Ernest was hanging by a finger over a drop that went a long way down. ‘This was it,’ he thought as rescue was out of the question.
Just as he was about to let go a hand grabbed his wrist, and he found himself being pulled back up.
He looked up to see his rescuer was Vera.
‘This can’t be right,’ thought Ernest, ‘where did she come from and she’d never been strong enough.’
The shock of Vera’s face woke him, and he sat up in bed.
Then it came back to him. He was in trouble. Big trouble when it was Vera who was his saviour.
Today he had awoken to his first day in the new house. He lay in his bed remembering what had happened.
Everything had gone so well. His land purchase with the help of his mate on the council had gone through. The land from initial surveys indicated it was the site of an Aboriginal midden but Ernest and his friend had hushed it up, and all would have proceeded smoothly if a labourer on the site upon digging up Aboriginal stone tools had not told his mate from the local paper about what he’d found.
Before he knew it every heritage group for miles was involved, the local land council stepped in demanding an inquiry and the publicity surrounding the corruption involved proved his undoing.
On top of that when his business dealings were looked into he’d been caught out offering poor financial advice, and many of his clients had lost everything. There was a looming class action against him, and he knew it was the end of the road for him in the financial business. Added to that his secretary, with whom he had been having a raging affair, had resigned after Vera became aware of what he was up to.
As a result of the turmoil, he had to sell their beach side home along with their prized possessions such as his expensive car and furnishings and the extensive share portfolio he had built up.
The only money they had was a little Vera had put away and managed to hide from the auditors. With that, they had secured a loan to buy the house. For Ernest, the house meant some sense of future and security. But the descent into near penury weighed heavily on him.
For the first time in his married life, he was dependent on Vera.
She had not spoken to him for the past week, and he found himself very alone in the world.
She now held the financial reins and had made it clear to him that he would have to go out and find a job, ‘shovelling shit’ if he had to.
Her bluntness had surprised him, as Vera had always been so compliant to his wishes. After all, he had provided her with a life style she did enjoy, she didn’t have to work, and he took her on an overseas holiday each year.
He lay in bed thinking how his life had unravelled so much in the past six months. In his mind, he knew he had done the wrong thing over the Aboriginal site, but greed had got the better of him. That and the thrill of his affair with Madison.
She was a beautiful girl, had been his secretary for over a year before they became romantically involved. It had been so easy, late nights working together, their conversations which always led to their complaints about their current partners and after one trip out of town they found themselves at dinner and then afterwards in bed.
Ernest felt compelled to continue the affair. Madison was a keen and willing lover, she was everything Vera wasn’t.
In the background, he could hear the kettle boiling and made his way to the bathroom to ready himself for what most likely the first day of the rest of his life.
Ernest prided himself on his dress. He was a suit man, and his shirts were always ironed perfectly, though in recent days he’d learned to do it himself as Vera had told him her days as his maid were over.
But today was not a business day, today was a job-hunting day. He needed to look as humble as he could.