Anna Mathews couldn't have been happier. At least that's what her husband Charlie thought.
“Neither of us has got time for rubbish like a mid-life crisis.” he had declared with finality when his marital stability had been
scrutinised. “She is happy,” he told himself quietly as he studied the bubbles in his beer, she has a good life, she doesn't want for
anything... and as for the other? We've been together for a very long time, things like that don't really matter to us any more!”
“Any way, why would you bring up a subject like that?” Charles glanced up from his pint to look his friend of twenty years in the eye.
“People that live in glass houses shouldn't throw too many stones... your track record isn't exactly perfect!”
“I've never claimed to be perfect,” Thomas replied evenly, “But having been there myself, I might just be more qualified than most to spot
“Signs?” Charles replied cautiously, not sure he needed revelations on a quiet Sunday afternoon. He didn't enjoy disruption at any time –
but Sundays were sacrosanct, everyone knew that Sunday was his day of peace... his Charlie day... just himself, his car, a few pints, and
“If you don't see it, maybe I shouldn't have said anything,” Thomas replied, “It's none of my business anyway.”
“Come on, out with it Tom.” Charles felt an uneasy stirring in the pit of his stomach, “If you know something... spit it out. Whatever it is
will be rubbish I'm sure, Annie is completely happy.”
Thomas chuckled deeply and swirled the dregs of beer in his glass. “Who said anything about Anna?”
“Now you've lost me completely.” Charles shook his head, his confusion genuine.
“Take a long hard look at yourself,” Tom replied, “What happened to good old reserved Charles? The clothes, the car, all the trappings of a
“Now you're talking rubbish,” Charlie defended instantly, “I've not changed, and I've worked bloody hard to get where I am. No-one has a
right to question me if I decide to reward myself for all the years of sacrifice, the soul sapping jobs, the nine to five tedium.”
“No-one is questioning your rights,” his friend replied calmly, “Simply your choices. Now take the car as an example. You traded in a top of
the line Jaguar... a very nice car by any ones standards, for a shiny red penis extension... because that's all it is Charlie. And the
clothes! You haven't been twenty five for over twenty years... and you didn't dress that flash even when you could get away with it! The mid
life crisis belongs to you my friend, not your wife. Seriously, you have to sit yourself down and take a long hard look at where life is
leading you, and if you want to put so much pressure on your marriage.”
“So speaks the divorcee.” came back a surly reply as raw nerves reacted to the deliberate if gentle prodding.
“As I said, maybe I'm better qualified than most to comment. But thanks for reminding me... you know, I'd completely forgotten that being a
prick had cost me my marriage.” Tom replied, struggling to maintain his even mood. “I'm simply pointing out that at the time I couldn't see
what was happening to me, and I most likely would have dismissed any advice given, but in hindsight, I would probably have appreciated if
someone had kicked my arse before it was too late with Heather.”
“If you think I'm going to make the same mistakes that you did – then think again. I'm happy, I don't need to go chasing teen bimbo's, I
have a loving wife, and a comfortable life.”
“Then I'm genuinely happy for you.” Tom replied. “But listen to my words my friend. I'm only going to tell you once, then we can bury the
subject. You may be happily married... but an outsider could be forgiven for believing that you are very single and on the prowl. I'm not
saying that Anna is an outsider... just be careful that you don't make her feel exactly that!”
“Maybe,” Tom pushed his empty glass across the bar and nodded to the landlord, “But consider the consequences if I'm not!”
Charles settled into a quiet alcove and watched the world go by. The bar was busy, unusually busy. The first decent weekend in a decidedly
dismal British summer had brought the lily white citizens from their cosy semi-detached cocoons blinking into the sunlight, and seizing the
opportunity they had flocked to quiet country pubs in droves, determined to capture at least one day outdoors before the rain returned.
He's talking absolute crap. Tom's words echoed in the void where common sense should have lived. OK, maybe I am trying to recapture a little
lost youth... no-one would blame me for that. Charles admitted before silently rebuking himself as his eyes drifted to a shapely pair of
legs, their journey north being rewarded by twin mounds, the sensuous shape enhanced by tight denim. It doesn't hurt to look. His own
assurance rang hollow, and he silently thanked Tom for yet another avenue of pleasure effectively closed to him. Damn, I'm even feeling
guilty just looking now he lamented silently, and with a sigh drained his glass and strolled to the exit.
“I remember a time when I could drive to the pub, have a couple of pints, and then drive back home.” he informed a scruffy looking mongrel
that had decided to accompany him on his short walk back to the cottage that he had promised Anna when they had first married. The dog eyed
him as though clearly understanding, it's tangled tail wagging enthusiastically, happy to hear a kind voice rather than the shouting and
abuse that usually accompanied it's attempts to be friendly.
“And days like this were just made for open top cruising, the wind in my hair, admiring looks, envious eyes... freedom.”
The final word struck hard, maybe a minor slip, but impossible to retract once uttered. Freedom from what? He questioned silently, driving
away fleeting images of the woman he loved, his wife of twenty three years. Not freedom from you dear, he chuckled, if a little nervously,
alarmed that his slip may have been decidedly Freudian. “Damn you Thomas,” he declared aloud, drawing his four legged companions attention,
“You really have got me spooked, I'm seeing problems where they don't exist. An hour ago I could sit at the bar and admire the girls, now my
innocence is gone, and I feel like a dirty old man ogling and waiting pounce. Ready to use the charm and experience of the worldly,
successful, I've got a shiny red sports car, older man, to lure unsuspecting virginal beauty into shame and ignominy.”
A little overkill, he decided, but not that far from the truth. He has buggered something that I enjoyed, a bit of harmless fun, daydreams
and nothing more. Yet now just thinking about those pretty girls seems seedy and sordid... like I'm itching for an opportunity to cheat.
“What do you think?” he addressed his new friend, “Is looking and dreaming a crime?”
A pink tongue lolled and the metronome tail upped tempo. “Why am I consulting you about moral dilemmas?” he chuckled now, a smile cutting
through his chagrin. “I'm asking a mutt who would hump a doormat if it had the right equipment.”
“Hello Mr Mathews. I haven't seen you around for a while.” A cheerful voice broke into his thoughts, dragging him back to reality. Charles
almost blushed as his gaze instantly fixed onto his young neighbours ample cleavage, filling his mind with dismay and raising doubts, the
action in some way validating Tom's earlier statement.
“I'm sorry Tracy, I was in a world of my own,” he chuckled transferring his gaze to soft green eyes, “I didn't hear you sneaking up on
“You know me too well Mr Mathews, I'm always out stalking men.”
“Charlie,” he swiftly corrected, “Call me Charlie, and I wasn't implying anything, it was just a joke.”
Tracy smiled, enjoying his discomfort, she may have been young in body, but her mind displayed a keen sense of experience and worldliness.
She saw his attention flick momentarily back to her chest, saw the reddening, his pale cheeks and neck flushing, her smile widened. She knew
that he could see inside her blouse, exactly as she had designed. “Well actually,” she grinned now, “I was stalking you. Mrs Mathews told me
where you were and I want to ask a favour.”
“A favour?” Charles braced himself for the usual sob story. He had a reputation in the village, unfounded of course, but a rumour that he
was reluctant to deny. Charlie was rumoured to be a millionaire, and that brought the more forward and forthright locals to approach
directly with fanciful business plans in need of a backer, or the more usual hard luck stories worded to tug at the strings of even the
“I hope that you don't mind, but Mrs Mathews already sorta agreed for you, but I just wanted to confirm for myself.”
“Confirm what?” He asked, his caution receding, if Anna had already agreed in principle then her request couldn't involve cash... or the
“Well, dad was going to drive me into town tomorrow, I've got an interview, but something came up, and now he can't. The bus leaves too late
to get me there on time... I was starting to panic but then I remembered that you leave early, and my interview is really close to your
“And you want a lift!” Charles smiled, his canine companion sniffing around her ankles, drawing his attention to the legs below what had to
be the shortest mini skirt that he had ever seen.
“Please say yes,” she spoke quietly, not quite begging, but her tone softly imploring, “This interview is really important to me, and I
don't know how else I will get there on time.”
“Of course I will,” Charlie laughed, “It will be my pleasure.” Once again he flushed as she stepped forward and pecked him lightly on the
cheek, her grin wide.
“Thank you so much Mr Mathews... sorry – Charlie. This means so very much to me, I won't forget how you have helped me.”
“I can run you back home if you don't mind waiting until lunch-time,” he replied, an image of the top down on his powerful Porsche, his
Armani suit and Ray-bans clearly signalling his elevated status, almost as much as the stunning young blonde sat in the passenger seat, her
hair streaming, and cleavage tantalisingly on display, like the fabled trophy wife that he understood the wealthy achieved when a certain
level of affluence had been reached. “It won't be a problem, and it's not that far really.”
“I would be very grateful... Charlie, and that certainly solves another problem for me... I was going to walk back slowly, to save the bus
“Well that's not an issue now... is it. It's settled, I'll pick you up at seven thirty, then you come back to my office at lunchtime, and
I'll slip you back home... problem solved.”
Tracy gave her warmest smile, and made her excuses to escape before he had a chance to change his mind.
“Such a sweet girl,” he laughed quietly as he watched her walk away, her hips swinging seductively, the short skirt riding up slightly on
each stride exposing just a glimpse of round and firm flesh. “I wonder who's hiring? And I thought that she was supposed to be heading to
college this year!” He shook his head, “None of my business.”
“So what do you think?” he addressed the mongrel again, “Do you think she'll look the part sat in the front seat? A bit of young fluff,
driving the guys green with envy! I think it will be fun to see the reactions, perhaps Tom was right, I really am turning into a dirty old
man.” And still chortling reminded himself that the object of his attentions just happened to be his neighbours youngest daughter, and his
wife's occasional waitress.