He left her smoking in bed and closed the front door behind him.
He never returned to the office on their Friday afternoons. He drank a glass of wine at the Lebanese restaurant on the corner, and thought about the madness of what they were doing. It seemed to him the appropriate description - madness - the perfect noun. It was, as Cassie said, in one of her less poetic moments, as if they were getting something out of their systems.
He knew what it was that he was trying to exorcise in those frantic sessions. He could only guess at what she was trying to purge herself of. But to be able to exist in that madness, the madness of infidelity, was, however contradictory, a balm to him. Afterwards, he strolled through the supermarket, where he chose the chicken fillets, and a large misshaped lemon to cook with. Her expression suggested to him that there would be no point. The weeks passed, and the first Friday of the month arrived. Theo travelled to the house in Rathgar, where the door was left unlocked for him.
He found Cassie in her dressing-gown, a glass of orange juice in one hand. She placed the glass on the counter, and led him upstairs to the spare-room. He wondered how much time she had spent thinking about his wife in the intervening weeks.https://rengurisepur.gq/rebel-planet-nntp.php
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Somehow he had anticipated Cassie would return to this, unsatisfied by the information he had offered up, needing another morsel to feed her imagination. Perhaps it was because he was thinking of what she had said to him the last time - about outliving his use - or maybe it was simply the burden of dragging the knowledge around for so long, that he told her. It gave him a little thrill, the way she grew still and quiet, listening intently as he told her of the man in a German prison, conducting this correspondence with his wife.
Years, it had gone on - since before Theo and Jo had met. It was a few months into their marriage before he discovered that she still wrote to him - Lukas - although she had told him about the murder well before that. An innocent abroad, Jo had once told him, in the German university town of Tubingen, studying something as innocuous as International Relations. She had shared a flat with two other girls. One of them - Annika - was murdered. It was this boyfriend of the dead girl with whom his wife continued to correspond over twenty years later. And so he described to her the evening that Jo had been in her room in that apartment block near the university where most of the foreign students lived.
She guessed it was Lukas in there as he had often spent the night over the months he and Annika had been seeing each other. After a while, the usual noises began drifting through into her room - the moans, the cries, the thump of the bedframe against the wall. She had turned up her stereo to drown it out until sometime after dark when the front door slammed again and the room next door grew quiet and Jo went to bed. Outside on the street, a dog was barking. He could tell from the quality of light cutting through the gap in the curtains that it was late in the afternoon.
He told her of how the case had made the headlines.
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The lives of those young girls picked apart. And she had been very different then - Jo. Bookish, quiet. The one who went to her room and shut the door when there was a party in their block. Not like Annika. Not like Lorrie, the other flatmate. To find herself embroiled in a case like that - sex, murder - it had left its scars. The other girl, Lorrie, had stayed out all night, so there was only Jo, lying awake in her bed, listening to the sexual exertions in the room next door.
At around midnight, she had heard the front door slam as Lukas left.
Shortly after that, she heard sounds coming from the bathroom she shared with the other two girls - a toilet flushing. Water running. The gurgling of pipes as the cistern refilled. Much was made of this testimony at the trial - the defence pouncing on it as evidence that Annika was still alive when Lukas left her at midnight. The prosecution cross-examined Jo relentlessly - could it have been the bathroom upstairs? Might she have made a mistake as to the timing of what she heard?
Could she have heard the toilet first and the door slamming afterwards?
Might it have been Lukas in the bathroom, rather than Annika? Evidence was given relating to the plumbing in the building, the acoustics. Experts were called to refute her testimony, rubbish it, tear it to shreds. And that was the worst part. She had found her brash, self-centred, careless. A slob, she said.
Annika had teased her about her shyness, her homesickness. But the humiliation of having her testimony discounted, that burned hard within her for a long time after the trial had ended. Jo had told Theo all of this when they first got together and he had accepted her for what she said, and what she was, which was a beautiful, but damaged young woman, one who had returned to Ireland to fade into the background, to become invisible again.
He had known nothing of the details of the prosecution until she told him, a fact which surprised Jo. She accused him of dissembling; he was not. He had had only a vague notion of the case. He did, however, as soon as she revealed the defining episode of her life - again, her words - look up all manner of literature on the subject, in secret and against her wishes.
It would have been disingenuous of him to deny that the whiff of scandal about her was not exciting, and attractive, in some self-destructive way, but she accepted his love for what it was. It was hard for her. He let the question hang, and when he did not answer, she let it go. He left as he always left, but without the same thrill in his body, without the same reckless joy. At times, he felt guilty about it. Guiltier about the things that he said more than the act which preceded it.
But he had become reckless of late. A mid-life crisis of sorts, a devil-may care attitude - so that when Cassie ever wondered what it would be like to live with a woman who had been through all that, he gave it to her piece-meal - the hysteria, the crying, the shaking, the re-living and remembrance of those years of suspicion and accusation, the righteous anger of not being believed.
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