel.
“I hope you enjoyed that little charade”, Rodney sneers at her. He is sure everyone saw through the facade, and feels humiliated.
She replies by asking why he thought she would always be submissive and do as she was told. She knows he’s a bully, but the best way to handle a bully is to stand up to him. And that’s just what I’m doing, she says.
He asks her why she returned. She explains that she has too much invested in the marriage to just walk away. Rodney may well be an unpleasant little man, but the house and assets are hers too. She also enjoys attending the society functions Rodney takes her to, and the status they give her.
We shall simply have to come to an arrangement, she informs him. I will be the good and loyal wife, and you will welcome me back with open arms.
He tells her that nobody will for a moment believe all is well again. Let them gossip, she says. We have had difficulties in our marriage but we are working on them now and are committed to each other. What could be more 21st century than that?
Rodney knows he must swallow his pride if he is to keep his position at work. He agrees to her proposal, but with reservations. She smiles with the satisfaction of a woman who has won her battle. As she exits the taxi outside the hotel she bids him goodnight.
In her room she holds a wineglass. Simon fills it and sits with her. She laughs.
“Such a silly man,” she says. “He’ll still get the sack. He’s been under-performing for months. Then I shall turf him out of the house and take back my place as head of the family.”
Simon wonders how she can be so confident of success. Why wait until Rodney is fired? She should get a good divorce lawyer now and take him to the cleaners. He tells her this.
No, she tells him. With Rodney power is everything. His job gives him status, and that status gives him power. When he is fired he will deflate like a popped balloon. Then he will sign everything over to me.
Give it a year, 18 months at most, and Rodney will be out on the street. That treacherous whelp John can join him too, and smelly old David will be gone. I shall have to fumigate the house, but it will be worth it
Then Dad and I will be able to settle down and get back to normal living.
Simon wonders what part he might play in the drama to come. He is attracted to the charms and wiles of this headstrong and unpredictable woman.
But Heather has plans for Simon. He does not notice as she slips a tablet into his wineglass. The last thing he remembers as he tumbles to the ground and stares at the ceiling is the face of his beloved smirking over him.